Right now, we are all facing the same storm. We might be in different boats—some are in catamarans while some are in rowboats—but we are all aware of the angry skies and dark waters surrounding us.
The thing about boats is that they float on the water. Whether a catamaran or a rowboat, they can be completely surrounded and still stay above the waves. They don’t sink until the water gets inside them.
I found myself in Mark 5 this morning, reading about Jesus raising the young girl from the dead. All He had to do was take her by the hand and say, “Little girl—get up!” and immediately, she stood up and began to walk around.
Maybe you know that Jesus wants to resurrect you from something—He’s telling you to get up—but you don’t see the fruit.
If you back up a few verses, notice what Jesus did right before He healed the girl: He pruned. When He told the crowd that she was not dead but asleep, they laughed at Him. So He told them to get out. Scripture says He put them all outside before going upstairs with the child’s mother, father, and the disciples who were with Him. Then He revived the girl.
Over the past few months, the Holy Spirit really convicted me about my spirit of defense. I frequently felt the need to deflect, deny, or defend, instead of trying to listen with an open heart or empathize with someone’s pain. So many times, I rolled my eyes at something on social media, only to feel a tug in my spirit: Your experiences do not negate someone else’s. So I finally sat down and spent some time in prayer.
Over the past few years, I’ve learned that one of the reasons Christians can come across as condescending or hypocritical is because we don’t want to share the dark parts of our testimony. The struggles with alcohol, drugs, addiction, mental health, anxiety, depression… The parts where we don’t have it all together.
But we can’t glorify Jesus unless we are willing to talk about what He’s delivered us from. Instead of preaching, “You need to fix this in your life,” we have to start with, “I’ve been there.” We have to make it personal. We have to be real and transparent with each other if we want to earn the right to speak into each other’s lives.
When I was in high school, I remember walking out to my car one morning and seeing the words ‘You’re a whore’ written on the window. I think we can all agree that the saying Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can never hurt you is a complete lie. Those words hurt me a lot. And I carried them in my heart for years, wondering if that’s what people thought of me.
Until I came across four very important words in Mark.
“Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him.’ So they called the blind man. ‘Take courage!’ they said. ‘Get up! He is calling for you.’ Throwing off his cloak, Bartimaeus jumped up and came to Jesus.” – Mark 10:49-50
One of my favorite ways to make scripture come alive is to put myself in someone’s place so I can try to imagine what they were feeling and experiencing.
In Exodus 3, the Lord says He has seen the suffering of His people and that He is sending Moses to Pharaoh to bring the Israelites out of Egypt. All that Moses say in return is, “Who am I that I should go?” followed by, “But what if they ask who sent me?”
A tithe is typically regarded as the first 10% of your income. The first tithe occurred in Genesis 14 when Abram responded to God’s blessing by giving Melchizedek, the king of Salem, a tenth of his possessions.
“Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And praise be to God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.” Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.” – Genesis 14:18-20
We live a life filled with God’s promises—healing, provision, protection—but sometimes it feels like we live a life of waiting on God’s final promise. His Second Coming.
Scripture is filled with people waiting. Abraham and Sarah waited 100 years for their promised child. Joshua and Caleb waited 40 years to enter the Promised Land. The world waited three days for the promised resurrection.
Friday was the day that Christ took all of our sins on Himself and was crucified. Sunday was the day that He rose from the grave and gave us victory over death. But Saturday was a day of waiting.
Sometimes it feels like we are living in Saturday.
Sometimes our burdens are heavy. Scripture doesn’t dispute that—in fact, it says that we are going to be loaded down by them. Whether it’s a broken relationship, or a shattered dream, or a difficult loss, our instinct is to shut down. We go numb. We throw in the towel. We give up. We bury Lazarus too soon.
“For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”
When we think of empty faith, we typically think of this verse in James. Faith without works is dead, but faith that is misplaced is also dead. If we put our faith in our works, instead of our Christ, we can’t become who He made us to be. A picture of this is when Christians stay in their comfort zone, not believing that He can do greater things.
“I believe in God, and I asked Jesus into my life – but how do I know if it worked? How do I know for sure that I am saved?”
In the past several weeks, I’ve had three different people ask me this. And each time, it’s like having a conversation with myself five years ago. Why do we not talk about this more? I think this is one of the enemy’s favorite places to attack believers, especially new believers. The faith is new and fresh, and if he can get even a kernel of doubt in our hearts, we will never be able to live the life God wants for us. If we are not equipped with a way to fight this, we can spend years – or decades – living a life of uncertainty.
When is the last time you stood in the gap for someone you loved? Many of us do this daily, praying over our family members and our friends. We might miss a day here and there, or even a week when we are really busy, but we consistently remember to lift them up. Do we have the same faithfulness and persistence to lift up our fellow church members? Our leaders? Our communities? Cities? Nations?
Confession: Most days, if all of my prayers were answered, my kids and husband would stay safe and my food would be blessed, but the world would remain unchanged.
A few months ago, God started speaking to me about great faith and where it comes from. The message I want to share focuses on three men in scripture: Abraham, Elijah and Thomas. My mother-in-law laughed at me when I said that I wanted to talk about Thomas as a man of great faith, but he’s in the lineup all the same.
First let’s look at Abraham, or Abram at the time. In Genesis 15:7, God essentially promises Abram land and Abram responds by asking, “But how will I know for sure?” We know that Abram was a man of faith. In the very verse before this one, God told Abram that he would have a son and Abram believed the Lord because of his great faith, and it was counted as righteousness.
Two years ago, I was in a Bible study and we were reading in Genesis discussing when God spoke to Abram in Genesis 15:7-8. Abram responds to God’s promise by saying, “But how will I know?” Clearly Abram was a man of great faith; in the very verse before, it says Abram believed the Lord and He credited it to him as righteous and later in Hebrews, Abram makes the Bible’s Hall of Fame because of his great faith. Yet he asks the question, “But how will I know?”