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Learning to Live in Confidence with the Lord (Mark 4:35-41)

Mark 4:35-41
In our Scripture passage today, I would like us to notice Jesus’ words, “Let us go over to the other side (v.35).” Jesus must have been very tired from all the ministry He has been doing. He has been teaching and healing many. With the increase awareness of His miraculous healings there were multitudes of people pressing Him, grabbing Him and touching Him. So, on the boat as He and His disciples started crossing the Sea of Galilee, He fell asleep. He was in such a deep sleep, that as the storm came up and their boat was being tossed around, He continued to sleep. Until finally, the boat was almost full of water. And then at this time the disciples woke Him up and they said, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown (v.38)?”
Jesus then wakes up and first He rebuked the wind and the waves (v.39) and then He rebuked the disciples for having no faith. But why would He do that? The boat was full of water and it looked like it was going to sink, and they were going to drown. Why would He rebuke them for their unbelief? As we noticed earlier, He said, “Let us go over to the other side.” He did not say, “Let us go under and sink.” We need to believe Jesus’ words that what He speaks is true. So, when He said to the disciples, “Let us go over to the other side,” then there is no way they could go under and sink. Understand that this is God speaking and that God’s word must come to pass. He rebuked them for having no faith because they had His word that they would go over to the other side but they did not trust in Him.
Learning to really rely in the Lord and learning to live by faith and not by sight is critical and very important for us. But learning to trust in the Lord is never the easiest thing to do in the world. Familia, I would like to share with you some of the lessons I have learned and is still learning today of times when we face turbulence in life, times of difficulty and even when we face storms and don’t understand why but still continue to remain to live in confidence with the Lord and trusting Him.
First, let us first look at some misconceptions, things that are not true because of wrong understanding about troubles and problems, about storms in life or difficulties we face in life.
  1. One misconception that we can have is that the presence of Jesus on board our life guarantees continuous comfort and calm. Familia, it is false to think that the fact that Jesus is on the boat that everything should be alright all the time, that everything should always be wonderful and great. Understand that it didn’t happen with the disciples then and surely it is not going to happen with us today.
  2. Another misconception or false thinking is that the arrival of storms or problems in our life is an indication that the Lord’s favor is no longer with us. We think that somehow, we have lost favor with God because we are facing difficulties. Remember that the Lord loved the disciples before, during and after the storm. Don’t ever judge God’s love for you based on your experience and what you are going through or facing in life.
  3. Another false understanding is that storms or difficulties we go through signals or indicates a lack of compassion on the Lord’s part. We think that the Lord doesn’t really care.
  4. Another misconception is that the storms we find ourselves in appears as if God has changed His plans. Remember Jesus said to the disciples, “let’s go to the other side.” There will be things that will happen in-between, but He has not changed His plan. We need to have a confidence within us that without a doubt that the Lord has not changed His plans. The Lord knows His plans and He will get us through to the other side.
Living in Confidence with the Lord.
How do you and I live in confidence with the Lord? How can the disciples decide to commit their lives to the Lord and decide to follow Him and serve Him and live for Him and to put Him first when it seems that God has forgotten about them? In days when it seems that God has forgotten about you:
  1. Remember that this journey of life with Him is the Lord’s idea. I am on this trip, on this journey because the Lord chose me. The Lord invited the disciples and He invited you and me. He will do the planning and bring all the provision as well. God is truly a great Father. He knows the when, why, how, what and where. He will always see us through to the other side.
  2. Remember that if you and I are going to walk in confidence with the Lord, then we will need to choose to leave something behind. Hebrews 12:1-2, leave the sin, the unbelief. It is making the decision to no longer live by sight, but to live by faith. I must leave behind trying to see things my way and leave behind trying to figure things out on my own. Understand that the Lord will allow us to feel the bumps on the road of life. He will allow us to be stretched. He does so because it is during those times that He will teach us not to live by sight but to live by faith. It’s a decision to truly trust Him.
  3. Remember that to live in confidence with the Lord, we would need to get on board in an opportune time. We shouldn’t wait until we are in trouble before we jump on board with God. It is saying, Lord I am going with you because You invited me. Start now to be on board with Jesus. Don’t wait until there is a disaster.
  4. Remember that to live in confidence with the Lord, we must be assured of our destination (the other side). I am thankful that I am going to heaven to be with the Lord forever. But in the meantime, the in-between here on earth, I am in a process of being changed by the Lord into His likeness.
  5. Remember that to live in confidence with the Lord, we need to never forget that you and I have the Lord’s company throughout the whole trip. He will not abandon us. Jesus is still on board!
Lessons from walking with the Lord in the storms.
  • Storms helps us to appreciate the times that are clam.
  • Storms forces us to turn to the One who is greater than we are.
  • Storms shows us the power of Christ to bring peace.
  • Storms makes us compassionate regarding the need of others.
  • Storms gives us an opportunity to grow.

Hoping for a Season of Breakthroughs (1 Ch 14:8-17)

1 Chronicles 14:8-17
What situation in your life looks so big, so overwhelming, so difficult that it looks impossible to conquer? What circumstances in your life that you are hoping for a breakthrough? When we talk about breakthrough, it means a time of moving beyond and penetrating an obstacle. It is an event that helps to improve a situation or provide an answer to a problem. For many of us, it is seeing a promise of God in our lives come to pass and receiving an answer to our prayers. A time when God Himself brings the breakthrough in areas we have been believing for and trusting God for a time. Familia, we need to come to genuinely believing that God desires and is willing to unleash power and bring breakthroughs into our impossible situations. Understand that life will test all of us and hopefully we begin to discover that the barriers we face will require the help of God. Help in an ongoing struggle, unresolved conflicts, physical ailments, addictions that you want to get free from, maybe even in your spiritual walk with God, or in your prayer life. Truly, we need to realize the things we are facing that is insurmountable will require God’s intervention in our lives.
What is it that brings about breakthroughs? What is it that causes God to move and do something that we believe for Him to do?
  1. To experience the breakthrough in life, we need to have a desire and a passion for things to change. Remember that miracles don’t happen without desire and without obedience. And for change to happen, there is always something God will give for us to do. Often there are areas in our lives that we want God to bring the breakthrough, but we don’t want to do what He is requiring of us. We don’t want to change, or we think we don’t need to change.
  2. To experience the breakthrough in life, we need to embrace a persevering spirit. There needs to be a determination to endure, be patient, wait on the Lord and not just quit. Whatever it takes, no matter the cost we need to hang on and be determined and resolute to our faith in God.
· Would you do anything to receive the breakthrough?
· Keep living for God. Keep serving and don’t quit. Be careful not to take on an offense because it is somehow easier to take on an offense, use it as an excuse and quit instead of persevering.
3. When it comes to God breaking through in our lives there must be the acceptance of personal weakness. It is coming and admitting to God the personal weakness in our lives and telling Him that we are incapable of breakthrough on our own. We need to stop trying and appearing as if we got it all together. Let God know that we are incapable of bringing the result we desire. When you confess this and say that you can’t breakthrough on your own and that you need God’s help, then you instantly connect to His power.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10, “9 But He said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
  • Admitting our weakness is not a weakness in itself. Admitting our weakness, I believe is a guaranty of God’s help. Remember that God gives grace to the humble. He comes along side of us and helps.
◦ James 4:6 “But He gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
  • I also think that admitting our weakness prevents arrogance because we are depending and trusting on God.
  • Admitting our weakness brings about ministry when you share your testimony to something God has done.
4. In experiencing breakthrough in our lives, we need to learn to come into the presence of God in persistent prayer. It is our time of coming to Jesus, seeking His face and calling upon His Name.
  • Luke 18:1-8, the parable of the persistent widow.
  • Before you do anything or make any decision, pray. The temptation often is we set our own goals, make our own plans, but wise people, they pray.
  • Why should I pray?
◦ Prayer reveals my need for help.
◦ Prayer lightens our load. He takes the weight that I am carrying. He takes it off from me and He bears it Himself.
Isaiah 40:31, “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
· Isaiah 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
· Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, 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.”
◦ Prayer releases God’s power. “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know (Jeremiah 33:3).”

Refusing to Be Offended

How many of you could still use a miracle today for yourself or for someone else? Where do you need a miracle in your life? For the miraculous to take place, the Bible is clear in the importance of having faith. Truly, we want Jesus to be amazed at our faith instead of Him amazed about our unbelief. For the miraculous to take place, the Bible is also clear in the importance of refusing to be offended. When people take on or harbor offenses in the heart, no great miracle could happen.
How many of you have ever been offended?
  • It seems that we often tolerate broken relationships and harbor offenses against each other. We say we don’t hold offenses or bitterness which stems from being offended but in actuality the offense has been cultivating for quite some time. We need to understand that having good healthy relationships are important. We need to make every effort to bring healing into relationships even if it is difficult and we can agree that it will be. But for us to be able to take hold of the miraculous then we need to learn to let go of offenses that come our way.
  • Matthew 5:23-24, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.”
Offended by the truth from Jesus
  • Mark 6:1-3, “Jesus left there and went to His hometown, accompanied by His disciples. When the Sabbath came, He began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard Him were amazed. Where did this man get these things? they asked. What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.”
  • Matthew 15:10-12, “Jesus called the crowd to Him and said, Listen and understand. What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them. Then the disciples came to Him and asked, Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?”
  • People took offense at Jesus because He simply spoke the truth. When someone speaks the truth in love like Jesus did we get offended. Jesus spoke the truth, gave a correction and people were offended. We simply get offended by the truth.
Choosing not to be offended releases God’s miracles.
  • Mark 7:24-30 Jesus Honors a Syrophoenician Woman’s Faith
  • 24 Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet He could not keep His presence secret. 25 In fact, as soon as she heard about Him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an impure spirit came and fell at His feet. 26 The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter. 27 “First let the children eat all they want,” He told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” 28 “Lord,” she replied, “even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” 29 Then He told her, “For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.” 30 She went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.
  • Trust that there will be plenty of opportunities to be offended. Yes, you will be offended. It’s easy to get offended but don’t take the offense. Don’t give permission for the offense to lord over your life.
  • Don’t take on an offense that was meant for someone else. Often, when people we love are offended we show support by taking on the offense as well. We need families and friends that will not take on the offense with us, but we need them to take us when we have been offended to the grace of God. We need people who will take us to Jesus because we are normally too upset to get to Jesus for ourselves. But if we are easily offended, then we stop or hinder the miraculous in our life, in our family and yes, even in our church. I believe the Lord is saying for us to be careful. If we are looking to be offended, then we will be offended.
  • How do you know if you have forgiven people that have offended you? By being able to indiscriminately bless them. This is very hard to do, but we are to bless those who curse you. Luke 6:27-28, “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”
Jesus was deliberate in choosing not to be offended.
  • Did Jesus have occasion to get offended during His life? Absolutely. But on the cross, He said, “Forgive them.” Jesus came not to hold offenses but to bring redemption. Jesus could have been discouraged and crushed, but He chose not to. He understood the importance of choosing not to be offended that brings forth the miraculous.
  • Another example of someone not taking offense is Joseph (Genesis 50:15-21). He did not take offense although we may think he had the right to do so, but he did not, and it saved a nation.
  • The Apostle Paul, 2 Timothy 4:16-18, “At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
  • I need to let the light of God flow through me and when I take on an offense I cut off the things God intended for others. God can’t use me when I take offense.

Jesus Is Willing (Mk 1:40-45; Mk 5:21-43)

Mark 1:40-45; Mark 5:21-43
We live in a world today that encourages us to be self-sufficient in that we are to do things our own way, that we should not worry about getting any kind of help or care, that we should figure things out and do things ourselves. We live in a world that teaches us that things would be better if we just give it time and everything would be alright. The world today tends to say not to rely or trust on anyone else because they will end up failing you. That the very ones that says they will help you and care for you are the very ones that fails you. Eventually, this world tells us that we even can’t trust and rely on God and therefore, why bother going to Him.
We see that in our scripture passages three accounts of people and situations of hopelessness and great need. The man with leprosy, the father whose daughter was dying and the woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years were people in great need and in tremendous need of help. And out of their desperation came to Jesus for help. They were all looking for a miracle for themselves and for someone else. As they sought Jesus out and fell at His feet they each encountered the Savior’s love and power. The great thing about our Savior is that He is a healing, miracle working God who is compassionate and loving. Miracles really happens because of the love of God. I think we can draw a conclusion from these stories that Jesus really loved them, really loves people (Mark 1:41; Matthew 9:36). Jesus really loves you. He is aware of our situations and He is concerned about us. He wants to be with us and see us through our needs. We genuinely need to seek the Lord, come to Him with our needs and wait at His feet.
What we see in common in these stories is that all the miracles happened at Jesus’ feet. And I believe that at His feet is were we are called as individuals and as a church familia. Coming to a deeper dimension of praying that brings about greater things that God wants to do. We need to come to Jesus for ourselves and to come to His feet for someone else. To come to Him with faith.
The Need
1. A man with leprosy (Mark 1:40-45).
  • Leprosy at the time of Jesus is maybe something we can compare today with cancer. It is a devastating thing. It is not only painful for the person affected by it, but it affects and is painful for the family. It is very discouraging and difficult. Leprosy simply is the decaying of the body, it destroys the nerve cells and the body tissue gradually decays, rots away. It is death crawling through the person, death in the physical sense.
  • The need today: people in situations where there are circumstances eating them up from the “inside out.” There are those present today that have things eating on you. For some it is fear, or sin that you have committed, and decay has started within, ashamed of the sin and don’t feel worthy of forgiveness. Others it may be anger, unforgiveness, hurt. You are tormented and eaten up from the inside out and you are dying slowly. Remember, the man with leprosy came to Jesus.
2. A father’s dying daughter (Mark 5:21-24, 35-43).
  • Jairus the father of the dying daughter was a compassionate and desperate father. Remember that his daughter was on her death bed, possibly with a fatal disease. And we find him, falling before the feet of Jesus and asking the Lord to come into his situation.
  • The need today: Jairus’ concern for his dying daughter relates to people today with concerns about dying situations within their family. There are people today within the circle of your family that there is some kind of death that has come. Maybe it is death in relationships and circumstances that you are saying “it’s too late.” But with Jesus, it is never too late. When we come to Jesus, we are never there too late. What is dying in our families, in our homes, in our church and in our island community? Remember to come to Jesus with family problems and as Jesus resurrected Jairus’ daughter, the Lord has resurrection answer for you where death has come upon something in your family.
3. The woman subject to bleeding for twelve years (Mark 5:24-34).
  • Slow constant bleeding for twelve years. This woman has tried many doctors and has spent all she had but instead of getting better she grew worse. There is great discomfort, despair, embarrassment and depression has set in. She has tried many things but no answer, she was drained physically and financially, but then she came to Jesus.
  • The need today: What circumstances in your life that has drained the life out of you and you don’t know how the bleeding in your is going to stop?
Jesus is Willing
In each of these situations, Jesus provides a direct answer to each one. He deals with power the decay that sin causes. He deals with the sin that eats us up. He deals with the death that is happening in our family. He deals with the draining of life in us. The Lord wants us to see Him, to go to Him with our great needs and even with the everyday practical things of life. He loves us. And when we get to Him, everything changes. The issue sometimes is that we believe that we have come to Jesus, but it seems that nothing has happened. We ask, does God care? Is He willing to heal? Is He willing to deliver and intervene into my situation? Hopefully, we remain waiting at His feet, in His presence and recognize things are happening because Jesus is compassionate and committed. Jesus is willing and reaches out and touches our lives. We are never too unclean or unimportant for Him. Jesus is willing!

Believing for the Miraculous (Mark 6:1-6)

Mark 6:1-6
It is probably safe to say that everyone has their own opinion about the miraculous. Opinions about what God does, why and when He does what He does. And even opinions on why He doesn’t do what we think He should and when He should do it. Everybody has opinions of the miracle power of God, the supernatural touch of the Lord. In our Scripture passage, this is now the second time Jesus returned to Nazareth. Remember that Jesus has been in Nazareth before this account (Luke 4:14-16). In the meantime, He was preaching the gospel to the poor, healing the broken hearted. He had been preaching deliverance to the captives and had healed the blind and all manner of sickness. He was doing what He proclaimed He would do (Luke 4:17-21; Isaiah 61). He had even raised the daughter of Jairus from the dead. On this visit, the disciples were with Him. He is now returning to His home town once again, the very town that had rejected Him before and even sought to kill Him (Luke 4:22-30).
Once again when the people there in Nazareth heard Jesus teaching, they were amazed. They were surprised or baffled because they knew Him to be the carpenter, the son of Mary. Someone who is familiar to them. Someone they knew to be a common man, the son of an ordinary carpenter. Now I don’t think the people disagreed with His teachings, but I think they could not believe the wisdom that was coming from this man who they knew growing up. I think they questioned His qualifications. Jesus’ wisdom, power and authority surprised everyone. As a child growing up, Jesus to them was just like the other village kids and in growing up apparently became the village carpenter. So, because Jesus was too familiar to them, they took offense at Him. They were offended at Him and so they rejected and would not accept Him. They just could not overcome their prejudice.
He could not do any miracles there.
  • Why couldn’t the Lord do much in this place? Why was the power of God hindered? We know very well the scripture tells us that it is because of the unbelief. The people just did not believe. But what produces unbelief? What hinders God from doing great things in peoples lives? What hinders the Lord from moving mightily in a person’s life, in their family, in their home, in their situations? What hinders the Lord from doing a great work?
1. We hinder the work of God when we treat Jesus as just being common (v. 3).
  • We live in a nation who has made the Lord just common. Yes, we go to church, involve ourselves by volunteering and go to prayer meetings, Bible studies but still treat the Lord very, very common. We move with unbelief because the Lord has become common to us.
  • We never come to realizing and experiencing the intervening work of God in our lives because we treat the things of God just common and ordinary. We treat Jesus as just an ordinary carpenter.
2. We never get to experience the intervening work of God in our lives because of unbelief, lack of faith. (v. 5-6)
  • It means, “I will not believe.” They did not believe that Jesus is the Son of God. They did not believe He can do the miracles. They refused to believe even in the presence of great truth and miraculous signs. The result of their unbelief is Jesus could not do no mighty works in that place. Does it mean that their unbelief restricted His power to do miracles? I don’t think so. Does it mean that Jesus just decided to reject them because they had rejected Him, so He retaliated? I don’t think so. I believe that the unbelief kept people from coming to Him.
  • During the most critical time in our lives, can we believe that God is able to do the miraculous? Sometimes what happens when problems come, when sickness overcomes our bodies, instead of believing that God can do the miraculous, we choose to just live with the problems. We say, “You know what, I will just live with it.” Instead of believing that God can change things, we learn to live with things that God has said, “drive it out.” I need to believe that God can deliver, that God can heal.
  • We need to accept and understand that there are things that we will ask God to do and there will be times He will do it right away, but there are times He lets us wait. In the waiting we need to keep believing and serving with surrender. (Isaiah 40:31; Hebrews 11)
What are some of the things I should do to believe?
  1. Decide the I am in trouble without the Lord’s help. I need to recognize that I am dead without God. I need to make a decision that I can’t do anything on my own abilities, nor by my own power but only with Spirit of the Lord Almighty (Zechariah 4:6). And in the moment that I think I can do things alone or work things out on my own, there won’t be the miraculous.
  2. In humility and surrender I need to confidently petition God and have Him confirm it with signs and wonders. I think signs and wonders is God confirming that which have been spoken in faith. It is God agreeing (Mark 16:15-18).
Am I saying things that God can agree on? I need to declare things that God has promised and whether I happens or not, I will believe.
The Lord gives and takes away but blessed be His Name.
3. Remember what Jesus has done for us.
  • 2 Timothy 2:8-13 “Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with Him, we will also live with Him; if we endure, we will also reign with Him. If we disown Him, He will also disown us; if we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot disown Himself.”

For the Miraculous to Happen (Mk 2:1-12 (Mt 9:2-8; Lk 5:18-26)

Mark 2:1-12 (Matthew 9:2-8; Luke 5:18-26)
Can you just imagine all the talk and maybe the commotion in this village of Capernaum when people heard and found out that Jesus was back in their town? Remember that Jesus had been in their village a few days earlier teaching and healing many including the mother-in-law of Simon Peter (Mark 1:21-34). When the people heard that He had come back they began to gather at the house where He was staying and possibly at Peter’s house. So many had gathered that there was no room in the house to hold them. But here we find Jesus preaching the Word to them, performing a miracle of healing and declaring He is God by forgiving the sins of the paralyzed man. This is one of many stories of a great miracle in the Bible. Let us look as some of the elements of the miraculous when God moves in people’s lives.
Elements of the miraculous.
1. People who experiences the miraculous, who experiences the miraculous touch of the Lord are people who move with a great deal of passion. People who are truly committed and no matter the cost to bring their personal needs or the needs of others to the Lord. The miraculous doesn't just happen in people's lives unless someone has a passion for it. Someone with a deep desire for God to do something. (v. 3-4)
2. For the miraculous to happen there needs to be a real sense of submission in our part. We must be willing to let God do it the way He wants to. In other words, letting the Lord perform the miracle His way.
  • The four men brought the paralyzed man, their friend to healed by Jesus, but Jesus forgave the man’s sin instead. I think these men did not bring this paralytic to get save, but to be able to walk again. I am sure there was confusion and even disappointment on these men’s part and maybe others present at the time when what they hoped for didn’t happen. But, we need to understand that God is far more concerned about the wholeness of our life than the health of our life. He is more concerned about the serious deep things in my life than the surface things. While we are good in discovering problems in our own life and even in others, God is good in discovering the greater need we have. That is, forgiving us of our sins and saving us. (v. 5)
3. For the miraculous to happen in our lives there needs to be a sense of obedience. You and I must listen to what Jesus is saying and then be willing to obey His commands and instructions. But make sure it is the Lord Jesus who is speaking. (v. 11-12)
4. Miracles stretches our faith. When we are to experience the miraculous, we will be stretched in our thinking. When things seem to not make sense, will I be willing to trust Jesus? (v. 6-10)
5. You and I cannot experience the miraculous without Jesus Christ!

God’s Restoring Love (Luke 24:13-35)

Luke 24:13-35
Have you as a disciple of Jesus experienced a time in life when you seemed to be faltering, unsure of what to do next and maybe even confused or discouraged at times? And yes, you still love the Lord, you still believe in Him, and you’re still loyal to Him but lost some hope or passion. I am sure some has if not all of us have experienced such a time or maybe even going through such a time today. Going through a time such as this, I can say that it is always so amazing to me how the Lord has such a capacity to come to us just at the right time and say to us the right things and touch us in just the right way.
As we see in our passage reading today two of Jesus’ followers who are sad because of the death of their Lord, disappointed and lost hope of Israel being redeemed. As they were walking back maybe to their place of residency and going back to what they use to do and know, going on their own way disappointed and sad, the Lord Jesus intersects them and confronts them. The Lord with His great love and compassion intersects their lives just at the very time when they did not know what to do and were troubled in their hearts. He intersects their path and begins to walk and talk with them. And when you and I walk with the Lord, it changes everything. When you recognize the Lord walks side by side with you there comes a sense of real strength. I don’t know about your experience, but it’s been true in mine.
1. We should be thankful and recognize that we serve a persistent Lord. (v. 15-17)
  • Jesus is concerned about what concerns us. One thing that is important to Him is to have our relationship with Him restored and healed. He also desires that our relationship with others that is broken be restored and healed. The problem with restoring relationship is there seem to be the tendency that we do not want to go to people and take the first step. But with God we see that He is the one that always comes to us, the one that intersects our lives even though we’re the one that has failed, we’re the one that has missed the mark. He is the one that always comes and wants restoration.
  • If you say, “Jesus be the Lord of my life,” He will be. Understand that when you commit to Him, it is a serious commitment. He takes it seriously and will not let anything get in the way of that relationship. He will pursue you. Even when you walk away from following Him, He will pursue you because He loves you.
2. We should be thankful and recognize that the timing of the Lord is perfect and right.
  • Jesus comes at the right time. We see in scripture Jesus going to certain people, certain times.
  • Jesus doesn’t just go anywhere to anybody on His own, but He goes where the Father wants Him to go. He is never doing it on His own but always in sync with His Heavenly Father.
3. We should be thankful and recognize the restoring love, restoring work of the Lord.
  • Why do people wander away from the Lord?
  • Christians once saved will most likely within a couple of years become nominal. They just can’t keep the fire going. Yes, this is not the case for everybody, but it is true of a lot of people. We often lose perspective why the Lord has called us. We find ourselves wanting to walk away from the Lord when things don’t work out our way. We still love the Lord, but it is just hard.
Questions I use to test if I am in a good place or a bad place in my life:
  • Would I rather be somewhere else than where I am right now? Would geography change me? Would I be happier if I am someplace else, doing something else?
  • Does my happiness come from outside sources? Is it going to take something else to make me happy? What is it that really brought joy to my life? Is Jesus enough or is it going to take something else to satisfy me?
  • Does the Lord have the right to do anything He wants with me? Or, is my relationship with Him have conditions?
It is wonderful to know that the Lord came to get His followers back on track. I believe this is one of the messages of this passage. Jesus came along side His followers and confronted, encouraged them back to a place of confidence where they come to realizing again that Jesus is the Lord God almighty.

The Father’s Love

“Whoever is wise, let him heed these things and consider the great love of the Lord (Psalm 107:43).” There is something about knowing that our lives rest in the arms of the Father who loves you and me, adopted us, chosen us, cares for us and has a purpose and a plan for us. Today may we consider and observe carefully how great God is and how good He is and that we have such a gracious, merciful and loving Father. When we carefully watch, observe and pay attention to the Father’s love for us, we will come to a better understanding and appreciation of it and its rewards and benefits in our personal lives.
1. God’s love is great. His love for us is vast and huge.
  • Psalm 103:11-12 “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far as He removed our transgressions from us.”
  • Psalm 36:5 “Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.”
  • How important it is for us to truly try and slow down from the busyness of life and remind ourselves of how much God loves us so much and so vast that we cannot measure it even if we tried. Remember, our Lord Jesus stretched out His arms and embraced you and me on the cross and gave His life for us. Compassion literally means to hug, to draw close and that is what Jesus did on the cross. He hugged you and me and brought us closer to Him by His great love.
2. God’s love is everlasting.
  • Jeremiah 31:3 “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.”
  • Today would you agree with me and honestly say that we live in a world marked by lack of steadfastness, a world marked by things changing frequently, especially regarding to one’s loyalties, interests, or affection. We live in a world that I think love is short-lived. It is wonderful to know that God’s love is never changing. Understand as well that God’s love arises out of Himself. There is nothing in me or in you to deserve it. His love begins and is purely out of Himself. There is nothing in you and me that attracts it, deserves it, or could even earn it. God’s love is simply given to us. His love is not based on performance. It is not altered by what I do. Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
3. God’s love is sacrificial.
  • John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”
  • John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
  • 1 John 3:16 “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.”
  • Our Heavenly Father gave His son to die for the penalty of our sins. And Jesus died that you and I might know His love today. Love is giving, and you cannot give more than your life for someone. Love is something that is seen in action and we see this in our Heavenly Father who is constantly looking to what He can do for us.
4. God’s love is amazing.
  • 1 John 3:1 “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God.”
  • God decided to call us children. He decided to adopt you and me. It is wonderful to know that He chose us. It is overwhelming to think that the Creator of the universe could love such a person like me amidst my imperfections. I am so glad that our Heavenly Father is not embarrassed or ashamed of us. He looks at you and me and sees us as sons and daughters. He is not afraid to let the world know that we are His.

The Father’s Goodness (Acts 12:1-17)

Acts 12:1-17
In the account of the Apostle Peter’s miraculous escape from prison I believe that we can conclude that he was thankful for the goodness of the Heavenly Father not simply on this one occasion but over his whole life. Today, I myself and I’m sure many other people have many things we are thankful for because the Lord has been so good in our lives. There are certain things we are called to do and are responsible for and that the Lord requires of us as His disciples. In all the things that we are to do we can find ourselves overwhelmed and in very difficult situations. But amidst these times there is something comforting that we can have in our heart that even though we are trying to do things and keep things level that we know that we can rest assure that our Heavenly Father is still in control. He is in control always and I believe that He is making sure that we end up doing what we need to be doing and end up where we need to be.
The Father’s Goodness (Acts 12:1-17).
1. God sees all my troubles. - He sees all my life and knows everything about me.
  • 1 Peter 3:12 “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are attentive to their prayer.” I believe Peter knew this promise during this time of hardship which gave rest and assurance in his heart and soul. We too can have this conviction that no matter what happens in our life there is a sense of great rest and assurance that we know God sees and knows what we are going through.
2. God hears our prayers.
  • When Peter got arrested, put in prison and his life is in danger, the early church earnestly, constantly prayed for him and believed that God was hearing their prayers. But how in the world can Peter be sleeping when he knows he is going to die the next morning? One reason we can see in scripture is that people were praying. Remember Peter was not just dosing here but he was sleeping. He was able to sleep because he believed and rested in the promises of God. He trusted on what God is going to do. When we do this, there will come a sense of confidence that enables us to sleep and rest during times of turmoil.
  • Genesis 4:25-26 is the account of the first-time people began to call on the Name of the Lord. Today we put more time, money and energy in things that we think is going to make a difference in our life instead of calling on the Lord.
  • Certainly, an ungodly person does not call on the Lord (Psalm 14:4). There are a lot of people who really think that it does not matter to call on God. Satan’s purpose is to get us not to call on God. He deceives us to thinking that we can figure things out and do things on our own. He gets us to buy into a false confidence that things will be well because we can fix and take care of things on our own instead of calling on the Name of the Lord our God.
3. God places value on you and me.
  • We need to realize that everything happening in Acts 12 is all about Peter. Why? It is because God thinks Peter has value. God priced him highly.
  • In Luke 12:6-7 and Matthew 10:29-31 it says that you are worth more than any sparrows. Understand that the people who sold the sparrows did not put any value on them, they meant nothing to them. But to the Lord the sparrows are a big deal, they are meaningful to Him. And then He says, “how much more valuable are you and me to Him?” Why do you think the Lord does things, miracles in our own lives? It is because He values us. Miracles happens because people are important to the Lord.
4. God is faithful.
  • In Acts 12:17 the Lord had brought Peter out of prison. The Lord delivers him from prison and from death.
  • Psalm 115 talks about the gods of this world who have mouths, but they can’t speak, ears but the can’t hear, eyes but they can’t see, hands but cannot do anything. They cannot help. There are times that we think our God can’t help and times when it seems that God is not faithful, we need to stop believing this lie because He is able and faithful.
  • Do you have a child or family in prison, who maybe has run away or disconnected or living in rebellion? Remember God is faithful, and if we would just call on His Name. He will hear us, and He is able.
We have a Heavenly Father who has given us more than we need. He is a Father who opens prison doors, sets the captive free, and brings about blessings and success. He is a Father who moves on our behalf and who does things we cannot do for ourselves. He is our Heavenly Father who sees all our troubles, all our needs, who hears our prayers, places value on us. He is our Heavenly Father who is faithful, so faithful to you and me that He will never leave us nor forsake us.

Ezekiel and the Valley of Dry Bones Prophecy (Ez 37:1-14)

Ezekiel 13:1-14
Ezekiel’s Four Purposes of Prophecy
  1. Proclaim the grievous sin of the Jewish nation which justified its captivity and judgment, illustrating that God was not unfaithful or powerless.
  2. Record the withdrawal of the Glory of God from the Temple before it’s destruction by Nebuchadnezzar, indicating that Israel, not God, was defeated by Nebuchadnezzar’s army.
  3. Proclaim the coming judgment of surrounding nations, illustrating that their gloating and mischief toward Israel during her defeat and captivity would not go unpunished.
  4. Proclaim the re-gathering and redemption of the people to their land at the end of the age, illustrating that their captivity was remedial punishment, and not permanent judgment, and that God will fulfill His promises to the patriarchs of old, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
God’s Question to Ezekiel:
“Son of man, can these bones live?”
God’s Command to Ezekiel:
“Prophesy to these bones…”
“Prophesy to the breath.”
God’s Explanation to Ezekiel:
“Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel.”

◦ What are the dry bones you are concerned about this morning?
◦ What is God saying to you, this morning, about those dry bones?
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