Hold on to God’s unchanging hand. Your identity is not found in the world. Your identity is not found in the labels people place on you. Your identity is not found in the circumstances that surround you. Your identity is found in God alone.
Forgiveness is not optional. Christ gave all that we might be free from the condemnation of our mistakes. It is our job to walk in His footsteps and do the same. “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” Colossians 3:13
In the measure of mess seen in the world, uncertainty has a way of tossing one about. As waves lifting the vessel to scary heights only to crash back down again are the problems many faces daily. Circumstances that provoke fear instead of inspiring faith.
The catch all of it is whatever side one spends the most thought in, it has the strongest hold on that life. If it is one faith, then with one foot in front of the other one will march forward into depths unknown without regard to the thrashing swells of the sea. But if it is in fear, the move forward becomes halted. Continuing to sail to the other side no longer seems a viable option, thus one cries out as the disciples did, “Master, carest thou not that we perish,” (Mark 4:38)?
Of course, He cares. He loves you. You are His and He is riding in the boat of life with you. He has never abandoned you. He has never forsaken you. People are the ones who have allowed the fear and uncertainty around to obscure their view of the Savior.
Refocus on Him. Imagine His protection covering you as the most indomitable shield. Thus He is at the helm of your life, speaking, “Peace, be still,” (Mark 4:39). What comfort that brings to the tossed soul knowing He still has it all in His hands.
So, “Why are ye so fearful,” (Mark 4:40)?
Fearfulness comes from lack of belief. The storms want us to see things through the lens of the ferocious wind-tossed seas, but Jesus wants us to see them as being subdued already under His dominion and authority. He wants His people to believe more in the promises of His word than the fearsomeness of the waves.
In Him we are safe, secured, and loved. Therefore, as the psalmist reminds us:
“The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.
Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident,” (Psalm 27:1-3).
In other words, we are safe in Him!
In a baseball game, safe means one has arrived at the base untouched and unhindered. I can’t promise you that life will never touch you in an attempt to knock you out of the running. But, riding with Jesus you can still arrive safe.
There are going to be times when people won’t have your back. There will be moments when you feel like you are going alone. Rest assured, God knows where you are in life. Encourage yourself in the Lord even if no one else is supporting you! “And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David ENCOURAGED HIMSELF IN THE LORD HIS GOD.” 1 Samuel 30:6
One thing I have reluctantly had to admit is that I don’t always have Abraham faith. When one really delves into his story, his story was laden with change. Change, often times, is something I have been pretty resistant to.
Let’s face it, leaving your own home is no small feat (Genesis 12:1), especially during the Bible era. In our day we have options to hop back on a plane and usually, there are provisions and backup plans that are available if that adventurous leap of faith didn’t work out. And, this could all be done in a matter of hours.
I imagine it wasn’t quite that easy back then. But, then again, maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe not having easy access to falling back into one’s comfort zone is a blessing in disguise for it forces that venture forward. It forces us to take on new terrain and enter new callings as we try to acclimate and navigate our new surroundings and circumstances.
Often I feel the ease of looking back hinders our progress. Unchartered territories can be scary, uncomfortable, and demanding of our time, talent, and emotions. But what if it leads to something greater? What if that step of faith allows you to do something miraculous that you could never see yourself doing? What if it opened new doors of opportunity that you never could have imagined being able to walk through?
I guess that’s why it’s called faith. Almost blindly, without full perception and without knowing where every piece of the puzzle already fits, we are asked to play along anyway. Engage in the unknown no matter what the current reality says. After all, according to the Bible, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” (Hebrews 11:1).
Comfort zones, though they appear safe, are in fact very dangerous. Walking in the land of familiarity may seem like a sure bet but in them lays unexpected traps. Traps where dreams lose their freshness. Traps where ideas lose their strength to be propelled forward. Traps where talents get wasted in this pit of unseen snares.
God has always wanted the best for all His people. But, when He calls, it is up to them to make the move. He may not be asking you to leave your homeland, but where or what do you feel Him pulling you toward? What area of your comfort zone has become so stale that now it too is very uncomfortable, yet, you’re still too afraid to make a move?
If Abraham had not put action behind his calling, he would have never been dubbed the father of faith, and so many things in our biblical history would not be traced back to his stepping out moment.
I wonder if we boldly step out today, what miraculous future events will point back to our time when we chose to leave the safety of our comfort zones?
One thing is for sure if we stay where we are, and if we keeping doing the same thing over and over again, nothing will ever change. Don’t substitute comfort and reluctance to change for what can be. Who knows what God wants to write in your future story? Step out of your comfort zone and let Him write something amazing!
“Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother,” 2 Thessalonians 3:15
We all have those acquaintances in life that make us constantly shake our heads, and we feel like throwing up our hands in exasperation. Especially when their behaviors do not line up with our beliefs. Many of the times one can feel justified in their decision to wash their hands of that relationship and count that person out. It doesn’t.
I’m so glad God has more patience with us than we have with one another. In our humanness, we are so quick to give up on what we perceive as a lost cause. Even members of our own family – oh, they may try us, but we can’t write them off.
When Jesus gave the command for His followers to be witnesses for Him in Acts 1:8, the first place that was mentioned was Jerusalem. Jerusalem was home base. Jerusalem was where everything started. He wanted the people “at home” to have the first shot of this powerful, saving message. In fact, that’s exactly what happened. When Peter got up on the Day of Pentecost and preached Jesus Christ to the people “in Jerusalem,” a mighty thing occurred. Acts 2:37 boldly tells us the message that was preached was their undoing. It says, “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?”
That’s a powerful reversal of opinion by those who in verse 23 were accused in the killing of the Lord Jesus Christ. Bearing with people is not always the easiest thing to do, especially those closest to you. You know a lot about them and it is sometimes hard to envision a reversal on their part, but can I tell you something, they are still souls before God.
It is easier for us to “go into all the world,” (Mt. 28:19), then to make disciples out of those closest to us. Matthew 5:16 says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” You might be the only glimpse of what life in Christ could be for them. But, if you give up on them and count them out, how will they see?
Your love, patience, and attitude toward another could be their deciding factor. “Count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.” What if God had given up on us? Rather, Psalm 103:8-10 tells us, “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.” We deserved the worse, but God saved us and gave us the best. He did not give up on us!
I can readily admit that before my relationship with Christ I was not all peaches and cream, nor was I sugar and spice and everything nice. I was a sinner. My life was not right. I was not born a Christian, and neither were you. God has been very patient with me, with us, and we should return that same grace to others.
It may be a work in progress for most of us, but at least it’s in progress. Therefore, we don’t have the right to count others out either. Our love, compassion, and desire to see them saved should always compel us to “admonish them as a brother.” People need you today, don’t count them out. Exhort one another in love. We need each other so badly to make it through. Our hearts should yearn to see all saved even when we don’t see it.
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