Archive for June, 2015

Walking on Water

In the midst of turbulent times, we are easy prey to discouragement, cynicism, fear and hatred. Images constantly flash upon our television and computer screens of violence and human wickedness and it is very difficult to not be overwhelmed with all the “bad news” that incessantly bombards us. It is an easy thing to look at all this tragedy and surrender to despair.

Maybe we didn’t start that way. As we begin our relationship with God through Jesus Christ we are immediately drawn to His omnipotence and the beauty of His grace and wisdom. We want to know Him better. We want to walk with Him on the sea of circumstances, not enslaved to our problems and our failures but able to tread upon them victoriously.

Wasn’t that the Lord’s way of handling life? He never turned aside from His path to the Cross but instead “for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him Who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:2-3). He walked upon the swirling currents of resentment and jealousy of others, oblivious to the stinging winds of their false accusations and slanderous rumors.

Jesus inspired then and inspires now a desire to rise above mere “humanness”. When Jesus touches our lives, arriving unexpectedly on the scene as He did in Matthew 14:22-33, we may cry out to Him, “Lord, let me join You on the water” (from Matthew 14:28). He invites us to His side, spiritually opening our eyes to His perspective. We get out of the boat of our comfort zones and our plans for security and success. We start to walk with Him.

But then, in the corner of our eyes, we see someone’s smirk or condescension at our “religious crutch”. We feel the lapping of the waves of things demanding our attention, screaming for “their due”. We feel the sting of the rain of pseudo-responsibilities and we think, “I’ll spend time with God once I get this one other thing taken care of.”

Our eyes shift from Jesus, His love for us and His perfect wisdom. Our ears become so busy sifting messages from the world that Jesus’ words of guidance, grace and strength are lost and we find ourselves, like Peter in Matthew 14:30, sinking beneath the surging seas of stress and burn-out.

Sadly, we often don’t think to cry out to the Lord as Peter did. We stubbornly refuse to release control of our lives to Him. Or we panic and flail about desperately, trying to keep our heads above water as we try to find quick fixes to the predicaments that we seem to be surrounded by.

“Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me” (Psalm 69:1-2 ESV).

There is only one way to walk on the water. It’s to turn our eyes to Jesus and allow Him to pull us up to His side. The world will blow its hurricane winds upon us, trying to drive us on a course contrary to God’s will. Our lives will swirl with the turbulence of problems and loss, seeking to suck us down into the depths of despair and defeat. But the Son of God Who stilled the storms can bring hope and life again to our spiritually sea-sick hearts.

As we step out of our boats may His holiness, love and strength irresistibly draw us to His side.

As we step out of our boats may His holiness, love and strength irresistibly draw us to His side.

May our eyes then be drawn to the beauty of His face. As we step out of our boats may His holiness, love and strength irresistibly draw us to His side.

“I love the LORD, because He has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy. Because He inclined His ear to me, therefore I will call on Him as long as I live. The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish. Then I called on the name of the LORD: ‘O LORD, I pray, deliver my soul!’ Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; our God is merciful. The LORD preserves the simple; when I was brought low, He saved me. Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you. For You have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling; I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living” (Psalm 116:1-9 ESV).

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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It is my observation that within the American “psyche” we essentially want to “have our cake and eat it too”. We thoroughly enjoy rehearsing all the “perks” that being children of God promises and yet run from the responsibility that it entails.

Consider our singing of songs about God’s love and the boasting of our surety of Heaven contrasted with our silence in the workplace or playground (grownup playgrounds, too!) when called upon to be God’s ambassador to a world that has forgotten Him.

Maybe we simply don’t realize that we ARE God’s ambassadors in the world today. But be careful! Ignorance isn’t really any excuse and it certainly won’t hold water when we stand in His presence giving an account of our doings here on earth.

His call and claim on you is not only that of “Savior” but “Lord” as well. If your life is not subject to His lordship to the extent that He governs your decisions and habits publicly as well as privately, He isn’t Lord of your life at all.

Although it is our preference to treat our Christianity as purely a private experience, the reason that it is NOT so is that God is on a world-wide mission to bring those who are lost in their sin to Himself through Christ Jesus. You just can’t shine a light in a dark room if you keep it covered.

Besides that, Jesus’ life in you allows no denial. If He really is alive in you then He must shine through. “For whoever is ashamed of Me and of My words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in His glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels” (Luke 9:26 ESV).

Of course, one cannot expect the world to look on with approval. The world is at war with God and the battlefield extends into every corner of the human experience. You cannot go to any public place, whether working, shopping or attending a ballgame, without worldliness assaulting your senses. Either you’re attacked with subtle invitations to compromise your calling as a Christian or with an attempt to oppress of the Truth living in your heart so that Christ’s face cannot be seen in you and His voice cannot be heard through you.

So what must you do when your witness for Him results in unpleasantness and even open opposition? How should you respond when standing for Him in matters of integrity could result in significant loss and pain?

You stand firm. And if you wonder with fevered anxiety how in the world you can stand firm when a trial comes your way, be encouraged by His admonitions in Ephesians chapter 6.

“… Take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm…. praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak” (Ephesians 6:13, 18-20 ESV).

There is one beautiful passion that makes a Christian shine with brilliance in the boiling murk of sin and death about us: that of being faithful to the One Who has been perfectly faithful to us.

There is a noble beauty in faithfulness to Christ.

After all, our sufferings here are so minor and short-lived when held up against the fact of the brutal price He paid on the Cross and the sheer immensity of eternity He grants us through faith in His Son. Why would I not want to “stand firm” for Him when He has given so much to me?

“…Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith – that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:8-11 ESV).

There is then one beautiful passion that makes a Christian shine with brilliance in the boiling murk of sin and death about us: that of being faithful to the One Who has been perfectly faithful to us.

When your time comes at work, at home, at school, or wherever it meets you, will you close your eyes, grit your teeth and ignore your moment to demonstrate your love for Him? Or will you lovingly “stand firm” and say, do or be whatever He asks? Strive to be ready for those moments… ‘cuz ready or not, here they come.

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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Can you recall a time in your life in which you received really good news? Have you, for instance, ever had an unexpectedly good thing that popped up from off your radar that turned sorrowful situations into happy endings or turned awful adversities into serendipitous spring boards for success? If you have, then you know that really good news HAS to be shared!

In Romans, chapter 1:15, the Apostle Paul says, “So I am eager to preach the Gospel to you….” Why was he eager? Why did he care? Why was he so motivated to tell them about what Jesus had done for him and could do for them?

When I think of the awe-inspiring encounter that Paul had with the resurrected Lord Jesus, I can plainly see what God has done in my own life. Not only that, but I can also now discern what it is He does in the life of anyone who turns to Him in faith and becomes the receiver of not only forgiveness, but eternal life as well.

When your life is genuinely changed by good news, you naturally want to share it with others!

When your life is genuinely changed by good news, you naturally want to share it with others!

In his encounter with Jesus on his way to the city of Damascus, Paul (who was once called “Saul”) grasped at last the revelation that all his self-righteousness was merely a shovel in his hand in digging his own grave (see Acts 9:1-22). He was not free from sin as he had supposed nor was he purifying his religion from blasphemy. And he certainly wasn’t defending God’s honor.

He was a murderer, plain and simple, under the delusion that he was a hero. Worse yet, he was persecuting Jesus Himself Who suffers with His children when they suffer for Him.

Yet, in spite of all the vengeance and judgement that Paul (Saul) deserved, the living Lord of Mercy turned this man’s life around and brought him back from the brink of destruction. He made him clean. He made him new. He gave him a new name.

It’s no wonder then that Paul in Romans 1:15 can’t wait to get the good news to a people who had not yet heard this message of hope! He knew that they desperately needed to hear that God forgives sin! That God cleanses unrighteousness! That God makes things new! That God makes the dead alive!

“I am not ashamed of the Gospel,” Paul tells the Romans, “for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…” (Romans 1:16 ESV). The same message rings true today even after all this time. The Gospel of Jesus is still the power of God for salvation for every one of us who will believe, turning from our own self-sufficiency and the world’s cheap counterfeits and turning to the only One Who can save.

So then… if God has already brought the power of salvation to your life, how can you hold it in? Why would you not wish to share it? Who do you know that has not yet heard for him or herself that Jesus makes all things new? (see Revelations 21:5).

Even now, you can invite the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to the desperate and dire need for Jesus Christ’s forgiveness that those with whom you live, work and play have? And if you haven’t yet received His life-changing power into your life and experienced the wonder of His forgiveness and love, place your faith in Him and allow Him to lead you into a transformed life of obedience!

May He indeed open our eyes to our need for His grace and to the eternal needs of those around us. Heaven has plenty of room and Hell is full enough.

 Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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Let’s face it. Spiritual things are hard to discuss with everyday words. In fact, they’re not only hard to talk about, they’re hard to think about! There are just some things about Faith and the Kingdom of God that make us sprain our brain muscles when we really try to understand them.

As a result of our difficulty in understanding such things, there is often a temptation for us to assume that because the spiritual realm is so “spiritual”, it is therefore unapproachable – that it is too mysterious for us to understand and consequently impossible for us to experience meaningfully.

For example, we sometimes feel too intimidated to make prayer a practical priority in our lives or we dress it up with so much formality that it ceases to be genuine prayer.

On the other hand, there is also a temptation to sometimes take prayer too much for granted and then approach it tritely (if we approach it at all). Prayer may seem to us either lacking in any real benefit or is a religious duty, a strict discipline with which we afflict ourselves.

But real prayer is neither of these things. First and foremost, prayer is the activity of a life which dwells in the presence of God. It is quite literally, “going into His presence” though we still stand here on this solid earth in the full light of the material world.

How sad then if we neglect that for which we were created! Remember that Jesus died so that your sin may be forgiven and removed from you so that you may stand in God’s presence without guilt or shame.

Prayer is simple child-like dependence and devotion of one who implicitly trusts in God

Prayer is simple child-like dependence and devotion of one who implicitly trusts in God

If you never trouble with going into His presence, then you cannot “come to know God”. If you are not “coming to know God” then you are not receiving eternal life (John 17:3). If you are not availing yourself of eternal life, why did Jesus then die?

If we do not pray, we trivialize the purpose of His suffering and death. We also surrender the abundance of joys and comforts that His presence affords us.

Prayer is a stance and attitude that we adopt signifying our reliance upon His love and awesome power rather than the foolish alternatives given by the world. It further declares that we have the strength and good will of Almighty God sustaining us though the weight of the world oppresses us.

Prayer is simple child-like dependence and devotion of one who implicitly trusts in God. It is a love song sent up from a heart overflowing with adoration and passion for its Creator. It is the soul-wrenching lament of one trapped in the mire of loneliness and pain. Prayer is the crying out of one life for the deliverance of another.

Prayer is talking with God but is also sitting silently before Him.

Prayer is the giving of thanks and praise to the Most High but is also the receiving of the blessings of His presence, joy and peace.

To not pray is to be completely and utterly alone though surrounded by a sea of people. But to really pray is to be with God as we walk along through life.

To not pray is to languish in failure and futility however successful the World tells us we are. But to really pray is to be about our highest calling of all.

Let us be careful then to be a people who pray.

“Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ…” (Colossians 4:2-4 ESV).

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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