So Let the Rain Fall

S (Scripture) – Matthew 8:23-27 “When He got into the boat, His disciples followed Him.  And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being covered with the waves; but Jesus Himself was asleep.  And they came to Him and woke Him, saying, ‘Save us, Lord; we are perishing!’  He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?’  Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm.  The men were amazed, and said, ‘What kind of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?'”

O (Observation) – Lord, when we follow You, we oftentimes find ourselves in a great storm.  The perception from the outside is that there are waves crashing over our boat, and there is no peace in uncertainty and no calm within.  Yet, in the midst of such a great storm, You are able to rest peacefully, and encourage us to do the same.  Despite the adversity and obstacles we face, our perspective should be eternal, and focused on You.  As the old saying goes, “No God, No Peace…Know God, Know Peace.”  In an instant, You showed Your followers what can happen to the storm when they know the Lord over the storm.  One moment, the waves are crashing, wind is howling, and they felt they were facing certain death – and then the next, with one word, everything became perfectly calm.  I love that phrase, “perfectly calm.”  Try to imagine going from such a worried, anxious, and desperate state of mind immediately to one that is so quiet and still.  Lord, how Your followers must have been astonished and filled with wonder at Your ability to calm such a situation.

A (Application) – When we know the Lord over the storm, we can put our faith in Him to calm it for us.  With just a word, He can speak into our circumstances and we can experience the perfectly calm peace He promises us.  Instead of running around on our own boat, trying to rescue ourselves, and reaching a desperate point of exhaustion, may we cry out to heaven for intervention.  May we act on our faith and trust that He is working on our behalf, in whatever storm we might be facing.

P (Prayer) – Precious Jesus, You are able to speak to any storm we might be facing and bring us peace.  May we rely on You alone instead of frantically trying to save our own ship.  We might be able to manage keeping afloat, but our exhaustion in the process wears us down.  Instead, may we rest in the midst of it all, and rely on You.

The song from Lauren Daigle speaks life to me:

I see Your fingerprints
The work of Your hands
It’s all in Your hands
I see the evidence
Leaving nothing to chance
The world’s in Your hands

So I rest in Your promises
Now I am sure of this
I’m Yours

Let the waters rise
I will stand as the oceans roar
Let the earth shake beneath me
Let the mountains fall
You are God over the storm
And I am Yours

I hear the voice of love
Calling me home
To where I belong
It cripples every fear
And the ones who will kneel
Will walk away healed

Even the thunder and the wind obey
At the command of my Father, Father
I set my feet upon Your mighty name
So let the rain fall harder, harder

So take my everything, my flesh and blood
I’ll lay me down on the altar, altar
I am forever covered in Your love
So let the rain fall

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Slammed Against That House

S (Scripture) – Matthew 7:24-27 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.  And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.  Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.  The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house, and it fell – and great was its fall.”

O (Observation) – In our country, we believe we have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  In our pursuit of happiness, we have the freedom to do so essentially however we choose – to marry and have a family, to become an entrepreneur and own a business, to invest in higher education, to train for an athletic career, and many other worthwhile endeavors.  The problem we face is when everything we have come to depend on for happiness completely falls apart and is crushed beneath the weight of a different reality that may come slamming against our lives like a hurricane.  Lord, You are teaching us in this verse what we should build our lives on – if we trust in You as our foundation by hearing what You say and then doing what You have told us, then we will have our lives embedded in the rock of Your truth.  You say in this verse that the rain will indeed fall, the floods will absolutely come, and the winds will blow and slam against our house, our life.  Our trials may come through broken relationships, financial hardship, chronic health issues, the abuse of others, and any other number of unfortunate circumstances that rock the foundation of our world.  Despite the inevitable turmoil, You promise us that we will not fall if we are founded in You.  We will weather the storm together.  In sharp contrast to the one who listens to Your word and puts it into practice is the one who listens to Your word, and decides instead that he or she knows better.  When that person experiences life slamming against his or her house, it will fall; and it will be a great fall.

A (Application) – What does it look like to act on the words of Jesus?  This would first assume that we have heard them and know what it is that has been said.  Investing time in our relationship with the Lord is critical.  Reading what He has said, memorizing key promises to hide them in our hearts, and then speaking them into our circumstances as we encounter them will lead to victory.  We can’t speak truth into our situations if we don’t know what it is.  It’s time to get serious about seeking first His kingdom.  We don’t know when the storms of life will slam against our house, but we certainly shouldn’t wait until then to try and start claiming His promises for us.  The time to hear and act is when there is no storm, so that when it does come, we are not fazed.  The time for an Olympic athlete to prepare for the biggest competition in the world of sports is not a week before the games begin.  The time to train is when you have years to prepare.  Day in, and day out, when you think you have plenty of time, you put the work in.  The discipline required to prepare more than you think you need to day after day will be what allows you to perform at such a high level when it really matters.  One new commercial shares, “It’s what you do in the dark that puts you in the light.”  That same premise of what we do in the dark (early morning hours when no one is watching) will put us in the light (of victory where all can see).

P (Prayer) – Heavenly Father, thank You for Your truth and Your promises to us.  I pray that we will seek first Your kingdom and Your righteousness, and be able to rest in Your peace every day of our lives no matter what we face.  This can only happen by the power of Your Holy Spirit that walks with us and is in us.  As we spend time in Your word, in meditation, in prayer, in study, in fellowship with other believers, we find that we are slowly detaching from this world and its ideology, and instead becoming more grounded in Your truth, which is reality.  When we are grounded in reality, we then see our trials and circumstances in their proper perspective.  They pale in comparison to Your glory and Your promises for us.  Eternity is forever, and our time on this earth is so short.  May we invest in what will ultimately matter after all the storms have passed.

Seek First His Kingdom

S (Scripture) – Matthew 6:27, 31-34  “And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?…Do not worry then, saying ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we wear for clothing?’  For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

O (Observation) – Father God in heaven, You know us so well.  You know that we tend to latch on to the fantasy that we ultimately control every aspect of our destiny and our days, and as such we begin to feel out of control and become worried about our inability to generate the outcomes we long for when our reality makes it seems as though it is beyond our reach.  Jesus tells us point blank that our worry does nothing productive, and that You already know what we need before we speak it.  Instead of spending precious time worrying and thinking through our need, You instead tell us to seek first Your kingdom and Your righteousness.  You tell us this because You know that as we follow hard after You with all that we have, we will ultimately end up with everything we need.  The song “First” from Lauren Daigle is one of my all-time favorites, as it makes me put down everything that I am attempting to carry, and instead focus on You.

Before I bring my need
I will bring my heart
Before I lift my cares
I will lift my arms
I wanna know You
I wanna find You
In every season
In every moment
Before I bring my need
I will bring my heart
And seek You

First
I wanna seek You
I wanna seek You
First
I wanna keep You
I wanna keep You
First
More than anything I want, I want You
First

Before I speak a word
Let me hear Your voice
And in the midst of pain
Let me feel Your joy
Ooh, I wanna know You
I wanna find You
In every season
In every moment
Before I speak a word
I will bring my heart
And seek You

You are my treasure and my reward
Let nothing ever come before
You are my treasure and my reward
Let nothing ever come before
I seek You

First

A (Application) – Every day we wake up and are set to default to our own worry.  Our flesh is naturally inclined to focus on our circumstances, problems, issues, shortcomings, and we spend so much time worshiping everything else other than God.  We are worshiping anything that we devote our time and energy to by elevating it to a place in our lives higher than God.  Instead, may we recognize that when we focus our worship on the One Who is ultimately able to change our circumstances, that is when the supernatural invades time and miracles can happen.  May we fall to our knees in prayer, with thanksgiving, and watch God move on our behalf, winning our battles for us.

P (Prayer) – Heavenly Father, You are constantly reminding me that my attention is forever shifting.  Give me a one track mind for You.  Comfort me in my times of weakness, and lift up my chin when I tend to focus on what is going on around me instead of Who my God is.  You are amazing, indescribable, and nothing is impossible for You.  Give me the faith and audacity to speak life into the circumstances around me, and tell my mountains to jump into the sea.  Holy Spirit, come – have Your way in my heart and mind, and help me to focus on Your kingdom and Your righteousness.

Blessed are They

S (Scripture) – Matthew 5:1-12

“When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him.  He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying,

‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.'”

O (Observation) – Lord, this beginning segment of Your Sermon on the Mount sets the stage for us to understand the heart and soul You want for us.  Our soul is made up of our mind (capacity to think), our emotions (capacity to feel), and our will (our capacity to choose).  The more time we spend in Your presence, the more we will begin to look like the blessed ones You describe here.

A (Application) – It may be easier to understand the application of these truths if we take a moment to consider what the “opposite” of these descriptions are instead…Jesus took the time to emphasize what would happen for those who walked in these positive characteristics (e.g. poor in spirit = theirs is the kingdom of heaven).  Here is my creative liberty to imagine what might be the counterpart…

Cursed are those that are self-sufficient; for they miss out on the kingdom agenda.

Cursed are those who feel they have it all, apart from God, for they will be empty.

Cursed are the proud, for they will forfeit their inheritance.

Cursed are those that hunger and thirst for the splendor of the world, for their insatiable appetite will never be satisfied.

Cursed are the unmerciful, for they shall run out of grace.

Cursed are those with hearts only for themselves, for they shall miss out on seeing God.

Cursed are those who create and foster dissension, for they have no part in the Prince of Peace’s family.

Cursed are those who fail to stand firm for the kingdom of heaven, for they have missed out on all that could have been.

P (Prayer) – Heavenly Father, You chose to focus on the blessings that would be ours if we followed after You with all of our hearts.  The life You promise us is indescribable, unbelievable, and worthy of everything we have to give.  May we not miss it.  Holy Spirit, equip us to walk out this life in a way that is always pleasing to You.  The line has been drawn – we will experience all You have for us in this life, or not.

I Will Make You

S (Scripture) – Matthew 4:18-20 “Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon, who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.  And He said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.’  Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.”

O (Observation) – Oh Lord Jesus, when will the world understand that following after You doesn’t mean church attendance, one-way communication, or meditation on what is within us apart from You.  You show us here what the progression looks like to be transformed by You – first, You see us.  As much as we may think we have come to know You by searching for You, the reality is that You saw us before we were even born.  You created us.  You never stopped watching us.  We most likely drifted away from You at a young age, but You never gave up on pursuing our hearts.  It’s when we stop paying attention to the world around us and notice that You are watching us that we are ready to hear what You have to say.  The two key words for our relationship with You are simple…You tell us to follow You.  If we follow You, You will make us…fishers of men, lovers of people, worshipers in spirit and truth, teachers of the word, disciple-makers.  You will make us.  We don’t have to try and figure it out on our own.  By walking alongside You, You show us how to walk alongside others.  It all starts by following You, and walking away from whatever is holding us back from fully experiencing Your goodness.

A (Application) – This begs the question, what does an authentic relationship with Jesus look like?  What does it actually mean to follow after Him?  When we placed our trust in Jesus, He gave to us the gift of the Holy Spirit to reside within us.  Just as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one with each other, we are drawn into that beautiful relationship by this precious gift.  The Holy Spirit is our Teacher, Counselor, Guide, and wants very much for us to seek after wisdom and understanding.  Reading our bible, spending time in prayer, worshiping God in spirit and in truth, listening for His guidance, allowing Him into our hearts and deepest parts of ourselves that we keep hidden from everyone…it’s as if He is a surgeon that is looking for everything unholy and with the scalpel of His word, will ever so gently cut it out so that the rest of us can be healthy again.  Sin is like cancer…if not dealt with, it will spread and eventually consume us.  God isn’t interested in only telling us what we can’t or shouldn’t do…He wants us to recognize that where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17).  We cannot experience all of the goodness that God has for us if we are harboring sin in our hearts.  That is why He wants us to deal with it appropriately…not just operate in a sin-management lifestyle, but actually crush strongholds in our lives and walk in victory and authenticity.

P (Prayer) – Heavenly Father, You are incredible.  Your kindness is what leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4).  The enemy has created so many lies about You that are perpetuated and believed all over the world.  I pray that eyes would be opened and hearts would be changed by realizing Your true desire to commune with us, walk with us, draw us in, and show us the way everlasting.  Teach us what it means to follow after You, and free us from any distractions or lies we have believed that would keep us from fellowship with You.