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June 18, 2008
Keep Recognizing Jesus

. . . Peter . . . walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid . . . —Matthew 14:29-30The wind really was boisterous and the waves really were high, but Peter didn’t see them at first. He didn’t consider them at all; he simply recognized his Lord, stepped out in recognition of Him, and "walked on the water." Then he began to take those things around him into account, and instantly, down he went. Why couldn’t our Lord have enabled him to walk at the bottom of the waves, as well as on top of them? He could have, yet neither could be done without Peter’s continuing recognition of the Lord Jesus.

We step right out with recognition of God in some things, then self-consideration enters our lives and down we go. If you are truly recognizing your Lord, you have no business being concerned about how and where He engineers your circumstances. The things surrounding you are real, but when you look at them you are immediately overwhelmed, and even unable to recognize Jesus. Then comes His rebuke, ". . . why did you doubt?" ( Matthew 14:31 ). Let your actual circumstances be what they may, but keep recognizing Jesus, maintaining complete reliance upon Him.

If you debate for even one second when God has spoken, it is all over for you. Never start to say, "Well, I wonder if He really did speak to me?" Be reckless immediately— totally unrestrained and willing to risk everything— by casting your all upon Him. You do not know when His voice will come to you, but whenever the realization of God comes, even in the faintest way imaginable, be determined to recklessly abandon yourself, surrendering everything to Him. It is only through abandonment of yourself and your circumstances that you will recognize Him. You will only recognize His voice more clearly through recklessness— being willing to risk your all.

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The radio engineers who work at RBC Ministries were getting ready to broadcast a program via satellite. They had prepared everything, including the satellite link. But just as they were to begin uploading, the signal to the satellite was lost. Confused, the engineers labored to reconnect the link, but nothing worked. Then they got the word—the satellite was gone. Literally. The satellite had suddenly and surprisingly fallen from the sky. It was no longer there.

I suspect that sometimes when we pray, we think something similar has happened to God—that for some reason He isn’t there. But the Bible offers us comfort with the assurance that God hasn’t “fallen from the sky.” He is always available to us. He hears and He cares.

In a time of desperation, David wrote, “Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice” (Ps. 55:17). No matter when we call on God, He hears the cries of His children. That should encourage our hearts. What was David’s response to having a God who hears prayer? “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you” (v.22). Although God may not answer as we would like or when we would like, we know that at “evening and morning and at noon” He is always there.



God hears us when we call to Him—
His ears take in each voice;
The knowledge that He’s always there
Should cause us to rejoice. —Sper

God is always available to hear the prayer of His child
On Jack Borden’s 101st birthday, he awoke at 5 a.m., ate a hearty breakfast, and was at his law office by 6:30 ready to begin his day. When asked the secret of his long life, the practicing attorney smiled and quipped, “Not dying.”

But there’s more to it than that. Mr. Borden, who was baptized at age 11 in the Clear Fork of the Trinity River, told Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram reporter David Casstevens, “I’m a firm believer that God has His hand in everything that happens. He is letting me live for some reason. I try to do the things that I believe He wants me to.”

Ezra the priest experienced the “good hand of his God upon him” when he led a delegation to Jerusalem to provide spiritual leadership for the former captives who were rebuilding the temple and the city (Ezra 7:9-10). Ezra found strength and courage in knowing that the Lord was with them each step of the way. “So I was encouraged, as the hand of the Lord my God was upon me; and I gathered leading men of Israel to go up with me” (v.28).

When we see the Lord’s hand in our lives, it brings forth a deep “Thank You” and a growing desire to do what He wants us to do.



If we would view through eyes of faith
The course of each new day,
We’d quickly see God’s gracious hand
In all that comes our way. —D. De Haan

If you know that God’s hand is in everything,
you can leave everything in God’s hands
One of my boyhood hobbies was building model planes. Every time I opened a new box, the first thing I saw was the instructions, but I didn’t think I needed to follow them. In my mind I knew exactly how to put the model together. Not until I had glued a few pieces together did I realize I had skipped an important step, like putting the pilot in the cockpit.

It’s easy to think that we have no need for instructions for our lives, only to later realize that we’ve messed things up. Which is exactly why Jesus advised that following His instructions is the way for wise people to build a safe, solid, and significant life (Matt. 7:24-29). He had just told the listening crowd to turn the other cheek, to go the extra mile, to forgive enemies, and to sell treasures so that they could give to the poor (5:39-44). But just getting the instructions isn’t enough. The key is to follow them. “Whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock” (7:24).

Those who don’t follow the instructions are, as Jesus put it, “foolish” (v.26). To the world, forgiving your enemies and giving to the poor may seem like a silly way to build a life, but, take it from Jesus, it’s the wise way.



Lord, help me heed Your every word,
Commands that I have read or heard;
As You reveal Your will each day,
Help me to follow and obey. —Fitzhugh

To build a rock-solid life, follow Jesus’ instructions
As a result of adult children neglecting their responsibilities, some elderly parents in Singapore are forced to seek financial help from charities and other state agencies. Speaking about this escalating situation, a government official said, “We cannot legislate love.”

In the Bible, however, love is commanded. That is what Moses told the nation of Israel: “I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways” (Deut. 30:16). And Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to “love the Lord your God” (Mark 12:30).

How can God command love? His supreme display of love at Calvary gave Him that right. Jesus’ beloved disciple, John, wrote: “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. . . . This is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment” (1 John 3:16,23).

What opportunities do you have to obey God’s command to love? Honoring parents by caring and providing for them? Ministering to a sick friend? Offering a gracious and kind word to someone who is difficult to love?

Lord, because You laid down Your life for us, help us to show love to others.



Love is an attitude, love is a prayer,
For someone in sorrow, a heart in despair;
Love is good will for the gain of another,
Love suffers long with the fault of a brother. —Anon.

We show our love for God when we love one another
In my college years I worked as a guide, taking boys on treks into Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. On one occasion one of my hikers—a small, slow chap—lagged behind and took the wrong fork on a trail. When we arrived at our campsite he was nowhere to be found. I frantically went out to search for him.

Just before dark, I came across him sitting by a small lake—utterly lost and alone. In my joy, I gave him a bear hug, hoisted him on my shoulders, and carried him down the trail to his companions.

In a story by Scottish writer George MacDonald, he describes a young woman finding a child alone and lost in the woods. She gathered him up in her arms and carried him home to her father, at which point she gained an insight that was never to leave her: “Now she understood the heart of the Son of Man, [who came] to find and carry back the stray children to their Father and His.”

I want you too to know the heart of Jesus, the Son of Man, who came to find and carry back His straying children to their Father, “for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). No matter how far you may have strayed and how lost you may be, He came to seek and to save you.



Jesus came to seek and save the lost,
Left heaven’s glory, minding not the cost;
Looking high and low and far and wide,
The Son of Man for all was crucified. —Hess

To find salvation, you must admit that you’re lost.
Maggie doesn’t care much for television. She would rather look out a window than stare at a small screen. Reading doesn’t thrill her either. She has been known to “chew” on books, but only in the strictly literal sense. Nevertheless, when Jay and I read or watch TV, Maggie participates. Even though she doesn’t enjoy what we’re doing, she enjoys being with us. Maggie is our very devoted dog. More than anything (well, just about anything) Maggie wants to be with us.

The word dogged means “determined and persistent.” These words describe Maggie. They should also describe us. When we are devoted to God, we want to be with Him even when He’s doing something that makes no sense to us. We may ask, “Why, Lord?” when He seems angry (Ps. 88:14) or when He seems to be napping (44:23), or when the wicked prosper (Jer. 12:1). But when we remain devoted to God despite our questions, we find fullness of joy in His presence (Ps. 16:11).

Jesus knew that we would have questions. To prepare us for them, He urged us to abide in His love (John 15:9-10). Even when God’s ways are inexplicable, His love is reliable. So we remain doggedly devoted to Him.



Never should our love be just a word,
A passing phase, a brief emotion;
But love that honors Christ our
Lord Responds to Him with deep devotion. —Hess

We find joy when we learn to abide in Jesus’ love.
Have you ever wondered how an airplane pilot knows how to get from point A to point B? Most likely, he uses VOR, short for VHF Omni-directional Radio Range, a navigational system invented in the early 1950s. It still guides many aircraft to their destination today. The pilot sets the course of the aircraft on his dial. If the aircraft drifts from that set course, the instrument shows the pilot that the plane is deviating so he can correct it to align the aircraft to the set course again.

The nation of Israel in Isaiah’s day badly needed a reliable VOR system. And God wanted to be that for them. But despite God’s warning, they decided to align with Egypt (Isa. 30:1-2). God graciously promised that one day, however, He would be their navigator: “Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it.’ Whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left” (v.21).

Today, Christians have an internal navigational system. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit, who lives in us to “guide [us] into all truth” (John 16:13). If you need direction as to where to set the course of your life, don’t rely on your own way. Use God’s VOR system. He will surely lead you in the right direction.



The Spirit gives us power to live
A life that’s pleasing to the Lord;
He also guides us and provides
Direction in God’s holy Word. —Sper

The Spirit is our navigational system
Trust, but verify.” My husband loves that quote from Ronald Reagan. During his time in office, the former US President wanted to believe everything he was told in his political dealings with others. But since the security of his country depended on the truth being told—he strived to verify everything.

Acts 17:11 tells us that the Bereans had a similar attitude about knowing the truth. “They received the Word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.” In other words, the Bereans didn’t simply believe what someone else was telling them. They also verified it on their own—on a daily basis.

That’s important for us to consider as well. Whether we receive our Bible teaching through church, Sunday school, radio, or TV—we need to test what we hear against God’s inspired Word (2 Tim. 3:16-17). We are to “be diligent to present [ourselves] approved to God, . . . rightly dividing the Word of truth” (2:15). If we do this, we won’t become prey to those who teach “a different gospel,” and those who “want to pervert the gospel of Christ” (Gal. 1:6-7)—false teachers who come as wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matt. 7:15).

Remember, trust—but verify!



Protection from false teaching comes
The more we read God’s Word;
For once we know the Scripture’s truth,
What’s false will sound absurd. —Sper

Knowing what’s true is the first step in knowing what’s false.
The writer of Proverbs describes an unwise person as “one who speaks like the piercings of a sword” (12:18). Our tongues can be like a multi-bladed Swiss Army knife when it comes to the variety of ways that we cut and destroy each other.

Unhealthy attitudes of anger, irritation, frustration, and impatience—even disappointment, stress, guilt, and insecurity—all contribute to our damaging speech. And as we cut with our words, we wound and divide friendships and relationships. It’s no wonder that the infamous list of seven things that are an abomination to the Lord includes anyone who “sows discord among brethren” (Prov. 6:16-19).

How do we stay off that list? For starters, we need to watch what we say. Gossip and slander are out, and words that hurt instead of heal are not welcome. Boasting, lying, and all the rest of the ways we use words to hurt and divide need to be gone as well. In their place, words that extend love and the healing power of forgiveness, mercy, and truth should rule our words and relationships. After all, where would we be if Jesus hadn’t spoken words of forgiving love and grace to us?

So, put the “knife” away and use your words to help and heal.



Lord, put a seal upon my lips,
Help me to guard with care
The things I say and swift repeat;
O tongue of mine, beware! —Bosch

Our words have the power to build up or tear down
I read about Captain Ray Baker who flew for the Strategic Air Command during the Vietnam War. The Air Force trained him, along with the other pilots, to run out of their barracks to their planes at the sound of a buzzer. Many times during dinner he had to drop his utensils and bolt to his bomber. He had been trained to respond to the call with immediate obedience. He was so well-trained that one day while on furlough, he ran out of a restaurant when he heard a buzzer.

When Jesus called His first followers, they had an immediacy in their response to His call. The call of these fishermen was abrupt. Yet “they immediately left their nets and followed Him” (Mark 1:18). The author of this account, Mark, may have wanted to impress upon his readers the authority of Jesus. When He extended the call, these men jumped to obey because helping people enter the kingdom of God was a more compelling adventure and a grander vision than catching fish.

When Jesus issues a call to follow Him, He doesn’t want us to delay. He expects immediate obedience when it comes to telling others the good news. Bring someone the story of salvation today!



Go to the lost, in the home, in the mart,
Delay no longer, today make a start;
Tell them of Jesus who bled for their sin—
From byways of darkness bring others to Him. —Houghton

Wanted: Messengers to deliver the good news
People around the world are familiar with Mount Rushmore, the South Dakota site where the heads of former American presidents are carved in gigantic scale on a cliff wall. Yet, while millions know of Mount Rushmore, relatively few know the name Doane Robinson—the South Dakota state historian who conceived the idea of the magnificent sculpture and managed the project. The monument is admired and appreciated, but he is the forgotten man behind the masterpiece. His name is largely unrecognized or was never even known by some.

Sometimes, in the service of the Master, we may feel that we have been forgotten or are behind the scenes and not recognized. Ministry can be a life of effort that often goes unappreciated by the very people we are seeking to serve in Jesus’ name. The good news, however, is that, while people may not know, God does. Hebrews 6:10 says, “For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.”

What a promise! Our heavenly Father will never forget our service to Him. That is infinitely more important than being applauded by the crowds.



Does the place you’re called to labor
Seem so small and little known?
It is great if God is in it,
And He’ll not forget His own. —Suffield

Serving to please Christ is a greater reward than public acclaim
In the New Testament, hospitality is a hallmark of Christian living. It is listed as a characteristic of church leaders (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:8) and is commanded for every follower of Jesus as an expression of love (Rom. 12:13; 1 Peter 4:9). But its meaning goes deeper than being a gracious host or opening our homes to guests.

The Greek word translated “hospitality” means “love of strangers.” When Paul speaks of being “given to hospitality” (Rom. 12:13), he is calling us to pursue relationships with people who are in need. It is not an easy task.

Writer Henri Nouwen likens it to reaching out to those we meet on our way through life—people who may be estranged from their culture, country, friends, family, or even from God. Nouwen writes: “Hospitality, therefore, means primarily the creation of a free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy. Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place.”

Whether we inhabit a home, a college dorm, a prison cell, or a military barracks, we can welcome others as a way of showing our love for them and for Christ. Hospitality is making room for people in need.



Reaching out to needy people,
Showin*g them our love and care,
Is one way that God can use us
To bring hope to their despair. —Sper

Hospitality can fill the emptiness of a lonely heart.

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