Waiting on God

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Jesus Calms Our Storms - Epiphany Lutheran Church Dayton

Jesus told the disciples to get into the ship and go to the other side while he went up into the mountain to pray. Once the ship reached the middle of the sea, the wind began to blow against it and the waves were tossing it. When Jesus walked towards the disciples on the sea, they began to cry out in fear because they didn’t recognize who he was.

Jesus said, Be of good cheer. It is I. Be not afraid.

Peter said, If it be you, command me to come to you the water.

Jesus said, Come.

Peter was doing fine as long as he was looking at Jesus, but the moment he looked at the wind and not at the Son, he became afraid and stopped walking. He saw the effects of the wind. He heard the strong wind. When he stopped walking, he began to sink.

But what I want you to see in this passage of scripture is that Peter stepped out of the boat during the storm. Peter didn’t wait until the storm was over. He didn’t wait until there was favorable weather. He stepped out during a difficult time.

When he stepped out of the ship, he stepped out in faith. He didn’t use the wind as an excuse not to follow Jesus’ command. Solomon said, He that observe the wind shall not sow. There is a possibility that the wind will scatter the seed, but the farmer doesn’t withhold the seed because if he never sows, he will never reap a harvest. The farmer doesn’t worry about what may or may not happen. He sows in the morning and in the evening because he doesn’t know which seed will prosper.

Peter pursued Jesus while the other disciples waited on him. If you are always ‘waiting on God’, you will never write the book. You will never start the business. You will never own the home. You will never take that trip.

To receive the thing you’ve been desiring or praying for, you are going to have to do something. Peter stepped onto the water. He did something he had never done before and sometimes we have to do something that we’ve never done before.

Stepping out in faith does not mean that resistance won’t come. It doesn’t mean that fear won’t come. The wind comes to keep you from going to the other side. The wind will blow and the waves will toss, but decide today that you will step out of the ship anyway.

 

[Matthew 14:22-30; Ecclesiastes 11:4, 6]

Stretch Forth Your Hand

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While Jesus was teaching in the synagogue, a man was there with a withered right hand. The scribes and Pharisees should have been listening to the teaching, but instead they were watching Jesus to see whether he would heal on the sabbath day. To them, healing was a form of work and a violation of the fourth commandment. Six days you shall labour and do all your work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord your God: in it you should not do any work.

Jesus knew their thoughts. He then asked, Is it against the law to do good on the sabbath? According to the book of Matthew, Jesus asked them what they would do if their sheep fell into the pit on the sabbath. Mark tells us that they didn’t answer him. They knew they would have rescued their sheep because they would have need of it. But, wouldn’t that be considered ‘work’? 

Although this man had a hand that was useless, he was not useless. It was attached to the body, but it was no good to the body yet he was still valuable to God. Something was wrong with this man’s hand, but there was something wrong with the scribes and Pharisees’ hearts. Since healing was looked upon as ‘work’, Jesus didn’t touch the man. He didn’t lay hands on him. He just spoke. Rise and stand forth in the midst. Stretch forth your hand. When the man obeyed these instructions, his hand was restored whole like the other.

I’m not saying this man couldn’t work, but he was limited in what he could do. His health was stolen and if he was unable to work, that means his finances were stolen, too. The scribes and Pharisees valued the life of an animal more than they did of this man, but he was worth much more than sheep. Although they knew the law, they didn’t understand the law because this commandment didn’t suggest that they should neglect the need of others. It was not wrong to help him, but it was wrong not to help him. 

Jesus said that the first and great commandment was to love the Lord with all your heart, soul and mind. The second commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself. If they had obeyed these two commandments, they would have seen this man and his need. If you obey the commandment that tells us to love God and others, it will cause you obey all the other commandments.

They would have immediately rescued their sheep out of a pit, but wanted this man to wait until the following day for his healing. Hadn’t he waited long enough? What if this man hadn’t live to see tomorrow?

To heal is to do good and we are not to withhold good from them to whom it is due when it is in the power of our hand to do it. Each day the Lord gives us is a day to do good, not just on certain days as the scribes and Pharisees thought. Jesus told the man to stretch forth his hand, but he should have told the scribes and Pharisees the same thing. They refused to give him a helping hand, but let us not miss our opportunity to do good to one another.

Someone needs you to stretch forth your hand.

[Exodus 20:8-11; Matthew 12:9-14; Mark 3:1-6; Luke 6:6-11]

I Give It All

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David and the Israelites had won victory after victory over their enemies. They defeated the Ammonites, Syrians, the Philistine giants, among others. But one day, David was tempted by Satan to number Israel. This was the same man who defeated with Goliath with a sling and five smooth stones. This is the same man that told Goliath, I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel. This is the same man that said, For the battle is the Lord’s and He will give you into our hands. The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. His trust was in God.

There was nothing wrong with counting the number of men, but why was he doing this? What was his motive? God did not command David to do this. When God chose the Israelites, He didn’t choose them because they were more in number than any other people. He chose them because He loved them. Was David now trusting in his own strength? Did he think that he and his men had won these battles? David wasn’t king when he defeated Goliath, but now he was king and he forgot about God.

David sent Joab to number the men. Joab told him that this wasn’t a good idea, but he obeyed the king. Joab counted approximately 1,570,000 men. There were more men, but he didn’t count them all as he feared the Lord. God was displeased with David’s decision. David immediately repented and took responsibility for what he did. I have sinned greatly because I have done this thing. I have done foolishly. But the Israelites were going to suffer for what David did.

God gave David three choices. He and his men could either suffer three years of famine or three months of defeat and destruction by their enemies or three days of pestilence in the land. Whatever choice he made, the numbers of his men were going to decrease. His men were going to die. He didn’t want Israel to suffer for what he did, but he had to make a choice and he chose three days. Maybe because it was less time. In three days, seventy thousand of David’s men died.

Gad, David’s seer, told him to build an altar to the Lord and to make a sacrifice to withhold judgment. Anytime you sacrifice something, you give something valuable for something or someone else more valuable. When David went to Ornan’s threshingfloor to set up an altar, Ornan was threshing wheat. The threshingfloor was the place where separation took place. It was where the wheat (what you need) was separated from the tares (what you don’t need). But it wasn’t until the oxen treaded on the harvest that the tares were revealed. Now this would be the place where what was in David’s heart would be revealed.

David only asked Ornan to give him the threshingfloor, but Ornan offered to give him the threshingfloor, the oxen, the threshingfloor instruments, and the wheat for free. I give it all (1 Chronicles 21:23). But David didn’t want to sacrifice anything to God that didn’t cost him nothing so he paid Ornan full price. Ornan gave to David what David should have given to God – all. He had been counting men, but he should have been counting on God. 

What have you been counting on? What have you been putting your trust in? When God removed David’s men, it wasn’t to hurt him, but to show him Who he should be depending on. God was showing David as well as us that every victory and every good thing that God allows to happen in our lives, He deserves the praise for it. Not you and not man. Yes, He will use man to bless His people, but He wants us to always acknowledge that it was His hand that has done it. It is not by your power or by your might, but it will be by His Spirit.

Give Him all – all the praise, all the glory and all the honor because it all belongs to Him.

 

[1 Chronicles 21; 1 Samuel 17:37-47; Deuteronomy 7:7-8]

The Power of Forgiveness

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Some years ago, someone asked me to do something and because I wanted to do the right thing, I agreed and gave the person what they asked for. I had no idea that the enemy was using this person.

I lied.

I knew because I felt like I was being manipulated, but I just didn’t think that the person would do what was about to happen next.

After I agreed to do one thing, the person asked me to do something else. This time I told the individual no. They got mad and took it anyway. I wouldn’t say that this person stole from me. They did, but I practically gave it to them due to manipulation and deception.

I gave the enemy (Satan) an inch and he took a yard.

I was so hurt afterwards because I really needed that money to pay bills as well as some debts. Also, I was living with my dad at the time and I hated feeling like a burden to him. I wanted to help him more, but was struggling to do so at that time.

Shortly after that incident, the person became unemployed. I’m not going to suggest that what he did to me caused this to happen to him, but he was unemployed and it was for more than one year. (I know what it’s like to be unemployed for seven months and trust me, it wasn’t easy. I don’t wish that on anyone).

Three years later, this person texted me. I don’t remember why or what they said, but I remember it was on a Sunday morning and I had just finished praying. When I text the person back, let’s just say it was the Lord speaking. It was not me. This person began to cry because my text had just confirmed what someone else told him earlier that week. Immediately following the text, job opportunities among other things began to manifest.

I know people say: Forgiveness is not for the other person. It’s for you.

But I disagree this time.

Based on what happened that day, I know that forgiveness is for the other person too because the moment I released that person, doors that were closed opened wide. It was like releasing someone from their debt. It’s like telling someone that owed you thousands of dollars, ‘You don’t owe me anything.’ When I forgave his debt, God then forgave me of my debts (sin). Now I’m not telling you it was easy, but I’m telling you it’s possible.

Sometimes the unforgiveness you have against a person holds them in bondage. Your anger towards them places them in a spiritual prison cell. They can move in that cell, but they are only going around in circles or back and forth. They are unable to move forward and to keep moving.

But in spite of what they did, God still wanted to extend His love and forgiveness towards them because HE loves them. And sometimes He will use YOU to help the person who hurt you.

And that’s the power of forgiveness.

Love is Inconvenient — Mitch Teemley

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“Love suffers long, it is kind and does not envy…it is not easily provoked and keeps no record of wrongs. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. It never fails. Only three things will last forever: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”       ~1 Corinthians 13:4-13 Love is […]

Love is Inconvenient — Mitch Teemley

When You Don’t Know What to Say

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God didn’t give us His word so that we may just read it, but so that we may also speak it.

 

God said, Let there be light and there was light (Genesis 1:3).

By the word of the Lord were the heavens made (Psalm 33:6).

For He spake, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast (Psalm 33:9).

Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear (Hebrews 11:3).

The word of God in your mouth is truth (1 Kings 17:24). 

HE has said…so that WE may boldly say (Hebrews 13:5-6).

 

When you don’t know what to say, say what He said.

Show Him Your Faith

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And Jesus answering said unto them, Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he says shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he says (Mark 11:22-23).

Jesus saw a fig tree with leaves, but no figs. He said to the tree, No man eat fruit of you hereafter for ever. The tree heard his voice and obeyed his voice. It dried up from the roots. That was the power of faith.

Some of us complain about the mountain and some of us cry about the mountain that we’re facing, but none of these things move God. Some of us talk about the mountain, but Jesus told us to talk to the mountain. There’s a difference. We have tried to go over it. We have tried to go around it, but here are some reasons why that mountain has not moved:

1. You spoke to the mountain a few times and then stopped. This scripture doesn’t tell us how many times to speak to the mountain, but we are to speak and tell it where to go until it moves.

2. You stopped believing because it didn’t look like anything was happening. Remember the fig tree. When Jesus spoke to it, something happened, but it started from the roots. You can’t see the roots. 

3. You are waiting on someone else to speak to it, but Jesus said ‘whosoever’. That includes you. You say something. Use your voice.

4. You spoke to it, but then you didn’t do anything afterwards. Taking action is proof that you believe what you said. For example, let’s say I found a place that I would love to call home. I can speak to it. I can anoint the house with oil. I can claim it. I can even walk around it seven times and shout, but if I don’t call a real estate agent, if I don’t save for a down payment or get preapproved for a mortgage, someone else will occupy that home.

Show Him your faith.

Enjoy the Ride

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I can’t wait til I turn 18.

I can’t wait til I graduate from school.

I can’t wait til I get marry.

I can’t wait til I have kids.

I can’t wait til these kids leave the house.

It seems like we’re always in a rush. We never learn to enjoy the moment we are in. We never fully enjoy the life God has given us.

For the past couple months, I had been getting up late, which meant I was rushing to get out of the house and speeding to get to work.

But now I’m taking my time. I leave the house on time and I drive the speed limit. There have been a few times where a group of cars have sped past me and I unconsciously increased my speed, but then I was reminded to slow down and take my time.

I was so focused on the cars that were passing me and now ahead of me that I lost focus of my journey. I felt like I had been left behind, but there was no need to feel that way because I didn’t know where those cars were going. Maybe they were going where I couldn’t go. Maybe they were going where God didn’t send me. So, I focused on the lane I was on and I prayed the rest of the way to work.

Wherever you go or wherever God is taking you, stop trying to rush God and learn to enjoy the ride. 

It’s for God’s Glory

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As I was praying for someone dear to me today, the Lord revealed to me that this person had to go through what they were going through. God was not the cause of it, but He was allowing it to happen. When Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God. When the disciples saw the man who was blind from birth, they assumed he was in that condition because either he or his parents sinned, but Jesus said he was born that way so that they could see God perform a miracle in his life. 

Maybe it’s not sickness that you are facing today, but I just want you to know that whatever it is that you’re facing, it is not going to kill you. It is not going to end in DEATH. It is going to be a testimony to others of what God can and will do. It is going to give hope to those who feel hopeless. It is going to bring them LIFE. 

God is going to give you grace, strength and power to endure to the end of it.

Be encouraged. It is almost over.

What Do You Want Me to Do For You?

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Jesus asked this question twice in Mark chapter 10. First, he asked James and John (verse 36). Then, he asked Bartimaeus (verse 51).

Bartimaeus was a blind beggar. One day, he was sitting by the highway side begging. When he heard that Jesus was walking by, he cried out. Those who were standing by tried to silence him, but that made him cry out even louder. He refused to quit and he didn’t stop until Jesus stood still. When Jesus called him over, Bartimaeus threw off his garment and went to Jesus.

In my study, I read that this garment was issued by the government to those who were disabled and unable to work. This garment qualified him to beg legally since he was blind. He got up every morning to beg people for help as they walked on the highway. Begging was how his need was met. This was his job.

When Jesus asked his disciples, James and John, what they wanted him to do for them, they asked for power, fame and position. Grant unto us that we may sit, one on your right hand, and the other on your left hand, in your glory (verse 37). According to Jesus, they were asking for something that they were neither ready or prepared for – nor did they need it. 

Bartimaeus had been begging for money and food every day, but the moment Jesus asked him what he wanted, he didn’t ask for money. Had he walked towards Jesus wearing that garment, he would have probably begged for money and food, but he didn’t beg this time. He just made his request known. Lord, that I might receive my sight. He threw away that garment because he was tired of a temporary fix.  Here he was a beggar, but he was still broke and blind. He was now ready for a permanent change.

When he heard that Jesus of Nazareth (verse 47) was near, he didn’t approach him as the carpenter’s son because he needed ‘Jesus, son of David.’ He needed the one who came to deliver what God promised through the lineage of David.

Do you know what Jesus was really asking James, John and Bartimaeus? Do you want my will or your will? It was God’s will for Bartimaeus to be whole and this is what he chose. He walked away and left that garment behind. He was tired of the life that he had. At one time, he thought that garment was the answer. It only changed what he looked like on the outside, but it never changed what was going on in the inside. He put his trust in the government, in people and this garment, but they all disappointed him. He was basically living paycheck to paycheck. He only had what others wanted him to have and that was never enough. 

It’s interesting that although he was blind, Bartimaeus knew who Jesus was more than those who walked beside Jesus and had their physical sight. As I was studying, I realized that although there is nothing wrong with desiring materialistic things, they can fix some things, but they don’t fix everything. Also, sometimes we are asking for things that we are not yet ready or prepared for. 

We should all be desiring the same thing Bartimaeus desired. Lord, let us see again. Restore our sight so that we can see You as You really are. Restore our sight so that when we pray, we don’t pray for SELF-ish desires. 

Now, what do you want Jesus to do for you?