Friday, September 30, 2016

Super, Overcoming Overcomers

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

I’m teaching a series in the book of 1st John at the church I pastor. This week, we are at one of the most powerful statements about those who are in Christ — we are overcomers. Interestingly, the word is used three times in just two verses, 4-5. Our English word comes from the Greek word, nikao. It means victory. The Greeks had a goddess of victory, Nike,  and, yes, there is an athletic shoe by the same name. 

Victory! Christ followers are victorious. Here are a few key principles to keep in mind to live a victorious life:

Remember that Satan is defeated. His power has been loosened by the effective work of Jesus [1 John 3:8]. Furthermore, he and his cohorts will be dealt a final, eternal blow [Revelation 20:10]. 

Reflect on the power in your life. "Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world" [1 John 4:4]. The same power that defeated Satan lives in you. 

Resist Satan. Don’t give in to him through ignorance of his ways or exposing yourself to temptation. 

Redress yourself with the full armor of God. Keep your spiritual armor on at all times. Never go into spiritual warfare without the proper protection [Ephesians 6:11].

Renew your mind by taking “every thought captive in obedience to Christ” [2 Corinthians 10:3-4]. 

Recommit to pray. Pray, pray, pray! Prayer is a means to unleash the power of God. So be fervent and faithful in it [James 5:16].

One more thing. Paul said an interesting thing about being overcomers in his letter to the Roman Christ followers [Romans 8:37]. Our English translations use the word “conquerors,” but it’s the same Greek word, nikao. But here, Paul added another word to it, huper, meaning, over, above and beyond. We are beyond overcomers (conquerors), more than overcomers, overcoming overcomers; in fact, we are super, overcoming overcomers!

Victory is sweet. Enjoy it every day!

For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. 1 John 5:4-5

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Pray for Others

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

There is an often overlooked solution for the self-centered Christ follower: Look beyond your own problems, see the greater problems others face, and pray for them. It follows the same principal of the hymn, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.” One line says, “And the things of earth will grow strangely dim…” When we focus on the greater, other things pale in significance. 

It’s one reason why we should pray in the Spirit. What I mean by that is, to pray in harmony with the Spirit. Another way to say it is to pray according to the will of God [see 1 John 5:14]. In the same way the Holy Spirit intercedes for you, you intercede for others. 

Doing this may not be as easy as it sounds because we live in an culture that promotes self-centeredness rather than shunning it. However, God wants you to look beyond your own problems and pray for the needs of others. Listen to Paul as he explained it to the Philippian Christ followers, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” [2:3-4]. 

Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote, "Before the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, in Barcelona, Madrid and other places, there were psychological clinics with large numbers of neurotics undergoing drug treatments and others attending regularly for psychoanalysis and such like. They had their personal problems, their worries, their anxieties, their temptations, having to go back week after week, month after month, to the clinics in order to be kept going.

"Then came the Civil War; and one of the first and most striking effects of that War was that it virtually emptied the psychological and psychiatric clinics. These neurotic people were suddenly cured by a greater anxiety, the anxiety about their whole position, whether their homes would still be there, whether their husbands would still be alive, whether their children would be killed.

"Their greater anxieties got rid of the lesser ones. In having to give attention to the bigger problem they forgot their own personal and somewhat petty problems" (The Christian Soldier: An Exposition of Ephesians 6:10 to 20, p. 357).

Amen to that!

Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. Ephesians 6:18

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Pray for America

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

After watching the presidential debates, my heart is heavy/broken, thinking about where America has come from, to where we are now.

Does America have a future? Are our best years behind us? Are we headed for the ash heap of history? I heard someone say recently that there will always be an America, just not the one we have known.

I don’t think anyone can answer questions like these with absolute certainty, but this much we do know: Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord [Psalm 33.12a]. The opposite is also true: No nation is blessed if God is not its Lord.

America was not the first nation to rise, nor will it be the last to fall. And the truth is, every nation has, or will, expire. I don’t think America will be the exception. The bigger question, then, is how long can we survive since we are pushing God away from our culture?

Historian Will Durant, in his book, The Story of Civilization: Caesar and Christ, said, "A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within. The essential causes of Rome's decline lay in her people, her morals…” That sounds pretty much like today’s America to me. Instead of freedom of religion, we are declaring freedom from religion. 

We have, as a nation, been successful in removing God from our schools, sporting events, public venues, and workplaces. Think about it. We aren’t suppose to say, “Merry Christmas,” lest we offend someone. And heaven forbid that we say, “God bless you.” You can almost see one’s head explode! And please don’t get me started about Easter/Resurrection. I refuse to say, “Happy Spring Break!”

We need to turn our eyes, and our hearts, back to the Lord. Perhaps a remembrance of September 11, 2001 will inspire us. After that infamous day, I remember seeing prayer vigils on street corners. I remember members of Congress singing “God Bless America.” I remember churches packed with people, praying for our nation. It will be things like these, and repentance, if we are to survive as a nation.

When the late Peter Marshall was the Chaplain of the U.S. Senate, he said, "The choice before us is plain: Christ or chaos, conviction or compromise, discipline or disintegration.”

Is there hope for America? Well, if God could turn around wicked Nineveh, He can turn us around too! 

Will You not Yourself revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You? Show us Your lovingkindness, O Lord, and grant us Your salvation. Psalm 85:6-7

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

His Way Is Always Best

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

There’s nothing wrong with asking God, “Why?” After all, we’re human, and often we just don’t get it. I’ve often wondered if God answered my “whys,” would it have made things better or worse. Would His answer have immediately healed the pain, or instantly mended my broken heart, or merely raise more questions? 

In John 11, we read about a family that was devastated by a tragedy, the death of a family member. They were close friends with Jesus and had sent word to Him that Lazarus was sick. "Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick" [11:3].

When you read that, you might expect the very next verse to say, “So Jesus transported Himself from where He was to where they were, healed Lazarus immediately, and they all lived happily ever after.” Makes sense, right?

Instead, we read that He remained where He was for a couple of more days, during which time His friend died. By the time He arrived in Bethany, Lazarus had been dead for four days. It almost seems like a contradiction, doesn’t it? If Jesus really loved Lazarus, then why didn’t He go immediately and heal him?

Therein lies one of our problems. Why didn’t Jesus go and heal Lazarus? Simply because His way is higher than our way. Mary and Martha had healing in mind, but Jesus had resurrection in mind. Mary and Martha were about to experience what Paul would later tell the Ephesian Christ followers, that Jesus is able to do “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” [3:20].

When tragedy strikes, we lose perspective. It’s difficult to see clearly when our eyes are filled with tears. That’s why we cast ourselves on the all sufficient grace of God. Because His thoughts and ways are higher than ours, they are always best.

My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And My ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so My ways are higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

Monday, September 26, 2016

Thank God for His Patience

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

That God is seemingly slow to react to sin puzzles some Christ followers. Why doesn’t He just zap sinners, get rid of them, destroy them and their kind? The simple answer is that God is patient, unlike most of us! [2 Peter 3:9]

In our fallenness, we humans prefer that people suffer for their wrongdoing. Jonah comes to mind here. He ran as far away from the Lord as he could because he thought the undeserving Ninevites might actually repent, saving themselves from destruction. And then, instead of rejoicing over their salvation, he complained about God treating the Ninevites with patience [see Jonah 4:2].

Jonah benefitted from the Lord’s patience too. God didn’t snuff him out for his disobedience, had he forgotten that? Sure, he was disciplined, but it could have been worse — although I’m sure it was very unpleasant to be swallowed up and then regurgitated by a fish!

We have every reason to be thankful that the Lord, unlike humans, is slow to anger. When we are stubborn and unrepentant, He waits patiently for us to return, to respond to conviction. And while discipline can be painful, God wants us to see the error of our choices, stop thinking that we are getting away with sin, and return to a righteous path. 

Since we know that God’s justice demands a penalty for sin, let’s be more proactive. Why wait for discipline? Instead, let’s do what’s right, and incline our hearts toward the Lord.

“Now then,” Joshua said, “put away the foreign gods that are among you and incline your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel.” Joshua 24:23

Friday, September 23, 2016

Stay Connected

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

Yesterday was an interesting day in the small town where I live. There was a planned power outage and it lasted all day - from 8:30 AM until just after 7:00 PM. Since our house is all electric, it made things a little difficult. We had to rely on our BBQ grill to cook our food. That wasn’t so bad because we enjoy grilling, but have you ever tried BBQ’d coffee? Take my word for it, I’ve had better!

It caused me to reflect on the necessity of staying connected to a power supply. It’s true of the spiritual life too. Jesus said, “Apart from Me, you can do nothing” [John 15:5].

That makes me rethink everything. Would we not have the most amazing life if we stayed constantly connected to the ultimate power source? God’s power is always on. It’s reliable. It doesn’t break down or become obsolete. It’s never compromised. His is a miracle working, omnipotent kind of power that never fails!

I looked at one of my lamps yesterday and it struck me that it was a useless piece of metal and wiring, incapable of functioning as it was created to do without a power source. And what about us? What good are we disconnected from our power supply? Disconnected from our power source, we are like a broken lamp in the darkness.

Get plugged in and stay connected. Trust God wholeheartedly. Pray. Read the Word and follow His loving, divine purpose for your life. Stay rooted in Him. It’s true, apart from Christ, we can do nothing. Stay connected to God and live!

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing” John 15:5

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Timeless Gifts

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

Two questions: Have you ever thought about what heaven is like? If you were given the task to create heaven according to your specifications, what would you include to make it heavenly?

At first, it might seem easy to answer. Perhaps several things popped into your mind right away. But after a few minutes of serious thought, you realize how hard it is to think of things that would give eternal satisfaction and endless joy. That’s because we spend a lot of time pursuing things and relationships here on earth, only to find out they weren't what we really wanted after all—they weren’t timeless.

Think about that gift you just couldn’t live without. You played with it, or wore it, or used it for the first few weeks, but soon tired of it. After that, it got pushed to the back of the closet or sent to the storage shed. Our problem is that, left to ourselves, we don’t know what we really want. 

That is one of the many reasons we have a great High Priest on the throne of grace. Nothing is hidden from Him; everything is open and bare before Him [see Hebrews 4:13]. Let me say it this way, Jesus knows what we really need, even when we don’t recognize what that might be. Not only that, He lovingly invites us to draw near the throne of grace to get help when we need it [see Hebrews 4:16]. 

You can rest assured that the faithful High Priest knows what you need the most. His are timeless gifts, because He is fitting you for the heaven He has already prepared.

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have One who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:13-16

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Joyful and Faithful - Even In Tribulation

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

I walked into one of the stores where I live and was struck by the number of wooden, wall hangings with sayings of various kinds written on them. You know the type; with pithy little statements. One of them showed a man boastfully saying, “I rule the roost.” Right under it a woman remarked, “I rule the rooster.”

I thought of that as I was reading the book of Acts this morning in my devotional time. It struck me that you’d be hard pressed to find wall hangings with the likes of these:

  • “Count it all joy when you many trials come your way.”
  • “In the world you’ll have an abundance of tribulations; be cheerful about it.” 
  • “You’ll only get into the Kingdom of God through many pressures.”

All of these are loose translations of verses in the Bible: James 1:2, John 16:33, and Acts 14:22 respectively. If we had our preference, most Christ followers would hang up something like this: Through many days of perpetual happiness we enter the kingdom of God.  But that is neither Scripture, nor life. 

Perhaps Job said it best, “How frail is man! How few his days, how full of trouble!" [Job 14:1 NLT].

Storms of life effect everyone, believer and unbeliever alike. No one is exempt from them. Yes, of course, good things and blessings come our way, but so do tragic and inexplicable things. The Apostle Paul reminded us that things happen to us, which are “common to man” [1 Corinthians 10:13]. 

A Christ follower is not exempt from human suffering and tragedy. And while we cannot always see what God is doing in our spiritual life, He can because He is at work in us, making us more like His precious Son, Jesus. Keep the faith!

After they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.” Acts 14:21-22 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Hand in Hand with God

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

The unknown future is one of mankind’s most frightening realities. Often, the road ahead appears bleak, especially in times of stress and uncertainty. But Christ followers have a unique gift that enables them to face these unknowns with confidence. We have trainable, spiritual eyes that see an omniscient God who not only holds the future, but also holds us in His hand.

Moses left the comforts of Egypt and led the children of Israel through the Red Sea, into the wilderness, and to a land flowing with milk and honey, because he saw “the One who is invisible” [Hebrews 11:27]. His spiritual eyes were trained, focused on the God whom he trusted completely. 

Ours may not be as dramatic as his, but we are all called to move forward with our own particular calling, often without the benefit of detailed instructions. But we do share something: the promised presence of God.

That’s why it is vital that we remain pure in heart. In His famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they will ‘see’ God” [Matthew 5:8]. Being pure in heart doesn’t mean perfection. It describes the person who walks in obedience, confessing and forsaking sinful thoughts and actions. 

With pure hearts, we know and sense His abiding presence with us. With that, we can face the future unknowns hand and hand with Him.

It was by faith that Moses left the land of Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger. He kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the One who is invisible. Hebrews 11:27

Monday, September 19, 2016

Ongoing, Continual Praise

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

It’s the beginning of a new week and there is much to do for the Lord. There will be blessings and challenges to face, I’m sure. So, let’s start this week in thankfulness and gratitude to the Father in the name of His Son, Jesus.

In my humble opinion, a grateful heart is the single greatest act of personal worship we can offer to God. Thankfulness should be the primary and consistent response to whatever happens in our life, this and every week. 

Paul, in writing to the Ephesian and Thessalonian Christ followers, said that we are to be thankful “in everything” [see 1 Thessalonians 5:18], and “for everything” [see Ephesians 5:20].

In everything, and for everything, implies the hard things and the blessings that come our way. Now before you get too excited and say, “Rick, how can I be thankful for all things? How is that possible?” I have two responses:
  • It’s possible if you live a spirit-filled life. In the Ephesian passage quoted above, giving thanks is the last of 5 Greek participles that describe what it means to be filled with the spirit.
  • Don’t be misled by the word for. It comes from a Greek preposition meaning, over, beyond, in the stead of. Suppose you fall down this week and break your arm. Are you required to say, “Thank you for the broken are?” I don’t think so! The idea behind the Greek word is that your gratitude is undisturbed by the event. Just keep on being thankful.
There is no escaping the importance of a continual offering of thanks to the Lord in everything and for everything. The author of Hebrews said it well, “Therefore, through Jesus let us continually offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of our lips that confess His name” [13:15].   

And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Ephesians 5:20

Friday, September 16, 2016

A Name Like No Other

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

Have you ever received a personalized gift with your name on it and what your name means? I have a few cups that were given to me like that, and interestingly, my name doesn’t mean the same thing to different companies. I also find it interesting that when you are looking at things like that, you never see anything negative about a name. Everyone’s name means something good. 

In Bible days, naming a child was a major event. The Hebrew family took great pains when selecting a name. Sometimes the name had a personal meaning to the parents. One such example is Leah. When her fourth child was born, she named him Judah, saying, “This time I will praise the Lord” [Genesis 29:35 — the first three children were given names in lament]. Occasionally, the child was given a name that, later, turned out to be a personality trait. Think about the name Jacob. It means, one who supplants [Genesis 25:26].

Mary and Joseph had a vastly different experience. They did not choose their Son’s name. His name was given to them by an angel. It was a name that the the heavenly Father selected; one that would represent His purpose in coming to earth. And, a day will come when every person, in every nation, in every language will mention His name on bended knee [Philippians 2:10].

What was that name? Jesus, meaning, salvation, or, He saves. He is called many things in Scripture: Lord Immanuel, Teacher, Messiah, et al. But it is His name that tells the story. He came as a Savior, “He will save His people from their sins” [Matthew 1:21]. Is it any wonder that God gave Him a name above all names!

Therefore, God elevated Him to the place of highest honor and gave Him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9-11

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Listen Up!

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

When Jan and I were missionaries in Germany, we visited Hof, a small village very near the border of East Germany (Germany was divided at that time, East and West). A Captain in the military took us on a tour, but before it began, he said, “Listen up! For your safety, there are things you shouldn’t do while we are at the border.” Then he listed several things we should refrain from doing in order to avoid being hauled off by the Military Police.

When your personal safety is at risk, you listen. I think we should listen to God’s Word with that mindset. Jesus told a parable one day, and He talked about a soil, which He described as noble and good hearted people who listen and retain the Word, producing a harvest.

Let’s call them “faithful hearers.” They hear God’s Word and obey it, cling to it, retain it, and then, by persevering, produce a crop. Every Christ follower can do this by doing two things: Reading and meditating on the Scriptures. Read for consumption (because you delight in it), and for comprehension (as you meditate on it). One of my Bible College professors used to say that he preferred the “countrified” words for meditate… “chew on it.”

The Psalmist understood this perfectly. He talked about the person who is blessed—the one who finds his “delight in the Law of the Lord” and “meditates on it day and night.” What is the result of that? He is fruitful. He is like a tree nourished by plenty of water, which produces “fruit in its season” [Psalm 1].

Listen up! Fruitful trees grow in good soil, as the parable said. Good soil is made by our cooperation with the work of the divine Gardener who has given us His Word. 

But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop. Luke 8:15

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Submit, Resist, Stand

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

I’m often asked how to remain strong in the Lord when it seems there is nothing to quell the advance of the enemy. There is no simple answer to that, but it is part of our spiritual warfare, and there is no shortage of teaching on that subject today. Go to any Christian bookstore and the shelves are lined with books on the subject. 

I’ve picked up several in the last few years, and here is some of the advice written in them:

Rebuke and bind Satan
Expel demons though deliverance ministries
Assault the stronghold of territorial demons

And on it goes.

I have given a lot of thought to the subject of spiritual warfare over the years. One of the overarching principles of Scripture seems to be that our warfare isn’t so much an assault on Satan’s domain as it is the ability to stand our ground to resist his advances. 

Consider these three Scriptures (and there are more like them)…

James 4:7 — Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you

1 Peter 5:9a — Resist him [Satan - the roaring lion of verse 8], standing firm in the faith

Ephesians 6:13 — Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm

From these passages (and others) we learn that victory involves submitting to God, resisting evil aggression, and standing firm in the evil day. The evil day is not a specific day like November 3, 2016, but rather a general reference to the evil that presently exists. 

Since Satan is the “god of this age” [2 Corinthians 4:4], he will produce continuous evil until he and his cohorts are bound and cast eternally to their doom [Revelation 20:10-15]. Then, the evil day will surrender to eternal righteousness.

In the meantime, make these three things part of your daily routine:

Submit to God
Resist the devil
Stand firm in your faith

Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Ephesians 6:13

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Confident Hope Under Pressure

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

As a pastor, people often ask me to pray for them That’s part of my sacerdotal duties. Even if I weren’t a pastor, as a Christ follower, I’m told to pray for one another. Now I can’t speak for you, but not all of my prayers are answered in the way I think they should be. 

Some years ago, a man asked me to pray for him because he had been sick for quite a while. So I prayed for him. He got worse! In fact, he told me (with tongue-in-cheek), “I’ll never ask you to pray for me again!” 

It’s interesting, isn’t it, that we want God to be glorified in healing a person, but God seems to say, “I will be glorified, but in another way.” Yes, sometimes God removes a sickness or difficult situation. Sometimes He does the miraculous, like removing cancer from someone. But let’s be honest here, sometimes when we pray, things just get worse.

Why is that? Because God can be glorified by suffering saints, and there are things to learn from our pain. Everyone suffers, believer and unbeliever alike. But when a believer suffers, and glorifies God in the process, it is a powerful testimony to unbelievers. When they see you honoring God in the midst of suffering, it demonstrates to them, and to yourself, just how real your faith in God is. 

Maybe this will come as a surprise to you, but you can actually grow stronger through hardship because there are lessons you can only learn while you are there. Our tribulations (the Greek word thulipsis, meaning pressure, to be pressed) produces something in us, if we take it the right way. The Apostle Paul agrees. He said there are benefits in our suffering—it produces many things, one of which is hope. One of my Bible College professors was fond of saying, “Hope grows in the garden of suffering.”

So don’t stop praying; it is a blessing, and a duty, to pray. But let God be God. And if things get worse, glorify God anyway. Let your pain develop endurance, character and hope. According to the Apostle Paul, that hope will not lead to disappointment.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. Romans 5:3-5

Monday, September 12, 2016

An Unlimited Power Supply

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

When I was a kid, I hated to open a toy gift only to see those dreaded words, Batteries Not Included. I’m glad the Spiritual Gifts aren’t like that! Another thing that brings me great joy is the fact that our spiritual life is not dependent on a perishable power supply. Instead, the Holy Spirt strengthens and empowers us with every resource to serve the Lord and minister to others. 

Paul makes us aware of this in his prayer for the Ephesian Christ followers, that “from His glorious, unlimited resources He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit” [Ephesians 3:16]. He was also certain that the Spirit can do far more in our lives than we could possibly imagine [see 3:20]. That’s some power!

Paul experienced the unlimited supply of the Spirit’s power firsthand. Even when he was exhausted, stretched to the limit both physically and spiritually, he said, I am “pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” [2 Corinthians 4:8-9]. 

Are you hindered? You needn’t be frustrated. Are you perplexed? You needn’t be in despair. Are you persecuted? You aren’t alone. No matter how difficult or discouraging life can be, we have the very same Spirit in us; the same Spirit that renews us daily.

The Holy Spirit gives Christ followers all the spiritual power they need to live the Christian life. I mean no disrespect here, but when it comes to the Christian life, Batteries ARE Included!

That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 2 Corinthians 4:16

Friday, September 9, 2016

He Is With Us In the Storms

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

Did you see the movie The Perfect Storm? It told the story of an actual storm off the coast of Massachusetts in 1991, one of the most powerful storms in recorded history. It was dubbed the perfect storm when two existing storms were absorbed by a hurricane, ironically named Hurricane Grace. When these three storms combined, it produced a monstrous system with effects as far north as Newfoundland, and as far south as Jamaica. In some places, waves were measured over 100 feet tall.

The Disciples experienced a smaller version of the Perfect Storm that we read about in Matthew 8. In this account, Jesus got into a boat, followed by His Disciples. “And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep" [23–24].

When I read that story this morning, it stuck me that “His disciples followed Him” into the boat. When the storm came, it was not because they disobeyed Jesus, they experienced the storm simply by following Him. Too many Christ followers think that all their troubles come from acts of disobedience. While that may be true in some cases, it’s not absolute. Storms may come into our lives as a direct result of obedience.  

Why is that, you ask? Because God can use storms in our lives to teach us His ways. My Dad was a carpenter, and he was fond of saying, “The same hammer that shatter glass also forges steel.” Of course we think it would be better not to experience storms in our lives. Who wants to go through them? But there are things we learn in storms that we can’t learn elsewhere. One of my Bible College professors often said, “Where there are no trials in life, there are no triumphs.”

God has divine purposes in the storms. But never forget, Jesus was with His disciples during the storm, He is with us too!

Then Jesus got into the boat and started across the lake with His disciples. Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke Him up, shouting, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” Jesus responded, “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” Then He got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm. Matthew 8:23-24