A Rescued Saint in the Midst of Storm

Do you ever have the feeling that you are sinking deeper and deeper into the sea of sin, doubt, despair, and discouragement? Do you feel that you are in the midst of a storm, and there is no end in sight? The Apostle Peter understood the storms of life. He also experienced sinking deeper and deeper into the sea. Let’s join Peter and see how he handled his sinking deeper and deeper into the sea.

The disciples are in a boat in the midst of a storm. Jesus comes to them, walking upon the water. He tells them: “Be of good cheer, it is I; be not afraid. (Matthew 14:27)  Jesus always desires to calm our fears. He comes to us out of love and compassion. Jesus arrives in the powerful storm that caused such panic in the disciples.

Peter was taking an opportunity to demonstrate faith asked if he also could walk on water. Jesus answers with one word: “Come.” Jesus wants us to join him in the adventure of faith. However, Peter’s faith disappears in light of waves coming upon him. He must cry out immediately, “Lord, save me.”

We can describe Peter’s cry in three ways:

1. It was a desperate cry. Peter knows that death is near. He has only one hope. Likewise, God is waiting for our call of desperation to Him. The Psalmist wrote: “This poor man CRIED and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles.”  (Psalm 34:6)

2. It was a cry of faith. Peter calls out to the Lord in faith. He knows that the Lord alone can save him from sinking to the depths of the sea. Faith believes that the Lord hears our cries and that he will respond. “I sought the Lord, and he heard me.” (Psalm 34:4)

3. It was a cry based on his knowledge of Christ. Peter knows that the Lord can save him. He knows that the Lord is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-loving. As we know the Lord intimately, we can cry out to him with greater confidence and freedom.

The Deliverance by the Loving Lord

Jesus hears Peter’s desperate cry, and he immediately responds: “And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? And when they entered into the ship, the wind ceased.” (Matthew 14:31-32)

Yes, there will be times when we seem to be sinking deeper and deeper. All hope seems lost, but Our Lord is waiting for us to cry out to Him. His hand is always ready to pull us out of the storm.

“Dear Lord, there are many times that we seem to sink deeper and deeper into sin, despair, or discouragement. Our circumstances seem too difficult to bear. Please help us to learn to cry out to you in the times when We are sinking. Thank you for always being ready and willing to pull me up from whatever is causing me to sink. Amen.”

Am I Prepared to Meet God on Sunday?

“God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24) A worship service in a small village in Romania

You are in church on a Sunday morning, have you ever found yourself

1. wishing that you weren’t in church?

2. thinking about the week ahead during the message?

3. fighting off sleep?

4. making negative mental notes about the people in the service?

5. singing and not paying attention to the words or our hearts?

6. picking apart the sermon?

7. forgetting the message by the time you eat Sunday dinner?

What is the problem with our time of worship on Sunday morning? Could it be that we arrive unprepared to worship God? How can we have prepared hearts to worship the Living God?

Look unto God in preparation to worship Him.

Do I study and meditate upon His Word during the week? How can we expect to receive something from the Word of God during the worship service if we are not bathing our hearts in the Word of God during the week? “O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.” (Psalm 119:97) Our love for the Word during the week will be evident in our response to the Word on Sunday.

Do I seek the Lord in prayer during the week as I prepare to worship Him?  We should pray with the Psalmist. “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.” (Psalm 119:18)

Do I desire to glorify God as I worship Him? O magnify the Lord with me and let us exalt His name together.” (Psalm 34:3) The worship service is to bring glory to God above all. Have we fallen into the trap of looking for a blessing instead of seeking to glorify God?

 Look at Yourself in Preparation to Worship God

1. Do I have the right attitude about attending the worship service of the church? Our attitude determines the richness of our worship experience. If we arrive at the worship service with a negative attitude, our time of worship will be a negative experience. The Psalmist says: “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord. “(Psalm 122:1)

.2. Do I have the right relationship with God as I attend the worship service? Sin will keep us from having an encouraging, joyful worship experience with God. “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.” (James 4:8) We make sure our outer person is clean before we attend the worship service, but what about our hearts?

3. Do I have the right understanding of the need to attend the Sunday morning worship service?  We can attend a worship service and quietly wonder why we are here. God says: “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25) The worship service is not only to bring glory to God but also to minister to each other.

Look at others in preparation to worship God.

1. Do I have the right relationship with those around me? Jesus taught that you couldn’t come before God’s altar and offer your gift if you have a problem with others. (Matthew 5:23-26) How can we worship God on Sunday, when we have unresolved conflict in our family or our church family?

2. Do I see the opportunities of ministry within my family and my church family? God has given every believer a spiritual gift. We are to use our gift within His Body (Romans 12:3-8). These gifts are not for our benefit but the benefit of others.

 Worship means to give worth to His name. The Sunday morning worship service can be a negative, tedious experience, or it can be a time of enjoying and honoring the presence of the Living God. The choice is ours. Next Sunday, will we come to worship Him with a prepared, and surrendered heart? Will our worship be worthy of our great and mighty God?

 

 

Breaking the Chokehold of Worry (Lessons from Philippians 4:6-7)

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Photo by Nathan Cowley on Pexels.com

Have you ever felt pulled in several directions at once? You know you should have faith in God, and yet worry, and anxiety have a chokehold upon your whole life. Your life seems to be going nowhere. You find it difficult to sleep. You ask: “Where is God in all of this.” Despair is ruling your life. What can you do?

The word “worry” comes from the West Germanic word, “wrygen” which means “to strangle” or “to choke.” Worry chokes us spiritually, emotionally, socially, and physically. God knows the power that worry and anxiety have upon us. He tells us in Philippians 4:6-7: “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

How do we break this chokehold that worry and anxiety have upon us? God gives us several ways to break this chokehold.

1. Understand the consequences that worry and anxiety have upon our lives.  The words “be careful for nothing” have the idea of “stop being pulled in different directions.” Worry is a sin because it keeps us from giving glory to God. It also keeps us from serving God and others to our full capacity. Worry causes us to doubt the goodness of God, which creates confusion in our lives.

2. Focus upon God and not upon our circumstances. The above passage says, “Let your request be made known unto God.” God is the source of peace. When our eyes turn from our trials and focus upon God, we will see the greatness of God’s power, wisdom, love, and sovereignty. We know that we can trust Him regardless of what comes our way because God is greater than any circumstance in our lives.

3. Talk to God about the source of our worry and anxiety. The passage says: “but in everything by prayer and supplication.” God, our loving Father, wants us to take every hurt, misunderstanding, health issue, family issue, financial problem, and doubt, unto Him. He alone can carry that burden. “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) Worry and anxiety say I will carry my burden. Faith says I will take that burden to the Lord and leave it there.

4. Learn to give thanks to God in everything. Many problems and heartaches that choke us can be turned into blessings when we learn to give God thanks in everything that happens. “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Th 5:18) When we thank Him in everything, we are saying to God: “I commit this circumstance, person or problem that is choking my life unto you. I thank you that you are fulfilling your great purpose in my life even amid this great trial or burden.”

5. Enjoy God’s promise of His Peace. God tells us that His peace “passeth all understanding.” God’s presence and peace shine forth in those who face their deepest trials with faith in Him. I have been beside many people who are facing death, and yet they had a peace that passes all human wisdom. God’s peace doesn’t make sense to the people around us. They only see our difficult circumstances, but they don’t see our enjoyment of the presence of God.

God doesn’t want any of us consistently pulled in two directions. He wants us to turn our faces directly towards Him. The songwriter wrote: “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, and look full in His wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His Glory and Grace.” God will break the chokehold of anxiety and worry in our lives. Will we trust Him to do so? “The truth shall make you free.”

-Mark J. Booth-

REFRESHMENT FOR THIRSTY SOULS

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Imagine wandering in the desert. You are hot, tired, and extremely thirsty. As you are in despair, you come upon a spring of water! There is joy, strength, and encouragement because of the water! YOU ARE REFRESHED. Are we like that spring of water in the lives of others? Do we bring refreshment to their lives? “For they (Stephanus, Fortunatus, and Achalcus) HAVE REFRESHED MY SPIRIT AND YOURS.” (1Co 16:18): God used these three men to REFRESH others. Will we be a spring of water to someone in despair, discouragement, or depression? Here are ways that we can bring refreshment to others.

1. We can refresh others by our presence.
2. We refresh others by our words
3. We refresh others by our prayers
4. We refresh others by our example
5. We refresh others by our kind deeds
6. We refresh others by forgiving them.
7. We refresh others with our love.

“Dear Lord, help me to look beyond myself and see the needs of others. There are people around me who need to be encouraged. Others need emotional healing. Some people need a friend. Guide me so that I can be a refreshment to others as you daily refresh my soul. Amen”

Waking Up with Jesus (The Joy of Morning Prayer)

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Sunrise on the Canadian Prairie: by Mark J Booth

How we start our day often dictates how we view the rest of the day.  There are many days when I feel confused or even anxious.  I feel like I am running on empty.  What is the problem?  Perhaps, I have forgotten the pleasure of starting my day with the most important person in my life, my Heavenly Father.  The Psalmist, David, understood the importance of starting the day with a time of prayer with the Lord.  “My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.” (Psalm 5:3)

1. Morning prayer is a pleasure because it reminds us of our need of God.  David lived his life with one trial after another.  These trials were a constant reminder to him that he needed his Heavenly Father daily.  When we start our day with prayer, we are saying to God: ” I need you throughout this day.  I need your wisdom.  I need your strength.  I need your protection.”  Morning prayer enables us to come to God with all humility

2. Morning prayer is a pleasure because it reminds us of the greatness of God.  David recognizes the greatness of God when he writes: “Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God.” (Psalm 5:2)  David constantly writes about the attributes of God.  Morning prayer enables us to start the day focusing upon God.  We remember that our God is faithful, merciful, loving, holy, just, all-powerful, omnipresent, all-knowing, and wise.  We also remember that He is our Father, who wants to take care of us throughout the coming day.

3. Morning prayer is a pleasure because it enables us to sort out our priorities.  David says: “I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.” (Psalm 5:3)  David was a man after God’s own heart because he had the proper priorities in his life.  David started his day by seeking direction from God.  His relationship with the Lord was the top priority of His life.  When we start the day with the Lord, we are saying to him:  “My relationship with you is the most important priority in my life.”  Wrong priorities create confusion and very anxious days.  When our relationship with the Lord is right, everything else will fall into its proper place.

4. Morning prayer is a pleasure because we can share our burdens with the Lord.     David writes: “Lead me, O LORD, in thy righteousness because of mine enemies: make thy way straight before my face.” (Psalm 5:8)  David faced many enemies.  These enemies were a great burden upon David.  We begin our day with many burdens.  We have burdens in our family.  We have burdens at work.  We have financial burdens.  We have health burdens.  We have many other burdens.  Our morning prayer time is a great opportunity to cast these burdens upon the strong arms of our Heavenly Father.  “Cast thy burden upon the LORD and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.”  (Psalm 55:22).

Every day begins with a great opportunity to talk to our loving Heavenly Father.  When you love someone deeply, it is a pleasure to start the day with them.  Prayer is not a chore, but a pleasure.  God is always available to listen to us, but are we ready to speak to Him?

“Dear Heavenly Father, there are many mornings that I forget to take the time to talk with you.  I have forgotten the pleasure I derive from spending this time with you.  You are patiently waiting for me every morning.  You are always ready to listen.  Help me to come to you each morning with an open heart, remembering that you also take pleasure in hearing from me. Amen”

God’s “911”

Photo of Lake Huron by Rachel Drury.
Photo of Lake Huron by Rachel Drury.

An emergency is any situation that requires immediate assistance from the police , fire department or ambulance. When these emergencies arise, we call “911” with the expectation that help will come quickly. Sometimes, there is a failure in the system and help is delayed to the peril of the caller.

However, where do we turn when everything is falling apart in our life?  God has provided a “911” number for us to call. Psalm 120:1 says: “In my distress I cried unto the LORD, and he heard me.” Yes, God is always available to accept our call. There are no delays. There is no indecision. God is ready and able to help us when we are in distress. Let’s take a closer look at how God’s “911” works in our lives.

1. The cause of our cry– Life can become overwhelming at times. We feel that we are drowning in the midst of our very difficult circumstances. We do not know what to do. We feel helpless. There is no human resource that seems to help. We wonder where is God in all of this. We realize that the only hope we have is to cry out to God in faith.

2. The content of our cry– Crying out to God means that we are desperate. Our cry  reflects total dependence upon God. Our cry says that we surrender the control of our life to Him. Our cry says that we have faith that God alone will know what to do in the midst of our distress.

3. The object of our cry– We often pour our hearts out to others. Sometimes, we keep everything to our selves. However, God alone is able to handle our situation when everything seems to be falling apart. We cry to Him because of who He is. He is all-wise. He is all-powerful. He is love. He is merciful. Yes, God alone is the one to whom we should cry when there is no place to turn.

4. The response to our cry– What more encouraging words can we hear in the midst of our pain than: “and He heard me.” God is not deaf to our cry. His ears are wide open to hear our cry. He is eager and ready to respond to our cry. It isn’t a question: “Will God hear my cry?” but “Will I cry out to Him?”

When we dial God’s “911”, we will receive help, strength, guidance, and hope in the midst of our difficult situation. In life’s emergencies, don’t forget to call God’s 911. He is waiting for our call.

A Prayer for the Heavy-Hearted

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My Dear Heavenly Father,

    I come before you in great heaviness of soul. I feel the burden of my inadequacy, as well as the burden of my lack of faith. I feel the burden of an unknown future, as well as the burden of my past failures. I am walking by my feelings instead of entrusting myself to the facts of your Word. In other words, my life doesn’t fit in a nice little package.

  Father, I need you desperately. Please do not be silent towards me. Please answer my prayer. Please come and be near to me. Please open the truths of your Word unto me. May your light reveal the dark crevices of my life. May your peace overcome the anxiety that is in my heart. May your comfort overcome the disquietude of my soul. May your love permeate every area of my life. 

   Father, I need to gaze upon your beauty as David did in the midst of his tough times:  Help me to gaze upon the beauty of all that you are. Help me to gaze upon the beauty of all that you have done. Help me to gaze upon the beauty of your promises.

    Thank you for listening to me, as I pour out my heart before you. You have never left me nor forsaken me. Your love has never failed. Your mercies are new every morning. Your grace has been sufficient for all my needs. I love you, Lord. Thank you for allowing me to call you, My Father. Take my life and use it as you please.  Amen.