Monday, March 8, 2021

Prevailing Through the Storms

 One of the many exciting stories recorded in the gospels of the life of Jesus is found in the three synoptic gospels. Although the following account is very similar in detail in all three gospels I will still share some parts from all three. 

"Now it happened, on a certain day, that He got into a boat with His disciples. And He said to them, "Let us cross over to the other side of the lake." And they launched out. But as they sailed He fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water, and were in jeopardy. And they came to Him and awoke Him, saying, "Master, Master, we are perishing!" Then He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water. And they ceased, and there was a calm. But He said to them, "Where is your faith?" And they were afraid, and marveled, saying to one another,"Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him!" (Luke 8:22-25)

There are many interesting aspects to this story. First, we notice "a windstorm came down on the lake." Naturally, windstorms do happen because storms are the result of the fall of man. However, I believe this particular windstorm had demonic origins. Why do I say this? Before the fall, Adam was given dominion not only over the creatures that were on the earth, but God made him to have dominion over all of the works of His hands. (Psalm 8:6) Also, prior to this incident Mark records, "Jesus healed many, so that as many as had afflictions pressed about Him to touch Him. And the unclean spirits, whenever they saw Him, fell down before Him and cried out, saying, "You are the Son of God." But He sternly warned them that they should not make Him known. And He went up on the mountain and called to Him those He Himself wanted. And they came to Him. Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons:" (Mark 3:10-15)   Think about it, at this particular time all those on earth who either had direct authority or delegated authority over the forces of darkness were in this boat. The devil may have thought if he could take them out he would still have the authority that Adam forfeited to him. (Luke 4:6)

Although the storm was filling the boat with water to the point that they were in jeopardy, Jesus was still asleep. This is a very important key for believers to understand if we are to walk daily in victory over every circumstance in this life no matter how insurmountable they may seem. We must keep in mind that Satan is defeated (Colossians 2:15, Hebrews 2:14), that we have authority over all of the power of the enemy (Luke 10:19), that we also have been given the power of attorney to use the Name of Jesus which carries with it all authority (Matthew 28:18, Mark 16:17-18, Philippians 2:5-11), that we also have God's Word that is living and powerful (Hebrews 4:12) and the we are God's Children (John 1:12, Romans 8:15-16)

We all of these mighty weapons of God available to us. By using them, we too can rest in the midst of the storm. However, do we apply to our lives what Solomon said, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6) You see, walking in victory comes down to whose words you are going to believe, the words of man, the words of the devil or the Word of God? (Matthew 16:13-23)  Naturally, we must believe God's Word over man's and Satan's words, but how can we cause God's Word to work in our lives?

We must first understand that although reading the Bible and confessing scripture is a great thing, if we are not acting upon it, then we are not really applying faith. Simply put, this is how true Bible faith works, we believe God's Word and then act upon it. James tells us, "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves...But someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works." Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works." (James 1:22, 2:18) So how can I be a doer of the Word? How can I show my faith by my works?

First, we we must be people who abide in God's Word (John 8:32-33) To abide in God's Word is to accept it wholeheartedly with exception, to believe it without doubting, to stand upon it without wavering. We must be convinced that what God has promised He is also able to perform (Romans 4:20-21). Now we find scripture that is directly related to the circumstance, confess it with our mouth, believe it in our heart and then thank Him for the answer even when there is not one shred of physical evidence. You see, by thanking God for the desired results (which must be according to His Will which is His Word 1 John 5:14-15) I am acting on His Word. I thank Him not because of a manifestation, but because I agree that His Word is true and it never fails. (Isaiah 55:11) Jesus said it this way, "For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them." (Mark 11:23-24)

Mark 11:23-24 is one of the most controversial passage of scripture to most in the church today. However, this is the epitome of true Bible faith. Doubt will always neutralize faith. Peter had faith to walk on the water, and he did, but doubt caused him to sink. The doubt was brought on by fear. Doubt neutralized his faith!!! (Matthew 14:28-31) Jesus tells us that we must believe that those things we say will be done. Finally, Jesus tells us that we must believe that we receive what we have asked for and you will have them. Believe that you receive, not receive and then believe. True Bible faith receives what God has already said. What God has already promised. What God has already work through Christ, even though there is no physical  evidence.  "Now faith is a well-grounded assurance of that for which we hope, and a conviction of the reality of things which we do not see." (Hebrews 11:1)

The apostle.Thomas did not exercise faith even though Jesus told His disciple that after His death He would rise. (Matthew 16:21, Mark 8:31, Luke 9:22) Nor did he believe even after many reported that in fact Jesus was risen. Not only did Thomas have to see the risen Lord, but he had to examine Him (the holes in His hands and feet, evidence seen) before he would believe. (John 24-29) This is the greatest struggle for most believers, believing that you have received without any physical evidence. Why? Because most believers have been taught to be skeptical of the supernatural. They have been trained to only accept things that their five senses can understand. This is exactly what Thomas did and Jesus rebuked him for it. He did not believe the Lord's Word concerning His resurrection. If he had, once he heard that Jesus was risen, he would have believed and acted upon it by rejoicing even though he himself had not seen the Lord. Instead, he had to see the Lord to believe that He was risen.

As the story winds down we see Jesus take control of the situation, He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water. And they ceased, and there was a calm. This should be the response of every believer when facing the difficulties of life. James tells us to count it all joy when you fall into various trials (James 1:2) In other words, do not let the trial have control, let joy rise up and then stand on God's Word remembering that God did not bring the trial (James 1:13) Also remember, believers are not called to fight the devil, Jesus defeated him. We are called to fight the good fight of faith. (1 Timothy 6:12) It is our faith in the integrity of God's Word that puts us over, not physical manifestations.

Think about this. If you are struggling with physical pain or some sort of sickness in your body, do not deny its existence, that would be lying. What you do, is deny its right to exist in your body which has been purchased by Jesus and is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) Why do you take this position? Because God's Word says, "who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness, by whose stripes you were (past tense) healed." (1 Peter 2:24 also see Isaiah 53:4-5)  You believe what Peter says, (it's God's Word) denying the right of the physical manifestation of pain or sickness to have place in your body. As Jesus rebuked the storm, you rebuke the devil and the symptoms that he is trying to put upon you or has manifested in your body.

Finally, Jesus confronts the disciples asking them, "Where is your faith?" The other accounts of this story say, "Why are you fearful, O you of little faith." (Matthew 8:26) and "Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?" (Mark 4:40) In either case, it comes down to an issue of faith. Will we exercise faith in God's Word or will we let fear and or doubt have place? Will we believe only if we see a manifestation or will we believe because the Word of God says so? For most, this can be an arduous ordeal. Why? It is because church leaders continue to teach believers through a somewhat subliminal message to trust in their senses and not God's Word. The only way to reverse these faithless words of doubt, fear and unbelief that have filled the hearts of God's beloved children, is to renew the mind with God's Word. (Romans 12:2, Ephesians 4:23)  Renewing ones mind and dealing with these stronghold takes a process of time. It comes down to each individual and just how deep these strongholds have captured their mind.

But be of good cheer, because God has given you a measure of faith (Romans 12:3) Through reading, studying and most importantly meditating on God's Word your faith will grow. (Romans 10:17) So, if you find yourself in the midst of a storm, "Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart." (Galatians 6:9) Don't lose heart. Don't give up "Let us hold fast the confession of our faith without wavering, for He who promised is faithful." (Hebrews 10:23) God is faithful. His Word never fails. "It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it." (Isaiah 55:11) and always keeping in mind, "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony (that is, the Word of God) (Revelation 12:11)   

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