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Digging Deeper: 2 Peter 3:9

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“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”2 Peter 3:9

What Can be Learned from this Verse?

  • Peter is the Author.
  • The delay of judgment is a sign of God’s mercy towards them.
  • God is unwilling to see His people perish.
  • God is not slack, He doesn’t set one time and then another.
  • According to His timetable not ours.
  • God is patient!
  • Repentance is necessary for salvation.

Distracted from Jesus or by Jesus?

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Distractions– A thing that prevents someone from giving full attention to something else.

We all have these

There are many things in life that distracts us:

  • Books
  • Friends
  • Music
  • Movies
  • Phones
  • Social Media
  • Hobbies
  • Life

This list can go on and on.

There is a story in the Bible that shows us two types of distractions.

 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.  She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,  but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”-Luke 10:38-42

Jesus is visiting with Martha, Mary and Lazarus in their home. However, Martha is doing just what she has ben raised to do. She is running around trying to get her house work done while her sister, Mary, is seated at the feet of Jesus’ feet.

Martha Complains to Jesus when Mary doesn’t get up to help her.

Yeah, Mary help a sister out!

We want to cheer this  but, in this case maybe a different route is necessary.

In this case I doubt we can call Mary a slacker and Martha is doing exactly what she was raised to do.

Jesus tells Martha that she worries about too many things.

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,  but few things are needed—or indeed only one.”

Maybe just maybe, Jesus is telling us that just because we are doing what is expected of us  doesn’t mean we are doing what God expects of us.

Sometimes it’s not about what we are doing but, rather who we are spending time with.

We live in a world of non-stop scheduling and planning. We make lists and by the end of the day we are too tired to do anything but sleep. We are too tired to even spend a little time with God.

Martha is upset in this passage because Mary is distracted from her responsibilities by Jesus. But, Martha is distracted from Jesus by her responsibilities.

Responsibilities are important! But, if we don’t have everything in order we worry and fret just like Martha.

Sometimes it’s good to set aside our distractions and focus on the peace that God gives to us.

What distracts you?

  • work
  • text messages
  • emails
  • to-do lists
  • Voicemails

Does Jesus distract you?

If you are distracted by life maybe you need to just sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to him speak. Open your heart to the love he can give you and the peace he can bring to you.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”-John 14:27

I challenge you to take a close look at your distractions.

Are you distracted from Jesus or by Jesus?

A Father’s Love

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A father’s heart is filled with love for his family, but he also guides, guards, and governs. This love is not a weak kind of sentimental love; it’s a powerful love that always seeks the best interests of the child. A father’s love teaches through example, but also by instruction. He is the one who brings proper disciplines, strengths, and direction to his family.

As a Child my father guided me in the ways that he believed that I should be raised. He gave me a biblical foundation to base my every decision on.

“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it”-Proverbs 22:6

My father stuck by this, but he also used instruction with me. He laid out rules and I was expected to follow them. One day my father left me alone at home for the very first time, he trusted me. Besides the usual common sense rules like, “don’t burn the house down” or “lock the doors,” I was only given one rule. I wasn’t allowed to watch the horror movie that was on the bottom self. Of course I could have picked any movie to watch, but I made the choice to disobey. My eyes were opened to the horrors that could be found in a horror movie. I jumped at every noise and I had to keep every light on in the house. When my father came home he knew what I had done.

Although, he loves me very much he had to punish me for disobeying him. This didn’t mean he loved me any less than before.

This is the kind of love that God gives to his children.

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”- 1 John 3:1

God gave one rule to Adam and Eve, just like my father gave to me.

He created Adam in his image and then created Eve from Adam’s rib. Adam and Eve were his children, he had made them and he loved them.

God made them and gave them free will. Just like any good father does he gave them the freedom to make their own choices. However, a father doesn’t let his children run free without rules.

He gave Adam and Eve one rule in the Garden, not to eat from the tree of Knowledge of good and evil.

Adam and Eve knew exactly what God didn’t want them to do and they know the consequences of what would happen if they disobey him. Just like me, when I disobey my Father and watched the horror movie, Adam and Eve disobey God and ate from the very tree that they should have avoided.

Just like me their eyes were opened.

God being the gracious and loving Father that he is, he didn’t kill them, but he did punish them. Just like my father who punished me when I disobeyed him.

This doesn’t mean that God loved his creations any less; yes, he was disappointed in them. He wanted them to be free to love and if he took freewill from them they would not be able to love as they do.

He wants to watch us succeed in the life.

God’s heart is filled with love for his family, but he also guides, guards, and governs.

He is the perfect example of what a Father’s Love should look like!

Happy Father’s day

With Jesus in Your Boat

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During one of my years working at camp we learned a song (plus the hand motions) called With Jesus in Your Boat.

It goes like this…

With Jesus in your boat, You can smile through the storm
Smile through the storm
Smile through the storm
With Jesus in your boat you can smile through the storm
When your sailing home
Sailing, sailing home (Clap)
Sailing, sailing home (Clap)
With Jesus in your boat you can smile through the storm
When your sailing home
Cute song, right?
Yeah, I know what you’re thinking!
Life is hard…
It’s hard to smile through difficult times …
This is just a kid’s song…
Yeah, you may have a point on all of these, but it doesn’t mean that this simple kid’s song is telling us a lie of any kind.
With children it is easy to over complicate things.
They just stare as you!
They might nod their heads and agree with everything you say but, they do that because they want you to love them.
The simple ways we explain God to Kids is enough!
For example this song:
My God is so big

My God is so big so strong and so mighty
There’s nothing that he cannot do

My God is so big so strong and so mighty
There’s nothing that he cannot do

The rivers are his the mountains are his
The stars are his handy work to

My God is so big so strong and so mighty
There’s nothing that he cannot do

Hopefully, I don’t need to explain this one.

But, if I do just let me know.

Ok, now back to with Jesus in Your Boat. 

It’s simple!

“That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, ‘Let us go over to the other side.’ Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

He said to his disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?’

They were terrified and asked each other, ‘Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!’”-Mark 4:35-41 NIV

Maybe y’all remember this story from your Sunday school days.

If this is a first don’t worry it’s not very difficult to figure out what is going on.

Basically, Jesus and his disciples set sail on what should have been a short trip.

Anybody thinking of Gilligan’s Island?

No, Just me? Ok.

Anyways, a huge storm comes and up and these professional fishermen are terrified.

And where is Jesus while these grown men are having their freak out?

He is fast asleep at the back of the boat!

The disciples are yelling and screaming and Jesus is just snoozing away.

When they finally wake him, He gets up, calms the storm and questions their faith.

And that is where the story ends.

Really, you just read all of this to get a sorta “The End!”

What if there was more to this story?

What if Jesus what trying to teach something here in this moment.

Maybe, Jesus is telling us to trust him. Just because He is in the boat with us  doesn’t mean that we aren’t going to go through life’s storms.

Stuff happen…

Storms happen…

Life happens…

Bad things happen to good people. Even to people who follow Jesus!

Storms don’t mean that Jesus isn’t in our lives. The Bible teaches us that we all face storms in our life but, Jesus is in our boat and He is not freaking out on us like we do.

Do you think that maybe, just maybe, we should take notice and take a hint?

So, I challenge you to remember that just because Jesus is in the boat with you this doesn’t mean that you won’t go through life’s storms. But, Jesus is in the boat and he is at peace, so take a hint from Him and trust Him in all things.

He’s got your back!

(Also remember that you can learn a lot from kid songs)

God Uses the Weak

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Yeah, you read that picture right.

A Weakness is not something that we ever want to talk about.

I don’t walk around bragging, “Hey guess what I’m really bad at!” No! That would be like me pointing out all the zits on my face…not that I have any. We cover up any and all blemishes!

We only want others to see our best.

“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”- 2 Corinthians 12:10

Most optimistic with a bright future will not easily understand that God wants to bring you to a place where you are weak. Where you see you are unable to go on, not wise enough, not good enough, where your best efforts will be futile because that is when you can really learn to rely on Him, and know that it was Him all along and not you.

When you are weak, then you can be strong because God wants to fill your life with His power, His wisdom, His grace, His mercy, and His presence but, in order for God to be able to do that you need weaknesses.

There are many people in the Bible who had weaknesses.

And guess what… God used them!

One was Moses…yeah you know him he was placed in a basket, carried down the river where pharaoh’s daughter found him and raised him.

“Let my people go!” -Prince of Egypt shout out. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist)

God chose him to lead his chosen people out of slavery and into the Promised Land.

However, Moses wasn’t a big strong leader, he was weak.

“Moses said to the Lord, ‘Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.’ The Lord said to him, ‘Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord?  Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.’ But Moses said, ‘Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else’”- Exodus 4:10-13

It was a great honour that Moses was called when God commissioned him to bring Israel out of Egypt; yet he has to be persuaded to accept the commission, and does it at last with great reluctance.

He asked that someone else be sent!

How many times do we do this?

I know I do.

“God there is no way! I’m not the right person. I’ll mess it up.”

Another person that had weaknesses was David.

“After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’”-Acts 13:22

He was single-mindedly committed to God, yet guilty of some of the most serious sins recorded in the Old Testament.

David lived a frustrating life, first in the shadow of his brothers, then constantly on the run from vengeful King Saul. Even after he became king of Israel, David was engaged in almost constant warfare to defend the kingdom. King David was a great military conqueror, but he could not conquer himself.

King David was not perfect.

He had weakness such as committing adultery with Bathsheba and then trying to cover up her pregnancy. When he failed with that, he had her husband Uriah the Hittite killed. He took a census of the people, willfully violating God’s command not to do that. King David was sometimes lax, or absent as a father, not disciplining his children when they needed it.

And still God choose the man who used to be nothing more than a shepherd.

Moses and David aren’t the only ones mentioned in the Bible who had weaknesses, but they were still used by God.

Just a few…

  • Noah was a drunk
  • Abraham and his father worshiped idols
  • Jacob lied
  • Samson was a womanizer
  • Rahab was a prostitute
  • Jonah ran from God
  • Peter denied Christ
  • The disciples fell asleep while praying
  • Martha worried about everything
  • The Samaritan woman was divorced (more than once)
  • Zacchaeus was too small
  • Timothy had an ulcer
  • Lazarus was dead

The list goes on!

“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.”-1 Corinthians 1:27

They all had weaknesses and God still chose them. Not many mighty or noble people are called. Rather, those who come in their foolishness, weakness and shame, bringing nothing in which they can glory, are saved by Christ.

Their salvation promotes a glorification of God who has saved them, rather than pride in their own efforts, which they know could never save them.

So, next time remember God can use you… Zits and all!

Just say yes!

You’ll be blown away by the results.

Happy Valentine’s Day: Love Notes

HVD

Maybe your Valentine’s Day is full of excitement or maybe it’s full of disappointment and apathy.

If this is the case, I’d like to try to change your attitude about it.

It’s a love letter to you from God and he wants you to know how much He loves you.

Do you remember your first love letter?

I remember mine.

My head swam, my heart was standing in front of cheering thousands, I was so nervous. I had captured someone’s heart.

I’d read and re-read. I could recall how each sentence was written, where a comma was placed, with photographic memory like never before.

All the letters that littered my past disappeared in that moment.

So Many Words

There are so many words that we consume in a day.  We wade through emails, entertainment news, tweets, Facebook messages, not to mention newsletters, bills and spam.

Our world floods us with sales, specials, diets, programs and resolutions.

But, just one word from God is all it takes.

If we really believed God wrote us love letters, we’d carry them like notes forgetting all of the notes that litter our past.

Let’s take out that shoe box and start dusting off those love letters. Reading them again and again.

God loves you!

And you can tell by the little love notes he leaves around for you.

God’s notes to us:

I know everything about you!

“You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.” –Psalm 139:1

I knew you even before you were conceived!

The word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”- Jeremiah 1:4-5

I knit you together in your mother’s womb!

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”-Psalm 139:13

You were not a mistake, for all your days are written in my books!

“My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” -Psalm 139:15-16

I am not distant and angry, but am the complete expression of love!

“God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” -1 John 4:16

And it is my desire to lavish my love on you!

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” -1 John 3:1

Because you’re my child and I am your father!

“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” -Matthew 7:11

Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand!

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” -James 1:17

My plan for your future has always been filled with hope!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” -Jeremiah 29:11

You are my treasured possession!

“Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession.” -Exodus 19:5

When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you!

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” -Psalm 34:18

As a shepherd carries a lamb, I have carried you close to my heart!

“He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.”-Isaiah 40:11

One day, I will wipe away every tear from your eyes and I will take away all the pain you have suffered on this earth!

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”-Revelation 21:3-4

Jesus died so you and I could be reconciled!

“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” -2 Corinthians 5:18-19

His death was ultimate expression of my love for you!

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” -1 John 4:10

And nothing will ever separate you from my love again!

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” -Romans 8:31-32

I have always been Father, and will always be Father!

“For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name.” -Ephesians 3:14-15

Come home and I’ll throw the biggest part heaven has ever seen!

“I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” -Luke 15:7

What love note has God left for you today?

Do You Trust Me?

In Biblical times Nazareth was a small agricultural town settled by a few dozen families. This town is not mentioned in the Old Testament since it is an insignificant village. Nazareth was isolated in biblical times because no trade routes ran through the city and therefore had no economic value. Nazareth was not included in the 45 cities of the Galilee that mentioned by Josephus the historian and its name is not included in the 63 towns of Galilee mentioned in the Talmud. It was not expected to have a prophet, a king, or a priest to ever come out of Nazareth.

“Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip. -John 1:46

The most momentous event of all human history involved some of the people in Nazareth. Nazareth may have been a small town with a small population, but it also had some skilled craftsmen whose shops were found in the marketplace such as a potter, a weaver, a dyer, a blacksmith, and a carpenter. The carpenter was a man named Joseph and he was engaged to a young girl named Mary.

“The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” – Luke 1:28

Mary was not a perfect person!

“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name.” – Luke 1:47-49

Mary was a sinner like all of us, and she admitted her low estate and her need for God’s gracious salvation. Mary responded enthusiastically to His offer of forgiveness.  She lived with a sense of God’s presence in her life.

Mary was still afraid even though she knew God.

Mary was scared and shocked when the angel Gabriel appeared to her.

“Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.  But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”- Luke 1:29-33

And just like many of us do, she questioned how this might be possible.

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”- Luke 1:34

And Gabriel explained the supernatural phenomenon that would be accomplished

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy offspring shall be called the Son of God” – Luke 1:35

This was unbelievable, a miracle that had never happened in human history. However, it wasn’t impossible since it could be accomplished by the power of God.

This is where we see Mary’s trust in God.

This was Mary’s time to either resist God’s will, or to become a willing servant through whom God could carry out His plan. This decision was a matter of true trust!

This was a major honor!

But, this decision to trust God was not a simple one. Do you think anybody would really believe that this child was conceived by the Holy Spirit? Don’t you think more people would conclude that Mary was covering up how she was actually with some Roman soldier? The Roman district administrative center was only four miles northwest of Nazareth in Sepphoris, and Roman soldiers were often seen in the streets of Nazareth. Do you think others might think that Mary and Joseph might have gone too far in their relationship with each other? Either way, there was still a chance that Mary would be stoned for the sin that others would believe that she had committed.

And don’t forget a about Joseph.

He would know that he was not responsible for Mary’s condition. Would he still be willing to marry her? And what about the baby? Would he not carry the stigma of illegitimacy with him throughout his entire life? In this moment all of Mary’s dreams for the future flashed before her mind, and she could see every one of them shattered.

These questions boil down to one thing for Mary.

“Can I trust God to work out every problem I encounter if I submit myself to His will?”

Mary had reveled in her warm personal relationship with her Lord, but now He was asking for more. He was asking her to face the greatest question in life for a believer walking in fellowship with him.

“Mary, do you really trust me?”

Mary was a woman who mediates because twice we are told that she kept certain things and pondered them in her heart.

It didn’t take her long to make up her mind.

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.” -Luke 1:38

Her decision was to submit to God’s will and to trust Him with the consequences. Submission to God’s will almost always involve some risk, but God has promised to work all the details together for good.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who  have been called according to his purpose.”-Romans 8:28

God may be asking you the same question He asked Mary: “Do you really trust me?”

Trust is not an easy and automatic response. It needs to be developed, particularly with those who have been deeply hurt. We can help others build a stronger trust in us by our own deepening commitment to the will of God. We must learn to consult the Lord about every decision we make. We need to spend time in prayer to seek His wisdom, search his Word for his principles to guide us, and wait for the assurances of His peace. And if there is an unquestionable desire to do God’s will alone, regardless of our own personal preferences, He will protect us from making grievous mistakes.

We know God asked Mary to trust him and despite all her fears she did.

Listen…

Is God asking you to trust him?

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