Saturday, February 21, 2015

Hymnspirational Moment #1


Verse 1
I've come too far to look back again. There is nothing behind me.
All the treasures I used to love have all faded from view.
There's a new day ahead for me. All my heartache is over.
For I left it at Calvary where my new life began.
I've come too far to look back again.  My feet have walked through the valley.
I've climbed mountains, crossed rivers, desert places I've known.
But I'm nearing the home shore.  The redeemed are rejoicing.
Heaven's angels are singing.  I've come too far to look back.
Verse 2 
Look around, there's no happiness.  There's no reason for living.
Life will give you a broken dream full of sorrow and fear.
Turn around, don't look back again.  Face the new day before you.  
Place your heartache in Jesus' hand.  He can mend broken dreams.

The distance from earth to heaven is not measured in miles or kilometers nor is the journey gauged by the amount of time you have spent in traveling.  At the moment of conversion the Christian is suddenly far removed from the sinful nature that was left behind in the regeneration of the new birth.  In an instant, the soul of man is made so near to the very throne of God that the Spirit of God enters and a deposit of the heavenly is given to the Believer as an earnest payment of the eternal inheritance of the Saints (see Ephesians 1:13-14).  But after the conversion experience, the Christian must then continue in the journey of faith walking day by day with the Saviour and living in righteousness.  The road is long, hard and fraught with peril. 

John Bunyan wrote "The Pilgrim's Progress" in 1678 and, therein, gave a remarkable allegory of the Christian life.  Along Christian's journey from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City was a journey through the swampy Slough of Despond, a diversion by Mr. Worldly Wiseman, Mr. Legality and his son Civility, the temptation to attempt to reach his destination via the Village of Morality and, as if this was not enough, a climb up the Hill of Difficulty and a night in the Valley of the Shadow of Death.  Couple this with the ungodly influences that attempted to accompany him, and often deter him in his journey, and you see with what great difficulty one passes through life as a true Christian.  And yet, consider the place where Jesus Christ has brought you from and the destination to which He intends to bring you. 

As a Christian you are so far from the person you were when you were yet walking in sin.  Heaven is near and the Kingdom is within you.  Look how far you have already come!  Today is hard.  Tomorrow might be harder.  But you've made it this far and you can make it until the end.  Take a look at the world around you and remind yourself of where you might be had it not been for the grace of God.  Consider the person you might have been had Jesus Christ not radically impacted your life with the gift of salvation!  When you are tempted to quit, write down all of the things that the Lord has already brought you through and remind yourself that, if He was faithful to you through all of that, He will carry you through until the end. You can make it!  With Christ, you can!

You've come too far to look back again.  Though the journey is difficult, the reward is worth the risk.  Jesus Christ made a promise to those who would believe Him and obey: "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10).  To ensure that you would have this life, Christ promised to come back to the Christian as the Comforter (see John 14:17-18).  By means of this supernatural endowment of the Divine to humanity the promise is fulfilled, "I will be with you always, even unto the end of the world" (Matthew 28:20). 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Don't Forget About The Baskets

"For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened." - Mark 6:52

A multitude of 5,000 men had gathered around Jesus Christ in an isolated place to hear Him teach the truths of the Gospel and the Kingdom of God.  But, as the old missionary once said, there has never been a sermon loud enough to cover the cry of an empty stomach.  Soon the crowd began to hunger.  Jesus' closest disciples recognized their condition and immediately came to the Lord seeking a resolution.  Five loaves of bread and two fish were found and brought to Jesus.  Imagine the scene.  The Lord told His disciples to group the people together in small units and, having blessed the bread and fish, began dividing the food items into the hands of the disciples.  Then, the miracle began to happen. 

The image that we often have is of Jesus Christ passing out bread and fish to the multitude but such is not what we are presented with in Mark's Gospel.  Rather, we see the very distinct reality of a miracle taking place by the power of God in the hands of the disciples.  Christ gave to the disciples and the disciples gave to the people.  When all was finished, twelve baskets full of fragments were collected; one basket for each disciple.  It is no wonder then that Jesus had to force them to get into a boat in order to journey to Bethsaida.  It would be difficult for anyone to leave a place where they had just witnessed the feeding of 5,000 men with so little and, above all, having watched as the bread and fish was never depleted as it was being passed out from their hands. 

The Scriptures say that Jesus forced them to go.  This is very interesting considering the events which were about to transpire.  The Lord separated Himself to a mountain to pray while the disciples waited.  Finally, as the sun had disappeared and darkness had covered the land, the disciples determined that Jesus was not coming and started out on their journey across the Sea of Galilee.  As the disciples rowed in the darkness a strong wind began to beat upon them.  One can only imagine how terrified the disciples must have been.  Though they were experienced navigators, the wind soon tossed them off course.  Being turned every which way may have soon left them without a sense of where they were headed or to which shore they should try to row. 

Christ, as God, knew what was ahead for His disciples when He sent them onto the Sea of Galilee that evening.  He knew that, before they could ever reach Bethsaida, they must pass through the fierce wind and chaos of a night on the water.  Jesus stood on the shore, possibly from the mountain top, and saw them as they toiled.  Jesus Christ was not visibly with them.  They could not feel His physical presence.  In spite of this, they couldn't escape His vigilant, watchful eye.  There is no degree of darkness or fierceness of storm through which Jesus Christ cannot see His own disciples.  Although they couldn't see Him, feel Him, touch Him or look into His eyes, there was no question that Jesus Christ Himself was watching them and cared about their circumstances even though they didn't know it.  You may not see Him but He is there. 

John's Gospel tells us that they were 2 to 3 miles into their journey when the winds overtook them.  This event occurred at "even" or, in other words, about 7PM.  But it was not until at least 8 hours later, during the fourth watch of the night (between 3AM and 6AM), that the Lord decided to come to them walking on the water.  Why did He wait so long to come to their aid?  We are not told but we can easily deduce that there was a good purpose (see Romans 8:28).  Such is the case in every storm a disciple of Christ must face.  It might be that Jesus Christ sent you into the storm with foreknowledge of what you would face.  But there is a lesson to be learned and, though He may delay in coming to your rescue, He will arrive even if it must be in the most unusual of ways to bring about your deliverance. 

In the case of the disciples on the Sea of Galilee that night, it was by walking on the surface of the water.  It was something they had never seen before.  No one had ever walked on the surface of the Sea nor would anyone but God or one endowed by the power of God for that special purpose.  In this unusual way, the Lord Jesus chose to come to His disciples and, with His coming, bring peace by calming both the wind and the hearts of His disciples.  Meanwhile, the disciples were amazed and marveled.  They were surprised.  How could it be that this man not only walked upon the water in the midst of the wind and waves to their exact location and, then, caused the wind to cease?  How quickly we human beings forget! 

The very day before the storm, the disciples had witnessed the Lord Jesus take a few pieces of bread and fish, bless them, divide them into their hands and, at the hands of the disciples, fed 5,000 men.  They had just seen the Lord Jesus Christ work a dramatic miracle and, more than a miracle, a miracle through their own hands.  After the miracle, fragments were loaded into twelve baskets.  Each disciple had a reminder of the miracle right by his side when he walked to the shore of the Sea of Galilee to board the boat.  The baskets full of fragments of their miracles were right there with them through the storm.  How did they forget so quickly?  Jesus Christ prepared them for the storm by providing them each with a basket full of fragments reminding them of the miracle they had witnessed at their own hand! 

As human beings, we always view the problem we are going through as the worst.  Being constrained by time, we always seem to live in the moment and, because of this, seem to be forgetful about the past.  Hasn't Jesus Christ proven Himself to be a healer, provider, deliverer, life-giver, baptizer and Saviour?  Has their been an illness He couldn't heal?  Has their been a situation from which He couldn't deliver?  Has their been a soul He couldn't save?  Hasn't He been faithful before?  Hasn't He worked miracles in the past?  Why would He change today?  Can't we remember what the Lord has done both in His Word and in our own lives in the not too distant past?  Or did we take our basket of fragments and leave it on the shore?

Look beside you in the boat.  Get your eyes off the waves and the wind for just a moment.  Pick up that basket full of fragments.  Take a piece of bread in one hand, a piece of fish in the other and say to yourself, "I remember what Jesus has done...and I know He has not changed since yesterday."  Remind yourself when the storms of life begin to rage around you of all that God has done in your life thus far.  Remind yourself that He cannot change.  Remind yourself that, if God ever did it, He can do it again. 

When the bills come due - DON'T FORGET ABOUT THE BASKETS!
When you feel lost - DON'T FORGET ABOUT THE BASKETS!
When you can't see a way out - DON'T FORGET ABOUT THE BASKETS!
When no one can help you - DON'T FORGET ABOUT THE BASKETS! 
When you feel alone - DON'T FORGET ABOUT THE BASKETS!
When your strength is gone - DON'T FORGET ABOUT THE BASKETS!
When you're depressed - DON'T FORGET ABOUT THE BASKETS! 
When you're desperate - DON'T FORGET ABOUT THE BASKETS!

Take up the Word of God in your hands and begin to read and to remind yourself again of all that God has done for His people.  Then, sit down and think back over your own life and how many times the Lord has taken care of you.  Write them down.  Speak them out-loud.  Declare them to yourself.  Remind yourself.  Don't forget about the baskets! 

"Didn't I walk on the water?  Didn't I calm the raging seas?
I spoke to the wind, they hushed and I gave you peace.
Didn't I run to your rescue?  Didn't I hear you when you called?

And I walked right beside you just so you wouldn't fall.
Didn't I leave all of heaven just to die for your sins?

I searched until I found you and I'd do it all again."