Fixing Our Eyes On Jesus

Fixing Our Eyes On Jesus

“Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:1-2 NIV).

Many of us probably identify with Peter. He would make bold statements and even take bold actions, only to fall flat on his face a few moments later. Or perhaps I should say only to fall in the water a few moments later.

Remember the time when Jesus walked out on the Sea of Galilee to join the disciples when their “boat was already a considerable distance from the land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it” (Matthew 14:24)?

When they saw Jesus, they were terrified. They thought they must be seeing a ghost. But then Jesus cried out, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

Peter’s whole perception changed immediately. He took his eyes off the waves and looked at Jesus: “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.”

“Come,” Jesus said.

So Peter, with eyes still fixed on Jesus, “got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.”

Stop and imagine this. Peter did something he never imagined that he could do – as long as his eyes were fixed on Jesus.

But when he looked at the waves, he began to sink.

We are living in stormy times. Some of the waves are fierce. But as long as we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, we will walk forward in strength. If we begin to focus our attention on the waves, we will begin to sink.

The story goes that Smith Wigglesworth would not allow a newspaper in his home. He did not want to focus on the reports coming from man, but on the message that was coming from God.

May we all run with confidence the race marked out for us, “fixing our eyes on Jesus.”

Psalm 91 – The Coronavirus Psalm

Psalm 91 – The Coronavirus Psalm

This Psalm has been a strength for many believers who turn to the Bible looking for answers during this trying and unknown time. The psalmist even foresaw times like the one in which the world is experiencing now. Twice he spoke of being protected from the pestilence – the “deadly pestilence” and “the pestilence that stalks in the darkness.” Once he speaks of the “plague that destroys at midday.”

But the opening verse is the key for our focus: “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”

Dwelling in the LORD brings rest.

Paul tells us that “God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:8). And from our perspective with God, we see Him at work in all situations. He will never allow the enemy to win the battle. Jesus has been given “all authority” not only in heaven but also “on earth” (Matthew 28:18).

Let us pray for all those who will turn to the Lord during this worldwide “pestilence/plague.” Let us become the believers who put our trust in Him, trusting that even this will be turned for our good as we trust in Him.

Plagues into Prayer

Plagues into Prayer

Turning plagues into prayers

Four scriptures from John’s Revelation stir me to turn the present plague into prayers. In Revelation 9:20, after the trumpet plagues had been sent across the earth, John mourns that “the rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands,” indicating that God can use plagues in a way of calling people to repentance.

Similar frustration is expressed following the bowls of wrath that are reported in chapters 15 and 16. “They were seared by the intense heat and cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him” (16:9). “Men gnawed their tongues in agony and cursed the God of heavens because of their pain and their sores, but they refused to repent for what they had done” (16:10-11).

However there can be another response. Following the two witnesses, John reports, “At that very hour there was a severe earthquake and a tenth of the city collapsed. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake and the survivors were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven” (11:13). Giving glory to God implies that there was repenting going on.

Let us pray that this present crisis will be used of God to turn the hearts of thousands, even millions of hearts to Jesus. Do remember the prophecy about a billion soul world revival beginning in our day.

Let us be filled with hope and with joy in Jesus. Let us turn this plague into a “good report.” To the glory of God! Through Jesus the King!

Present Concerns, Though Written 72 Years Ago

Present Concerns, Though Written 72 Years Ago

“Do not fear” Luke 12:32

This word from the very erudite C. S. Lewis is a fitting “Good Report.”

From his book, “Present Concerns: Journalistic Essays,” published in 1948.

Substitute “atomic bomb” with “coronavirus,” and you will find—though written 72 years ago—it is still very accurate and encouraging to this day.

“In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. “How are we to live in an atomic age?” I am tempted to reply: “Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any nigaht; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.

In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors—anesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.

This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.”

“Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).

Be outrageously blessed in Jesus this and every day.

Strength for Every Occasion

Strength for Every Occasion

An interesting passage in the beginning of the book of Judges: “These are the nations the LORD left to test all those Israelites who had not experienced any of the wars in Canaan (he did this only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not had previous battle experiences)” (3:1-2).

That does not sound like a “Good Report” to me, but it actually was. It was essential for the younger generation to learn how to fight. God’s view is often very different from our own.

I suspect that the worldwide pandemic about the coronavirus is another one of those strange things that God is allowing so that we will learn how to weather every storm that comes between now and His return. If my understanding of Scripture is close to accurate, we are headed toward the most horrific time in world history. Daniel calls it “a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then” (12:1). Jesus adds an addendum to Daniel’s prophecy, saying that it will be “great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again” (Matthew 24:21).

I have bad news. It’s going to get worse.

But I have good news. God will be with us and give us strength for every occasion.

Could it be that He is allowing the worldwide coronavirus so that, like Israel in the time of the Judges, we learn how to wage war and come through in victory at all times and in every way?

Let us lean into the Lord and have no fear. Remember that Jesus has “all authority” not only in heaven but all “on earth” (Matthew 28:18). The coronavirus did not catch Him off guard. He’s got it.

So “Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory…  stand firm. Let nothing move you.” (1 Corinthians 15:57-58).