Jesus ordered his disciples into a boat that was headed for a collision. The Bible said, “Jesus made His disciples get into the boat” (Matthew 14:22) — which was headed for troubled waters. It would be tossed about like a bobbing cork and Jesus knew it all along.
Where was Jesus? Up in the mountains overlooking that sea, praying for the disciples that they would not fail the test he knew they must go through. The boat trip, the storm, the tossing waves, the winds were all part of a trial the Father had planned. The disciples were about to learn the greatest lesson they would ever learn: how to recognize Jesus in the storm.
Up to this point, they recognized Jesus as the miracle worker, the Man who turned loaves and fishes into miracle food. They recognized him as the friend of sinners and the supplier of their needs. They even recognized him as the Son of God and the one who taught them how to pray, to forgive, and to bind and loose. But those who thought they really knew Jesus best did not recognize him when the storm hit.
That is the root of many problems today. We trust Jesus for miracles, believe him for our salvation, and look to him to supply our needs, but when it seems like everything is falling apart, we are never quite sure he is nearby.
“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” (Matthew 14:24-26). Here is the danger we all face — not being able to see Jesus in our troubles.
Jesus always draws near to us to reveal himself as the Savior in storms. He wants you to trust him in every storm of your life. That is what the presence of Jesus is all about!
Many Christians joyfully tell others of the love of Jesus and his power to forgive their sin, and yet they find it difficult to fully accept that same forgiveness. They commit sin and seem to want to pay for their failure. “Lord,” argues the Christian, “I shook off the conviction of the Holy Spirit and went ahead stubbornly and committed sin.”
The enemy of our soul is not at all interested in making Christians into murderers, adulterers, addicts and thieves. He is interested in only one thing — turning Christians into unbelievers. He plants questions in your mind that lead to doubt. Is God a deliverer? Is he there to help in the time of temptation? Are his promises true? Is there freedom from sin? Does he really answer prayer today? Will he bring us out of the battle victorious? Will joy follow weeping?
Satan’s only goal for Job was to have him curse God! Likewise, he wants you to think God is not faithful and does not care about your needs and feelings which, of course, is completely opposite of the truth.
The accuser wants you to give up in despair but God wants you to receive the forgiving flow of his love. He will always answer a sincere prayer: “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). God never withdraws — only man does. So never limit God’s forgiveness to you! It is his nature. David said, “For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You” (Psalm 86:5).
The goal of every believer is to “sin not” but when a God-fearing child sins, there are answers in God’s Word: “If anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1).
If you have guilt, lay it down. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Open up your heart and let God’s love in. If you repent, he forgives you over and over and over!
Our Lord has an almost insurmountable problem of communicating with those who claim to love him so. We come into his gates with thanksgiving and enter his courts with praise. We praise him with instruments, with song, with uplifted hands, with tears and loud hosannas — but it is still only one-way communication.
We rush into his presence in the secret closet with worship and requests and then rush out again. How many times has he been ready and anxious to open his heart and speak, but lo and behold, no one was there.
Immediately after his resurrection, Jesus appeared to two disciples on the Road to Emmaus. They were grieved about the departed Lord and in their grief they did not recognize him as their Messiah. As they reasoned between themselves, Jesus wanted to talk because he had so much to share with them. Finally he could hold back no longer: “Beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:27).
There could have been no finer experience for those disciples! They had heard his voice and went away saying, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” (24:32). Those two men shared a great joy but what about the joy of Jesus? He was fulfilled because he had taken a few hours just to talk! In his glorified form, he had experienced his first two-way communion; his lonely heart had been touched and his need had been met.
We think Jesus gets enough pleasure from what we do for him, but there is so much more. Our Lord responds to our faith; he talks to the Father about us; he delights in our trust, and it pleases him to give us rest and peace. I am convinced that His greatest need is to have a one-to-one personal communication with those he left here on earth.
When you get alone with the Lord and pour out your heart to him, be sure to take time to listen, as well.
When we accept the anointing of the Holy Spirit, we fulfill this commission: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12, ESV). An entire world needs his healing, cleansing, saving power, and that happens only by his perfect sacrifice: “Because I am going to the Father.”
Never doubt any opportunity that Jesus brings to you. The key to this is believing that he is always at work. When the disciples asked Jesus to give them faith, his answer tells us everything: “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible” (Matthew 17:20, NLT).
Despite Christ’s incredible gifts to us, some of us are convinced we are not worthy to represent his gospel. Yet that contradicts the very nature of the gospel. We become his holy representatives not by our ability but by God’s work in us: “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6, ESV).
Peter was probably the first Christian to be taught this powerful truth. In Acts 10 when he was staying in Joppa with a tanner named Simon, Peter had a vision during prayer that would affect the spread of Christ’s gospel down to today. He was puzzled by the vision, but he obeyed God’s leading and the door to healing and the saving power of God was opened to the world (read the account in Acts 10: 9-48).
No matter what you think of yourself today, I urge you to accept his holiness and receive his anointing to fulfill the work he has prepared for you. He will open every door and you will see him perform unexpected wonders.
“So Peter went out and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:62). In this scene just before Jesus’ crucifixion, we see Peter weeping inconsolably, stunned by his own sense of failure. After all, he was the follower of Christ who had declared, “I am willing not just to live for You but to die for You and with You in Jerusalem!” (see Matthew 26:35). However, only a short time later Peter denied he even knew Christ, swearing with an oath to this effect.
Many disappointed, disillusioned people in the Body of Christ feel they have somehow failed God. They recall the days when they loved to pray — when they could not wait to tell others about Jesus. But something happened along the way. They feel as if they have made a mistake of some sort, and now they don’t know if their relationship with God can ever be as it once was.
Remember, Christians do make mistakes. One such mistake is substituting human reasoning for divine counsel. When you and I pray, ideas will come into our hearts. However, we must remember that they are not always from God even though we are praying.
We often assume that we know exactly what He means when He sends us out to do something. Then when it does not work out as we thought, we become discouraged or even bitter. Allowing bitterness against God to enter the heart when a plan does not move forward as expected is a second common mistake of Christians.
You may have made mistakes but God’s plan for your life has not been thwarted! So if you are disillusioned, be assured that God has not forgotten you. He has not written you off. You are as precious to him, as valuable to him, today as you were before you ever even understood who he was.
Allow the Lord to comfort you and touch your life with his mercy. Choose to believe that he has not forsaken you — that his plan for your life will be fulfilled. In fact, the best is yet to come!
Carter Conlon joined the pastoral staff of Times Square Church in 1994 at the invitation of the founding pastor, David Wilkerson, and was appointed Senior Pastor in 2001.