Author Archives: pastorjfreeman

A Year of New Beginnings

2020 is in the books. It is over and done with for good. We now enter 2021. What will this year look like? We already know we will face more unexpected challenges. We have already seen new trials come to our nation and world. Regardless of all that is fully to come, what we know is that 2021 also presents a year of fresh starts and new beginnings, and for that we can be thankful.

As we begin a new year, my mind wants to assume, project, anticipate, and plan, but what I need to do is set it on what I know to be true. I often tell my congregation not to focus on what they do not know, but on what they do know. Even though there is and forever will be much uncertainty in this life, there are many things we can be certain of and that give us encouragement.

As I began reflecting on 2021, here are a few certainties I am choosing to center on in my heart and mind. I pray these encourage you and give you peace, as they have me.

First, God holds the world and our lives in His hands. I love that reality. God spoke this world into existence and He holds it firmly within His grasp. It is incredibly comforting knowing that nothing will touch my life that God has not allowed, and if He allows it into my life, He has done so for a reason. I often tell my family, “At the end of the day, either we trust God or we don’t.” I am choosing to trust God and rest in the fact that He is in control. As Jeremiah 32:17 says, “Ah, Lord God! It is Youwho have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.” This is who our God is, and we lift our eyes to Him.

Second, God walks with us every minute of every day. As the Psalmist said in Psalm 23:4, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me…” We often focus too much on walking with God, when we need to remember that it is God who walks with us. Knowing that God walks with us helps give us peace and confidence. I often see this in my own children. When I am physically present with my children, it is amazing the confidence they display. They feel safe, protected, and loved. On an immensely greater level, that is how we should feel knowingthat the One who created all things and has power over all things, walks with us. Never forget that you are not alone. God loves you with a special and everlasting love.

Third, God cares for us more than we could ever imagine. I love the words of Jesus from Matthew 6, when He says, “…do not be anxious about your life…if God so clothes the grass of the field…would He not much more clothe you…your heavenly Father knows all that you need.” Rest in this today, God knows what you need and He will take care of you. Think about how much you love your kids and grandkids. Isn’t it comforting knowing that God loves you more than you love your family? Trust Him today. He’s got you and will meet your needs.

Finally, God has the final say on everything. The two words my family often uses are “but God”. That means God has the official and final say on our lives. When Jesus said, “It is finished,” while hanging on the Cross, it meant He had completed the work His Father gave Him to do. It meant that death would no longer have the final say on those who trust in Him. It meant that no matter what you face in this life, God has you covered through the power of death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. No matter what comes your way in 2021, if you have a relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ, you are secure in every possible way.

In 2021, be still and know that God is God! Rest in these truths I have listed in this article. Above all, look to the One, Jesus Christ, who is the risen and conquering King of kings. Knowing these things help us to keep all things in proper perspective.

Jesus Changes Everything

The Apostle Peter is a very unique character in the Bible. He was one of the early disciples of Jesus, and is sometimes referred to as the disciple who lived with his foot in his mouth. Peter was always acting first, and thinking later. Sometimes that is a great quality to have, but other times, it can get you into trouble. As erratic as Peter tended to be, he was a man who experienced the grace of God in a completely transforming way. He was the one who denied Jesus three times, but repented, was forgiven by God, and became a devoted follower of Jesus who was eventually martyred for his faith. He understood very personally and very deeply that Jesus changes everything.

Peter wrote two short letters in the New Testament. His letters were written to Christians who were suffering, and who were scattered all over due to the persecution they were facing. As he wrote to them, he wanted them to know that following Jesus was worth whatever trial they were facing. He wanted them to know who Jesus is, what He offers, and how following Him changes every aspect of their life for the good. In the beginning of Peter’s first letter, there are three things he speaks of that reveal how Jesus changes everything. It is these three things that remind us what Christmas is truly all about. 

First, Jesus changes everything by giving living hope. 1 Peter 1:3 tells us that God’s mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In other words, because Jesus Christ rose from the dead, there is nothing too great that He cannot conquer. For those who have embraced Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, there is a hope He brings to our hearts that is not dead, but is alive. Jesus gives us living hope.

For many, the Christmas season can be difficult. Some people, like my family, have lost a loved one, and this time of the year brings great grief. The only encouragement and joy we have comes from the fact that we will see our Christian loved ones again. Because of what Jesus has done, not even death can overcome or separate us from one another. Christians have a living hope because we serve the Living God. I pray we never forget that!

Second, Jesus changes everything by giving an eternal inheritance. Peter also wrote in his letter that, in Christ, believers receive an eternal inheritance that is “imperishable, undefiled, and unfading.” He went on to say, “In this, rejoice, though now for a little while you have been grieved by various trials.” This is a great encouragement to any Christian who is struggling. For the Christian, this world is as bad as it will ever get. God’s eternal Kingdom is much greater and much more excellent than anything we could ever imagine. Christians can rejoice in their trials because their trials are producing for them an inheritance that will never fade or perish.

Finally, Jesus changes everything by giving inexpressible joy. Peter went on to say, “Though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him, and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible…” It is as if Peter was saying, “Yes, you will have to suffer for a while, but it’s worth it. Keep your eyes on Jesus and He will fill your life with inexpressible joy! Not cheap happiness, not fleeting emotionalism, but deep-rooted joy that only comes in Christ.” This Christmas season, do not pursue joy, pursue Christ, who will bring you joy. Life can be hard, overwhelming, and stressful, but God wants to fill your life with His presence, and as the Psalmist said, “In His presence, there is fullness of joy.”

As you ponder this, remember that Jesus changes everything. He gives us a living hope, the promise of eternal inheritance, and a joy that is inexpressible! Merry Christmas!

The Valley of the Shadow of Death

Psalm 23 is perhaps the most known Psalm in the Bible, and the most known verse in that chapter is probably verse four which says, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me. Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” This verse brings tremendous comfort to Christians who are dying, family members who have lost a Christian brother or sister, and those believers who are walking through hard times on this earth.

If you studied Psalm 23, you would learn that everything in the six verses of this Psalm stems from verse one, which says, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” As you might know, sheep are really helpless animals. They are totally dependent on the shepherd to lead, care for, and protect them. This why the Bible compares Christians to sheep. Left to ourselves, we can do nothing. The good news is, if we belong to the One who is self-sufficient, inexhaustible and utterly unchanged by time, we will lack nothing. God, the all-sufficient One, is sufficient for us. This is the main point of the Psalm, that with God, we have all we need. 

As I looked at Psalm 23:4, there were four things that stood out to me. I pray they encourage you as they have me. 

First, Christians will walk through valleys. I like what C.H. Spurgeon says, “To walk, here, indicates the steady advance of a soul which knows its road, knows its end, resolves to follow the path, feels quite safe, and is therefore perfectly calm and composed. The dying saint is not in a flurry, he does not run as though he were alarmed, nor stand still as though he would go no further, he is not confounded nor ashamed, and therefore keeps to his pace.” When I read this, it reminded me that the Christian, who truly walks with God, is not in a hurry nor a standstill, but moves at the right pace, with the right faith, and keeps the right perspective. There should be no alarm for the Christian. That is not to say that Christians will not have struggles, for we will, but rather that as we walk with the Lord in this life, we grow stronger and deeper in the faith with the One who walks with us. 

Second, Christians should fear no evil. The Psalmist does not say, “Walking in the valley, but through the valley.” That is a very important prepositional difference. To get to the “light,” if you will, you and I must walk through the valley of darkness. The truth is, knowing what awaits you when you die helps you understand how to live. This is why Christians can “Fear no evil.” Psalm 23:4 does not call it the valley of death, but the valley of the “shadow” of death. Why? For the Christian, in the valley, death in its substance has been removed, and only the shadow of it remains. Someone has wisely said that when there is a shadow there must be light somewhere, so we will either focus on the shadow or the light. I love what C.H. Spurgeon says, “Nobody is afraid of a shadow, for a shadow cannot stop a man’s pathway even for a moment. The shadow of a dog cannot bite; the shadow of a sword cannot kill; the shadow of death cannot destroy us. Let us not, therefore, be afraid. Death is but a shadow, and the valley is simply something we walk through.”

Third, when Christians fear, they must remember God is near. As you probably know, one of the most used commands in the Bible is “fear not,” or “do not fear.” Since God knows we are prone to fear, He reminds us over and over why we are not to live in fear. It is in the valley where we have questions. Questions like, “Is God still in control? Is evil going to harm me? Will I be swept away?” It is in these moments we must remember that there is only a shadow in the valley, and our God is greater than anything we face. Jesus is the Light of the world, and the Shepherd’s presence is the answer, the remedy to our fear. Jesus, our Great Shepherd, traveled through the valley of the shadow of death and came out triumphant on the other side, and so too shall we.

Finally, God provides what we need in the valley. The Psalmist says, “Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” The Shepherd will protect, defend, and lead us! We are, therefore, safe in every possible way. God defends us and walks with us down every road, including the roughest ones. We need God in death,because He is the only One who gives us eternal peace and eternal hope. We also need Him in life, because life can feel like death, and He helps us overcome all we face. Truly, He is all we need, and because we have Him, we lack nothing.

Jesus is King!

Isaiah 9:6 says, “For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Psalm 145:13 says, “Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom and your dominion endures throughout all generations.”

I wrote this article yesterday, on the eve of the United States Presidential Election. I have no idea what the outcome will be today. As I sit here and think about what is to come, I am mindful of all the different emotions many people are experiencing today. There are some who are fearful, anxious, and nervous. Others are hopeful, eager, and excited. There are also many who are a mixture of those things, or experiencing other emotions and attitudes I did not mention. No matter what you are feeling, my ultimate desire is that we would all be prayerful, and at peace, as we seek to truly trust the Lord with the outcome.

Due to not knowing the outcome at this moment, there is a certain joy and freedom I have in writing this article. I can say things that no one can misinterpret because my thoughts are not tied to who won the election. What I would like to do in these few short paragraphs, is encourage you with what has encouraged me. Even if your desired candidate does not win, there is hope, peace, and joy you can still have. These are the things that I have chosen to center on, regardless of the outcome.

First, God is the One who is really in charge. Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than yours and my thoughts than your thoughts.” God is above us and beyond us. He is in control. Throughout history, kings and presidents have come and gone, but God remains the same. From cover to cover, God raises up kings and brings them down. They are but pawns in the hands of our good and sovereign God. While man thinks he is in charge, that mentality could not be further from the truth. As the great C.H. Spurgeon once said, “Not a blade of grass moves without God’s permission.” Dear friends, regardless of who the president is, God is in complete control. Rest in that beautiful reality today.

Second, God does what is for our good and His glory. As Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” If you love God and are seeking Him, then no matter what you face, God will use it for your good, and ultimately His glory. That does not always mean our circumstances will be good, but God can use even not good events to accomplish very good things. All we have to do is trust Him. Remember, you and I exist for God. He does not exist for us. However, because He is so loving and good, He even takes hard, unpleasant, and unwanted things and turns them into useful things when we trust Him. No matter what you are feeling today, give it all to God and watch Him turn it for good.

Third, God calls us to pray for those in authority. 1 Timothy 2:1-3 says, “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet life, godly, and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior.” No matter who and no matter what, we are to pray for our elected leaders. Today, stop and pray for our local, state, and national leaders. God has allowed them to be in the positions they are in, and He asks us to pray for them.

Finally, God’s people are a part of a Kingdom not of this world. At the end of the day, Christians have to remember that this world is not our home. Our final destination is the New Heaven and New Earth, where we will enjoy our great God and King forever and ever. While we are on this earth, we should seek to make a difference, but we should not get too wrapped up in it, for we are just passing through. Revelation 21 says, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth…He will dwell with them and they will be His people…He will wipe every tear away from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anywhere, for the former things have passed away.”

This week, trust the Lord. Rejoice in Him. Pray for those in authority. Rest in God’s goodness and sovereignty. He is in control and Jesus is King!

Impossible Giant

We are facing overwhelming circumstances in our world right now. Every day we wake up, it is like we are climbing a new Mt. Everest. We are seeing a rise in COVID-19, political unrest, economic turmoil, moral compromise, injustice, racism, rioting, and many other kinds of civil unrest. It is also a Presidential election year, and opinions are flying high. What are we to do? How do we handle such adversity? How do we conquer what appears to be an impossible giant?

The answer is this. We look to the timeless and perfect Word of God. In the Old Testament, there is a famous story about David and Goliath where a simple shepherd boy slays an incredible giant. The point of the story is not that, given the right confidence, you can achieve whatever you set your mind to. Nor is the main point about defeating your enemies and overcomingthe giants in your life. The entire point of this famous story is about defending and honoring God’s name and glory. This was a spiritual battle more than it was a physical battle. In fact, the real menacing giant in this story is the unbelief that dominates the heart of Israel, which causes them not to trust in their God. God, through David, shows us how to overcome impossible giants. Here are three applications.

First, honoring God is first and foremost is about the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7 reminds us that man looks on the outside, but God looks at the heart. From a human standpoint, you do not pick a guy like David to fight a giant. From God’s standpoint, this is exactly who you pick, because David trusted deeply in his God. David is not the hero of this story, God is! God is always the hero and God chose to make His name great through His choice servant. When David shows up in the story, he reminds Israel, not of the size of the giant, but of the size of their God. Understanding this makes all the difference in the world and in our lives. The starting point in every aspect of our life is not our ability, our faith, our obstacles, or our giants! God, who He is and what He can do, is always the starting point and everything flows from that reality.

Second, honoring God in the big ways starts by being faithful in the small. David was always in the right place at the right time. Remember this, being used of God in big ways is simply the result of being faithful to God in countless little ways. You might not think that the little acts of faith you do on a daily basis are significant, but they are! David’s genuine and routine faith prepared him for a moment and a giant bigger than he could have ever imagined. Never underestimate the power of small acts of faith. They are merely the preparation for greater acts of faith!

Third, honoring God will rarely be easy. David faced an enemy from Philistia, but he also faced some enemies among his own people and family. His brothers were hard on him, his fellow countrymen mocked him, and many others doubted him. When David should have been getting support and encouragement from those closest to him, he received contempt and negativity. David was trying to walk by faith and let the living God make Himself known, and apparently everyone else had forgotten that. We know that David took five smooth stones from the river and approached the giant. A simple shepherd boy slung a stone, struck the giant, and he fell dead. The point is, God can do more with a stone than any man can do with a sword!

Finally, honoring God is all about looking to Jesus! All of mankind stands in a similar situation to Israel, in need of a representative to save us from the menacing and crippling giant of sin. The biggest giant in all of our lives is alienation from God. Just like Israel, we find ourselves feeling hopeless and defeated, hiding in our own tents, and trusting in our own resources. All of which have no power over the giant of sin. What we need is a greater David to come to our rescue and defeat the giant of sin and death on our behalf. Guess what? We have such a representative. His name is Jesus Christ. The Bible says, “He who knew no sin, became sin on our behalf, so that in Jesus, we might become the righteousness of God.” We have a risen and conquering King, who has made a way for us to be forgiven of our sin and made right with God. All we have to do is look to Him.

This week, remember this. Because Jesus took out the real giant in our lives, we can bravely face all other lesser giants such as fear, stress, doubt, worry, etc. Truly, in Christ, we are more than overcomers and in Him we have victory in this life and in the life to come!

What Needs to Go

I am currently preaching a two-part series called, “Different: “What Needs to Go and What Needs to Stay.” The world we live in has changed and changed us. We are all different now. We have different schedules, abide by different rules, face different circumstances, and experience different emotions. What are we to do? How can we adjust to what is different and be different for the better? Personally, I think we do that best by evaluating what needs to go and what needs to stay.

In Colossians 3:5-10, we see some things God tells us that need to go. There are three things Christians must let go of, if we are to be different and make a difference in this world.

First, being different requires dying to sinful passions. Colossians 3:5 says that we are to put to death that which is earthly in us. What are those things we are to die to? Sexual immorality, impurity, evil passion, and greed. Every single day, often every minute of every day, there is a battle between our flesh (old, sinful nature) and Spirit (new, spiritual nature). A Christian’s new life in Christ requires putting sin to death so that we can really live. Sin promises life, but actually brings death, and we are to put to death that which seeks to destroy us. The list of sins the Bible gives us in Colossians 3:5 is not all exhaustive, but does speak to putting to death the evil desires and passions in our heart. As theologian John Owen once said, “Be killing sin, or it will be killing you.”

Second, being different requires displacing sinful postures. Whereas passion speaks more to desire, posture speaks more to attitude and disposition. In Colossians 3:8-9, the Bible tells us what our posture should not be and what attitudes and actions we need to displace. We are told to put away anger, wrath, malice, slander, abusive and profane speech, and lying. Again, this is not an all exhaustive list, but a reminder that our posture should not be one of hate and division, but rather love, honesty, and peace. Simply said, Christians should be known for pure, helpful, honest, and edifying speech. Can you imagine what things would look like if we actually spoke that way to all people? To do so requires displacing sinful attitudes and words.

Finally, being different requires discarding sinful practices. The result of sinful passions and sinful postures is sinful practices. Colossians chapter three helps us see this by saying, “Put off (discard/throw away) the old self with all its practices, and put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” This is a beautiful image. Salvation produces a two-sided obligation for believers: negatively, they must throw off the garment of the old, sinful lifestyle, and positively, they must put on the garment of the new, spiritual lifestyle. A Christian’s new life in Christ is all about being conformed to the image of the One who created them, which first requires recognizing the evil things that need to go. In my next post, I will write about what needs to stay.

This week, do some self-evaluation. What passions, postures, and practices do you need to let go of in your life? Today, and every day, seek to love God and love others, and do so by letting go of things that take you away from doing those two things. Christians…let’s be different and make a difference!

Leading Under Trial

In February of 2020, I preached a series of messages on leadership. Once again, I had no idea how timely these messages would be, and as I preached them, I had no idea what trial would be coming to our world. In this series. I looked at various leaders who modeled for us how to lead in different ways. These were biblical characters who had different personalities, experienced different circumstances, lived in different time periods, and faced different challenges. I attempted to show the tremendous qualities each of these leaders possessed, and hopefully caused Christians to think about the kind of leaders we are.

In that series, I did not pick the leaders you would normally think about (other than one). The sermons were not on the more visible leaders our minds tend to gravitate toward, people like Abraham, Moses, David, Peter, Paul, etc. I purposefully chose more unassuming leaders to show diversity in the church, and how God uses all kinds of people to accomplish His purposes. I truly believe each Christian is a leader in some form or fashion, but they do not have to lead like everyone else. God has wired each person uniquely and specifically gifted them to lead right where He has placed them.

I began that series by looking at Joseph. Joseph is a hero in so many ways. His life is such an example and encouragement. If you have ever wondered how God can use your life, family, trials, difficulties, etc., you must look at the life of Joseph. Joseph came from a very dysfunctional family. He faced unique hardships. He was one of the youngest of his brothers, but favored specifically by his father. His brothers were jealous of him, his mother died giving birth to his youngest brother, and his overall circumstances were less than ideal. As I studied his life, he was a man who learned how to lead under trial. Here are five things I have learned from this life.

First, to lead under trial, you must cling to the promises of God. God gave Joseph a dream when he was seventeen years old, a promise Joseph would have to cling to time and time again. As Joseph shared this promise with his brothers, they grew jealous of him and betrayed him by selling him into slavery. Joseph never wavered in his belief. He trusted in what God had said to him.

 Second, to lead under trial, you must believe God is in control. Joseph’s faith was tested. As my father says, “A faith that cannot be tested cannot be trusted.” As we walk with God in this life, our faith will be stretched. If we are going to endure in this life, we must truly believe that God is holding this world and our lives together. Joseph is an incredible example to us.

Third, to lead under trial, you must resist temptation. After Joseph was sold into slavery, an influential man named, Potiphar, took notice of him. God was always uniquely with Joseph and gave him favor before people. Joseph was promoted and made into a leader under Potiphar’s direction. One day, Potiphar’s wife made an inappropriate advance at Joseph. Joseph refused and this angered Potiphar’s wife. She falsely accused Joseph and he was thrown into prison for many years, but he remained faithful to God.

 Fourth, to lead under trial, you must remember that God sees you and is with you. Over and over in the story of Joseph, God’s Word says, “And the Lord was with Joseph.” When Joseph was in the pit, God was with him. When he was promoted, God was there. When he was thrown into prison, God came to him and strengthened him. Even when we feel forgotten, we must always remember, we are never forgotten by God. He is always with us.

Finally, to lead under trial, you must be controlled by Christ. As I have said before, “What consumes you, controls you.” In order to lead under trial, we must be consumed and controlled by Christ. While in prison, Joseph remained faithful. God gave him the ability to interpret dreams and Joseph found himself before Pharaoh. Joseph interpreted a dream for Pharaoh and he was promoted to second highest position in the land.

One day, Joseph’s brothers returned to Egypt to get food because of the famine in the land. They had not seen Joseph in fifteen years. Instead of getting even with his brothers, Joseph forgave them and said, “What you meant for evil, God used for good.” Joseph is such an example of how we walk by faith and lead under trial. Today, let us live and lead like Joseph, fully trusting God to accomplish His will.

If you would like to listen to the sermon I preached on Joseph, click here.

4 Anchors in the Storm

On January 19, 2020, I preached a sermon entitled, Anchors in the Storms. When I preached this message, little did I know what was coming to our world. At that time, I, along with most people, had never heard of the Coronavirus. The goal of the sermon was to help people prepare for and endure the storms of life that will inevitably come their way. As I have said many times, “In a fallen world, sometimes your greatest fears come true.” The good news is, because of Jesus, there is real hope. No matter what you have faced, are facing, or will face, there is always hope. I said that back in January, and I still believe it today.

In the book of Acts, the Apostle Paul is heading to Rome on a ship with over 200 other people. They set sail from Caesarea, which under normal circumstances would take five weeks. However, due to a wide variety of circumstances, it took Paul nearly five months to complete his journey. They faced hardships of many kinds, including a terrible storm, making their trip incredibly arduous.

When all hope of being saved was lost because of the storm, an angel of the Lord appeared to Paul and said, “Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and incurred this injury and loss. Yet now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told.” At just the right time, God spoke truth into Paul’s life, and he was able to encourage all on board.

As I studied this passage, I saw four essential anchors needed for the storms of life.

First, the anchor of God’s presence. Paul lived with a unique awareness of God’s presence in his life. When all the other men were panicked and afraid, Paul was able to remain calm because he knew God was with him. In this life, you are either focused on the storm, or the God of the storm. When your focus is on your problems, you will have no peace, but when your focus is on God, He will be your peace. As you have probably heard before, “Peace is not the absence of problems; peace is the presence of God.” The anchor of God’s presence is absolutely essential in this life.

Second, the anchor of worship. In this passage, Paul says there appeared before him an angel of the God to whom he belongs and whom he worships. This is very important. Worship is not a once a week event, it is a lifestyle. Paul’s life was worship. The word worship most literally means “worth ship.” Whatever we value above all other things is what we worship. I like to say, “What consumes us, controls us.” Our worship most simply comes down to what controls our thoughts, desires, and actions. Paul was a worshipper of God. We know it because his life revealed it. When the storms of life come, you do not want to be scrambling to worship, you want to be found already worshipping. For Paul, he did not have to try and do something foreign to him. When the storms came, and God appeared to him, it was personal. This was the God he belonged to and whom he worshipped. In this life, storms will come, and one way we can be prepared is by living a life of worship to God.

Third, the anchor of truth. This is perhaps the most important anchor we need in our lives. The angel appeared and spoke truth to Paul. He said that were would be no loss of life among those on the ship, and that they should not be afraid because God was going to make sure they got to Rome. Truth was needed in the midst of this chaotic situation. When the storms of life hit you, what you have to be anchored to is the truth. God has given us His Word, and we must hold fast to it. Life will be ever-changing, but God’s truth is never-changing. If you want to both survive and thrive in the storms of life, God’s truth must be an anchor in your life.

Finally, the anchor of faith. At the end of the day, the question for Paul was, “Would he believe what the angel of the Lord said to him?” I love what Paul says to those on the ship, “So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told.” Paul’s faith was real and authentic. He believed God would do exactly as He said. In our life, God can be with us and speak to us, but will we have faith in who He is and what He has said? Hebrews 11:6 says, “And without faith it is impossible to please God…” Romans 14:23 says, “…For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” God wants us to trust him and He is completely worthy of our trust. Faith is an essential anchor in the storms of life.

This week, no matter what you are facing, walk in God’s presence, worship Him, embrace His truth, live by faith, and just watch how God will fill you and use you. These are four essential anchors in the storm. If you would like to listen to the sermon I preached on this passage, click here.

A Life of Example

If you ever needed a hero to follow, look no further in the Scripture than Joseph. He was a man who lived a hard, but extraordinary life. Joseph’s life was marked by struggle, trial, perseverance, and triumph. His testimony offers hope to anyone whose life has not worked out the way they planned and who may have wondered why God has allowed certain things into their life. As you look at the life of Joseph, there are several things we can learn from his story.

First, a life of example is marked by God’s presence and power. One of the themes of Joseph’s life was that God was always with him. Even when his brothers abandoned Joseph, God never abandoned him. The presence of God in Joseph’s life produced the power of God in his life, and he was able to endure and overcome many things he faced.

Second, a life of example is marked by purpose and passion. His brothers sold Joseph into slavery and he became a servant of a man in Egypt named Potiphar. Potiphar quickly recognized something unique about Joseph and began to put him in charge of many things in his home. Joseph served Potiphar well and exhibited tremendous purpose and passion in all that he did. Joseph’s passion came from his purpose, and his purpose came from God.

Third, a life of example is marked by purity and perspective. It was not long before another trial came into Joseph’s life. Potiphar’s wife took an interest in Joseph and she pursued him. She wanted him to have an affair with her, but Joseph would not sin against God or his master. Joseph was a man of tremendous purity and integrity, but he also had a great perspective. He would not compromise in the slightest.

Fourth, a life of example is marked by prudence and providence. Potiphar’s wife got mad that Joseph would not sleep with her, so she lied and said he tried to rape her. Potiphar threw Joseph in prison. While in prison, God was with Joseph and God gave him favor with the prison guard and other prisoners. Joseph had the unique ability to interpret dreams and did so for some of the prisoners.

It was not long before Pharaoh had a dream that he needed to have interpreted. He heard about Joseph and called upon him. Joseph interpreted his dream and Pharaoh pardoned him from prison and made him second in command in all of Egypt. He said that there was no one in the land with the wisdom and discernment of Joseph.

Joseph used his wisdom to store up grain for the famine that hit the land. One day, his brothers showed up because they needed grain. He had not seen them in over two decades. They did not even recognize him. Joseph could have thrown them all in prison for what they did to him, but he forgave them and said, “What you intended for evil, God intended for good.” Joseph saw the providential hand of God in his life. Instead of being bitter about his circumstances, he got better and became the man God wanted him to become.

Today, live a life of example. God’s presence and power are with you. Walk with purpose, passion, purity, perspective, and prudence. Above all, rest in the providence of God, knowing He is in complete control.

 

Embrace, Trust, Walk

Author Paul David Tripp says, “We are always either mourning the fact that we aren’t getting our way or celebrating that grace welcomes us to a new and better way.” He goes on to say, “I think there is probably a mix of mourning and celebration in all of us.”

I can say that my family is experiencing the reality of what Mr. Tripp is saying. Life has not exactly turned out as we had planned. The circumstances we find ourselves in are not ones we would have chosen. We can either bemoan where God has allowed us to be, or embrace the grace God provides to see us through. In our lives, there has definitely been a mix of mourning and celebrating, but we are choosing to embrace where God has us, trust in Him, and walk by faith.

Hard things happen to everyone in life. It’s not a matter of “if” challenges will comes your way, it’s how you will handle them “when” they do.

First, we have to embrace what God allows into our lives. This is very hard to do. I often say that there are two kinds of “storms” God brings our way: storms of correction and storms of perfection. Storms of correction are storms God uses to show us the error of our ways and get us to repent and return to Him. Storms of perfection are storms God uses to grow us in our faith. Neither type of storm is enjoyable to endure, but what God allows, He provides for. My family is embracing where God has us and we are growing. We are learning to lean on Him and keep our focus on what matters most.

Second, we have to trust God in all things. It is easy to trust God when life is good, but real trust happens in the trenches of life. When life falls apart, we have to trust the only One who can put all things back together. As the old hymn says, “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.” The truth is, we will never obey God if we do not trust Him. When we fully trust God, we will be better prepared to obey Him fully!

Third, we have to walk by faith! The Bible is clear, “The just shall live by faith.” The Bible also says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” Faith is important to God and He wants us to trust and believe in Him. When you embrace where God has you and trust in Him completely, you will walk by faith. The challenge is walking not by what you can see, but by what you cannot see. As the Apostle Paul said, “Hope that is seen is no hope at all.” God wants us to walk by faith as we trust Him with what we cannot see. That is the essence of faith. After all, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.”

Today, let us embrace where God has us, trust fully in Him, and walk by faith. When we do that, we will be well on our way to experience the peace that surpasses understanding and the strength that only God can provide.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:6-7‬

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