Sunday, August 21, 2011

What is the Gospel?

I recently preached this sermon on What is the Gospel?

John 6:44 - No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.

·        The Gospel begins with God calling us to believe in Him and commit ourselves to Him.
·        Once God calls us to salvation, we must decide how we will respond to His invitation.
·        Will we accept God’s invitation with joy and have the fulfilling life God wants us to have?
·        Will we kick against the pricks in our spirit and live for ourselves by refusing to come to Him?
·        When we choose to kick against the pricks, we miss out on the best life we could have had even if we trust Christ near the end of our lives.

How do we know if God has called us?

·        Anyone reading this right now must be called because there are far too many other things we could be doing than looking at a blog from some unknown preacher who lives in the least religious state in America. God drew YOU to this site. Now, what will YOU do?
·        Though the Gospel begins with God calling us, we are responsible for responding to that calling and choosing to believe.
·        Some of us grew up in families that taught us about Jesus and helped us think about matters of faith.
·        Some of us grew up in families that did not teach us anything about faith and we often feel like we do not have a clue who God is or what He wants in our lives.
·        Either way, at some point we must make our own choice about Christ .
·        Those of us who grew up in Christian homes are not automatically Christians. We must still make our own choice for Christ. God does not have grandchildren, He only has children.
·        Those of us who grew up outside the Christian faith are not destined to never believe.
·        We can change the generational cycle and believe for ourselves and we can give our children a better opportunity to believe when they grow old enough to understand the Gospel.
·        Each generation must seek and find its own relationship with Jesus.

What do we need to know in order to understand the Gospel?

·        Honestly, understanding the Gospel begins with BAD news.
·        When we were a kid, maybe we thought the world was a great place, but now we know better. The world is full of bad stuff.
·        The world is a bad place because it is filled with a lot of bad people.
·        Romans 3:10 – There is none righteous, no not one.
·        No one does right ALL the time.
·        Romans 3:23 – For all have sinned and come short of the goodness of God.
·        No one is as good as God.
·        1 John 1:8 – If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
·        We can pretend we are perfect, but we are only fooling ourselves.

Galatians 6:7 – Do not be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows he will also reap.

·        All that bad stuff (God calls it sin) produces bad results.
·        Deep inside we all know that when we do bad stuff, we deserve to be punished.
·        But we sure do a good job of deceiving ourselves into thinking that the rules do not apply to us. But that is childish thinking.
·        We need to stop playing “make believe” like we did when we were kids and be honest.
·        The reality is that we are ALL sinners.
·        ALL of us are BAD sometimes.
·        This means that all of us have contributed to the world being a bad place.
·        While some of the badness might be other people’s faults, some of it is our fault to.
·        Part of understanding the Gospel is accepting that reality.

Romans 6:23 - For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

·        Wages are what we earn for our efforts.
·        What we earn for our sin is death.
·        Though physical death can be one result of sin, the real emphasis here is spiritual death.
·        Spiritually, death means separation.
·        Sin separates us from other people and from God.
·        A gift, on the other hand, is something that someone gives out of kindness and love. We do not have to earn it.
·        God wants to give us the gift of eternal life.
·        Just as death means separation, life means connection.
·        Are we connected to God and to others?
·        Having Christ in our lives and living for Him gives us a stronger connection to other people and to God the Father.
·        It also means we will be connected to each other and to God for all eternity.
·        That’s a cool gift!

John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Romans 5:8 - But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us!

·        God wants to give us this gift because of His great love.
·        God loves us and does not want us to be separated from Him or from our loved ones for all eternity.
·        Some people wonder why God sends people to hell if God loves them so much.
·        The answer is that God does NOT send people to hell.
·        People are already on their way to hell and God has done everything possible to keep those who are called from ending up in hell.

John 3:17- 19 - For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.  Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned . . . the light has come into the world, but people loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil.

·        People are already condemned by their own actions.
·        Even if we never go to church and hear the Word of God preached, deep inside we know we have done wrong. We become our own judges and we condemn ourselves.
·        Jesus came to save us from our own condemnation.
·        But too many of us prefer to follow the darkness instead of following Jesus because we do not want to admit that our actions are evil.
·        There is NO condemnation in Christ, only FREEDOM!!!!
·        God made a way for salvation, but we have to choose to accept that way.

Romans 10:9 - 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.

·        Confess means to admit.
·        Lord means boss or ruler.
·        We must admit that Jesus is our boss and that we need His help to get through life.
·        Admitting that we need Jesus to be our boss requires humbling ourselves and admitting that we cannot do it on our own.
·        Though that can be hard, part of understanding the Gospel is realizing that our way really is not working very well for us.
·        We may resist the Lord for a long time, but when we finally get tired of all the mess, we will be ready to make a commitment to Jesus.
·        Some may wonder if they are too bad for Jesus.

Romans 10:13 - For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

·        Everyone means E V E R Y O N E ! ! ! !
·        If we call on the Lord, no matter what our past was like, we WILL be saved.
·        It does not say we “might be” saved, it says we WILL be.
·        Have we called on Him yet?
·        If not, we can call on Him today!
Prayer for Salvation

Lord, I admit that I am a sinner. I am sorry for my sin. I want to turn from my sinful ways and follow You. I believe that You love me and that you died on the cross to pay for my sin. Please forgive me of my sins, come into my life and be my boss so You can help me live for You. Amen.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Doing the Good We Know to Do

This morning as I was having my quiet time with the Lord I was reflecting on a trip I took to the Holy Land back in January. Though many months have passed since that trip, I am still finding new reflections on my spiritual journey as a result of that trip.

I was reading this morning from Jeremiah about how the people asked the Lord for advice and then when He gave it, they refused to follow it. As I was thinking about my trip and how what I was reading related to it, it occurred to me that not much has changed through the centuries. Despite all our advances in science and technology, we still tend to ignore what the Lord tells us.

I am reminded of James 4:17, "The person who knows to do good and doesn't do it, it is a sin." That sure is a sin I have been guilty of many times in my life. I suspect all Christians have struggled with that particular sin. As we press in closer to the Lord, we can grow in this area and learn to "be doers of the word and not hearers only." (James 1:22).

Friday, August 12, 2011

Spiritual Speeders

For the last two days my two oldest children and I have been on the road driving from Vermont to South Carolina where they attend college. The weather was great and somehow we managed to avoid all the road construction and rush hour traffic. We had no delays on the trip, with one exception. As we neared Charlotte, North Carolina, we came up on a long line of traffic due to a tractor trailer that had slid off the road. There was a fire truck and a rescue vehicle and a state trooper on the scene. The line of traffic had all shifted to the far lane to give the emergency vehicles room to work. As we approached the actual scene of the incident, a SUV came flying down the road in the empty lane, passing the line of traffic, narrowly avoiding the emergency vehicles, and just kept going. Apparently the driver was unconcerned about anything other than where he was headed in such a hurry.

Since I have had lots of quiet time behind the wheel since then to think about the incident, it occurred to me that many Christians are just like that SUV driver. People all around us have slid off the road of life and become mired in difficulty and trouble. Though some Christians have responded and have pulled over from their busy lives to help, many just go flying by. Far too many Christians are hurrying along at neck break speed doing their own  thing. In the rush to do everything, we often pass by those who need help the most. Such spiritual speeders narrowly miss hurting concerned Christians who are responding to needs around them. Spiritual speeders cruise past other Christians who are at the very least slowing down to pray as they see needs around them.

I know I have been guilty of spiritual speeding far too often in my life. I suspect we all have been at certain points in our lives. But perhaps we need to learn to slow down and spend more time praying. Perhaps we need to pull over and spent time helping others. Perhaps we need to encourage ministers and lay leaders who are helping instead of putting them in greater danger through our reckless attitudes. Perhaps it is time to actually live out our Christianity instead of just talk about it.

For more devotionals like this one, consider Touching the Footprints of Jesus

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Nine Aspects of Praise

A word study developed by Dr. Terry W. Dorsett.
• In Bible is filled with examples of people praising the Lord.
• Our various English versions use the word “praise” to mean many different things, which we do not always appreciate as fully as we should.
• To fully understand what it means to praise the Lord, we need to look at the Hebrew and Greek words that were used in the original Bible.
• Though those words have ALL been translated into “praise” in English, each of them had a distinct meaning to the original readers of the Bible.
• Though there are a few words that we cannot translate as well as we would like, most of the time the word “praise” refers to one of SIX Hebrew words or one of THREE Greek words.

1. Halal
• Halal is the primary Hebrew word for praise.
• Our word "hallelujah" comes from this word.
• It means "to be clear, to shine, to boast, to rave, or to celebrate."
• Psalms 113:1-3 -Praise (halal) the Lord, praise (halal) O servants of the Lord, praise (halal) the name of the Lord.
• Psalms 150:1 - Praise (halal) the Lord! Praise (halal) God in his sanctuary; Praise (halal) him in his mighty expanse.
• The focus of this type of praise is with a clear word that gives glory to God.
• Saying “Amen,” “Hallelujah,” “Praise the Lord,” or “Glory to God” would be examples of how this aspect of praise could be used.
• Halal praise is not necessarily loud, nor does it need to draw attention to itself.
• It tends to be spontaneous and wells up from deep within us in response to something the Spirit reveals to us in the moment.

2. Shabach
• Shabach is a Hebrew word that means, "to shout, to address in a loud tone, to command, or to triumph."
• Psalms 47:1 - O clap your hands, all peoples; shout (shabach) to God with the voice of triumph.
• Psalms 145:4 - One generation shall praise (shabach) Your works to another and declare Your mighty acts.
• Isaiah 12:6 - Cry aloud and shout (shabach) for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, For great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.
• This aspect of praise is similar to Halal, but it is NOT quiet. It is loud!
• Though some people’s personalities are quiet and therefore they may not use this aspect of praise often, for those who tend to be loud anyway, this helps them channel their energy toward the Lord instead of worldly things.
• People who tend to be on the “loud” side find great freedom in being able to express themselves to the Lord with Shabach praise.
• One danger in this type of praise is that it is easy to make it about self instead of the Lord.
• For it to really be Shabach praise, our shouts must be to the Lord and not just about being heard by those around us.
• When our motive is to be heard by people, God will not bless our Shabach praises.

3. Yadah and Towdah
• Yadah is a Hebrew word which means, "to extend a hand, or to throw out the hand."
• Towdah comes from the word Yadah and means the same thing but is specifically focused on adoration or worship of God.
• Psalms 107:15 - Oh that men would praise (yadah) the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men.
• Psalms 63:1 - So I will praise You as long as I live; I will (yadah) lift up my hands in Your name.
• Jeremiah 33:11 – Praise (Towdah) the LORD of Hosts, for the LORD is good; His faithful love endures forever.
• Psalm 42:4 - I remember this as I pour out my heart: how I walked with many, leading the festive procession to the house of God, with joyful praise and thankful shouts.
• This aspect of praise focuses on lifting our hands in recognition of the greatness of the one being praised.
• While Yadah praise could apply to either the Lord, or to a person of prominence, Towdah praise can ONLY be applied to the Lord.
• While some people may never feel comfortable lifting their hands to the Lord, for those who do, it is a very freeing experience.
• There is something about lifting our hands to the Lord that makes us feel like we are opening our whole selves to the Lord in praise.

4. Barak
• Barak is a Hebrew word that means "to kneel down and bless God as an act of adoration.”
• Psalms 95:6 - O come let us worship and bow down; let us kneel (barak) before the Lord our maker.
• 1 Chronicles 29:20 - Then David said to all the assembly, "Now praise (barak) the Lord your God." And all the assembly praised (barak) the Lord, the God of their fathers, and bowed low and did homage to the Lord.
• This aspect of praise is similar to Yadah and Towdah in that it involves using our bodies to praise the Lord.
• But this aspect of praise is not just lifting a hand to the Lord, but it uses the whole body to kneel or bow before Him.
• Though the attitude of our hearts is more important than the position of our bodies, sometimes we just feel closer to the Lord when we kneel before Him.

5. Zamar
• Zamar is a Hebrew word that means "to pluck the strings of an instrument.”
• It was mostly used in connection with playing musical instruments in joyful expressions of worship.
• Psalms 57:8-9 - Awake my glory; awake harp and lyre, I will awaken the dawn! I will give thanks to You, O Lord among the peoples; I will sing praises to You among the nations.
• Spirit filled people who play musical instruments to the lord are praising Him in with this very special Zamar praise.
• Sadly, some of us will never get to praise the Lord in this way because we lack the skills, but for those who do, let it flow outward and upward in praise the King of Kings!
• People who play musical instruments in worship are not “performing.” (At least not if their hearts are in the right place!)
• The ability to use Zamar praise can easily become a point of pride for those who have great musical skills.
• But musical skill alone is not a guarantee that Zamar praise will happen.
• People who practice Zamar praise must be diligent to keep their hearts right and remain filled with the Spirit instead of filled with pride.

6. Tehillah
• Tehillah is a Hebrew word that means "to sing, especially singing hymns of the Spirit.”
• This is praise through singing.
• Psalms 22:3 - Yet You are holy, You are enthroned upon the praises (tehillah) of Israel.
• Psalms 33:1 - Rejoice in the Lord, o you righteous, for praise (tehillah) is appropriate for the upright.
• Though we may not all be able to give God Zamar praise through playing an instrument, we can all give the Lord Tehillah praise through singing.
• Singing to the Lord is not about hitting all the right notes, it is about expressing our hearts to the Lord through music.
• Music is a powerful force in our lives and should be a significant part of our relationship with the Lord.
• Whether in private or in group settings, we should be willing to lift our voices in song to the Lord.
• Just because our voice may not be perfect is not a reason to miss out on this powerful aspect of praise.
• Learn to love singing, even if others do not love hearing it!
• The Lord loves hearing us sing, and that is what matters.

7. Agalliao
• Agalliao is a Greek word that means “to jump for joy, to leap, or to exult”.
• It is sometimes translated as “rejoice” in English Bibles.
• Acts 16:34 - And then the jailer brought them into his house and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly, having believed in God with his whole household.
• Sometimes we are so overjoyed with what God is doing in our lives that we just cannot sit still.
• We feel the need to move in some joyful expression of praise.
• Maybe we tap a foot.
• Maybe we jump.
• Maybe we dance.
• Maybe we sway.
• However we move, we do it unto the Lord.

8. Proskuneo
• Proskuneo is a Greek word that means “to prostate oneself in worship; to reverence.” It is also sometimes translated as “worship.”
• Revelation 5:11-14 - Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders . . . saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.” . . . And the elders fell down and worshiped.
• Just as we are sometimes so full of joy that we want to jump, other times we become so overwhelmed with God’s holiness that we want to fall to the ground in humility before God.
• This aspect of praise is similar to the Hebrew Barak, but instead of just bowing or kneeling, we take this type of praise all the way and lay prostrate before God.

9. Thriambeuo
• Thriambeuo is a Greek word that means “to celebrate a victory or to triumph.”
• 2 Corinthians 2:14 - Now praise be unto God, who always causes us to triumph in Christ, and makes manifest the knowledge of the Savor through us in every place we go.
• This aspect of praise focuses on acknowledging a victory or triumph in our lives.
• It usually includes sharing a testimony or an experience of how God helped us in some way.
• The purpose of this type of praise is so that the knowledge of Christ might be spread.
• It is not about how great OUR faith is.
• It is about how great our JESUS is.
• This is the only aspect of praise that is more effective in a group setting than in private.

• God has made all kinds of praise because there are all kinds of people.
• Each of these aspects of praise can help us grow in our relationship with the Lord.
• No one should look down anyone else for not using any particular aspect of praise since all the words are used interchangeably in scripture.
• What is important is that we praise God in some way! Praise is important.
• Most of these aspects of praise can be done by anyone, though a few may be limited by skill or personality type.
• All of them can be done privately or in a group, though one type of praise (thriambeuo) is more effective in a group than in private.
• The key to all of these various aspects of praise is to keep the focus on the Lord, not on ourselves.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Ant and the Contact Lens

Brenda was almost halfway to the top of the tremendous granite cliff. She was standing on a ledge where she was taking a breather during this, her first rock climb. As she rested there, the safety rope snapped against her eye and knocked out her contact lens. "Great," she thought. "Here I am on a rock ledge, hundreds of feet from the bottom and hundreds of feet to the top of this cliff, and now my sight is blurry." 

She looked and looked, hoping that somehow it had landed on the ledge. But it just wasn't there. She felt the panic rising in her, so she began praying. She prayed for calm, and she prayed that she would find her contact lens.

When she got to the top, a friend examined her eye and her clothing for the lens, but it was not to be found. Although she was calm now that she was safely at the top, she was saddened because she could not clearly see across the range of mountains. She thought of 2 Chronicles 16:9, "The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth to show Himself strong to those whose heart is for Him."

She thought, "Lord, You can see all these mountains. You know every stone and leaf, and You know exactly where my contact lens is. Please help me find it."

Later that day after they had hiked down the trail to the bottom of the cliff they met another party of climbers just starting up the face of the cliff. One of them shouted out, "Hey, you guys! Anybody lose a contact lens?"

Though under the circumstances that question was startling enough, what was more amazing was that the person who asked it had just seen an ant moving slowly across a twig on the face of the rock, carrying a contact lens! ant carrying contact lens

The story does not end there. Brenda's father is a cartoonist. When she told him the incredible story of the ant, the prayer, and the contact lens, he drew a cartoon of an ant lugging that contact lens with the caption, "Lord, I do not know why You want me to carry this thing. I can not eat it, and it is awfully heavy. But if this is what You want me to do, I'll carry it for You."

It would do all of us some good to say, "God, I do not know why You want me to carry this load. I can see no good in it and it is awfully heavy. But, if You want me to carry it, I will."

Adapted from:

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Boundaries in Ministry - a guest post by Dennis Bickers

Nearly everything in a smaller church is relationship driven. One of the first questions people will ask when hearing about a recommended change for the first time is “How will this affect the relationships that exist in this church?” It is critical that pastors in such churches become involved in the lives of the congregation. In fact, I do not personally believe that it is wrong for the pastor to have friends within the congregation although one must be careful in such relationships. Pastors in the smaller church cannot lead those congregations from the church office. Pastors must be with the people they are serving. In fact, more than just being with them, it is necessary for the pastor to be adopted into the family that exists within the smaller church if the pastor is to enjoy a good ministry there.

This brings up a challenge for the minister. How does the pastor of a smaller church balance the need of such relationships with the need to maintain proper boundaries? Ministry in the smaller church can often seem suffocating. More than one pastor has complained that he can never get away from the congregation. This is especially true if the church is located in a rural setting or small community. Minister and family alike can feel trapped in a fishbowl situation.

The bivocational minister may have an advantage because he has another job to go to. They have a life apart from the church that may provide some separation. Of course, if they work around members of their church that advantage will be lost. Here are some thoughts about how to create and maintain healthy boundaries in ministry. This is not an exhaustive list but one to get you thinking about how to maintain proper boundaries in your relationships with your congregation.

1. Develop relationships with persons outside the church and nurture those relationships.
2. Maintain your days off and do not allow friends from church intrude on that time.
3. When possible, get away from the community on your days off so people cannot contact you.
4. Remember that you are not required to answer the telephone just because it rings. Caller ID is a wonderful tool. True emergencies can be responded to quickly, and “friendly” calls can be returned at your convenience.
5. Confidentiality is a must in all pastoral relationships including with one’s friends.
6. Be very cautious sharing personal information with anyone in the church as it can later be used against you. While I believe in being open and transparent when appropriate, I do so with the entire congregation, not just those with whom I may be friends.
7. It is imperative that the minister back away from any relationship that even hints at crossing appropriate boundaries of emotional or physical intimacy.

Dennis Bickers has been a bivocational pastors since 1981 and is also an Executive Minister for his region of the American Baptist Church.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Storms of Life

A sermon based on Matthew 14:22-33 developed by Dr. Terry W. Dorsett.

Verse 22 - Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He dismissed the crowds.
• Notice the first word of this verse is immediately.
• To understand this passage correctly, we need to know what happened right before it, so that we can understand why this passage happened immediately after it.
• The verses before this passage tell the story of how Jesus took a meal of 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish and miraculously multiplied it so that 5000 men plus their families had a full lunch AND they had 12 baskets of leftovers.
• That miracle demonstrated how Jesus had the supernatural power to overcome the natural laws of the universe.
• That miracle was a spiritual high for the disciples. They left the feeding of the 5000 thinking they could take on the world with Jesus’ power.
• Immediately after they left that miraculous event, they got in a boat and went through a terrible storm. So much for their spiritual high!
• Life is full of ups and downs.
• We often feel like we take three steps forward and two steps back.
• When something good happens that makes us feel great, it seems like something bad comes right along to rob us of our joy.
• The disciples experienced this same thing.
• If the disciples had known what was coming, they would have never gotten in the boat on their own.
• But Jesus knew they needed to learn a valuable lesson, so He made them get into the boat.
• Jesus knows what is going to happen in our lives and sometimes He nudges us along so that we get into the boat and take the journey that He knows we need to take.
• Jesus sent the disciples to the other side. He did not want them to just sail around in circles. Jesus wanted them to go a specific direction and end up in specific place.
• Life is a journey. But a journey is not just going in circles and never getting anywhere. A journey has a destination.
• Some people say they are on a journey through life, but in reality they are just lost. They are wandering endlessly in circles experiencing the same frustrations and difficulties over and over again.
• Jesus has a plan for our lives.
• Jesus wants us to end up in a specific destination.
• So embrace the journey of life, but do not get lost along the way.
• We must always remember where we are headed, which is toward eternity!

Verse 23 - After dismissing the crowds, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. When evening came, He was there alone.
• Jesus put the disciples into the boat because they had a lesson they needed to learn.
• Jesus then went up on a mountain where He could see the events as they played out.
• Notice that Jesus was praying while He was on the mountain watching His disciples learn this valuable lesson.
• When we go through the difficult storms of life, we sometimes feel like Jesus has abandoned us.
• But Jesus is watching over us all the time. He sees every detail of what is happening.
• Jesus is praying to the Father for us, interceding on our behalf.

Verse 24 - But the boat was already over a mile from land, battered by the waves, because the wind was against them.
• Though Jesus was on the mountain praying for His disciples, they did not know that. To them it seemed that they were alone in the boat.
• The boat was over a mile from shore when a storm blew in and giant waves battered the boat.
• No matter what they tried to do to steer the boat, the wind was against them.
• When trouble comes in life, it often seems like we are a mile from shore.
• We often feel battered and bruised by the storms of life.
• Sometimes it seems like no matter what we do, the wind is against us and nothing goes right.
• In these moments, we wonder where Jesus is.

Verse 25 - Around three in the morning, He came toward them walking on the sea.
• After the disciples had been struggling all night long, Jesus came to them at 3 AM.
• It is often in our darkest hour, when we think that all hope is lost that Jesus enters the picture and everything begins to change.
• Jesus may not always come on the schedule we want, but He always comes on the schedule that is right. He is an “on-time” God.

Verse 26 - When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified. "It's a ghost!" they said, and cried out in fear.
• When the disciples saw Jesus walking on the water, instead of getting excited because help was on the way, they got scared.
• Often when Jesus begins to reveal the answer to us about the storms we are experiencing in our lives, our first reaction is fear.
• We often fear the answer Jesus gives us because we want the easy way out.
• Jesus’ answer is always the right one, but it is not always the easy one.
• If we choose to ignore Jesus’ answer, there is no plan B that will work.
• It’s either Jesus, or sink!

Verse 27 - Immediately Jesus spoke to them. "Have courage! It is I. Don't be afraid.”
• Jesus spoke words of comfort and encouragement to them.
• Jesus speaks to our spirits and brings us comfort in the midst of the storm.
• Jesus used the phrase “It is I.”
• This phrase was the same that Moses heard when he stood at the burning bush and God said “I Am”
• This was a declaration of the divinity of Jesus.
• Jesus was both fully man and fully God.
• This gave Him the ability to relate to us as people but also to do miracles that changed the course of the natural laws of the universe.
• Jesus still sits on the throne of heaven and He is still in charge, even in the storms of our own lives. We do not need to be afraid.

Verse 28 – “Lord, if it's You,” Peter answered Him, “command me to come to You on the water.”
• Peter said “if” it was Jesus then he wanted to walk on the water too.
• Who else did Peter think it was?
• The word “if” shows that Peter was trying to make some type of bargain with Jesus.
• When we get into trouble in our lives, we often try to bargain with the Lord.

Verse 29 - "Come!" He said. And climbing out of the boat, Peter started walking on the water and came toward Jesus.
• We should be very careful when we bargain with Jesus, He may just take us up on our offer!
• Peter had committed himself so he climbed out of the boat and on walked on water.
• The laws of physics tell us this is impossible.
• But with God, the impossible becomes possible!
• As long as Peter was focused on Jesus and going toward Jesus, he was able to do the impossible.
• When we go through storms in our own lives, the key is to stay focused on Jesus and keep moving toward Jesus.

Verse 30 - But when he saw the strength of the wind, he was afraid. And beginning to sink he cried out, "Lord, save me!”
• But Peter had a hard time staying focused on Jesus.
• Instead Peter let the storm distract him.
• As soon as Peter took his focus off of Jesus, he began to sink.
• We also have a hard time staying focused on Jesus.
• Like Peter, we often find it easier to focus on the storm that is going on around us and we get our eyes off Jesus and begin to sink.
• There are also times when we go through storms of life and we start toward Jesus, and He helps us, but as soon as the pressure lets up a little, we go right back to our old ways and we begin to sink again!
• Peter cried out, “Lord, save me!”
• When we begin to sink, we must refocus ourselves on Jesus.
• We must cry out to Him. We must ask Him to help us. We must swallow our pride and realize that our way is NOT working and we must trust Him to rescue us from the mess we have made of things.

Verse 31 - Immediately Jesus reached out His hand, caught hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”
• As soon as Peter cried out for help, Jesus reached out His hand and rescued Peter.
• Jesus gave Peter a second chance because Jesus is the God of the second chance.
• Jesus is the God of the 10,000th chance!
• We should thank Jesus for His grace and cry out to Him for help no matter how many times we’ve cried out to Him before.

Verse 32 - When they got into the boat, the wind ceased.
• Jesus helped Peter get back in the boat and the storm stopped.
• Think about this for a moment. The last place Peter wanted to be was BACK in the boat. He wanted to be on dry ground!
• But Jesus made Peter get back in the boat because Peter had not yet finished the task that Jesus had given him, which was to take the boat to the other side.
• Often when we cry out to Jesus, we expect Him to make all the problems go away.
• While Jesus does calm the storms, He also tells us to get back in the boat!
• We must get back in the boat because we are not yet finished with whatever it was that He told us to do.
• We cannot just give up and quit. Quitting is not victory. Quitting is defeat.
• We must thank Jesus for His help, but then we must get back in the boat and finish what we started.
• We should not look for the easy way out, we should look for the “Jesus way” out and the Jesus way requires getting back in the boat and rowing, sailing, or paddling it to the other side of the lake.
• Start paddling!

Verse 33 - Then those in the boat worshiped Him and said, “Truly You are the Son of God!”
• The way to find the strength to get in the boat and continue to the other side is to focus on worshipping Jesus and acknowledging that He really is the Son of God.
• That means He really is in control.
• Accepting that He knows what He is doing even in the midst of the storm is vital to finding the strength to get back in the boat.
• If Jesus really is the Sovereign Lord over everything, then we can trust Him.
• We can get back in the boat and do whatever He asks us to do.
• We can praise Him in the midst of the storm, because He is worthy to be praised and He is in control.
• Stop complaining and start praising!