Posts Tagged ‘Unbelief’

Matthew 14:22-33 – HOW TO TRUST MORE AND SINK LESS

Trust more, Sink Less!

“I was terrified of the storm last night” she said. When I asked why, Jessica, 92, told me that she had once been STRUCK BY LIGHTNING! That would certainly explain her fear.

Imagine being on a lake in the midst of a terrifying storm and seeing a lightning lit, ghostlike, wave walking figure, coming towards you. If you were afraid of the storm, you would be overwhelmed with the horror of His presence (Matthew 14:26 NLT). What would it look like to see Jesus walking on water?

Suddenly they hear His familiar voice, a bell like song soaring above the noise of the storm, “Don’t be afraid. Take courage. I am here!” (Matthew 14:26 NLT). In the original language He says in effect “It is the ‘I AM’ who is coming to you”. “I AM” is the name for God. Job describes God as One who “… marches on the waves of the sea” (Job 9:8 NLT). Even a cyclone whipping up the waves pales into insignificance in the presence of almighty God.

Peter blurts out “Lord, if it’s really You, tell me to come to You, walking on the water.” Why would Peter even ask this question? It’s in the middle of a storm and the last thing you would want to do is to get out of the boat? What is he thinking? He’s AFRAID of the storm but in AWE of God’s presence. It’s a question of “Where is the safest place to be. In the boat or with Jesus.”

When I ask God for miracles at times He grants them in ways I don’t expect.  “Yes, come,” Jesus says. So Peter goes over the side of the boat and walks on the water toward Jesus (Matthew 14:29 NLT). 

At first there is a mixture of DOUBT AND IMPULSIVE PRESUMPTION, but doubt transformed into faith allowed Peter to walk on the water and accomplish the impossible. Impulsive presumption transformed into trust allowed him to be a part of the miracle. Peter gives me hope that my doubts and presumptions can be transformed into trust and faith just when I need the supernatural intervention of God.

I can spend my life rowing in circles in the midst of an unresolved storm or I can come. If Christ says “Yes, come” and it involves a miracle, then He will give me the power I need to accomplish the impossible (Matthew 14:29).

And Jesus still says “Come.” Matthew 11:28 (NLT) echoes these words “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” What would it be like to come to Christ in the midst of a storm?

When Peter sees the strong wind and the waves, he is terrified and begins to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouts. Despite weak faith, Jesus still saves him. It’s a little bit like the father who came to Jesus so his son could be healed. Jesus said “Anything is possible if a person believes.” The father replied “I do believe, but HELP ME OVERCOME MY UNBELIEF!”  (Mark 9:24 NLT).

Jesus immediately reaches out and grabs Peter. “You have so little faith,” Jesus says. “Why did you doubt Me?”

Jesus doesn’t say he has NO faith. He just says “You have so LITTLE faith”. Still Peter must have known he’d either sink or be saved. Someone said “WHEN I TRUST MORE, I SINK LESS.”

This is the way it works when I come to Christ. In the midst of the storms of life Christ commands me to “Come.” I don’t have enough faith to save myself, only enough to cry out for mercy. “Lord, save me,” and Jesus reaches out and saves me. Acts 16:31 (NLT) says “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.”

What if we could run with immunity, childlike in the midst of such awesome power, between the huge stuttering shocks roaring challenges that need to be heeded, the intense glimpses of cityscape, the jagged shards of light slicing the sky. What if we could dance with defiance to the frantic rhythm of drum crescendos on the rooves and driveways, sing to the sweeping chorus of wind and play with innocent abandon in the rushing water and the rain. What if we with faith unyielding on the sea could slip over the barriers of dread and walk where others fear to tread (Ross Cochrane). Philippians 4:13 (NLT) says “I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”

What would it look like if I were willing to stop frantically rowing around in circles, get out of the boat, and with mustard seed faith walk towards Jesus to experience a lifechanging miracle? All I know is that when I TRUST MORE, I SINK LESS.

Pastor Ross

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Matthew 13:53-58 – THE POWER OF STUPIDITY – Part 22

Unbelief

It’s the end of the world! Despite Acts 1:7 (NASB) where Jesus makes it clear that “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority”, recently some Christians predicted the world would end on May 21, 2011, spending millions of dollars on an advertising campaign. Christians can so misrepresent Christ and His message at times! The power of stupidity!

However, the pendulum swing away from Christ and His message in the so-called “separation of Church and state” is just as ridiculous. Those who are not followers of Christ are just as guilty of intolerance and stupidity as Christians wearing signs about the world ending on a certain day. Apparently using terms such as “conversion,  believers, unbelievers, church, the cross, crucifixion, Christ, the blood of Christ, salvation through Christ, redemption through Christ, the Son of God or the Christian life”  are considered to be more and more offensive in our society.  

In Australia, Chaplains are restricted from sharing the message of Christ in schools because such a message might affect young lives. A message of unselfish living, discipline, absolute standards, loving God and your neighbour and the very foundational principles of being human emotionally, physically and spiritually are apparently no longer welcome or only welcome in doses that don’t offend. Such intolerance draws me back to a place called Nazareth and to the nature of unbelief itself.

It seems that UNBELIEF STILL HARBOURS DEEP RESENTMENT AGAINST JESUS. “They were deeply offended and refused to believe in Him….” (Matthew 13:57 NLT). The literal meaning of offended has to do with stumbling. His neighbours and friends stumble as much over Jesus then as they do now. “Familiarity breeds contempt”. Strange that familiarity with Him can become an obstacle to knowing Him personally.

In Nazareth UNBELIEF personified, dresses in a multicoloured coat in order to please everyone, knocks at many doors but is unwilling to wait for anyone to come, asks the right questions but is averse to hearing any of the answers. Bizarre! “Where does He get His wisdom and power?” (Matthew 13:54 NLT). No, don’t tell me!

The obvious answer in neon lights only makes unbelief turn away. A worldview set in cement. Jesus spoke of hard, stony ground in His parable of the soils. UNBELIEF IS ALL TOO WILLING TO LIMIT THE PARAMETERS OF UNDERSTANDING to what I have always known or to whatever the social norms are for our society, no matter how twisted and perverse they may be.

A man declares that all he knows is that once he was blind but now he can see, but UNBELIEF remains blind and RIDICULES THE POSSIBILITY OF THE MIRACULOUS. Mark 6:5-6 (NLT) tells us “because of their unbelief, He couldn’t do any mighty miracles among them except to place His hands on a few sick people and heal them. And He was amazed at their unbelief.” UNBELIEF AMAZES GOD!

In NazarethUNBELIEF PUSHES CHRIST AWAY and embraces instead the tragic consequences of sickness, disease, death. Self-centred lifestyles continue their unrelenting and oppressive reign. I can be amazed at Jesus, astonished by His miracles of power and His wise teaching, but UNBELIEF CAN STILL ROB ME OF THE DIFFERENCE CHRIST CAN MAKE IN MY LIFE. Because of their unbelief, Jesus is only able to heal a few people inNazareth.

This is not the first or the last time that Jesus will be rejected. Most of the Pharisees and religious leaders reject Him, yet Nicodemus, one of the Pharisees gets it right. He connects the dots. He comes to Jesus and says in John 3:2 (NLT) “we all know that God has sent You to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you.”

The ultimate rejection of our humanity was that we had the arrogance to hang Him who knew no sin upon a Cross. Even the men who are crucified with Jesus ridicule Him, until one of them recognises who He is and believes in Him (Luke 23:40-43). Luke 23:36-37 (NLT) says “The soldiers mocked Him, too” until one Centurion sees that He truly is the Son of God (Mark 15:39).

Faith has great power. It has the power to bring to bear the Kingdom of Heaven upon the earth as I believe and receive eternal life. But UNBELIEF ALSO HAS GREAT POWER – THE POWER OF STUPIDITY. Psalms 53:1 (NLT) says “Only fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.””

Would I be a fool not to believe in Christ? The Bible says that the “Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.” (Proverbs 1:7 NLT). Romans 1:16 (NASB) says “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, …”

“WHERE DOES HIS POWER AND WISDOM COME FROM?” The invitation is to be open to, not offended by, the answer to that question. But be warned. The next dilemma ,should the answer to that question be that it comes from God, will be “What will I do with Jesus?”

Pastor Ross

Part 17 – Matthew 12:46-50 – JESUS CELEBRATES MY BIRTHDAY!

 

Jesus Loves Me!

My daughter, Rachel, is pregnant! Woo Hoo! Another little boy will soon be born into our family. What a gift!

Christmas of course celebrates the gift God gave in the birth of a baby boy, our Saviour, Jesus. We gather around the manger or decorated Christmas trees to sing carols, and exchange gifts, laugh together, enjoy each others company, and express our love for eachother as a family, peace, goodwill to all mankind and all that.

I wonder if Jesus and His family celebrated His birthday (maybe not with a tree and star or Christmas angel on top, but you know, have a bit of a birthday party, special food etc?). Did He play with His other younger brothers and sisters or where they ESTRANGED from Him? (And yes, Jesus has brothers and sisters. Mary and Joseph had other children).

Once in the world did Jesus merely TOLERATE His Mum and his brothers and sisters? When He went into ministry did Jesus DISOWN them, acknowledging only that they were a necessary means to an end, a kick start in being human, increasingly DISASSOCIATING Himself from them as the years went on? Kind of like a step-Mum and step brothers but not a “REAL” family. Always an awkwardness in calling her Mum? Who is she really? Who were they really?

I have read some ridiculous comments concerning Matthew 12:46-50 this week about Jesus’ relationship with His family – His mother and brothers. They almost imply that Jesus comes from a dysfunctional family!

As Jesus is speaking to the crowd, His mother and brothers are standing outside, asking to speak to Him. Jesus takes the opportunity to use this as an illustration. He asks the crowd, “Who is My mother? Who are My brothers?” Then He pointed to His disciples and said, “Look, these are My mother and brothers. Anyone who does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother!”  

Now why is this mentioned? What is Jesus doing here? REJECTING His family? Brushing them off? Is Jesus trying to stop His family from speaking with Him because He thinks that secretly they are AGAINST Him (Matthew 12:30)?

I have read interpretations of this passage stating that Jesus family are INTERRUPTING His ministry and OPPOSING Him, and how His family has become a RIVAL to His ministry. Hang on a second. WHERE IS THAT?

Jesus wasn’t REJECTING His family! Jesus isn’t ASHAMED of His family. He isn’t ridiculing them, disowning them, disassociating Himself from them, or belittling them. He wasn’t ANNOYED that they were being too familiar with Him. To me, none of that is said or implied!

They just wanted to speak with Him! NO BIG DEAL! And I don’t see any great picture of UNBELIEF here! Jesus’ Mum and brothers aren’t in COMPETITION with Jesus, vying for attention. We aren’t told WHY his family wanted to talk to Him but why assume the worst. This isn’t an awkward moment for Jesus.

Jesus loved His family. He obviously loved His Mum. Even on the Cross He was concerned for her well being. She wasn’t an interruption to Him when He was being crucified. While He died on the Cross His concern was for her welfare. He wanted John to look after her (John 19:27). Why would He regard His Mum and brothers as an interruption now? Jesus died for His family too!

So what is this passage all about? Jesus is speaking of the priority of a FAMILY RELATIONSHIP with God. Jesus is using His loving family relationship as an ILLUSTRATION of how we can have a SPIRITUAL family relationship with God. It’s all to do with coming under God’s authority and doing His will.

In Luke 8:21 (NLT) Jesus says, “My mother and My brothers are all those who hear God’s word and obey it.” In John 14:23-24 (NLT) Jesus says, “All who love Me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and We will come and make Our home with each of them. Anyone who doesn’t love Me will not obey Me. And remember, My words are not My own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent Me.” 

To have a family relationship with Jesus depends on being a disciple of Christ. It is based on an eternal relationship, a relationship with God Himself.

We will celebrate the BIRTH of Christ this Christmas as a family. He celebrates my NEW BIRTH (John 3:3) into His family. Luke 15:10 (NLT) says “…there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.” JESUS CELEBRATES MY BIRTHDAY! John 1:12 (NLT) says “But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become CHILDREN OF GOD.” What about you? Will Jesus celebrate your birthday this Christmas?

God bless you as you respond to the invitation Christ gives you today to become a CHILD OF GOD, born again, into the FAMILY of God.

Pastor Ross

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