It's All Grace

Amazing things can happen when you allow the Lord to work in your life.

What to Do When You’re Going Under

A much needed reminder as we tend to forget from one day to the next, what the Lord desires of us, and where we are to keep our eyes.
And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” —Matthew 14:28-31
Whether you are four or forty, there’s nothing like a familiar and confident voice in the dark saying, “I’m here. There’s no reason to be scared.” Regardless of how many times you’ve been in a dark and unpredictable situation, hearing that voice can be the difference between sinking and safety.
Matthew 14:22-33 describes a night crossing on the Sea of Galilee when the disciples got caught in a storm. Jesus had sent them out in the boat alone. Interestingly, about half of the disciples were fishermen. They knew how dangerous the lake could be. It’s hard to know who was more afraid, those who knew what could happen or those who were wondering what would happen. Either way, there was a boatload of nervous men on the water that night.
As the wind and the waves threatened to take them under, Jesus walked by—on the water! Without a flashlight on board, all they could see was a dim figure making His way through the swells toward the boat. Their fear of the storm may have paled in comparison totheir terror over seeing a ghost! The disciples “cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid’” (vv.26–27).
Peter said to him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water” (v.28). He apparently concluded, If Jesus says I can walk on water, I can walk on water. As usual, Peter’s mouth and actions were about ten seconds ahead of his brain. But Jesus said, “Come,” and over the side of the boat Peter went. Imagine his wonder when the water held him up—like a kid playing on a waterbed.
Peter was doing so well, “but when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord, save me’” (vv.29–30). What went wrong? He took his eyes off the Lord. He forgot the reason he could walk among the waves. And when he did, fear entered his heart, and he started to go under.
Has that ever happen to you? When your eyes were on the Lord, life was good no matter what was going on around you. But the moment you changed your focus to the wind and waves, you began to sink.
Where are your eyes today?
If you’re going under, it may be because you are looking at the waves (of your health or the pitch and roll of your retirement funds). Maybe you’ve been listening to the howling wind (like the voices of doom and gloom constantly heard in our society). Possibly you have been taking your cues from what others are saying and doing instead of keeping your mind stayed on Christ (Isaiah 26:3).
But you can do better. Like Peter, if you get distracted and start to sink, it’s time to call out, “Lord, save me!”
What storms, winds, and waves in your life are distracting you from looking at Jesus?
What’s usually your first clue that you’ve taken your eyes off the Lord?
Lord, I don’t want every storm to feel like my first time out on the water. Help me remember all the times You have been faithful. Forgive me when I forget the constant demonstrations of Your care. Forgive the way I’m prone to wander. Forgive me when I am easily distracted. Thank You for being as patient with me as You are faithful to me. Continue to guide me toward greater faithfulness on my part. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Pastor James MacDonald
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Ever Tried Walking on Water?

Ever tried walking on water?  You’re safer out walking on the water . . . in the center of God’s will, than in the boat WITHOUT Jesus!

When Peter stepped out of the boat, he had his eyes on Jesus. To let go of the boat, meant he gave up any “plan B” he might have had.

Just like Peter . . . when you take your eyes off Jesus, you will “begin” to sink.  Jesus will ask you to follow HIM when it’s difficult.  So, don’t let the wind and waves deter you.

Don’t undo in doubt . . . what you DID in faith!

Are your eyes on Jesus? Do you have a “plan B”, just in case (you might believe that) Jesus doesn’t come through for you? Matthew 14:29-31

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It’s the End that Counts!

This devotion is TOO GOOD and too true not to share.  God said HIS word will divide (Matthew 10:34-39) and cut like a two-edged sword (Hebrews 12:4) , cutting as it goes in and comes out.  We are seeing many “fall away” from the truth and it saddens me, as there are many who will claim the name of Christ, yet HE does not KNOW them (Matthew 7:21-23).  The end is nearer than it’s ever been.  Praying that you continue to run the race AND finish well – enduring to the end!

“And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations. And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. And brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death. And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” 
—Mark 13:10-13

This passage presents Jesus’ realistic appraisal of how things will unfold on earth as the end approaches. Not only will the gospel be proclaimed to all nations, but those who proclaim it will also bear the cost. Some will be brought to trial, some betrayed by siblings, parents and children, and some will give their lives. Those associated with Jesus’ name will be hated by all. Then He adds, “But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”

Jesus’ closing thought ought to concern you. He was stating a condition to salvation that is both easy to miss and easy to misunderstand.

Here’s the part we miss: He who endures “to the end will be saved”—not the one who starts well, but the one who finishes well.  Although the context indicates that Jesus was speaking about the close of history, His words also apply to the course of our lives. Unless Christ returns during our lifetime, you and I will have a final breath. The point isn’t when, but how we will get to the end of life. Will we cross the finish line enduring or not?

And here’s the part that is easy to misunderstand: Jesus is not saying you are saved by enduring. He is saying that those who are truly saved do endure.

This is reinforced in 1 John 2:19, as the apostle John writes of those who claimed to be believers, but who didn’t endure and didn’t persevere. John said, “They went out from us because they were not of us. If they had of been of us, they would have remained with us, but they went out from us so that it might be manifested that they were in fact never really of us.” 

That’s not talking about local church membership. John was not describing people who leave a church; he was talking about people who leave the Church—people who depart from faith in Christ. People who backslide and never return make it very clear they never really had saving faith.

The longer you follow Christ, the clearer you can see how easy it is to pray a prayer of confession, to walk an aisle, or to confess faith in Christ in a safe and loving environment. But the steps of Jesus don’t take us the easy way; they take us the way of endurance. It takes perseverance to keep on following Christ—even when it’s hard, when the pressure is on.

He who endures to the end will be saved. Let Jesus’ words guide you as you examine yourself. Do you see evidence of your salvation? Then you can rest and rejoice, because when you are truly saved, God will give you everything you need to endure—to the very end.

Taken from Pastor James MacDonald

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Choose the Right Entrance

Matthew 7:13-14  “Enter ye in at the strait gate:  for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:  Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”

The gate is wide and stands open.  You may go in this gate with all your lusts about you; it gives no checks to appetites or passions.  It is a broad way and there are many paths

The way to eternal life is narrow.  We are not in heaven as soon as we enter through the strait gate.  Self must be denied and corruptions mortified.  Daily temptations resisted; duties must be done as we will go through trials and sufferings.

We go through gates of many kinds.  However, some are more like turnstiles.  You know, like at airports and amusement parks?  Most of the time, they are one-way.  You go in and you don’t back out.

Jesus tells us to “enter by the narrow gate”.  He also speaks about the way being hard is the way that leads to life.   Going through a narrow gate in itself is uncomfortable, and now He tells us the way will also be hard.  Expect it.

There is also a wide gate. Many will go through this gate because it is easy.  It won’t require much of us.  We won’t feel uncomfortable and rarely ever make a sacrifice.  We will always be accepted by others.  All you need to do is say a prayer, admire Jesus, and say you believe in love.  It’s lazy and lets you move along with the current.  It’s what we do naturally.  But what does Jesus say it leads to?  Death.  Eternal death.

I had a friend one time who made a “profession of faith” and when things began to get difficult…I mean really hard…she told me, “If this is what Christianity is all about, YOU CAN HAVE IT!  I DON’T WANT ANY PART OF IT!”  After gasping at what she had said, I was stunned then sickened as I immediately thought to myself, “have I given her the wrong image of Christ?”  Since then, I have come to realize that there are people everywhere who want a ticket to heaven…but they want the easy road.

Many Christians think that trusting Jesus as their Savior makes life easy, and now that they have Christ, there will be nothing but smooth sailing.  That’s not what Jesus has told us – yet the contrary.  We will be constricted.  We will need to believe things we cannot see.  We will have to forgive those who hurt us, and be kind to those who really irritate us.  We will have to say no to some things that others are free to do.  We will be mocked, made fun of, and slandered.  We will standout and be very different at times when we wish we could just blend in with the crowd.  We may even lose our life.

What do we get as Christians?  Well, everything.  Even through all the difficulties we will encounter we can live with joy and peace.  We will have courage when others would cave in fear.  And best of all, we have the promise from One that cannot lie.  We have the hope of life eternal in His very presence.  I would say that’s worth some discomfort.

You have to choose:  narrow or wide?

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Glorified Salt Shaker

Are you a salty saint?  Salt generates value, salt seasons, salt preserves, and prevents decay, salt purifies and burns, salt penetrates and gives flavor, salt gives life and salt heals…our problem is not just HOLLYWOOD.  It’s SALTLESS saints!  Our churches have become nothing more than salt warehouses.  Are you worth your salt?  Are you being the salt of the earth? Or are you just a glorified salt shaker? See Matthew 5:13-16

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