Thursday, October 29, 2015

A Journey Begins with Vision

 Let your eyes look staight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.  Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.  Proverbs 4:25,26

A compass is the perfect example of a tool we can apply to our lives when choosing the right path to travel in life. -Just like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in "Path of the Blessing". These men discovered four specific ways to interact with God to discern which way was God's will for their lives.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Anxiety and Other Storms

Distress or uneasiness of mind caused by fear of danger or misfortune (

Anxiety is rooted in Fear.  We’ve all experienced one or both at some point in our lives.  Maybe you are experiencing anxiety right now?  Recently, I’ve been on some cold medicine and I’ve noticed anxiety afflicting me, especially at night.  I’m tired, but my thoughts seem to keep going.  My body feels hyper-sensitive along with my hearing.  I worry that I’m not sleeping, so then I find myself in a cycle of worrying that I’m not going to get enough sleep before morning which then causes me to think and problem solve the reason of why I’m not sleeping soundly which then keeps me more and more awake.  (Woah, I’m feeling anxious just reliving this!)

In Luke 8:22 this passage has been subtitled “Jesus Calms the Storm”.  It’s the familiar story of Jesus crossing over in a boat when a major storm arises.  Jesus is sleeping through the whole event as the disciples are fearing for their lives because the boat is getting swamped with water.  They wake him up, and he simply speaks to the storm and then peace occurs.  The way I’ve heard it, and the way I’m describing it here, makes it sound so simple.  You might end up thinking that the lesson might be, “You shouldn’t ever be afraid if you have Jesus in your life”.  This is a misconception of the life of a follower of Jesus.  Storms will still arise and storms are scary.

In this passage you can relate this to your life, so let’s take a look at what was really happening…The followers of Jesus, his disciples, are on a journey with Jesus and they were crossing over into something and somewhere new.  As they were moving forward a storm approaches.  A storm not only approaches but is bent on stopping the journeyers from reaching their destination.  Now in verse 23 we can see the character of Jesus and he had an attitude of peace with absolutely no fear of what lies ahead.  The disciples however felt total fear.

Fear wants to stop us from reaching our destiny.

Now don’t think too poorly of the disciples, after all, at this point the boat was being swamped with water as the wind and the waves were blowing over the boat.  They were going to drown.  This was the circumstances that they not only saw but the very tangible physical experience that they were feeling. 

Remember my description of my anxiety?  I was experiencing and feeling something very real.  This was my storm in the midst of my peaceful night’s sleep.  Fear was rising up with the purpose to overtake me, to have me drowning in fear so much so that I wouldn’t be able to function the next day and accomplish my destiny that I was moving toward.

The disciples wake Jesus and he speaks to the wind and the waves.  He calms the storm.

Colossians 3:15 “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.  And be thankful.”  The Holy Spirit revealed to me one of those nights in the midst of my storm to thank God.  Here I was, alert, my mind going, my body buzzing and I’m reaching for whatever I know to use to battle this anxiety.

I reach for prayer. 

So I am rebuking the spirit of anxiety and asking for the Lord to fill me with peace.  –I felt nothing.  I felt absolutely no change.  So I thought, maybe I need to repeat that prayer as if maybe I didn’t say it right, or God didn’t hear me…again, no change.

“Can’t you see I’m drowning here Lord? I just need to sleep!”

Now the more I think about it, the worse it gets.  I get up and walk around and pray again, but more simply this time, “Jesus, please tell me what to do.”  Then the thought of thanking him entered my mind.  As I headed back to my bed, I started thanking God for specific family members, I felt instant relief from anxiety, then friends and by the time I got two friends in, I was out for the rest of the night.  Jesus calmed the storm.  This same incidence happened again, except this time I started right away with the thankfulness.  I only was able to express my gratitude to Jesus for about three people and then total peace.  This is amazing, thankfulness is tied to experiencing the peace of Christ!

Back to the disciples in Luke 8, they too were now experiencing peace.  Peace was restored to their journey.  They now had a renewed confidence in who Jesus is, and how he is able to bring peace to any element that will rise up.  For the disciples at that time, those elements were the wind and waves, but for us it can be anything.  For myself, recently it’s been anxiety that Jesus has calmed through thankfulness. 

What elements or storms do you have in your life that are rising up to stop you from reaching your destiny?  Ask Jesus to tell you what to do.  It just might start with thankfulness.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Hearing God's Voice for Your Life

A grand scale of the childhood game “Simeon Says” is being played out all over the world.  The Lord is “Simeon” and he’s asking us to listen to his voice and do the simplest of tasks every day.  He’s asking us to hear the word and do the word.

Luke 8:21 He replied, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.”

When we apply action to his commands, we move forward towards the reward.  The reward is having a closer relationship with Him.  The closer we get, the louder His voice is in our lives.  When we do something other than what the Lord is calling, then we learn that we have to go back to the start.  Just like in the game of "Simeon Says" we continue to do this until we train ourselves how to listen and obey.  Hear the word and do the word. 

It’s the simplest of games.  

The commands that are being called out are:
Love your neighbor as yourself
Love God
Have faith
Believe in Jesus
Pray for others
Be a light in the darkness
…and so much more!

If we want to move forward and gain the reward of a closer relationship with Jesus our Lord, then we must listen for his calling.  All of what he commands is found in his Word, the Bible.  Together, as one world, we can hear the word and do the word.

Are you ready to play?

Monday, October 12, 2015

Stability in the Storm {Part 4 of 4} Dig Down Deep

A popular Sunday school song I learned as a child goes like this…

The wise man built his house upon the rock, his house upon the rock, his house upon the rock.  The wise man built his house upon the rock and the rain came tumbling down.

Oh, the rain came down
And the floods came up
The rain came down
And the floods came up
The rain came down
And the floods came up

The foolish man built his house upon the sand, his house upon the sand, his house upon the sand.  The foolish man built his house upon the sand and the rain came tumbling down.

Oh, the rain came down
And the floods came up
The rain came down
And the floods came up
The rain came down
And the floods came up
And the foolish man's house went "splat!"

Isn’t funny how a song can stay with you your whole life?  This song is based off of a passage in Luke which speaks of the wise and foolish buildersThis section of Luke 6:46-49 is the final part of Jesus’s talk and not only concludes this series of Stability in the Storm, but concludes Jesus’ thoughts to the crowd of hearers.  These people listening were from all walks of life and all stages of faith, or lack thereof.  They came because they needed healing, deliverance, and a touch from the Messiah and the Word says that power was coming from him and healing them all. (Luke 6:19)  I think Jesus had their attention! 

This talk began in Luke 6:17 and to really understand what Jesus is trying to communicate can be found repeatedly throughout his talk and concluded at the end.  It is the message that if we call Jesus Lord, then we hear his words and then go do them.  Luke 6:46 “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I say?”  What is it that Jesus is saying that we need to do and put into practice?  Looking back over the entire talk, you will see that Jesus is saying this:

     Love your enemies
     Do good to your enemies
     Lend to others without expectation of them returning the favor
     Give to others
     Speak good things (words); agreeable, joyful, happy, upright, honorable

Want to explore these deeper?  Look back at Stability in the Storm {Part1}, {Part 2},{Part 3}. Take the time to read this talk in its entirety in Luke 6:17-49.  Read it with the thought in mind that the hearers of this talk, heard it in one sitting.  It wasn’t broken up into sections the way our bibles have done so.   Each paragraph related to the previous one in thought, just as a speech should.  Let the Word speak to you today as if you are one of the people in the crowd, hearing this for the first time.  Hear his words.

In the conclusion of his talk, Jesus says that the one who hears his words and puts them into practice is like (v. 48) “a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock.  When a flood came the torrent struck that house, but could not shake it, because it was well built.” Jesus is also saying that the person who hears and does his words, had to dig down deep to attain stability for the coming storm. 

He put in the effort, and did what it took by doing what the Word says.

That’s the digging!

The obedience is the effort, stability on the rock is the reward!  The storms of life will come but because the one who is wise has heard and put into practice what the Word says, that person will remain stable.  Unshakable. 

This passage isn’t just for the people of that day, but now, more than ever, we need stability in our unstable world.  Everyone has the same opportunity to reach out towards Jesus, to dig down deep and not only hear his words, but apply them and do them as well.  When the storms come, and they always come whether you are a Jesus follower or not, will you be ready?  He’s told us how to become stable; unshakable when the storms do strike.  It’s up to you, are you willing to dig down deep?