By Ernest O'Neill


By Ernest O'Neill


God does not use the normal visible means that we use to bring about his miracles.  And so when you pray for your boss or for a certain situation at work where there's tension or conflict and then you start coming in the next day looking to see if he is a little gentler in his walk or if he slammed the door a little less than he did before -- or you begin to look at your colleague and see are they being a little kindly to me -- you're immediately walking by sight and not by faith and you're preventing God continuing his work. Because his work is done apart from the visible means and methods that you and I normally accept and understand.

That's the first thing that I think God is trying to say to us through Palm Sunday.  That God listens to your prayer and mine, and in response to our faith he is operating -- and he expects you to walk by faith and not by sight because if you walk by sight, you're looking for visual signs that he doesn't even need.

That's why, in a way, Susan's situation is not as bad as we all think. You know with the metastasis. She is the lady you remember that is in Switzerland and has so much cancer all through her body that her little baby pokes her rib you know and breaks it.  Because God heals independent of physical signs or symptoms or physical means, he doesn't gradually make you better and better, he doesn't actually even need to make you better in the world's eyes. He obviously, with a gaping wound in his side and holes in his hands, he is able to maintain physical life without the normal physical symptoms that we associate with health.

But loved ones, there's something else that God is saying through the Palm Sunday thing. I mean after all, you must admit the Creator actually did not make it easy for us to believe that Jesus was the king. I mean he made him ride on a donkey. I mean that's what a clown rides on, a donkey, it's such a silly looking little animal. You don't put a king on a donkey. Why did the Creator put his son, the king of all the universe on a donkey? Why didn't he put him at least on a strong horse or maybe a white charger or something that would help us to believe that he was the king?

Here's the answer. Visible means actually hinder faith. Visible means actually hinder faith.  I know it sounds strange to us but the presence of visible means actually hinders our faith. You know this so you needn't be surprised. You know that you have sunk utterly and completely into God when the thing was absolutely, to human eyes, hopeless. That's when you had your deepest moments of faith in God -- when the thing was absolutely hopeless. Because the truth is, we constantly think that visible means -- you know, if a thing looks as if it might with a little help from God's grace work -- then we'll be able to have faith. No, we won't.

Visible means actually hinder faith. Visible means encourage you to hope that the thing might still turn out right by its own natural power and prevent you from leaning utterly and completely on God.  And the proof of that you know is that the event that we read about in Abraham's life, if you just like to look at it, it's Romans 4:18. It stated very plainly there that whole principle. Remember God promised Abraham who was 100 years of age and Sara who was 90 that they were going to have a baby, which was somewhat of a surprise to them and then you find in Romans 4:18.

Romans 4:18, "In hope, Abraham, he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations; as he had been told, 'So shall your descendants be.'" Do you see that? "In hope, he believed against hope." Actually in divine hope that God would do what he had said he would do, he had to believe in that divine hope against his human hope because all of us are buoyed up by visible means.

We all are! Okay, there's this old lady, 90 years of age and if we can see, "Well, she looks remarkably sprightly for a 90-year-old", then there begins to creep into our minds the thought, "Well, maybe she could have a child, who knows? I mean maybe she's a remarkable woman." But if she's 90 and obviously old and almost at death-door and you're 100 and you're worn out and your body is finished, then there's no hope from the body. There's no hope from the visible means. There's no human hope.

Human hope is looking at things as they are in this natural world and hoping that by the normal laws of health and nature, the thing will turn out all right and it's interesting that Abraham had to ditch that hope completely in order to believe in real hope. In the hope that God would keep his promise and that whatsoever you desire when you pray, believe that you'll receive it and you will have it. Now, loved ones it's the same for us.

Visible means are actually a detriment and a disadvantage to faith because they keep us from putting our whole faith in God and they keep stealing away some of our faith that maybe it'll come about anyway by natural means, "All you have to do Lord is give it a little bit of a push", and God wants us to see plainly that there is only one power on earth that will heal us and there's only one power on earth that will deliver us and answer us in our difficulties -- financial, domestic, emotional -- and that is his power. And his power not only works apart from visible means but actually is hindered by visible means and by the presence of visible means.

Why else did God arrange for nobody in that crowd of 5,000 to have any food with them except one little guy who had five loaves and two fish. Why? Why else did God arrange for the only man in all of Saul's army who would volunteer to fight against Goliath, why did he arrange for that man to be the youngest little son of Jessie's family of boys? Why else did God arrange for the reduction of Gideon's 32,000 possibly victorious soldiers to reduce it down to the utterly sure to be defeated 300?

If it weren't for the fact that God is determined to show us that faith in him does not come from looking at the visible means, looking at the industry averages and calculating the odds and then saying with a little bit of help from our friends, with a little bit of help from God, maybe we'll pull this off. God wants us to see the two are antagonistic to each other. Visible means does not help faith.