“And they came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” Then He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water. And they ceased, and there was a calm. But He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and marveled, saying to one another, “Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him!”’
Luke 8: 24 & 25
When our lives begin to spiral out of control our first instinct is to start questioning. Why is this happening to me? What did I do wrong? How can I fix this? These are all questions that may make sense to us in the moment, but where is our faith in the Lord? He is the One who sees and knows the bigger picture. When the disciples were on the boat and the storm was raging before them, filling their boat with water they started to panic. Not only did they forget that Jesus was with them, but they forgot their faith in Him.
We often times forget that God is in control of everything that happens in our lives. On the boat with His disciples, Jesus rebuked the wind and the water and immediately the storm ceased. What is the wind and water in our life that is making our faith falter? We need to remember that God is in control, He protects our hearts, and He knows our name. The Lord commands the storms in our life, we just need to put our faith in Him and know that He never leaves us, He’s right next to us and will always protect us.
And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.”
As the clock ticks down to the New Year, most of us will be making New Year’s resolutions. A lot of these resolutions will be related to things like weight loss, reading more, or bettering ourselves in some way or another. Though all of these are great resolutions, I want to challenge you to take on a different resolution, a resolution to live for Christ. Each day brings us closer to the imminent return of Jesus Christ. Though we don’t know the day or hour what we do know is that there is a clock ticking closer to that time. It’s time for us to wake up! We need to stop living for ourselves and start living for the kingdom of God.
Let’s set a goal to live each day with the knowledge that every moment that passes brings us closer to Jesus’ return. What does this look like? If we continue to read Romans 13 verses 13 and 14 tell us, “Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.” We spend so much time working on our outward appearance, doing what we want and living for the desires of our flesh that we forget to clothe ourselves with Christ.
Let’s focus on being prepared this New Year, I don’t know about you, but when the Lord returns I want to be ready. 2 Peter 3:10 and 11 tells us, “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives.” Let’s make Christ our New Year’s resolution looking forward to His return and living in a way that is pleasing to Him!
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
1 Peter 4:10
What are your gifts of service? They can be anything as long as we use them in the name of the Lord. My personal gift of service is cooking. You may think, how is cooking an act of service? Well, food can be a very powerful tool, it feeds others, brings family and friends together and a meal can even help a stranger in need. Jesus used food in His ministry on earth in so many ways as well, He broke bread with His disciples, He fed the crowd of 5,000 with only 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread, and He even served His disciples breakfast in John 21. You may think that the gifts that you have aren’t a service to the Lord, but they are. He made you unique, there are so many different kinds of gifts like teaching, hospitality, kindness, mercy, leadership, and so many more! As long as we use our gifts that God gave us to serve Him, we are being faithful stewards of God’s grace. Colossians 3:17 says, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” How are you using your gifts of service to serve the Lord? If you’re unsure what your gifts are, pray and ask Jesus to reveal the gifts that you have so that you can start to use them to serve Him.
When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.
Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.
Luke 5: 8-11
What does it mean to be a disciple for Christ? In our verse, Peter saw the miracle that Jesus performed by casting out his net after catching nothing all day, throwing it back in at the command of Jesus and God overfilling his net with thousands of fish. He immediately knew this was God’s work through Jesus and fell to his knees in reverence, recognizing his own sinfulness before Jesus’ holiness. Jesus didn’t condemn him, He accepted Peter with open arms and simply asked for Peter to follow Him, and he did. Peter, James and John left everything they had, their life work was dedicated to fishing and they left it all on the shore to follow Jesus. This is discipleship. Jesus became the priority in their life; all that mattered was following Him.
We have so many things that hold us back from making Jesus the number one priority in our lives. Jesus says not to be afraid. He knew it would be hard for Peter to give up those things that were in the way of making Him a priority. Peter chose forgiveness, he chose to leave those roadblocks that kept him from the Lord and wanted to be a fisher of men to give others the opportunity to know who Jesus is so they too could follow Him. Are there any roadblocks in your life that is keeping you from making Jesus a priority? Are you afraid to relinquish having full control over your life and fully trusting in God? Stop and pray right now and ask the Lord to make known the areas of your life that is holding you back from a deeper relationship with God. Ask Him to help you make Him a priority and to help you to fully trust in His perfect will.
“The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways, but a good man will be satisfied from above.”
Have you ever gone on a diet? I have, many times, but there is always that moment when I’m three or four days into eating healthy where I think “Well, I’ve been so good that it won’t hurt if I eat a tiny cookie.” Sure enough, the cookie turns into 2 cookies and 2 cookies turns into, “I’ll start my diet again next week”. This is exactly how backsliding works. The Webster’s dictionary definition of “backsliding” means to revert to a worse condition. We have all done this at some point in our lives in different ways, reverting back to old habits. The saying goes old habits die hard and that is absolutely true.
Before we became a Christian, we were set in our own ways, doing what was satisfying to us. We lived in a self-evolving world, but when we accepted Christ into our lives everything changed. No longer were we living for ourselves, but for Jesus Christ. It doesn’t mean that it becomes easy not to backslide and revert back to old habits, we have to work at it, but that doesn’t mean we have to do it alone. It requires fully relying on God to get us through, if we take it into our own hands we will always fail. God wants us to trust that His ways will be satisfying enough for us. 2 Samuel 22:31 says, “As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him.”
Let God be your shield, pray and ask Him to protect your heart and mind from reverting back into old ways. Ask Him to show you His ways so that you can walk in them, ask Him to be your shield and guide. God’s ways are perfect; our heart will be satisfied in His hands.
“Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power.”
2 Thessalonians 1: 11
What does it mean to live worthy of the calling? We are all sinners and we all fall short of God’s glory, but are we doing everything we can to live our lives for Jesus Christ on a daily basis? Living worthy of the calling is living day to day in a manner that’s pleasing to God. That means that every word that comes out of our mouth and every action we take brings glory to His name.
As humans, it’s easy for us to give up on something when it’s too challenging or throw in the towel when we mess up, but God knows that we aren’t perfect. We will fail more times than we can count, but the question is do we pick ourselves back up, ask the Lord for help and try again or do we simply give up? 1 Timothy 6:12 says, “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold onto eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” We are constantly going to have to fight for the Lord against what satan puts into our path. We are striving for His perfection, even though we will never attain it, we try as hard as we can to live for Him. That is what makes us worthy of the calling living in a manner that’s pleasing to God’s benevolence.
“My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord; In the morning I will direct it to You, And I will look up.”
How do you start out your morning? Most of us have a busy day ahead of us, so we are rushing to get prepared. The best way we can prepare for our day is by spending time in prayer with God. Before our day begins, before we even get out of bed, the most important thing in our morning should be talking to our Lord and Savior.
By starting out our morning with God, we dedicate our day to Him. We lay all of our activities before His feet and ask for Him to glorify them. We ask that He guide us in the right directions, so that every choice we make throughout the rest of the day He is right there with us when we make decisions. Every day is a gift from God; it is His day, not ours. We should be asking Him to bless our day so He can guide us through every situation we encounter.
Our verse says at the end, “And I will look up.” We should be looking up, seeking the Lord, and letting Him prepare our day for us.
“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.”
1 Chronicles 16:34
This is one of my favorite verses because it’s so simple, yet it can be so impactful when it comes to our prayers. Giving thanks to God should be a huge portion of our prayer life. Often times we get so wrapped up in our petitions and transgressions that we forget to give thanks to our God Almighty. There may be times where we feel like there’s nothing to be thankful for, but God blesses us in so many ways each day. Sometimes they’re more obvious blessings like an answer to prayer, a new baby, or a promotion at work. And sometimes they’re ones we don’t often notice like our daily meals, safe travels or even a smile that brightened up the day.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Under all circumstance we should be thankful, not just the times when everything in our lives is going our way, but in the times of hardship and trials too. No matter what, we can always give thanks for God’s love for us. Our verse says that His love endures forever, it’s a love that never fails. My challenge for you this week is to start each prayer out by thanking God for your home, your family, His love and for anything else that He puts on your heart. Let’s show Him our love by thanking Him for His.
“Then He said to His disciples, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing.”
Luke 12:23 & 24
Living in this economy today, its hard not to worry about what your next meal might be or how you are going to pay your next mortgage bill. You almost want to respond to God by saying, “What do you mean not to worry?” In these verses, Jesus is saying to His disciples to trust Him. He is the ultimate Provider. Worrying about your life not only gives satan a foothold, but it also shows a lack of faith in the Almighty God. We are His children, He will always provide for us with what we need, but not always with what we want. If our priorities are focused on doing God’s will, then that is going to overpower any worries we may have because God is greater.
So, how do we turn our worry into reassurance? We pray to our God who provides. Psalm 34: 4 says, ” I sought the Lord, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears.” If you have any worries in your life right now, whether it be work, financial issues, physical ailments or anything else that has you stressed out or worried, stop and pray. God hears and He will give you that reassurance that He is in control and that we can put our trust in Him.
Set up signposts, Make landmarks; Set your heart towards the highway, The way in which you went. Turn back O virgin of Israel, Turn back to these your cities.
Sometimes we get off track. We start to stray from the path we’re on because we get distracted. Whether it’s from work, social activities, fitness goals, or even just the hustle and bustle of everyday life, these are some of the few distractions that can keep us from spending time with Jesus. Sometimes we don’t even realize that we are off track until our life slows down at the end of the day we ask ourselves when is the last time I’ve spent time talking with God?
In our verse of the day, Jeremiah is trying to tell the people of Israel to get on the right track, to turn their hearts back to the Lord. Obviously this isn’t always easy without a little reminder. He says to set up signposts and to make landmarks that will point them in the right direction. We should do the same. Waking up 30 minutes early or setting a reminder on your phone to read your daily devotions can help remind you to take that time out of your day to set aside
for the Lord. Eventually the reminder won’t be needed, it will just become a natural part of your day. Instead of listening to music on your way to work take that time to pray.
Setting up little changes that will act as a reminder will help us keep our feet on the right path. What signposts and landmarks are we setting up in our life to help us stay on God’s path?