The Peace of GOD

“Rejoice in the LORD always; again I will say, Rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The LORD is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to GOD. And the Peace of GOD, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4‭-‬7 NASB

Shakespeare wrote in his play Macbeth: “Double, double toil and trouble….”

Sometimes that’s how the world feels to me, all caught up in a witches brew of trouble. Since the Garden and Adam and Eve’s fall into sin, that’s exactly what the world is. A cauldron of evil, orchestrated by the enemy of God. Even as I write, people are falling ill, succumbing to diseases, victims of accidents and of evil deeds and persons. People are dealing with financial issues. Think about the women trapped in abusive relationships, the children caught up in the slavery of the sex trade. It’s an ugly world. So what can I do? What are Christians supposed to do? Paul tells us.

“Rejoice in the LORD always; again I will say, Rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men.” Philippians 4:4‭

“What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice, …..” Philippians 1:18

Still worried? With this pandemic of COVID19 and worldwide social distancing and quarantining, it’s easy to worry. If you’ve been following me for long, you know I’ve struggled financially for some time now. It’s somewhat ironic that with so many thousands of people losing their jobs and having to drastically reduce their spending, that mine is somewhat level. I feel your pain! I know what it is to struggle, and how easy it is to fall into the enemy’s arms of worry and despair. It’s more importantly now that it has ever been that we lean on the LORD.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” Philippians 4:6‭-‬8 NASB

Do I still worry? Yes, because I am human, and a sinful being. It’s hard to let go of things and allow God to do the work He intends to do. I want to direct His Hands. What a disaster that would be, if He allowed it! My absolute best decisions pale to nothing next to Him. Let the Peace of God enter your life by allowing Jesus into your heart, accepting Him as your Saviour. It may not change the circumstances, but it will definitely change your heart and mind and spirit!

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” Revelation 3:20 NASB

Rest your heart and your mind. Allow JESUS the Victory over death He claimed over 2000 years ago! He is Risen; He is Risen, INDEED!

The LORD is my Shepherd

“The LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of Righteousness For His Name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. Surely Goodness and Lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” Psalms 23:1‭-‬6 NASB

Witnesses

“Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:12‭-‬13 NASB

I’m tempted every day, and many times I think that I can handle it instead of looking for the way God wants me to deal with it. My biggest? Not talking about Jesus.

What is it that makes it so difficult to speak about my Saviour? I believe in Him. I know He is the Son of the Most High God, and that He is alive. When I say He is alive, I mean He is alive. He died, yes, a horrible death on a cross, one of the cruelest ways known to kill a person. His body was annointed with the normal spices for burial, and then wrapped in strips of cloth, as was the custom in His day. His body was in the tomb, with door sealed shut, for three days. After all that, Jesus walked out of that tomb and was with His friends, His disciples, and was seen by over 500 people. Eyewitness accounts.

And He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” Luke 24:38‭-‬39 NASB

Easter Sunday is approaching. Now is the perfect time to talk about Jesus. Let’s be part of the ”

“Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” 1 Timothy 6:12 NASB

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, ….” Hebrews 12:1 NASB

Anxious Thoughts

“When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul.” Psalms 94:19 NASB

In 1872, a young wife and mother named Annie Hawks penned these words:

I need thee every hour,
most gracious Lord;
no tender voice like thine
can peace afford.
I need thee, O I need thee;
every hour I need thee;
O bless me now, my Savior,
I come to thee.

In times like today, when so many people are frightened and worried, these words offer Christians the comfort that we are safe in the arms of Jesus. For those of you who want that comfort, it’s within your reach. I know how it feels to believe that you’ve done something that can’t be forgiven. I know what it means to be standing on the outside looking in, deep in sin and wondering how He could possibly reach me – and thinking that there was no way the LORD would even want to reach me.

Please, listen.

No matter what, God knows you and loves you.

He forgives, no matter what. Liars, cheaters, adulterers, thieves, even murderers. Don’t take my word for it! Read the Bible! The greatest people in it are sinners. Moses was a murderer. King David was greedy and an adulterer. Rahab and Mary Magdalene were prostitutes. Peter lied. Paul persecuted the early Christians! There are many, many more, too. Nothing can separate you from the Love of the LORD, once you have accepted Jesus as your Savior. He is our salvation. No one, and nothing, here on earth can save you. Not Buddha, not Mohammad, or Joseph Smith, or any of the other thousands of imposters.

“For GOD so Loved the world, that He gave His ONLY Begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have ETERNAL LIFE. For GOD did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” John 3:16‭-‬17 NASB

Believe it. Believe HIM.

Dead Calm – Response to the Coronavirus

Please note, the outline is from our pastor. The notes are my reaction and my interpretation of what Dr. Hitchcock says. You should watch it for yourself, too.

FAITH BIBLE CHURCH
March 15, 2020
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Mark 4:35-41 Dead Calm by Senior Pastor Dr. Mark Hitchcock
Join us Sunday mornings at 9:30 AM or 11:00 AM.
Wednesday Nights at 6:30 PM
Live stream or watch archived video of our services every Sunday at FaithBibleOk.com/media.
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Mark 4:35-41 NASB
35 On that day, when evening came, He *said to them, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd, they *took Him along with them in the boat, just as He was; and other boats were with Him. 37 And there *arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up. 38 Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they *woke Him and *said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” 39 And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Hush, be still.” [“Be quiet; be muzzled” as He would speak to and command a demon.] And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. 40 And He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” 41 They became very much afraid and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?”
https://bible.com/bible/100/mrk.4.35-41.NASB

Introduction

I. The Calm Before the Storm (35-36)

II. The Calm During the Storm (37-38)

III. The Calm After the Storm (39-40)

IV. The Storm After the Calm (41)

CONCLUSION

FAITH BIBLE CHURCH – Edmond, OK
Believe. Grow. Connect. Serve.
http://www.FaithBibleOk.com

Notes:

How do we deal with the storms of life? In particular, how do we navigate through this particular storm? In this story, we see that Jesus is the Lord of disasters.

Start with Mark 3:20 where Jesus came “home” to Capernaum. By verse 35, He has spent a long day teaching. We see in verses 35-36 that Jesus is in control and can be trusted in the storms of life. In Matthew’s account, he calls it a “mega-storm.” It’s noteworthy that these seasoned fishermen are panic stricken by this storm. They were in the boat because Jesus told them to get in it, yet they still neglected to trust Him. Jesus is sleeping and doesn’t wake up for noise and chaos of the storm, but He hears the voices of His disciples. He doesn’t freak out or get hysterical. He simply speaks and the wind stops. Stops. Completely calm; from mega-storm to mega-calm in the time it took Jesus to speak two words. I love this quote: “A storm with the LORD is better than calm without Him.”

” …..being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” so that we confidently say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid . What will man do to me?” Hebrews 13:5‭-‬6 NASB

Jesus is the only unsinkable Boat of Life. Are you in it with Him, or are you trying to keep your boat afloat on your own?

40 Fails

The number 40 appears around 146 times in scripture, and is used to indicate a time of testing or trial. For 40 days and 40 nights it rained and the waters came up out of the ground to cover all of the earth, while Noah and his family took shelter in the ark. (Genesis 7:12)

Moses spent 40 years living in Egypt before moving to the land of Midian, where he spent another 40 years (Exodus 2) before he returned to Egypt and led the Israelites away from captivity. He spent another 40 years with them, wandering in the wilderness. During that time, Moses was on Mount Sinai for 40 days and nights, on two separate occasions (Exodus 24:18, 34:1 – 28), receiving God’s laws. He also sent spies, for forty days, to investigate the land God promised the Israelites as an inheritance. (Numbers 13:25, 14:34).

The prophet Jonah powerfully warned ancient Nineveh, for forty days, that its destruction would come because of its many sins. The prophet Ezekiel laid on His right side for 40 days to symbolize Judah’s sins (Ezekiel 4:6). 40 days in the wilderness. That’s how long Jesus was there.

For me, I wandered in and out of my own personal wilderness for 40 years. I walked away from a home of spiritual safety, into the sinful ways of the world. There is another story from the Bible that I want to share as an example that God can overcome if we allow it.

From the devotional “Epic Fails” by Brittany Rust: “Samson’s epic fail was a thirst for the things of this world, fulfilling lust, and not learning from his past mistakes. His story shows us that pursuing these things will only bring us down and hurt us. That refusing to learn from our past will be our fall. Take cues from your pitfalls and draw boundaries that will protect you from repeating the past. I’m thankful to see that Samson finished strong; he connected with God and went out victoriously. Even though he didn’t steward his gift well, God still graciously blessed him for His purposes and, in the end, used him greater than ever before.”

“Then Samson called to the LORD and said, “O LORD GOD, please remember me and please strengthen me just this time, O GOD, ……”
Judges 16:28a NASB

I failed as a follower of Jesus for 40 years. I still stumble and fall, and fail, constantly; I’m sure at least 40 times a day. My saving grace is that Jesus is my Saviour. His Mercy covers me. Have you received His Grace and His Mercy and Forgiveness? Ask Him today, right now. He’s waiting patiently.

The Rescue

“GOD rescued us from dead-end alleys and dark dungeons. He’s set us up in the Kingdom of the Son He Loves so much, the SON Who got us out of the pit we were in, got rid of the sins we were doomed to keep repeating.” Colossians 1:13‭-‬14 MSG

I don’t know about anyone else, but this verse resonates deeply with me. I’ve been in those dead-end alleys, the dark dungeons, the black pits. That’s what happens when we do what we decide is right.

No matter how deep you are in trouble, or how much you despair of ever seeing the light, I promise you this. Lift up your head and your hand, and Jesus will be there. It doesn’t take much, just make the effort. It’s all that He’s waiting for, and He will lift you out of the trouble, and carry you until you can walk again.

No worries. No doubts. He will never, ever leave you. Never. Ever. Always by your side. Forever and ever and a day. Just call out His Name and the devil will run!

Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind
Sight, riches, healing of the mind
Yea, all I need, in Thee to find
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!
Just as I am, Thou wilt receive
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve
Because Thy promise I believe
O Lamb of God, I come, I come

AMEN!

Focus

“….. for through Him [Jesus God] God [Father God] created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see— such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through Him and for Him.” Colossians 1:16 NLT


Why did Jesus leave heaven and come to earth? After all, the Universe was created by Him and for Him, and He was on His throne where He could observe everything and everywhere and everyone. Why leave the glories of a perfect place for this flawed planet, full of flawed beings? What was His focus once here? We go to the book of Hebrews and the words of Jesus Himself for the answers.

“Therefore, when He comes into the world, He [JESUS] says, “Sacrifice and offering You [FATHER GOD] have not desired, But a body You have prepared for Me; In whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You have taken no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come (In the Scroll of the Book it is written of Me) To do Your Will, O God.’ ” After saying above, “Sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You have not desired, nor have You taken pleasure in them” (which are offered according to the Law), then He said, “Behold, I have come to do Your Will.” He takes away the first in order to establish the second. By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” Hebrews 10:5‭-‬10 NASB

Jesus came for the sole purpose to do His Father’s Will, and in doing so fulfill Prophesy: feeding on the promises God has made, verse 7 “In the Scroll of the Book it is written of Me.” God’s prophesies start in Genesis (3:15, 12:2); Isaiah 7:14, 11; 2 Samuel 7:16; through Micah and Hosea, books full of prophecies, and throughout Scriptures. Jesus is the “fulfillment of the laws and prophets”. Out of a thousand prophesies in the Bible, 500 have been fulfilled; 409 of them by Jesus! He is following the Father: in verses 7-9, He is speaking to God the Father, ready to do His Father’s Will. Jesus is defined by following God’s Will. In

John 5:30, He says I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. And again in John 6:38, He says  For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”


Our focus as Christians, as followers of the Christ, needs to be like Him: Obey regardless of the cost; be patient, honest, and steadfast. Our duty is not to find our freedom but to find our Master, otherwise we are enslaved by sin. Everything is ashes if we are not following the will of God. Remember His Mercy and His Grace! AMEN.

Testify!

Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God! Jesus *said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.” John 20:28‭-‬29 NASB

When I was 5 years old, I knelt with my daddy and prayed for Jesus to come into my heart. Yes, I was rather a precocious child. Strong willed. Over the years and into my teens, we had numerous missionaries in our home and church, teaching and preaching and discipling. Active in all aspects of church life, going to camp in the summer and lots of activities revolving around Jesus, it was easy for me to believe. As a teen, I knew I was called to serve God as a missionary. At 18, I left home to attend college, determined to follow my LORD. I attended a Christian college where I would be surrounded by by my peers, and I would be supported on my journey.

Life; the world, intervened. Let me assure you, Satan is alive and well at Christian colleges, looking for any cracks and openings in our shields of faith. “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8

He found my weakness, and I fell to his tempations. I strayed from my Lord and stayed away, running from God, for many years. Like Moses, I spent 40 years in the wilderness, only mine was a wilderness of sin. God gave me many opportunities to see His Mercy and His Grace. I mostly ignored Him, and chose to blame Him for my circumstances. I even fell back on that Mercy when I found myself in dire circumstances, but I wasn’t ready to let go of my worldly ways, so I would plunge back into that life.

I have compared my lost years to the Israelites 40 years of wandering in the dessert. I started out trusting God, then I slipped away from Him. The Israelites received His Mercy many times throughout their journey – manna and quail when they were hungry and had no food; water where there was none; deliverance from the Egyptians. His Mercy fed and clothed me at times, and He delivered me from certain death more than once. God didn’t destroy the Israelites because of the prayers of the righteous, and He didn’t destroy me – or allow the enemy to destroy me – because of the prayers of my family.

Some of us have to hit our “bottom” before we can see Jesus. We don’t take anyone’s word that He is real, He loves us, and He wants to forgive us. Sometimes we are like Thomas, Doubting Thomas, and we think we have to “put {our} fingers into His wounds” before we believe.

“One of the twelve disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), was not with the others when Jesus came. They told him, “We have seen the LORD!” But he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in His Hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in His side.” Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” He said. Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at My Hands. Put your hand into the wound in My side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!” “My LORD and my GOD!” Thomas exclaimed. Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO BELIEVE WITHOUT SEEING ME.” John 20:24‭-‬29 NLT

I’m so far from perfect, it can’t be measured, but the LORD GOD of the Universe thinks I’m worthy of His pursuit. What a humbling thought! I continue to sin and to stumble. I have doubts and I worry. But…..

I am so grateful that He doesn’t give up on us; on me!