There are many secrets to living an overcoming life. One of those secrets is ‘knowing God’. Let me explain. A problem is not really a problem if you know someone who can fix it. A broken pipe in your home is frustrating but if you know a competent, reliable, trustworthy plumber, your frustrations will eventually disappear. The Bible is full of men and women who were afflicted and plagued with problems. Some were fearful because of their problems. Some were confused because of their problems. However, their fear and confusion eventually disappeared. They eventually disappeared because these men and women knew Someone Who could fix the source of their fear and confusion:
THEY KNEW GOD
King Jehoshaphat had a great problem. A large army was marching towards Jerusalem and they were coming to steal, kill and destroy. The armies of Moab, Ammon and others were coming to fight against Jerusalem. It seemed as though all hell had broken loose against Jehoshaphat. When Jehoshaphat heard the troubling news he was afraid but the Bible records something amazing. In the midst of his fear, Jehoshaphat:
“…set his face to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah” (2 Chronicles 20:3 ESV)
Jehoshaphat knew God. Knowing God does not mean knowing that God exists. Knowing God means knowing:
- The Identity of God (Who God is: His character, His attributes…)
- The Ability of God (What God can do: His power, His authority…)
- The Word of God (What God has said: His promises, His covenants…)
Jehoshaphat’s knowledge of God is seen in his prayer to God in 2 Chronicles 20:5-9 :
Jehoshaphat stood before the community of Judah and Jerusalem in front of the new courtyard at the Temple of the LORD. He prayed, “O LORD, God of our ancestors, you alone are the God who is in heaven. (The Identity of God)
You are ruler of all the kingdoms of the earth. You are powerful and mighty; no one can stand against you! O our God, did you not drive out those who lived in this land when your people Israel arrived? (The Ability of God)
And did you not give this land forever to the descendants of your friend Abraham? Your people settled here and built this Temple to honor your name. They said, ‘Whenever we are faced with any calamity such as war,plague, or famine, we can come to stand in your presence before this Temple where your name is honored. We can cry out to you to save us, and you will hear us and rescue us.’ (The Word of God)
Jehoshaphat knew God’s identity, His ability and His Word. He knew that God was all-powerful. He knew the promises God made to Abraham concerning the Promised Land. He knew that God promised to answer any prayer for help that was made in the Temple or towards the Temple that Solomon had built. Therefore, Jehoshaphat prayed and God heard him and helped him and all Judah.
God delivered Judah from that large army. God won a great victory for Judah because their king knew God. Jehoshaphat overcame fear because he knew God. Those who believe in Jesus Christ can be victorious even though there is a large problem coming to steal, kill and destroy. Jehoshaphat knew the problem. He knew the problem was big. He knew the problem was too big for him and his army to handle. But Jehoshaphat knew the problem was not too big for His God to handle.
Are you facing a problem that is too big for you to handle? No problem. There is no problem which is too big for God. Remember the Identity of God, the Ability of God and the Word of God. Learn Who God is. Learn what God can do. Learn what God has said. You will overcome!
The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. (John 10:10 NLT)
Then he asked them, “Where is your faith?” The disciples were terrified and amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “When he gives a command, even the wind and waves obey him!” (Luke 8:25 NLT)
In the midst of the storm we saw Jesus responding in a manner that was totally opposite to the manner in which His disciples responded. In fact, one could say that Jesus’ response was unbelievable or impossible by human standards. How could God expect human beings to be at peace in the presence of strong winds and raging seas when we know the destruction that they can cause? Yet that is exactly what God expects of His children. Jesus expected His disciples to respond to the storm in the same way He responded. Jesus even seemed surprised that His disciples were so fearful. Was Jesus unreasonable? The answer is no.
Jesus was not the only man Who responded with faith in the midst of fear. The Bible records that one day the Army of Israel faced the Army of the Philistines. However, on this particular day, a nine foot, 9 inches man came out of the camp of the Philistines and challenged Israel to a duel. This man was not only a giant but he was a champion. This giant had plenty of experience with fighting and winning battles. This was Israel’s response to that challenge:
When Saul and the Israelites heard this, they were terrified and deeply shaken. (1 Samuel 17:11 NLT)
The camp of the Israelites was filled with fear. Then a boy entered the camp. This was boy heard the words of the giant. This boy saw the stature of the giant. This boy saw the armor and weapon of the giant but this boy responded to what he heard and saw in a manner that was totally different to the King of Israel and his army:
“Don’t worry about this Philistine,” David told Saul. “I’ll go fight him!”…“I have been taking care of my father’s sheep and goats,” he said. “When a lion or a bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock, I go after it with a club and rescue the lamb from its mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death.
I have done this to both lions and bears, and I’ll do it to this pagan Philistine, too, for he has defied the armies of the living God! The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!” (1 Samuel 17:32-37 NLT)
David was in the same camp as King Saul and his army. David saw and heard the same giant that they saw and heard but David did not respond in fear. David’s heart was in a place called faith. David was in a place where those who trust in God live.
The Apostle Paul was in a ship in the midst of a furious storm. There were about 276 men in that ship. The storm was so fierce that they had to throw things out of the ship to lighten it. The storm battered the ship and the sky was filled with darkness. The men saw and heard everything that was happening because of the storm and they gave up hope.
Paul had a totally different response:
Finally, Paul called the crew together and said…take courage! None of you will lose your lives, even though the ship will go down. For last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me, and he said, ‘Don’t be afraid, Paul, for you will surely stand trial before Caesar! What’s more, God in his goodness has granted safety to everyone sailing with you.’ So take courage! For I believe God. It will be just as he said. But we will be shipwrecked on an island.” (Acts 27:22-26 NLT)
Paul was in the same ship with those men. He experienced the same things that those men experienced. Paul was no experienced sailor but he had an experience with God in the midst of the storm. This experience caused Paul’s heart to enter into the place of faith while the others remained in the place of fear.
Jesus was in the place of faith when he was on that boat in the storm. Jesus wants His disciples to live in that same place no matter what happens. Jesus wants us to live in the place of faith. Jesus wants our hearts to be rooted and grounded in the ever-abiding presence of God and the exceeding abundant ability of God. We may be human beings but through the grace of God we can enter into that confident place of faith. We can do that because:
FAITH IS WHERE THE HEART IS!
Then he asked them, “Where is your faith?” The disciples were terrified and amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “When he gives a command, even the wind and waves obey him!” (Luke 8:25 New Living Translation)
Home is where the heart is! We can travel all around the globe and experience the best that other nations have to offer but our home will always be the place where our deepest affections are. It may sound strange but our physical bodies can live one place and our hearts can live somewhere else.
The disciples of Jesus were in a boat on the sea in a storm. Jesus was on the same boat in the same storm. However, Jesus and His disciples were in two different places. Luke tells us where the disciples were:
As they sailed across, Jesus settled down for a nap. But soon a fierce storm came down on the lake. The boat was filling with water, and they were in real danger.
The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” (Luke 8:23-24a NLT)
The disciples were in the same boat with Jesus but their hearts were in a place called fear. They saw the fierceness of the storm and the water in the boat and they became fearful of drowning.
Jesus was in a different place:
When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and the raging waves. Suddenly the storm stopped and all was calm. (Luke 8:24b NLT)
Jesus was in the same boat with his disciples but Jesus’ heart was in a place called faith. When Jesus woke up He saw the fierceness of the wind and the waves but He did not respond to them in the same way as His disciples. Jesus faced the wind and the waves and He commanded them to stop.
The hearts of the disciples were in turmoil. Their hearts were as unsteady as the boat they were in. Even as the boat was filling with water, their hearts were filling with fear. The heart of Jesus was in peace and calm. Jesus was sleeping in faith and He woke up in faith. His heart was unaffected by the wind and the waves. His heart was unaffected by the water in the boat.
After He brought the wind and the waves to a calm. Jesus the question:
Where is your faith?
Where is your faith today? You may be in a place of fierce winds and raging waves but the Word of God reminds us that faith is where the heart is. Even in the midst of the storm your heart can be filled with peace and calm. Even though the world is crumbling around you, your heart can remain intact. Even though this world is unpredictable and circumstances change at any moment, your heart can remain steadfast and unmovable in Jesus Christ.
God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea.
Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge! (Psalm 46:1-3 NLT)
Have you ever thought about the Father’s love for us? I hope all fathers had a wonderful Father’s Day. Father’s Day is the time to celebrate and appreciate fathers. I am grateful for a mother’s love but when fathers express their love for their children it is something very special to behold. The same is true about our Heavenly Father. When Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, an amazing thing happened:
After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him. (Matthew 3:16 NLT)
The Heavenly Father expressed His love for His Son by opening the heavens and anointing His Son with His Spirit. It was similar to a father opening his treasure chest and giving his son the most valuable treasure that He had. However, God did not stop there. God ensured that there was no misunderstanding concerning what John the Baptist witnessed. God followed up His actions with a declaration:
And a voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” (Matthew 3:17 NLT)
It was as though God was saying:
I have given My Son the best. I have given My Son of Myself. This is how much I love my Son. This is how much I am pleased with my Son.
When God fills us with His Holy Spirit, He is expressing His great love for us through His Son Jesus Christ. When God speaks about us in His Word He is declaring His great love for us:
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (Ephesians 2:10 NLT)
Let us always remember the Father’s love for us!
Then Jesus said, “What is the Kingdom of God like? How can I illustrate it? It is like a tiny mustard seed that a man planted in a garden; it grows and becomes a tree, and the birds make nests in its branches.” (Luke 13:18-19 NLT)
The key that we will use to unlock understanding of this parable is:
The Bible is One Book
This means we must ask this question:
Is there something which was recorded in another part of the Bible that can help us understand this parable?
When we examine the Book of Daniel we see a similar parable. This parable was revealed through a dream God gave to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Here is the first part of the dream:
“‘While I was lying in my bed, this is what I dreamed. I saw a large tree in the middle of the earth. The tree grew very tall and strong, reaching high into the heavens for all the world to see. It had fresh green leaves, and it was loaded with fruit for all to eat. Wild animals lived in its shade, and birds nested in its branches. All the world was fed from this tree. (Daniel 4:10-12 NLT)
Here is Daniel’s interpretation:
That tree, Your Majesty, is you. For you have grown strong and great; your greatness reaches up to heaven, and your rule to the ends of the earth. (Daniel 4:22 NLT)
Nebuchadnezzar saw birds nesting in the branches of that tree. Daniel said that meant that Nebuchadnezzar’s rule reached “to the ends of the earth”. In other words, Nebuchadnezzar’s power and authority had spread so far throughout the entire world that everyone in the world had to live under his power and authority.
Jesus referred to birds making nests in the branches of the mustard tree. When we use Daniel’s interpretation to interpret Jesus’ parable we discover that:
The Kingdom of God will become so great and spread so far that it will rule the entire earth and every living person will have to live under its authority.
This interpretation is confirmed by several scriptures:
For the Scriptures say, “‘As surely as I live,’ says the LORD, every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will confess and give praise to God.'” (Romans 14:11 NLT)
By Myself I have sworn; truth has gone out from My mouth, a word that will not be revoked: Every knee will bow before Me, every tongue will confess allegiance. (Isaiah 45:23 NLT)
Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices shouting in heaven: “The world has now become the Kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign forever and ever.” (Revelation 11:15 NLT)
The Kingdom of Babylon had become so powerful that all nations and tongues had to bow down to King Nebuchadnezzar and serve him. Jesus teaches that the Kingdom of God will become so great that all nations and tongues will have to bow down and serve God. When we view the Bible as One Book we start to see connections between the Old Testament and the New Testament.
Ask the Holy Spirit to give you eyes to see the connections between the Old Testament and the New Testament.