Friday, August 25, 2017

In the Midst of the Storm


A brief miracle was going to take place on this dark and stormy night when Jesus sent His disciples to sea knowing He was sending them … out into the storm.  And as far as I know, it never happened again.

Peter walked on water.

You remember the story in Matthew 14:22-33 … Peter sees Jesus walking past them on the water, right in the middle of the storm, where He sent them, and Peter asks Jesus if he can do the same thing.     
 
Is there a life lesson here?  Yes, there is … one most people don't want to hear about.
  
It's that God also arranges for us to encounter the storms in life just as His disciples did.  And when we are out on that stormy sea, if we start to sink and cry out to Jesus as Peter did … "Lord save me" … you may hear the very same thing Peter heard.

"O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" 

The word doubt used here is "distazo" and it means … to duplicate or think twice, to waver mentally.

Peter was walking on the water just fine until he started looking around.  "But when he saw the wind …" 

How did Peter see the wind?  He didn't.  The word saw is "blep'o" and means "to become aware" … in this case, aware of the waves the wind was making; which by the way had nothing to do with being able to walk on water.  They were not giving him buoyancy; they were not holding him up. 

They were in fact a distraction that caused him to take his eyes off Jesus … where the miracle power really came from.  The power came from God, but the faith or lack of it was all Peter's … proven by the fact that Jesus didn't sink, Peter did.

What if the storm was but a test, (as it is many times with us) a life lesson to show Peter how much real faith he had.  Peter had real faith or he couldn't have walked on water.  

It was Peter's trust in Jesus that allowed him to believe that if his Lord told him, "Come, step out of the boat and … do what I'm doing … walking on water," he believed he could.  Peter believed Jesus would never tell him to do something he couldn't do, so without thinking twice, he just went for it by faith.   

Stepping out of the boat was not what got him in trouble.  It was simply this … after receiving the Word from the Lord, "Come, walk with me," and after acting on it, Peter had a "distazo" moment.  He wavered mentally and thought twice about where he was and what he was doing … but only after he was walking on water. 

So what if it was contrary to the laws of nature.  Was he not doing what his Lord had given him permission to accomplish?  Did you notice the words Jesus later used to describe Peter?  "O you of little faith."

The two words little faith is "oligopistos" meaning incredulous … something you are not naturally disposed to.  This word oligopistos comes from the Greek word "oligos" meaning … puny or brief.

This life lesson is not about "great faith."  It's about … "puny, brief faith."  And isn't it true that he had enough of this puny, brief faith to walk on water. 

If the Greek rendering of "little faith" is right, it also says that we are not naturally disposed to even this puny faith.  I'm not speaking of doubt and unbelief which is opposite of faith.  The word doubt in the question Jesus asked Peter is really not the right translation of the word.  As I stated earlier, it is "distazo" meaning to think twice, to waver mentally.

When you ask something of the Lord … the first word you receive will be from the Lord.  The second word or thought that makes you "think twice" will be Satan trying to take away the word of God that was sown in your heart and replace it with a lie or half truth.  Satan is a master at manipulating your thoughts. 
     
So how does he do it?  With a "distazo" moment … he causes you to "think twice" and you waver.  Satan wants you to take your eyes off Jesus and see only the storm around you exactly as Peter did.  If Satan can just get you to look around, "to become aware" of the distractions that usually come with the storm, then your faith will be brief  … and you will give up.


I have found that most miracles happen in the midst of the storm.


Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Second Greatest Sin Ever Committed



As man, we tend to rank sin.  I don’t believe God does.  Missing the mark, breaking God’s laws, big sin, little sin … it doesn’t matter … sin is sin.

But even so, I’ve been thinking about what I believe may have been the two greatest sins ever committed by man.  I’m not sure how to rank them as first and second.

So I’m going to say that the sin committed by Eve, while  she was still in the Garden of Eden … by virtue of being the first sin which resulted in the fall of man spiritually, gets to claim that honor or dishonor as it may be.

Also, another outgrowth from that original sin, gave Satan … as Eve’s tempter … the power to become, "the god of this world." 

Looking next for the second worst or second greatest sin ever committed by man is a relatively easy choice at least for me.  He’s the one person that Jesus said in Matthew 26:24 … "it would have been better for this man had he never been born." 

This man is … Judas.

Part of the Judas story of betrayal is found in John 13:2-30 … "And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray Him ..."

"Having now put betrayal into the heart of Judas"  The meaning of this passage is that Satan "inclined" the mind of Judas to do this, made him feel willing or favorably disposed to sell Him out ... Satan tempted him to betray the Lord.

Satan can tempt no one unless there is some inclination of the mind, some natural tendency or propensity; a disposition to behave in a certain way, something naturally born in our flesh that he can make use of.  Satan can present temptations of all types fitted to the propensity that he already knows about in each individual's soul, which is tied closer to the flesh than to the spirit; and because he is already under the influence of a strong inherent inclination to do so … then man yields to this personal temptation.  

In the case of Judas this propensity was … the love of money … and it was necessary only to present to him the possibility of obtaining money, and it found him ready and willing to "betray" Jesus.

Satan's end game in this temptation was to work upon Judas "to betray" Christ into the hands of His enemies, in order to put Him to death.  All of this was known by Jesus, which He prophesied to His disciples that one of them would betray Him; yet it was an action which one would think, could never have entered into the heart of Judas … had not the devil put it there.
  
Judas was an apostle of Christ's; and from this we should all learn even the highest office, and greatest gifts, cannot keep men from the temptations of Satan.  The manner in which he tempted him was this … Satan "put" which means "cast" a fiery dart into his very heart (thoughts or mind); which shows the access Satan has into, and the influence he has upon … the minds of men. 

Wasn't this temptation of Judas just about the same as Satan's temptation of Eve in the Garden 4,000 years earlier?  With both, he planted new thoughts and lies in their minds.  Satan’s game plan hasn’t changed in 6,000 years.  He is still temping man in the very same way today as then. 

When men can sin, knowing that God sees it all, it shows that the heart is fully set in them to do evil, and there is nothing that will restrain them from sin.  God will not interfere with a man's choice, with a man's free will.  This is why there is so much evil in the world today, just as then.  

Judas was "free" to do his evil deed ... and he did.






Wednesday, August 9, 2017

A Conversation With God



It was a normal Sunday morning worship service with music and singing.  But for me, about half way through the singing and praise portion that usually starts the service, I found myself no longer listening to the worship team leading us in worship.  In fact I wasn’t singing or even entering in any worship at all.  

I will confess that I was there physically, but spiritually, in my soul, there wasn’t much going on.  I’m not sure how to describe my feelings or my attitude.  I suppose I could attribute who I was that morning and how I felt on the fact that I sometimes feel somewhat melancholy ... not really sad or pensive ... perhaps a little depressed, but if I was down for some reason, I don’t remember why.

Sometimes people just feel blaaaah.  That’s more then just blah.  So that was me that day.  Feeling blah.

I heard the music and the singing ... but then I heard these words deep in my soul.  The words were softly spoken, but very clear as they cut through the music and singing.  

I knew instantly who was speaking to me.  The same voice had spoken to me before.  It was the Holy Spirit.  May I go so far and say ...  it was the heart and soul of the “Spirit of Christ” speaking directly unto my spirit and soul.

But this was a first for me.  Not just hearing His voice ... this was the first and only time that the Lord’s Spirit and my spirit actually held a conversation together.

My mouth didn’t form my answers to His questions verbally ... I wasn’t speaking out loud ... but rather I heard my own voice as I talked to Him from within my spirit and soul, the very same place, from which I heard His voice.

The dialog went something like this …


“Carl, what’s wrong?”

Nothing.

“Why aren't you raising your hands like you usually do?”

I don’t feel like it I guess.

“Why don’t you feel like it?”

I don’t know.

“Do you know why you should raise your hands when you worship?”

No, not really.

“Because you can!”
   


The answer as to why we should raise our hands really hit home to me.  I have the physical ability to do just that.  I know a man who can’t physically raise his arms or even move his hands anymore.  He can’t walk either.

He used to be a strong and healthy man fifteen or twenty years ago.  But over time through an unknown type of nerve disease, he slowly lost all ability to move any of his limbs.

Because you can!”  

Enough said.  Those three words have never left me.

It's ... hands raised and arms wide open for me now.

What is the old saying?  

"But for the Grace of God ... there go I."

   

Comments are welcome.