Sermon Series: Just Courage

Ministering in the Now

February 08, 2018 - February 11, 2018

2 Kings 4:1-7

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Niki Campbell

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We talked a bit last week about the depths of brokenness we face in this world. I talked about how easy it would be to take small steps toward the darkness, until the darkness completely blinds us from Jesus’ light. One part of having courage in the Christian context is having faith. Faith that God can, and faith that God will. So let us now turn to scripture to see an account of a poor, grieving widow, who had so few resources, she was unsure where she was going to get the resources to feed her sons or the resources to earn a living. See how God gave her the courage to match her faith.

2 Kings 4:1-7

 

A woman who was ensconced in a situation of extreme poverty, was facing having to sell her own children. And yet, with a little bit of faith, she had the courage to cry out to God and see her circumstances alleviated. She had the courage to go out and ask her neighbors for empty jars. He matches his blessing to her faith. He gives her enough oil to fill all the jars she had faith and courage to gather. And it was enough for her to sell, and have some money and it was enough for her and her sons to use for their own benefit. She did not know how God would rescue her, but she knew he would, so she went to seek an agent of God to help her. And she did what she was told, and was blessed for it. This is picture of the courage and faith we need, individually and collectively.

It amazes me that God chooses to use us to help him bring about His healing and His peace.  But imagine what this account did for this woman when her faith is rewarded and she learns that God does save. Imagine what this incident did to the Servant of God who was the intermediary between the woman and God. Imagine how more his faith would have grown and how much deeper his relationship would have grown when he sees God do what God does for his children. And those boys, who would have otherwise been a part of trafficking, to know that while their Earthly father is gone, they still have a heavenly father who Provides and protects for them?

 

When we partner with God to bring about his purposes, people are rescued and we grow deeper in our relationship. Our faith grows, and others begin to have faith. God calls us to step out in courage to give us an opportunity to grow our faith and partner with God. The best example I can think of for this has been our Children. They think they can work with God and get anything accomplished. This past VBS we were raising money for World Vision’s Deep Well project. We simplified the math and told the kids that $100 could provide one well that could guarantee up to 300 people would have clean water. We asked the kids to work for change in order to help kids in Africa. Every day I would see kids have their tiny fists grasping a handful of change. As they put it in the basket, they would ask, do you think we have enough now for a well? I loved the faith that they had, that a handful of change would be a well. By the end of the week they raised $675, enough for a little over 6 wells, that would serve communities that could help more than 1800 people. That is the image of courage and faith, God calls us into. To give back to him, what little we have so that he can show us what he can do with it. And it really does take courage to move forward in faith.

 

So we as a church and we as individuals need to take courage too. Our culture would have us need to see proof before we act. We need to have all the resources before us, before we can do something. Or be directly working in the action to guarantee our efforts are paying off. In both those situations that is not stepping into courage, it is merely controlling the situation.  When we control the effort, we do not allow for faith. But when we let our faith bolster our courage, we leave room to see God. It’s like presenting a tiny fistfull of change and expecting and entire well.

 

Last week I presented one area of evil in our world, Human Trafficking. I shared about my experiences with a young woman who had been trafficked, and what I learned as I investigated and learned how truly prevalent this problem is. And the problem with sermons like that, is they get us emotionally charged right after the sermon, but then we find ourselves getting frustrated and burned out because this problem is so big. However, like the widow in our scripture and the children in our VBS program, we instead, need to approach our God giving him our best, however small, and watching him grow our faith, and bringing hope to this broken world.

God does the work of multiplying our little effort into something so much more. The widow gave her very last thing, a jar of oil, to God, and he used it to give her more for her use, give her an income and gave her hope. The children of this church, during VBS, swept some floors, folded some clothes, earn tiny fists of change and God used it to help build wells so that hundreds and hundreds of people can be guaranteed to be able to drink safe, clean water. So, since I have a second bite of this preaching apple, I figure, we can talk about what are those small steps God may be calling us into that he will use to do so much more:

 

One in our congregation has taken small steps to invest heavily in the life of another and her faith has grown because of it. Listen to this quick testimony by our Very own Thursday Nighter, Denise Smith.

 

DENISE'S TESTIMONY

 

Now, we do not all have the resources to house another family in our homes. But we all have something small we can do, and in God’ hands our little bit can become something huge. Just as a small jar of oil became hope for a widow and salvation for two boys. Just like a tiny fistful of change can become a well. Here are somethings to consider:

 

As we learned, our the rare earths used to make up our cell phone components are often mined by young boys in dangerous mines, and assembled by young girls in factories where they can not make a living or ecru wealth. So to respond to that, perhaps we consider not getting a new cell phone the minute our plan indicates we are eligible. This will help alleviate the “Demand” side of the cell phone industry. And when we do need new phones, we buy refurbished instead of helping the cell phone companies from making more money on the backs of small children by rushing to buy all the new and cool phones. This step alone will not force cell phone companies to change the way they produce cell phones, but it is a small step that God can use to make a significant change.

 

Because so many companies use human flesh to attract and sell products, and the very practice of treating people as eye candy helps to fuel the industries of pornography and prostitution, perhaps we boycott industries and products that use human flesh to sell their wares. Locally, I won’t use Adirondack Tire, or buy a Fucillo vehicle because of the way they portray women in their commercials. It does not end all of humankind as seeing each other as an object alone, but God can make this effort bring conviction to many.

Most shoe companies produce sneakers in overseas factories where they employ girls and women for wages that do not allow them to make a living. And so I will not buy Nike sneakers. Even though, my podiatrist tells me they work well with my orthotics, She also says New Balance will also work, and New Balance pay their workers a living wage where they can. This is one of those ways where trying to buy ethically works out in your favor. And while it’s just one pair of sneakers once a year, I can tell New Balance I appreciate their efforts, and use the extra money I have saved toward benefitting more of God’s children. And while the money I save is not a lot, in God’s economy, he can multiply it greatly.

 

Much of our chocolate is produced from Cacao beans harvest by children kidnapped and trafficked. My chocolate addiction should not enslave small boys just because they came from areas with few resources to protect them. So my chocolate stash in my office is Dove. While they are not 100% Fairtrade certified, instead they are Rainforest certified, which means that 30% of the cocoa used comes from farms that have minimum worker and environmental standards.  I do like Fairtrade chocolate, but it is sometimes difficult to get your hands on, but Dove is pretty accessible. And while Rainforest Alliance Certified is not perfect, it’s a step.

 

And helping people to not be trafficked is not just about what you do or don’t buy anymore. It is also about investment. Because the two biggest causes of trafficking is poverty and lack of education, one way to help keep children out of circumstances relating to trafficking is to help them get an education. What if we all used the money we would normally use to upgrade our phones this year, to instead sponsor a World Vision child to ensure they get an education in places where trafficking is at a high rate for those who are in poverty.

 

Or even invest in neighborhoods here, domestically, where people are at risk to be trafficked. Helping to ensure children do not fall through the cracks, but have every opportunity as children in higher income areas.

 

And the number one reason Human Trafficking continues to grow is ignorance, so we can look up International Justice Mission and the work they do. Educate yourself on the problem of Human Trafficking and the celebrate alongside those workers at IJM when they rescue God’s dearly loved children. Or read Just Courage, incase you haven’t already, to learn more about the problem and how God is intervening. Or even just asking for Fair Trade coffee options next time you go to Starbucks, and if there isn’t any, begin asking when they will get some.

The enormity of the problem is because people have been blinded by the darkness. For us to not act contributes to the problem. But we cannot allow ourselves to be overwhelmed. Complacency helps to make the problem grow. But we can keep fighting when we approach God with the little bit we have to give. While none of us has the resources to fully end the exploitation of human beings around the world, we all have a little something to offer.


I pointed out last week, that it takes a lot of little steps toward the darkness the cause 10 year olds to be trafficked and for men to see 10 year olds as a commodity to be bought and sold. And so, it will take a lot of little steps to begin seeing a change in this problem. It will take a lot of people learning about the causes. It will take a lot of changes in buying patterns to see a change in how our goods are produced. It will take a lot of letters to help those in power see how pervasive this issue is. It will take a lot of prayers for those being trafficked to see Jesus in their pain. It will take a lot of small steps toward Jesus to see an end to the atrocity. But I have seen God take so much less than what we have, and do so much more. And because of that we can not get overwhelmed or complacent.  Instead we can be hopeful and be assured that God has what is needed to end human trafficking. Together we can all set out in courage that is bolstered by our faith in Jesus.  So let us offer whatever small thing we have for God to multiply, and let us see just how much he does with that!

To contact Niki Campbell about this sermon, please email or write to: Brunswick Presbyterian Church, 42 White Church Lane, Troy, NY 12180