The gospels differ somewhat on the miracle of Jesus walking on the water, which adds to the richness of the story. Luke doesn't include it at all in his recollection; John and Mark omit the interaction of Simon Peter with Jesus. But the point well made is that Jesus is in control of the universe, even the great storms of our lives.
In Egyptian hieroglyphics the word for "impossible" is a picture of a man walking on water.
After feeding the five thousand, Jesus sent the disciples on their way while he dismissed the crowd. As the men struggled against the oars on the windy lake, they looked up and saw Jesus walking to them on the water. Simon Peter couldn't believe his eyes! He cried out to Jesus, "If it is really you, let me come to you." Then he, too, began to walk on the water until he took his eyes away from Jesus, saw the waves and what he was really doing, and began to sink.
There is another element here. Not only is this about the power of Jesus over nature, and the faith of Simon Peter, the question must come to us... what were the disciples doing while Peter was attempting the impossible? They were probably doing what most of us would do, offering "encouragement" to him. "SIMON, GET BACK IN THIS BOAT! WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU ARE DOING? YOU KNOW YOU CAN'T DO THAT. COME BACK HERE WHERE IT IS SAFE!" No wonder he took his eyes away from Jesus.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, I want to be a leader of the faith, but if I am not, give me the ability to temper my criticism of those who will dare to live on the edge of Christianity. Let my voice be one of encouragement and not skepticism.
"One of the most difficult things to accept when we first come to know the Lord Jesus Christ is that God loves us just as we are. We humans have a tendency to strive to 'deserve' what we have. Monetary wealth, loving families, solid careers... these are the things that we strive to earn. God's love, however, can never be earned by human effort. There is absolutely nothing that we can do to make God love us, or to make Him love us more (Romans 5:8). You may understand this intellectually, but have trouble believing it deep down in your heart. Sometimes we don't even realize our struggle to fully believe in God's free, unchanging love.
No matter what your past has dictated or what you feel right now, God's love has always been freely given to you. God pours His love upon us with no exceptions - no ifs, ands, or buts. My Christian friend, God did not begin to love you at the moment you invited Him into your life. He did not begin to love you when you first started going to church. He did not begin to love you when you rose from the baptismal waters. In truth, God never 'began' to love you at all; He simply always has. From the creation of the world, God knew you and loved you (1 John 4:19; Psalm 139:13).
His love remains constant; our attempts at good works cannot impress Him into favoring us, and our sin and failures cannot cause Him to stop loving us. Therefore, we can never take credit for the way God sees us. Instead, all honor and praise for His love are due to God alone.
He reached down and expressed His love to each of us not because of what He saw within us, but because it is in His nature to love with no limits, boundaries, or conditions (Romans 5:8, John 3:16)."
The preceding message was borrowed from one of the many wonderful lessons from the Charles Stanley Institute for Christian Living. Unfortunately, as of May 1, 2007, the Institute no longer exists. Nonetheless, we thank God for their many years of faithful service.
≈ Devotional for Wednesday, June 3, 2009
"Are you READY to hear?"
I have been struggling with a lot of different things lately, mostly in the lines of understanding scripture and the relevance that it has to today’s society. To tell you the truth, I have been searching through the Bible looking for any piece of scripture that is irrelevant to today, and to date I have not been able to find one.Sad, isn’t it? Many believers (and even non-believers) will hold to the idea that this verse or that verse somehow “does not apply to me”. Yet, if one takes a long look at the application (surrounding verses included) and not just the words at face value; the understanding becomes very clear that it is all relevant to how we are living today – relevant to our lives immediately.
As I was studying this week I noticed a man named Habakkuk who quite frankly some would assume was just a whiner who needs to hush. Yet, deeper than the words at face value, was his practice of the relationship he had with God. He was a man who focused on who God is, on pouring out his heart before the Father, and then preparing and being FULLY ready to hear what God’s response would be.
That’s an odd concept, isn’t it?
It’s so simple… and yet at the same time, just an amazing concept to grasp. When we come before the Lord, we need to be ready to hear – to hear what God would say to us in a way that He could pour into our lives; so that we would be different.God promises in Habakkuk 2:3, “For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.”We need to wait on God, understanding that God will not delay, and that everything He says will come true.
Are you prepared to hear from God? What is He saying to you today?
Rev T.J. Conwell
≈ Devotional for Thursday, June 4, 2009
"To Serve or be Served"
In 1962, the TV show Twilight Zone broadcast an episode entitled “To Serve Man.”Although the title sounds noble, it turned out that “serve” in this case referred to serving as a menu item – not a very pleasant thought.
When we “serve” our Lord, what do we mean?If we’re asked to serve as Usher and reply, “Sure; as long as I don’t have to get to church early,” are we serving?When we “volunteer” to help with Wednesday night dinner as long as we get home in time for our favorite TV show, are we really serving?
We serve voluntarily… when it’s convenient.However, a servant always complies with the needs of the person or the situation over and above his or her own needs.
Jesus said, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:43-45)
God made us free to make our own choices and to either serve or seek to be served.Scripture tells us that “it is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life.Just make sure that you don't use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom.Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that's how freedom grows.For everything we know about God's Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself.That's an act of true freedom.” (Galatians 5:13-14 - The Message)
Which do you choose; to serve or be served?The choice is yours; but the benefits of a wise choice are great.“And ye shall serve the Lord your God, and he shall bless thy bread, and thy water; and I will take sickness away from the midst of thee.” (Exodus 23:25)
“…as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)
“…I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father,but byMe.”
She wasn’t going to attend her own graduation.But at the urging of her friend, Charity Caldwell, a single mom age 35, changed her mind at the last minute.
After flunking out of nursing school once, she was re-admitted under a special provision to meet the medical shortage for qualified nurses.It took her 8 years to complete the course, but here she was in heels and graduation gown, ready to celebrate what was to become her second greatest achievement in life.
As she joined the other graduates on May 2, 2009, a crowd was gathered around a man near the entrance of the DeSoto Civic Center.Her training instinct kicked in while she pushed her way through:“I’m a nurse,” she cried out.She got down on the floor, checked for a pulse, made note of the shallow breathing.Then his pulse stopped.
All she was thinking was she only had three minutes to get the blood flowing to his brain.She began chest compressions, something she had only done one other time on a dummy in class.The heart attack victim soon opened his eyes, took two quick breaths, and the paramedics arrived to take him to the hospital.
Charity Caldwell, a student who had flunked out of school and was given a second chance, saved the life of Southwest Tennessee Community College’s Dean of Health Sciences, Glen Swinny.The school officials called her a heroine, but she said it was divine intervention for both of us.“God let me know that I could do it.I have no doubt that the second chance I was given to pursue my dream resulted in a second chance for Dean Swinny.”
Jesus taught that life is full of second chances.He restored sight to the blind, forgave the sins of publicans and prostitutes, healed the hopeless of their disease, and fed those who were hungry.Which is the greater sin?Stumbling from the barrage of temptation before us, or making the decision to stay in the pit when we are down?
I believe in second chances.Maybe you have been waiting for this word of affirmation today.You have had the life crushed out of you from the embarrassment of a family problem; or you see yourself as a failure because you struck out in school, on the job, in your relationships.That is no reason for God to give up on you, and it certainly is no reason for you to give up on yourself.For the first time in awhile, try to see yourself as Jesus sees you.He loves you as much now as He did when you were just a twinkle in His eye.Let Him restore you to His fellowship.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, sometimes I wonder what You must think of me.I am a hopeless sinner; I make mistakes; I am always asking You to forgive me for this or that.Still, You do not grow weary of my feeble effort to live a godly life.Thank You for undeserved second chances, and for sending angels of mercy at just the right moment to open my eyes and breathe into me a renewed spirit. To God be the glory!Amen and amen.