It’s been a week of; great loss and devastation, a roller coaster of emotions, miracles, an epic outpouring of care and concern and stunning images of love captured for the world to see. It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words and this week we would all agree. The images of the devastation in Moore, Oklahoma have been seared into our hearts and minds. There are no words to describe the photos.
After the storm; when the whirling - destructive winds, the powerful-sky splitting lightning and the green hail filled clouds are gone; the sun returns, people emerge from their hiding places and children scramble from under walls and rubble. Shell shocked and stunned they catch their breath not yet fully realizing what just happened, yet thankful that at this moment in time they are alive. As reality begins to set in the stories begin to flow facilitating the catharsis which enables healing to take place. Stories of survival, miracles, hope, faith and amazing acts of kindness and selfless love.
One of the most powerful pictures taken this week is that of Jim Routon and his seven year old neighbor Hezekiah Darbon. Routon, a first responder from Moore, rushed to one of the most devastated parts of the city, the Briarwood Elementary school where Hezekiah is a first grade student, to aid the children. This picture has been described as the hug seen around the world - the wonderful moment that Jim Routon discovered his seven year old neighbor Hezekiah Darbon had survived the Oklahoma tornado and scooped him up in his arms.
The picture itself spoke volumes; however the story behind the picture revealed a love that many people only hope for. In an interview with Good Morning Americathis week the bond between the boy and his neighbor was unmistakable. As they talked about their emotional reunion it was revealed that Hezekiah had nicknamed them, “Big Dog” and “Little Dog”. Hezekiah told Robin Roberts that the hug from the man he calls 'Big Dog' made him feel safe. He felt safe in “Big Dog’s” embrace because of the investment of love Routon had already made in his young life. This picture tells the biblical story of a man loving his neighbor.
Another picture that gripped our hearts this week is the picture of five year old Tatum Raetz surrounded by hundreds of Phoenix police officers who were present to celebrate her Kindergarten Graduation. Tatum’s father, Officer Daryl Raetz, was killed in the line of duty just a few days before.
Why did the officers feel it necessary to go to the Kindergarten Graduation of a little girl they didn’t even know? Because her father couldn't be there, her Phoenix Police Department family showed up to stand in his stead and celebrate Tatum.
Officer, James Holmes told AZFamily.com “The original plan was for just a few officers to attend the funeral, but news got out that this was happening and it went viral within the department and there was absolutely no way that you could keep officers who could be here away from here. They came, even with their families," he explained. This kind of show of support and love is not the exception among the brotherhood of police officers around this country, it is the rule. Police officers and fire fighters are known to exemplify the biblical mandate “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) They lay down their lives for their communities as well as for their brothers.
The Phoenix Police department tweeted a photo of the incredible turnout:
With so much devastation, terror, evil and wickedness going on in the world it is easy to become focused on the circumstances and feel overwhelmed and frightened. We find ourselves asking the question “God, where are you in all of this?” But when we lift our eyes off the temporal and seek the eternal, sparks of joy will light up our grief stricken faces for all the world to see. When we allow God’s love to be channeled through us to those we come in contact with, we will become that picture. What picture? The picture which is worth a thousand words! The one that finds itself engraved on the hearts and minds of people in the midst of the loss, devastation, rubble and heart break of their lives.
Yes, a picture is worth a thousand words and we are to be that picture of love to family, friends, strangers, enemies and especially our brothers and sisters in Christ. But don’t stop there, when they stop to catch their breath and are ready to listen, tell them the story behind the picture. The story of God who loved us by sending His Son. We tell that story by loving others, others who desperately need to be loved.
Wrapping it up.
If you are a regular reader you know that our hearts desire is to see people established in the Word of God. We don't simply want your emotions stirred, we want you growing in your relationship with our Lord. With that in mind we always recommend Bible study resources which we believe are valuable and relate to the topic at hand.
This time we want to recommend one of our 40 Minute studies, Loving God and Others. This simple six week study is designed to help you see exactly what the Bible says about loving God and people, and how to apply the truths to your relationships. Check it out for yourself.
"The crux of a person’s misunderstanding is in thinking that disciplines are about them. No, spiritual disciplines are about God."
Jan Johnson in her blog post Spiritual Disciplines Are Not About YOU
When it comes to the topic of spiritual disciplines too many people think it is all about them. In other words people's tendency is to self focus.That is a mistake. You are NOT the star of your own spirituality show. God is the star, we are only bit players. Spiritual discipline is about God working in our lives, NOT about us working hard for God. Spiritual Discipline is not a term we often hear in our culture. The phrase just sounds odd in our world. Maybe it’s because it’s hard to express spiritual discipline and devotion to God in 140 characters with a #hearingGodspeak. Spiritual discipline seems so…. well, time consuming. We live in a fast moving world of tag lines and sound bites, of instant entertainment and constant noise. Spiritual discipline just sounds so old and slow.
In reality the disciplines of spiritual growth stand in stark contrast to our mile wide and inch deep world. Our world is virtually international in scope. We have more information and less knowledge than any time in history. We can Wikipedia everything, but we have a comprehensive knowledge of almost nothing. Spiritual disciplines are the tools God has given us to know Him well. They speak to the depth of the soul and call us to walk in the unknown places of our hearts and minds with our Creator. They call us to know God and walk close to Him, to hear His voice, to feel His presence, and to see ourselves as we really are.
Discipline in the things of the Spirit calls us to die to ourselves, to take up our cross, and to follow Him.
The idea of dying to ourselves, to our independent living, seems so contrary to the “me” world in which we live. But, it is not just our culture that feels this way. Man has always focused on himself first. Without Christ we are wired that way. It is in our DNA. Cats meow, dogs bark, and man focuses on himself first.
But Christ bids us come and die. He calls us to die to our self-serving, unsatisfying, and shallow way of life. He calls us to die so that we can live! Really live! We are not talking about the superficial 140 character world with smiley faces and hash tags we see all around us, but a life that is deep and exciting. He calls us to die to self and even die to our own spirituality show and live only in Him.
Discipline produces depth. Spiritual disciplines cultivate spiritual depth.
But, this requires being intentional. Intentionality is implied in the word discipline. If we are not intentional or disciplined to practice spending time with God then it won’t happen. The enemy of your soul will do everything in his power to keep you from the spiritual exercise of seeking the things of God. The enemy is loud and noisy, he screams for your attention and demands your time with the tyranny of the urgent. But God waits, most often quietly, for you to turn to Him. He also wants your attention and your time. He waits to speak to you in that small still voice and draw you into the deep places with Him. Will you join Him?
There are disciplines in the Spiritual life that free us from ourselves and help us draw close to Him. But, this is not a universally agreed upon list of five or ten that we must all follow. The lists vary depending on culture, history, church preference, and probably a dozen other factors.
We want to identify just a handful:
In the next few posts we will talk more about these and identify some practical ways we can use these disciplines to deepen our experience with our Creator.
Wrapping it up
What are you doing on a daily basis to be intentional in your spiritual growth?
Or, to ask it another way, what practices have you put into place in your life to help you mature spiritually?
We have resources which will set you on the path to growth. All of them require participation on your part, but all of them will take you deeper in your walk with our Lord.
Check them out and begin the journey to freedom from self. You are not the star and Christianity is not about YOU. It is all about God, and spiritual disciplines are tools He has given us to to use to draw closer to Him.
From time to time we come across a story so compelling we simply have to share it with you. This is the story of a young man caught up in a web of lies and the church who loved him. The author, Maurie Bratcher is the Student Ministry Coordinator at Mission Dorado Church in Odessa, Texas. Maurie and her family are friends of Precept Ministries and more specifically Transform Student Ministries. This post and the link to her blog are shared with permission. Maurie Bratcher's story
Three years ago, my world fell apart. And then GQ showed up. ESPN followed. HBO called. They all wanted me to serve as a source for a story, one so confounding and intriguing that it garnered nationwide attention. I was a character in the story, a bit player that entered in obscurity but ended up right in the heart of the climax. As my reality morphed into fiction, I was speechless. How could this be my life?
I was ill-equipped for the tabloid I felt trapped in. I gave a few statements here and there, most frequently when I was caught by a reporter who got my cell phone number or when someone showed up unannounced at my office. Anytime that happened, I regretted it, especially when I saw the end-product. I received a piece of hate mail after my first appearance in the papers.There was a touch of sensationalism in everything…and I struggled to reconcile what the world was saying with what I had lived. Ripple effects would be felt by many.
I developed coping mechanisms – don’t speak to the media, distance yourself from those who do, keep your eyes ahead, don’t listen to what others say, don’t care. But at night, when I was all alone, I cried. Behind all the labels, there was a person. Behind all the headlines, there was the truth. I wanted to believe I knew both of those things.
When I met him, he was introduced to me as Jerry. He was an incoming sophomore at Permian High School and he met some of my students through basketball. He was soft-spoken and respectful and showed an interest in spiritual things. He came regularly on Sunday mornings and occasionally on a Wednesday night for the better part of a year. I learned bits and pieces of his story, told to me by students, parents and Jerry himself. There were some substantial gaps in his life, but it was understandable given all that he told us he’d been through – orphaned in Haiti, immigrated to the US, bounced between relatives and older siblings until somehow, he had ended up in West Texas. It seemed an unlikely place to start a life, but he had an older brother who was playing ball at the local university and Jerry had tagged along. He had lived undetected in the dorms until his brother enrolled him in school and he had eventually been taken in by Coach Wright, the high school basketball coach. It wasn’t the first time that the coach had helped out kids who needed a place to stay and it didn’t seem that unusual to those who knew about it. Odessa is a community where people care about other people and I know a dozen people who would have done the same thing if they had crossed paths with Jerry. Soon, the town knew him - he adjusted well at school, made a lot of friends, started playing on the varsity basketball team. He wasn’t the star, but he was good and people talked about what potential he had.
Jerry also became a fixture at church. He wanted to be baptized, to show publicly the commitment he had made to follow Christ. He became part of our faith family, so much so that an elderly couple “adopted” him and lovingly called them their grandson. He carried his own Bible and listened intently during Bible study. It was apparent that he wanted to know more, grow more and be more.
It was shaping up to be a sweet, feel-good story until the spring of 2010. That was when Jerry was arrested at Permian High School and we were told -
He wasn’t an orphan.
He wasn’t a teenager.
He wasn’t Jerry Joseph.
In a moment, the rest of the story...
Sometimes loving people is easy. There are some people you just feel a connection to. You like them, and they respond as you reach out. You invest time, energy, and emotion in their lives and you see what looks like growth. In those moments loving God and loving people looks like a beautiful thing. And then you find out you have been lied to. Suddenly the world is radically different, it looks dark and gray. What do you do then? How do you love the deceiver? How do you love one who has violated your trust? Maurie knows how! And before you read the rest of the story we want to recommend a resource that will help you learn to love when it is not easy. The key to responding in this situation is to understand the connection between loving God and loving people. This 40 Minute study, Loving God and Others: The Heart of True Faith will give you the principles you need to respond in every situation.
And now for the rest of the story... Follow this link to OneSingleVoice
Satan’s Tactics for Penetrating Your Line of Defense
We saw in the last post that every attacker has one primary goal—to defeat their enemy and subject them to his will. Remember 1 Peter 5:8? Your adversary, the devil, wants to devour you. The enemy doesn’t want simply to attack and aggravate, but to win and dominate.
In order to win the enemy must penetrate your line of defense!
The secret to victory, then, is to never allow a penetration!
Principles of Warfare
Throughout the New Testament God reminds us that we are in a conflict—not with flesh and blood but with principalities and powers and spiritual wickedness in high places. Therefore it’s essential that you understand the tactics of the enemy so you won’t be caught off guard. If you don’t recognize your enemy for what he is and if you aren’t aware of his tricks Satan will establish a beachhead in your life that will make it easier for him to push his way deeper until he holds you captive!
When a disappointment comes our way failure to respond in a biblically will produce a weak spot in our mental and emotional defensive line. The enemy will take advantage of our disappointment to come across with more wrong thoughts which in turn impact our feelings and take us down into discouragement.
The breach in your line of defense is opened. To conquer and hold more territory in our thought life and emotions, the deceiver will bring in more and more forces, dragging us down into dejection and despair. He will establish a stronghold.
If the enemy’s first attack against a certain area of your life succeeds in achieving penetration, he will keep coming at you until you are demoralized—flattened, unable to get up!
And where is that struggle fought? On what front?
Your mind is the battleground
The front line is always the mind. Never forget that principle, for understanding it is the key to winning the war.
"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ." - 2 Corinthians 10:3–5
We are able to take every thought captive—but whether we do it is another story!
Satan will attack your mind with imaginations and thoughts that are contrary to what God’s word says. The ideas and perceptions will be a perversion of His truth about you. These thoughts will be nothing more than disinformation and distortion.
At any moment if you are experiencing anything but victory, stop and ask yourself, Why am I feeling this way? Why am I thinking these thoughts?
Do you realize that how you think really determines how you behave?
Satan knows if he can capture your mind he can capture your body. You must learn to take your thoughts captive or the deceiver will take you captive by your thoughts!
What kind of thoughts does he attack your mind with?
"We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ" - 2 Corinthians 10:5
Any thought that would lead you away from the simplicity of following Christ can and will be used by the enemy. Satan will tempt you to meet your own needs instead of trusting Christ to meet them. Immorality is the one many of us think of first, but ANY need that we have could be twisted by Satan to cause us to focus on a perceived lack instead of trusting God to supply.
Your mind is all important! What is yours dwelling on?
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things." -Philippians 4:8
Be careful about what you let into your mind!
“So take care how you listen; for whoever has, to him more shall be given; and whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has shall be taken away from him.”- Luke 8:18
Never a Foothold
We can’t prevent the enemy from directing his fiery arrows of wrong thoughts toward our minds. But we can keep him from achieving victory with those Deadly D’s by never permitting a penetration!
This is the secret of victory – Never allow a penetration!
Never allow the enemy to get his foot in the door! If you do he’ll have the leverage to push his way far deeper into your life!
"Do not give the devil an opportunity." - Ephesians 4:27
Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world." - 1 Peter 5:8–9
Our enemy can’t be seen!
"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places." - Ephesians 6:12
"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.
11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil." - Ephesians 6:10–11
The reason so many Christians fall in spiritual warfare is that we’ve ignored the right of the Lord Jesus Christ to have supreme authority and rulership in our life. His objectives for us—to conquer ungodliness, to be holy even as He is holy—are not our objectives. Instead our desire so often is to be our own commander!
Satan is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44). He is the deceiver of the world and the accuser of the brethren. That’s what your enemy is like—so don’t listen to Him!
Remember the outcome of the war is already determined!
When you are hit with disappointment, you can hold your line of defense by being strong in the Lord!
This is the second in a series of posts on the 5 Deadly D's. We will address each of the Deadly D's individually in the following posts and show you how to prevent the penetration of your line of defense as well as what to do once the line has been breached!
Next time we will look at understanding disappointment, the first of the 5 Deadly D's! You won't want to miss any of them so we suggest you subscribe to the blog so that you will receive each new post the moment it's posted!! Please share with your friends too!
We would love to hear back from you so please comment and let us know what you think!
The 5 Deadly D's are taken from Kay's book As Silver Refined. To see all of these now and to learn even more you can order your copy by clicking the button below!
Has there ever been a time in your life when your disappointment in your circumstances or personal relationships caused you to go into an emotional tailspin?
Have you ever felt you might drown in discouragement?
Have you ever fallen into a well of depression and in that well found yourself in such a state of despair that you were so demoralized you couldn’t even figure out how to climb out of your prison—or even try? What did you do? How did you handle it?
What if a crushing disappointment came your way today or tomorrow—do you have the assurance that you could face it in such a way that it would become a steppingstone toward greater godliness rather than a stumbling block to plummet you into defeat, depression, and despair?
If you are going to live for God you will not go unopposed! Once you come out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God, then whether you want it or not it’s war—warfare with the prince of this world! And though you can’t be snatched from the Father’s hand, Satan will do everything to keep you from being effective in your walk with the Lord!
Satan has three major strategies for weakening us before the major battles come.
He wants us to focus on anything and everything except what is really important. How often are you like Martha, drawn away and distracted from the one thing that is needful (Luke10:40-42)?
The one thing that is “needful” is to sit at His feet and learn of Him; yet the pressures and pleasures of life can so easily distract—as do the pressures of ministry, the busyness of serving the Lord. Even the possibility of being distracted in dangerous times like today should put a holy fear within us.
Deception can also be the result of distraction. When we don’t have time to stay in the Word, we’re more easily deceived. Jesus said the devil “does not stand in truth, because there is no truth in him. (John 8:44) He is the ultimate deceiver and unless you stay connected to the truth of the Word of God you will certainly be deceived.
- The Deadly D’s – a third strategy with several layers
They’re part of a devastating plunge that’s triggered when we respond wrongly to the disappointments that God in His loving sovereignty allows in our lives.
Let's take a quick look at what these Deadly D's are.
The Deadly D's
The downward spiral begins with disappointment. Disappointment comes when our expectations are not met. Consequently we are not happy about it –we’re disturbed.
When disappointment happens and we don’t conquer it God’s way, then we spin downward into discouragement. We’re without courage. We want to give up. We want to quit because we are disheartened. We’re ready to run rather than deal with the situation. We walk out; run away. Our fighting spirit – our spunk is gone.
• Dejection (Depression)
Depression follows discouragement, in various degrees.
The first degree of depression is dejection – a lowness of spirit, a feeling of spiritual and emotional fatigue.
If not reversed dejection will plunge us into despair.
At this stage of descent hope is entirely abandoned and its replaced by apathy and numbness. Fear becomes overwhelming and paralyzing and can degenerate further into disorder and reckless action that is heedless of consequences.
Can you see how Satan uses these tactics to defeat many of God’s children today? The question is “How well do you understand them? How quickly can you recognize them in your own life or in the lives of others around you?
The Secret of Victory
When an attack occurs, the attacker has one goal—to defeat the enemy and subject him to his will. Remember1 Peter 5:8? Your adversary, the devil, wants to devour you. The enemy doesn’t want simply to attack, but to win.
The enemy’s goal is to penetrate your line of defense. And if we don’t stop him by holding the line, then he’s going to come in like a flood with all of his other destructive weapons. He’ll drive a wedge into you with disappointment, then press in with discouragement, dejection, despair, and demoralization, which will mean defeat. He doesn’t have to kill you to win; he just needs to get you to stop fighting, to turn and run, to hide, to quit the battle.
The secret to victory, then, is to never allow a penetration!
Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. - 1 Peter 5:8
This would be a good verse to memorize.
This is the first of a series of 6 posts on the 5 Deadly D's. We will address each of the Deadly D's individually in the following posts and show you how to prevent the penetration of your line of defense as well as what to do once the line has been breached!
You won't want to miss any of them so we suggest you subscribe to the blog so that you will receive each new post the moment its posted!! Please share with your friends too!
We would love to hear back from you so please comment and let us know what you think!
The 5 Deadly D's are taken from Kay's book As Silver Refined. To see all of these now and to learn even more you can order your copy by clicking the button below!
Seriously, what do we have to be afraid of?
Well, for starters:
Home invasions/Street crime
______________ (write your personal favorite fear)
Obviously there is plenty to fear, some real fears and some irrational ones. The question of course is how do we handle fear? How should we respond?
Before we talk about how to respond to fear, let’s lay a foundational principle. Fear is not the lack of courage. Courage is not the lack of fear. Fear is a normal human response to stress or danger, real or perceived.
For a Christian, courage is making the choice to walk by faith and do what’s right even when we are afraid. In other words, it is not that we will never feel fear; but fear should never control us!
Our world, our life, our destiny, our existence is in the hands of God, the God who loves us and has promised that He will make all things work together for our good (Romans 8:28). And, if God is for us who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)
This is all well and good until
the bomb goes off.
the stock market crashes again.
the flood waters rise.
the earth begins to quake.
your children begin to rebel.
“I want a divorce” is part of the argument.
In those moments, what do we do? Here are 4 tips to help you respond in such a way that you will be able to break free from fear. These tips are all taken from David's example in Psalm 56.
In order to better understand the circumstances David finds himself in, we need to look at the background. David, the man who would be the next king of Israel, ran for his life from Saul, who was the current king. David left the territory controlled by Saul and went into the enemy territory of the Philistines. But, when he arrived at the city of Gath they recognized him and seized him. His life is in danger, his enemies have him. How does he respond? David had already determined this was how he would respond, “When I am afraid, I will not be afraid.” (verses 3 & 4)
For the choir director; according to Mikhtam of David, when the Philistines seized him in Gath.
Responds in prayer
1 Be gracious to me, O God, for man has trampled upon me; Fighting all day long he oppresses me.
2 My foes have trampled upon me all day long, For they are many who fight proudly against me.
Refocuses on God
3 When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You.
4 In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me?
5 All day long they distort my words; All their thoughts are against me for evil.
6 They attack, they lurk, They watch my steps, As they have waited to take my life.
7 Because of wickedness, cast them forth, In anger put down the peoples, O God!
Rehearses the truth about God
8 You have taken account of my wanderings; Put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book?
9 Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call; This I know, that God is for me.
Rests, trusting in God
10 In God, whose word I praise, In the LORD, whose word I praise,
11 In God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?
4 Tips on How to Break Free From Fear
- Respond - to fear by praying.
David stopped and prayed. It was a short and simple cry for help. “Be gracious” or have mercy on me. His first response, not his last recourse, was to pray. Too often we try to fix everything first and then only when all else fails we pray. Pray first.
- Refocus – don’t focus on circumstances put your focus on God.
David did not let his thoughts feed his fear. Take your thoughts captive by refocusing. Fear focuses all of our attention on the danger. We must intentionally change our focus back to God. When we focus on God, the circumstances look small. When we focus on the circumstances, God looks small. Fear is really just a mind game anyway. Keep your mind on God, when you get distracted, REFOCUS.
- Rehearse – the truth about God and His Word.
David rehearses the truth he knows about God. He reminds himself that God knows where he is and that God is for him. He is reminding himself of the power and the presence of God.
- Rest– by placing your trust in God.
After responding in prayer, refocusing on God and rehearsing what God's word says, David rests in the arms of God's sovereignty.
Wrapping it up
We always like to leave you with resources to help you in your walk. In this case we have two we want to mention.
When the enemy brings fear to your mind, quote it. Quote it until you can respond, refocus, rehearse, and rest.
The LORD is for me; I will not fear; what can man do to me? - Psalm 118:6
It is a six week study that takes you straight into the Word of God so you can find freedom from fear. The button below will take you to our eStore. You can download lesson one for FREE and test drive it before you purchase it if you are wondering if this study is right for you.
Do you ever feel like the news is NEVER good?
The terror in Boston, MA. The explosions in West, TX. The poison Ricin that was mailed to the President and a Congressman. North Korea threatening, Syria falling, and Iran going nuclear. Everywhere you turn it seems someone has a serious illness, is getting laid off, or is losing their home. Each day seems to bring fresh reasons for fear. Fear may have even taken a foothold in your life.
The real question is, can you even imagine a life without fear? Fear will always be a part of our life, but it doesn’t have to control us. In Jesus, we have the all powerful, sovereign Lord over all creation and all of life’s circumstances.
What if faith in Him, not fear of your circumstances, were your response? Maybe that is why Jesus asked the question “Why are you afraid?” in Mark 4:40
The following story is probably familiar to you. It takes place during Jesus’ ministry in the Galilee. At this point His disciples have seen Jesus serving, loving people and performing miracles.
On this particular day, Jesus had been teaching in parables from a boat near the shore of the Sea of Galilee. When evening came He gathered His disciples together.
35 On that day, when evening came, He said to them, “Let us go over to the other side.”
36 Leaving the crowd, they took Him along with them in the boat, just as He was; and other boats were with Him.
37 And there arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up.
38 Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”
39 And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Hush, be still.” And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm.
40 And He said to them, “Why are you afraid? How is it that you have no faith?”
As they headed to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, their circumstances changed radically. What had been a calm, even routine evening, suddenly became terrifying. The storm must have been incredible. Many of the disciples were seasoned fishermen. They grew up around the Sea of Galilee and were probably very familiar with the weather patterns and the sudden storms. But this storm terrified them and they expected to die.
Did you notice the question they asked in verse 38 when they were afraid? “…do you not care?” In the fear of the moment, they doubted the love of God. Now, before we condemn the weak faith of these men, let me ask you if you have ever doubted the love God? Have your circumstances ever been so frightening that you wondered about the love of God?
What was the focus of disciples? Naturally the storm was. But how did Jesus respond? What does Jesus seem to be saying is the relationship between faith and fear? Let us help you with that answer – faith overcomes fear.
Fear unleashes a host of doubts. It chips away at our confidence in God’s goodness. If God can sleep in our storms we think “Does He care?” Our minds continue, “If God doesn’t care, then we must take control.” We become control freaks because we perceive a loss of control and somebody has to do something!
The disciples had every reason to trust Jesus. They had heard Him teach the Word and had even seen Him perform miracles, and yet they still had no faith in a crisis, when their lives were at risk. Fear is a powerful emotion and it takes over when we allow it. But faith is ever present and more powerful: it keeps fear in check. The disciples’ unbelief caused their fear, and their fear made them question whether Jesus really cared. It’s not that they didn’t believe “in” Jesus, it was that they did not know Him well enough to trust Him in a crisis.
So, how should you respond when one of life’s storms comes your way?
• Respond by going to God in prayer
• Refocus by focusing on God not the circumstance
• Rehearse what we know about God and His Word, in our mind (or verbally if necessary)
• Rest by trusting God in the circumstance.
Respond, Refocus, Rehearse, Rest!
The key to not being controlled by fear is faith. When you live by faith there is nothing to fear! The key to faith is Bible study. As always, we want to offer you resources to help you in your faith walk. One of our favorites in the area of fear is Breaking Free From Fear. Order your copy today!!!
1 O LORD, how my adversaries have increased! Many are rising up against me.
2 Many are saying of my soul, “There is no deliverance for him in God.”Selah.
3 But You, O LORD, are a shield about me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head.
4 I was crying to the LORD with my voice, And He answered me from His holy mountain .Selah.
5 I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the LORD sustains me.
6 I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people Who have set themselves against me round about.
Heroes. With every act of terrorism we see heroes.
During the aftermath of the bombings at the Boston Marathon one of the most tweeted messages was a quote from Mr. Rogers.
"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping'"
It was not hard to find the helpers. They were everywhere! We expect first responders to run toward the danger, but even law enforcement and medical personnel who had just run 26.2 miles turned and ran toward the explosions. Civilians, military, ex-military, runners, and volunteers all ran for the scene and started helping.
Marathon runners ran across the finish line and then kept running all the way to Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital to donate blood. In fact so many people showed up to donate blood that Mass General and the Red Cross quit accepting blood donations.
Cafes, coffee shops, and eateries immediately started offering food and shelter. The owner of El Pelon, a Mexican restaurant in the area tweeted, "Open wifi, place to charge your phone, cold drinks, or just don't want to be alone!"
Boston.com posted an online form for people looking for and offering accommodations for stranded runners. Thousands offered help. The Bostonians offered rides, clean clothes, warm meals, and showers to anyone who needed help.
Heroes ruled the day!
The goal of terrorists is to strike fear deep into the hearts of their victims. Terrorists are cowards who, being controlled by fear, believe they can control others with fear. They expect to paralyze the people they terrorize. But, they can’t control the fear response of heroes. Heroes run to the fight, not away from it. Terrorists don’t understand courage.
"Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway."John Wayne
For the Christian courage is a by-product of faith. We are not suggesting that only Christians are courageous, but we are saying that of all people the Christians should be courageous! There is a sense in which we have nothing to lose. Our destiny is set, our home is heaven, our God is great, and we are going to be fine!
Remember the story of David and Goliath from1 Samuel 17? Goliath was a terrorist. When he challenged the armies of the living God they were dismayed and greatly afraid (1 Samuel 17:11). And that was the response Goliath and the Philistines expected. Because they were controlled by fear they expected to control by fear. That’s the terrorist way. But they could not control David, because David’s faith was strong. David knew he had nothing to lose! You see it in his response to Goliath.
Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted.This day the LORD will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you. And I will give the dead bodies of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the LORD does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the LORD’S and He will give you into our hands. - 1 Samuel 17:45–47
The text doesn’t tell us that David was afraid, but it is obvious that fear did not control him. He ran to the fight, not away from it! You can tell from his comments to Goliath that David’s trust was in the Lord. No terroristic taunts against his God would go unchallenged. Fear should never control us either.
The response of the heroes, Christian or not, in Boston on April 15th should be our response in the face of fear. Run to the fight!
Wrapping it up
What would you do if you knew you could not loose? As a believer, your destiny is set and your God is awesome, so saddle up!
As always we want to recommend resources to help you grow in your walk with the Lord. The one study that comes to mind this week is our 40 Minute study, Breaking Free From Fear. Check it out for yourself. It would be great as a personal study or to do in a small group.
Verses to meditate on
“‘Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
Recently we posted a blog on using the Psalms for your daily devotions. As a result, a couple of people asked what inductive Bible study techniques would work with a study of Proverbs. So, here is a little direction on using Proverbs as a daily devotional.
A Little Background
The book of Proverbs is very different than Psalms, but basic inductive study techniques still work. In our training (which we highly recommend you sign up for) one of the things we emphasize is watching for repetition in the text. This sounds over simplistic but, repeated ideas or words identify the subjects and the context of the passage. When the author repeats himself it is on purpose. He is making a point. We need to understand the point he is making and why he is making it. Paying attention to repeated key words and ideas helps.
In the book of Proverbs there are several repeated themes or ideas that are woven through the book. Often a positive idea is contrasted with a negative.
- wisdom versus the fool
- generosity versus stinginess
- joy versus anger
- love versus lust
- diligence versus laziness
- real versus false security
- justice versus injustice
- what God loves and what He hates
As you read Proverbs always watch for and mark contrasts. Notice for example, the way "but" and "yet" are marked in the following passage and note what is being contrasted.
The Lord's response to the devious / wicked / scoffers is contrasted with His response to the upright / righteous / afflicted.
Also, there are several repeated ideas or moral themes in the book. These are heart issues, the things we should be or not be. Things such as:
- Immorality, adultery
- Laziness, gluttony, drunkenness
- The wicked and the righteous
- Deceitfulness or dishonesty
And there are several action items or ideas in the book. These are the things we should or should not do:
- The pursuit of wisdom
- How to handle finances
- How to treat others
- Taking care of the poor or championing the under-privileged
- Avoid evil companions
- Trust God
- Words are powerful, so use them carefully
Some of the heart issues can be action ideas, and vice versa. The lines are not always clear. But, this gives you a place to start, and Bible study is a work in progress not an action item to complete.
How do I study the book of Proverbs?
1. Think about how you want to mark some of the key words and their synonyms in Proverbs. We suggest a simple shape or color. It doesn’t need to be fancy or have a special meaning, just keep it simple. The following are just some you will want to note, and there are others.
- God or Lord
- The righteous
- The unrighteous
2. In a journal, list the topics we have already mentioned.
3. As you read keep a running list of what you learn about the subjects or topics. Don’t worry if you find yourself listing the same thing in two places. Remember this is a work in progress, so messiness is ok.
4. Pay attention to the context. Context rules interpretation, even in Proverbs. Sometimes it seems the author of Proverbs is changing subjects quickly and without reason or plan. A chapter of Proverbs may seem like a series of unrelated bullet point style bits of wisdom, but this is not the case. God is not random. As you study look for the connections. Ask yourself why these subjects are laid out in the order they are and what the connection could be. There may not be a clear connection, but a part of the discipline of inductive study is to ask the question.
How many chapters or verses should you cover at a time? Well that depends on your time. There is no rule that you must read Proverbs in a month. How much you study each day is totally up to you and your schedule.
Wrapping it up
Just a little helpful information. There are three Hebrew words translated “fool” and all can have the sense of stubbornness or rebellion. A fool is one whom you cannot reason with. The simple on the other hand are often a neutral group in the Proverbs. They are not wise, but not fools either. A simple person can learn, a fool won’t.
WISDOM IS EASY TO CARRY BUT DIFFICULT TO GATHER Czechoslovakian proverb.
If you would like to purchase a guide to help you walk through Proverbs follow the link below.
What are you using for your daily devotions?
Most of us have a favorite daily devotional book we like to use to focus our hearts and minds on the Lord at either the start or finish of our day. Oswald Chambers’ “My Upmost For His Highest” is a classic as is “Morning and Evening” by Spurgeon.
One of my personal favorites is the book of Psalms. Now, I am not trying to be hyper-spiritual, or argue that the Bible is the only book you need. But using the Psalms for your daily devotions, along with a few simple inductive study techniques, will draw your attention to God in a way no other book can. They are, after all, inspired.
Psalms for your daily devotions?
How would that work?
- Read the Psalm.
- Mark each reference to God with a triangle.
- List in your journal what you learn about God.
- Meditate on what you’ve learned.
Let me illustrate.
Below is Psalm 100. Start with prayer, asking God to teach you about Himself. Then read Psalm 100, paying special attention to each reference to God.
A Psalm for Thanksgiving.
1 Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth.
2 Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing.
3 Know that the LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
4 Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name.
5 For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting And His faithfulness to all generations.
Now, in your journal, list what you learn about God. Using your Bible instead of this blog post you would do this by looking at each place you marked God and asking yourself what you learn about Him from the verse.
We don’t learn anything about God in verses 1 or 2. In these two verses we see what our response should be to Him, but not anything about Him. So, starting in verse 3, your list might look something like this:
- the Lord Himself is God
- it is He who made us
- we are His people, His sheep
- His gates are to be entered with thanksgiving
- His courts are to be entered with praise
- the Lord is good
- His lovingkindness is everlasting
- His faithfulness is to all generations
Take a few minutes and meditate on what you have listed about God. As you are meditating you might ask yourself "How should knowing these truths about God be applied in my life?"
Wrap it up
The process may be simple, but the results are amazing. Imagine how your passion for God would grow if you studied all 150 Psalms this way. If you could use a little more help with the Psalms than we have given you here, then try our study Praising God Through Prayer and Worship.