Peter and the rest

Posted: November 21, 2015 in Thoughts on God

He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. (Matthew 14:29 ESV)

Thunder rolled and lightening flashed, the storm was raging,
The tiny boat shook and swayed, how long they couldn’t say.
Battered by the winds, the disciples with the oars, struggling;
Tired and weary, their Master seemed so far away.

Suddenly in the hazy darkness, on the stormy waters, a figure seemed to loom,
In wild terror shrieked out they;
Their minds sensing impending doom.
Who was this – a phantom or a ghost, come furtively to spirit them away?

“Shh, it is I. Do not be afraid” a familiar voice reassured.
Seeking to drive out their fear, ingrained deep within.
But the disciples cowered in fright, even though the Master’s voice they heard.
All, except Peter, who boldly spoke up, ignoring the din.

Eyes focused on the Lord; Obeying His Master’s call,
Into the water Peter stepped, letting go of the boat,
One step, then two, moving ahead, walking tall;
Until he shifted his gaze from Jesus and floundered; his heart leaping to his throat

‘My Lord! ‘ he cried, ‘Save me! Save me! ‘
Jesus caught ahold of him, ‘wherefore did you doubt in your mind? ‘
I am with you in the storm, you see.
I will never leave nor forsake you, let me again remind.

Am I like Peter who stepped out believing?
Eager to do as his Master bade?
Or am I like the rest, His voice not heeding;
Unable to answer, sore afraid?

Dearly beloved, let us not shift our gaze – from ‘THE MASTER.’
And fix it on the stormy sea!
For in so doing – we may falter and confront disaster.
Let us look to the ‘ONE’ – who by His spoken word, created all things to be.

Who is your Savior?

Posted: November 17, 2015 in Thoughts on God

I, I am the LORD, and besides me there is no savior. (Isaiah 43:11 ESV)

As Americans, we have experienced historic elections as many of those who voted were not happy with the country’s direction. The old guard is voted out as the new is voted in with much joy. We vote in the hope that the government will save us from our problems. We hope that we will get jobs, be able to afford a house, become debt free, or just live a more comfortable life when our candidate wins. These politicians can in turn become our saviors. And then, when they fail to save us from our “problems”, we ignorantly look to the next politician for rescue. It might work for a year or two, but we are then forced to turn to another. In reality these men and women are no saviors at all.

We are never told in the Bible that we need to be saved from higher taxes, poor paying jobs, small apartments, or even national debt. What we truly need to be saved from is our perverse hearts that have no desire for the one true Savior, Jesus. This Savior meets our need for forgiveness of sins and hope for the future. A future that is eternal, and will continue forever. Look to the One who can save you for all time, instead of a short-lived term.

Who are you looking to as your Savior?

You can do it

Posted: November 5, 2015 in Thoughts on God

But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. (Matthew 14:26-29 ESV)

Last week, I attended a leadership conference, and it greatly uplifted my spirits. A speaker at the conference from Nigeria (Sam Adeyemi) gave me pause for thought. He spoke on the story of Peter walking on water (Matthew 14:26-31). As Christians, we tend to focus on the moral of the story, which is to have faith in Jesus. While that is true, the story is also a reminder how Jesus encourages us to do His will.

Jesus wants us to know that we can do anything through Him. We already know of the literal words of Paul in Philippians 4:13 (For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength). The story of Peter walking on water with Jesus is a prime example of this. Peter could not visualize how he could walk on water. However, Jesus knew that all Peter was lacking was the confidence he could do it. So Jesus says plain and simply, “Yes, come.” This is Jesus being the encouraging force saying ‘if I can do it, you can do it!’ God has given us everything we need to do His will.

Like most things with God, we must not focus on what we see; we must trust in what He says. If Paul focused on his circumstances, we would not have the majority of the New Testament. When you find yourself stuck or struggling to achieve something God is asking of you, do not run to the corner of ‘failure’ and ‘disappointment.’ Trust in Christ not just in word but through His examples. My prayer is that we are encouraged by Jesus Christ to know that if He could do it, “We can do it!” Amen!

When is the last time you trusted God beyond what you could see? How can you look less at circumstances and focus more on what God is asking of you?

Listen to the hurting

Posted: October 30, 2015 in Thoughts on God

I have heard many such things; 
miserable comforters are you all.
 Shall windy words have an end? 
Or what provokes you that you answer? (Job 16:2-3 ESV)

Have you ever had a friend go through a hard time and you didn’t know how to comfort them? We might quote Romans 8:28, thinking that it will make them feel better, knowing that God will make this horrible situation out for his good. We can’t stomach not having words to say to someone who is hurting or confused. We want to try to explain why their situation is happening or give them words of comfort.  We might even call them daily to see if their situation is improving. Job’s friends were the same way.

The majority of the book of Job consists of his friends explaining to him why his children have died, his livestock are all gone, and he has sores all over his body. We would generally agree with most of the reasons his friends gave for his hurting.  But, they aren’t the reasons Job has actually encountered these hardships! Their words of comfort were really words of discomfort. Sometimes God will use us to give a Biblical answer to the suffering a person is enduring, but there will still be instances when we have no idea what to say. Instead of spouting off religiously oriented phrases in these situations, we should listen, listen, and listen some more.

Lend an ear to the hurting, instead of trying to solve all of their problems.

Eternal Motivation

Posted: October 23, 2015 in Thoughts on God

And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. (Matthew 19:29 ESV)

There is a tension that Christians face: we live in one place, but our true home is in another. We witness this tension in a couple of ways. One is the propensity to treat church like a bunker and try to escape the world. Another, better display of this tension, is the looking forward to eternal life while embracing where God has placed us now. Faithfully anticipating our inheritance rather than demanding it right now is both a mark of maturity and faith. It allows eternal life its proper place as a motivator in our hearts.

Jesus speaks of eternal reward with a rich young man (Matthew 19:21) and also in today’s text with the Disciples. The idea of seeking rewards of any sort might seem counterproductive to the Christian life. But, why would Jesus mention to the Disciples that they “will receive a hundredfold” if he didn’t want that to motivate them? How could the majority of the Disciples die a martyr’s death if there wasn’t a motivation of eternal reward in their hearts?

This is another area where we see this tension play out in the battle of “Now vs. Later.” We should be aching for God’s promised eternal reward, but we should also be selfless like Jesus (Mark 10:45; 1 John 2:6). Here’s the solution: our reward is God himself (Numbers 18:20). Though heaven is filled with beautiful things, it is only the place where we will enjoy our eternal reward. Whatever we desire now  should be considered in light of our eternal reward, God himself.

Start looking at the long term, eternity. Let the motivation of eternal rewards give you a new view of the situation God has put you in and use it to glorify Him.

Waiting on God

Posted: October 21, 2015 in Thoughts on God

He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:29-31 ESV)

This whole idea of waiting goes against what we naturally and culturally do. When our natural inclination is to step on the gas, God is often telling us to hit the brakes. Waiting is often difficult because we equate it with inactivity. But waiting, which can also be translated as hoping, means to wait with expectation, to look for. The implication is that we are waiting and watching with expectation towards what God is going to do.

During these periods of waiting, God is often refueling and refining us for what He has in store. Everything around you needs to be refueled after much use. Your car has to stop for gas, your body needs to sleep, and your cell phone needs to be recharged. So, why can’t this be the case with our spiritual life as well? What may seem like inactivity from our perspective is often purposeful preparation from God’s perspective. Be encouraged that those who wait end up even stronger after the Lord renews them.

If you are in one of those seasons…
-Are you allowing God to refuel you?
-Are you tuning into His voice?
-Are you recognizing His activity around you?

How do you respond to these periods of waiting on God?

Coming Back

Posted: October 20, 2015 in Thoughts on God

My apologies for not posting much these days, but I have been fighting some serious health issues. The healing hands are upon me now, and I will start posting again tomorrow. Thanks for your support…:)