Sermons

Summary: What step of faith do you need to take? What decision do you need to make? On what promise do you need to put down a stake?

Introduction

Before the first raindrop fell, Honi had to feel a little foolish. Standing inside a circle and demanding rain is a risky proposition. Vowing that you won’t leave the circle until it rains is even riskier. Honi didn’t draw a semi-circle. He drew a complete circle. There was no escape clause, no expiration date. Honi backed himself into a circle, and the only way out was a miracle.

Drawing prayer circles often looks like an exercise in foolishness. But that’s faith. Faith is the willingness to look foolish. Noah looked foolish building a boat in the middle of a desert. The Israelite army looked foolish marching around Jericho blowing trumpets. A shepherd boy named David looked foolish charging a giant with a slingshot. The wise men looked foolish tracking a star to Timbuktu. Peter looked foolish getting out of a boat in the middle of the Sea of Galilee. And Jesus looked foolish wearing a crown of thorns. But the results speak for themselves. Noah was saved from the flood; the walls came tumbling down; David defeated Goliath; the wise men discovered the Messiah; Peter walked on water; and Jesus was crowned the King of Kings.

Foolishness is a feeling that Moses was very familiar with. He had to feel foolish going before Pharaoh and demanding that Pharaoh let God’s people go. He felt foolish raising his staff over the Red Sea. And he most certainly felt foolish promising meat to eat for the entire nation of Israel in the middle of the wilderness. But it was his willingness to look foolish that resulted in epic miracles: the exodus of Israel out of Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, and the quail miracle.

Drawing prayer circles often feels foolish. And the bigger the circle you draw, the more foolish you’ll feel. But if you aren’t willing to step out of the boat, you’ll never walk on water. If you aren’t willing to circle the city, the wall will never fall. And if you aren’t willing to follow the star, you’ll miss out on the greatest adventure of your life.

In order to experience a miracle, you have to take a risk. And one of the most difficult types of risk to take is risking your reputation. Honi already had a reputation as a rainmaker, but he was willing to risk his reputation by praying for rain one more time. Honi took the risk and the rest is history.

The greatest chapters in history always begin with risk, and the same is true with the chapters of your life. If you’re unwilling to risk your reputation, you’ll never build the boat like Noah or get out of the boat like Peter. You cannot build God’s reputation if you aren’t willing to risk yours. There comes a moment when you need to make the call or make the move. Circle makers are risk takers.

Moses had learned this lesson well: if you don’t take the risk, you forfeit the miracle.

Optional Illustration:

Share an example of a prayer or promise that felt foolish. Example from The Circle Maker: purchasing the first drum set for National Community Church (TCM, pages 114–115).

Text: Numbers 11

Context:

After 400 years of slavery, God delivers the Israelites out of Egypt. But it’s much harder getting “Egypt out of the Israelites” than getting “the Israelites out of Egypt.” Despite the memories of slavery and miracles of deliverance, the Israelites want to go back to Egypt.

The people of Israel began to complain, “Oh, for some meat!” they exclaimed. “We remember all the fish we ate used to eat for free in Egypt. And we had all the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic that we wanted. But now our appetites are gone, and day after day we have nothing to eat but this manna!”1

The Israelites were complaining. I know, shocking! Instead of manna, they want meat to eat. And as a hardcore carnivore, I understand that. If you haven’t eaten at an all-you-can-eat Brazilian steakhouse, you aren’t ready to die yet. But talk about selective memory! The Israelites longingly remember the free fish they ate in Egypt, and forget the little fact that the food was free because they weren’t. The Israelites weren’t just slaves, they had been the victims of genocide. Yet they missed the meat on the menu? And isn’t it just a little ironic that the Israelites were complaining about one miracle while asking for another one? Their capacity for complaining was simply astounding, and we scoff at the Israelites for grumbling about a meal of manna that was miraculously delivered to their doorsteps every day, but don’t we do the same thing?

There are miracles all around us all the time, yet it’s so easy to find something to complain about in the midst of those miracles. The simple act of reading involves millions of impulses firing across billions of synapses. While you’re reading, your heart goes about its business circulating five quarts of blood through a hundred thousand miles of veins, arteries, and capillaries. And it’s amazing you can even concentrate given the fact that you’re on a planet that is traveling 67,000 mph through space while spinning around its axis at a speed of 1,000 mph. But we take those manna miracles, the miracles that happen day in and day out, for granted.

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