Friday, February 28, 2014

Oceans Ocean by Hillsong

This powerful song talks about our oceans in our life.  Our ocean can stand for our fears and/or mission in life.  It reminds me of the story in Matthew when Peter tried to walk to Jesus on the water:

Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
(Matthew 14:22-33 NIV)

Here is a video that illustates the story:

What happened to Peter after he left the boat?  Then, what happened after he saw the wind in the storm? 

If Peter ignored the wind and stayed focus on Jesus, do you think he would have sunk?  Jesus asked him, Why did you doubt?"

This illustration has really hit home for me.  At work the past few weeks, I have been so busy with a varitey of different responsibilities and deadlines.  There is pressure coming in from all different departments that depend on me.  It has stressed me out to the point it has messed with my health.  Although there are sick days I can take to get well, rest up, and get stronger, I fear the amount of work that will pile up while I'm gone.  However, much like the song, story in the bible, and video, instead of staying focused on Jesus and keeping faith in Him to give me the impossible strength to endure the job pressures, I have watched the wind and the waves raising above me...just like Peter.  

Do you have a similar story?  Have you focused on Jesus or the wind?  

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.” Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?” The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment. (Matthew 8:5-13 NIV)

The centurion had such great faith and is a prime example how we should be.  He knew Jesus could just heal with words if he believed and it was done.  It wasn't necessary for Jesus to go and lay hands on the sick servant.  

I pray that my faith can be like the centurion and my family will be healed of any and all strongholds, sickness, and financial burdens.  

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Jesus: God of Miracles Part 3

After reading the gospel of John again and focusing on Jesus' miracles, I've picked up some points I have never noticed before.  For instance, Jesus all most sounds sarcastic when he asks the man who had been disabled for 38 years if he wanted to get well in chapter 5:

Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, (John 5:1-3, 5-9 NIV)

How many times aree we guilty of giving excuses of why we didn't accomplish something, get well, or make it out of our tribulation successfully?  How long have I been complaining that people are jumping ahead of me when all I had to do was listen to Jesus all along?

Unfortunately, the man doesn't quite get what happened and Jesus probably allowed this to happen for the illlustration for the disciples watching and, of course, all of us reading this.  

The story goes on like this:
and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.” But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ ” So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?” The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there. Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” The man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well. (John 5:10-15 NIV)

Instead of this man, being thankful or even realizing that Jesus' words healed him, he continued in his ways of blaming other people.  The Jewish leaders, always stuck in their Jewish law instead of the service God wanted them to provide, accuses him of carrying his mat on the Sabbath.  He again provides an excuse and blames Jesus; however, he didn't even know who Jesus was or check to see who the man was who healed him.  

I can picture Jesus running into him at the temple, probably shaking his head a bit and saying, "See, you are well again.  Stop sinning (stop blaming others or giving excuses) or something worse may happen to you."  Then, the man goes and tells the Jewish leaders it was Jesus.  Did he do this to make sure the Jewish leaders would put blame on Jesus on not on him?  How many times do we do that in our own lives?  I know I have been guilty too many times of this.  

When I have read this miracle before, I wondered why Jesus picked such an ingrateful person to heal out of all of the people at the pool of Bethesda.  It has to be to illustrate to the discipals and to all reading the story how we all try to provide excuses and place blame elsewhere instead of taking our own responsibility.  We also need to remember that Jesus is right there in every situation giving us an opportunity to do serve him and illustrate his love and humbliness.  

In the sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches the discipals the qualities we should all strive to have:

Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them. He said: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:1-12 NIV)

We can choose to have these qualities or choose to be a victim. We can choose to be Christlike or blame others and give excuses for our tribulations. Watch this video:

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Jesus: God of Miracles (Miracle 2) Sunday School Lesson for Pitt Naz Middle School Class

In our Sunday School classroom, we have been going over the miracles of Jesus in the gospel of John.   It is interesting what all this short little story of Jesus healing an official's son says.  I've read it over and over, but never did I completely understand all that was going on in the story until I had to break it down for our middle schoolers.  I think Jesus was discouraged that we don't just believe in Him and all that He can do just by him saying so...we often have to see PROOF in who He is and what He can do. It has opened my eyes to how I pray and what kind of faith I have in things I pray for.  

The story starts out like this:
After the two days he left for Galilee. (Now Jesus himself had pointed out that a prophet has no honor in his own country.) When he arrived in Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him. They had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, for they also had been there. Once more he visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine. And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum. When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death. (John 4:43-47 NIV)

Capernaum was approximately 20 miles away from Cana of Galilee.  How do you think the official traveled?  How long do you think it would take him to get there?  

If his son was close to death, do you think the official wanted to spend his last few hours and days away from his son?  Truth is he was desperate to find a way to heal his son even if it meant he would be away from him during his last hours. He knew where Jesus would be and thought Jesus could heal his son.

Jesus sees the man, knows why he is there, and not only addresses him but the whole crowd with this:
“Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.” (John 4:48 NIV)

What is a sign? 

         *A sign isn't supposed to represent an actual place, rather it is to point in the        
        direction of the place we are searching for.  The same way all the miracles Jesus
        performed pointed to Him that we might believe in Him. 

Read John 20:31 which tells us why John the disciple wrote the gospel of John:
But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:31 NIV)  Jesus's miracles are the sign that He is our savior.  

The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” “Go,” Jesus replied, “your son will live.” The man took Jesus at his word and departed. While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, “Yesterday, at one in the afternoon, the fever left him.” Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he and his whole household believed. This was the second sign Jesus performed after coming from Judea to Galilee. (John 4:49-54 NIV)

Did the official think Jesus had to physically come to Capernaum and heal his son?  

In verse 50, Jesus requires the official to create a higher level of faith in Him and his healing powers.  What did Jesus want the official to believe?  
                * To believe healing could happen through His healing words.

Verse 51 says, "The man took Jesus  at his word and departed." The word Jesus gave the man was LIFE!  Throughout Jesus's messages, over and over, he tells us what he has to give is LIFE, just like he told the Samartian women earlier in chapter 4.  No wonder, Jesus would get frustrated, he had to preform like a side show to get people to believe who he was.  Have you ever been questioned about who you are and had to prove you were the real deal?  

        Originally, the official had faith in Jesus to heal his son.  He only had a lower level of faith he put his trust in as he arrived, but Jesus taught him how to bring his faith to a higher level.  Do you think Jesus does this to us today?  Do you think each trial and tribulation we go through teaches us a higher level of faith in Jesus?