Saturday, March 26, 2011

When Storms Come

They came to Jesus and woke Him up, saying, "Master, Master, we are perishing!" And He got up and rebuked the wind and the surging waves, and they stopped, and it became calm.
And He said to them, "Where is your faith?" They were fearful and amazed, saying to one another, "Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?" 
Luke 8:24-25

Sometimes storms come into our lives through disobedience to God's word. If we fail to follow His instruction, the result can be tumultuous. But far more often storms come so that God can deliver us and increase our trust in Him. The disciples were on the Sea of Galilee because Jesus said, "Let us go over to the other side of the lake." He said let's go, and they went. Now do you suppose for a moment that Jesus had no idea a "fierce gale of wind" (v. 23 NASB) was about to rack their boat and threaten to drown them? Of course He knew. He was God in the flesh. He knew that a life-threatening storm was brewing. It's very telling that with this knowledge the Lord then went to sleep. He had no fear of the coming storm, for He had control over it. He would allow it to appear, and He would calm it. This was the first time the disciples lives were in danger. They had seen their master perform many miracles, but this was personal. Their faith had not yet been tested to this extent. They cried out to the Lord in desperation and He immediately saved them. He rebuked the "wind and the surging waves" and they stopped. All became calm. And then He asked His disciples, "Where is your faith?" From the text we don't see them answer His question. Only that they were filled with fear and amazement, and wondered who it was who had that kind of control. I certainly can look at my own life and see how God allowed storms to come and then calmed them. Through these events He taught me more about who He is, and my trust in Him increased. No longer do I ask, "Who is this Jesus, then?" I know who He is.  .  .the all-powerful Living God.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Give Him Time

"Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward."
Hebrews 10:35

At the time these words were written to the Hebrew Christians, they were likely under great persecution from the leaders of Judaism and the Roman government. Can you imagine the temptation it must have been for them to slip back into their "old religion" of following laws and rituals? Especially since they had been looking for the return of Christ and He had not yet appeared. They needed encouragement to carry on, and the writer of Hebrews offers it to them in presenting the superiority and sufficiency of Christ and His new covenant, over the old. A reminder is given of how they started out strong in their new faith and they needed to continue to hold it fast. In so doing, they would receive a great reward. When trials come our way, we may become impatient with God, and tempted to fall away into old patterns of life that exclude Him. It is then that we must choose to remain confident. Amy Carmichael said, "We say, then, to anyone who is under trial, give Him time to steep the soul in His eternal truth. Go into the open air, look up into the depths of the sky, or out upon the wideness of the sea, or on the strength of the hills that is His also; or, if bound in the body, go forth in the spirit; spirit is not bound. Give Him time and, as surely as dawn follows night, there will break upon the heart a sense of certainty that cannot be shaken." 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

What's Your Plan?

Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit." Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that."
James 4:13-15

One of my best friends has this quote on her Facebook: "Nothing is as powerful as knowing you are smack dab in the middle of God's will." I agree with that. There is power in knowing you are right where God wants you. And there is also freedom in that knowledge. I can pen all the five year plans I want, but if those plans are prideful, self-serving goals, I might as well be writing them on tissue paper and throwing them to the wind. It's better if I humbly seek God's will for my life and let Him direct me. Sometimes it's a step-by-step process, beginning with what I do know: God wants my worship and obedience to His word. I can start right there and He'll show me the next step, and then the next. And that's where the freedom comes in. I don't have to worry about the future when pleasing God is my desire. Life is brief, and I don't want to squander my time or resources. Jesus said, " Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;" (Matthew 6:19-20). Sounds like a great plan to me.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Heart of a Daddy

 "LORD, You have heard the desire of the humble;
         You will strengthen their heart, You will incline Your ear 
    To vindicate the orphan and the oppressed,"
Psalm 10:17-18

In a world turned upside down with tragedy, we have a God who cares. We may be tempted to think He is uninterested in what goes on around us, but nothing could be further from the truth.  God is infinitely interested in you, and me, and every other person on earth. He resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5). While others may get weary of our words, God never will. He bends down to listen to His children, as a loving father stoops down to hear the voice of his little child. He doesn't want to miss a single word. How comforting to know that our all wise and powerful God has the tender, compassionate heart of a daddy.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Natural Grief

"Precious in the sight of the Lord 
Is the death of His godly ones."
Psalm 116:15

For the Christian, death is a doorway to eternal life with Christ in Heaven. The Lord rejoices to have His child finally come home. In that knowledge the loved ones left behind on earth can take comfort. But it is still a loss for the survivors, and it is natural and right for them to grieve. Jesus wept at the grave of Lazarus, even though He knew in a few minutes He would raise Lazarus from the dead. If you know another Christian who is mourning the death of someone close to them, go and comfort them in their grief. Help the Lord mend their broken heart with your compassion and love. 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Surviving the Drought

Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD
         And whose trust is the LORD. 
    "For he will be like a tree planted by the water,
         That extends its roots by a stream
         And will not fear when the heat comes;
         But its leaves will be green,
         And it will not be anxious in a year of drought
         Nor cease to yield fruit."
Jeremiah 17:7-8

I have lived through droughts, where trees deprived of water become dry and brittle; their branches no longer covered with green leaves or fruit. Some trees do manage to survive until the rains come again, but the damage from lack of moisture to their roots is so great, it takes years for them to fully recover. Even then, the damage is still noticeable. But the trees that grow next to streams and rivers remain strong and green. Their roots go down deep to drink of the life-giving water. And so it is with the person who faces the drought of life's trials. Those far from Christ must try to draw their strength from other people, or things. Some don't survive. Others do, but their lives reflect the damage done by going it alone. They are bitter, angry people. Years after the drought, they are still hurting. How much better the life of the person who is rooted in Christ, who puts his trust in the Lord. Those who have planted themselves next to the Living Water will draw strength from Him. Not only will they survive the worst of times, but their testimonies will bear fruit.  The fruit of glory to God. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Prone to Wander

You will bring them and plant them in the mountain of Your inheritance,
         The place, O LORD, which You have made for Your dwelling,
         The sanctuary, O Lord, which Your hands have established.
    "The LORD shall reign forever and ever."
Exodus 15:17-18

Exodus 15 is a song of celebration in honor of what God had done. He had brought the Israelites safely out of Egypt and now would guide them to the promised land. Moses leads his people in praise and worship of God. But in a short time, when faced with discomfort, Israel would revert to grumbling and complaining against the Lord. I wonder how the Israelites could be so fickle, and then I consider my own wandering heart. When God is delivering me from some trial, it is easy to exalt Him, and I am confident that my praise won't fade. But it isn't long before something comes up that makes me doubt God's good intentions and I am prone to moan and groan. Thank God for His amazing grace. He gently points out my weakness and calls me into His glorious strength through Christ. The LORD is great and greatly to be praised. He reigns forever and ever. 
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