Friday, January 30, 2015

Confessing from the Heart

”And when they climbed into the boat, the wind had died down.
Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying
“Truly, you are the Son of God.”
Matthew 14:32-33 (NIV)

               This passage ends the story of Jesus walking on the water and His rescuing Peter. The other disciples watched what happened.
Tempestuous Peter asked Jesus to tell him “to come to you on the water.” It seems he wasn’t sure that they were seeing the Master standing before them. Jesus invited Peter to come to him. Peter got distracted by the surrounding waves, got scared, and cried out. Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.   

               “When they made it to the boat, the wind died down.” Those who watched the event were humbled, bowed down and worshiped Christ. They were convinced that Jesus was indeed the Son of God.

               In our 21st Century, we have times when we see events happen that only God, through Jesus, can comfort those who are those affected and those near to them. As an exercise, Take a copy of a newspaper and look through it.
               As you do this, make note of the stories that magnify the need for Christ in our world. The front page has big stories—the latest. The back inside page may be the OP-ED page, where the editors give people space to write letters telling what they see in our towns. The editors give their opinions on subjects of civic concern. The local-state page and the nation-world pages always bring us information of what is happening around us and in our land and on the planet.
                              Take a pencil or pen and go through and mark the stories and articles that show a need of Jesus Christ in our world. Then take the time to pray about these circumstances. When you have done this, take the time to meditate on these needs.

               At our former church, we did this at a service in a special series of meetings. The visiting pastor had each of us bring a copy of our newspaper and we took the time to do this during the meeting. It was a very worthwhile exercise.  It was an enlightening experience.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Book Review: The Skeletons in God’s Closet

The Skeletons in God's Closet
By Joshua Ryan Butler

               Joshua Butler has written a book dealing with people’s fearful perceptions, “those deep dark doctrines we’d rather avoid” about God and His kingdom, those being hell, judgment and holy war.

               Mr. Butler gives his readers new understanding of hell, the role of judgment, and the idea of holy war. His book is divided into three parts: The Mercy of Hell, The Surprise of Judgment, The Hope of Holy War. Mr. Butler admits to turning these concepts upside down from what people normally think on these subjects.

               The Skeletons in God’s Closet, is a well-researched book. Included throughout the work are interludes giving extra information on the issues dealt with in the surrounding chapters. I found the conclusion very interesting, entitled; These Bones Can Live examines the passage from Ezekiel 37:1-14, giving hope for Israel. However, I must caution those reading this; this is not a book that one quickly reads.

               I would recommend this book to lay people who are studious and concerned about their faith and the faith of those who are around them—their natural families and their church families. I would also recommend it to clergy persons whose desire is to better explain what the scriptures say.

               I received a copy of this book free from Thomas Nelson Inc., through its BookLook Blogger program. All they asked of me was I give an unbiased review.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Confessing His Lordship

 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Matthew 16:15-16 (NIV)

               Jesus approached his disciples and asked a very important question. He wanted to know who the people thought the Son of Man is. Their responses ranged from John the Baptist, to Elijah and Jeremiah. The people also seemed to think of Jesus as one of the prophets.

               The Master changes the focus of his question to whom they> thought He was. Peter gave a very insightful answer. In reply to Jesus, he spoke words that became the foundation of His future church.

                I once heard a friend share what someone had said to her. “Would you like to see a picture of a very great man?” This other person meant Jesus. My friend was taken aback by this question. She knew Jesus to be the Son of God. I didn’t know how to respond because I was related to this other person.

               As we grow in Christ, we have to answer the question of who Jesus is. I have heard of seekers who pray a prayer asking God to do something, if He is real. This might be where they are in their walk and the only way they know to pray and I find no fault with them.

               As we learn of God and His ways, we learn that He is sovereign, meaning He can do anything He chooses to remedy any issue we bring to His throne.   

               In our 21st Century world, how do people recognize Jesus? Or do they?  In my reading, I get the message that Jesus will return to earth very soon. My only hope is that all people will be ready to acknowledge Him for who He is –The Son of the living God.

Fear, Courage: God Is With Us  Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD ...