Archive for March, 2019

Truth in Giving

Thursday, March 28th, 2019

Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again (Luke 6:38, KJV).

God’s Ideal Plan

God has a true ideal and specific plan for giving in His Word. Many have misconceptions about what giving entails. Giving is to make over or bestow without receiving a return; it’s all about releasing and letting go, especially in the area of our finances. We must realize that giving is much deeper than a transaction. It’s the surest way we’ll gain in God’s kingdom as we’re blessed more in giving than receiving (Acts 20:35).

Nature of Giving

God’s very nature is comprised of giving. Because we’re made in His image, we’re designed to give. Since the Garden of Even, God has given man the choice to give, but our sinful nature doesn’t like to give but hold back resources. But, giving is really just an extension of  what God’s already placed inside of us and made us to be! God calls us to exemplify our giving via tithes and offerings. Tithing is giving a tenth of our income. Man is given 9/10 to manage and instructed to give God 1/10. Tithing is in no way shape or form a cold act of obedience, it’s a relational act of worship. When we don’t give to God, we’re withholding worship. We must realize the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. Nothing belongs to us, God lets us keep 90%!

Biblical History of Tithing

God put giving in the heart of His people long before the law to give was dictated and recorded. Abraham commenced the idea of tithing in Scripture (Genesis 14:18–20). He gave tithes of all; no one taught him, he just did it. Jacob continued this practice (Genesis 28:22). He gave a tenth to God. Continuing in Scripture, we see how Moses commanded to the children of Israel (Leviticus 27:30). He taught them that the tithe belonged to the Lord. Malachi later confirmed tithing (Malachi 3:10). In the New Testament, Jesus commended it (Matthew 23:23). While He began in chiding the Pharisees, He still noted we should tithe. In seeing all of these examples in Scripture, who are we to cancel it?

Tithing has Definite Consequences

While tithing is important, it has consequences if we choose to abide or abstain. On the whole, when we don’t tithe or give offerings we will have robbed God (Malachi 3:8–11). When we rob someone, we take something that doesn’t belong to us. Scripture tells us thieves will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The tithe isn’t ours, it belongs to God. It’s never up to a human make his or her decision to pay or not pay a tithe. God won’t take it; He expects us to return it to signify His Lordship over our finances.

Negative Consequences

There are negative consequences when we don’t follow the Biblical law of tithing. If we don’t return our tithe, we’re cursed with a curse (Malachi 3:9). Everything we put our hand to will not prosper or we’ll have to work much harder to accomplish anything. We’ll also lose the protection of God to keep the devourers from taking our blessing. Everything we don’t have control over, God will no longer hold things back.

Positive Consequences

It’s not God’s will that we live in financial struggle our entire life. There are also positive consequences of giving! When we’re obedient in the tithe, God will bless us over and over again. When we give to God’s Kingdom and it’s blessed, we’ll be blessed. We’ll receive a blessing we can’t contain; we’ll have more than enough. We need to honor the Lord will all our increase (Proverbs 3:9).

Steps in God’s Financial Plan

In addition to giving, God has an entire financial plan He wants us to follow. Most financial problems people have is because they’re not following God’s plan to manage the resources He’s placed in their life. We need to be responsible with the physical materials God gives us or He can’t trust us with spiritual things. How we manage our money has eternal implications; therefore, we need to change our financial strategy!

To change how we manage our money, we need to start by giving. After we’ve established our ability to give, we need to evaluate and know where we’re at with our finances (Proverbs 27:23). We should be aware of our assets, what we owe, what we earn, etc. Afterward, we should have a plan (budget) for our spending (Proverbs 21:5). Good planning and hard work will ensure we have enough. A budget will help us curb impulse spending. It’s also important that we save for the future (Proverbs 21:20). We’re foolish if we spend everything we have! Remain diligent in saving until Jesus comes back for His church. Lastly, enjoy we need to be content and enjoy what we have (Ecclesiastes 6:9).

Principle of Contentment

Better is a house of contentment than a house full of sacrifice and strife (Proverbs 17:1). When our finances are a mess, we’re discontent with what we have in life, we’re distracted by surmounting bills, etc. we can’t do the work of the Kingdom of God. How can we focus on Him and spiritual assets when we’re distracted and distraught in physical assets? We need to be content with what we have because what we have is owned by Jesus. God has promised never to leave or forsake us. If we need something, He’ll get it.

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on March 27, 2019 with Pastor Nave

On Endless Repeat

Wednesday, March 27th, 2019

My sisters and I always had a song on our heart growing up. What began as a mental melody would catalyze into a vocalized version before long. Therefore, “singspirations” were commonplace in our home, especially in the kitchen or on the backyard swing set.

A heart made merry with music brought joy to all most of the time, but it posed 2 trepidations for my Dad. One, when all three daughters were in songbird mode, we never sang the same song at the same time, ever. We each walked—literally—to the tune of a different song. My Dad’s tolerance in listening to 3 different songs sung simultaneously wasn’t high (and I don’t blame him).

And two, our hummed, whistled, or belted warbles were typically of the Disney kind. The kids running around now-a-days chirping Frozen songs pale in comparison to the redundant chanting of our treble-trio. The end result? The famed Disney song became stuck in my Dad’s head for the remainder of the day on infinite repeat. This didn’t bode well for him especially when he was caught mid-whistle by a coworker and asked how many times he’d seen Robin Hood.

I take partial responsibility for the nature of the content that became lodged in my Dad’s mind. I don’t take responsibility, however, for his office performance. And furthermore, I don’t take ownership for the innate capability mankind has to sing a song on endless repeat. Our family had a dinner table conference about the first item, my Dad had a self-conference the second, but item three, my Dad had to take that up with God.

But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night (Psalms 1:2, KJV).

I heard a brother in our church mention one time that our “stuck-on-repeat” conundrum was really a purposefully programmed featured by our Creator. Yes, it comes in handy when you’re trying to remember a to-do list, and less welcomed when you’re trying to hum your way out of an annoying song. But, we have it for one true purpose—to remember and meditate on the Word of God all day and night, on infinite repeat, over and over again.

This may not sound like the best human quality, especially if you’ve spent the last month in Disney rehab trying to detox from “Let it Go.” But, God created us with the ability to remember His Word, so it can shape and frame our every thought and action.

When I get a song stuck in my head, not only am I thinking about it all day long, but I speak it (when answering a question, type it as a part of an email correspondence, text it on my phone, and yes—drift into humming the song at some point during my day. You read the beginning of this post, right? (I am my father’s daughter.)

But, how awesome is this feature when we use it the right way, with God’s Word? His Word consumes our thoughts and becomes the first thing we think about, the first thing we say, or how we craft our responses. The Words transform into a song of praise and thanksgiving to our God all day long. This is how His praise can continually be upon our lips (Psalms 34:1).

And my favorite part—it exudes from us subconsciously. When you have that much of God inside, it can’t help but escape. We might not be aware of it, but our coworkers notice, our families notice, our classmates notice, and all the world will notice. And His Word will never embarrass us!

Let your internal record-player run on endless repeat today. Get “stuck” on the Word of God and let it manifest in every area of your life again and again.

The Danger of Compromise

Sunday, March 24th, 2019

Job 2:1–10 // Watch Service Online

The Guise of Compromise

Compromise is giving up something to get something. The goal is to get at least as much or more than what you give up. But, for many who engage in compromise it doesn’t work this way. Compromise is positive in the business world, marriages, etc. However, when it comes to our spiritual character, it dismantles it completely.

The Condition of Compromise

Compromise is in the heart of every human because we all have flesh to contend with. At the right moment, compromise will surface. This is an inevitable fact because our power of choice. Sometimes we know we’re giving in, but usually, realization sets in when the damage has already been done. The one defense we have against compromise is our character.

Why We Compromise

We compromise because of comfort and convenience. We give into vices and weaknesses in our life. Others compromise because they’re in conflict. They think they “deserve” something because of the pain they’re in. Some compromise due to companionship. There’s a draw from someone who has our affection. Whether we realize it or not, areas of compromise will always become a decision of our character.

Evidence of Compromise

Seeing Gaps

When we start seeing gaps between our personal and public lives, compromise exists. Additionally, when we can’t tell the truth because it’s too “damaging” to us, we’ve compromised in our life. People will try to brush off evidence of compromise by becoming a hypocrite. Hypocrisy is easy to spot in other people, and easy to forgive in ourselves. We judge others by actions, but ourselves by intentions—what we meant to do. We need to get to a place where we can examine ourselves and determine if there’s compromise we need to deal with.

Hiding

Compromise always leads to cover-up. When we start to hide things and dwell in darkness, we’ve compromised (John 3:19). If we sneak around in our marriages, hide things from our employers, or avoid our brothers and sisters in Christ, we’ve invited compromise into our lives. We need to pray that God helps us to expose our actions, motives, and our hearts. We need to stop hiding and live in the light!

Justified

When we start making excuses for our behavior from what is right, compromise has set in. We think we’re a special case and that we live outside the law of God and His expectations. If anyone had an “excuse,” it was Job, but he still maintained his integrity and didn’t compromise in his beliefs.

Job’s Refusal to Compromise

This was round 2 of Job’s trials. In the first chapter of Job, he’d already lost his children, property, possessions, and his overall wealth. Yet, in the end, he’s still maintaining his integrity. Job examined his life and what he’d lose if he gave up on God. He determined in his heart that what God had done for him was far greater than compromise (I Corinthians 6:19).

God can change our lives in a moment of time and demonstrate the height of His power. After we’ve experienced the change and His power, we must live and practice it for the rest of our lives. God has given us the ability to live the changed life forever! We cannot keep ourselves from compromise just from what we experiences in church services alone.

Closeness Combats Compromise

The devil tried to attack Job’s day-to-day life to make him crumble and then then attacked his physical body. He thought Job would sell out if he was affected personally. But, Job had a close, consistent relationship with God that kept him from compromising truth when it tried to creep in. Job’s intimate relationship with God had helped him see who God was. God had the power to give and to take away. And, because of the relationship, He chose to worship God over everything else. Relationship was more important than compromise.

The Inside Job

We all need to get something on the inside that will manifest on the outside when compromise is at our door. God’s Spirit will empower us to make the right decisions not just in a moment, but day-by-day. The Holy Ghost will change our actions, thoughts, and words. If we’re struggling with compromise today, it’s time to find a place of repentance, and activate God’s Spirit in our life. He will help us overcome, maintain our integrity, and say goodbye to compromise.

Ready to Serve

Wednesday, March 20th, 2019

When I was much younger, my grandparents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Our family partnered with relatives to orchestrate a party to honor this momentous occasion. For a 13-, 11-, and 7-year old, enduring a long day filled with unfamiliar faces and boring conversations was mere torture.

So, to keep ourselves occupied, our parents had us clear away dishes from the guests. With the constant turnover every 20 minutes, we wanted to keep my Aunt and Uncle’s home looking nice and fresh.

My middle sister and I were fairly observant and appropriately offered to relieve guests from his/her rubbish. But, our youngest sibling wasn’t adequately schooled in dish-clearing decorum. She was on the lookout for any object no longer in a guest’s hand. If someone took a drink and momentarily placed their glass down, by the time they turned around to retrieve it again, it was gone. I knew something wasn’t right when piles of half-eaten cake appeared in the kitchen.

Our family laughs about this event all the time. Looking back, my sister had the wrong technique but the right mentality.

And when the servants of David were come to Abigail to Carmel, they spake unto her, saying, David sent us unto thee, to take thee to him to wife. And she arose, and bowed herself on her face to the earth, and said, Behold, let thine handmaid be a servant to wash the feet of the servants of my lord. And Abigail hasted, and arose, and rode upon an ass, with five damsels of hers that went after her; and she went after the messengers of David, and became his wife (I Samuel 25:40–42, KJV).

David and 400 of his men spent some time in Carmel. While in the fields, they graciously extended help to the Nabal’s servants. They ensured no danger or hurt came to them or their flocks. However, when David and his men needed a few supplies, Nabal refused to help them in return.

Nabal was married to Abigail who was a woman of good understanding (I Samuel 25:3). When she discovered her husband had turned David’s men away, she quickly arose, and began to send provisions to the camp. She sent what she could in various droves, and then followed herself to serve David—a beautiful example of servant-leadership (I Samuel 25:23).

Abigail was willing to serve and extend hospitality even before she learned how David helped protect her husband’s assets. She acted quickly—sending provisions on to the men even before everything was ready. She may not have been able to provide the perfectly-timed spread, but she did what she could and what she knew to do. Later, when Abigail’s husband died, David jumped at the opportunity to marry her. Why? Because Abigail had a servant’s heart. When she was called, she was again ready to serve.

What a testimony to Abigail. She pleased David—a man after God’s own heart (I Samuel 13:14)—because she was willing to serve. She may not have done it according to the standards in Better Homes & Gardens, but she did have the right spirit. It’s one we all need to possess and manifest in our Christian walk every day.

My youngest sister had this same mindset when she served all those years ago: that of a servant. A servant’s heart/mindset is what pleased David and it also pleases God. We need to ask the Lord to help us have a mind and heart to serve every day. We may not do it 100% right all the time, but God’s not looking for us to serve perfectly, just to have a perfect servant-heart.

Among the Stuff

Wednesday, March 13th, 2019

I dread the month of January at work. Why? Yearly performance reviews. It’s not that I have bad reviews (thank the Lord!) but hearing someone review my work in a positive light makes me utterly uncomfortable. I see all of my flaws and wonder how in the world could my supervisor see what I do as meeting the needs of the company? How am I qualified to receive such a good review?

So, during review-season, I try to make myself scarce. But, inevitably, my supervisor always finds me. There are only so many places in an office building you can go before you run out of hiding places (the bathroom isn’t even a place of sanctity anymore…).

When [Samuel] had caused the tribe of Benjamin to come near by their families, the family of Matri was taken, and Saul the son of Kish was taken: and when they sought him, he could not be found. Therefore they enquired of the LORD further, if the man should yet come thither. And the LORD answered, Behold, he hath hid himself among the stuff. And they ran and fetched him thence: and when he stood among the people, he was higher than any of the people from his shoulders and upward. And Samuel said to all the people, See ye him whom the LORD hath chosen, that there is none like him among all the people? And all the people shouted, and said, God save the king (I Samuel 10:21–24, KJV).

Apparently, I’m not the only one who takes to hiding. In the Old Testament, the prophet Samuel told Saul he would be anointed king over Israel. But, when Saul returned home and gave a report regarding his encounter, he failed to mention this tiny detail about his foretold royalty (I Samuel 10:16).

When Samuel assembled the tribes of Israel to announce their new king, lo and behold, Saul was missing. He didn’t just forget the meeting, he was hiding among “the stuff” (I Samuel 10:22). Saul didn’t think he was worthy to be called by God to be king, so he went into hiding—hoping God and the prophet Samuel would forget all about it.

I laughed when I read how Saul was hiding behind some stuff because this seems to be a commonality among God’s people…

How many of us, when we’re called by God to complete a work, think we’re unworthy to do it? In trying to run from our calling, ministry, or task, we also like to hide behind some stuff. Our stuff can be a busy schedule, character flaws, timing, relationships, or even personality. For example, if you don’t like being in the limelight, you’re a prime candidate to be called into it. God will exalt the humble (Matthew 23:12) and use those who think they’re unworthy.

Let me tell you a secret—we’re all unworthy and we’re all not good enough to be used by God or in His Kingdom. But, He makes us worthy, qualified, and good enough. There’s no need to hide because God’s called us for a reason and will equip us to do the work. If we’re not obedient, He’ll start to remove stuff from our lives, so we run out of excuses and things to hide behind.

If you haven’t read the Bible lately, it tells us a few things: we’re a chosen generation, royal priesthood, holy nation, and a peculiar people (I Peter 2:9). We’ve been called out from among everyone else to be separate and to do God’s work (II Corinthians 6:17). We need to listen for God’s voice and respond to it when we’re called (John 10:27). What a wonderful reminder!

If you’re called, do the work, and do it unto the Lord (Colossians 3:23). If you get praised for it, be humble and give the glory to the One who really deserves it. Don’t hide among the stuff in your life. Come out before God calls you out and see what amazing things He has in store for you to do.

Save Your Family

Sunday, March 10th, 2019

Watch Service Online

And the men said unto Lot, Hast thou here any besides? son in law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring them out of this place: For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the LORD; and the LORD hath sent us to destroy it (Genesis 19:12–13, KJV).

The Values of Our God

There is a spiritual battle warring all around us and we must protect our loved ones from it. In this battle, culture is trying to reshape our personal values, telling us to put God and His Word second on our list of priorities. But, He must lead our lives, and we need to abolish any mindset that tries to convince us otherwise.

During the sermon on the Mount, Jesus spoke against the norms of the world (Matthew 5:21–22). He revealed the culture of the world can set certain ideologies, but they aren’t the definition and values of His Kingdom. It’s vitally important we know the distinction of godly vs. worldly values and separate ourselves from them! The ways of God are high and difficult to reach, but they are worth obtaining. Satan likes to trick us into being less of a person than God has called us to be. He wants us to settle for being better than the world but not everything that God wants us to be. This doesn’t work and isn’t God’s will.

Lot was constantly drawn in to the world around him and had a blend of godly values with earthly values. If we are not careful, we can trade the absolute ideal with something that’s “good enough.” Scripture tells us the world will become worse and worse. The enemy is trying harder to deceive the world and get us farther from the truth. This should wake us up to the realization that we should be more different that those around us! We must be separate.

Steps to Save Our Family

Angels told Lot to 1) save his family from their culture, 2) don’t dwell in the low places, and 3) when heading toward safety, don’t turn back. We need to lead our families in this discourse now so they will follow us when it counts later in life. Heed this lesson from Lot’s life: when he tried to warn his family, they didn’t take him seriously (Genesis 19:14). Taking these steps with our families count every day; our consistency will partner with God to save our families.

Save from the Culture

The first assignment was for Lot to save his family from the culture. The way we can do this is by separating our home from the world and making sure there is godly distinction and leadership therein. The Lord should be the center of everything that happens in our life and our homes. If we follow Jesus, He will never lead us astray. When our home is saturated with the Lord’s presence, it will be contagious to all the inhabitants.

Don’t Dwell in the Low Places

Secondly, Lot was instructed not to dwell in low places. We’re all touched by low places comprised of the sorrows and pain in our life. We don’t feel the same way all the time and this can cause friction in our families. But, we can’t stop and stay in the low places because it’s too close to judgment; too close to the culture. We can’t abide in our mistakes because they will mold and shape the future of our families.

Don’t Look Back

We must save our families without ever looking back to the way of the world. We know Jesus works, and therefore, shouldn’t look to the world to be the center of our marriage and families. We can hold onto the Lord and He will bring us out of every situation. Jesus warned the church judgment is coming. God will take His people out and destroy the wicked. Remember Lot’s wife and don’t turn back (Luke 17:32). Look forward; look to God; and let’s bring our family with us!

The Power of Boldness in Your Witness

Thursday, March 7th, 2019

Against Intimidation

We are faced with a spirit of intimidation in our culture today. It almost drives people into silence because conflict ensues when sharing one’s opinion. This intimidation has faced the church even in the early days, shortly after the death of Jesus. Peter and John were forbade to share the truth of the things they had seen and heard of Jesus (Acts 4:13–20). Regardless of this spirit of intimidation, Satan cannot stop God’s work in the world.

A Spirit of Boldness

It’s easy to lack confidence in our own ability to communicate and to feel inadequate about our knowledge of Scripture. Many excuse themselves from being a witness because they’re too afraid to share wrong information with people. But, God has given us power through the Holy Ghost to be witnesses throughout the entire world (Acts 1:8). The Holy Spirit will help us overcome our fears and give us the ability to be an effective witness. Our success will not be based on our own attributes—it’s all found in the work of the Holy Ghost.

A Gift of Boldness

Remember, boldness is something God gives us; it’s a gift from God. The early church prayed for boldness to come against the intimidation of the world (Acts 4:29–30). Not only did they pray for boldness, but they asked God to support them in their witness! When we pray for boldness, God will hear and answer us. We see this in Scripture, for after the disciples prayed, they were filled with the Holy Ghost and spoke the Word of God with boldness. They were able to witness in great power (Acts 4:31–33).

This Scripture alone is evidence as to why personality doesn’t dictate results when it comes to our witness! When onlookers saw the boldness of Peter and John’s witness they realized it was due to a supernatural power (not theirs). They knew Peter and John had been with Jesus (Acts 4:13). Walking with the Lord makes a difference in how we act and how others receive us. When we allow the Holy Ghost to give us boldness, our witness will become unmistakable and irresistible.

What Boldness Isn’t

Boldness is not brashness. Our witness shouldn’t be about putting others down, “winning” an argument, being rude or overbearing, etc. Boldness is something you have while brashness is a selfish behavior we act out—having motives beyond sharing the Gospel. Being bold is having a license for speaking; preaching with God’s authority. We must determine our motives, attitude, and the spirit driving our witness. Look to Jesus’ example in how He shared the Gospel and demonstrate these attributes.

Wisdom in Wielding Boldness

Boldness is beneficial, but we need to know how to “wield” our boldness. Therefore, if we’re going to be a bold witness, we first need to pray for wisdom. Ask God to help us know what to say, how to say it, and when to say it. Learn to plant a seed, let God water it, and then come back to cultivate the word later. If we ask God for wisdom to witness effectively, He’ll give it to us (James 1:5Ecclesiastes 8:1). Wisdom coupled with boldness will give us favor with others.

Bold Stories

Boldness comes easier when we realize our story is worth telling. In Scripture, Jesus meet a woman at a Samaritan well. After revealing truths about her life, she went and shared her testimony (her story) with the townsmen (John 4). Many people in Samaria believed in Jesus because of her testimony. Our story is powerful because it’s not abstract; it’s very personal. We’re a living illustration of God’s power to change a life. Our story will make others want to know His story.

Our story is powerful because it’s a 21st century story. Our stories bring the Gospel to present-day; we become a modern-day object lesson of the truth others can read about in Scripture. Secondly, our story is indisputable. People can’t argue with us about what God’s done in our life! Lastly, our story is powerful because it simplifies what can be hard to digest. Satan has made sure our world is developing preconceived notions about God and living for Him. But, the simpler the communication is about God’s Word, the easier the brain can process it and receive it!

Enemies of Boldness

Boldness has several enemies. Unbelief—We must believe God can use us and will respond when we witness. Business—This can distract us and make us unaware of those around us who need to hear our story. Laziness—We don’t witness because we don’t want to be bothered. Sin—Unrepentant hearts keep us from sharing our stories. A Lack of Skill—We become more comfortable (skillful) in sharing our stories the more we tell them. A Lack of Knowledge—The power of our witness is linked to what we know in God’s Word. His Word should bring our witness to life.

Summary

Boldness is a God-given attribute to help enable a spirit-empowered witness. If we ask for it, God will give it to us, but we need His wisdom to use it. Boldness is bolstered when we realize our story is worth telling to the world. Lastly, every believer’s story is powerful because it’s real, present-tense, indisputable, and simple to understand.

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on March 6, 2019 with Pastor Nave

Troubled Waters

Wednesday, March 6th, 2019

Everyone was initially excited the day we boarded the charter fishing boat. However, hours later, our outlook changed. Embarking on a deep-sea fishing trip into uncharted waters would have been adventure enough, but we had departed the sanctuary of the harbor directly into high seas. Our timing was impeccable; we left during the wake of a hurricane.

To say the seas were a bit choppy is a drastic understatement. For an entire ship manifest of less-than-seasoned sailors, no one was prepared for the roughness of the waters and the impact it would have on the human body. Even though the captain later remarked we probably shouldn’t have gone out that day, it was too late—we were all at sea, and most of the passengers were sea sick.

You might think our family strange to have decided to risk the safety, security, and stability of land to brave the turbulent seas. What could we have possibly gleaned from such a risk? Why were we drawn into such troubled waters?

Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had (John 5:2–4, KJV).

Throughout our Christian journey, God will present a horizon of troubled waters. I’ve seen my fair share of these and I’m never first in line to jump in. I’m not interested in getting water up my nose, gasping for breath amid the waves, or getting sea sick. Contrary to my opinion, this isn’t God’s desire. He wants me to step into the turmoil and to trust Him. But how can swirling waters be beneficial in our journey?

Moses led Israel into the troubled waters of the Red Sea, and the waters rolled back on both sides providing a safe passageway. Peter stepped out of a boat into the raging sea and walked on water with the Lord. Rippling waters of Bethesda provided healing to the first swimmer. Baptism via immersion in the lovely name of Jesus washes all our sins away! Troubled waters are scary, they don’t always feel good, but there’s something miraculous that occurs when we step into them.

The first time the angel of the Lord troubled the waters of Bethesda, I wonder how long it took for someone to figure out a healing was in store. After the initial hesitation, everyone desired to be the first one wet! When approaching the troubled waters in your life, you must remind yourself you’re not just getting wet—you’re getting a miracle!

Our deep-sea fishing trip was not a miracle in disguise, but life-changing once you got past the motion sickness and unpleasant smells. I snagged the largest fish of my lifetime and have the picture to prove it. Even in the hardship of the seas I had fun, formed lasting memories, strengthened my family relationships, and learned a valuable lesson—I can survive troubled waters. Each time we jump in head first, our trust and faith in God grows. The greater our faith the easier it will be to embrace future storms. We’ll know the bubbling water isn’t meant to evoke anxiety but is a sign God’s getting ready to work.

Since my childhood, I’ve been on 2 additional deep-sea fishing expeditions and braved some rough waters all over again. Each time I’ve survived, and I know I’ll survive the troubled waters many times into the future. If you’re still anxious about stepping into your troubled waters today, I encourage you to jump on in. You’ll find they’re not that bad, and you’ll survive too.

Choosing to Love the Others

Sunday, March 3rd, 2019

John 10:30–37 // Watch Message Online

A lawyer questioned Jesus under the guise of finding out how to make it to Heaven; however, he really wanted to know just who he needed to love. Jesus told a story revealing the answer and the lawyer learned who was his neighbor—everyone.

Jesus tells of a man who was hurt (half-dead) and had everything taken from him, even the clothes on his back. However, He didn’t define who the man was: his background, pedigree, or beliefs. When the Priest and the Levite came upon the hurt man, they weren’t sure if they could associate with him due to risking uncleanliness. Therefore, they decided to distance themselves from the man in need. But, Jesus revealed the one man (a Samaritan) who was compassionate and showed love to the unknown individual. Through this story, Jesus taught that it doesn’t matter where a person comes from, when they need help we need to love them. From the eyes of God, it doesn’t matter who someone is, God will reach for them and love them so they can be changed.

In our culture, we’re being coaxed into hating people because of what they’ve done and believe. The devil is working to foster hate on any level, but this isn’t how God’s church operates. God chooses to love those who are not like Him, and His church will love those who are not like “us.” We cannot be like Jonah and hate the message of repentance and deliverance for a lost world. Loving people will take work and sometimes looks like a mess, but we need to make up our minds to pour oil and wine into the wounds of the “others” around us.

Jesus brought a new message of loving our enemies and blessing those that curse us. There isn’t a reward in loving those who already love you; even pagans and unbelievers do this. But, if we’re going to be like our Father in Heaven, we need to love those we don’t like. This doesn’t just mean “tolerating” someone. Despite of what a person believes in or what they’ve done, there’s a soul within them. God loves them, the soul that’s inside, and we need to love them too. Sin will not enter into God’s kingdom (I Corinthians 6:9–10). We were all once like this, but it was God’s love that washed, sanctified, and justified us so that we might see heaven (I Corinthians 6:11).

Let’s remember that God is calling the church to bind the wounds regardless of the “who.” We need the oil, the wine, the truth, and the love of God. All of this will change those “others” who are ravished by sin and bring them to a place of repentance. Let’s choose to love today!