Archive for October, 2014

13
Oct
14

Truths About Suffering – Keep on Rowing

When therefore they had rowed about three or four miles, they beheld Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near to the boat; and they were frightened.  But He said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.”  They were willing therefore to receive Him into the boat; and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going. – John 6:19-21

Jesus disciples had been in a boat since before sunset.  Matthew 14:25 said that it was about the fourth watch, which is somewhere between 3am to 6am.  All this time, they had been rowing against the waves, a task that must have exhausted them and cause their muscles to beg for rest.  It seemed like the more they waited and worked, the worse things seemed to get.  But they kept on rowing.

When things in our lives get so bad that we don’t think they can get any worse, it seems so easy to give up, but that is the exact moment that we must endure to the end.  It may seem that our very soul is begging for rest.  But we must keep on rowing.

That is the exact moment when we must be reminded of James’ praise of Job:  “You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful” (James 5:11).  What a promise, that the Lord is full of compassion and merciful to those who refuse to give up!

In our Scripture, when it seemed all was lost, Jesus appeared.  It scared the disciples at first, but He calmed them.  And when Jesus appeared, He came performing miracles.  First, He came walking on the water.  Second, He stopped the storm (Mark 6:51).  Last, when He boarded the ship, they immediately were taken 2 or 3 miles to the shore.  What an entrance Jesus makes!

He will do the same for us if we will just endure and wait on Him.

 Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him. – Isaiah 30:18

 

This devotion is the last in a series of four.  Be sure to read the preceding ones, “Jesus Has Already Prayed for Us!”, We are Sent into Storms”, and “Jesus is Watching.”  Be sure to watch for the last devotion in the near future.

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12
Oct
14

Truths About Suffering – Jesus is Watching

And after getting into a boat, they started to cross the sea to Capernaum. And it had already become dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them.  And the sea began to be stirred up because a strong wind was blowing…Therefore they had rowed about three or four miles…  John 6:17-19a

Perhaps the most difficult adventure in the Christian life is encountering adversities.  Every single born again believer who truly seeks to truly serve God will meet with them throughout their lives.  Trials and tribulations such as the loss of a job, a serious medical condition, financial woes, the death of a loved one or a divorce, among others, are events that can absolutely turn our world upside down.  We can feel alone and not know which way to turn, and it may seem like there is no end to the suffering.

The disciples had been put on a ship by Jesus, Himself, and went out to sea.  A murky scene develops as it gets night time.  Now on top of this, a storm started, and it was building in its intensity.  In fact, Matthew 14:24 says that the ship was “tossed with the waves.”  To say the least, they were in a fix.  They were about 2 or 3 miles out to sea, in the middle of a storm in the dark so they could not navigate by the stars, and now the boat was being tossed about with the waves.  They were frightened.  They must have felt alone and abandoned, not knowing which way to turn.  It probably seemed like there would be no end to their trouble.

The one thing that they did not realize is that Jesus saw them!  Mark 6:48 reveals that Jesus saw them in the middle of the dark clouds of the storm, 2 or 3 miles out to sea, in a boat that was being assaulted by the waves.  Job was in the middle of his own tribulation when he proclaimed, “But He knows the way I take” (Job 23:10).

When it seems that we are at our wit’s end, it is such a joy to know that we are neither gone, nor forgotten from His eyes!

This devotion is the third in a series of four.  Be sure to read the first two, “Jesus Has Already Prayed for Us!” and “We are Sent into Storms.”  Be sure to watch for the last devotion in the near future.

11
Oct
14

Truths About Suffering – We Are Sent Into Storms

Now when evening came, His disciples went down to the sea.  John 6:16

Jesus prepares the storms for us, but most importantly, he has already prepared us for the storm!

In this verse, it is simply stated that Jesus’ disciples went down to the sea, and in verse 17, they got on a ship.  Matthew 14:22 gives us more details in its description, stating that Jesus “constrained His disciples to get into a ship and to go before Him unto the other side…”  It is interesting to note that Jesus, as the God-Man, still held all the attributes of God.  This would include God’s omniscience, or the fact that God knows everything.  Nothing is a surprise to God.  In essence, Jesus Christ knew that He was sending the disciples directly into the path of a bad storm.

We all face bad storms in our lives.  It’s all part of being human.  Job basically made the statement that we all run into “trouble” (Job 5:7, 14:1).  In fact, this is exactly the kind of life that Jesus has called us in which to serve.  While we are not of this world, we are called to serve in it.  If we are serving the right way, then we will be ruffling the feathers of some folks.  And sometimes, just to strengthen our faith, the Lord will direct our paths into troubled seas.

The most blessed fact of all this devotion applied to the disciples in that day, and applies to us today.  That blessed fact is that Jesus prepared that trial for them ahead of time, directing them right into it.  But, most importantly, He had already prepared them for the trial!

This devotion is the second in a series of four.  Be sure to read the first one, “Jesus Has Already Prayed for Us!” and watch for the next two devotions in the near future.

10
Oct
14

Truths About Suffering – Jesus Has Already Prayed for Us!

Jesus therefore perceiving that they were intending to come and take Him by force, to make Him king, withdrew again to the mountain by Himself alone. John 6:15

 Intercessory prayer…is standing before God asking Him to intervene and act on the behalf of another.

A common practice in church services, small groups and Sunday School classes is to ask for prayer requests.  This is intended for those in attendance to let others know about the struggles others are encountering, as well as rejoice in the victories over struggles, or the good news of salvation.  This Is called intercessory prayer, which is standing before God asking Him to intervene and act on the behalf of another.

In the Scripture above, Jesus had just performed the feeding of the 5,000.  His miracle so impressed the people, that it seems that the people became a mob, trying to get to Jesus for good intentions.  However, we see Jesus Christ withdrawing to be alone.  Matthew 14:22-23 further expounds that Jesus sent the disciples out to sea, and that He went up to a mountain alone in order to pray.  It seems interesting, when you continue reading in John 6, that Jesus sent the disciples on a boat in the sea right into the middle of a storm.  Perhaps Jesus went “into a mountain apart to pray” for His disciples, whom He knew would be encountering a tough time ahead.

Assuming this to be true, it is not the only time that Jesus prayed for believers.  John 17 records a beautiful prayer of intercession for those who follow Him, and for those who had not followed Him.  Read some of the comments that He made on this occasion:  “I do not ask Thee to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one.
Sanctify them in the truth; Thy word is truth. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.“

Isn’t it a blessing to know that when Jesus sent His disciples in the middle of a storm, He prayed for them?  Do we think that He does any less for us today?

This devotion is the first of a four part series.  Please look for the other three parts very soon in the future.

09
Oct
14

Prepare the Way

God’s Word came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the vicinity of the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah: A voice of one crying out in the wilderness: Prepare the way for The Lord; make His paths straight. Luke 3:2-4

In anticipation of His second coming, we should be diligent to repair the roads of our life…

Where I live in West Virginia, a common conversation one might hear between us is the bad conditions of our roads. In particular, one section of highway called the West Virginia Turnpike is loathed and despised by nearly everyone you would speak with. In many places, the roads are very curvy, and are riddled with potholes. Because of the unique, hilly terrain of our state, many roads were carved out of the hill, therefore, they have a long downward slope on one side. We often have roads that start to slip and fall down the hill.

The reputation of the roads in the region where John the Baptist preached was more deplorable than what we face here. Many times the roads were too narrow, they were extremely uneven, they would be riddled with potholes, and they would be filthy from waste of their beasts of burden. According to some who have had the privilege of visiting this land, one of the great challenges is just getting around, as the roads are in such poor shape.

John the Baptist was essentially a herald of the coming Messiah. Heralds typically would come to the people and make announcements that an important person was coming through the area. When the Bible says “Prepare the way for The Lord”, it is a call for the people to get the roads in a good condition for the passing of an important person: even out the roads, fill the holes and clean up the filth, because The Lord is coming!

We are given many prophecies in the Word of God that Jesus Christ is coming again, and that His coming is very soon. In anticipation of His second coming to rapture His church, we should be very diligent to make the roads of our lives even, to fill up the potholes in roads of our lives, and to remove the filth that litters the roads of our lives. In doing so, we will be proclaiming to a lost and dying world that Jesus is alive, and that He is coming again!




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