The Storm…the Savior

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“Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away.  And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray.  Now when evening came, He was alone there. But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary.  Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea.  And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!”  And they cried out for fear.  But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer!   It is I; do not be afraid.”  And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”  So He said, “Come.”  And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.  But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”  And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”  And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.  Then those who were in the boat came andworshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.” (Matthew 14:22-33, NKJV82)

I know that I have written about this particular passage of Scripture in previous posts.  But I have to tell you that no matter how many times I encounter this passage of Scripture I am no less intrigued and captivated in absolute awe of Jesus Christ!

In the past I have tended to focus extensively upon the segment of this passage about Jesus and Peter walking on the water…after all, when has walking on water ever been the norm!?!  This time, however, the segments about Jesus’ disciples really caught my attention.

Listen to this…

“Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. (v. 22).  Jesus made His disciples go before Him!  Have you ever ventured out in the direction Jesus has appointed for you to go, but feel like you’ve been put out on a limb and wanted to question: “Lord, You’ve sent me this way but I don’t see You and I can’t feel You; are You sure this is where I am supposed to be?”

“And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray.  Now when evening came, He was alone there. But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary” (vv. 23-24).  The Gospel of Mark explains that the disciples were “straining at the oars” (Mark 6:48, NIV84).  Jesus was alone on the mountain while His disciples were in the middle of the sea fighting against the waves and the wind!  Have you ever felt like you’ve been in the in the middle of a storm but left to fend for yourself and wanted to question: “God, EVERYTHING is against me and NOTHING is going for me; are You sure that this is where I am supposed to be”?

“Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea.  And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!”  And they cried out for fear.  But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer!   It is I; do not be afraid” (vv. 25-27). The Gospel of John explains that “[t]hen they willingly received Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going ” (John 6:21, NKJV82).  Jesus walks out on the sea, passing the disciples who are so fearful of the storm that they do not recognize that it is Him!  Have you ever been so consumed with the storm that you could have missed the Savior?1

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“Pass me not, O gentle Savior,
Hear my humble cry;
While on others Thou art calling,
Do not pass me by.
Savior, Savior,
Hear my humble cry;
While on others Thou art calling,
Do not pass me by.”

(Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior, Fanny Crosby and W.H. Doane)

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“And when they [Jesus and Peter] got into the boat, the wind ceased.  Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God”” (vv. 32-33).  Then, THEN those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him!  Have you ever wanted to question in the midst of the storm, “Why am I in this storm?”  “Is it really necessary for me to endure X, Y, and Z?”  “I am struggling but getting nowhere, how come I cannot get any relief?”  Because…sometimes we would have never truly known Jesus as the Son of God if it had not been for the storms.

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How do I know if I have faith?  When was the strength (and weakness in the case of the ill built house on the sand without a foundation) of the well built  house on the rock, a solid and unshakeable foundation realized (See Luke 6:46-49)?  When the floodwaters rose and broke against the house…

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Take-aways:  If you have ventured (are venturing) in the direction Jesus has appointed for you to go, be at peace for you are in His will!  Even if it seems that everything is against you and nothing is going for you, God is for you (Psalm 56:4, 9b-11; 118:6)!  Do not be consumed with the storm that you miss the Savior!  Call upon His name, the name of the Lord Jesus!  You can worship Him in the midst of the storm…knowing that the Master of the wind and waves is with you– a solid, unshakeable Rock to be founded upon!  And He will bring you through– “He who calls you is faithful, He will surely do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, ESV01)!

Calling Upon HIS Name,

Victoria

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1. This went for Peter too!  “And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”  So He said, “Come.”  And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.  But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”” (vv. 28-30).  He let the storm get to him rather than trusting the Savior!  “And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?””  The problem– too much fear, too little faith!

 

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Reassurance…

I have a good friend who will be leaving in a couple of days to travel over a thousand miles away.  Even though he will be there short term this time, he’ll be greatly missed 😦  But I am glad for him, as I know that he is going to where the Spirit of the Lord is leading him 🙂 It got me thinking…the Lord Jesus Christ will be as present with him out yonder as He will be with his family and friends here!  For the Lord is everywhere present!  EVERYWHERE!

O Lord…Where can I go from Your Spirit?  Or where can I flee from Your presence?” (Psalm 139:7 NASB95)  There is no place where God is not!  Oh, what reassurance that brings!

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Reassurance (rēəˈSHo͝orəns/)– removing doubts and fears.

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We are promised, “Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you. HE will be with you; HE will neither fail you nor abandon you” (Deuteronomy 31:8, NLT07)!  Thank God for His presence!  Listen to the reassuring promise of this scripture too: “HE will not allow your foot to slip; your PROTECTOR will not slumber.  Indeed, the PROTECTOR of Israel does not slumber or sleep.  The LORD protects you; the LORD is a shelter right by your side.  The sun will not strike you by day or the moon by night. The LORD will protect you from all harm;  HE will protect your life.  The LORD will protect your coming and going both now and forever” (Psalm 121:3-8, HCSB09)!  WOW!

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“Everywhere YOU are there, earth or air surrounding, I’m not alone, the heavens sing along, my GOD You’re so astounding, how could YOU be so good to me, eternally I believe that…there is no one like YOU, there has never been anyone like YOU, there is no one like YOU, there has never been anyone like YOU, there is no one like our GOD” (No One Like You, David Crowder)!
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Matt, I pray that the Lord will protect your coming and going both now and forever!  He is with you always!

Many Blessings In Christ,

Victoria

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ALWAYS pray and NEVER give up

Who doesn’t love when the scripture interprets the parable for you?!? “Jesus told His disciples a parable to show them that they should ALWAYS pray and NEVER give up” (Read Luke 18:1-8, NIV84).

For me, it is very easy to pray when my heart is especially burdened.  I am quite sure that throughout my life, the closest I have ever been to God is in my times of struggle.  In those times of struggle, I definitely want relief, protection, closure, and sometimes… I even want to “fast-forward” to the time when the pain will be over.

What happens in the moment when the break up happens or the person we care about so deeply takes a turn for the worse? Have you ever gotten angry with God for allowing a situation?  Or wonder where He is and why He hasn’t rescued you?  ALWAYS pray and NEVER give up.  Don’t ever lose hope or faith in your struggles!

On the other hand, what about when things are settled?  When we leave the hospital or heal from the break-up or begin resolving the issues that tear apart a marriage?  When these struggles are over, when they are not burning inside us every moment, distracting us from everything else, do we just “get back to life”?

Have you ever experienced a spiritual drought?  The kind where your prayers almost seem like they lack heart… when things are so settled that you start your day and then seek God…maybe… instead of seeking Him in desperation the moment you wake up?

What does God prompt you to always pray about and never give up on?  This also implies always believe, always hope, and always trust that He will answer and that He will answer FULLY.

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Why the widow?

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When I read this scripture, I wonder why God used a widow.  My first thought was that it is because God uses everyone to tell His story and His glory.  Noah was  a drunk.  King David was an adulterer.  Rahab was a prostitute.  The list goes on.  And you think your sin is too big or you have too much baggage to glorify God?!?  Newsflash, He has plans for you just like He had plans for these sinners.

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I also believe that one of the many reasons Jesus chose a widow in this story is that we can all relate to her desperate and vulnerable nature…

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Widowhood presented a difficult time in a woman’s life, especially when compounded with a diminished ability to meet financial needs– a common circumstance in the ancient patriarchal world of the Bible.  From the time of Israel’s inception, God has been known as the Defender of widows (Deuteronomy 10:18 and 24:17). “Justice” among God’s people was measured in part by the treatment of widows (Isaiah 1:17). God’s compassion for the widow became the covenant community’s responsibility, which the early church naturally took up (James 1:27).  First Timothy 5:3-16 gives clear instructions about the treatment of widows.

Luke has a habit of focusing on the “underdog”.  In this chapter of the gospel alone, we see this widow, little children (Luke 18:15-17), a blind beggar (Luke 18:35-43), and a humble tax collector (Luke 18:9-14).  You see, God tells us to pray and not give up, but He continues with this parable of the Pharisee and the Tax collector… why?  What does this tell us about the quality of our prayers?  Pray and never give up… but be humble.  Pray for righteous things that are of God’s will.  Pray in humility.  Pray that revels to us the sins we need to repent of.  Pray that He will be merciful to us!

I ask you, if this judge who doesn’t fear man or God grants the widow’s request, how do you think our Heavenly Father feels when we, His children petition Him?

Those of you who are parents, do you not want what’s best for your children?  Doesn’t it hurt your heart when they want for something?  Or when you need to keep them from something because it is not in their best interest?  My friends, God hears your every cry!  In fact, He knows the desires of your hearts before you speak them!  He wants what is best for you!   And He will answer!

ALWAYS pray and NEVER give up,

Carrie

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Weighed in the balance…

I was studying the fifth chapter of the book of Daniel this week, which tells of an incident that occurred during a party over 2,500 years ago.    You see the King was throwing a party with all of his friends and all of the palace staff when he went too far….he mocked God and used the holy items which were stolen from the temple in Jerusalem in an ungodly way.   In fact King Belshazzar and his guests used these holy vessels and then gave praise to “the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone” (Daniel 5:4).  This portion of scripture is commonly known because of the “writing on the wall”, but as I was studying it this week, it was not just the hand writing on the wall, but the actual words that were written that grabbed my attention.

Suddenly the fingers of a man’s hand emerged and began writing opposite the lampstand on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace, and the king saw the back of the hand that did the writing. Then the king’s face grew pale and his thoughts alarmed him, and his hip joints went slack and his knees began knocking together.

The hand terrified the King and his guests as a message was written that nobody could understand.  Nobody understood the message.  None of the “great minds” of the day could tell the king what it means.   Nobody understood the words of warning.   None that is except for a prophet of the Lord named Daniel.

25 “Now this is the inscription that was written out: ‘MENĒ, MENĒ, TEKĒL, UPHARSIN.’ 26 This is the interpretation of the message: ‘MENĒ’—God has numbered your kingdom and put an end to it.  27 ‘TEKĒL’—you have been weighed on the scales and found deficient.  28 ‘PERĒS’—your kingdom has been divided and given over to the Medes and Persians.”

Daniel, the prophet of the LORD, was able to interpret the words which gives one of the saddest commentaries about anyone ever recorded (at least in my opinion).  The word that really stuck out to me was ‘TEKEL’.  This word actually means ‘weighed’ or ‘shekel’, but in context it means, you have been weighed in the balance and found deficient (or lacking).   Wow, did you catch that?   Daniel basically tells the King, you have been examined by God and you don’t measure up.  You have fallen short of what God has called you to.   You may be celebrating now, but punishment is coming quickly.

Those words stopped me in my tracks.  I had to ask myself the question, “what if God were to weigh me in the balance….would I be found lacking?”  The scary thing is that this is really not a hypothetical question because one day, we will ALL be judged, you know, literally “weighed in the balance”, by a HOLY GOD and will ALL be found lacking (Hebrews 9:27).  Remember God’s standard is perfection and none of us are perfect.   In fact, the Bible reminds us that ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)!

So are we to eat, drink and be merry until the time of our punishment as being perfect seems hopeless?  CERTAINLY NOT!  There is HOPE for all of us and HIS name is JESUS CHRIST!

16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:16-18, NASB95)

If we surrender our lives to JESUS, REPENT and TURN from our sin, allow HIM to be LORD OF ALL in our lives we have nothing to fear.  Being found lacking is the destiny of every living person – UNLESS we submit to JESUS and ask HIM to be LORD of our lives.    Romans 5:8 tells us that “…God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Much more then, having now been justified by HIS blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.”

Don’t let today pass you by.   Won’t you surrender your life to HIM today?

God Bless,

Stephen

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where there’s a will, there’s a way…

Know the saying, “where there’s a will, there’s a way”?  It usually means that if someone is so determined to do something even if that something is difficult they will still find a way to do it.

Take Bethany Hamilton for instance.  When Bethany was thirteen years old, she was attacked by a shark while surfing in Kauai!  According to her biography, “The attack left Bethany with a severed left arm.  After losing over 60% of her blood, and making it through several surgeries without infection, Bethany was on her way to recovery with an unbelievably positive attitude.  Lifeguards and doctors believe her strong water sense and faith in God helped get her through the traumatic ordeal.  Miraculously, just one month after the attack, Bethany returned to the water to continue pursuing her goal to become a professional surfer.”1  What determination!

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Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

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I came across a quote earlier this week that caused me to thinking about this saying with another perspective.

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“I assure you, if you are supposed to do something, God will make you able to do it.  You do not have to feel able, and you do not have to have experience.  All you need is a right motive and a heart full of faith”.2

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The “another”  perspective: where God’s will guides you, He provides the way for you! 

Please don’t misunderstand me, I am not belittling determination at all!  I am just asking you to consider the providence of God.  “For the Lord Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart Him?  His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?” (Isaiah 14:27, NIV)  It is the other side of the coin, if you will.  When God has purposed for you to do something, He will make you able to do it!  We must be determined to do God’s will (right motive).  We must believe that God who calls us is able to see us through (heart full of faith)!

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“My strength came from my relationship with Christ…knowing that God loves me and has a plan for my life that no shark can take away is like having solid rock underneath me.”– Bethany Hamilton3

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Are you determined to do God’s will?  Even if it is difficult?  Do you believe that where God’s will guides you, He provides the way– the strength, the ability, the determination– for you?

In Christ,

Victoria

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1. Bethany Hamilton, “Biography, BethanyHamilton.com, 2010.

2.  Joyce Meyer, Never Give Up: Relentless Determination to Overcome Life’s Challenges (New York, NY: FaithWords, Hachette Book Group, 2008), p. 40.

3. Bethany Hamilton, Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family and Fighting to Get Back on the Board, (New York, NY, Simon and Schuster, Inc., 2004).

 

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