The disciples went and woke Him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. Luke 8:24
Recognize this situation? You’re lacking sleep. It’s late, maybe around midnight. And your thoughts go a bit… well, dark. This is a top time for doubt (over real life stuff, God’s goodness, or fear of something not quite explainable) to convince you that it’s just been lurking under the surface and is now coming out in full force. Sometimes it can even feel like, despite your Christianity and despite yourself, there are other cruel secrets of reality out there, and that a deep-level knowledge of them has been lurking somewhere below your faith in God.
Does that ever happen to you? Do you ever wonder why it happens? Don’t worry. You’re definitely not alone. It happened to the disciples in a night-time thunderstorm. To them, in the moment, doubt and fear felt like everything there was to reality. Here’s the thing though: these sorts of doubts don’t sum you up and they’re not the full measure of you. You can be aware of dangerous, not-from-God thoughts trying to get at you, but you don’t have to be scared. In the Bible the ‘enemy’ is described as prowling around ‘like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour’ (1 Peter 5:8). Watch out for that. But know there’s hope – there’s a Mystery, deeper still, beyond the darkness.
I thank You, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have kept me this night from all harm and danger; and I pray that You would keep me this day also from sin and every evil, that all my doings and life may please You. For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen. (Luther’s Morning Prayer)
Open Mouth, Insert Foot
As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to Him, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters — one for You, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what he was saying.) Luke 9:33
Ever find yourself saying the wrong thing, at just the wrong time? Never fun, is it? Peter had a tendency to spill exactly what was on his mind. This meant sometimes he was spot on with what he said, sometimes he was way off, and other moments physically putting his foot in his mouth would actually have been more constructive than carrying on the conversation. In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus praises Peter and says he’s blessed, but just a few verses on down, Peter puts his foot in his mouth (again) and Jesus has to knock him down a peg (Matthew 16:17, 23). Sounds like most of us, right? Striding along confidently for God one minute, then falling over our own feet the next.
Well, God gave out some pretty good advice that could help us all. When Jesus, Moses and Elijah were having a mountain-top meeting with Peter, James and John, Peter got pretty carried away, babbling on and on at Jesus. God dropped in, and intervened by saying, ‘This is My Son, whom I have chosen; listen to Him’ (Luke 9:35). They were all speechless after hearing that. We can all use a bit of redirection sometimes. That ‘listen to Jesus’ refocus can be a make or break thing. The more you listen to God, the less you’ll say things that He wouldn’t want.
Heavenly Father, help me to listen more to You and talk less. In Jesus’ Name, Amen
Choosing To Have an “Opposite Spirit”
But Jesus turned and rebuked them. Luke 9:55
Pastor Jonathan Martin writes this about a missionary friend in Palestine: “Sister Margaret was in the crowded village market one day when an angry man accosted her. Taking out his apparent frustration at Western military interference in the region, he began cursing her. He cursed… everything he could think of. She felt the eyes of the entire village watching. As he hurled abuse at her, she quietly prayed for wisdom. When he was finally done, Margaret responded, ‘I am so sorry I hurt you. I never had any intention of hurting you. God loves you, and I love you. He loves this village and He wants to bless you. When you get over being angry, will you remember I’m still your friend?’ Perplexed, he turned and walked away. In words that are forever etched on my soul, Margaret said, ‘Satan doesn’t know how to respond to the gentleness of God’s Spirit.’”
‘The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you…’ (Romans 8:11). How do you live out that resurrected difference when you’re with your friends? When you get unfairly bad-mouthed? To respond in love very often means not just mimicking the way that the world reacts to things, but standing solidly and being a gentle, positive opposite.
Heavenly Father, help me have a spirit that drives away the spirit of anger and hatred that people have. In Jesus’ Name, Amen
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Use Your Measure of Faith
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Romans 12:3
The amount of faith God has given you is equal to the assignment He’s given you. So whatever you’re facing, tell yourself, ‘God has given me the faith to handle this.’ Nothing’s more important than your faith. Jesus told Peter, ‘…Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail…’ (Luke 22:31-32). Faith is more important than money, or career success, or reputation. Everything can be taken from you, but if you have faith, you’ll bounce back. Faith is like having a direct line to God. As the prayer of faith goes up, His power flows down. As a result, you are more than adequate for the challenge. Failure is never final, as long as your faith doesn’t fail. That’s why Satan will do everything he can to keep you from spending time each day in the Scriptures. ‘Faith cometh by hearing…the word of God’ (Romans 10:17). Jesus said, ‘…If you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it will move…’ (Matthew 17:20). There are obstacles in your life that will only be removed by faith. And you don’t need a truckload of it, just a mustard seed. Think: a tiny seed has the power to grow, overcome obstacles and become a mighty tree. It will press up through the ground, around rocks, braving storms, withstanding animals and other threats to its life. It’s not so much the size of your faith, but the quality of it that determines your success. And remember, God is the one who planted that faith in you. He (not you) gets the ‘credit’ for even that! So today, use your ‘measure of faith.’
Heavenly Father, sustain me in the faith in You that You have planted in me. May You accomplish all You want in and through me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen
Bigger On The Inside
because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me. 1 Corinthians 16:9
To God, everything – every normal situation, every simple life, every dull day – can open up into something bigger, if only we’ll ask Him for it. If Jesus could turn water into wine, could feed five thousand people with a boy’s lunch, what can He do through you? The question is, what do you see? You cannot see what you are not looking for! Isaiah 6 tells the story of what Isaiah saw when he went into the Temple, God’s on-earth house in Old Testament times. It looked like a nice, curtained-off room from the outside, but when he entered, he walked right into the very Throne Room of the living God. Filled with the authority and might of God. When he left the presence of God he was changed – it renewed his strength and let him ‘soar on wings like eagles’ (Isaiah 40.31). He too became bigger on the inside. God takes what looks normal and opens up its potential. Your school lunch club. Your leisurely morning prayer time. Paul the apostle’s cruise ‘round the Mediterranean. Everything offers up the chance to meet with God and His desire to move on earth – the question is, how do you see it? Like metal detecting for treasure under what looks like a muddy field, something truly precious lies just under the surface of your life.
Heavenly Father, help me see You and see the things You see. In Jesus’ Name, Amen