Today’s reading is Acts 23: 12-22 Today we see a man of courage. Paul’s nephew hears what is going to happen to him. Now, he must have loved his uncle Paul, but to go to the leaders and tell them all … Continue reading
Today’s reading is Acts 18: 1-17 One of the things that always strikes me about Paul is his bravery. He constantly faces opposition and push back from everyone. Even when the town leaders didn’t condemn him, like Gallio, they also didn’t … Continue reading
Today’s reading is Luke 8: 40-56 Today we see two people healed, Jarius’ daughter and the woman who had been bleeding for twelve years. I think this text to me shows the courage to believe when life was hard. Jarius … Continue reading
Sometimes we feel like a light should just flip in our lives and all the old problems, all the old fears, all the old temptations, they should just go away. When we get saved, or give it to God, or … Continue reading
Each of the past few days as we’ve been together at Camp Wesley Pines, I’ve related a different Biblical character back to a character from Star Wars. Today’s topic deals with royalty. Today, we at Esther, with just a portion … Continue reading
I was once told that in the Bible when something is mentioned once, it’s a big deal. When it’s mentioned twice, it’s a really big deal. But three times, that’s God’s way of saying, HEY PAY ATTENTION. So, that said, … Continue reading
Today in Mark, we look at Mark 4:35-41. In this passage Jesus calms the storm:
35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. 37 A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
In this passage we see one of the more famous stories in all the Bible. Jesus calms the sea. This is one of those stories that we’ll unpack more next week, it says that they were going across to the other side of the sea. They were going to get away, people back didn’t cross over to other side. Why? Come back Monday and find out.
We see in this passage that they set out and a storm blew up. Now this is not surprising, storms blow up all the time on the Sea of Galilee. But this was one was fierce. So fierce that these disciples, many of whom were fishermen and used to storms like this, we scared.
And their question to Jesus, to me, shows the depth of what fear can do. Look what they ask. “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing.” Look at all that Jesus had done, already. Look how He has called them by name. Look at how He has appointed them. Look at how He has healed so many already. Look at what He has done.
Of course He cared. Of course He loved them. Or course He would take care of them.
But you know what? Fear makes you forget these things. Fear makes you question. Fear makes you doubt. Fear takes your trust. Think about how many times we have chosen wrong or doubted what we know to be true, based off of fear.
And what does Jesus do? He speaks and brings calm. He speaks and brings calm.
Sometimes when we read the Bible there is great need in knowing the Greek and the Hebrew and all the context of everything.
Sometimes it is this. Listen to Jesus speak calm to your fear and your storm. He loves you today. He really does. He loves you. He will not forsake you. He cares.
Don’t be afraid. Not that there aren’t big things out there. But don’t be afraid. Jesus has not left, not will He leave.
He cares for you today. Nothing is better than that.
And they were amazed that even the wind and the sea obey. All things obey for He is Lord of all. Don’t forget that.
Do not be afraid.
They were really afraid. And they questioned if Jesus cared for them. They knew that Jesus loved. Fear made them doubt.
Monday we’ll look at Mark 5:1-19.
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John the Baptist is one of the coolest characters in all the Bible to me. One of the reasons why is because when you read his story, he has such courage. Man oh man, he’s not afraid of anything. He says what he needs to say, sometimes in a VERY bold way, and he does what he needs to do.
He said what he said, wore what he wore, did what he did with great courage.
You ever wonder what his secret was?
What was it that he had that gave him such courage? Well, when we read his story, this is what we see. We see that he knew that he had one job in life, and that was to point to Jesus. Everything he did was for that purpose. He did in everywhere and in every way.
He pointed to Jesus. And was the source of his courage. He knew that if he did what he was supposed to do, that was his purpose. And all would flow from that. Listen to what happens today in John 3: 27-30:
27 John answered, “No one can receive anything except what has been given from heaven. 28 You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah, but I have been sent ahead of him.’ 29 He who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. For this reason my joy has been fulfilled. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.”
Here’s John, who is a big deal, has people coming from everywhere to hear him preach. Folks are talking to him, saying are you the messiah? Are you the one that is to come?
And John says – no! I am not the one. I am a friend of the one. I point to the one. But I am not the one. And then he says that great statement in verse 30 – He must increase, but I am must decrease.
Wow. That’s a tough thing to say, isn’t it. Jesus must decrease. We’re good with that one. That one’s cool.
But I must decrease. I’m not so sure about that one. I’m not sure that I want to decrease. That’s tough.
But John knew that he had to. He knew his life was not his own, but it was Jesus’. And the only way that he would be able to find true life was to decrease. Because living for himself would never lead to life. Living for Jesus would lead to true life. Now, and for all eternity.
He had to decrease. Jesus had to increase. That’s the secret. That was where his courage, his purpose, his life came from. He knew that if increased and Jesus decreased, he’d never find life. But, if he did all that he could do to point to Jesus and point others to Jesus, he’d fine life. And that life leads to courage.
Today, how about us? We were made for that very purpose. To point others to Jesus.
Today, may we live out our purpose. And if we do that, we will find the courage that we desperately need. Today, may He increase and we decrease.
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Today is April 16. Every year I write something in memory of my Mama Sarah and in honor of my mom, Maxine Stoddard. On this day 37 years ago, my Mama Sarah was murdered by my biological father and at that point, many lives were forever changed. She was murdered on my mom’s birthday (April 16) and buried on mine (April 18). You can read all the details of this day and some of the effects it’s had on me and my family through the years in any of the above posts, but the thing I always cling to in this, and any tragedy, is the truth found in Genesis 50:20:
As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.
And Romans 8:28:
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
So, today, this is where my mind is going. I think about the fear that must have been in my Mama Sarah’s heart as she walked out of the house with me in her arms before she was shot. I think about the fear that must have been in hearts of Maxine and Connie Stoddard with the loss of their daughter and now the unknown future of adopting their 2-year-old grandson.
That fear that they faced could have paralyzed them. It could have kept them from moving or doing anything. It could have caused their world to crumble.
But you know what? They looked the fear that they faced in that moment, they looked it in the face and did the right thing anyway. They chose to not give into fear. They chose to do the right thing in spite of the fear in their heart. They trusted even in the darkness.
This is not to say that everyone in my story is perfect. That’s far from true. I’m not, Mama Sarah was not, my parents are not. But I do know this. In the midst of uncertainty and danger and fear, they chose not to give into the fear. They chose to do the right thing, even when they were afraid. They chose to trust that God had a plan, even in the midst of human brokenness.
They chose trust and obedience over fear.
So must we today. I have no idea what you are facing today. You may be very, very afraid. The future may be unknown. There may be great pain in your life. There may be things in your life that you have no control over. Things that make you very, very afraid.
It’s ok. We all are afraid at times. We are. But don’t give into it. Don’t. Faith is bigger than fear. Trust in the fact that there is a God bigger and smarter and wiser than you. That has a plan. Trust. God will bring something good out of it, even if you don’t understand what.
He will. That’s what He does.
Don’t be scared. No matter what you face. One of my favorite quotes from my favorite the shows, Doctor Who is this. The main character, The Doctor says, “Courage isn’t just a matter of not being frightened, you know. It’s being afraid and doing what you have to do anyway.”
Yes, you may be afraid today. Believe me, I understand. I learned at very young age everything I hold precious could be taken from me. Relationships can be ended. Harm can come. I always have that fear in my belly. Always.
But I can’t give into it. I have to (by God’s grace) be strong and lean on God’s grace. I have to, and we have to, have faith, not fear. Because fear never wins. And faith does. It always does.
So, today, don’t be scared. Have faith. God has a plan. Trust. Obey. Move. And don’t give into the fear. All things will work for our God and His glory. I believe and know that.
Don’t be scared. It’s going to be ok.
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CS Lewis, in his great book The Screwtape Letters, wrote these words:
“courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means, at the point of highest reality.”
Courage is what is required to do that which is right, to do that which God desires, that which is that next step of faithfulness. That is what God wants for us. That which God wants from us.
God wants us to take that next step. God wants us to be faithful. God wants us to be brave. God wants us to have courage.
No matter what we are facing, no matter what is next, no matter what is going on, I promise you this. God wants us to take that next step. God wants us to have courage. In many ways, the story of Christmas is the story of courage. It took great courage for Joseph to be faithful to God’s plan, to do what God wanted him to do, and to be obedient. Listen to what he had to do, in Matthew 1: 19-25:
And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.
Because God had other plans.
And Joseph followed. He had courage. He took that step.
And God did amazing things.
Today, have faith. Have courage. Believe. Hope. Trust.
And God will be faithful. May we do the same.
Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones.