Standing With God

Story: Elijah and the Baal Prophets

1 Kings 18:16-39

Note: For the story, I will briefly mention events for context. To get the whole story, be sure to check out the story in your Bible or online starting from 1 Kings 17 to 2nd Kings 2.

    Following many years of wickedness King Ahab of Israel had spread across the land, many of the people had fallen to worshipping Baal and other false Gods. Elijah, a prophet of God went to Ahab to warn him of the consequences of his wicked ways. If he did not stop a 3-year drought would fall on Israel. Ahab refused and accused him of bringing the drought upon the nation. He went into hiding for which time he became the last remaining prophet of God, during this time Elijah was constantly provided for by God. After the three years had passed, he challenged Ahab and the Baal prophets to see which God was the true one. It would be shown by which God responded by setting fire to their sacrifice. The Baal prophets went first and tried with everything they had to call out, but there came no response. Elijah’s turn now came, he covered his altar in water and poured it onto the altar and spoke a prayer, and without hesitation, fire came down and consumed the altar entirely. The prophets of Baal were left in terror and the people of Israel began to turn their eyes back to God.

    We hear about Elijah who not only had to hide from enemies who never stopped looking for him but also had to face the King of Israel and the prophets of Baal alone. Elijah undoubtedly his struggles himself during this time, but because of the trust he had, God was able to complete his work through him.

    His willingness to put his faith in God gives us one of the greatest stories in the Old Testament. We get to see this amazing moment of repentance for Israel, where God reveals his power through a mighty display of fire that leads the people back to him.

    Elijah undertook what nobody else was willing to do, he stood with God in front of the very people who wanted him killed.

    This is one of the hardest things for us to do as believers. We are afraid to put our full faith in God. We may trust him to take care of us in our struggles, but when we are called to stand out, we find ourselves hiding away instead.

    Think about Elijah as he stood on the mountain, surrounded by the prophets of Baal. He remained confident that God would deliver on his word, and he even went as far as to mock the idol they worshipped.

    When the time came, Elijah’s first move was to cover his altar with water. This obviously isn’t the best idea for something you want to set on fire. But God had a plan he was working through Elijah, when the fire came it “licked up the water in the trench” (verse 38). After that, there was no question of belief from the people of Israel that day.

    Moses, Noah, Joseph, and the disciples are all other major examples of those who achieved tremendous things because of the trust they had in God. They had to all stand with God even if it meant doing it alone, and when we do the same, God reveals his plan for us.

“In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”– Proverbs 3:6


What Children Can Do With Faith.

Story: King Josiah

2 Kings 22-23

Josiah was only 8 years old when he was made the king of Judah, but his reign would last 31 years. Josiah followed God’s word and lived and ruled faithfully in him. This is special because so many of the kings who came before him turned away from God and worshipped false idols. Josiah also sought to restore the temple of the Lord, and there in the restoration, they rediscovered the lost book of the law from Moses’ time. After hearing the words of the law, he tore his clothes in sorrow, for he knew Israel was not keeping to the law. He ordered the law to be read to everyone in Judah and everyone vowed to keep to it. False Gods and idols in the land were destroyed and cast out, and with God at his side, Josiah brought the brought the people back to the Lord.

“Before him, there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses, nor did any like him arise after him.” 2 Kings 23:25

   Josiah was the age of a second grader when he was called to lead a nation. Furthermore, at the age of most college students, he was leading Israel back to God. He was also not the only child to make a difference in the Bible; David, Samuel, Joseph and many more, despite their age, were all called to amazing things for God.

    Josiah was a good king in the midst of evil and cruel kings before him, even his own father was wicked. Yet Josiah changed that legacy, he took the time to learn about God and repent. Because he kept his faith and eyes on God, Judah was changed. He led the nation into revival, rebuilt the temple and restored the relationship with God that had been lost for so long.

One of the most important things we forget about children is their potential to live for God. Being able to learn about God early on allows them to establish a strong foundation in Christ. God describes us all as  “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14), filled to the brim with amazing talents and minds.

Jesus knew the importance of children. The New Testament is full of verses about children, take a look at this section from Mark.

   “He said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to like these. Truly I tell you, anyone, who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’ And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.”      — Mark 10:14-16

Children have the potential to do incredible things with God. Empowering them to discover their faith for themselves allows them to use their gifts to impact the lives of others around them.

Navigating Distractions

Story: Peter and the Storm

Matthew 14:22-3

    After Jesus and the twelve disciples had just finished feeding the five thousand, he told them to sail to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus went up on a mountainside and prayed, meanwhile, the disciples were sailing right through unfavorable winds. It was then Jesus appeared walking on the water, and the disciples were terrified that it was a ghost. Jesus reassured them it was him, but Peter, wanting to be sure, asked him he could join him in walking on the water! Jesus agreed and Peter began to walk on the water, but when he saw the raging storm around him, he quickly began to sink. Jesus said to Peter “You of little faith, why did you doubt me?“ Jesus caught Peter and climbed into the boat, and the wind and storm died down. Then the disciples worshipped him and said “surely you are the Son of God“

   When Peter climbed out of the boat he was able to walk to Jesus because he had faith in him. It was when he noticed the raging winds that he grew fearful and began to drown.

    Every day brews new storms and challenges for us to face in our daily lives. Our careers, families, and relationships all demand our attention, even technology has started to pull us away from our walk with God. With so much competing for our time, it’s easy to lose ourselves in uncertainty. We take our eyes off God when we feel overwhelmed because we forget he is the one holding us up.

In a brief moment in Luke 10

“38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way; he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’ 41 ‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’”– Luke 10:38-42

   Martha believed in Jesus, but even she paid more attention to little things instead of hearing what Jesus was saying. Mary chose to listen because she knew that hearing from Jesus was the most important thing she could do. She learned to keep her eyes on God, especially when it was the most important to.

   Back to Peter. When God saved him from drowning, they walked together back to the boat. He put his eyes back on God and he walked on the water again! They climbed back into the boat and the storm and winds ceased. God never leaves our side, and when we keep our eyes on him he is always there to bring us through the storms.

One of the best things we can do is intentionally set aside time to be able to read in God’s word, or even dedicate a few minutes to pray. Taking that time intentionally brings us closer to God and shows our devotion to that time, even if it’s not planned.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10





Laying It Down For Him

Story: The First Disciples 

Matthew 4:18-22

    In the Book of  Matthew, Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee when he walked by a pair of fishermen named Simon (later named Peter) and his brother Andrew. Jesus told them to cast their nets aside and said that he would train them to be fishers of men. They got up and began to follow him. After walking more, they came across another pair of fishermen. Their names were James and John and Jesus called out to them and they left their father and gear and followed Jesus.

   For the disciples, their lives weren’t the only things they had to give up. They had to lay down their own desires and listen to what Jesus told them. This may sound like it is too much, but Jesus made it this way for a reason: If they only thought about their personal desires, they would spend more time caring for themselves, rather than other people.

   These men had never met or seen Jesus before, yet he called to them and they left their lives to follow Jesus and become disciples. They weren’t the only disciples to leave it all behind. Matthew, a tax collector well established in his life, left his booth when Jesus called to him.  

   Take a look at this encounter in Matthew chapter 19

 This is the story of a rich ruler coming to Jesus hoping to follow him. He followed the commandments well but Jesus told him he must sell his possessions and give all of it to the poor. The man ran in grief because he owned so much and was unwilling to part with it.

It‘s hard to give up our wants and desires to follow God.

We sympathize with the ruler because we live in a world where it is part of the culture to chase possessions and to obtain status and notoriety.

   It is when we decide to commit our lives to God that we set aside our desires for ourselves and set out to follow his plan for us.

   “Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” Hebrews 13:20-21

Forgiveness No Matter What

Story: Peters Denial and Restoration

Matthew 26:31-35, 69-75; John 21:15-17

Drawing from Matthew, At the last supper, Jesus was talking with his disciples when he told Peter he was going to deny him three times before the rooster crow the next morning. Peter swore that even if he had to die with Jesus he would not deny him. After Jesus’ arrest, he was approached by a servant girl who inquired if he was with Jesus and he denied it. Another servant girl approached him and asked the same, and under his own oath, he swore he never knew Jesus. Finally, the crowd now around him now suspected the same but Peter furiously denied it. It was at that moment the rooster crowed and Peter remembered what Jesus had told him, he left broken and weeping terribly.

It’s a hard pill to swallow to see Peter so beaten and broken down spiritually. This was the same man who was the first to proclaim Jesus was the son of God but could not bring himself to say it to a servant girl. Much like when Peter walked on water with Jesus he stood strong until he saw the storm around him, it was then he began to sink. Peter was scared, and he didn’t know where to go, his whole world just collapsed around him.

Going to John, we see this moment after Jesus’ resurrection where Jesus returns to Peter and the disciples and they ate together once more. Jesus then turned to Peter and asked him if he loved him to which Peter said yes. Jesus asked again, Peter said yes once more. Jesus asked a third and final time, Peter now upset still responded a third time that he loved him.

Sound familiar? Jesus restored Peter the same way he had been rejected with. Jesus wanted Peter to see that he still loved him and forgave him. Jesus also had commissioned Peter to love, feed and take care of his people, and he was not going to ever give up on him.

For us, we find ourselves constantly struggling in our sin, never sure if we could ever be forgiven by God. We forget so often that God loves us and will always forgive us no matter what, even when we mess up. In his forgiveness, it empowers us to do great things for God. As Peter truly lived up to his name following that story and became the foundation God set him out to be for the church.

Think back into this month, we talked about the Samaritan woman and the adulterous woman both of which were people nobody showed grace or forgiveness too. It was his kindness and forgiveness that brought them to him, without that grace or kindness they would have never been saved. But they became powerful people in Jesus and spread their testimony to the very places that once looked down on them. If he could do that with them imagine what Jesus could do with us.

The same forgiveness Jesus showed Peter, he shows to us and will restore in the wonderful love he has for us!

“He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103: 10-12




The Meaning of Grace

Story: The Unloved Woman

John 8:1-11

   Continuing in the book of John, Jesus traveled to the temple in Jerusalem and when he came to the temple many came to hear him teach. However, the Pharisees wanted to test and trap Jesus, so they brought a woman before him who had committed adultery. The law of Moses required the woman to be stoned, but they wanted Jesus to deny the rule so they could arrest him for disobeying the law. Some time passed and they continued to question him before Jesus responded with the words, “Let he who is without sin throw the first stone”(verse 7). Sure enough, the same people who had raised stones against her dropped them at their feet and walked away. Jesus and the woman remained, and he sent her on her way saying “go and sin no more”(verse 11).

For the wages of sin is death…“ Romans-6:23

   The woman clearly deserved death, yet Jesus showed her grace but why would he do this? Grace is not about tolerating or merely forgiving sin, it is about receiving God’s love and mercy even though we don’t deserve it. The Pharisees tried to trap Jesus into disobeying the law but instead, he called for the woman to be stoned by the people who were free of sin, and only he was free of sin. They all dropped their stones, not out of grace but shame, because they knew they were sinners and could not bring judgment upon a woman who was no worse than them.

“You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on another. For on whatever grounds you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.“– Romans 2:1

   We live in a world today where grace is in short supply, where people are more concerned about being right than ministering to others. Jesus did not condemn the adulterous woman to her sins, he wanted her to be free from sin. He said “sin no more” because he knew it could be done. Knowing we are free brings life to us and begins to transform us into the person God means for us to be.

   The same way Jesus showed grace to the Samaritan woman from last week’s post changed her from a life of sin to spreading the gospel. The very town that once despised her now experienced an extraordinary change. All because God showed her grace when she didn’t deserve it.

“The wages of Sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. “– Romans 6:23

    Even though we are imperfect and fall short of God, Jesus dying on the cross was the ultimate form of grace. He showed us what it was like to no longer be a slave to sin, but to be free to love and live in him.

The Importance of Loving Everyone

Story: The Woman at the Well

John 4:1-30

  In John, we see the beautiful story of an interaction between Jesus and a Samaritan woman when he stopped to drink from a well. The woman was shocked to see that Jesus was speaking to her, since Jews were supposed to hate Samaritans (their heritage was half Assyrian and half Jewish). On top of this she had had 5 husbands and was now with a 6th man, and the town had outcasted her. Instead of rebuking her, Jesus ministered to her and she went out to the town and told everyone what had happened. Her testimony was heard by the entire town and many were saved, all because Jesus took the time to talk to her.

 God stressed loving others, it is the very reason why he made it the second commandment: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39). However, we find ourselves often struggling to follow this every day. It’s hard to love others when we see so much negativity in the world… We see so much violence and pain in the news, jealousy in our social media, and stress in our careers. We all face those days where we just want to tune out the world and go home and nothing more. It is important to notice the world we live in and those around us. There is always someone who needs to be loved.

Think about it: Imagine if Jesus didn’t talk to the Samaritan woman. She would have continued to be lost, not ever knowing that she was beautifully and wonderfully made by God.

  Growing up I was bullied hard. Stories like this are heard all too often in a world of social media. I never had any friends to talk to, and so many people were against me. Despite this, when someone took the time to talk and just have a conversation with me, it made me feel like I was actually worth something. That’s what the Samaritan woman felt like when Jesus talked to her.

  Jesus ministered to all, even the outcasts of society because he knew that everyone is valuable to God. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” – Romans 5:8.