WHO IS JESUS ANYWAY?

LUKE 9:18-20: “While he was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” They answered, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, that one of the ancient prophets has come back.” “But you,” he asked them, “who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “God’s Messiah.” CSB

OBSERVATION: Who is Jesus? This is the most important question that anyone can ask. It is a question that will determine the outcome of one’s entire life. It is a question that will be answered, whether intentionally, or unintentionally – by how we live.

There are those who dismiss Jesus as a mere myth of the Christian faith. They believe the Bible is merely a fable written by men. To take this position is to dismiss the entire historical record. It is in essence a position of ignorance and convenience. Ignorance, because it denies the testimony of history. Convenience, because in doing so they do not have to deal with the teachings of Jesus.

There are those who dismiss Jesus as merely a great teacher or prophet. They are like those who thought Jesus was John the Baptist risen from the dead, or Elijah come back from heaven. They think they honor Jesus by giving him credit for His wisdom and moral teaching. Yet, they dishonor Him because they reject the very essence of what Jesus said. He said – “I and the Father are one.” And, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.” This too is a matter of convenience, because it allows one to put Jesus in a general camp of teachers. If you choose to follow His teachings, well and good. However, if you do not, there are no consequences.

When Jesus addressed the disciples directly, He was not interested in what others thought. His question was directed at them personally. “Who do YOU say that I am?” And to this Peter said,

“God’s Messiah.”

In the Gospel of Matthew we read Jesus’ response to Peter’s answer.

  • “Jesus responded, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.” Matthew 16:17-18 CSB

Peter’s answer superseded an honest evaluation of the facts (history). It stood miles apart from the answers of the crowd. It was a confession of faith that flowed from a revelation from God the Father. It would become the very foundation of the Christian faith. This foundation is –

“Jesus Christ is Lord!

Yet, there are those who proclaim that Jesus is Lord, and still do not understand what this means. In the Gospel of Luke we see those who were eager to get in line with the right answer, but they were unwilling to pay the price of true discipleship. It is not enough to call Jesus Lord. We must be willing to forsake all for this profession of faith!

  • “Then he said to them all, “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will save it. For what does it benefit someone if he gains the whole world, and yet loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and that of the Father and the holy angels.” Luke 9:23-26 CSB

Jesus was a counterculture radical. He was not a radical in the sense that we view radicals today. His was not a movement of anarchy or civil unrest. His was a movement of truth that tore at the very fabric of both the religious community and the social norms of His day. To profess Jesus as Lord meant being willing to die for everything He said. His teaching was not merely the great orations of a world class teacher. They were the proclamation of the God of Creation. If we say that we love Jesus, but are ashamed of His words and teachings, we will find ourselves in the same camp as those who merely dismiss Jesus as a fable, or another teacher in the line of all the renown teachers of the world.

If Jesus is Lord, than everything He said is the revelation of the heart, mind, and will of the Father. We cannot proclaim to believe in God and then dismiss the Word of God, or pick and choose only the portions that we like, are comfortable, and agree with our world view. We must surrender our world view for His. We must die to our self will and take up our cross to follow Him – completely!

So, this is the context of the world’s greatest question. And as we ponder the context, how will we respond when we hear Jesus say,

“Who do YOU say that I am?”

In Jesus Name!

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THE KEY TO A FRUITFUL LIFE…

LUKE 8:15: “But the seed in the good ground — these are the ones who, having heard the word with an honest and good heart, hold on to it and by enduring, produce fruit.” CSB

OBSERVATION: What is the key to a fruitful life? As a follower of Jesus Christ I know that fruitfulness is not the same as success. It is not exclusive of success, but it is not defined by it. I can be successful in the eyes of the world and live a very unfruitful life. To live a fruitful life is defined in the book of Galatians.

  • “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The law is not against such things.” Galatians 5:22-23 CSB

Paul was very clear, we can have success, even success in ministry, and not be living a fruitful life.

  • “If I speak human or angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so that I can move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give away all my possessions, and if I give over my body in order to boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 CSB

Fruitfulness is the outflow of a heart that is being transformed by the Spirit of God, into the image of Jesus Christ, through the revelation of God’s Word! It is not a manifestation of 9 unique qualities growing in our life. Rather, it is the life of Jesus Christ becoming preeminent in and through our lives. It is Christ in us that is our hope of glory. It is Christ through us that is the fruit we need. So how can we be more fruitful?

Jesus gives us three things to focus on. We must receive God’s Word into our lives with:

– A honest heart,

– A good heart,

– And, a persevering heart.

  • “But the seed in the good ground — these are the ones who, having heard the word with an honest and good heart, hold on to it and by enduring, produce fruit.”

An honest heart is one that is not trying to manipulate the Word of God to their own advantage. It is not seeking God’s blessings upon what it wants to do. Rather, it is seeking God’s Kingdom and what He wants to do. It is a heart that is honest about its doubts, fears, and failures. This heart realizes its deep need for the transformation of the Spirit within.

A good heart is one that places it faith and trust in Christ alone. It is a heart fully aware that every good and perfect gift comes from the Father of lights, who is rich in mercy and loving kindness. It does not presume to approach the Lord on its own merits or worthiness, but solely through the blood of Jesus Christ. It is not good within itself, but good because of gift of salvation through faith in Christ alone.

A persevering heart is not dissuaded by the trials and storms of life. It understands that without the storms of life the seed of God’s Word will never sink down deeply into the soil of the heart and take full root. It is the storms of life that brings the revelation of God’s faithfulness and His love. When this heart holds on to the Word of God, trusting God’s faithfulness, focused on the things that are eternal, and daily being renewed by the power of the Holy Spirit – this heart brings forth fruit unto God!

Fruitfulness is not an event. It is a lifelong pursuit. It does not come in a moment. It is the outgrowth of a continual life of faith and trust in the Lord. It is not found in a single verse of Scripture. It is found in the daily pursuit of the whole counsel of God’s Word. It is the highest, holiest, and most important pursuit of the heart. It is the pursuit of Jesus Christ in His fullness!

Lord, help me to walk with a honest, good, and persevering heart. I pray that the seed of Your Word would not fall upon the stony path and be devoured. I pray that it would not be quenched because my heart lacks depth and root. And I pray that it would not be choked out by the pursuit of success, or the cares and worries of this life. Grant me the grace to walk in the fruitfulness of Your Spirit in an ever growing, ever increasing, and ever revealing way.

In Jesus Name!

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THE REAL TEST OF FAITH…

LUKE 6:46-49: “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and don’t do the things I say? I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, hears my words, and acts on them: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. When the flood came, the river crashed against that house and couldn’t shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears and does not act is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The river crashed against it, and immediately it collapsed. And the destruction of that house was great.” CSB

OBSERVANCE: What is the essence of discipleship? What is the evidence that I am a Christ follower? What is the real test of faith? Is it going to church, reading my Bible, praying before a meal, giving an offering, or singing a hymn? Jesus makes it very clear. It is not even calling Him Lord. There is only one thing that proves we are His disciples. That is obedience!

Jesus is not teaching works righteousness. It is not our obedience that earns God’s forgiveness and favor. However, it is our obedience that proves what is really in our heart. And it is not selective obedience, picking and choosing what we like in the Bible while ignoring the rest. It is absolute surrender to the will and the Word of God. It is hearing the Word of God, His “words,” and acting on them. It is producing good fruit from a heart that has been cleansed by His blood.

  • “A good tree doesn’t produce bad fruit; on the other hand, a bad tree doesn’t produce good fruit. For each tree is known by its own fruit. Figs aren’t gathered from thornbushes, or grapes picked from a bramble bush. A good person produces good out of the good stored up in his heart. An evil person produces evil out of the evil stored up in his heart, for his mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart.” Luke 6:43-45 CSB

No one is perfect. A Christ follower is no exception. In fact a true Christ follower recognizes their imperfection and their need for God’s grace and His Word daily renewing their life. Yet, a Christ follower is one who has been born again of the Spirit through faith in Jesus Christ. God has given them a new heart and a new capacity to love, forgive, and obey. It is this new heart that is confirmed by new actions, actions of obedience. It is the heart that will either confirm or deny the true existence of faith.

James puts it this way.

  • “But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without works, and I will show you faith by my works. You believe that God is one. Good! Even the demons believe — and they shudder. Senseless person! Are you willing to learn that faith without works is useless?” James 2:18-20 CSB

To profess we believe in God, and to dismiss His Word in our lives, is useless. It is a false assurance in a faith that does not really exist. It is like building a house on a foundation of sand. It may look the same as any other house (life) from the outside, but will it stand the storms of life? It is during the storms of life that the true foundation is tested. And during this test, it is the heart that betrays the true source of our faith by what we say and how we act.

We recently went through the purchase of a new home. One of the steps in closing on the house was an inspection. This inspection looked at the house from top to bottom, including the foundation. It is done to reveal any unknown problems that might arise after the purchase, and to confirm that the home is a good investment. I think this is something that each person should do with their lives. It is important to assess one’s heart and to test one’s foundation. Everything in life depends on it!

Yet, there is blessed assurance for the one who places their faith in Jesus Christ, and who, by the grace of God, walks in obedience to His Word!

  • “I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, hears my words, and acts on them: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. When the flood came, the river crashed against that house and couldn’t shake it, because it was well built.”

To walk by faith, to draw upon the grace of God, to live a life of obedience to His Word, is the highest calling of the believer, and it offers the greatest reward. It is the promise of God’s protection and blessing against all the storms of life. And it is the promise of entering His eternal blessings at the end of this life on earth.

The blessed Holy Spirit and God’s Word are given to us to inspect the foundation of our faith and life. Daily abiding in the Word of God and prayer are the means to inspect for cracks in the foundation. And moment by moment obedience to His will is the key to living a life that is marked by His love, favor, and grace.

Lord, help me live this life today!

In Jesus Name!

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CAN I RECOVER FROM THE FAILURE IN MY LIFE?

MARK14:69-72: “When the servant girl saw him standing there, she began telling the others, “This man is definitely one of them!” But Peter denied it again. A little later some of the other bystanders confronted Peter and said, “You must be one of them, because you are a Galilean.” Peter swore, “A curse on me if I’m lying—I don’t know this man you’re talking about!” And immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Suddenly, Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.” And he broke down and wept.” NLT

OBSERVATION: Have you ever failed God? I am not talking about disobeying one of the commandments, or even having a lapse of faith. I am speaking of a major event in your life when you failed your heart’s most precious commitment to the Lord. This is the type of failure that Peter was facing as the rooster crowed the second time.

When Jesus told his disciples about His coming arrest, and their impending desertion, Peter made a bold proclamation and promise to the Lord.

  • “…Peter said to him, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I never will.” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.” “No!” Peter declared emphatically. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” And all the others vowed the same.” Mark 14:27-31 NLT

Peter meant what he was saying. He had committed his life to Jesus, left his fishing boats, and followed Him with all his heart and soul. When Jesus walked on the water, it was Peter who took a step of faith and walked on the water toward Jesus (this took courage!). Peter had taken a sword to the garden. He was prepared to defend and even to die for Jesus. Even if everyone else ran away, Peter promised the Lord that he would not.

Yet, we know how the story ended. Peter would soon face a major failure. He would be confronted with his weakness and inability to fulfill his promise to Jesus. Peter not only awkwardly failed to protect Jesus with a sword, he also ran from the garden when Jesus was arrested. Then Peter kept his distance from Jesus while He was being tried by the Jewish Council. And finally, when he was put on the spot about being one of Jesus’ disciples, Peter denied it, three times. Peter even denied it under the threat of a curse!

Jesus had prepared Peter for his failure by warning him beforehand. However, like Peter, none of us wants to believe that we could fall so hard. That is, until it happens – until we hear the second rooster crow.

I will never forget the day I heard “my” second rooster crow.

I was 35 years old and pastoring a growing church. I felt that the future ahead was filled with bright promise. In fact, I felt that I had a plan for the rest of my life and ministry. However, in my zeal, I was blinded to my own weaknesses. In all of my zeal to serve the Lord, I was neglecting my wife and my marriage. Over 5 years of working so hard to serve the church, I lost touch with my wife. And then it happened. Our marriage was in crisis. I was faced with a decision. It was the ministry or my marriage. I resigned as pastor, and began the long journey of rebuilding my life, repenting of my neglect, and trusting the Lord to rebuild the love and trust my wife and I once shared.

This was no easy task. And in the midst of it all I felt that I had failed God to such a degree that I was discarded. Rest assured, there were some who helped to foster this feeling. However, most of my struggle came from within. I had made such bold statements, such heartfelt commitments, and had shared these with others. And then…the second rooster crowed. Wounded, feeling like a failure, like Peter – I broke down and wept.

How could the Lord used such a broken vessel?

For over 14 years my wife and I rebuilt our lives. We continued to serve the Lord. I would get to speak every so often, or teach a class. My goal was no longer the “ministry”, but it was my relationship with the Lord, and with my wife. During this time, after 18 years of marriage, we had our very first child. It was as if the Lord was speaking to us through this wonderful life. Our daughter, who was an answer to my wife’s prayer, was God’s proclamation that He had not forgotten us. It was the tangible confirmation that His love was restoring us, and that His purposes would be fulfilled in us. Like Peter at the seashore, after Christ’s resurrection, I too heard Jesus say;

  • “…Simon son of John (Kirk) , do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter (I) replied, “you know I love you.” “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him. Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John (Kirk), do you love me?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter (I) said, “you know I love you.” “Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said. A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John (Kirk), do you love me?” Peter (I) was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He (I) said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.” John 21:15-17 NLT

After 14 years in the wilderness, learning to trust the Lord, and learning to love my wife and family like Christ loved the church, the Lord gave me an opportunity to “…feed His sheep.” He allowed me 15 wonderful years as the founding pastor of The Fellowship at Weatherford. We started out as a rag tagged group of Peters, all who had felt that we disappointed the Lord beyond repair. And yet, one by one, God restored us. He built a wonderful church family, He restored gifts and ministries, He opened doors of outreach and missions, and He saved marriages, families, and lives. He spoke to each one of us – “Do you love me? Then feed my sheep!” We became a church, a family, restored by His love!

There is no failure, no disappointment, no sin that is outside the reach of the grace and mercy of God. The enemy would keep us hearing the second rooster crowing – over, and over, and over again. Yet, if we listen carefully we will hear the sound of the voice of Jesus. He is calling us to be restored in His love. He is healing the wounded heart, restoring the broken in spirit, and giving fresh vision for our hearts and lives. We have a choice to make. It is simply this. Which voice will I listen to? Will I continue to rehearse the memories of my failures, or will I run to Jesus to be healed?

  • “So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong. Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.” Hebrews 12:12-15a NLT

Lord, today I choose to run to you. Today I choose to enter into the throne room boldly through the blood of Jesus Christ. Today I choose to receive grace and mercy, and to be healed. Today I choose to be restored in Your love!

In Jesus Name!

P.S. Today is my wife Karen’s birthday. She is the love of my life for over 42 years. She is the mother of the most wonderful gift I have ever received, my daughter Hannah. She is now my partner in life and ministry. She is my inspiration, my best friend, and the kindest and most gracious person I know. Happy Birthday Karen. Thank you for hanging in there with me all these years and for believing in me. I am so blessed to do life with you!

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THE CURE FOR PROCRASTINATION!

MARK 13;32-37: “Now concerning that day or hour no one knows — neither the angels in heaven nor the Son — but only the Father. “Watch! Be alert! For you don’t know when the time is coming. “It is like a man on a journey, who left his house, gave authority to his servants, gave each one his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to be alert. Therefore be alert, since you don’t know when the master of the house is coming — whether in the evening or at midnight or at the crowing of the rooster or early in the morning. Otherwise, when he comes suddenly he might find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to everyone: Be alert!” CSB

OBSERVATION: Am I living my life with expectancy? Is the blessed hope of Jesus Christ’s return impacting the way I live and the decisions I make each day?

As a believer in Jesus Christ I have been given eternal life. The wonderful promise in John 3:16 proclaims,

  • “For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 CSB

This eternal life does not begin when I die. It began the day I placed my faith in Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord. Yet, even though I have the hope of eternal life, my days on this earth are still numbered. And just like the return of Jesus Christ, I do not know what this number is. Therefore, there are two important things I should be looking to with expectancy. The first is my union with Jesus Christ in heaven, and the second is His physical return to earth.

The reality is – both of them could take place at any moment. In the twinkling of an eye I could be in the Lord’s presence. So how does this affect the way I am living my life today?

Living with expectancy affects my rest. My personal homecoming, just like the return of Jesus Christ, is in the Father’s hands. He has numbered my days just like He has numbered the hairs on my head. I cannot add a minute to these days by worrying. However, I can redeem each moment of this life for His glory by living to please Him. I should be living with the expectation that Jesus’ call to me might happen at any moment. My hearts desire should be to be found living for His glory when this time comes.

Tim McGraw recorded a country hit that was titled – “Live like you were dying.” It was about a man who, faced with a serious illness, began to confront the possibility that his life might be coming to an end. This revelation caused him to assess his future, and it changed his actions. The chorus shared these sentiments.

He said

“I went skydiving

I went Rocky Mountain climbing

I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fumanchu

And I loved deeper

And I spoke sweeter

And I gave forgiveness I’d been denying”

And he said

“Someday I hope you get the chance

To live like you were dying”

Now, I am not recommending riding a bull name Fumanchu! However, the song does capture a great truth. We should not live like we have all the time in the world to do what we now is right. We should live each day like Jesus is coming at any moment, and we should do the things He has called us to do – TODAY!

Expectation is the cure for procrastination!

Lord, help me to live with great expectation. Help me to be alert, and to be obedient to Your calling in my life. Whatever You are calling me to do today, grant me the grace to do it now. Help me hold Your words closely to my heart.

  • “And what I say to you, I say to everyone: Be alert!”

In Jesus Name!

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THE BIBLE…AND THE WALL?

LEVITICUS 19:33-34: “When an alien resides with you in your land, you must not oppress him. You will regard the alien who resides with you as the native-born among you. You are to love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God.” CSB

OBSERVATION: Does the Bible have anything to say about immigration? Today in our nation this is one of the most debated topics in the news. Is it immoral to build a wall? Should we simply allow caravans of people to stream over our border without any due process? Does the Bible support open or closed borders?

It is easy to cherry pick Scripture to support both views. The verses above could be used to support open borders. It seems to suggest that we should simply welcome all people into our land, remembering that we too were once aliens from a foreign land. After all, isn’t this the loving and Christian thing to do?

There is a foundational principle in the interpretation of Scripture. If we abide by it we will avoid all sorts of false turns and misguided understanding. This principle is context. When we pull one or two verses from a complete chapter and book of the Bible, we can make it say anything we want it to say. However, when we look at the verse or verses in context the true meaning comes into focus.

The context of these verses in the book of Leviticus is the holiness code for the nation of Israel. If you read the entire chapter you will see it deals with some pretty edgy topics of human behavior and sexuality, as well as social and religious norms. It is in the context of these words that we need to understand the two verses we are observing.

  • “The Lord spoke to Moses: “Speak to the entire Israelite community and tell them: Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.” Leviticus 19:1-2 CSB

In this chapter the nation of Israel is warned against the practices of the nations around them. They are called to live pure lives, follow God’s commandments, honor their parents, observe the Sabbath, and remember the poor. It is in this context that the verses about aliens or foreigners is given. It is not a call for open borders, but for borders that allow the foreigner, who wants to observe God’s law, to live among them, and to be treated equally.

God warned Israel against associating with those who did not respect God’s law, and who would endeavor to erode their culture. When Jerusalem was built and rebuilt, it was surrounded by walls to keep those who dishonored the Lord and His commandments out of the city. Yet, the doors were always open to welcome those who professed their faith in Yahweh, and who desired to openly assimilate into the Jewish culture.

This principle supports the very platform of legal immigration. Legal immigration has been the hallmark of our nation. Our nation was built by legal immigrants who left their homeland to make America their new home. They did not come to create small enclaves of their former nations. They came to be Americans, to learn and support the culture and laws of America. They were not asked to forget their heritage. However, they were asked to give their first allegiance to their new nation.

Illegal immigration runs counter to these values. It runs counter to common sense. While voices cry foul when ever immigration laws are supported, or a wall is suggested, they lock their doors at night, turn on their alarms, and call the police at the first sign of danger. They would not allow someone into their home who would not respect the culture and values of their families. And yet, they want to allow thousands and thousands to stream over our border without due process, or without knowing their real intent.

My great grandfather came to America from Germany in the 1800’s. He came legally. He came with hopes and dreams to find opportunity in this new land. And all of his 12 sons and daughters, including my grandfather, and my father, although German, were first and foremost Americans. My father served in World War II defending our freedoms. It was the freedom to live in safety, to cherish our liberty, and to explore all the opportunities this wonderful country had to offer.

We build walls around our homes to protect us. We build walls on the freeways to mitigate sound and protect homes that could be endangered because of an accident. We build walls around our theme parks, baseball stadiums, even our White House. We lock our doors, turn on our alarms, and take every precaution to be safe. It is not because we hate people. It is because we understand that not everyone has our best interests at heart. Laws and walls are not evil, they are common sense expressions of love.

I believe the Bible supports walls and legal immigration. Nehemiah wept over Jerusalem because her walls were torn down. And when he led the tattered nation of Israel’s exiles, now returned to their homeland, to rebuild the wall, he was met with great hostility. The wall was not built to keep people out, it was built to protect the people that were within. Each day the gates were opened, and those who were coming in peace and to benefit Israel, were welcomed in. This is legal immigration.

I hold no anger toward those who do not agree with this assessment. However, I would warn them. If you are going to use Scripture to support your view of open borders, please check the context. As a student of Scripture all my life, I know of nowhere in the Bible that supports the type of open border policy that is being purported today.

However, I am also aware that those who support legal immigration and a wall must not wall up their hearts. They must heed God’s call to welcome the foreigner who truly wants to be a productive part of society. One who is willing to get in line, observe the rule of law, and assimilate into the culture they are entering.

There can be great errors on both sides. Lord, give us open and compassionate hearts as we debate this issue. Help us to have eyes to see and ears to hear.

In Jesus Name!

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STAY IN THE BOAT!

MARK 4:41: “And they were terrified and asked one another, “Who then is this? Even the wind and the sea obey him!” CSB

OBSERVATION: Why does God permit the storms of life? I have often pondered this question when reading this account in the Gospels. Here is the full account.

  • “On that day, when evening had come, he told them, “Let’s cross over to the other side of the sea.” So they left the crowd and took him along since he was in the boat. And other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking over the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. He was in the stern, sleeping on the cushion. So they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher! Don’t you care that we’re going to die?” He got up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Silence! Be still!” The wind ceased, and there was a great calm. Then he said to them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” And they were terrified and asked one another, “Who then is this? Even the wind and the sea obey him!” Mark 4:35-41 CSB

So let’s break it down. Jesus was in the boat with His disciples. The disciples began to battle a great windstorm with the possibility of the boat capsizing and sinking. Where was Jesus? He was asleep on a cushion in the back of the boat. While the disciples began to panic, they awoke Jesus. Their first impression was that He didn’t care!

  • “Teacher! Don’t you care that we’re going to die?”

We love the rest of the story. Jesus stood up, rebuked the wind, and spoke to the sea, “Silence! Be still!” He then rebuked the disciples for their lack of faith. Yet, the question still remains. If Jesus could simply rebuke the wind and the waves, why did He allow the storm in the first place?

This is where everyone lines up with their favorite answers. Now, everyone of these answer can be true, but they are not necessarily true for every storm we face in life. Here are some of the common answers.

We live in a fallen world.

To deal with our sin.

To test our faith.

To build up our faith.

To teach us patience.

To purify our lives.

To bring us closer to God.

While all of these may be true, or are certainly the fruit of enduring the storms of life, they may not necessarily be the reason God allows these storms. May I suggest a reason that no one likes to talk about?

WE DON’T KNOW!

That’s right. Many times we face storms in life, and we don’t know the reason God is allowing them to crash against our boat. It doesn’t make sense. Why? Because we can only see the storm. We do not see the pathway that our boat is taking, nor the destination that the Lord is leading us to. During these times it may feel that we are totally alone. We may feel like the disciples and wonder – “Who then is this?” We know that God can still all the storms of life, but why has he left me in the boat?

In these times this is what I need to remember. Jesus is always with me! He never left the boat His disciples were in, and He will never leave me.

  • “…for he himself has said, I will never leave you or abandon you.” Hebrews 13:5 CSB

He also is able to still the storms of life with a single word. Jesus has been given all power and authority from the Father. He stands always before the Father interceding for us, and He stands always ready as our High Priest to bring us grace and help in time of need. I may not understand the storm, but I need to acknowledge the One who can always say – “Peace, be still.”

As the boat, which is my life, is tossed and turned at times by the tempest of life, I have but one thing to do.

STAY IN THE BOAT!

Jesus is with me. I am safe and will arrive to His destination for my life if I simply – STAY IN THE BOAT! This is a simple principle, but also a powerful life changing one. When I am discouraged, I do not stop praying, reading my Bible, or going to church. I STAY IN THE BOAT. Throughout the storms in my past, and through the storms of my future, He will always be with me.

Lord, forgive me for the times I demand to know why I am facing the storm I find myself in. Forgive me for the times I have given others pat answers that simply ring hollow during their time of duress. Help me to stay in the boat with You, and encourage others to do the same. Help me always to look to You, and to help others see You for who You are. You are the one who always leads us safely through the storms of life and always brings us to Your destination and place of rest.

  • “Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for you are with me; your rod and your staff — they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord as long as I live.” Psalms 23:4-6 CSB

In Jesus Name!

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