Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Faith To Get Out Of The Boat

Matthew 14:28-32
The Faith To Get Out Of The Boat

     “And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when He got into the boat, the wind stopped.
     I think that often we start with real faith. We start with a faith that is absolutely assured of receiving what we have asked for, whether it be for help or a need or a desire. We have enough faith to literally get out of the boat - which is indeed miraculous - but only moments later the faith that got us over the side takes note of the fact that what we have done or asked for really is humanly impossible. Then the challenges and opposition add their fuel to the fire of our uncertainty and fears.
     The faith to step out of the boat is truly awesome! It is real faith that has started us on the path of the impossible, but the completion of that faith requires keeping our gaze firmly fixed on Jesus and completely disregarding our circumstances and surroundings. In Jesus’ face is reality, (God’s reality) He is the creator of all things and all things conform to His will.
     So if you are struggling right now after having the faith to start with, BE ASSURED, your faith was real and your trust justified! You are simply experiencing the next step that has been placed in front of you and if you hold onto that same faith you will not be disappointed. And for those who falter in the face of the storm, be of good courage, as with Peter, He will not leave you to die but will reach out and take hold of you. Though you may receive a rebuke as Peter did, you will not be overcome by the storm for Jesus has His eyes upon you.
     Do not be dismayed! But go forth with great confidence in the Lord! He is your refuge and your strength! May He be your boast today! Our God is the Lord and creator of all!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Heart Of Compassion

Matthew 9:10-13
A Heart Of Compassion

     And it happened that as He was reclining at the table in the house, behold many tax gatherers and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “Why is your teacher eating with the tax gatherers and sinners?” But when He heard this, He said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means, ‘I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” – Jesus
     “I desire compassion, and not sacrifice, for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” The tenderness of our Savior… How well He knows us and is able to encourage us with fresh hope and courage. So many times we fall back into our former sins and yet here He is holding out His hand to us and pulling us back up out of the pit of despair again. His only requirement is that we in turn hold out our hand in compassion to others rather than holding their sins against them. You would think that this would come naturally to us after all that Jesus has forgiven us from and yet we are constantly guilty of pointing out other people’s faults as though pointing it out was the cure for it. Being able to see someone else’s faults does not take the wisdom of the ages, it comes naturally. This is not to say that a word in its proper place in regard to sin is wrong it is often necessary, but for the most part, compassion is to uphold them before God in prayer that He would strengthen and uphold them and keep them safe from temptation.
     I marvel how God takes our word and always gives us the benefit of the doubt. When we pray and tell Him that we are sorry for our sin and won’t do it again He treats us as though it was as good as done. He doesn’t wait a week to see if we really meant it before He blesses us for it, but rather, He immediately treats us as though we had never sinned and never would again and pours out his loving kindness upon us. We on the other hand, wait to see if the person really meant what they said, before we begin to trust them.
     Ezekiel 33:13-16 says, “When I say to the righteous he will surely live, and he so trusts in his righteousness that he commits iniquity, none of his righteous deeds will be remembered; but in the same iniquity of his which he has committed he will die. But when I say to the wicked, you will surely die, and he turns from his sin and practices justice and righteousness, if a wicked man restores a pledge, pays back what he has taken by robbery, walks by the statutes which ensure life without committing iniquity, he will surly live; he shall not die. None of his sins that he has committed will be remembered against him. He has practiced justice and righteousness; he will surely live.”
     The essence of compassion is to think well of one another and to always assume that what they have done was with good intentions towards us. This also transfers to our relationship with God as He delays in His answers or allows us to go through tough times. We are to
assume the best motives behind it and that He has our best interests in mind in how He is dealing with us. He is faithful and loves us far more than we know because our human love is not nearly as deep as His love.
     So let us pour out our compassion on others and pray for one another and uphold one another that we might all be found awake and ready at Jesus’ return.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Joyful Expectancy!

Matthew 7:7-8
Joyful Expectancy!
     “Ask and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it shall be opened.” -Jesus
     These are the verses that God has been pressing home to my heart this week, particularly the words, “For everyone who asks receives.” Jesus is not playing games with us or trying to say anything other then what He means here. The verses that follow are about men knowing how to give good gifts and how much more willing our Father in heaven is to do so for those who ask. The only thing God requires is sincerity of heart when we make our requests which is why it is so much easier to simply believe that God won’t answer or has decided not to. It does not take a great man of faith to believe that God won’t answer.
     I believe that the most sincere form of asking from the heart is to ask with Joyful Expectancy. This causes our heart to actually have to come out of it’s despair in order to embrace it’s request of God seriously and be looking for His answer. Joyful expectancy and despair are not compatible with each other and cannot be done simultaneously. So why does it take so much faith in order to have joyful expectancy when He has so fully promised to answer our prayers? He even shares His own heart towards us further by instructing us how we are to behave, telling us, “Give to those who ask of us and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.” Matt. 5:42 Also in verse 44 & 45 He says, “But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Faith is hard because we get tested on it. You see, God desires to bless us abundantly with riches in heaven and one of the ways He bestows it upon us is by the tests He allows and when He sees that we are truly holding on to one of His promises it gives Him a real opportunity to make the most of it so that He might bless us more abundantly. This is why when we truly exhibit the character of faith we come into such conflict and trials. God will answer but His timing is truly for our greatest blessing!
     So let us look deeply into His character and know more fully in our hearts that “He who asks of Him shall receive,” just as He has promised us and asked for us to do for others. He lives by His own commandments and truly loves each of us as only a Father can. We are His sons and daughters. His own flesh and blood because He has adopted us as His own.
     Father, we love you and desire closer fellowship with You today!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Distracted by the world

Matthew 13:22
Distracted by the world

“And the one on whom seed was sown among thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches choke out the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” – Jesus

     If I were to ask if you had spent time with God today, what would your answer be? Talking to my friends and asking this question, many times I get the response, “I just didn’t get the time” or “I know I need to, but maybe I can get some time in tonight.” Many of my friends, myself included, have an intense love for God and yet so frequently our walk becomes unfruitful and full of discouraging falls into temptation and every time with out fail, it is from being distracted and neglecting our time with God.
     My question for you today is the same. Have you spent time with God today, reading from His word, and in prayer? Jesus hits our excuses exactly when He says, “The worries of the world (Bills, Security) and the deceitfulness of riches (Seeking after things to make our lives more fulfilled) choke out the word and it becomes unfruitful.” These things consume us and rob us of our fruit. We are either caught up in the fears of staying ahead of the bills, or distracted by our love for the things of this present life that we are working hard to attain. Our time for God has become secondary, or worse, – last, to all of our other pursuits. My brothers and sisters – The Devil is robbing you of your fruit! He is robbing you not only of your peace and joy here on earth, but also of your eternal inheritance and the riches that God would have been storing up for you as you bore fruit!
     If you don’t wake up and take time for God you will be choked out! Your life will be barren of all joy and fruit! Don’t give yourself any more excuses as to why you don’t have time for God or you may find yourself standing outside the gate knocking and Jesus saying, “Depart for I never knew you.” The truth is you never took the time to know Him. This is not the time to play games with God and fit Him in when you have the time. He is a true friend! Don’t shut Him out of your life for the things of this passing world! He is the Creator of all and will give you victory over your circumstances and over your trials, and your temptations! He will be there for you - I promise! He will make sense out of your hectic day and cause things to go smoothly if you put Him first before all else! Don’t wait for the right time – make Him first and all other things to wait for Him. He will bless all that you do and satisfy your life with joy and good things! Make Him first today and renew your first love for Him!
     The generation we live in is full of sin, worldliness and selfishness. We must make God first in our lives if we are to break out of this mold and become fruitful! May God bless each of you today with His Holy Fire! God bless!