“And He said to them, ‘Where is your faith?’ And they were fearful and amazed, saying to one another, ‘Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?’ ” Luke 8:25 (NASB)

 

 

 

What started out as a perfect day for a boat ride across the lake turned into one of the scariest ordeals the men had ever experienced. At Jesus’ suggestion, the disciples, some of whom were fishermen, launched the boat onto a calm sea. Soon Jesus fell asleep. Suddenly, the winds picked up, tunneling down the mountains causing gale force winds on the lake. Tossed back and forth, the boat began to take on water and the lives of those on the boat were in jeopardy. It would only be a matter of time before the boat capsized.

As the waters surged, the men did everything their experience trained them for but they struggled to keep the boat from sinking and themselves from drowning. Now there was nothing else to do but to call on Jesus and warn Him of the imminent danger they were in: “Master, Master, we are perishing!” (Luke: 8:24), they cried out to Him. Jesus awakened and commanded the wind to stop; immediately, the winds ceased and the sea became calm again. He could, with a simple command, calm the storms that threatened them. Turning to the disciples, Jesus asked, “Where is your faith?”

When the sea storms overcame the disciples, Jesus wasn’t asking them where their faith was because they showed fear; He was asking because their actions and cries showed they had no hope. They had seen Him perform so many miracles and yet they still didn’t realize that Jesus had Authority over the winds and the sea.

I wonder if you’ve ever had one of those days that started out perfectly but, through a chain of events, fell apart and you felt completely overwhelmed? You did everything you knew to do and out of desperation you cried out: ‘God, I am dying here!’

God will use your circumstances to reveal to you the vastness of His power.  Can you think of a time when you felt your circumstances were too much for you to overcome? Remember next time to ask yourself, ‘Where is my faith?’ then Jesus won’t have to!

By Karen Aker


 

And He said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.’ ” Luke 7:50 (HCSB)

 

 

Jesus’ ministry on earth was short but He had so much to teach the people – to teach us. We learn not only does Jesus perform healing miracles on the physically sick; He performs healing miracles on the heart. Luke 7:36-50 recalls a woman’s encounter with Jesus in the home of Simon the Pharisee. The passage tells us she had lived a sinful life – quite possibly she was a prostitute. She came into Simon’s home weeping and fell to her knees kissing the feet of Jesus. She wiped her tears off His feet with her hair and then poured expensive perfume on them. Scripture doesn’t tell us how she knew about Jesus but it is obvious she had heard He was the Messiah. Perhaps she even heard Him teach. Even though it was customary to wash one’s feet upon entering a home, Jesus knew that this was no ordinary foot washing.

Imagine for a moment being this woman. She knows she has been living a sinful life and needs to be forgiven. If she goes to the priest … no, they won’t accept her, but maybe Jesus will. While wiping tears off her face she runs to get the most precious thing she has; an alabaster jar of perfume. When she arrives at the home where Jesus is, she sees Him. She can’t speak. Maybe she has a knot in her throat as she tries hard not to cry. Maybe she knows with her reputation she is not worthy to be in the home of a religious Jewish leader; let alone in the presence of the Messiah. All she can do is fall at Jesus’ feet and kiss them. Feeling the remorse of her sin, sobs of tears burst forth onto Jesus’ feet. She quickly realizes His feet are getting wet so she takes her hair to wipe off the dirty sin her tears represent and continues to kiss His feet. She doesn’t even hear Simon talking to Jesus about her reputation. Then she remembers the offering she brought. She pours the perfume on His feet to clean off her dirty tears.

All this precious woman wants is to be clean but she doesn’t feel she can be. No, not with what she has done. Then she realizes Jesus is looking at her. He starts speaking to the Pharisee about what she has been doing. That she has shown Jesus greater kindness and love to Him than the Pharisee despite her reputation. The most amazing thing happens next. Jesus says to her, “Your sins are forgiven” (Luke 7:48). The voices in the room become a mumbling background noise to her. All she can hear is Jesus’ voice healing and filling her heart with peace and joy. She knows she is forgiven and clean from all her sin. It’s a miracle! He then tells her, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace” (Luke 7:50).

Today’s verse from Luke teaches us about a woman who knew she was a sinner in need of a Savior. It also tells us about a Pharisee who only saw the woman’s sin and not his own. They are both sinners yet one seeks Jesus’ forgiveness and the other does not. Jesus points out that the woman’s faith in Him has saved her. Ephesians 2:8 reminds us, “For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift” (HCSB). We all have need of forgiveness and God gives us the faith to seek Him for it.

When was the last time you asked God to forgive you of your sins? Are you sometimes more aware of the sins of others than your own? Ask God to reveal your sin to you if you don’t see it. Take time today to pour your heart out at Jesus’ feet. Be genuinely sorry and seek His forgiveness.  If you have faith to believe in Him, He will not only forgive you, He will heal your heart and will say to you, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”

By Carol Jones

                                                                                                                                                                                                 “And


The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  John 1:14 (HCSB)

 

 

 

The prophecies of the coming Messiah in the Old Testament were fulfilled with the miraculous birth of Jesus. John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (HCSB). Jesus, the Word, became flesh. Jesus, God’s Son, has all the glory, grace, truth, and holiness of God. He came to earth and took up residence among us. In Hebrew, those words translate as He “set up a tent.” Jesus, the Messiah, is here!

Jesus in his holiness was both God and man. It is inconceivable to think God would become man and reside with us. Remember the Israelites feared His amazing glory at the base of the mountain when Moses presented the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20)? Remember that God allowed only the High priest to enter the Holy of Holies of the Temple where Yahweh resided? And only on certain holy days? And now God comes in the form of man? How can this be?

Our hearts are sinful (Romans 3:10-12) and yet God’s willingness to come to us demonstrates His love and grace to the fullest. 1 John 4:9 says, “God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him” (HCSB). Philippians 2:7-8 describes Jesus in this way, “Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death—even to death on a cross” (HCSB). Scripture is clear that God sent Jesus as the promised Messiah so we can have eternal life. John 1:11-12 reveals that God’s own people didn’t see that Jesus was the Messiah but that all those who believe in His name will become children of God. Jesus, the Messiah, is here! And He came for everyone!

Do you see that Jesus is the Messiah?  Your Messiah? If you don’t, ask yourself why. Could it be that you do not feel good enough for Him? None of us is really good enough and that is the essence of God’s unconditional love. God loves you just as you are. Oh, how He loves you! You are so special to Him and He wants you to live with Him forever in eternity. Don’t you? By accepting Christ Jesus as your Savior you can and will.

“If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation. Now the Scripture says, Everyone who believes on Him will not be put to shame, for there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, since the same Lord of all is rich to all who call on Him. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:9-13 (HCSB)

By Carol Jones


When I heard these words, I sat down and wept. I mourned for a number of days, fasting and praying before the God of heaven.

Please, Lord, let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant and to that of Your servants who delight to revere Your name. Give Your servant success today, and have compassion on him in the presence of this man.

At the time, I was the king’s cupbearer. Nehemiah 1:4, 11 HCSB

Some days seem like we have too much to do. The pressures of life squeeze us into uncomfortable places and shape our priorities. Nehemiah was a man with many life pressures. What was the first thing he did when burdened by the disarray of the city of his people, Jerusalem? He fasted and prayed to God. He wept and confessed that he along with his people had sinned against the Lord and deserved the trouble they were encountering. He asked the Lord to move powerfully and lead King Artaxerxes to do something about the broken down walls of Jerusalem.

When Artaxerxes asked about Nehemiah’s sad countenance, he first prayed before uttering a word. Then, he offered Artaxerxes his petition and the king answered favorably, giving Nehemiah the supplies and the commission to rebuild the walls around Jerusalem. Suddenly, Nehemiah was the answer to his prayer! Soon he traveled to Jerusalem with supplies and a vision, relying on God.

Opposition came against the returned exiles as they rebuilt the walls so Nehemiah again prayed (4:4-5) and encouraged the people. As a result, God frustrated the plots of the opposition. In each crisis, Nehemiah led the exiles to pray together for God’s assistance and, each time, God protected them and the building proceeded. As a man of prayer, Nehemiah wrote: “But out of reverence to God … I devoted myself to the work on this wall.” Because he led with prayer and kept his eye on the goal of rebuilding the walls around Jerusalem, the job was finished in just 52 days! The people of Jerusalem began their celebration of the new walls with the devout prophet and scribe Ezra reading God’s Word—they feasted on God’s Truth before enjoying a celebration of choice food and drink!

The exiles experienced a revival under Nehemiah’s prayerful leadership. As a politically powerful person, Nehemiah humbled himself before God and repeatedly came in prayer, asking for God’s help.  At every stage of his life—cupbearer, builder, governor—we find Nehemiah in prayer. What is the first thing you do when you feel pressured by the demands of life, the troubles in our world, the hard places where you find yourself? Do you fret and worry or do you bend your knees in prayer, asking God to act mightily by His awesome power to accomplish His good work in your life? Lead on your knees! Like Nehemiah, come first to God in prayer allowing Him to provide the assistance and guidance you need in the midst of life’s pressures.

By Carol McLaren


“The final glory of this house will be greater than the first,” says the Lord of Hosts. “I will provide peace in this place”—this is the declaration of the Lord of Hosts.  Haggai 2:9 (HCSB)

 

 

In our prophetic readings this week, we see Old Testament prophets looking forward to the promised Messiah who would bring peace, lasting peace, to a hurting world. That sounds like such a faraway concept to believers who live indwelt with the Holy Spirit; however, to these prophets and to us today, it was and is an amazing promise.

The temple the returning Israelites were rebuilding in Jerusalem was no substitute for the great temple of Solomon. Haggai was an old man who remembered Solomon’s grand temple and realized this new temple was but a shadow of the former one. However, God encouraged him and the others to keep building this new temple. Opposition from outside and the task itself were overwhelming and sometimes discouraging, but the Lord promised to be with them. The most amazing promise of all, however, was that the Lord spoke of an even greater and more glorious temple where He would grant peace. That greater temple is you and I! We are the temple of the Holy Spirit. God Himself promises to give peace to this place.

What kind of peace are we talking about here? Let’s start with a look at some of the last words Jesus spoke with His disciples. John 14:27: Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Your heart must not be troubled or fearful.”

We tend to consider the peace “the world gives” as an absence of hostility and strife among countries and people groups. A quick review of history, though, shows us that form of peace usually comes only after some terrible conflict and is always temporary. The peace “the world gives” can also be our daily personal attempts towards getting along with each other. We try to be peaceful and cordial and respectful in our responses to others, thinking we are making an individual contribution to a more peaceful world–but how often are these efforts in our own power and not God working through us? No, the peace “the world gives” is transitory and we cannot build our lives on it.

However, God repeatedly promises His people the gift of His peace, rest in His presence. The promised Messiah the prophets longed for, Jesus, promises this gift of peace. And, He says to you and me, “Don’t worry. Don’t be afraid.” Whatever you face today is not so big nor so scary that God’s peace cannot take care of it. The bills that keep coming, the troubles at work, the conflicts with family—whatever opposition you are facing today is nothing compared to this offer of divine peace from the heart of a loving God who knows just what you need no matter the situation. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit who indwells us, bringing us peace in every situation.

Won’t you take time today to trust Him for the peace you are promised in the Holy Spirit? Rest in His presence, knowing that He has already provided for all your needs.

By Carol McLaren


 “Then these men went as a group and found Daniel petitioning and imploring his God.

Daniel 6:11 (HCSB)

 

Expected to eat the king’s food, caught up in the midst of the king’s bizarre dreams, threatened with a fiery inferno and thrown into a lair of famished lions, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego found themselves in a new and different world compelling them to make choices between compromise or faithfulness to God, even facing life or death. We’ve read this familiar story time and time again. We know what choices they made. But what about you and me? We too are in a world that’s not our own, faced with situations compelling us to make choices. Where will this world find us in the midst of tough decisions?

When people are looking for answers to the meaning of life and there is no one to provide them with any, where will you be found? Will you be found empty-handed–lacking answers found in God’s Word because you spent too much time filling your heart and mind with worry, doubt, and fear about the circumstances of life? Or will you be empty-handed because you were too busy chasing after the worthless and meaningless things the world has to offer?

When faced with a choice to live according to God’s Word or succumb to political correctness, will you be found compromising the truth for the sake of peace? Will you be found making high-pressured concessions for your loved ones or for the sake of your job?

When those who oppose you, whoever they may be, are hot on your trail, plotting against and trying to silence you because of your stance for Christ, will they find you hiding with a lowered voice? Or will you stop serving God out of fear for what might happen to you? When they try to trap you or find fault with you, where will you be found?

When the world is feeding you a daily portion of its world view full of corruption, subtle lies, and blatant immorality, where will you be found? Will you be found in line with your plate in one hand and fork in the other ready to devour whatever the world offers, growing weaker in your faith with every mouthful?

Because Daniel was found uncompromising at the King’s table, he was also found in the King’s court imparting wisdom from God (Daniel 1:8-16). God blessed him. Because Daniel was found ready with a word from the Lord, He was also found as ruler over the entire province of Babylon. God elevated him. Because Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were found choosing not to bow to an idol, they were also found unharmed by the fiery furnace. God preserved them. Because Daniel was found on his knees before the Lord, he was also found lying peaceably alive and well with the lions in their den. God protected him.

Faithful one, may the world find you uncompromising for His sake, standing boldly with the Lord, seeking and doing the will of God, no matter the cost! For, just as He was with Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, He is right there with you.

By Abigail George


Then I had concern for My holy name, which the house of Israel profaned among the nations where they went. Therefore, say to the house of Israel: This is what the Lord God says: It is not for your sake that I will act, house of Israel, but for My holy name, which you profaned among the nations where you went.” Ezekiel 36:21-22 (HCSB)

 

Torn from the Promised Land, once beautifully flowing with milk and honey and now defiled by their own sin and disobedience, the children of Israel spent their days exiled in the land of the Babylonians. If there were cries of repentance and help to God, they could not be heard over the echoes of the nations’ scorn of the people, disdain for their land, and mockery of God’s Holy name. Loud and clear, over and over, God heard His name profaned among the nations and among His people. God was concerned about His name. Dare the nations say that it was by their own hands they captured Israel, thinking God to be puny and callous; that He had abandoned His own people? Dare His people say that He was forgetful, unrelenting, unjust, and had left them for dead? No! God would not have it!

Don’t be mistaken, God’s concern for His name is not a sign of weakness showing Him to be a petty God who is wounded by the latest gossip about who He is. God wants to protect His name, for in His name is His reputation, His character.

• His name is Holy. He will not let sin prevail in His presence (Ezekiel 36; 43:7-9).
• His name is Yahweh. He is the Covenant God. He has kept and will continue to keep the covenant He made with Abraham (Exodus 3:15).
• His name is Sovereign. He is sovereign over all–even Israel’s enemies (Ezekiel 25-32).
• His name is El Qanna. He is jealous for His people (Ezekiel 8:3; 23:25).
• His name is El Roi. He sees the condition of His beloved (Ezekiel 34:12).
• His name is Jehovah-jireh. He provides for His people even while in exile.
• His name is Jehovah-shalom. He brings peace (Ezekiel 34:25).
• His name is Jehovah-raah. The Good Shepherd (Ezekiel 34).
• His name is Jehovah-shammah. He is always there (Ezekiel 48:35).
• His name is Jehovah-rapha. The One who heals (Ezekiel 34:16)
• In His name is the Hope of Restoration. He will restore to His people what once was Ezekiel 33-48; 36:35).
• His Name is Love. He acts and moves in love–deeply and passionately to restore man back to Himself (John 3:16).

God could not allow His name to be profaned and so for His name’s sake, He responded to the plight of His people. He told them that He would bring them back to their land and restore it. He would cleanse and give them a new heart for His name’s sake. He would give them His Spirit and they would be His people and He would be their God. He would rebuild what was once destroyed and they would no longer be a reproach to the nations. It would not be because of any good and righteous thing they have done, but He would do this for His name’s sake (Ezekiel 36:24-38).

My friend, God loves you. He wants to heal and restore. He wants to rebuild that broken relationship, bring you back to that place of sweet fellowship with Him, soften that hardened heart, cleanse that area of sin in your life, and plant something brand new in you. He wants to destroy those strongholds and provide nourishment for your spiritual famine, for His name’s sake.

If it were for our names’ sake, our tough days would seem endless and filled with sleepless nights like never-ending storms; our difficult circumstances would look hopeless and the thought of joy restored merely a pipedream. If it were for our names’ sake, we would have died in our sin and be eternally cut off from the presence of God–never having the gift of salvation. Praise the Lord that for His Holy name’s sake, in the midst of our sin, He extended grace and mercy to us, through Jesus Christ! (Romans 5:8) For His name’s sake we are set free!

I will honor the holiness of My great name, which has been profaned among the nations–the name you have profaned among them. The nations will know that I am Yahweh”–the declaration of the Lord God–”when I demonstrate My holiness through you in their sight.” Ezekiel 36:23 (HCSB)

By Abigail George


“Thus I will establish My Covenant with you and you shall know that I am the Lord.”
Ezekiel 16:62 (NASB)

Grabbed by the locks of his hair, Ezekiel was taken up in a vision and brought to the seat of the idol of jealousy just outside the north altar gate of the Temple in Jerusalem (Ezekiel 8:3). It was from there the Lord showed Ezekiel how Israel’s idols provoked Him to jealousy for Israel. As Ezekiel passed through the entrance of the gate, he noticed carvings of the animals the Israelites worshipped. He smelled the burning incense in the Temple and heard the men proclaiming God turned His back on them. He heard the women weeping for the god of Tammuz. He spied the men prostrating themselves in honor of the sun (Ezekiel 8:10-16). Because of all this and more, God kept his Presence far from the Temple. The idolatry kindled God’s jealousy and He sent messages through Ezekiel that He would destroy their idols and the Temple. His purpose was clear: “… you shall know that I am the Lord.”

God recounted to Ezekiel how He made Israel His bride and He was her Husband. How he adorned her with jewelry and made her beautiful. When she became prideful she went after other lovers. He reminisced how Jehovah perused His bride and set His mind to destroy her lovers. He disciplined her with redemption in mind:  “… you shall know that I am the Lord.”

Jehovah told of how He would destroy the city of Jerusalem and judge the inhabitants by what they had done. Each one would suffer for their sin. Nothing could stay the hand of judgment that was looming over them. The army was marching towards Israel and the famine was fierce inside the city walls. His goal was clear: “… you shall know that I am the Lord.”

Have you ever been jealous of someone? Felt that raw emotion of being tossed aside for someone new and exciting? Felt the sting of someone being selected for a position you thought you would be selected for? It is hurtful and makes one angry; being jealous of someone is a very human emotion but God is not jealous of anyone. He is only jealous for someone.

Have you let anything or anyone take the place of the Lord God in your life? Are you looking to man to provide instead of your Provider? Perhaps your career? Perhaps the prestige of a beautiful home in a beautiful neighborhood with a beautiful car parked out front have become the adornment in your life rather than the beauty of your spirit and your relationship with the Lord? Are you dwelling on something that is worthless in light of God’s provision for you? Are you trusting in anything that causes you to break the heart of God and incite Him to jealousy? God, through Jesus Christ, made a New Covenant to bring us to Himself. God is jealous for you and He will do whatever it takes to remind you that He is Lord.

By Karen Aker


                                                                                                                                                                

And the Lord, the God of their fathers, sent word to them again and again by His messengers, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place; but they continually mocked the messengers of God, despised His words and scoffed at His prophets until the wrath of God arose against His people and there was no remedy. 2 Chronicles 36:15 (NAS)

 

The ground was cracked and the cisterns were dry; the land was desiccated. Message after message God sent to Israel through the prophet Jeremiah to repent of their wickedness and turn to the Lord but they would not listen. The people continued to cry to their gods but no rain came and the people were dying.

King Zedekiah rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar and the city suffered all the more for it. The invading army surrounded Israel and cut off their supplies.  When King Nebuchadnezzar commanded the city be razed, the remaining Israelites watched in terror as the stench of smoke filled their nostrils and stung their eyes. Jerusalem was destroyed and all that they loved burnt to the ground.

No longer would the people of Israel, God’s chosen, trust in the Temple for their security while using it for pagan worship. No longer could they provoke Jehovah by sacrificing their children in the fire. No longer would they burn incense to the queen of heaven in the land of Jehovah. They had refused to stop worshiping the works of their hands so God destroyed their idols. They had refused to give the Sabbath rest to the land so God removed the people and gave the land rest.

Then the rain came. The dry cracked ground closed and the cisterns were filled with water once more and the land yielded its fruit again.

What messages have you been ignoring lately?  Are your inboxes filled and your table cluttered with mail you haven’t opened?  There may be other important messages we are ignoring.

Have you heard the quiet voice of the Spirit moving you to be kinder to your spouse or children or co-worker? Have you listened to the whisper of the Holy Spirit to give a portion of your time to aid someone in need? Have you listened to the concern of a friend who has implored you to end your interest in things unfitting for a child of God? Have you asked God why your spiritual life is dry? Listen and obey the quiet messages of God. And then wait for the rain.

By Karen Aker


“Am I a God who is only in one place?” asks the LORD. “Do they think I cannot see what they are doing? Can anyone hide from me? Am I not everywhere in all the heavens and earth?” asks the LORD.”
Jeremiah 23:23-24 (NLT)

 

God is omnipresent which means He is in all places at all times. He is both near (immanent) and far away (transcendent). How awesome and powerful He is! This attribute of God presents us with a sense of security that we are not alone.  This is also a warning to those who are not following faithfully that He knows all and sees all that they do. We cannot hide from Him.

In Jeremiah 23:23-24, God warns false prophets that He sees them and knows their ways. He did not send false prophets to proclaim His Word and yet they “ran” to tell a message to the people. He condemns them for not standing in His presence and council; if they had, their message would have been one calling the people to repentance (Jeremiah 23:21-22). These false prophets included leaders of the temple whom the people trusted to speak truth from God. As we know from the first chapters in the book of Jeremiah, he was called by God to be a true prophet. Jeremiah speaks against these false prophets many times and makes it clear their lives are corrupt.

Do we have false teaching today? Do we need to be careful what we listen to and believe? Yes, we do! Jeremiah’s prophecy in chapter 23, verses 5-6 proclaims that God would raise up a “righteous branch of David” to save the people – and He did! Jesus Christ, the Lord Our Righteous Savior, did come!  He was crucified for us, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven, indwelling all who believe in Him with the Holy Spirit to guide us (Acts 1:2). Praise the Lord!

Those who believe need to listen to the Spirit to help discern when there is false teaching and to examine the Scriptures for the truth – God’s truth. Scripture is clear on recognizing false teachings. 2 Peter 2:11-17 is also a good passage to study on this subject.

Are you educating yourself in studying the Scriptures so you are aware of false teaching? How about what you are teaching? Are you careful to teach and live out the Scriptures correctly?  Are you aware, really aware, that God is omnipresent and sees your heart and all you do? Would this change some things you do in secret?

Psalms 139:1-3 states, “Lord, You have searched me and known me.  You know when I sit down and when I stand up; You understand my thoughts from far away.  You observe my travels and my rest; You are aware of all my ways.”

Pray this verse to the Lord today and ask Him to help you.

By Carol Jones