Sunday Devotional: Luke 8:22-25

“One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out.  As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.

The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”

He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm.  “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.

In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”” (Luke 8:22-25)

This is a familiar event that happened during the earthly ministry of Jesus.  One day on their travels, Jesus and the disciples get in a boat to go across the lake.  As they’re sailing, a huge storm came upon them and the disciples were afraid.  Jesus, who was asleep, was awoken not by the storm but by the disciples.  Jesus then calms the storm and leaves the disciples in amazement as they continue on to the other side of the lake.

This story is a great reminder of who Jesus is and what all He can do.  He is able to calm the storms in our lives.  He is there to give us peace.  He is not afraid and not deterred by what is going on in the world.  Even though there are times when we feel overwhelmed, He does not.  We can go to Him to find refuge in the storm of life.  We can find peace with Him.

This week, let us remember that even though there may be tough times and there may be storms that seem overwhelming, we have Jesus who can calm all storms.  He can help us to endure.

Sunday Devotional: Matthew 14:53-58

“And when Jesus had finished these parables, he went away from there, and coming to his hometown he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works?  Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?  And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?”  And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.”  And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.”  (Matthew 14:53-58)

What happened in this portion of Matthew is a reminder that not everyone that heard the message that Jesus preached believed.  He went back to the city of Nazareth in which he grew up and did the same thing that he did in other cities, preached and taught in the synagogues.  However, the people there didn’t believe.  They grew up with Jesus but they did not see Him as the Son of God.  So he moved on from Nazareth and continued on His mission.

Even Jesus was rejected.  We see that numerous times throughout the Gospels.  There were those that heard the message and rejected it.  Yet there were others that heard the message and gladly received it.  It is through God’s grace and mercy that we have that message today.  So as we share the good news of Jesus, let us remember that we may be rejected for it.  However, the Gospel is worth continuing to share to all.  Let us be encouraged this week in being about sharing that good news.

Thursday Quote Day: Amy Carmichael

This week’s “Thursday Quote Day” features a quote from missionary Amy Carmichael:

“But God is the God of the waves and the billows, and they are still His when they come over us; and again and again we have proved that the overwhelming thing does not overwhelm. Once more by His interposition deliverance came. We were cast down, but not destroyed.”  (Amy Carmichael)

Sunday Devotional: Luke 5:27-32

“After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.”  And leaving everything, he rose and followed him.

And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”  And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”  (Luke 5:27-32)

These verses share the story of how Levi (also known as Matthew) became one of Jesus’ disciples.  It is a great reminder that Jesus calls everyone to follow Him.  Tax collectors in that time were looked upon as the lowest people because they were considered “sellouts” to the Romans and were greedy and stole from fellow Jews.

Matthew was one such tax collector.  However, when he encountered Jesus, his life changed.  He began to follow Him and became one of Jesus’ disciples.  Not only that, he invited all his friends to hear Jesus teach.  He wanted others to follow Jesus too.  Matthew would later go on to write one of the four Gospels.

This encounter is a great reminder that Jesus loves us no matter where we are.  He wants us to follow Him.  He gives us the same opportunity.  Let us take that opportunity and let us share the good news with others.

Updated 2016 Book List

Here is the updated book list for the books I’ve read in 2016.  I’m a little behind the pace I had last year but better than I had done in ’13 & ’14:

Film, Faith and Philosophy:  Big Ideas on the Big Screen edited by R. Douglas Geivett and James S. Spiegel

Star Wars:  The Force Awakens by Alan Dean Foster

Reel Spirituality: Theology and Film in Dialogue by Robert K. Johnston

It:  How Churches and Leaders Can Get It and Keep It by Craig Groeschel

Called to Coach:  Reflections on Life, Faith and Football by Bobby Bowden with Mark Schlabach

Boring:  Finding an Extraordinary God in an Ordinary Life by Michael Kelley

Arise by Clayton and Ellen Kershaw

Soul Revolution by John Burke

Auschwitz:  A New History by Laurence Rees

Barry Allen and Moving Forward

I have mentioned before on here how much I’m a fan of the comic book character “The Flash”.  I feel like in a lot of ways I can relate to Barry Allen.  So of course I was excited to see the return of the series.  And along with the return gives a lot of entertainment as well as a lot to think about and ponder.

At the end of last season, Barry went back in time to try and fix a problem.  That problem was one that had defined him.  That problem was the death of Barry’s mother by Reverse Flash.  Barry goes back and stops Reverse Flash and prevents the death of his mother.  The season premiere of this season showed the effects of this “Flashpoint” which changed the timeline of what happened not only for Barry but for everyone else.  When things began to spiral out of control, Barry goes back and allows Reverse Flash to kill his mother.

Last night’s episode showed the effects of what happened when Barry “fixed” the timeline.  Relationships were damaged between family and friends.  New enemies began to appear in Central City.  So Barry decides to go back again and try and fix it.  However before he got too far, he was stopped by Jay Garrick (Earth 2 Flash), who knocked him out of the Speed Force and into 1998 (which wasn’t a bad year to be honest).

barry-and-jay

Jay and Barry then sit in a diner and have a conversation.  During that conversation, Jay tries to share with Barry about how trying to “fix” the timeline doesn’t work.  He uses the example of a coffee cup and how it can be broken.  Once it’s broken, even if you try and put it back together again, it still has the cracks and isn’t the cup it once was.  The same for the timeline.  The more one goes back to try and “fix” things, the more it breaks.  Jay then tells Barry that he has to accept what has happened and move forward.

I know for myself that there are those certain moments in my life that I wish I could go back and change or “fix”.  Painful times that I wish didn’t happen or good things that I wish had lasted.  But I cannot go back in time and change things.  All I can do is move forward.  That’s all that all of us can do.  We have to persevere and move forward.  We have to trust God that what hurt and pains that we’ve experienced are not the be all end all of our lives.  That we are not defined by those moments only.  But that we are defined by Him.

It is not easy to move forward sometimes, even for a speedster like Barry Allen.  But it is possible.  It is a daily struggle but it is possible.

Sunday Devotional: Isaiah 53:6-12

“All we like sheep have gone astray;
    we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
    yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
    and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
    so he opened not his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
    and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
    stricken for the transgression of my people?
And they made his grave with the wicked
    and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
    and there was no deceit in his mouth.

Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
    he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
    he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
    make many to be accounted righteous,
    and he shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
    and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
    and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
    and makes intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:6-12)

These verses are a part of the chapter in the book of Isaiah known as the “Suffering Servant” chapter.  It is a prophesy by Isaiah about the coming messiah who would suffer and die for the people.  That coming messiah was Jesus.  He was the lamb that was led to slaughter.  He went willingly to die for our sins.  He had done no wrong but yet he suffered and died.  He bore our sins and paid the price for them so that we don’t have to do so.

These verses are a reminder that no matter where we are or what we’re going through, Jesus understand and knows.  He knows what it’s like to be rejected.  He knows what it’s like to be hurt by those who are strangers and those who are friends.  He knows what it’s like to be alone.  He loves us so much and wants us to know that we’re not alone and that He went through all He went through for us.

This week, let us trust in that.  Let us hope in that.  Let us share that with others.  Jesus suffered and died for us.  He also was resurrected so that we can have hope and new life.  He was a “man of sorrows” but he brings joy.