“Keep Your Eyes on Jesus!”

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“But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying Lord, save me,” Matthew 14:30

There was a point in Matthew 14 where the disciples were not sure if the image they were seeing was actually the Lord. Finding out that it was Him, in a move of boldness, Peter requested, “Bid me come unto thee on the water,” (vs. 28).  Jesus’ response – “Come!” (vs.29).

How difficult, had we not known this familiar story, would it have been for us to get out of that boat and venture to do the impossible?  I mean – really?!  People are not known for walking on water, which is one of the reasons, they originally thought Jesus was a spirit (vs. 26).  Watching Jesus take command over what normally cannot be subdued, moved something inside of Peter to do what Jesus did.

What would that have been like?  Awesome, indeed!  I love to swim so the idea of being able to physically walk on water would make me downright giddy.  Another thing that appeals to me about this story is the courage to at least try.  To see what it was like to break away from the normal and to do something extraordinary.

Extraordinary living!  Isn’t that what being in Christ is all about?  It’s a whole lot of faith mixed with a whole lot of stepping out that produces the results of one who has chosen to see and do life differently than those around him.  The rest stayed in the boat.  They were content with the status quo.  But, Peter felt a special draw to see what it was like to step out of the boat – to see what it was like to stand where Jesus stood.

As Peter found out, the road to extraordinary living can get rough.  A lot of stuff can and will rise up against us as those waves did, and seek to toss about our faith.  What Peter “saw” side-tracked him from getting to where Jesus was.  The truth of Peter’s experience in this story unfolds the same way for many of us.  If only the sea would be calm then we would be alright.  If only the waves of adversity would stop trying to slam you, then would you be able to walk on water, too.

Jesus never promised calm seas all the time.  But, what He did promise was, “I am with you always, even unto the end of the world,” (Matthew 28:20).  It is hard to try to live an extraordinary life when one takes their eyes off of Jesus and what He promised.  It’s one thing to recognize Jesus, but then we have the individual responsibility to stay focused on Him.  No matter what the seas are doing in our life, He promised to be there with us.  Always!

“And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” (Matthew 14:31).  In essence, He was stating that He was right there with Peter, so why did Peter take his eyes off of Jesus?

Sinking in life doesn’t always happen that fast.  Little by little one begins to predominantly focus on the problems of life instead of the Life Preserver, who promised to be there for you.  God wants us to step out into extraordinary living.  By keeping our eyes on Jesus we can do the impossible.  We can walk on water, too!  He is with you, always!

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“When the Father speaks…”

There is a lot of inner dialogue that goes on and there is a lot of outer dialoguing that goes on.  The inner dialogue comes from the person within.  It talks to oneself sometimes words of encouragement, and that’s okay.  But, when it begins to express doubt, confusion and rehearses hurt repeatedly, it becomes a dangerous voice causing one to lose out on some of the best stuff God has for them.

The outer dialogues we hear daily comes from the voices all around.  Again, sometimes one may hear words of love, but when these voices speak criticism, discouragement, and put-downs, their words need to be silenced and replaced because they are not doing anything to one up or to help along the way.

Any voice, inner or outer, which speaks contrary to the words of the Father, must be made to shut up.  When the Father speaks, His is a heavenly dialogue, and what He has to say far outweighs any word on earth.

When the Father speaks His words are power.  “God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God,” (Psalm 62:11).  Every other speech will fail and grow weak when it meets up against the strength of what He has to say.  “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword…” (Hebrews 4:12).

When the Father speaks His words are fulfilling.  “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it,” (Isaiah 55:11).  In the sea of worthless words that drown the hearing of this world, God’s Word can be trusted to do what He said He would do.  It will succeed at everything spoken of it.

When the Father speaks His words are truth.  False speech seems to dominate this world.  Whatever the platform, people are careless and deceitful with the words that they throw around.  But God’s words are dependable and faithful.  They are “truth” (John 17:17) and His words don’t lie (Numbers 23:19).  “For the word of the LORD is right; and all his works are done in truth,” (Psalm 33:4).

When the Father speaks His words are life.  Jesus said, “…the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life,” (John 6:63).  Not only are His words filled with life-giving power in the here and now, but when He speaks they are words of eternal life (John 6:68).  For those who believe in His Word, it will provide them with everything they need to live.

And, when the Father speaks, it is forever.  “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever,” (Isaiah 40:8; see also Matthew 24:35).  There will never be a time when His Word will not be.  All the inner and outer dialogues that take place daily will eventually pass away.  But, everything declared in His Word, shall be forever.  It’s not going anywhere.  Therefore, we can stake our very lives on it, live by it, and hope in it.  Because, when the Father speaks, His Word will always be there for us through it all.

Today, when the Father speaks, let His voice be louder than all others and let His words be the strength for your day.

“Take A Stand Against Fear!”

 

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“. . .And so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law:
and if I perish, I perish,” Esther 4:16, KJV

There are a lot of things that act like blockades in our lives, but fear by far has to be one of the hardest to overcome. Fear can render useless the one who entertains it because unlike physical limitations, fear messes with the mind. It changes one’s perspective on how they view the world, the people around them and their own lives.

Fear acts like a photographer. It snaps a picture and develops it in the dark recesses of your mind. When the picture is finished being developed it comes out for you to view a new reality, whether it’s true or not. Fear is not based on truth but it wants you to believe in the image it presents to you more than God. That’s why many of us will never tread the courts of the king as Esther did. We can become so focused on that false image (the things that we see that make us afraid) that we fail to step out with courage.

The Bible tells us, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” (Heb. 11:1, KJV). Going against fear takes faith. Faith doesn’t concentrate on what is visible to the naked eye. Faith concentrates on the truth of God’s promises. And His promises declare, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness,” (Is. 41:10, KJV).

That’s what faith sees!

With Queen Esther’s physical eyes the picture she saw wasn’t pleasant. What she saw was her beloved uncle Mordecai’s life was in danger, (Esther 5:14). What she saw was hatred and an evil desire for her people to be destroyed, (Esther 3:8-9). What she saw was the anguish of her people, grieving her also, (Esther 4:3-4). What she saw was a law that could take her life, (Esther 4:11).

A decision had to be made. Esther could look at the circumstances and let the fear of those images stop her from doing what’s right. Or, she could take a stand against the fear that assailed her and go for it, debunking that old image to see something new.

With great resolve and commitment she said, “If I perish, I perish.” She took a stand against the fearful, stepping out into the unknown, not sure if she would find favor with the king. Her people needed her to be brave. Her uncle needed her to be unbending in her determination. She needed to step up to the plate “for such a time as this,” (Esther 4:14, KJV).

In what area of your life do you need more courage? Is there something you are dealing with that is extremely hard, yet you want to be determined to see it through? It takes a resolve such as Queen Esther possessed to stand against the fear of what you see so that you too can walk the King’s court in victory!

We Have Blessed Assurance

 

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“Not a word failed of any good thing which the LORD had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass,” Joshua 21:45

The waiting – sometimes excruciating. The battles – hard fought and horrendous. The enemies – many. The hopes and dreams of a people once enslaved – building. The promise – within sight. Victory – obtained. Possession – now.

The journey of the children of Israel from Egypt to the Promised Land had not been a road easily traveled. Through it all, they struggled with discouragement and wrestled with obedience. Battles ensued, some won and some lost. Crossing the Red Sea; crossing the Jordan. Walls were brought down at Jericho and lives fled at Ai. The sun stood still during the fight and kings were conquered. Now, they are at the promise but the road there was not easy.

The children of Israel and their excursion to the Promised Land, their struggles with the flesh and their attitudes and holding onto hope while waiting for obtaining of the promise reminds me of our Christian journey. The promise is before us but the road is not paved with ease and comfort as some would have you believe. The path we walk takes effort, sometimes great effort. The trials we face are often difficult. But the faith we hold onto is assured.

If life never threw you any curve balls then I wonder if you were in the game at all. What does that mean? There are a lot of messages that we hear that tickle the ears making the hearer believe that they will never suffer hardship on this Christian journey. It leaves the hearer bewildered when they do face difficulties. They are taken aback when struggles come to their home. They believed they would coast on through without any road closures or stumbling blocks. Discouraged, many throw their hands up in defeat before they obtain the promise.

Jesus said, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world,” (John 16:33, KJV). You see, we have an assurance of a great promise at the end of our journey, but Jesus was very real and upfront to let us know that road won’t always be easy. Jesus led no one into a false sense of security that they would never have to experience any adverse circumstances. He said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation.”

Before reaching the Promised Land and even to the point of laying hold of the promise, the children of Israel had to fight their way through. But the Bible tells us, “Not a word failed of any good thing which the LORD had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass.” They eventually were able to fully experience everything their souls had been longing for on that journey. The sights, the smell and the taste of victory were theirs for their enjoyment. They had the good thing that God had promised.

I write words of encouragement in case you are in a curveball state; in case you have been sidetracked by unexpected discouragement. Still press forth in the journey. Don’t give in at the sight of struggles. Be determined in the forward march. Not a word of God’s promises will fail for you either. In fact, Psalm 84:11 says, “For the LORD is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly,” (KJV).

Keep your head above water and float on the promises of God who said, “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you,” (Deut. 31:6, NKJV). I can’t promise you million dollars or that you will never spend nights crying over life, but I can promise that Jesus will be with you even to the end of the world, Matthew 28:20, KJV.

We have the blessed assurance of every promise that God has bestowed upon us. When adversity comes, know that you are not the only one going through it. Sometimes the journey will be harder than we like it to be, yet the assurance remains the same. In the end, if we hold on to our faith despite what our eyes are seeing right now, the promise is ours. “All came to pass,” for the children of Israel and it will for us too. “Be of good cheer,” Jesus said. “I have overcome the world!”

“It Only Takes a Moment” – Word For Life Says

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Have you ever had one of those moments when you realize God is teaching you something significant?  Where every current scene that plays out in your life you spiritually awaken to the idea of God’s guiding presence in a new way; His hand steering you this way and that?

I have had some of those revelatory moments lately.  God is cracking old perceptions I once held of myself and He is pulling me into new areas of trust.  In this area where I am being drawn, I readily admit I don’t know what I am doing.  My human frailty comes to the forefront but God is showing me Him.  He is showing me more of His heart, more of His care, and more of His heavenly abilities to work it all out.

Oh, His ability to do it all has always been there, but there were certain areas of my life where there were still scales on my eyes, shielding me from seeing the bigger picture; from seeing God fully at work in it all.

I was awakened on the inside and became more aware that there is so much more to me than me.  God has me on His radar and He is orchestrating my life in a unique and special way.  No, I don’t have all the answers, nor do I know what tomorrow looks like or how this will all end up, but by faith, I want Him to take the lead while I just step out and follow.

It requires not only a moment of revelation but a life of trust.  Steven Furtick said, “The only way God can show us He is in control is to put us in situations we can’t control,” (Quote Source: Pinterest).

It’s purposely declaring every day and with every step, “I don’t know it all, but I choose to follow the One who does.”  It’s a time when we let that one moment of believing God is the fullness of His promises defines the makeup of our future.  It’s when we permit the wonder of all that He is to overshadow any doubt or discrepancies that we might feel within ourselves, realizing what He has made us for and ordained us to do never depended on us in the first place.

Is there an area of your life where God wants to give you that ah-ha moment of revelation?  Or, are there still scales blocking your full vision of Him?

Father God, remove the scales from our eyes that we might see the full vision of You.  We are praying against every hindrance that tries to blind Your people and obstruct their view from the wonderful works You want to do through them.  Amen!

I pray for your moment of connection with God.  I pray that you would trust in God more, and focus on Him more than whatever you think you can’t do.  It only takes a moment of sincere trust and abandon to Him to change your course in history forever.

“Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.” Jeremiah 17:7

“The Beauty of God’s Heart”

 

The beauty of God’s heart is most known to us through those wonderful things that make Him, Him.  Traits and characteristics that stood to defend us when we should have been condemned.

Some portray God in the harshest sense.  With gavel in hand at the least little infraction, we are automatically charged and sentenced.  While God most certainly will judge all unrepentant sin, the beauty of His heart gives chance after chance, offering multiplied times to receive His forgiveness.

Hard, God is not.  We could probably never know how many more times we have experienced His undeserved redemption, grace, and mercy at work in our lives than we did any deserved penalties.

The beauty of God’s heart wants to save, not destroy (2 Peter 3:9).  Thus, He forebears with us and is longsuffering toward us.  That means He’s not in a rush to convict as some suppose (but again, all unrepentant sin will be dealt with).  Rather, His heart seeks to acquit; to exonerate one from guilt through Him, our Lord Jesus Christ, who bore the guilt we should have been marked by.

You see, the beauty of God’s heart is untouched by anything we can imagine.  When we see Him set the spiritual captives free, the beauty of His heart understands that in our human capacity we will never comprehend the true and total cost of what it took to do that.

When we see Him heal we may rejoice in the miracle, but we will never understand with full clarity that there was never supposed to be a need for healing.  The beauty of God’s heart sees the original wholeness that was intended from the beginning and that it’s only through the sadness of sin that this malady of the flesh has entered into the world.  I imagine the beauty of God’s heart holds the simpleness of all that creation was intended to be when He spoke, “It is good,” (Genesis).

I imagine His heart holding everything that is good, and perfect, and lovely, and wonderful.  Walking through the most beautiful field of flowers on the world’s most glorious day surrounded by the greatest peace this world has to offer could not even begin to scratch the surface of what we find in Him.

I imagine the beauty of His heart can be described much like His shining countenance found glowing from that Holy City in the Revelation.  In it, there is brilliance and radiance.  There is mystery, yet there is also a longing for intimacy with His creation.  There is grandeur, but at the same time, it only takes the simplicity of faith to come near Him.

God watches mankind live after and pursue their own plans and purposes each and every day, yet the beauty of His heart holds the cares of each person and each choice we make, wayward or not.

The main thing is the beauty of God’s heart is intimately in touch with His creation; with you and me.  No matter where we go, in flesh or just in thought, His heart knows and is involved.

As mighty, and holy, and sovereign, and omniscient as God is, why is He so mindful of us and our sometimes messy lives?  The answer is because of the beauty of His heart.  For above all, God is love (1 John 4:8) and His heart holds all the love that we can’t even begin to imagine, in the most beautiful sense, pure and undefiled from anything we can know down here, for each and every one of us.

Even when we reach that place in glory we may still not fully comprehend all the beauty His heart holds.  But oh, how wonderful it is to experience it, feel it, and know the beauty of God’s heart holds a special place for me and you.

Father God,

            You are so beautiful to us and toward us.  May we recognize the care You take to hold each one of us in the crevice of Your very being and may that realization cause us to draw nearer to You each and every day.  In the name of Your dear Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, we pray,

                                                                                                                        Amen!

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Under Construction!

 

New changes are rolling out.  After five years of sharing with you my thoughts, musings, ideas, and notes on varied Sunday School lessons, now it’s time for a change.  July 29th was the last Sunday School lesson published on this current page. It has been a great and wonderful journey traveling with like-minded hearts for God’s Word through these courses and lessons, but now it’s time for something new.

I am redesigning my whole site but the biggest changes will be found here in the Sunday School section, which is why I am addressing it separately.  But don’t worry, I’m not done with Sunday School.  Quite the contrary.  I am going to be designing and developing new, independent individual lessons, and eventually series.  This new format will give me more control over what I can produce, especially in regard to the freedom and flexibility over what I can cover, design control, and working at a pace that suits my needs.  With that, I am able to spend more time and creative energies on each lesson or series that I normally wouldn’t be able to do, producing a better product in the end.

In the meantime, all of the old Sunday School lessons have been taken down to prepare for the new.  It is my hope to have the new Sunday School page up and running sometime during the Fall.  I will keep you posted on the progress and development of the site/page and when the individual new lessons and/or series become available. You are an awesome group of individuals and I can’t wait to meet you back here when these new changes and lessons begin to roll out 🙂 !

Until then, blessings to you all and in the love of Christ,

Word For Life Says…

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