March 31, 2020
In John 17:17 Jesus said God’s Word is truth. Here is a word from the Word that is sure to edify, “In this world you will have trouble.” Alright, maybe not so edifying, but it is truthful.
The edification in John 16:33 is found in what Jesus went on to say, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” In this last statement we find the peace Jesus talked about earlier in the verse. In the world we have problems. In Jesus we have peace.
Isaiah 43:1-3 is an Old Testament passage that talks about trouble. Please take a moment to read this rather lengthy text, “But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…’”
From this beautiful passage we learn four things about trouble in the Christian life. First, trouble is a part of life. Isaiah didn’t say, “if you go through trouble.” He said, “when you go through trouble.” Trouble is a fact of life for believer and unbeliever alike.
Second, trouble cannot separate us from Christ. What is the promise of v2? “I will be with you.” God doesn’t abandon us when trouble comes. If anything, He draws nearer.
Third, trouble is temporary and cannot destroy progress. Notice the forward movement throughout the text, “when you pass through the waters…when you pass through the rivers…when you walk through the fire.” Thankfully, it says “through” and not “to.”
And fourth, trouble must remain within the boundaries set by God. While God allows trouble to come for a season, and always for an ultimately good reason, He sets boundaries. He says to trouble, “This far you may come, but no farther” (Job 38:11). God will not allow the rivers to overflow you. He will not allow the flame to scorch you. He never promised to keep us from trouble, but He does promise to keep us through it!
Over the next several days I will present stories from the Bible about godly men and women who found themselves in trouble. The point isn’t just to read about their trouble, but to see how God faithfully kept them through it and brought them out.
I hope these stories will be an encouragement to you, and will enable anyone who might be discouraged to take heart. In spite of trouble we can still rejoice. Jesus has overcome the world!
Pastors Todd & Sheri
March 30, 2020
They were sinking, and He was sleeping!
It’s the only time in the Bible we see Jesus sleeping, and of all times for Him to sleep! It was a dark night on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus and His disciples were crossing over when a violent storm rose suddenly tossing the boat around like a toy. Strange how a storm can come from out of nowhere and hit with such sudden and severe force.
Fighting to keep the boat afloat, the disciples looked back to Jesus who was in the stern sound asleep on a pillow. The thought probably raced through their minds, “How can He sleep at a time like this?” I guess if Daniel could sleep in a lion’s den, Jesus could sleep in a storm.
With the boat now filling with water, the disciples raised their voices in desperation above the howling winds and yelled, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?” Imagine accusing Jesus of not caring. “No one ever cared for me like Jesus.”
Hearing their cries for help, Jesus arose. The eternal Son of God who spoke the seas into existence stood up. With the authoritative voice of the Creator Himself, Jesus rebuked the wind and said to the stormy sea, “Peace, be still!” As suddenly as the storm started, it stopped. The shrill winds died into a perfect calm, and the only sound that could be heard was that of the water gently lapping against the side of the boat.
Turning His eyes upon the stunned disciples, Jesus now asked them a question, “Why are you so fearful?” Funny. A few moments ago when they thought they were going to drown they could have told Him. But not now. The reason they were so fearful was because they had no faith. And the reason they had no faith was because they did not fully realize the identity of the One with them in the boat.
Sitting in the silence of the moment, looking into the face of God incarnate, the disciples began to ask each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey Him?” It’s interesting that under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit Mark left the question unanswered. Obviously, he knew the answer. So did Peter who was there in the boat that night and shared the account with Mark.
In telling the story Mark left the question unanswered. He just put it out there and left it hanging, and I think he did so for a reason. It’s up to each person to come to the point of belief and make their own confession. I cannot do it for you, and you cannot do it for me. Every person must bow their knee and confess with their mouth.
Having told the story that appears in the 4th chapter of his Gospel, Mark turns the question to us, “Who is this?” Who is this Man who speaks and nature obeys His command? What say you?
Pastors Todd & Sheri
March 29, 2020
From Pastor Sheri — “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
This verse is very timely and applicable in our present crisis. It indicates to us that one of the main reasons we pray is to “obtain mercy” at God’s throne.
Yesterday in prayer I found myself over and over asking God for mercy on our nation and the nations of the world. As I was praying I was thinking of the simple definition of mercy: not getting what I deserve.
So do we deserve what is happening in the world right now?
Psalms 130:3 says, “Lord, if you kept a record of our sins, who, O Lord, could ever survive?” Like the Psalmist, I don’t think we are ever in a place to ask for what we deserve. The Bible makes it clear that in light of the multitude and magnified of our sins, every person deserves judgement.
But we serve an incredibly merciful God. When God’s judgement came on Israel because David had numbered the people, David’s request in 2 Samuel 24:14 was, “I am in great distress. Please let us fall into the hand of the Lord, for His mercies are great; but do not let me fall into the hand of man.” We can go before the Lord at this time and ask Him to forgive us and we can obtain His great mercy!
I also found myself asking God fervently for His grace to be poured out. While mercy is not receiving what we DO deserve, grace is receiving what we DON’T deserve. Grace is God’s gift to us in time of need. Grace is divine help. It is God entering in and doing what humanity cannot do. God’s grace can do more in a moment than can could ask or even think.
So, let’s be bold to ask God. Let’s be bold to ask forgiveness. Let’s be bold to obtain mercy. And let’s be bold to request His grace to help in this time of need. It is our privilege in Christ.
Pastors Todd & Sheri