The first miracle of Jesus is found in John chapter two. While many won’t give much thought to the servants in this account, let’s place the focus on them here.
“On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come. His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.
When Jesus refers to His mother as “woman” He was using a term of respect in that day and age. John writes that the hour of His death had not come because that is an underlying narrative of his book.
“Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.”
Now, notice the response of the servants.
“So they filled themup to the brim.”
They never questioned why they should fill these jars with water. This was no simple task and it was no doubt a time consuming chore. The jars held anywhere from one hundred and twenty to one hundred and eighty gallons of water. They likely drew the water out of a well— one bucket at time.
Jesus then tells the servants,
“Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.”
Once again, notice the response of the servants.
“So they took it.”
The servants didn’t ask why they should draw the water out or even why they should take it to the master of the feast. They don’t seem to hesitate even though it could have been a humiliating experience to serve water to the head of the wedding feast. They just took it! They simply listened to what Jesus told them to do.
The servants and their unquestioning obedience is praiseworthy. As servants of Christ, we should do whatever He tells us. We shouldn’t do the bare minimum but we should, in a spiritual sense, fill our jars to the brim. We should live our lives completely dedicated to fulfilling His commands, even if it’s difficult or when it doesn’t make much sense to us.
What is faith? According to the world, faith is seen as a blind trust. It is belief in something regardless of a lack of proof. Many believe that as Christians we are called to have a blind faith. But this is simply not the case.
The word for faith in scripture is “pistis” and it is defined as “that which evokes trust.” This is trust that is formed from an objective basis. It is a confidence in the proof that has been revealed in scripture. The biblical definition is far from this idea of a blind faith.
We know what faith is, but what does it look like practically? Faith is holding on to God through tragedy and loss. Faith is knowing that no matter what sickness or trial we go through, God is still in control. Faith is persevering through life with a confidence and hope in our eternal home.
Faith impacts every aspect of life and that’s why we should always strive to grow our faith.
There is a need for greater faith. We can grow our faith by looking to those who Jesus commended for their great faith.
Throughout Jesus’ ministry he encountered several people that showed great faith. There are only two occurrences in scripture where Jesus “marveled.” One is Mark 6:7, where Jesus marveled at their unbelief (lack of faith). The other is Luke 7:9, where Jesus marvels at the Centurion’s great faith. With our faith we have the ability to cause Jesus to Marvel. The question is, will Jesus marvel at our belief or our unbelief?
In 1999 John F. Kennedy Jr. flew his small airplane from New York City to his family home in Massachusetts for a wedding. On board were his wife Carolyn and her sister. Though Kennedy was a licensed pilot, he had not yet been approved for instrument flight (using only instruments to navigate). When their takeoff was delayed until after dark, Kennedy should have waited for daylight or sought a more experienced pilot to help. Yet, Kennedy took off into the darkness. The plane never reached its destination, and all three passengers were killed in the crash.
Investigators determined that the crash was likely caused by disorientation from flying over open water at night without any landmarks or visible horizon. Kennedy’s lack of experience may well have led him to trust what he thought he was seeing more than what his instrument panel was telling him.
As humans we tend to feel comfortable with what we can see with our own eyes. That’s why blind dates never seem to go well. We want to see who we are going out with before we get there. We read of a man in Scripture who trusted the Messiah more than his own eyes.
In Matthew chapter 8, starting in verse five, it says, “When he had entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him, ‘Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.’ And he said to him, ‘I will come and heal him.’ But the centurion replied, ‘Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, “Go,” and he goes, and to another, “Come,” and he comes, and to my servant, “Do this,” and he does it.’ When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, ‘Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith.’”
This centurion comes to Jesus with a faith that caused Jesus to marvel. It’s rare to find someone with this kind of faith. Many today have a hard time trusting others, and for good reason since many have evil intentions. But we must be careful not to let this impact our faith in God. We can and should trust in the Lord. He cares for our well being and we can rely on Him. We can be wary of the world, but we should never believe God to be a liar.
The centurion came to Jesus with a great faith. But why was it great? Notice what he says to Jesus, “You don’t even have to come.” He believed that Jesus had the power to heal his servant without even being present. Most people in his position would have wanted to see Jesus heal in person. That way you could watch Jesus do it, and watch the sickness leave. But the centurion was so confident in Christ that he knew his servant would be healed, even though he was separated from him. He saw Jesus for who He was. A man/God with power and authority.
Verse 13 says, “And to the centurion Jesus said, ‘Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.’ And the servant was healed at that very moment.” The centurion’s faith was placed in the right thing. His faith paid off and his servant was healed “at that very moment.” He would go home to a perfectly healthy servant. And that is the result of a great faith in the Almighty God.
The wandering Albatross is the biggest flying creature on earth today.
It’s lifespan can be over 60 years.
They can go years without ever touching the ground.
Did you know?
Many people today haven’t decided that God is the answer to the void we have in our lives. For this reason, James will give us the following instructions to help us in our prayer lives.
“But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” James 1.6
God wants His children to trust Him, and He is ready to reward the evidence of our trust in Him.
We show God our faith in Him in two major ways based on this verse and its original context.
God’s where we go when we need wisdom (verse 5).
We’ve decided and are convinced that God is the answer by praying to Him without doubting His ability to aid us.
Unlike the albatross that wanders for years without touching the ground, we’re not commanded to drift through the air without landing. We’re expected seek out the truth, land, and stay there.
Maybe you’ve wandered off and you’re starting to see the signs. Signs like constant panic, unrest, anxiety, and feeling a loss of control. These can all point to a spiritual problem that you’re no longer grounded.
God is always the answer and we can prove to Him that we believe this truth by letting Him take the lead.
Our younger and non-U.S. readers may not be able to relate to the economic news that the U.S. economy is experiencing inflation, unlike anything we’ve seen in 40 years. Indeed, this period of “stagflation” (i.e., stagnant economy plus inflation) began even before my birth, noticeably during the Administration inherited by Gerald Ford after Richard Nixon’s resignation.
The genesis for this economic downturn started with the decision of President Nixon to take the United States off the gold standard in 1971. It was necessary to prevent the country from defaulting on its debts but was only a short-term solution. Had government become fiscally responsible, they could have gotten the nation out of debt and reinstituted the gold standard. But, rather than curb spending, the government began spending more since they could print more bills. And Ford was honest to a fault, from a political perspective, since he admitted the poor state of the Union in his address in 1975.
“I must say to you that the state of the Union is not good: Millions of Americans are out of work. Recession and inflation are eroding the money of millions more. Prices are too high, and sales are too slow. This year’s Federal deficit will be about $30 billion; next year’s probably $45 billion. The national debt will rise to over $500 billion. Our plant capacity and productivity are not increasing fast enough. We depend on others for essential energy. Some people question their Government’s ability to make hard decisions and stick with them; they expect Washington politics as usual.”1
Looking to make a change, Americans voted for the Democrat candidate running against Ford in 1976. Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger swore in President Jimmy Carter on January 20, 1977. However, instead of bringing positive changes to the economy, things grew worse under President Carter. Ironically, candidate Carter had successfully used Arthur Okun’s “Misery Index” in his campaign to highlight the miserable performance of Ford’s economy.2 Yet, it would not be long until the “Misery Index” became an albatross around Carter’s neck. Carter’s opponent in the 1980 presidential race, Ronald Reagan, even made a point to note that Carter was mum about the “Misery Index” of his tenure.3 I dare say that most laymen still associate the “Misery Index” with Jimmy Carter, not Gerald Ford.
The CPI (consumer price index) is used to gauge inflation. Unfortunately, it has risen to 8.5%.4 To curb inflation, the Federal Reserve Bank will inevitably raise interest rates. The simple explanation for this is that the Federal Reserve Bank wants to discourage you from spending money. So, with rising interest rates, that new automobile or house will cost even more, and you will decide to make do with what you have. As a result, demand will decrease and theoretically lower inflation. The only positive thing resulting from such an economy is that your savings account will finally accrue more interest. The bad news is that the money you earn will not have the same buying power if inflation is high.
I was but a child, but I recall the stagflation of the Carter Administration. My father preached for a domestic mission church in west Georgia. He received financial support from a congregation in Tennessee but still had to find other employment periodically to provide for his family. Briefly, my mother even tried to get a job as a seamstress at a Hanes factory outside of LaGrange, Georgia. We lived austerely and had more than one of Dolly Parton’s “Hard Candy Christmas.” However, my father could parlay those savings into later real estate purchases when the economy improved. The point is that even Christians experience lean times, but they don’t last forever.
Would you believe that this is what Paul talked about with his financial supporters in Philippi? He told them he had learned to get along with much or little (Philippians 4.11-12). Paul said that even meant having to go hungry at times. Yet, he could do it because Christ gave him strength (Philippians 4.13). So, yes, that oft-quoted verse is about money. Though it is nice to think we can tap into our Lord’s power to accomplish difficult tasks, like quitting a bad habit, we should not lose sight of the context, especially in a terrible economy.
David said long ago that he had never seen the righteous forsaken or his seed begging for bread (Psalm 37.25). Indeed, Jesus reminds us that God will supply the needs of those seeking Him and His Kingdom first (Matthew 6.33). But our necessities are just that, necessary. Beans and cornbread can sate hunger as effectively as filet mignon and mushroom Bordelaise. So, God is not promising you the “king’s dainties” (cf. Daniel 1.8 ASV). But you will receive enough sustenance to maintain life.
Moreover, as a Christian, you have the added blessing of your church family. The first Christians saw after one another’s needs, even selling their property to help support their brethren (cf. Acts 4.32-35). I am not suggesting that things will become bad enough today to necessitate such drastic measures, but it is still encouraging to know that we have others watching our backs. Indeed, they will help us with our burdens as we help carry theirs (Galatians 6.2,10).
Yes, things may get worse before getting better. The younger generations may not know what to make of these things. And we might see people sinning as the post-exilic Jews who robbed God by withholding their tithes to Him (Malachi 3.8-12). In these times, God encourages more generosity, not stinginess. As He told the Jews of old, He is more than capable of opening the portals of heaven to shower us with blessings. Do not lose that faith and trust that as we learn to do without, we might also learn how to properly conduct ourselves when we abound in this world’s goods.
1 Ford, Gerald. “President Gerald R. Ford’s Address before a Joint Session of the Congress Reporting on the State of the Union.” Gerald Ford’s 1975 State of the Union Address, Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum, www.fordlibrarymuseum.gov/library/speeches/750028.htm.
Armando Alvarez was a former gang member that was giving an interview with Jesse Watters. They were talking about crime and what’s driving people to commit crime. Armando said that the biggest reason is they think they have to be better than everyone else. It is like a game in a way, he said.
The gang members think they will be happy with more and more things. They listen to what the world says will cause happiness. They compete with each other to see who can gain the most. They don’t know that there is an eternal place that you get to choose at the end of this life that will lead to eternal happiness. I would like to share just five scriptures about why we should not do our own thing but instead listen to God.
First, in Psalm 32:8 God is telling us that he will instruct us in the way we should go.
Then, Isaiah tells us in chapter 55 and verses 7-8 that our thoughts are not his thoughts and our words are not his words and our ways are not his ways. He is telling us that we need to follow God’s instruction because he knows what we don’t. He also sees all things that we cannot see.
Also in Jeremiah 17:7 we read that there are a lot more benefits of following God instead of leaning on our own understanding. There is a story about a kid in school that never hung up his jacket. The teacher warned him many times that if he left his jacket on the floor she would throw it away. The next time he left it on the floor she threw it away with intentions of getting the jacket out shortly after. That is until a kid got sick and threw up in the same trash can. The kid should have listened to the teacher. When we lean on our own understanding bad things can happen.
Then, Psalm 37:3-4 tells us that we should always have faith in him and all that he says to us.
Finally, Proverbs 3:5-6 ties back to Jeremiah about not leaning on our own understanding but trust in Him with all our heart, soul, and mind.
The question I want to ask you today is, “Do you listen to God’s instruction or do you do everything on your own?” I want to challenge us to go through the week and put God first however hard it may be to do it. We should let our light shine always for Christ and hopefully plant a seed in somebody’s life whether we know the person or not.
God’s instructions give us peace here on earth. We read in Romans that If God is for us, who can be against us. If you realize that you haven’t been following God’s instructions as you should and feel the need to make some changes in your life, know that God will always be with you.
Luke moves from a sample of Jesus’ teaching and work in the synagogues to His teaching and work among the common people in Luke 5:1-11. For the first time, in Luke five, we see individuals responding to His teaching by following Him. Though Luke only identifies one of the men at this point, the three other gospel writers mention that Simon Peter’s brother, Andrew, was also in that number. Matthew and Mark tell us that the men in the other boat were James and John. These four fishermen would soon “be catching men” (10). Luke seems to focus his attention on the reaction these men had to Jesus, His teaching, and the impact the miracle with the fish had on them. Their reaction to Jesus mirrors the reaction we need to have when called by His Word to follow Him.
DISCIPLESHIP REQUIRES EXPOSURE TO JESUS’ WORD (1-4).
Luke shows us Jesus teaching in close proximity to the fishermen, but gives no clear indication of how much or if they are listening to Him. He does show how compelling Jesus’ teaching is and how the people were listening (1). John tells us, though, that Andrew had already been listening to Jesus and was trying to persuade Simon to follow Him (1:40-42). Paul’s teaching that faith comes by hearing the word of Christ (Rom. 10:17) will be apparent in the lives of these followers, as Luke will demonstrate in this gospel and the book of Acts. We cannot follow one whose ideas, instruction, and incentives we do not know or believe.
This is not a one-time act. Submission is a process that must be practiced continually. But, no one can choose to follow who does not surrender his or her own will to Christ’s (cf. 9:23-26). Jesus, the carpenter, tells these fishermen how to fish. Despite their all-night total failure at their craft, they trust Jesus’ word. Simon says, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets” (5). Success followed submission, something they would see in greater, more important ways as they continued to follow Him. Jesus asks us to do difficult and perplexing things. Our task is not to question, but simply to surrender.
DISCIPLESHIP REQUIRES A HUMILITY TO SEE OUR SINFUL SELVES (8).
Simon will show traits which prove him to be a work in progress, from impetuousness to inconsistency. Yet, Jesus could see his heart and the inspired Luke sheds light on it, too. When Peter sees the power of His Lord, he says, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!” (8). All of us will disappoint Jesus in our walk with Him, but He loves a heart that harbors no stubborn pride. This is the man Jesus will choose as a leader and spokesman, one who does not try to project perfection and superiority. So it is today (1 Pet. 5:5-6).
Exposure to Jesus left these fishermen “seized” (enclosed, completely taken hold of) with “amazement” (9). It made them “fear” (10). Others felt emotion like this who were exposed to Jesus’ power and preaching, and they audaciously reject Him (4:22-30; 8:26-39). These four men, amazed and afraid, will be prompted by this to make the life-changing (and life-giving) choice to follow Him. I have seen people in Bible studies and in their pew who realize the truth of the gospel, showing (and even telling of) remorse, dread, and anxiety over their lostness, but who just cannot make the decision to deny self and follow Jesus. I cannot think of a greater tragedy. In my own life, it is not simply enough to feel sorrow over my sin. I must allow this to move me to obedience (2 Cor. 7:9-11).
DISCIPLESHIP REQUIRES RADICAL CHANGE (11).
Luke will record several positive examples of people whose encounter with Jesus is transformational! Think the sinful woman (7:36-50), the demoniac (8:26-39), the grateful leper (17:11-21), and Zaccheus (19:1-10). Some, though, were just not willing (18:18-27). Luke records multiple occasions where Jesus warns that discipleship requires radical change (cf. 9:57-62). Other writers will contrast it as putting off the old man and putting on the new man (Eph. 4:22-32; Col. 3:5-17; Heb. 12:1; 1 Pet. 2:1ff). Here, Luke simply relates how that they immediately left everything and followed Him. While that may not be a literal necessity today, we cannot hope to have eternal life while holding onto this life so much that we are not following His will.
These men were about to see things they could not have imagined, experience highs and lows they did not know existed, and be given opportunities they could not have anticipated. It wasn’t going to be an easy life; in fact, it would demand everything they had. But it gave them something only Jesus could give them. This hasn’t changed. If we want what they received, we must do what they did!
Recently at the suggestion of some teachers and podcasts I listen to, I took some time and in one setting read through whole books in the Bible. If you haven’t done this I would highly recommend it. Just read through the book not looking for anything or zeroing in on any specific point; just read through the book and let it teach you its main themes and allow it to speak for itself. One of the books I recently read through and want to briefly discuss is the book of JOB. We are very familiar with this book and story and can learn a lot of things from it including sufferings, patience, steadfastness, God’s perspectives, and others. However, I would like to share with you what really stood out and stayed with me as I read through the 42 chapters of this book. Job 1:8-9 says,
Then the Lord said to Satan “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?” So, Satan answered the LORD and said, Does Job fear God for nothing?
Right there is the true question: “Will you fear and serve God for nothing.” It is not only a question that Satan asks the Lord referring to Job, but it is also for us today. Satan was assuming that Job would have a transactional relationship with God, that as long as he was doing what was righteous that Job would assume that he has earned his blessings or somehow God is obligated to bless him. Do we fall into this mindset that Satan is stating her is verse 9? Is it easy to fear and serve God while things are going good in our life or for fear of punishment? Do we have this transactional relationship that says I have done all these righteous X’s so I deserve these Y’s (blessings)? Would we serve God if everything (wealth, family, health) in an extremely short period of time was taken from us and we were in the situation Job found himself in? Satan is saying that taking comforts of this life away will push even the strongest to curse God to his face. Satan states this in Ch 1:11 and notice that as early as 2:9 Job’s wife actually uses the same language when she tells Job, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!”
Sometimes bad things happen because we make bad decisions and we must deal with those consequences. However, Job shows us that sometimes bad things happen outside of our decisions and we do not know all like our Creator GOD. God lays this out in his answer to Job out of the whirlwind in Chapters 38-42 basically stating that, “I created everything and have it all under My control, I AM GOD, even when you don’t realize it and so you must trust Me no matter what circumstances you find yourself in.” In chapter 42 we read exactly what Job did in response to God’s challenge to Job. Now as he repents and fears God he is in dust and ashes. This is the definition of serving God for nothing. Every worldly comfort had been taken from him and he had nothing, not even physical health, and nothing as of yet had been restored to him. But he through great tribulation feared God for nothing except he is God the creator and sustainer of everything.
We do need to serve God just because he is God and the creator of all things but the good news is we don’t serve him for nothing. Read Job 19:25: For I know that my Redeemer lives, and he shall stand at last on the earth; Just as we read Job and see his longing for a mediator between him and God, we now have that through Jesus. God gives us eternal life that can be found in Christ our mediator, not because we deserve it like a transactional agreement but because He is a benevolent, gracious and loving God.
If you were to flip on the TV and watch a news channel, it can quickly become frustrating. Channels like CNN will often say something entirely different than FOX or vice versa. What’s actually true? Who can we trust? What should we believe?
Just when your mind begins to become convinced of one thing, you hear or see something that changes your thinking once again. This creates the skeptic, the double-thinker, and the cynic.
Since a variety of propaganda will always be pushed and those personal agendas will always be hidden, it’s more comforting than ever to read and soak in pure unadulterated truth. So, here are some of those truths we can count on that our found in the Bible.
God is real and His message to mankind can only be found in every inspired word written in the scripture (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
The scriptures teach mankind the means by which we are saved and added to His church. God adds us through our action- based belief, repentance, and immersion (Acts 2:42ff, Titus 1:5-11).
Christians must live faithfully and in accordance to His instructions (1 Peter 1:15).
The faithful can only truly worship by following the pattern which is demonstrated by the 1st-century church and Apostolic examples (1 Tim. 2:8-15).
The Bible teaches that one day everyone will walk through the door that leads out into eternity. Whether or not we are lost or saved as we pass through that door will be the determining factor that dictates where our final destination will be (Rev. 20.12).
It’s our Christian duty to ensure that others are aware of this spiritual reality (Matt. 25:46, Ecc. 12:7, 1 Jn. 1:7).
God can’t lie and every word He wrote is true (Ti. 1:2; Ps. 119:160).
It’s our responsibility to study His message because it’s the only thing that matters.
These truths will never change. They are a constant you can count on and we’ve only scratched the surface. It’s crucial that every follower of Christ is convicted and well versed in His Word. This is where and how we find peace and direction. The Bible is the only source that we can rely on 100% and that’s something that’s increasingly hard to find today.
Do you remember what any of your childhood fears were? Maybe you never really grew out of those fears. I can remember a number of phobias I had as a child but one of them was not arachnophobia. In fact, me and my younger brother would collect spiders from the backyard and put them all in a container in our bedroom. At night we would put a flashlight behind a clear cage and watch all the spiders make their webs— occasionally fight each other. I don’t believe mom ever discovered this little secret. For some reason as I grew older (more mature) I developed a fear of spiders, despite having played with them often as a young kid.
Fears can be funny like that. They can come from bad experiences or just somewhere in the back of our minds. There’s a lot of fear in the world today!
One of my favorite psalms in the Bible is Psalm 46. We read about what seems to be those worst case scenarios, but God still reigns over all. What if the earth gives way? What if the mountains are thrown into the sea? What if the wrong man becomes our new president? What if this virus never goes away? Even so, we have no reason to fear. God is bigger than our fears. We serve a Being with that much power and it should fill us with courage. What are you afraid of?