Archive for September, 2020

We all have the tendency to be riveted on our circumstances and how we can make them turn out the way we want them to be. The thought that Jesus could help us face and overcome the challenges often escapes us.

I do recall a few times when I was so overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of my problems that it was easy to keep my focus on Jesus’ helping me to gain the strength to function.

One of those times was a job I had in the Air Force. I needed to put in 80 hours a week to adequately meet the demands – but I could only give an average of 45. I needed God to make up the difference. Each day was so loaded with challenges I couldn’t even worry about what needed to be done the next day. The whole time I felt my back was against the wall, with God behind me propping me up.

And he did. Not only did he keep me in relative peace, but he enabled me to accomplish enough to be awarded the Commendation medal for meritorious service.

This was the first exposure I had to the value of looking to Jesus to do the impossible rather than just relying on my limited resources to meet threatening circumstances.

Look what Peter was able to do when kept his eyes on Jesus,

“Lord if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”

“Yes, come.” Jesus said.

So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.

Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him (Matthew 14:29-31, NLT).

As long as Peter kept his eyes on Jesus and depended on him to do the impossible, he did. When he took his eyes off Jesus and depended on himself, he failed to overcome the challenging circumstances.

This is an illustration of the fact that life was not intended to be lived apart from him. Jesus says to us “In the world you have tribulations, but take courage I have overcome the world” (John 16:24, NLT). Because we are looking to Jesus to help us, we also can overcome the world.

But we often try to meet the challenges in our strength or depend on something else. By keeping our focus on him and his Almighty power, we gain some of his strength to not worry, be joyous, and achieve what we could not by trying to control and figure out human solutions to God-size problems.

Isaiah says about God, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” (Isaiah 26:3, NLT).

In my Air Force job, I chose to fix my eyes on God because to do otherwise would have paralyzed me with fear.

With Peter, he kept his eyes on Jesus briefly, and walked on water. But then he took his eyes off him and tried to do the impossible in his own strength, panicked, and began to sink.

It’s not easy thing to stay focused on Jesus’ call to do the impossible as he did with Peter to walk on water. If we get much beyond our human limits we tend to panic, as Peter did. So, how do we develop the discipline and trust to keep our eyes on Jesus and experience his peace, even as we go through the threatening circumstances that swirl around us?

Training is one way. Allowing God to take us back to the challenging circumstances over and over again until we learn. In my case, I face a battery of medical test each year to insure my cardiovascular system is still okay. This is due to major heart surgery I had seven years ago. I burn a lot of energy stressing over the test results each year so that at the end of the three or four months of testing, I am emotionally exhausted.

But God is training me to learn to trust him with my life and not good test results. He promises he will help, strengthen and uphold me through the tests. The best that tests can promise is good results, which may not happen.

Another way we can learn to rely on Jesus when faced with overwhelming circumstances is to pray for increased faith. One of my favorite verses is, “Lord, I believe, help me in my unbelief” (Mark 9:24, NAS). I know God works through this verse because this is what I prayed when he made me a Christian.

A third action we can take is to learn and obey the Word. Knowing the Bible is not enough. We also need to do what it says as God helps us grow in maturity. “Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong” (Hebrews 5:14, NLT).

May we learn to keep our eyes upon Jesus as we face the storms of life. May we put to death our tendency to trust good circumstances we can handle in our strength. Instead, may we look to Jesus and trust our challenges to God Almighty who promises us through him we can live in peace (Isaiah 26:3).

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