SHORE NOT SINK!
On the same day, when evening had come, He saith unto them, "Let us pass over to the other side."
One day Jesus said to His disciples, “Let us cross over to the other side.” So they boarded their boat and were taking a nice calm trip across the Sea of Galilee. Only thing was the calm sea suddenly became very rough because a sudden storm arose. The severity of this storm even shook these experienced fishermen to utter despair.
Now what is extraordinary about this even is Jesus was asleep in the boat. While the disciples were shaken with great fear Jesus was at sweet peace taking a needed rest. The disciples woke Him up and said, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” (Mark 4:38). They were thinking He didn’t care and how could He be sleeping when they were so desperately in need. They really were telling him , GET UP and DO SOMETHING!
Jesus graciously ( out of His mercy not because they demanded) spoke to the storm and said, “Peace, be still!” (verse 39), immediately the storm was over, the waves calmed and the disciples fear vanished. Not only did Jesus rebuke the storm He rebukes His disciples. He basically is telling them that they are slow learners and their great fear was a result of their small faith. Jesus had told them they would cross to the other side, His plan was not to let them drown midway. Jesus didn’t promise smooth sailing, but He did promise a safe passage.
The safest place to be is with Jesus! It is safer in a storm with Jesus than in the calm without Him. It is better in a prison with Jesus than a palace without Him. If we find ourselves in His presence we can trust Him in any circumstance.
May we remember, God is with us no matter what circumstance we are going through right now. We are never alone. He cares. And He will never leave us or forsake us.
“ Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prosperity.” 3 John 1:3 ( As our soul health is prospering so can our physical life )
“ Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones. Proverbs 3:7-8 ( If we seek Gods ways and wisdom we can have healthier bodies and stronger bones ).
These verses and many others in the scripture teach us that if we are healthy in the spiritual sense then we will be more healthy in the physical sense as well. In fact the closer we walk with God and adhere to His principles we will be healthier in our emotions, mind, body and soul. Let me share a few Healthy Habits from the Bible with the purpose of encouraging each reader to seek to be healthy for the Lord’s glory and your own good.
1. HEALTHY PEOPLE EAT HEALTHY FOOD
Daniel 1:15: At the end of the ten days their countenance appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the operation of the kings meat. ( Eating God’s ways make healthier bodies than eating the ways of the flesh.)
The scriptures are loaded with facts about healthy eating. We need to agree with God and study his word and eat accordingly to stay as healthy as possible. What we take in is one sure key to how our bodies and minds function. Decide to help your body by taking in good food, lots of water and resist taking in the things that are harmful. Remember the primary goal of being healthy is for God’s glory and so we can be more fruitful in the kingdom of God!
2. HEALTHY PEOPLE THINK HEALTHY THOUGHTS
Luke 11:34: The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy whole body is full of darkness.
Make no mistake what we focus on will land in our mind and eventually affect our bodies. Either in negative ways or positive ways. How e think is so important to the health of our soul, mind and body, Philippians 4. Never forget, “As a man thinketh so is he.” Proverbs 23:7
Unhealthy focus – bad life
Healthy focus – good life
Proverbs 4:20-23: My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh. Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
3. HEALTHY PEOPLE EXERT ENERGY AND ENJOY REST
Two things are needed in energy management – rest and exercise. We must feed our soul, mind and body and we must work them as well as rest them. For the person who sits 8 hours without movement is the equivalent of smoking 1 pack of cigarettes daily. The lack of exercise is very unhealthy to our bodies and our minds!
Psalm 127:2: It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep. The Lord exhorts us to work had exercising our bodies but not worrying will we have enough. Don’t sit up late worrying. Go to bed early enough so as to sleep in peace. Get exercise and get proper rest.
1 Timothy 4:7b-8: Exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. Yes, body exercise profits our body and it actually helps us sleep. and all this helps our souls to prosper for all eternity.
4. HEALTHY PEOPLE ENLIST SUPPORTIVE FRIENDS
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10: Two people are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor: For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe unto the him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.
Life is healthier when we do it together. The devil is a liar and seeks to tempt us to think we will be better without others. That is simply not true. Partnership in life is the healthier way of living!
Hebrews 10:25: And let us not forsake the assembling of ourselves together.
5. HEALTHY PEOPLE DEPEND ON GOD
Luke 17:19: And He said unto him ( a sick man) , Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.
The fact is we cannot live healthy lives without the Lord Jesus Christ help. We wont even desire to do so and if we did we would not know how to do it. Jesus came to make the sick whole. He has the power, principles and the plan for such. May we seek him daily and yield to His Spirit as He brings health to our soul, mind and body for His glory and our good. He will lead us to proper provision, purposeful work and powerful rest!
My heart is saddened with the tragedy this week in Las Vegas. The killing of innocent people. The great argument will become is it a gun problem or a culture problem. The answer is it is a HEART PROBLEM. When the hearts of men are not turned to God the enemy (Satan) has his way. The thief is come to steal, kill and destroy. His mission is to bring fear, doubt and anxiety to humanity. He is the master terrorist. May each believer do what it takes to defeat the enemy, may we pray! Make a special time daily to pray for our nation to find its way again. And that way is JESUS! Find a a special prayer meeting to begin attending weekly. For all our Liberty Baptist Church family join one of our weekly prayer times. The time is NOW to participate in prayer for our nation!
I read an article Greg Laurie from Harvest Ministries wrote this week concerning this event and would like to share it with you as I found it very helpful. Hope it helps answer some question you may have and that it will help you answer some questions being asked you as a Christian.
The Mandalay Massacre
Why did God allow such a horrible thing to happen?
"Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you."
—1 Peter 4:12
A 64-year-old man armed with more than 10 rifles shot and killed 58 people in what is being called, “the largest mass shooting in U.S. history.” Hundreds more were wounded.
The question that comes to mind at a time like this is. . . Why? Why did God allow such a horrible thing to happen?
A Barna Poll asked, “If you could ask God one question and you knew He would give you an answer, what would you ask?” The most common response was, “Why is there pain and suffering in the world?” If you are sharing the gospel, it won’t be long before someone asks, “How could a God of love allow tragedy, pain, and suffering?” C.S. Lewis said that the “problem of pain is atheism’s most potent weapon against the Christian faith.” More people point to the problem of evil and suffering as their reason for not believing in God than any other. It is not merely a problem; it is the problem.
So, why does God allow tragedy? If God can prevent such terrible tragedies, why does He allow them to take place? Here’s the classic statement of the problem: Either God is all powerful but not all good, and therefore He doesn’t stop evil—or He’s all good but not all powerful, and therefore He can’t stop evil.
The general tendency, of course, is to blame God for evil and suffering, transferring all responsibility to Him. So let’s look closer at the core question: If God is so good and loving, why does He allow evil?
The first part of this question is based on a false premise. People who express those words are essentially suggesting (or saying outright) that God must meet their own criteria of goodness. But who are they to set standards for God? When did they become the moral center of the universe? God isn’t good just because that’s my opinion of Him, or because I personally agree with His words or actions. God is good because He says He is! Jesus said, “No one is good—except God alone” (Luke 18:19 NIV).
God is good, whether I believe it or not. He and He alone is the final court of arbitration. As Paul said, “Let God be true, but every man a liar” (Romans 3:4 KJV). And what is “good”? Good is whatever God approves. And it’s good because He approves it! “That’s circular reasoning!” Well, maybe, but everything begins and ends with God. I think of it more as biblical reasoning. In Isaiah 1:18, God invites, “Come now, and let us reason together” (NKJV) or “Come. Sit down. Let’s argue this out” (MSG). You see, God’s thoughts are above our thoughts. There’s no higher standard of goodness than God’s own character—and His approval of whatever’s consistent with that character. So God is good. Period.
Now let’s come back to the second part of the question. Why does He allow evil?
Remember that mankind was not created evil. In their original state, Adam and Eve were innocent, ageless, and immortal. But from the very beginning—from the time that God gave life to Adam and Eve, man has had the ability to choose right or wrong. He made his choice (and then his choice made him!).
Had man never sinned, there would have been no resulting curse. But now it’s too late. Romans 5:12 says, “When Adam sinned, sin entered the [entire human race]. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned” (NLT).
What this man in Las Vegas did is pure evil. The point to keep in mind here is that humanity—not God—is responsible for sin.
So why didn’t God create human beings to be incapable of sin? If God hadn’t given us a free will, we would merely be puppets on a string, remote-controlled robots that bow before Him at the touch of a button. God wants to be loved and obeyed by creatures who voluntarily choose to do so. Love cannot be genuine if there’s no other option. You and I can choose to love God. And if we’re realistic, we have every reason in the world to make that choice.
Most of us can accept the idea of suffering in general, especially when it happens as a consequence of bad behavior. When bad things happen to bad people it seems appropriate, fitting, understandable. So, its’ not suffering that troubles us; it’s undeserved suffering.
Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? Even more, why do bad things happen to godly people? There are times I just don’t know why God does or does not do certain things. I, like you, am mystified by a lot of it. So here is my answer: I just don’t know!
Listen: being a Christian does not mean you will not suffer. We may ask the question, “Why me?” but we could more easily ask, “Why not me?” As 1 Peter 4:12 tells us “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you” (ESV). Our trials and sufferings should not be seen as strange but expected. Jesus Himself assured us that there will be suffering in our lives: “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NKJV).
Here is what we need to know: we need to prepare for suffering. Suffering will come; it’s not a matter of if, but when and how much.
As you read this, and you do not have any suffering or tragedy, I would say, “Rejoice, and enjoy it!” But know that hardship will come. Here is the bottom line: you are either coming out of a storm or headed into another. “People are born for trouble as readily as sparks fly up from a fire” (Job 5:7 NLT). It’s just a matter of time. In this life, the only way to avoid suffering is to die. So like the diligent squirrel gathering nuts for winter, store these truths in your heart.
As Randy Alcorn says in his book If God Is Good, Why? “Most of us don’t give focused thought to evil and suffering until we experience them. This forces us to formulate perspective on the fly, at a time when our thinking is muddled and we’re exhausted and consumed by pressing issues. People who have “been there” will attest that it’s far better to think through suffering in advance.” In other words, be prepared ahead of time!
Our hearts go out to the families of those that were killed. We need to pray for them.
We thank God for the courageous first responders who are still on the scene. And we pray for the hundreds of wounded people. May God extend His comfort to them.
Events like this remind us that life is short and eternity is real and very close. This is why all of us should always be ready to stand before God. And the only way to be ready is by having put your faith in Jesus Christ.
You Have A Story That Needs Told!
Ever noticed how people love listening to a good story especially a true one. And when it comes to sharing your faith, one of the most effective tools in our evangelistic toolbox is our personal testimony. Why just the other day I was preaching a funeral and began sharing my story of how I came to Christ and I noticed how I gained attention of some who before were not nearly as engaged. Not to long ago I was in a hospital room visiting one of our church members and I began sharing some things about how I came to Christ and it was evident the attending nurse began to tune in. Everyone likes to hear a good story!
Our testimony’s are powerful bridge builders. It’s a way to connect with your listener so that they can see how your life has been changed by the mighty power of Jesus Christ and how it happened in a common and real life setting. Just like the one they are living out! It’s a way to engage people, build a bridge, and help them see how they can come to faith as well.
Sharing your testimony is a great way to indirectly preach the gospel. For me my personal testimony would sound like this. Before I was saved my life was filled with emptiness and I sought many sinful ways to bring satisfaction but nothing helped. I didn’t know what my problem was. But one day a young lady invited me to church and there I heard the pastor explain the gospel. He helped me understand that mans problem was personal sin and that we would never be satisfied in life until we had our sins forgiven. That Christ paid for mans sins and offered forgiveness to all who would repent and put their faith in Christ’s payment on the cross.
You can actually share the gospel while you are telling your own story. And when you’re done, you can say, “What do you think about that? Have you ever heard that before? Have you ever seen a life changed like that before? Have you ever considered who Jesus is and what He can do for you?” Simply share with them what Jesus has done for you and what He has done for you He will do for them!
What’s your story? Everyone has one. Every Christian has a testimony, and every testimony is credible and sings of the amazing grace of Jesus.
When you really think about, every Christian’s testimony is essentially the same. We were all lost. We were all separated from God. We were all guilty and lonely and afraid to die. And we were all on our way to Hell. But Jesus Christ, in His grace, intervened in our lives and transformed us.
That is my story, that is your story and it is worth telling because when we do others will listen and some will be saved!
“ God can turn our mess into a message”
THE GUY BEHIND THE SCENE!
41 He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.
42 And he brought him to Jesus.
In our day and generation we seem to be so enthralled by those who are always out front or in front of the camera. Yet a close study of the scripture reveals that God uses those “Behind the Scene” as much as those who live in the limelight, the focus of great attention.
Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother is one such behind the scene fellow who made an eternal impact on the world. And he did it in a very selfless and non assuming way. He simply put the need of his brother above his own. In comparison Andrew did not receive near the attention that his brother received. It is clear that in the New Testament Andrew didn’t even come close to receiving the amount of mention as Peter. Yet his impact was major and it continues to this very day!
Peter was in the inner three of Christ. He was used to birth the Church as he preached on Pentecost. He took the gospel first to the Jew, Samaritans and Gentiles! He was the lead pastor of the Church at Jerusalem. But the fact remains it was his BEHIND THE SCENES brother who God used to bring him to Christ! When he discovered that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah of Israel (The Christ), he went and found his brother and brought him to the Lord.
If you take a little time and think about this act it is astounding and revealed the selfless character of Andrew. It would seem very possible that this behind the scene brother would have had many moments with a brother that loved the attention. How tempting it would have been for Andrew to guard his new found relationship and possible position with Christ. Certainly Andrew knew his brothers forwardness and abilities which in his mind would have been appealing to Jesus. He may have been tempted to keep this good news for himself. Perhaps he could have had fear of his brother, unsure of his response and his quick reactions. As I think about this my mind is filled with reasons why the record could have been different. Yet Andrew overcame fear and selfishness and went to his brother and brought him to Jesus!
This behind the scene guy is an example of millions of followers of Christ who are not serving to gain attention, to make money or to gain a following. They are attempting to follow Christ more than attempting to gain a following! Their desire is to see lost souls find Christ and for God to receive glory! Now there is no doubt God is calling some to be in the limelight and to be in front of large crowds, nothing wrong with that. They are humble and their desire is see lost souls saved and God glorified as well. But for so many who will never gain notoriety never think that God's plan is lessor for you!
Oh how we need to understand that often it is BEHIND THE SCENE ANDREW’S who produce OUT FRONT PETER’S. If your ministry is bringing Peter's or training Peter's to and for Christ be satisfied and embrace your God given ministry. If you are not in the limelight that doesn’t mean you are not making an eternal impact right where you are. Truth is we need more Andrew’s so we can gain more Peter’s !
Want to know what really brings satisfaction to me? Here it is, I really find satisfaction in serving the Lord more than in any other area of life. “Satisfaction is found in Serving our Lord”.
I’m not saying that it isn’t often extremely hard. Or that it does not push one to their limits. Of course it can empty us of physical and mental energy leaving us exhausted. But I have found no pursuit in this life which brings any more satisfaction than an all out committed service of the Lord Himself! Nothing fulfills the inner man more than when one surrenders to the will of God, as they truly worship with a life of THY WILL BE DONE!
Serving the Lord includes so many areas. For this pastor it is so much more than meets the eye. Certainly much more than study, preaching or leading our congregation. Serving involves being used of the Lord in any way He desires to use me. There is no big or small ways of serving the Lord. It is all service in the sight of our Lord. And the great privilege and delight that we receive by being called to such service by the Lord Himself! To be used of the God of all creation, to represent Him and to be used as a human instrument to do what He wants to do through us.
I hope you have found the great satisfaction of serving the Lord. If haven't yet may you surrender to the Lords service and find gladness in serving! For others who like myself have served the Lord for many years may we not grow weary in well doing. Recognize it is often difficult to serve Him but as we do we sense His pleasure. Nothing compares with sensing His well pleasure and nothing compares with the misery of the absence of His well pleasure! Such fullness of life or emptiness!
Do you sense God’s pleasure in what you are doing? Are you living your life well? Are you doing what God has called you to do?
It is a great privilege to be used of God.
Are you serving Him?
I read a good article published by Zondervan and wanted to share it today. I incorporated some of my own thoughts as well. Hope it encourages you to read and study your Bibles faithfully.
“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4:12
When life is filled with responsibilities, it can be stressful to keep up the daily habit of reading the Bible. This is understandable, as modern life can be complex and hectic; however, we should remember that spending time in God’s Word is essential to continuing the good work of Christ within us. Reading the Bible is necessary to align our hearts, minds, and actions with Christ.
As the Psalmist wrote, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (119:105). Reading the Bible reveals God’s path to us.
So, are there steps can we take to establish and strengthen the daily habit of reading God’s Word?
Try these 5 tips:
1. Start Small:
Let’s get practical. If reading the Bible is to become a daily habit, it will require a commitment of time. Avoid stress by starting small. Try introducing just 5 minutes of Bible reading each day and then, as the time commitment begins to feel more natural, gradually increase your reading time.
ADDITIONAL TIP: Fonts can have a huge impact on the quality of your reading experience. Make sure you select a Bible that’s been designed with a clear, readable typeface so your eyes will be able to focus on God Word’s with ease.
2. Reflect and Journal:
Keep a notepad or journal handy as you read. As God speaks to you, reflect on what He’s saying and briefly write out God’s message. This will help foster personal application from your reading. As James 1:22 tell us, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”
ADDITIONAL TIP: There are Bibles customized with space for note taking and journaling. These editions are a convenient option to simplify your devotional time.
3. Set a Goal and Use a Reading Plan:
As you become more comfortable with a daily reading time, challenge yourself by setting goals to read through the Bible, or portions of the Bible, at a steady pace. There are multiple reading plans available to help you find your rhythm. Some plans are intensive, leading you through the entire Bible in as little as 90 days. Others allow for more meditation. For example, there are plans that will take you through the Gospels in 40 days and others that will help you read the complete New Testament in one year.
No matter what plan you select, remember that a reading plan is only a tool to help you stay on track as you spend time in the Word. Don’t let it get in the way of hearing God’s voice.
ADDITIONAL TIP: Checkout www.libertyfamily.org for a yearly Bible reading plan.
4. Go Deep with Study:
Understanding the context and historical setting of a passage is important as you apply the Bible to your life. Not only does the Bible speak directly to us, but it also shows us how God has spoken to His people since in ages past.
Using a study Bible and other study resources will help you learn the cultural background of familiar biblical stories. As you discover what the biblical writers were facing, a new understanding of God’s power and faithfulness will be revealed through the Scriptures. For example, Ephesians 3:20 takes on a new meaning when you realize Paul was in prison: “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us…”
5. Read with Your Community:
While reading the Bible is essential for personal growth, it also fosters strong community. Find a trusted friend, pastor, teacher, spouse or small group leader to share what God is saying to you through your daily Bible reading. Go a step further and read aloud with a friend. There is power in reading God’s Word in community and in hearing the Scriptures spoken. The accountability may help you to maintain the habit of Bible study! Don’t fail to seize every opportunity to hear the Bible preached and taught by gifted pastor/ teachers.
The Wonder of Worship !
Psalms 95:6 - O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.
Genuine worship can take our most miserable moments and make them our most meaningful. One of the greatest illustrations of this is found in the Bible book of Acts. We read of Paul and Silas, who were beaten and thrown into a cold, dark, terrible dungeon for preaching the gospel. But at midnight Paul and Silas began worshiping God by singing and praising Him from their hearts and lips. As they worshiped, an earthquake came, and the prison door opened and they walked out from their misery of incarceration and entered into the majesty of freedom.
It’s life changing when you can be set free through worship. Our almighty Lord may deliver us immediately from our situation and He may not. The fact is at times when we worship the Lord our problems remain or even increase, but as we worship they no longer seem overwhelming and enslaving. It is not because our problems have been taken away but because we have focused on our Lord instead of our problems and on His greatness. In so doing we have gained His eternal perspective and repented from an earthly one.
The word worship means “worthship.” We should worship God because He is worthy of our worship. No matter what we’re going through, no matter what our circumstances may be, when He delivers us and when He allows the problem to remain. God deserves our worship and He desires it. There is never a time when the Lord is not due worship.
We were created to worship Him. God made us to bring Him pleasure. And God is pleased when we worship Him with a proper heart, especially when things are not so positive.
# 1 Reason To Share The Gospel !
It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.
In just this one Bible verse we find the primary reason that each follower of Christ should share the gospel continually. It is because every human will die one day and after they do they will personally stand before the Lord’s judgment.
I hear often the statement “ I don’t like hellfire preaching”. I think you would agree with me that preaching about hell has fallen on hard times. And because of that many preachers have stopped preaching on this topic altogether and many others are preaching much less and much lighter on the subject.
Thousands of messages are preached in churches and via the airwaves and internet on how to prosper, how to have a healthy family, how to succeed in marriage and many other biblical doctrines. But we must preach the whole council of God and we most certainly need to preach on main doctrines and hell is one of those.
We have to look at this topic biblically, not emotionally, and remember that life comes to an end for everyone. We have to realize that everyone's earthly life will come to an end but after physical life is over each person will still be alive in heaven or in hell.
As we read the New Testament it is clear that Jesus spent more time talking about Hell than anyone else. Of the forty parables He told, more than half of them relate to God’s eternal judgment of sinners. That is because Hell is a real place for real people. J. I. Packer said, “An endless hell can no more be removed from the New Testament than an endless heaven can be.”
The # 1 reason for sharing the gospel is so people won’t go to Hell. We can tell people if they come to Jesus that life will be more abundant that is true. But the greatest aspect of the gospel, which means “good news,” is that we don’t have to go to Hell. Instead, we can go to Heaven and that is GOOD NEWS!
If you know a child, teen adult who does not know Christ, then they are headed to Hell. The question is what are you doing to reach them? May we each be encouraged with this truth to share the Glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ!
Terry has been the Senior Pastor of Liberty for 30 years. He and his wife, Karen, have 4 children, 11 grandchildren, and 1 spoiled dog named Cooper.