Posted in Accepted, Change, Confidence, Determination, Discipleship, Faith, Fear, Forgiveness, freedom, God, God's Promises, Happiness, Jesus Christ, Life, Light, Love, Prayer, Progress, Relationships, Uncategorized, Worship

Too much wind for ya??

It has been a while since I expounded on God’s word so I would like to share Matt. 14:23-33.

In this passage of scripture, Jesus was with a multitude and once he sent them away he went up on the mountain to pray alone. By the time he had finished it was getting late and the ship where his disciples were was in the midst of the sea being tossed around about by the waves and the wind.

Jesus comes toward them walking on the sea (yes, he was actually walking on the sea as if there was a makeshift walkway) and his disciples saw him and were afraid as they thought he was a ghost. The savior calls out to them to let them know it was him.

Astonished, Peter was the brave soul to take it a step forward when he asked for proof that it was in fact Jesus. His proof was that Jesus would allow for him to walk on water and meet him. The creator granted Peter’s request and here is where we get the meat for this story.

Verse 30 says that the wind was boisterous. That means it was loud and forceful, but this is something the text says Peter saw, not heard. Peter first saw Jesus walking on water and he was afraid. He also “saw” the wind boisterous and was afraid.

Which do you think scared him the most?

The assumption here is that when he saw Jesus and realized that it truly was him, he wanted to do what Jesus was doing. And he actually did walk on water.

But the wind’s actions were accompanied by force and it stood in opposition of what Peter wanted to do, Peter backed down because he felt he was no match for the wind. He knew that the force of the wind was far greater than he was. When he began to sink he cried for Jesus to save him and immediately the text says He did but asked Peter why did he doubt.

The lesson: The wind represents everything that is against us here from trials and tribulations to sin. Jesus is still Jesus in this lesson and Peter represents us. Jesus did not save Peter because they were good friends. In fact, any of the disciples could have done what Peter did. Peter just happened to be the one bold enough to ask. The assumption is that if you asked the question, the answer should have produced faith. In other words, Peter said Lord if it is you, then let me come to you. By the fact that Peter was able to come meant that it was in fact Jesus and now your faith will be made perfect in your work (walking on water).

Am I going too fast?

Faith without works is dead. Peter’s question was answered and he began through the work to demonstrate his faith, but the wind (trial) was too much. And even though Peter did nothing to earn his salvation, Jesus saved him anyhow. Why? Because he is God and that’s the business he is in.

Dear reader, do you believe that God will save you? Have you come to him in obedience to his will and allowed your faith to grow through your works?

Or is there just too much wind???

Posted in Confidence, Fear, Giving, God's Promises, Progress, Truth

Hope in the Storm

Eye of the StormIf you are fortunate to live in an area where the seasons change, you have undoubtedly heard the phrase April showers bring May flowers. But metaphorically speaking, whenever there is a difficult time in our lives, we count it as a storm. Some storms are far worse than others, but nevertheless we go through storms. During these metaphorical storms we always want to do work. We think there is some deeper meaning to the storm or that there is some unfinished business we need to do. In a literal storm, we know not to go outside and we take cover as to be shielded and protected from the storm.

No matter which storm we are referring to, the latter is always true: We need to wait. The bible tells us in the book of James chapter one: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” This is the true purpose of the storm. We don’t like storms because they are so unpredictable. We don’t know what to do about it, there is no cry for help and we can’t control it. The only thing we can do is wait — and that’s the dilemma!

Wait literally means to stay in place with expectation or to remain stationary in readiness. We have such a problem with waiting and with expectations and that’s because we don’t want to be let down. The feeling of not wanting to be let down is cutting us off from our blessing. God spoke through his Prophet Jeremiah to his people of old and said, “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” What the prophet forgot to tell us was that we were going to get the triumph from going through the trial. There is no way around this.

God has not forgotten us and he is not asleep. He’s where he has always been and he has done marvelous things! Do we not have the faith to wait? Do we not have the courage to stand despite the odds we face. God’s people are not fearful people. We never need to fear a storm for we know that our God is waiting for us in the midst of the storm. It is in the eye of the storm where you will find peace and joy and God’s love. He’s there. Trust him. Go through that storm and count it all joy because He has something to show you!

Posted in Faith, God's Promises, Happiness, Jesus Christ, Love

Passover + Easter = Eternal Life

lamb_thumbWe have finally reached Easter weekend and as the vernal equinox predected, Passover and Easter celebrations will not coincide. Each tradition still remains separate, even though it was meant for the two days to collide. Allow me to teach it before I preach it!

Passover began in Exodus 12 when Moses gave instructions as the last and final god of Egypt was to be defeated. This idol was supposed to protect the royal family and the Lord’s last plague was designed to destroy the first-born of everything. Pharoah was told by his spiritual counsel that his family was safe. Moses’ instructions were given so that death would “pass over” the obedient children of Israel. He was right. This first born lamb or goat was to be killed in the evening and a fellowship meal shared with family and friends.

Never had death targeted a group of people before. You see death had no bias until this time. Death had spread from Adam to Moses after the sin in the garden and was not a respecter of persons. Passover is still celebrated to remember the grace and mercy shown by God to his people. Easter is a holiday that is supposed to mirror the Passover in the celebration of the resurrection. It is within Easter that the resurrection becomes the catalyst to remember the grace and mercy shown by God to his people.

In both the Passover and Easter, God’s people are granted life and with the favor from God it is truly an abundant life. In each case God saved his people from a condition that they could not save themselves from. Dear reader, can you relate to being placed in a position that you have no control over? A condition that you just have to take because there is nothing you can do about it anyway.

Mary and Martha were faced with this realization when their Lazarus died. By the time Jesus had come to their house, Lazarus had been dead for four days. Jesus assessed the condition of Mary and Martha, but the best conversation happened between Jesus and Martha. Jesus told Martha that her brother would rise again. Martha said, “Yeah, I believe he will in the resurrection in the last days.” Although Martha’s statement was true and it showed that she had come to acceptance with the finality of her brother’s death and was looking forward to the resurrection. Jesus’ response to her was this: “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were
dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” Her response fell just short of a yay. It didn’t register to her exactly what he meant by saying he was the resurrection. So Martha simply said that she believed he was the son of God and that he was the one who was to come into the world.

It is with Martha’s statement that you can see where her faith stopped. She could not process Jesus’ statement so she went as far as her faith would take her. Basically, she would say to Jesus that the word on the street is that you say you are the son of God, but what does that mean as I grieve my brother? You see, if Martha believed that Jesus could truly help this situation, then we would have had a more definitive statement from her. Martha is where many of us are at today. We struggle with our belief. We have a hard time believing beyond our eyes. We in our little minds have limited God in our lives and have reduced his work to what we can imagine or see.

The Lord showed them something that day that they would never forget. He walked in to an uncontrollable situation and controlled it. He walk into impossibility and made it possible. He walked into hopelessness and gave it hope. He met unbelief at it’s strongest point and turned it into belief. I hope, dear reader, you will revisit John 11 and see this unfold for yourself. Jesus made sure the world would know that the Father in heaven sent him, by doing something that only the Father could have orchestrated. He brought Lazarus back to life without breaking a sweat. With this one act he gave us a model of our very own salvation. We will all be saved by grace through faith in Christ Jesus and we will all have to answer the question as to whether or not we believe that Jesus is the giver of Eternal Life. Passover and Easter are our witnesses and we must now act. Do YOU believe this?

Posted in Children, Confidence, Discipleship, Faith, Forgiveness, Giving, God, God's Promises, Happiness, Jesus Christ, Justice, Life, Love, Resurrection, Sharing, society, Success, Truth

Jesus — the way, truth, life (Part 3)

TheWayTruthLife10What is your life worth?

Each year thousands of people commit suicide because they don’t see their worth. We go through life trying to prove to ourselves that we are worth something. We put in overtime with our jobs, we help out when we can and we even give money away to prove our worth. Kids in school are troubled by bullies who point out all of their flaws. They take to heart everything negatively that is said to them without regard for the good things. When kids (and adults) are faced with these type of challenges it seems as though the only option is to stay at home and cry.

Many people are walking around desiring to be with someone that will give them more self-esteem credits. Each time they date and get hurt, they lower their standards more and more in an attempt to lessen the pain. They end up settling for “G” candidate thinking that they are not worthy of the “A” candidate. Furthermore, in America we spend money. Everything revolves around money so it stands to reason that value would be placed on everything here. Our lives should not be for sale. It’s tough when ad campaigns tell you that you are too fat, too dark, too skinny, too short or your hair is not good enough, your feet are too big or even your teeth aren’t white enough. Plastic surgery is a billion dollar industry. Low self-esteem doesn’t care how much money you have or what color you are. As a result we really don’t know who we are.

Thank God for Jesus! You see, he placed value on all of us when he died on the cross for the sins of the world. Through his sacrifice he is trying to tell us that we have value. His actions prove we have worth — why else would the Son of God waste his time on us? If John 3:16 is correct (and it is!) then God loved us and was eager to save us. He sent his son to die for the sins of the world and simply says let me give you rest.

Dear readers, I hope you know that there is no better life than one spent serving the Lord and enjoying the blessings he gives us. To live a life reciprocating the love God thrusts toward us is clearly an abundant life. Jesus said that he is the way, the truth and the life and he is right. There is no way to the father except by the mediator he chose and that is Christ.

Help me spread the word that salvation has been brought down to earth and by it God has added value to every life. All we have to do now is live like it!

Posted in Faith, God, God's Promises, Jesus Christ, Life, Truth

Jesus — The way truth and life (Part 2)

truthSometimes it’s hard to face the truth. It is especially hard when you are totally guilty and the truth convicts you. I have been in many situations in my life where I got that feeling deep down inside that made me uncomfortable being wrong. Guilt is something that comes from the inside out not the other way around. It might even be easier if guilt came from the outside in because then people could actually see guilt come upon them and there would be no need to cover it up.

We have become masters at covering sin and guilt. If we would only spend the time covering sin and avoiding it all together, our lives would be much better. Truth cuts. And it really hurts when it cut. It seems that it can get even worse if we first thought that we were right only to find out later that we were dead wrong. There are people serving time in prison for crimes they did not commit and it seems as though our society is not interested in knowing the truth. We could do great things in freeing these folks if we wanted to. However, we are still running from truth. Now that we have DNA testing, wouldn’t you think that we would test every rapist in prison who claimed he didn’t do it. We could improve our justice system immensely if we did this.

Back when Jesus was on trial, the Jews handed him over to Pilate and the dictator could not find any fault in him. Given the fact that he couldn’t find any fault and the Jews hating Jesus so much prompted Pilate to ask the question, “what is truth?” One of the reasons Jesus came to earth is so that we could put his picture in our dictionaries under truth. Jesus proclaimed to his disciples that he was the way, truth and life and that it was impossible to get to the Father without him.

It was these very same statements that put Jesus under fire with the Jews. This situation had escalated so badly that Pilate referred to their custom of releasing one prisoner a year and he thought for sure they would release Jesus. You see, there was only Jesus and a guy named Barabbas in Jail. Barabbas was a known thief and was totally deserving of jail time. The angry crowd said to release the robber and for Jesus, string him up on a tree! Pilate was shocked! Satan applauded! And through this act God got the last laugh. Salvation became available to the world because of what happened then and it all happened because people did not want to face truth.

Unfortunately, we still live in a time where truth is sometimes too much to bear. If we would ultimately face the one absolute truth, then all the other truths would be easy. The one truth I speak of is that God has made the same Jesus who was crucified, both Lord and Christ and if we want to see the creator’s face in peace, we must be born again! Amen!

Posted in Accountability, Discipleship, Faith, Free Will, God's Promises, Jesus Christ, Life, Love, Truth

Jesus — The Way, truth and life (Part 1)

waytruthlifeEver since I can remember I’ve loved the English language. And with understanding any langauge one must understand the rules of engagement. It seems that some people have forgotten about the rules of engagement when it comes to reading and understanding God’s word.

In this series I’ve been doing on the seven “I am” statements of Jesus in the Gospel of John, he constantly uses a definite article in describing himself. An article is defined as any of a small set of words or affixes (as a, an, and the) used with nouns to limit or give definiteness to the application. Whenever Jesus describes himself he needs to use the definite article (the) because of his alpha and omega status.

For example, Jesus was in the midst of teaching his disciples when he said in John 14 to not be worried because if they believe in God, they should believe in him. He then talked about his fathers house having all of these rooms or mansions that he was preparing or making ready for everyone who belongs to him. It was after he made a promise to come back that Thomas expressed his confusion with where Jesus was going and he asked how could they (his disciples) ever know the way? Jesus then boldly proclaims, “I am the way, the truth and the life and no one comes to the father but by me.”

The first thing he said (and the emphasis of this particular blog) is that he was “the way.” Thomas wanted to know how they could know the way. Thomas did not know how important and relevant his question was. Jesus is the way maker. He can literally make a way out of no way. When Israel was trapped between Pharoah’s army and the Red Sea, it would have easily been assumed that God would simply take care of the problem and eliminate the army. The Lord instead got rid of the very thing that troubled Israel the most. You see, it would have been very easy for God to eliminate the army. God did the more impressive stunt by eliminating the hardest part. I still get overjoyed wondering how Israel felt crossing the Red Sea on dry ground.

God made a way out of no way in this situation and all Jesus was doing is introducing his disciples to the family business. For eternal life, Jesus says that he is “the way.” He is the way back to God for those who have been separated by sin. He is the way when situations are bigger than us. And he is the way when it comes to saving our souls. The question now: Is he your way?

Posted in Change, Confidence, Discipleship, Faith, Forgiveness, Free Will, God's Promises, Happiness, helping, Jesus Christ, Life, Relationships, Resurrection, Truth

Jesus — The Resurrection and the Life

20130223-010914.jpgA family of five, living in a studio apartment full of little critters running around, is no way to live life. An 11 year old, having to worry about whether or not an adult will make sexual advances on him or her tonight, is no way to live either. Nor is it cool that a single mother, working three jobs to make ends meet, gets her 4 kids taken away because someone called child protective services after discovering they were left alone at home a few hours a day.

We get so caught up in living life and gathering things. We define ourselves by the things we have accumulated and none of these things mean anything when we’re dead. We spend a lot of time being angry and frustrated when things don’t go our way. We hold grudges and seek revenge and will go to great lengths to get even. We are overweight, sleep deprived and need assistance from the pharmaceutical industry just to keep up. For all these things to be temporal, why do we place such value on them?

Jesus made this statement in John 11:25, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live…” I wonder how many people truly understand and are comforted by these words? With these statements Jesus has changed the game.

He’s taken the focus off of the now and placed it on the eternal. If there is anyone watching the big picture here, God has given us an everlasting promise that should make our lives easier. His statements set us free.

We struggle to live life here on earth in such a corruptible state and when our loving savior promises us eternal life it doesn’t appear to be enough. I mean is it enough, dear reader, to make you stop chasing the almighty dollar and begin to covet more spiritual things? Does it make you want to spread love to everyone you meet? Does it make you want to change the game for someone else? Does it even make you want to be a better person — you know, live life because you’re saved and not to earn salvation?

This could be a stab in the dark, but I believe that Jesus actually meant for this to be the best news ever and that his disciples would hear these words and live a celebratory life in honor of His work.

Are we taking his promises for granted?