We do not judge our faith by mere appearances. The value of our faith is not found in the numbers of people who agree with us, nor is it found in measurements of success the way this world measures success. The value of our faith is found in the One who is the basis of that faith, Jesus Christ. He is Lord, the Almighty (Rev 1:8. 18), and we eagerly await His return (Rev 22:12-21)
Lord, Don’t You Care If We Drown?
The Lord knows that this life is filled with “furious squalls” that come up, trying times that shake our faith in Him. Jesus, as often He did, answers His disciples question with another question, actually two: Why Are You So Afraid? and Do you still have no faith?
Jesus’ reply is really with rhetorical questions, meaning they hold their own answers. In other words if the disciples want to not be afraid, they
The reality is that our enemy the devil is far greater than we are. A spiritual being described as so powerful that a wag of his tail disrupts a third of our heavens. It is this powerful beast and his fury that deceives the whole world and leads them astray from God.
Also a part of this reality is the war fought in heaven for our sake and the victory that is ours over this enemy because of our Savior coming into our world. It is through the blood of His sacrifice and the word of His testimony by which we, too, can overcome!!
At times God’s people can feel forgotten or forsaken and find their souls mourning, oppressed, disturbed, and downcast. When the circumstances of life overwhelm us, we can certainly feel this way, and if we do, we need to remember that in Christ Jesus – God is NOT against us (Romans 8:31)!
In psalms 42 & 43 the soul of the psalmist is panting and thirsting for God’s presence, to be with his God in a way so that despair and fear are vanquished, just melted away.
The psalmist knows the thing he ought to be able to do, “put your hope in God.” That is the truth he states over and over to his soul (Psalms 42:5, 11). Yet, despite what he knows and says, his soul remains oppressed in mourning, and he feels forgotten (Psalms 42:9) and rejected (Psalms 43:2). The panting of his soul has brought out a cry for vindication and rescue (Psalms 43:1). Until finally, he makes this victorious request of God: Send forth your light and your truth, let them guide me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell. This is it! This is necessary request, this is the one according to God’s will, this is the one God answers, and he knows it! Then, will I go . . . my joy and delight . . . my Savior and my God (Psalms 43:4-5).
Are you feeling uncertain, weak, hopeless, frustrated, even lost? Our world is full of uncertainty, but Jesus says the truth will set you free, free from all this uncertainty. The truth Jesus refers to is the truth given in His word. It is the truth that sanctifies us from the uncertainty of this world and gives us the victory over this world, even our faith (1 Jn 5:4-5; Rom 10:17; Jn 17:17, 20).
History has tamed Jesus but the New Testament writings tell a different story. Jesus was filled with emotions: joy, gladness, anger, grief. One exchange with the Pharisees and Scribes displays the anger Jesus felt toward the way they had contaminated the religion of God’s chosen people. At the end of seven (maybe eight) statements of judgment (Woes) Jesus seems to work himself into fever pitch and calls them a common expression of the day:
You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell? Matthew 23:33 NASB
The seven judgements he cast on them:
- They were making salvation difficult
- They corrupt converts
- Made minor distinction distraction (trivial pursuit)
- Neglecting the important
- Were hypocrites & Self-indulgent
- Were doubling down and hypocrites who were lawless
- They murdered true prophets (and would soon murder the supreme prophet…Jesus himself)
- +1 (not in early manuscripts) destroyed widows houses (or their means for living for the sake of their false religion & said long prayers to make themselves seem important
His message against the Pharisaical religion:
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (NASB)
Which message do you identify with more?
True worship is not without power to accomplish God’s purpose in our lives. When we honor Christ in worship for all He is and has done for us, we find the encouragement we need to strengthen ourselves and one another. Then we are built up together in Christ so that each one can do its part (Ephesians 4:11, 16; Colossians 2:18, 19).
True worship is worship that is true to God’s purpose for worship. It turns the hearts and lives of the worshippers toward God, and represents a heart that is willing to live life as a reflection of the truths confessed in that worship.
Hypocritical Worship is worship that is done as a substitute for just and righteous living. It is worship done outwardly but has with no honest desire to renew the mind and direct the daily life of the worshiper. Hypocritical worship never intends to be what it pretends to be.
(Isaiah 66:1-3; Hosea 6:6; Matthew 9:13; John 4:23-24)
Less is More
The key for a bull rider is not strength, no one is stronger than a 2000 lb. bull! The key to his victory it is balance. In fact any thing that throws off his balance brings defeat instead of victory. The key for a tightrope-walker is to be rid of everything that hinders his goal (he does not carry unnecessary burdens). His challenge is to focus on HIS goal, not the past.
Forgetting what is behind (Php 3:13) we must focus on Jesus and throw off everything that hinders our journey with Him (Heb 12:1-2).