Focus On Today

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Today is Wednesday January 8th, 2020.

I’m sure you’re thinking, “Thanks! Tell us something we don’t know.”

Today is today.

Tomorrow is tomorrow.

Therefore, focus on Today! This is the day we do have.

This is so easy to type and read, but often hard to do.

Are you pondering what you’re going to do Friday night?

Are you planning for the football games this weekend?

Are you trying to figure out how to get the kids to all of the activities with one car?

Good! Nothing wrong with planning.

Now get back to TODAY, Wednesday January 8th, 2020.

Have you enjoyed the sun?

Have you complimented someone or encouraged someone?

Have you hugged your loved ones?

What about your workout?

Or prayer to God?

Our lives are super busy right? But not too busy for today!

Enjoy today. It’s all we got.

“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Matthew 6:34

I CAN DO…SO CAN YOU

STEADY IN THE STORMS

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Introduction:

  1. There are certain chapters in the book of Acts which stand out. For example, Acts 7, we have the powerful story of Stephen and the introduction to Paul. In Acts 17, we’re introduced to the brethren in Thessalonica and Paul’s trip to Athens. But what about Acts 27?
  2. After Paul laid out his defense before King Agrippa, we find Paul would leave with some other prisoners and set sail from Caesarea to Rome. We know Luke the physician is with Paul at this time based on the word “WE” used throughout the chapter. It was Luke who penned, Acts 16:9-16, Acts 20:5, Acts 21:17. We aren’t given details about exactly when Luke joined up again with Paul.
  3. Consider the details given to us in this chapter. It’s been said, “Luke’s account of Paul’s voyage has been minutely investigated by an experienced Scottish seaman (commodore James Smith, of Jordanhill), and established the remarkable fact that Luke, though not a professional seaman, was a close and accurate observer of the winds and storms, and the management and movements of a ship. He furnishes more information of ancient navigation (Chapters 27 and 28) than any single document of antiquity.” There are books written about what Luke has recorded in this chapter! What Luke recorded for us here and in the rest of the book is accurate and true!
  4. As we read about Paul’s voyage, we will also see storms that would come. Yet, what we find is Paul was steady in the storms. The physical storms Paul endured I believe provide us with some reminders concerning the spiritual storms we will face. All of us are on a voyage. We have a destination we’re headed to: heaven. But storms will come. We will have to be steady in the midst of storms. Paul’s physical voyage will help us as we navigate in our spiritual voyage.

The Lesson:

Storms will come

As we find Paul traveling, we see in Acts 27:9-10, that it was the dangerous season. They had already face tough winds, Acts 27:4, 7. Paul could see traveling at that time would be a bad idea. But they did anyway. In life, we need to be recognize and know storms will come our way. We will face difficult days. We will face challenges, Matthew 5:10-12. Don’t be surprised when you find yourself in a storm. Expect them! I’m not saying we live with a sense of dread, but we will find ourselves in storms.

Storms may last a long-time

Luke shares with us exact details of what they faced, Acts 27:10-20. In my Bible, I have words like “next day” “third day” and “many days” marked in red Then in verse 21 “a long time…” That’s what Paul and the 276 men experienced. They were in a storm. It wasn’t going away for a long-time! The storm began to wear on them. That’s what storms do. They cause people to lose hope, Acts 27:20.

Isn’t it often the same in our lives? We find ourselves in a storm. We have wishful thinking. This will pass. But the next day becomes three days and then many days, and then a long-time! I think about Job. He was in a storm in Job 1-2. He was in the long-time category because of Satan. I think about Israel. They were in a storm. It was due to their SIN! It was a long-time storm (70 years of captivity). I think about Paul. He had been in numerous storms after becoming a Christian, Acts 9:18. His life is being sought after. It’s one storm after the next for Paul. Why? Because he was proclaiming the truth. Storms are going to come. Hopefully, our storms aren’t because we’ve been evil doers, 1 Peter 4:13-16. We don’t always know how long storms will last.

Storms will require us to have courage

In the midst of the storm, Paul, a prisoner took the lead, Acts 27:21-26. I love what Paul said: “You should have listened to me!” He encouraged the men. Take courage. Note as you read the word courage or encouraged found in verses 22,25,33,34. Paul encouraged because he had been encouraged by God through an angel, Acts 27:21-24. This is the third time in the book where Paul has been reminded not to be afraid, Acts 18:8-10, 23:11.

In the midst of storms, we will have to be courageous. Paul believed God, Acts 27:25. He believed it would work out exactly as the angel said! We know it did! That’s the faith we need in storms. Storms come in a variety of ways and sizes. In the midst of storms, we all need to hear from God. Not through an angel, but through His word. Before storms, we need to be hearing from God. We need to believe what He says. Believe what Jesus said, Matthew 6:33-34. Believe the promises of God. Storms have a way of causing Christians to doubt. However, we must remember God is always bigger than our storms. Paul would stand before Caesar. No storm could stop that from happening. No plots from wicked men could stop God’s will. Paul would witness in Rome, Acts 23:11. Which is why in the midst of storms, we must remain with Jesus.

In Storms, we must remain with Jesus.

Paul told the crew they were to remain in the ship, Acts 27:31. They would be saved if they did. He continued to encourage them to eat, Acts 27:31-34. If they remained in the ship, all would be well. While fear would creep in, they would all make it safely to shore, Acts 27:44.

When storms come it can be easy to want to jump SHIP! But don’t!

    1. What the devil would love for us to do is to leave the place where salvation is found: Jesus Christ. In the midst of storms, remain with Him.
    2. You may not always know what’s happening, why things are happening (like Job), but remain with Him. Don’t bail on Him.
    3. Maybe you’ve brought your storms upon yourself. Paul warned these back in verse 10 that danger lied ahead. Maybe brethren, your spouse, your friend, your Shepherds have warned you of danger that lies ahead. But you decided to go on that voyage. Don’t be foolish and leave Jesus. Remain with Him. Repent and sin no more.
    4. Maybe you feel like your life consists of nothing but bailing water and you’re just trying not to drown. Remain with Jesus. Let Him be your anchor.

Conclusion:

  1. In the midst of storms, consider Acts 27. Be like Paul. Listen to God and not to others. People in the world will lead you astray. Let Paul, give thanks to God. I know we see Paul gave thanks when it came to eating food, Acts 27:35. Give thanks to God for everything in the midst of storms. It will be a reminder of how He provides.
  2. Even though you may not recognize how things will work out, Acts 27:39, remain with Him. God is in control. We are not! He is with us. Remain with Him. He will provide in ways we may have never thought, Acts 27:42-44. He provided safety for Paul through the centurion in the midst of his storm. God is with us as well. Remain with Him. Be steady in your faith, in your hope, in your hearing from God and know all will be well.

Second Chances

“Set your house in order, for you shall die, and not live.” Can you imagine hearing those words? Those were the words King Hezekiah heard in 2 Kings 20:1. He responded like many would 2, Kings 20:2-3. He prayed and wept bitterly.

Then something amazing happened! Isaiah, the prophet, told Hezekiah that God would grant him 15 more years of life, 2 Kings 20:6. God gave this man a SECOND CHANCE.

Hezekiah was given 5,475 more days. If you were Hezekiah, what would you do with the rest of your time? The reality is, every second is a gift from God. What will we do with the second chances we are given?

Are you in need of a second chance?

God is merciful.

God is good.

God is forgiving.

Make good of the second chances you are given.

  1. Worship God.
  2. Serve Him.
  3. Serve Others.
  4. Prepare for Eternity.

Jesus Knows What You’re Going Through

I’m currently studying and teaching the book of Hebrews. It’s so rich. While there may be some heavy thoughts in the book, it is a book worth reading.

For those who are Christians, it’s a reminder of our great God.

It’s a reminder of our great King in heaven, Jesus Christ. We are reminded of His superiority over the angels.

We are reminded of His superiority over Moses.

As the Hebrew writers speaks about how Christ is superior, he is NOT saying that angels, Moses, or the first covenant were bad. Rather, it’s a comparison of things that were good and how Christ is so much better.

In Hebrews 2:17, the writer says, “Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.

  • Jesus is described as being a Merciful and Faithful High Priest.
  • The writer will unpack this idea of Jesus being a priest in the latter chapters.
  • A priest was one who could relate to the people as he made intercession between God and the people. The priests in the Old Testament were appointed by God. This is what the writer will argue in Hebrews 5:1-4.
  • The book of Leviticus in chapters 8 and 9 give us more information about the Aaron and his sons becoming priests. They were appointed by God. Priests in the future were to come from the tribe of Levi. A man couldn’t just appoint himself to be a priest (although some tried and rebelled like Korah in Numbers chapter 16 and Jeroboam as he appointed men in 1 Kings 12:30-31).

Yet Jesus was from the tribe of Judah. He was the Messiah. He was King. And He also now suffers as our great High Priest of our confession, Hebrews 3:1.

The Hebrew writer will discuss this again in Hebrews 4:14-15, where he says, “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

WOW! How amazing is this? Why is the writer emphasizing this so much?

Because Jesus can truly say, “I know what you’re going through.”

Jesus was appointed by God to be our great high priest. This is why the Hebrew argues in Hebrews 5:1-6. Jesus was a man of the people and can relate what it is that we go through. He’s the one that can say, “I know what you’re experiencing.”

This is reason for us to turn to HIM. He is to be the source of our strength.

Not ourselves.

Not money.

Not power.

Not our careers.

Not our status on social media.

In the ancient near east, the one who was King served not only as a King but also as Priest. The king was in the best position to be an intercessor for that particular nations deity. The nation of Israel was the exception. The king didn’t rule as King and Priest. Rather, the priests were to come from the tribe of Levi.

Yet with Christ, He is both King and High Priest. He is the Son of God. This is what the Hebrew writer will argue in chapter 5. He will continue this discussion in the latter chapters as well.

So, what’s the point?

Are you a Christian? Then know that Jesus…

  1. Is a merciful and faithful High Priest.
  2. He is able to sympathize with what you’re going through.
  3. Is to be our example in all things.
  4. Is waiting to help us.

Indeed, God is GOOD.

Let us rejoice knowing Jesus is our great high priest.

Getting To Know Jesus Post #2 The Certainty Of These Things

Yesterday, I announced I’m beginning a series of posts discussing some details about Jesus of Nazareth. It’s called “Getting To Know Jesus.” You can find the link to that blog post HERE.

Below is the latest post in this series called, “The Certainty Of These Things.” If you have questions, please let me know.


The Certainty Of These Things

As we begin our study concerning the life of Jesus, it’s important to know that we can trust what we read in the Bible. The Bible claims to be “inspired by God,” 2 Timothy 3:16-17. That means that the Scriptures are “God-breathed.” God is the author of Scripture. It was God who gave direction in giving the Scripture. What’s written in the scriptures are from God Himself. These are the very words of God!

In fact, as we begin our study, you will see the great confidence Luke wanted his readers to have the details concerning the life of Jesus. Listen to what he wrote in Luke 1:1-4:

“Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.”

What can we learn about the certainty of the things recorded for us in the book of Luke concerning Jesus?

What Is Recorded about Jesus Is True

Luke carefully recorded the events detailing the life of Jesus for a man named Theophilus.

  1. Luke received information from those who were eyewitnesses of Jesus, Luke 1:2. Those eyewitnesses were the apostles who were with Jesus in the first century, Luke 24:33-48. Luke’s account of the life of Jesus was written around 60–62 A.D.
  2. Eyewitness testimony is the most powerful kind of testimony. While Luke was not one of the apostles, he was able to learn about Jesus from them. As a result, he could with great confidence write out in consecutive order the details concerning the life of Jesus. He was also guided by the Holy Spirit, Ephesians 3:3-5. Therefore, we can trust his words. This is the exact truth concerning Jesus. What should we conclude from this point? That we can trust what is written for us in scripture. 

The gospel of Luke shows the life of Jesus intertwined in history.

  1. Jesus really did live. There are some who may deny this, but to do so goes against history. Virtually all scholars agree that Jesus lived. What’s written about Him is not fiction. A careful reading of Luke will help you to see that Luke recorded numerous leaders and politicians that lived in the days of Jesus. For example in Luke 2:1-2, Luke said, “Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth.”
  2. In Luke 3:1-2, it says, “Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip was tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene, in the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John, the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness.”
  3. It could be easy for us to see if Luke was making these names up. We can fact check these places and these people to see if they really did live. What’s the point? The point is that the life of Jesus is a part of history. He walked and lived on earth.

A Jewish historian named Flavius Josephus wrote about Jesus in the first century.

  1. Josephus lived from 37–100; he became the greatest Jewish historian of his time and wrote about Jesus. In one of his works called Antiquities of the Jews, which he finished around 93 A.D., book 18, chapter 3, and section 3 said this about Jesus: At this time (the time of Pilate) there was a wise man who was called Jesus. His conduct was good and (he) was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. But those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion, and that he was alive; accordingly he was perhaps the Messiah, concerning whom the prophets have recounted wonders.” Why do we need to know this information?
    1. Others spoke of Jesus outside of the Bible.
    2. Josephus was not a Christian, yet he wouldn’t deny that Jesus really did live.
    3. Just as Josephus spoke of Pilate so did Luke, Luke 23:1-13, 20, 24.
  2. What Luke recorded about Jesus was written in the first century. What Josephus wrote about Jesus was in the first century. Including Josephus and his writings according to Frank Turek in his book, “I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist.”, there are 10 known non-Christian writers who mention Jesus within 150 years of His life. By contrast, over the same 150 years, there are 9 non-Christian sources who mention Tiberius Caesar, the Roman emperor at the time of Jesus. So, discounting all the Christian sources, Jesus is actually mentioned by one more source than the Roman emperor. We can learn from these sources that:
    1. Jesus lived during time of Tiberius Caesar.
    2. He lived a virtuous life.
    3. He was a wonder-worker.
    4. He had a brother named James.
    5. He was acclaimed to be the Messiah.
    6. He was crucified under Pontius Pilate.
    7. He was crucified on the eve of the Jewish Passover.
    8. Darkness and an earthquake occurred when he died.
    9. His disciples believed He rose from the dead.
    10. His disciples were willing to die for their belief.
    11. Christianity spread rapidly as far as Rome.
    12. His disciples denied the Roman gods and worshiped Jesus as God.

We have accurate copies of what men like Luke and the apostles wrote concerning Jesus.

  1. When we speak of the New Testament documents, we are referring to 27 books. These were written by the end of the first century. In 2 Peter 3:14-16, the apostle Peter referenced Paul’s writing as scripture (divine writings). In 1 Timothy 5:18, the apostle Paul referred to Luke’s writing (from Luke 10:7) as scripture (divine writings).
  2. It is true that none of the original documents remain. We have only copies of the original writings called manuscripts. Yet there are thousands of copies written in Greek (5,800 complete or fragmented), (10,000 in Latin), and (9,000 in various languages like Syriac, Coptic, Latin, Arabic).
    • The earliest manuscript is the John Ryland’s fragment (called this because it is housed in the John Ryland’s Library in Manchester, England). It’s dated between 117–138 A.D.
    • It was found in Egypt—across the Mediterranean from its probable place of composition in Asia Minor—demonstrating that John’s gospel was copied and had spread quite some distance by the early second century.

The New Testament writers were only concerned about writing what was true. 

This is why when you read in the New Testament, you will see the writers discussing embarrassing details about the apostles (like in Matthew 16:21-23). They didn’t try to hide anything. This is why we read some demanding sayings from Jesus (like in Matthew 5:27-32). The apostles were not trying to deceive anyone. They simply wanted people to know the truth.

So what’s the point of all of this? What we have in the New Testament is true. The information we have about Jesus is trustworthy and reliable.

New Series: Getting To Know Jesus

How much do you know about Jesus the Christ, the Son of God? Do you believe that He is the Christ, the Son of God? When it comes to Jesus, there are many different views that people have. When Jesus asked His disciples in Matthew 16:13-14 what people said about Him, they gave Him various answers. The passages says, “Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.”

During His ministry Jesus was accused by some to have a demon, John 10:20.  The text says, “Many of them were saying, “He has a demon and is insane. Why do you listen to Him?” There were others who couldn’t see who He really was, because they simply saw the boy of Joseph and Mary.

What about you? If someone were to ask you who is Jesus, what would you say?

How can one really learn about Jesus? Where can we go to learn about His life, His teaching, His miracles, His death, and His resurrection? The answer is the Bible.

This series of lessons that I will be posting the next 6-7 days will assist you in learning the facts about Jesus. More importantly, it will help you to know what Jesus desires from us in our lives. The information in this booklet will come from the gospels. The word Gospel means good news. There are four books in the New Testament that are referred to as the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). These four books provide us with the most information about Jesus than any other book/s in the world!

If you want to get to know Jesus, then you must open up your Bible. As we dive into our study you will learn a lot about Jesus and the Bible. As you study, I want you to be thinking about one question that you will need to answer.

“If Jesus is the Son of God, will you submit to Him no matter what the cost may be?”

Be thinking about this as we study. Jesus wants you to submit to Him. Salvation is free, but there is a cost if you decide to follow Him. Listen to the words of Jesus in  Luke 14:25-27.

“Now large crowds were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them, ‘If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be my disciple.”

Thank you for reading. Here’s what’s on the schedule in the coming days. If you have questions, please let me know.

  1. The Certainty of These Things
  2. Basic Facts About the Gospels
  3. The Names of Jesus
  4. His Teaching
  5. The Miracles of Jesus
  6. The Death, Burial, and Resurrection
  7. Salvation, Commitment, the Lord’s Church

Surviving Storms

Photo by Josh Sorenson on Pexels.com

Do you trust God? Our currency has written on it, “In God We Trust.” But do we trust Him? It’s easy to say we do, but it’s another to live it and believe it. It’s easy to raise our hand in Bible class and say, “We should always trust God.”

But it’s different when you experience a death in the family. It’s tough when there’s something wrong with your child. It’s challenging when problems arise in the church. It’s hard when you have to make a choice between your friends and your God. It’s difficult when you’re the only one in class who believes in the creation story. You wouldn’t think that God’s people would need to be reminded to trust in God, but we do. God’s people have always needed reminders.

This was true even for the apostles.

The apostles saw the miracles of Jesus. There was no reason for them not to have faith. Yet they needed to be reminded to trust God!

 In the gospels, we read  about the apostles going through a couple of storms. They would have to trust in God. We can learn some lessons from these stories as we think about different storms we will face in life.

 Storm #1: Mark 4:35-40

After a long day of teaching on the sea, Jesus told the apostles to cross to the other side. Earlier that day Jesus had taught parables to the crowds, Mark 4:1. Soon after they began to cross over to the other side, they ran into some problems. There arose a fierce (great) wind. Water began to pour into their boat. You would have thought that they would have been accustomed to this being that many were fishermen. This was no regular storm. Fear quickly set in the  hearts of the apostles. They cried out to Jesus for help, and He responded, Mark 4:38. Yet is was Jesus who then questioned them about their faith. This entire series of events is amazing to consider.

 Storm #2: Matthew 14:22-33.

After feeding 5,000 people with a boys sack lunch, Jesus told His apostles to get into the boat. While the apostles were in the boat crossing the sea, Jesus spent time in prayer, Matthew 8:23. By the time He would begin to cross the sea, His apostles were far ahead of Him. Instead of Jesus taking a boat to catch up to His apostles, He decided to go on a walk. It’s here that we find Peter asking Jesus to walk on the water,Matthew 14:28-29. That took some FAITH. But as he saw the winds, Peter became fearful, Matthew 14:30. What can we learn from these stories?

 1. Live with faith. Storms will come. Life can change from calm to stormy quickly. Trials don’t make us unique. How we respond to them is what will make us unique. Jesus demands that walk by faith.

2. Storms will reveal our faith. It’s been said, “Trials don’t make or break you. Instead, they reveal you.” Trials will reveal what kind of faith we have (shallow or strong). The disciples faith was shaken but then strengthened as a result of the storms, Mark 4:41Matthew 14:33. Storms can actually be good for us as they will help us to draw closer to God.

3. Know that Jesus cares. He cared for His apostles and He cares for us.

4. Trust the facts and not your feelings. No matter what we face, we must remember that God is in control. The disciples FELT like they were going to drown. But they fact is they had Jesus on board. During storms, focus on Jesus and what you know, compared to what you are feeling. That’s how we will be able to survive storms. 

Benjamin Lee.