Step Out of the Boat

Matthew 14:28-33 ‘Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and *said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” When they got into the boat, the wind stopped. And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “You are certainly God’s Son!” 

It would be hard enough to step out of the boat on perfectly calm water, let alone with the wind blowing and the waves swelling like they are in this moment.  But, Peter goes.  He steps out of the safety of the boat into the rough seas and begins to walk to Jesus.  I’ve had a great many people debate the merits of Peter’s actions here, because after all, he lost faith and sank.  “He failed”, as I’ve heard many people say.  I’ve never looked at this passage in that light.  I’ve always looked at it in the light of, Peter’s faith was strong enough that he took the step, when no one else dared to.  Yes, he got frightened, lost faith and sank, but he took the step first, without reservation.  I also see in this passage, Peter’s fear and lack of faith wasn’t in Jesus.  Rather, his lack of faith was in himself and what he could do when he trusted and walked with Him.  

Our life is an endless string of opportunities to step out of the boat, heeding the call of Jesus Christ and walking the rough seas to get to Him.  The difficulty is not finding faith enough in Jesus Christ, but faith enough in what we can accomplish when we walk in His power.  Have a blessed weekend.

Matthew 19:26 ‘And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace

Word Up!

Later this week, I get to start leading a bible study for a group of people I don’t really know.  Some may be Christians, and some may not, so deciding on a place to start was not too difficult (a gospel), but figuring out the format and how to go about it has been a little more challenging.  Honestly, walking with anyone through the Word is something that I look forward to, because it is not up to me to make sure they learn everything I want them to, as just being in the Word does that on its own.  Simply spending time reading through the Word has the power to instruct and transform, just as it has time and time again in my own life.  So, maybe it’s a little selfish, but I hope to grow through this process as much as I desire others to do so as well.  In what ways has the Word of God been most transformative in your life?

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”  Matthew 4:4

You have likely heard the phrase, ‘seven days without the Word makes one weak.’  It’s not much different than what happens with regular physical exercise.  If you have ever been confined to bed for several days, you realize that if you don’t keep active on a regular basis, you can lose strength and endurance fairly quickly.  I have noticed the difference in my own life when I am keeping in the Word daily, versus when I go for extended periods without feeding on it.  So, the key is to develop a discipline and good daily habits that keep you regularly in the Word.  If it is a struggle for you, as it has been for me at times, often accountability to another person or group that you meet with (e.g. a Bible study) to discuss is often helpful in refining this practice.  I recall, as a fairly new Christian how hungry I was to delve into the Word and talk about it with fellow believers.  What system have you used to keep in the word regularly? 

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  Hebrews 4:12

Another thing I appreciate about being in God’s Word is that it never really gets old.  I’ve read through the same book of the bible several times, and each time, God reveals new things to me that I have not noted as much before.  There are often new ways that you can relate and apply it to your life and more to be learned than in several lifetimes.  Whether just looking up a verse that you already know and dwelling on that, or reading new material and discovering the context in which it was written or new things about it can help you expand your understanding of God’s redemptive work in the world today and throughout history.  Using other commentaries or study guides to help you gain other perspectives is also a good way to grasp additional insights.  Maybe you have heard verses misused to suit a particular agenda that takes away from the original intent.  Having a solid foundation can also allow you to help others grow and develop a hunger for being in the Word as well.  The best way to teach is to lead by example, right? 

 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,  so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.  2 Timothy 3:16-17

Whatever way you get in the Word, whether tried and true for you, or something new, each time is a new adventure.  If you haven’t done it, plan to read through the entire bible sometime.  Not to brag to your friends about it, but just to expose yourself to the entire expanse of what new things you can learn.  I’m nearing the end of going through Ecclesiastes with a Sunday School group, and it has been as exciting for me now as the first time I went through it, years ago when I was in College.  One thing you can ask of the Lord each day is to reveal the truths found in His Word to you.  I’m sure this is a prayer He never gets tired of answering.  May you be blessed and be a blessing to others as you continue to learn and grow in the Word each day of your life!

Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.  Psalm 119:105

Yours in Christ,
Clark

Live a Better Story- Part 1

Would it be fair to say there is a better story for you life than the one you are living? I think God calls it hope.  There is a better future, the best of my story is yet to come, our best days are ahead and not behind. God wants to bless you in abundance and not scarcity, he wants your cup to overrun with oil!  Now I do not think that necessarily means a Mercedes, bigger house, bigger income, or nicer clothes.  How many of us know people that got bigger and better and it ruined their marriage, cost them their kids, and they lost a lot of friends.  

I also do not think blessing is looking at other peoples lives on facebook, instagram, or how they appear to be at church.  I don’t believe Jesus died so you can impress people you don’t know or even like. In fact when I read the Bible I see God wanting us to live a better story because we find life in 4 places. Today I am going to skim the surface but in the next 4 week, I will dig into each of them a little deeper. 

Make a Difference! You were not made to work your life away so you can provide and play on your days off.  You were made so the generation and the world would be different because you walked the earth.  You were made so when people share about who helped them get where they are, your name is mentioned. You were made to make a difference where no one but God knows, where there is no trophy, recognition, or platitude.  If you are still breathing God is not done!  You are not too far gone, sinned too much, too old, too young, too poor, or too wealthy.  God is bigger than all of that!

Discover Your Purpose!  You cannot make the difference God intended unless you discover the purpose for why you are here.  Young men want to know what to study in college or what career to make. Middle aged men want to know if there is something more than 9-5. Older me want to know if what they did can be passed on or if there is anything left in retirement.  There is! Purpose is different and different seasons, and God reveals it in His time.  Purpose is found in His presence when He downloads holy conviction of making a difference. It is different for everyone.

Find Freedom!  You cannot discover purpose when you are bound to your past, your sin, your addiction, and your shame.  You need freedom for that.  God paid a very high price in His Son for you to know more than just forgiveness.  Confess your sin to God and you are forgiven. Confess your sin to men and you will be healed.  If you are sick as a mature believer for prayer, for their prayer is powerful.  God designed us to not be alone on our spiritual journey but to travel together. You will never be the person God made you to be apart from vulnerability with His people.

Know God!  You cannot find freedom until you know God.  “I met the mayor” and “the mayor is my best friend” are very different.  The first says you who who they are about you know about the mayor.  The second one reveals real relationship.  The will of God for your life is not for you to be religious!  The will of God for you is to know Him. You can not clean yourself up and come to God, you come to God because you need him to clean you up. 

This is getting long… Sorry about that!  I look forward to the next 4 weeks as God leads you to live a better story because you Know God more than ever before, found Freedom in places you didn’t know possible, Discovered Purpose in knowing what you were made to do, and Make a Difference in a way that will really matter.

Helping People Live a Better Story

Brandon Sereg

Where the Needs Are

Recently the story of Jesus’ healing of Blind Bartimaeus really moved and challenged me. It’s not only because Jesus healed Bartimaeus’ blindness, but the way in which He showed love and mercy to him. Checkout the scripture in Mark 10:46-52:

And they came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.” And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.

Look, I totally get that pretty much none of us have the power to restore sight. But, there is a lot we can learn about serving from this passage. First, look where Jesus met Bartimaeus. Jesus was hanging out just outside the city, a place we often find Jesus in scripture. This is really interesting, because hardly anyone would have chosen to spend time in such a place. That was the place that the lame, poor, and rejected spent their days, largely because they were deemed too spiritually impure to enter the cities. Yet, that is a place we often find Jesus spending his time. How much time do we spend in the places in our cities and towns where people have the largest needs? Even more bluntly, how much time do we actually spend with people who have great needs? 

Second, look at the question Jesus asks Bartimaeus. He point blank asks: what can I do for you? How often do we as individuals, leaders, and churches actually ask our communities, and the people in them with the greatest needs, what we can do for them? How much effort do we put into discovering what the deepest needs are in our community, and discerning how God can use us to meet those needs? 

There are so many people right in our own backyards and communities that, like Bartimaeus, have needs that God can meet through us. Our challenge is to be like Jesus and to meet those people where they are. We can’t spend all of our lives in our areas of comfort, but like Christ need to step into the uncomfortable realities of our world so we can discover needs, and be used by God to meet them. 

Caught Any Fish

John 21:5 New International Version (NIV)

He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”

“No,” they answered.

This is one of my favorite portions of Scripture in the Bible. The place in which Jesus reinstated Peter is one of my favorite places to see when I go to Israel. We find the disciples acting out like most men when they do not know what to do. We go to a place that we know. We are comfortable there. For Simon Peter and the other disciples, it was fishing.

We see Jesus’ love for Simon Peter here. He tells them to throw the net on the right side of the boat, and they do it. It is said that the net was so full of fish, they could not haul it in. As a matter of fact, there were 153 large fish. Numbers mean something to God.

Peter realized that is was Jesus on the shore. Peter jumps into the water and goes to Jesus. He is dripping wet, and he is standing in front of Jesus. Their eyes are locked. The last time Peter saw Jesus, he had denied knowing Jesus.

It does not say, but I bet Jesus grabbed him arms open wide as a brother. Jesus goes on to reinstate Peter by telling him 3 times to feed his sheep. Peter comes to the end of himself.

Peter never failed in his faith from that time on. He would never go back to fishing for fish. His life would be fishing for men.

Men, what about you? Caught any fish lately?

It is time to go fishing for men.

As Jesus was telling Peter to follow him, you do the same and follow Jesus. You will be fishers of men.

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

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