Faith is Where the Heart Is! (Part 2)

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!

 

 

Day 30: The Secret to Living an Overcoming Life

The secret to living an overcoming life is found throughout the entire Bible. Enoch learned this secret. Noah learned this secret. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob learned this secret. David learned this secret. All of the great men and women of the Bible learnt to do this one thing:

FOLLOW GOD

  • After the birth of Methuselah, Enoch lived in close fellowship with God for another 300 years, and he had other sons and daughters. (Genesis 5:22 NLT)
  • This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God. (Genesis 6:9 NLT)
  • When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. (Genesis 17:1 NIV)
  • But God removed Saul and replaced him with David, a man about whom God said, ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart. He will do everything I want him to do.’ (Acts 3:22 NLT)

Jesus knew this secret and He practiced it on earth:

So Jesus explained, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does. (John 5:19 NLT)

The first instruction Jesus gave when He called His disciples was:

FOLLOW ME

The disciples of Jesus Christ walked in close fellowship with Jesus. They followed Jesus and:

They received the power and authority to do what Jesus did. (Matthew 10:1)

They received a commission to teach what Jesus taught. (Matthew 28:19-20)

They received the same Spirit that Jesus had. (John 20:22)

The disciples of Jesus Christ had these experiences because they followed Jesus wholeheartedly. They wanted to go where Jesus went. They wanted to do what Jesus did. They wanted to be Who Jesus is. Following Jesus allowed the disciples to overcome sin, doubt, weakness and fear. Following Jesus allowed them to endure persecution, imprisonment, and other bad experiences. Following Jesus will allow us to do the same in every area of our lives. When we follow Jesus we will receive the power and authority to live an overcoming life.

The Overcoming Life is within the reach of every believer in Jesus Christ. The Overcoming Life is within the reach of every person who hears the good news about Jesus Christ. God has revealed the secret to us:

FOLLOW HIM

Day 29: God’s Grace is an Inexhaustible Resource

We cannot live on this earth without the necessary resources. We need water to drink and wash. We need land to plant fruits and vegetables and to build houses. We need sunlight for warmth and vitamin D. We need money to buy or obtain the benefit of other resources. There are resources which can be found in nature and are easily replaced by nature.  These resources are renewable. This means that there is an inexhaustible supply of these resources. Our Heavenly Father, in His divine wisdom provided these inexhaustible resources for us so life on earth can be sustained. Do you know that He has also provided inexhaustible resources for believers in Jesus Christ?

Christianity is a new life. It is a new way of living. Jesus revealed to Nicodemus that “unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” (John 3:3 NLT). The Apostle Paul revealed to the Church at Corinth that:

…anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! (2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT)

In the same way God has provided natural resources to sustain our life on earth, God has provided spiritual resources to sustain our life in Christ. One of these spiritual resources is grace. It is through the grace of God that we receive this new life in Christ and it is through the grace of God that we receive the strength and motivation to live this new life in Christ. One man who knows the power of God’s grace is the Apostle Paul. Before he was the Apostle Paul this is what he did:

  1. Paul (also known as Saul) “agreed completely with the killing of Stephen” (Acts 8:1 NLT)
  2. Paul uttered “threats with every breath and was eager to kill the Lord’s followers” (Acts 9:1 NLT)
  3. Paul “blasphemed the name of Christ” and “persecuted his people” (1 Timothy 1:13 NLT)

Paul did those evil things but one day he had an extraordinary experience with the grace of God. He met Jesus and received a new life. Paul knew he did not deserve to be called an Apostle but this did not prevent him from living a fruitful life in Christ. Paul overcame the knowledge of his past sins through grace (God’s inexhaustible resource):

For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. (1 Corinthians 15:9-10 KJV)

Sometimes we carry guilt from our past sins. Sometimes we remember our past sins and start to believe we are not good enough to work for God in a particular capacity. In these moments we must remember God’s inexhaustible resource. The grace of God allowed us to receive forgiveness for our past sins. The grace of God allows us to work for God. The grace of God allows us to live for God. There is only one thing left for us to do:

Live in God’s Grace

Day 28: God Will Give You Grace to Endure

Believers in Jesus Christ are not hidden from the challenges and obstacles of this world. As long as we are living in this world we will face challenges and obstacles. We may face sickness and disease. We may face financial difficulties. We may face problems in our families. In fact, the Apostle Paul reminded the Church at Corinth that:

The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. (1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT)

Believers in Jesus Christ may experience the same things non-believers experience because we live in the same world. However, it is not the will of God for us to fall under the pressure of the challenges and obstacles of this world. It is God’s will for us to keep standing. It is God’s will for us to overcome every challenge and obstacle. God is so serious about this that He looks at every specific challenge and obstacle we face in our lives and formulates a specific plan of escape so we can endure.

  • Joseph was sold as a slave into Potiphar’s house but God blessed Joseph can caused Potiphar to “put [Joseph] in charge of his entire household and everything he owned” (Genesis 39:4 NLT)
  • Joseph was wrongfully accused of rape and placed in prison but God gave Joseph favour and the keeper of the prison “put Joseph in charge of all the other prisoners and over everything that happened in the prison” (Genesis 39:21-22 NLT).
  • Jesus was wrongfully convicted, sentenced to death, beaten and forced to carry His cross to Calvary but God caused the soldiers to force another man (Simon of Cyrene) to carry the cross. (Mark 15:21)

Can you see it?

  1. Even though Joseph experienced betrayal by his brothers, the life of a slave and a prisoner, Joseph was able to endure until he got to the Palace. God gave Joseph the grace to endure and in the end Joseph was able to save his family and Egypt from seven years of famine.
  2. Even though Jesus was betrayed by his own disciple (Judas), was wrongfully convicted, beaten and forced to carry a heavy cross, Jesus was able to endure until He got to Calvary. God gave Jesus the grace to endure and in the end Jesus was able to save the entire world from a lifetime of sin.

God gave Jesus the grace to endure. In other words, God ensured that Jesus had enough energy to make it to Calvary. God will do the same for us. God will not allow the challenges and obstacles we face to overcome us. God will give us grace to endure them and overcome them.

Day 26: God is Thinking About You

God is thinking about you! In fact, God is thinking about you every day. God was thinking about you from the foundation of this world. God was thinking about you before you appeared in your mother’s belly. We think about those we are in love with every day. Sometimes we think about them every minute. Sometimes we think about them even while we are sleeping.

GOD IS IN LOVE WITH YOU

God is thinking about your physical health:

He said, “If you will listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in his sight, obeying his commands and keeping all his decrees, then I will not make you suffer any of the diseases I sent on the Egyptians; for I AM THE LORD WHO HEALS YOU.” (Exodus 15:26 NLT)

HE SENT OUT HIS WORD AND HEALED THEM, snatching them from the door of death. (Psalm 107:20 NLT)

God is thinking about your mental health:

The God of peace (The God Who gives peace of mind) will soon crush Satan under your feet. May the grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. (Romans 16:20 NLT)

God is thinking about your future:

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, THOUGHTS OF PEACE, AND NOT OF EVIL, to give you an expected end. (Jeremiah 29:11 KJV)

The New Living Translation states:

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, TO GIVE YOU A FUTURE AND A HOPE. (Jeremiah 29:11)

God loves you so much. You are His child. God said this about His Son Jesus Christ:

But even as he spoke, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to him.” (Matthew 17:5 NLT)

God wants the best His children. God is always thinking about His children.

  • You may be trapped in between the Red Sea and the Egyptian Army but God is thinking about you. He wants to open the Red Sea so you can escape from your enemies.
  • You may be in the wilderness but He is thinking about you. God wants to lead you into the Promised Land.
  • You may be in a boat during a storm but He is thinking about you. He wants to calm the storm and bring you safely to shore.

In those moments of hopelessness and despair remember that ‘God is thinking about you’.

Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.  God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.  So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. (Ephesians 1:4-6 NLT)

Day 25: God Always Remembers His Promises

Can you remember any of the conversations you had with others two days ago? I can vaguely remember the conversations but I certainly cannot remember every word I said. The Bible is filled with many conversations between God and human beings. Within those conversations we will discover that God made promises. Those promises were not fulfilled immediately. Sometimes it took months before those promises were fulfilled. Sometimes it took several years before those promises were fulfilled. Sometimes it took several centuries before those promises were fulfilled.

In life many promises are unfulfilled because of the amount of time that has expired. However, in the Kingdom of God, promises do not expire with time. God always remembers the promises He has made to His children and to His creation. God promised to save Noah and his family along with all kinds of animals from the flood. The flood covered the earth for several days while Noah, his family and the animals were in the Ark:

But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and livestock with him in the boat. He sent a wind to blow across the earth, and the floodwaters began to recede. (Genesis 8:1 NLT)

God promised Abraham that He would deliver his descendants from bondage. The children of Israel were in bondage in Egypt for more than 400 years. They were suffering and experiencing severe hardships. They forgot about the God of their fathers. However, when they cried for help, God heard them:

God heard their groaning, and he remembered his covenant promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He looked down on the people of Israel and knew it was time to act. (Exodus 2:24-25 NLT)

God promised the children of Israel that He would send a Messiah (Saviour) to deliver them and be their King forever. Several centuries passed since those promises were made. The Romans were in control. Spiritual darkness covered the land. The people of Israel were in bondage to sickness, diseases and demonic activity. God remembered His promise and sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to deliver them:

Jesus traveled throughout the region of Galilee, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness… and people soon began bringing to him all who were sick. And whatever their sickness or disease, or if they were demon possessed or epileptic or paralyzed—he healed them all. (Matthew 4:23-24 NLT)

Sometimes it is easy to forget the promises that we have made to others. We are human beings and many things fade from our memory as time goes by. Nevertheless, be encouraged by this fact:

God always remembers His promises 

Remember that Christ came as a servant to the Jews to show that God is true to the promises he made to their ancestors. (Romans 15:8 NLT)

Day 24: You Can Stand on God’s Promises

A promise is a powerful thing. A promise can motivate us when we feel discouraged. A promise can strengthen us when we feel weak. An employer promises to pay his employees a salary at the end of every month. This promise motivates those employees to wake up early and travel to their workplace. This promise motivates those employees to travel through the rain and the snow to reach their workplace. In other words, that promise made by their employer strengthened their resolve to get to work in spite of whatever obstacles they faced each day.

We are motivated by mere human promises. What about the promises that our Heavenly Father has made? God’s promises are guaranteed. God’s promises are reinforced by His nature and character:

God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through? (Numbers 23:19 NLT)

Sometimes we forget to fulfill the promises we have made. Sometimes we are unable to fulfill a promise we have made because of the uncertainties of life. God is not subject to human failure. God is not subject to human weakness. God is not limited by the uncertainties of life. We can trust God’s promises twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year.

We can trust God’s promises in the wilderness:

Then the LORD said to Moses, “I have heard the Israelites’ complaints. Now tell them, ‘In the evening you will have meat to eat, and in the morning you will have all the bread you want. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God.’” (Exodus 16:11-12 NLT)

We can trust God’s promises in the fire:

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you.  If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. (Daniel 3:16-17 NLT)

We can trust God’s promises in the storm:

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. (Acts 27:23-25 NLT)

There are many buildings in this world which were built to endure natural disasters. God’s promises are built to endure natural and spiritual disasters. God promised Jesus that He would not leave his soul in the grave (Psalm 16:10). Jesus stood on God’s promises and willingly died on the cross to save the entire world. Three days later God raised Jesus from the dead. The strongest building can fall. The strongest rock can be broken but God’s promises can never fail. Your world may be falling apart but you can plant your feet upon God’s promises.

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)

Day 23: You Can Rest on God’s Promise-pedic!

Sleep is a necessary part of life. Sleep gives our physical bodies the opportunity to rest. Medical professionals recommend that human beings need a specific amount of hours of sleep every night to function at their best. This is true but the quality of that rest is much more important. We can sleep for the recommended amount of hours and still wake up tired, cranky and frustrated. What we sleep on is just as important as how long we sleep.

There are many mattress companies which promise us the best sleep possible. There are mattresses which offer the best back support. There are mattresses which contour to the shape of our body. All of these are good but they cannot promise us the rest we really need. They cannot promise us that everything will be alright in the morning. They cannot promise us that all of our sorrows will be turned to joy. They cannot promise us that we will be victorious in life. There is only one mattress that can do that:

God’s Promise-pedic

This mattress is supplied, tried and verified by God Himself. Many people in the Bible slept on this mattress during their lives on earth. Jacob slept on this mattress. While Jacob was on his way to his uncle Laban’s house, he stopped somewhere to sleep. Jacob slept on the ground and used a rock as his pillow. While he was sleeping he had an interesting dream:

…he dreamed of a stairway that reached from the earth up to heaven. And he saw the angels of God going up and down the stairway. At the top of the stairway stood the LORD… (Genesis 28:12-13 NLT)

The LORD God told Jacob:

…The ground you are lying on belongs to you. I am giving it to you and your descendants. Your descendants will be as numerous as the dust of the earth! They will spread out in all directions—to the west and the east, to the north and the south. And all the families of the earth will be blessed through you and your descendants.

 I am with you, and I will protect you wherever you go. One day I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you.” (Genesis 28:13-15 NLT)

When Jacob received that dream he was homeless. He was alone. He had no soft bed to sleep on but God gave him a Promise-pedic. God’s Promise-pedic is a mattress full of God’s promises. God gave Jacob promises that he could rest on for the remainder of his life.

  • God promised to give him the ground he was lying on.
  • God promised to give him many descendents
  • God promised to bless the families of the earth through him and his descendents
  • God promised to be with him
  • God promised to protect him
  • God promised to bring him back to that land
  • God promised to never leave him

You may be alone, in debt, distressed and frustrated with life but you can still have a good night’s rest on God’s Promise-pedic.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28 NLT)