Saturday, 5 March 2011

Steps of Faith

Steps of Faith.

Ephesians 5:18.
'Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.'
I remember well one Cluster or 'Home Group' meeting last year, when we ended up talking about drinking, and the advantages of going out and staying sober. This is something that was – and is still somewhat a challenge to me – the idea that you can go out and have a great time without getting drunk. This was something that, if I'm being honest, had previously been quite difficult for me – especially seeing other people drinking. On previous experience there had been nothing more boring than being the sober man watching a load of people getting smashed – the only 'joy' had come at the end of the night, when you see all your friends feeling ill, and you start to think 'Now I'm glad I'm not drunk'.
I remember though after this talk, it just felt like the 'right thing to try'; All my previous experiences had been before I had found Christianity, and the friend who had been talking, had made some very compelling points and actually excited me about the idea. I didn't really know what to expect, but I was gonna go out there as a Christian and do it, because God was telling me to!!!
That Friday night I went with some friends to see another Friend in a show they were doing at the Everyman in Cheltenham. After the show, we went out, and I decided that I was only going to drink water. Rather than becoming any kind of 'social killer', while we were in the pub it actually became a fun talking point. We were making light hearted jokes about getting drunk on water, and it was actually a very fun time.
We then went to the club, and it just felt like the Holy Spirit took over me! It was like all of the right inhibitions disappeared at the door, and it genuinely felt like I was dancing with God for the night. Because I was looking around the room, and seeing men that had been there for a lot longer than me, with pints in their hands, looking like they were far more inhibited than me. Because I was sober as well it also meant I was able to look after my friends – even administering first aid to one of them. I remember her looking up at me at one point, smiling, and saying 'being the Good Samaritan yeah?'.
It was such an amazing feeling night, and it was after this that it dawned on me – I had taken a step of faith, and God rewards steps of faith! This has always stuck with me, and this is what I am going to talk about in this blog.

Luke 5:1-11 (New Living Translation)

Luke 5

The First Disciples
 1 One day as Jesus was preaching on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, great crowds pressed in on him to listen to the word of God. 2 He noticed two empty boats at the water’s edge, for the fishermen had left them and were washing their nets. 3 Stepping into one of the boats, Jesus asked Simon, its owner, to push it out into the water. So he sat in the boat and taught the crowds from there.
 4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.”
 5 “Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.” 6 And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear! 7 A shout for help brought their partners in the other boat, and soon both boats were filled with fish and on the verge of sinking.
 8 When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, “Oh, Lord, please leave me—I’m too much of a sinner to be around you.” 9 For he was awestruck by the number of fish they had caught, as were the others with him. 10 His partners, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were also amazed.
   Jesus replied to Simon, “Don’t be afraid! From now on you’ll be fishing for people!” 11 And as soon as they landed, they left everything and followed Jesus.
Picture this, Simon and his friends have caught nothing. They are packing up for the day ready to go home because they know that BY ALL LOGIC, they are not going to catch anything. Then this man Jesus suddenly turns up – this man that they have never even met before, starts preaching on there boats, and then when he is finished tells these people who, at least before his talk, were probably very tired and demotivated from their lack of success previously, to go back out and do what they have been unsuccessful at just a short time before.
But what does Simon say? Does he say 'Hey man, that was a great talk you just gave there, but I'm not really feeling up to applying what you have said now, I'm too tired. Another time mate'? Does he say 'but we went out before and caught nothing. I don't believe you?'
When Jesus says to him “Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.”
 5 “Master,” Simon says, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.” And when he takes this step of faith, he returns with nets so full of fish that they are bursting from the sides. All the other fishermen were awestruck. Our God rewards steps of faith!
Just in case you are thinking 'yeah, this is a story of biblical times', here is a link I posted a few days ago on a man named George Muller.


I would also like to give another example:

Ellie's Baptism
I very dear friend of mine, Ellie, was baptised the other week at Trinity Cheltenham (http://www.trinitycheltenham.com/). Ellie was very much in a battle beforehand as to whether it was the right thing for her to do. The question was never over her belief in Jesus – it was about wether she was 'ready' to be Baptised. In the end, she decided that although she was unsure, she was going to take a step of faith and quite literally 'take the plunge'. Here is the moment Ellie got baptised:
video
After her baptism I, along with a number of other friends, laid hands on her and prayed for her, and the Holy Spirit was so palpably emanating that it was completely overwhelming. I could literally see and feel the spirit working on her heart in such a powerful way. She later talked of how peaceful and happy she felt.
The next time I saw her, the power didn't seem to have shifted much, and you could see how happy she was – how alive she was, me and others were all commenting on how powerful her prayer was. One friend said that when Ellie prayed for her, that was the most she had ever felt the Holy Spirit. Of course, as she reminds me, there have been down moments as well, but this is how she sums it up – and I think that this sums up faith brilliantly: 'I now have the knowledge that God's truth and promises remain true regardless of how I feel!'
When she got the signs, she was very much like Peter; Rather than saying 'Hey man, that was a great talk you just gave there, but I'm not really feeling up to applying what you have said now, I'm too tired. Another time mate', or 'but we went out before and caught nothing. I don't believe you', she effectively said “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.” And because she has taken this step of faith, she has returned with nets so full of fish that they are bursting from the sides. All the other fishermen are awestruck. Ellie's story is Peter's in action today, our God lives yesterday, today, forever, and our god rewards steps of Faith!

I just wanted to finish by asking these questions:
What steps of faith have you taken, and how has he rewarded you?
What might be the next step of faith for you?


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