May 7 “Offenses”

Offenses

Offenses: We all are subject to them. We are all capable of delivering them. It is the human condition.
Cruelty and injustice offend people who are the victims. Sin offends God. Revenge for offenses received only offends the offender more deeply. Nothing is solved. No issues are resolved. The inertia of offense continues to drive the train off the rails until a life is wasted. Who can stop this?

Only Jesus.

Children
A few days ago we sang, “Jesus Loves the Little Children.” It is more than a song. It is a fact. Adults who swim in the sea of offenses bear the responsibility of their choices, but children are at the mercy of the adults in their lives. Jesus holds those who would offend them to the highest of standards of behavior.

“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

How do we offend children? By withholding the Gospel from them. Children have a marvelous capacity to believe. When they hear about Jesus, He comes to them. He is a friend and even a playmate to them. To withhold Jesus from them is an offense of the most dreadful kind.

We also offend children by abusing them, either with violence, with hateful words, or with neglect. The children may be voiceless, but Jesus feels their offense and wants to send someone to rescue them. These humble, Christ-honoring servants never seek headlines so the world takes little note of them. But Jesus knows.

Our Propensity to Offend
We can do it accidentally with an unkind word or a thoughtless opinion better left unspoken. It can happen to us in the same way. A large part of maturity is contained in how we handle offenses. Do we forgive and try to forget? Or do we hold on to them? If we do, it is like giving them a mental hothouse in which to take root and grow into a foul smelling, poisonous growth that steals our energy.  It is much better to forgive and try to forget. In humility we must remember that we are likely to offend and will want to be forgiven. We must give what we want to receive.

Identify the Cause
An offense is a reaction; something causes us to offend others. Perhaps we are striking back at someone who has struck us a damaging blow. Jesus covered this in the Sermon on the Mount. We need to go deeper than the event to see the root cause. Jesus talked about the hands, the feet, and the eye as causes of offensive behavior. Looking carefully at our lives, are there habits in our hands, or felonies in our feet, or evil visions before our eyes that lead us to offensive words and deeds? Deal with those things while there is time! It is only wisdom.

Offending God
Our sins offend God and there is nothing we can do to undo what we have done. But there is something we can do starting from now—we can turn our lives over to Jesus. He bore the offense of God on the cross. By faith in Him we can be free from these sins. By His indwelling Spirit, we can be changed from an offender to one who pleases God.

Scriptures:
Matthew 18:6-9
“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes! “If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire.
Romans 5:18-21
Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous. Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, my sins were offensive to You, but You did not treat me as I deserved. You dealt with me according to Your mercy and grace. Thank You, Jesus! Help me to walk in the Spirit today. Prevent me from offending those who love You and serve You. They are my brothers and sisters and do not deserve anything but my love and encouragement. Help me to never offend those who are seeking for You. Even when they revile Your name or seek to offend me, help me to respond with grace. Lord Jesus, be with the abused children of this world. Send them loving hands and healing arms. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Song:
Grace that Is Greater
Words: Julia H. Johnson; Music: D. B. Towner

1. Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt,
yonder on Calvary’s mount out-poured,
there where the blood of the Lamb was spilt.

Refrain:
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
grace, grace, God’s grace,
grace that is greater than all our sin.

2. Dark is the stain that we cannot hide,
what can avail to wash it away!
Look! there is flowing a crimson tide;
whiter than snow you may be today.

Refrain

3. Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
freely bestowed on all who believe;
you that are longing to see his face,
will you this moment his grace receive

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

May 6 “Children”

Children

There was a question from the tax collectors and another from the disciples. Children figured in both answers.
Arriving at Capernaum, tax collectors asked the Disciples if Jesus paid the Temple Tax. This was an attempt to find some minor infraction of Jewish law with which to attack Jesus.

When Peter came into a house to bring the question to Jesus, the Lord answered the question with a question before Peter had chance to speak.

“What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from their sons or from strangers?”

This question contained an inherent claim to a different relationship with the Temple. Jesus called the Temple, “My Father’s House.” He was not just another “son of man”—He was the Son of God!. As such, He owed no taxes—He was the heir!

When Peter correctly answered, “From strangers,” Jesus declared,

“Then the sons are free.”

Like the priests who served in the Temple, Jesus was free from tax obligations. Nevertheless, He instructed His men to go fishing and catch a fish. The tax money was in the fish’s mouth.

Who Is the Greatest?
Men are competitive; there is no secret in this revelation. The Disciples were no exception; they were following Jesus and competing with each other at the same time. Possibly feeling empowered by this new found tax exemption they asked Jesus for a job evaluation. Of the Twelve, three were known to be chosen for talks and field trips apart from the others. But the meaning of this was unclear. Peter was always the first to speak, but he was also prone to misspeak. They wanted to know who the “A” students in the class were so they asked Jesus:

“Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

Jesus called a little child to His side. He sat on a rock and made quick friends with the little one. With unerring discernment, the child responded to the friendship of Jesus with smiles and giggles. Finally, when everyone had taken in the familiar sight of a happy child safe in the arms of a loving adult, Jesus spoke. The child was His answer. The greatest among His followers must be like a child, simple, trusting, innocent.

Childlike, not Childish
Jesus was not promoting immaturity; He was encouraging childlike faith and obedience. An orderly child does not argue with authority. He or she trusts those who know more than a child knows. They offer purity and energy to every task as if it were a game to be played and enjoyed. Far from immature, to live this way before God and men is maturity at its greatest depth. This is no accident of temperament; it is a choice to humble ourselves to a level of childlike trust in Jesus. Observers of Christians through the ages repeatedly speak of truly great servants of God as humble and singular in focus; people who love God and love people.

Recovering Innocence
Perhaps the greatest miracle of redemption through the blood of Christ is that we can recover our innocence. The blood of Jesus covers sins—our sins—and we stand before God as if we had never sinned! The indwelling Holy Spirit regenerates our lives so that we no longer resemble the person we were before. As the great hymn says, the blood of Jesus is “of sin the double cure, saves from wrath and makes me pure.” Amen and Amen.

Scriptures:
Matthew 17:14-23; 18:1-5

When they had come to Capernaum, those who received the temple tax came to Peter and said, “Does your Teacher not pay the temple tax?” He said, “Yes.” And when he had come into the house, Jesus anticipated him, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from their sons or from strangers?” Peter said to Him, “From strangers.” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. Nevertheless, lest we offend them, go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first. And when you have opened its mouth, you will find a piece of money; take that and give it to them for Me and you.”
At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.
Micah 7:19 NKJV
He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins Into the depths of the sea.
Psalm 103:11-12 NKJV
For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
Colossians 2:13-14 NKJV
And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I choose to trust You as would a little child. Your Word is all I need. I can question, but just for the sake of understanding, not to question Your authority or wisdom. I don’t have to understand any more than child must understand things far beyond a child’s capacity to understand. Thank You, Lord, for forgiving my sins and casting them far away. You nailed the indictment against me to Your cross. Before You, my innocence is restored to that of a child. Help me stay that way! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Song:
Rock of Ages
Words: Augustus Toplady; Music: Thomas Hastings

1. Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
let me hide myself in thee;
let the water and the blood,
from thy wounded side which flowed,
be of sin the double cure;
save from wrath and make me pure.

2. Not the labors of my hands
can fulfill thy law’s demands;
could my zeal no respite know,
could my tears forever flow,
all for sin could not atone;
thou must save, and thou alone.

3. Nothing in my hand I bring,
simply to the cross I cling;
naked, come to thee for dress;
helpless, look to thee for grace;
foul, I to the fountain fly;
wash me, Savior, or I die.

4. While I draw this fleeting breath,
when mine eyes shall close in death,
when I soar to worlds unknown,
see thee on thy judgment throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
let me hide myself in thee.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

May 5 “Helpless”

Helpless

To feel helpless is to be hopeless. All hope of rescue or relief, of an answer or assistance, is gone.
The helpless one has exhausted all resources and the problem remains. All one can do is seek a higher power. This was the case for a man and his son and for the Lord’s disciples.

A Disrupted Home
A father came kneeling to Jesus, desperate for help and finding none to this point.

“Lord, have mercy on my son…”

He had gone through channels, asking the disciples to cast out the demon tormenting his son and disrupting their home. The foul spirit affected the boy’s mental processes giving him violent seizures. The boy was tossed about by the demon, even into the fire and into deep waters. The man was helpless before this hellish invasion. The disciples did their best but they, too, were helpless in dealing with this particular demon. It was in a class they had never before encountered.

Jesus responded in kindness to the man and with impatience toward His disciples. When would they learn?

“O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you?
How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.”

Jesus rebuked the demon and it left the boy immediately. Later, the disciples asked why the demon obeyed Jesus but not them. Why were they helpless in the face of this one demon? Jesus informed them that sometimes fasting is required in addition to prayer. This was that kind of demon.

Trading Helplessness for Hope
When we do not have the answers, we must remember that Jesus does have them. The answers may be beyond our capacity to understand but that does not make us hopeless—we remain hopeful because Jesus is our hope. He is never helpless so we are never hopeless. It may be that we need to turn up our spiritual thermostats a bit and pray more or pray better. It would be good to add fasting to our prayers. Find scriptures to memorize and act upon. The Christ-follower is never hopeless although we may feel helpless.

Mustard Seed and Mountains
The helplessness of the disciples came from inadequate faith. Jesus called it unbelief. Therefore the hope of the disciples and for us is in believing—faith! All it takes to move the mountain in our path that intimidates us and makes us feel helpless is faith the size of a mustard seed. With this faith, we can speak to mountains and watch the earth quake as the mountain moves out of our way.

Tough Times Ahead
Jesus knew what was coming for His men. They would indeed be helpless in the Garden when Jesus was arrested and taken from them. Without hope, they would scatter like frightened birds when He was tried in the courts of men. They would cower in the shadows of the darkened mid-day sun when Jesus died on the cross. They would huddle together in hopelessness while Jesus lingered in the tomb.

Finally, the message of what was to come started getting through to the men “…and they were exceedingly sorrowful.”

Scriptures:
Matthew 17:14-23

And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he (“has seizures” NIV)… and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.” Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.” And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” Now while they were staying in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him, and the third day He will be raised up.” And they were exceedingly sorrowful.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You are my help and my hope. You have promised never to leave me or forsake me. Therefore, when I cannot feel Your presence, You are still with me. When I feel forsaken, it simply isn’t true—You are still with me. When I feel helpless, I will deliberately set my hopes on You in greater measure, disciplining the mind and the body. No demonic force that will ever attack me is stronger than You. Today I am neither helpless or hopeless. I am divinely assisted and my heart rests in great hope. Thank You, Lord! Amen.

Song:
O God Our Help in Ages Past
Words: Isaac Watts; Music: William Croft

1. Our God, our Help in ages past,
our Hope for years to come,
our Shelter from the stormy blast,
and our eternal Home.

2. Under the shadow of Thy throne
Thy saints have dwelt secure;
sufficient is Thine arm alone,
and our defense is sure.

3. Before the hills in order stood
or earth received its frame,
from everlasting Thou art God,
to endless years the same.

4. A thousand ages in Thy sight
are like an ev’ning gone,
short as the watch that ends the night
before the rising sun.

5. Time, like an ever-rolling stream,
bears all its sons away;
they fly forgotten, as a dream
dies at the op’ning day.

6. Our God, our Help in ages past,
our Hope for years to come,
be Thou our Guide while life shall last,
and our eternal Home!

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

May 4 “Transfigured”

Transfigured

The miracle on the Mount of Transfiguration is a unique event in the Jesus Story.
It is a great mystery that tantalizes the student of the Bible with possible explanations. One thing is certain; this event proves that God is the God of the living and not the dead. Moses and Elijah join Jesus for a conversation—not their ghosts—but the men themselves! What sort of bodies did they have? Was this a foretaste of the resurrection to come? No one can say for sure. Here is the story.

Up into a High Mountain
Six days after the storm at sea, Jesus took His inner circle, Peter, James, and John, up into a high mountain. We can imagine the excitement in the hearts of the three men; there was no predicting what Jesus was going to do. They could never have anticipated what He had in store for them. It began with a transformation of Jesus right in front of them. Tradition calls this a transfiguration, meaning a change in form or appearance. Jesus began to shine with a bright light and His clothes glowed a brilliant white. Suddenly two men stood with Him and conversed with Him. Somehow the disciples knew these men to be Moses and Elijah, representing the Law and the Prophets.

Nobody knew what to say but that didn’t stop Peter. He made a lame suggestion about putting tents up for them. While this idea was still on Peter’s lips, a bright cloud covered them all. From the cloud came a voice:

“This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!”

The three disciples fell on their faces in fear. Shivering in the mountain dust, they felt the strong hand of Jesus touching them and they heard His voice telling them not to fear. When they looked up, all was back to normal. Jesus told them to keep this event to themselves until after He rose from the dead.

As they were coming down the mountain, they were silent for most of the descent. Finally one of them asked Jesus about the belief that Elijah must come before the Messiah. Jesus assured them this had already happened; John had fulfilled that role.

The Transfigured Jesus
This historical event also serves as a metaphor for us today. We encounter Jesus in the pages of the Bible but He does not remain a two-dimensional literary figure. When we repent of our sins and confess Him as our Savior, He begins to shine in our hearts. He emerges from the paper and print of the Book to wear the shining white robes of His righteousness, setting Him apart from all others. He converses with Moses to give us an understanding of the Old Covenant. He reveals Himself in the writings of the prophets. Best of all we sense a glory cloud of heavenly presence and hear the voice of the Father. He is the God of the living and His is “God with Us!”

We echo the words of the Psalmist: “We worship at his holy hill.” We know also that as we behold His glory, we are being changed into His likeness! Transfigured!

Scriptures:
Matthew 17:1-13
Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid. But Jesus came and touched them and said, “Arise, and do not be afraid.” When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. Now as they came down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, “Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man is risen from the dead.” And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things. But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist.
Psalm 99:9 NKJV
Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at His holy hill; For the Lord our God is holy.
2 Corinthians 3:17-18 NKJV
Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You outshine all others! Let me see Your glory today. I will look for it in the sunrise and sunset and in the noonday sun. I will see Your glory in the Scriptures and in the faces of my brothers and sisters. You will temper the Law and You will interpret the Prophets. I will seek the glory of Your presence and listen for the voice of the Father when You speak to me. This mountain today will be my mountain of Transfiguration! Amen!

Song:
Fairest Lord Jesus
Traditional

1. Fairest Lord Jesus,  ruler of all nature,
O thou of God and man the Son,
Thee will I cherish,  Thee will I honor,
thou, my soul’s glory, joy, and crown.

2 Fair are the meadows,  fairer still the woodlands,
robed in the blooming garb of spring:
Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer
who makes the woeful heart to sing.

3 Fair is the sunshine,  fairer still the moonlight,
and all the twinkling starry host:
Jesus shines brighter, Jesus shines purer
than all the angels heaven can boast.

4 Beautiful Savior! Lord of all the nations!
Son of God and Son of Man!
Glory and honor, praise, adoration,
now and forevermore be thine.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

May 3 “Confessions”

Confessions

Confessions are more than everyday statements. Confessions are the stuff of change.
I am sure Jesus was alone with His disciples when He asked them this question:

“Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”

His question contained a confession—He called Himself the Son of Man. This is a title almost exclusively used by Jesus in reference to Himself. Scholars debate why this was His practice with many explanations offered. Let’s take the most obvious view: Jesus was both the Son of God and the Son of Man. His mother was Mary, a normal human being who was “overshadowed” by the Holy Spirit when Jesus was conceived within her. To the followers of Jesus, His confession that he was a human being was not unusual. To Jesus it meant much more. Chances are He framed the question to lead His men from the obvious confession that He was a man to the amazing confession that He was indeed the Son of God.

Getting the Answer Right.
The men gave Him a summary of public opinion and Jesus made it personal.

“But who do you say that I am?”

I can imagine the 12 of them searching each other’s faces. Who would speak aloud what they all were thinking? Peter, of course.

“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

There it was out in the open. Peter waited to hear what Jesus would say. The answer was not long in coming. Yes! Peter, you didn’t just figure this out on your own. My father revealed it to you. This is the confession that will serve as the foundation of my church! My church will be impervious to the powers of hell itself and people will be freed from sin. With this confession the powers of hell will be bound and the streams of grace will be opened.

Then Jesus told them to keep quiet about it. Why? Because things were about to change. They would make a trip to Jerusalem and to all appearances the enemies will win. He tried to tell them about His death and the new life to follow. They didn’t get it. Peter, so recently eloquent in his confession, took Jesus aside and gently corrected Him. Suddenly the confession of Jesus changed. Peter the Rock became “Satan” because of his refusal to listen to Jesus.

To Follow Jesus
Not only would Jesus bear a cross but so would everyone who followed Him. The world would be turned upside down. To save one’s life, lose it in following Jesus. What is as valuable as a man’s soul? What would we trade for it? Judgment is coming! Eternal reward or eternal punishment, which will it be?

His heavy words hung in the air. He looked each man in the face before closing the subject. Some of their number would see the end when it came. Among them, young John, did not know that Jesus spoke of him. In decades to come, John would grow old preaching the Jesus Story only to be bound in prison on a deserted island. There he would see the coming of the Son of Man who is the Son of God in all His glory and John would share his vision with us.

Scriptures:
Matthew 16:13-28
When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ. From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I confess that You are the Son of Man and the Son of God. There has never been anyone like You. I will take up my cross today and follow You. I will deny myself today. I will lose my life in Your will today so that today I might find it again. I will align myself with Your amazing Church built strong and steady on the Rock of this Confession: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!” Hell can stand back and watch, raging all the while, but my voice will not be stilled. My confession stands! In Jesus’ Name.

Song:
The Solid Rock
Words: Edward Mote; Music: William B. Bradbury

1. My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand.

2. When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
in ev’ry high and stormy gale
my anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand.

3. His oath, His covenant, His blood
support me in the ‘whelming flood;
when all around my soul gives way
He then is all my hope and stay.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand.

4. When He shall come with trumpet sound,
O may I then in Him be found,
dressed in His righteousness alone,
faultless to stand before the throne.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

May 2 “Leaven”

Leaven

There was a substance in the brains of the Pharisees and Sadducees that ruined their thinking.
Jesus called it “leaven,” that living substance that ferments bread and makes it rise. Aside from the literal meaning the dictionary says this:

“a pervasive influence that modifies something…”

We might call it spiritual stupidity.

After surveilling Jesus for months observing signs and wonders by His hand, these guys asked Him for a sign. They were not the first ones to make this request so Jesus gave them the same answer as the others. They were a wicked and adulterous generation, too blind to see what was in front of their eyes. How was it they could read weather signs in the sky but they could not see the multitude of signs and the amazing wonders of healing and restoration and deliverance from the hand of Jesus? The only further sign they would get from Him was the sign of Jonah. He knew they wouldn’t get that one either.

On the Other Side
Jesus and the Twelve departed from the wicked and adulterous leaders and crossed to the other side of the lake. The men suddenly remembered what they had forgotten—bread. Jesus was still ruminating about the stupidity of the Pharisees and Sadducees and was not at all thinking about dinner. He advised the men:

“Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.”

The last thing Jesus wanted was an outbreak of stupid among His men. He knew that each of them had a capacity for small thinking. They easily forgot important things. He did not want their thinking to be spoiled by some leavening agent.

They thought He was talking about dinner. He rebuked them:

“O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no bread? Do you not yet understand, or remember…”

That was it—that was the dangerous leaven corrupting their minds. They had too little faith and understanding and too much forgetfulness. These were the ones who had forgotten how to feed a multitude when Jesus was in command. He wasn’t talking about bread; he was talking about spiritual stupidity:

  • Seeing true signs and wonders and asking for a sign, or
  • Complaining that a suffering person was healed on the Sabbath, or
  • Assigning the power to deliver from Satan’s grasp to Satan himself.

He was pleading with His men not to be like that.

Faith is the True Leaven
Jesus upbraided the disciples because they did not have enough faith. He had to wonder what it was going to take for them to get it. There was a leavening agent alive in their brains to make them stronger and wiser and bolder as they followed Jesus—faith. Doubt deflates dough in the oven or on the shelf; faith makes it rise.

The doctrines of the leaders were based on self-preservation, not Kingdom expansion. Their arguments were defensive rather than offensive to the status quo. Change was a threat to them and Jesus was all about change.

We, too are quite capable of spiritual stupidity. Like the powerful leaven it is, we must add faith to our thinking so we can understand the times and rise to the occasion.

Scriptures:
Matthew 16:1-12
Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven. He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” And He left them and departed. Now when His disciples had come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. Then Jesus said to them, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.” And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “It is because we have taken no bread.” But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, “O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no bread? Do you not yet understand, or remember the five loaves of the five thousand and how many baskets you took up? Nor the seven loaves of the four thousand and how many large baskets you took up? How is it you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread? — but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, save me from spiritual stupidity! Banish from my brain any of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees—unbelief. Fill me with faith—the leaven of the Kingdom. I have confidence in You. I believe Your story with all my heart. I trust You with all my tomorrows and with this day and the night to follow. “I know whom I have believed and I am persuaded that You are able to keep that which I’ve committed unto You against that day!” Amen and Amen.

Song:
Living by Faith
Words: James Wells, R.E. Winsett; Music: J.L. Heath

1. I care not today what the morrow may bring,
If shadow or sunshine or rain,
The Lord I know ruleth o’er everything,
And all of my worries are vain.

Refrain:
Living by faith in Jesus above,
Trusting, confiding in His great love;
From all harm safe in His sheltering arm,
I’m living by faith and feel no alarm.

2. Though tempests may blow and the storm clouds arise,
Obscuring the brightness of life,
I’m never alarmed at the overcast skies—
The Master looks on at the strife.

Refrain

3. I know that He safely will carry me through,
No matter what evils betide;
Why should I then care though the tempest may blow,
If Jesus walks close to my side.

Refrain

4 Our Lord will return for His loved ones some day,
Our troubles will then all be o’er;
The Master so gently will lead us away,
Beyond that blest heavenly shore

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

May 1 “Wilderness”

Wilderness

Finding bread in the wilderness is not easy to do.
This was the second time the disciples had faced this challenge and they seemed unprepared. A crowd of 4000 men plus women and children had been with Jesus in the wilderness for three days with no provisions. Jesus, already motivated by the illnesses, the afflictions, and the spiritual vulnerabilities of the crowd, was moved with compassion for their hunger. He expressed this compassion to His men:

“I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.”

Although it seems amazing to us, the disciples seem to have forgotten about the feeding of a larger multitude just a few days before.

“Where could we get enough bread in the wilderness to fill such a great multitude?”

The only bread to be found in the wilderness is the bread someone had brought with them into the wilderness. The report was seven loaves of bread and a few little fish. Jesus took these meager provisions in His hands and blessed them. At this point surely the disciples remembered that they had done this before. They remembered the miracle in their hands as each piece of fish or hunk of bread they broke and gave to someone in the crowd was replaced by more when they repeated the process.

Food in the Wilderness, Take Two
If the disciples were slow on the uptake, so are we. We are a multitude in the wilderness, hungry for life. We are following Jesus and He is proving to be all that we need. He forgives us and sends His Holy Spirit to take up residence in us. He reveals His Word to us so we can know more about what life is and how it should be lived. He connects us with others on their own wilderness trek and adopts us into His holy family. He delivers us and heals us when are overcome or ill. He makes the wilderness into a garden. Isaiah prophesied this and it happens; time and again, it happens. We find bread where no bread should be. We place the little that we have into the Lord’s powerful hands and it becomes enough—more than enough! This slightly smaller multitude had 7 large baskets full of leftovers! Jesus sent them away, healed, delivered and picking fish out of their teeth with provisions for the trip home! Jesus was Jehovah Jireh, The Lord who Provides, in the flesh.

Sometimes we forget.
One of the most important forms of praise is thanksgiving—remembering what God has done for us in the past. Remembering past wildernesses that bloomed into beautiful gardens encourages us to face the wilderness that surrounds us now. We are not empty handed. We have something to give the Lord, even if it is only a heart full of good intentions. Remember that the contents of the heart changes things and the small, mustard seed-sized faith is enough to grow a mighty tree. The secret is to put what we have in our hands into His hands. With His touch we can see another wilderness become a garden.

Scriptures:
Matthew 15:32-39
Now Jesus called His disciples to Himself and said, “I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.” Then His disciples said to Him, “Where could we get enough bread in the wilderness to fill such a great multitude?” Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” And they said, “Seven, and a few little fish.” So He commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. And He took the seven loaves and the fish and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitude. So they all ate and were filled, and they took up seven large baskets full of the fragments that were left. Now those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children. And He sent away the multitude, got into the boat, and came to the region of Magdala.
Genesis 22:13-14
Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son. And Abraham called the name of the place, The-Lord -Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, “In the Mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”
Isaiah 51:1-3
“Listen to Me, you who follow after righteousness, You who seek the Lord: Look to the rock from which you were hewn, And to the hole of the pit from which you were dug. Look to Abraham your father, And to Sarah who bore you; For I called him alone, And blessed him and increased him.” For the Lord will comfort Zion, He will comfort all her waste places; He will make her wilderness like Eden, And her desert like the garden of the Lord; Joy and gladness will be found in it, Thanksgiving and the voice of melody.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You are the master of the wilderness! Your delight is to lead us someplace dangerous and then provide what we need to face that challenge. You have not called us to a life lived safely behind walls of fear. When we follow You we will find ourselves in a wilderness. We are not alone; You are there. We have something of value we can give You there in the wilderness. We will watch time and time again as You take what we give You and make it enough. Lord Jesus, You are the master of the wilderness! Amen.

Song:
Come and Dine
Words and Music: C. B. Widmeyer

1. Jesus has a table spread
Where the saints of God are fed,
He invites His chosen people, “Come and dine”;
With His manna He doth feed
And supplies our every need:
Oh, ’tis sweet to sup with Jesus all the time!

Refrain:
“Come and dine,” the Master calleth, “Come and dine”;
You may feast at Jesus’ table all the time;
He Who fed the multitude, turned the water into wine,
To the hungry calleth now,

2. “Come and dine.” The disciples came to land,
Thus obeying Christ’s command,
For the Master called unto them, “Come and dine”;
There they found their heart’s desire,
Bread and fish upon the fire;
Thus He satisfies the hungry every time.

Refrain

3. Soon the Lamb will take His bride
To be ever at His side,
All the host of heaven will assembled be;
Oh, ’twill be a glorious sight,
All the saints in spotless white;
And with Jesus they will feast eternally

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

April 30 “Dogs”

Dogs

Her people lived in the land of Canaan before Joshua brought the Children of Israel across the river Jordan.
In the estimation of the Jews, she counted as less than human, no more than a dog in the streets. Jesus was of a different view. He had heard the words of His cousin John standing in that same Jordan: “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!”—not just the Jews but the Gentiles, too. The prophets were clear on this, but the Jews of that day hurried over the parts that didn’t fit their narrative.

Tyre and Sidon
These two cities near the Mediterranean Sea were famous for merchandise, fishing, crafts, and sin. The Canaanites who lived there were the descendants of the people conquered by the Israelites in the conquest of Canaan. They served a nasty pagan god named Baal, a highly adaptable source of evil—each village had its own little Baal.

Amazingly, a Canaanite woman came to Jesus, expecting nothing but contempt from His men, but desperately hoping that He was different. Two things about this woman are remarkable:

  1. She knew about the Jewish Messiah—she called Jesus, “Son of David.”
  2. She knew the power of the spirit world—her daughter was demon possessed.

We know from the writings of Apostles that household idols could host demons. This poor woman had been betrayed by her native religion. Her worship of Baal had introduced her child to a demon. She knew that hell could not cast out hell. When she heard about Jesus, she decided that He, a Jewish Rabbi, was her only hope. She braved the prejudice and pleaded her case.

Playing the Game
Jesus tested her faith by pretending to be just another prejudiced man, referring to her as a dog. Her brave reply moved the heart of the Savior.

“Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”

She called Him Lord! The leaders of the People of God called Him Satan and this pagan mother called Him Lord.

“O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.”

Her daughter was instantly delivered. Then Jesus left that city to find a place to preach. He had come all that way to the region of Tyre and Sidon  to rescue the daughter of a pagan woman. But He was just getting started. A great healing revival broke out and God, the God of Moses, and Joshua, and Jesus, was glorified.

Prejudice offends God.
We marvel that one group of people would consider another group of people as no better than dogs. We should not marvel. There was a time in the USA when Negros were considered only a fraction of a human being for the purposes of the census and congressional representation. Race prejudice has raised its ugly head in every civilization on the planet. The only One who has an answer for it is Jesus. He can remove it from the heart. He can exalt each individual to a place of equality. The Sermon on the Mount does this; it is the constitution of the Kingdom of God. How do we please God? Love Him and love our neighbors. How do we offend Him? Treat others like dogs.

Scriptures:
Matthew 15:21-31
Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.” But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she cries out after us.” But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!” But He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.” And she said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour. Jesus departed from there, skirted the Sea of Galilee, and went up on the mountain and sat down there. Then great multitudes came to Him, having with them the lame, blind, mute, maimed, and many others; and they laid them down at Jesus’ feet, and He healed them. So the multitude marveled when they saw the mute speaking, the maimed made whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel.
Matthew 6:26-27; 10:29-31
Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
Galatians 3:26-29
For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, help me love everybody. I want to treat people as equals. You love everyone, even the most unlovely and the most unlovable. I need help with that. From the homeless person I see on my way to church walking the street early on Sunday morning, to the prisoner behind bars, to the elderly lost in a fog and cared for my strangers, to the well-off in their fancy cars and snoozing in their elaborate homes in gated communities, to the radical spewing hatred, help me love them all and to show it by praying for them. They are not dogs; they are worth Your agony on the cross. Lord Jesus, help me love everybody. Amen.

Song:
Jesus Loves the Little Children
Traditional

Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world.
Red and yellow, black and white,
They are precious in His sight.
Jesus loves the little children of the world.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

April 29 “Hearts”

Hearts

The religious leaders in Jesus’ day had many skills. Missing the point was chief among them.
While Jesus and His men were in the North doing the work of the ministry, a delegation of scribes and Pharisees from Jerusalem confronted Him. They had a pre-packaged charge to level against Jesus and His men—eating with unwashed hands. It was a big deal to them because they found power in the various traditions of the elders. Some of the rules came from Scripture but many were elaborations on the Law by teachers in past eras of time. These leaders were the keepers of these traditions and wielded power over the everyday person just trying to get by.

Hypocrisy was inevitable; they would rigidly enforce small, easily measured, readily visible infractions of these laws, while large, more important but less visible matters would be ignored if there was benefit in it for them.

Jesus was ready for them.
Instead of defending Himself and His men, Jesus leveled a counter charge involving complicated matters of inheritance. This stopped the scribes and Pharisees cold. For us it would be like someone asking about private taxation records or hidden back accounts. How did Jesus know about that? Lawmakers make laws to benefit lawmakers and they bend the Word of God to do so. He immediately applied the principle:

“Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition.”

The arrogance required to do this is simply massive. To negate the Word of God by superseding it with one’s own self benefiting schemes is an amazing way to sin against God. Their trip, begun in arrogance, ended in embarrassment and a lecture. Jesus condemned them and their like. They displayed an outward, carefully manufactured show of religiosity but their hearts were far from God. Dirty hands at dinner were not the problem; dirty hearts in power were true violations of God’s laws.

“…in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'”

The corruption spewing from their mouths was more damaging that dirt under the fingernails of the disciples.

When asked to explain what He meant, Jesus told us all we need to know about the heart.

“…those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.”

Heart Trouble
Until we meet Jesus and follow Him, the whole human race suffers from heart trouble. Our sinful words and deeds come from our sinful hearts. Even those of us who would worship God in Spirit and Truth must guard our hearts for a heart full of mixed motives cannot worship in truth. Our outward show of praise does not impress God if our heart is not worshiping. The heart is led by the eyes. Sin in the heart—impure motives, lustful fantasies, proud schemes—blinds us to the dangers of sin. We are deceived by these internal things, hidden from the eyes of others and we think that God is also blind to them. We become, like the scribes and Pharisees, the blind leading the blind, and the only destiny we have is the ditch.

The Heart Dealer
Jesus deals in new hearts. Yes, He repairs broken hearts. Yes, He heals wounded hearts. His specialty is this: He can give you a brand new heart! A heart that is free from sin and beating to His rhythms of grace.

Matthew 15:1-20
Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, “Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.” He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God” — then he need not honor his father or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'” When He had called the multitude to Himself, He said to them, “Hear and understand: Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.” Then His disciples came and said to Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” But He answered and said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch.” Then Peter answered and said to Him, “Explain this parable to us.” So Jesus said, “Are you also still without understanding? Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.”
Psalm 24:3-6
Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, Nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive blessing from the Lord, And righteousness from the God of his salvation. This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him, Who seek Your face.
Proverbs 4:23
Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, like every other human being, I sometimes have heart trouble. Mold my heart into the likeness of Your great heart, full of compassion and truth, gentle and pure, holy and a blessing to all. Purify my heart, O Holy Spirit. Cleanse it from self-centeredness. Make it pliable to the will of God. I will guard my heart, as Your Word commands, and fill it with good things. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Song:
Change My Heart, O God
Words and Music: Eddie Espinosa

Change my heart O God.
Make it ever true.
Change my heart O God.
May I be like You.

You are the Potter,
I am the clay.
Mold me and make me.
This is what I pray.

Change my heart O God.
Make it ever true.
Change my heart O God.
May I be like You.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

April 28 “Storm”

Storm

The storm is coming. Of this we can be sure.
The intensity of it is yet to be seen, but its certainty is beyond dispute. The winds may blow from the west or from some unusual direction but they will blow. The rain may pummel the ground, dropping like a hail of stones or it may join the wind and streak sideways but we can be sure the rains will come. The sky may snap with electricity and the earth shake with sound but we can be sure that violence will accompany the storm. We may find shelter or we may be caught in transit to weather the storm in the open. The storm is coming.

After the Feast
When the multitude was fed and sent away to their homes, Jesus told the Disciples to get in a boat and sail to the other side of the sea while He climbed a mountain to pray. They obeyed Him but soon the storm arose and the winds were contrary. This went on for some time, their strong fisherman arms swelling and their disciple joints complaining as they rowed against the wind. Sometime after 3 in the morning, Jesus came to their aid, walking on the raging sea. His superstitious men thought He was a ghost! Fear added itself to their inventory of troubles. Peter recognizing the form if not the face of Jesus, hailed Him:

“Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”

Perhaps Peter didn’t really think this request through but the Lord took him up on it. He gave one of those one-word answers that changes lives.

“Come!”

What was Peter’s reasoning? Was he sure that Jesus would share this wonderful aquatic skill with him? Did Peter even think at all? Whatever may have prompted the fisherman, Peter exited the boat. Instead of jumping into the sea, Peter stepped out onto it—and it held him up! He paused for a moment just to make sure of this miraculous buoyancy, smiled at Jesus and the other men, swallowed hard and took a step. Then he took another and another. The winds still blew and the waves still did their best to upend him but each step took Peter closer to Jesus. When he was within arm’s reach of the Master, he took his eyes off Jesus. As if waking from a dream, the reality of the storm broke upon him like a tidal wave. With his eyes on the storm, Peter began to sink. He cried out to Jesus for salvation and a strong carpenter’s hand caught him just before the waters would have claimed him. Jesus laughed:

“O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Both of them laughing, they got into the boat and immediately the storm ceased. Any lingering doubts among the men vanished and they confessed His Lordship.

After the Storm
By the next morning they reached the other side where another multitude had gathered. Many believed that all it took was a touch of Jesus’ clothes and healing would be theirs—and it was true!

Life Lesson?
When the inevitable storm arises, we must keep our eyes on Jesus. He can help us walk in places that are impossible for us to walk! Every step brings us closer to Jesus—the Master of every storm.

Matthew 14:22-36
Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear. Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.” When they had crossed over, they came to the land of Gennesaret. And when the men of that place recognized Him, they sent out into all that surrounding region, brought to Him all who were sick, and begged Him that they might only touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched it were made perfectly well.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, when You have called me to do something, that means that it can be done! Peter walked on water at Your invitation; help me to realize the fact of this! With Your empowerment I can do what You call me to do! Give me courage to obey, to get out of a comfortable boat, keep my eyes on You and walk! I trust You in all things so let me obey You in all Your commands. I know the storm is coming, Lord. Keep me steady, Lord! All for Your glory, Lord! Amen.

Song:
I’ve Anchored in Jesus
Words and Music: Lewis E. Jones

1. Upon life’s boundless ocean where mighty billows roll,
I’ve fixed my hope in Jesus, blest anchor of my soul.
When trials fierce assail me as storms are gath’ring o’er,
I rest upon his mercy and trust him more.

Refrain:
I’ve anchored in Jesus, the storms of life I’ll brave,
I’ve anchored in Jesus, I fear no wind or wave,
I’ve anchored in Jesus, For he hath pow’r to save,
I’ve anchored in the rock of ages.

2. He keeps my soul from evil and give me blessed peace,
His voice hath stilled the waters and bid their tumult cease.
My pilot and deliv’rer to him I all confide,
For always when I need him, he’s at my side.

Refrain

3. He is my Friend and Saviour, in him my anchor’s cast,
He drives away my sorrows and shields me from the blast.
By faith I’m looking upward beyond life’s troubled sea,
There I behold a haven prepared for me.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved