Other Little Ships (Devotional Reading)

Mark 4:35-36  And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side.  (36)  And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships.

A Godly life in Jesus Christ is like a mighty ship. It’s going somewhere and it has a purpose. But, a life without Christ is like a little ship.

There are those who are in the ship with Jesus, and then there are those who are on their own ship because they want to stay independent from Jesus. They want to follow Him from a distance.

Don’t be just one of the other little ships because there are storms coming and, if you’re not completely onboard with the Lord, the storm is going to wipe out your ship!

Bread in the Wilderness Devotional Readings

After You Were Illuminated

Hebrews 10:32-36  But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions

The word “illuminated” is the Greek word photizo. It means to enlighten; to give light; to make someone to see; to brighten up. The English word “light” is used some 95 times in the New Testament, but only 11 times in this form. Luke, the beloved physician, uses two separate Greek words for “light” in Luke 11:36  If thy whole body therefore be full of light (photeinos – the physical light itself), having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light (photeinos – the physical light itself), as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light (photizo; to enlighten; to give light; to make someone to see; to brighten up).

Paul said we “were illuminated” (photizo; given light; made to see; brightened up) and because of this we are not of them who are still in darkness, because, as Luke says, we are “full of light” (photeinos; actual light), and this is possible because, as Peter says in 1 Peter 2:9 (God has) called you out of darkness into his marvellous light (Greek phos; the light of fire). So, we are called out of darkness into light and we are called out of coldness into fire!

It’s good for Christians who have been serving God for a while to remember the early days of their Christian walk when all they wanted to do was serve God. It didn’t matter how long the prayer meetings were or how late they were.

It didn’t matter how many people laughed at us because we went to church on Saturday night and not to the places we used to go! If anything, their mockery just added fuel to our fire. We realized that this world is temporary and fake. We were illuminated to the fact that we “have in Heaven a better and an enduring substance”.

Have you lost sight of that light? Have you lost the heat of that fire? We can still seek the Lord while He may be found and allow ourselves to be full of His light once again!

And Hath Seen in a Vision a Man

One of the many ways God may speak to us is by direct revelation, meaning a direct message right to our hearts. An example of this is when God spoke to a man named Ananias about another man named Saul in Acts 9:11 – 12 – …behold, he (Saul) prayeth, (12) And hath seen in a vision a man

In addition to speaking directly to our hearts, God can also give us a vision of what He wants us to know. This is not necessarily the same kind of vision Saul received, but more in the way Ananias received his message…through direct revelation.

Do you need an answer to a situation? Bring it to the Lord in prayer and then meditate upon it and wait for the Lord to develop the answer in your mind. You may be surprised at the clarity and assurance with which the answer comes to you!

God may give you the entire answer, or only part of it. He may speak immediately, or He may wait. God reveals to us what He wants, when He wants, and how He wants!

The Lord wants to reveal more to us than we may think He does! Both a clear answer and special opportunity were given to Ananias while he was praying!

God still looks for those who will prayerfully seek a relationship with Him, for it is with them that He will share what it is that He is doing!

Bread in the Wilderness (Devotional Reading)

Mark 8:4 KJV — And his disciples answered him, From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness?

These disciples didn’t even realize they were talking to the One who had fed MILLIONS in the wilderness during the time of Moses.

Before allowing too many doubts to arise in our hearts, let’s remember who it is we are talking to when we pray!

The Only Unifying Government (Devotional Reading)

Though many throughout history have tried and failed to bring unity among all nations, the only place this has ever truly succeeded is in the Body of Christ.

It has only succeeded because of the power of God to help us truly love one another!

John 13:35 (KJV) By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

Isaiah 9:7 (KJV) Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end…

Making Confident Decisions – Let Your Yea Be Yea and Your Nay Be Nay

To watch the video recording of this teaching, please Click Here

Bible Reading and Text: James 5:12  But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.

Introduction: There is a tendency that plagues many people, and the people of God are not exempt! If this tendency is not dealt with, it will haunt the person for their entire life, making their life one of misery and regret. That tendency is doubting their decisions or condemning themselves for making certain decisions.

Nervousness and insecurity are part of being human. These things manifest themselves differently from person to person as coping mechanisms. Often they are verbal coping mechanisms. One person who is feeling insecure may ask, “You know what I’m saying?” after almost every statement. Another may suck air through their teeth when they are inwardly unsure about something they just said or did. Yet another may repeat words like, “right?”, “ya know?” after almost every statement. And (to name one of my own) “Amen…praise the Lord” more times than necessary. When done to an extreme, all of these can make it difficult to listen to them at times because these tendencies can become the focus and therefore overshadow what they’re actually saying or doing.

I personally have a difficult time listening to someone speak when I have to constantly ignore these verbal coping mechanisms. But, as I said earlier, nervousness and inward insecurity are part of being human, so we’re not throwing stones just because we’re commenting on something.

It certainly contributes greatly to our communication skills when we can identify and hopefully minimize and eradicate these verbal coping mechanisms and learn, by God’s grace, to become confident in what we are saying or doing.

As I said earlier, many people possess the tendency to condemn themselves and doubt the decisions they are making. I’m not talking about a decision to sin…we should be condemned by that. I’m talking about decisions that carry no sinful component, but people still feel insecure about making.

I’m also not talking about the process of weighing your options on a matter before coming to a final conclusion. I went through about five different titles for this message before I felt settled on this one.

But, I’m talking about when someone makes one choice, they are not settled with it. If they make another choice, they’re not settled with it. If they choose a third option, they’re not settled with it. They always have a reason why they should and they always have a reason why they should not. Because of this, they often make no decision at all…and then they have doubts about that!

           The Bible gives clear instruction about how to make confident decisions and how to be confident once you have made those decisions, and that is what we’re going to look at in this message!

Doubting Your Decisions Won’t Change Much of Anything

           Once a decision is made, constantly doubting the decision probably won’t make much of a difference in the effect of that decision. It’ll just drive you crazy!

Matthew 5:37 But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

           Someone who cannot commit to a final decision on something, even when they have as much information as possible on it, probably also has a tendency of not following through on things they start. They also run the risk of seeming like they have ulterior motives. It’s as if they don’t want to fully commit in case something goes wrong and, rather than getting the glory, they get the blame. Those who cannot commit to a decision may also be waiting in case “something better” comes along, then they can jump ship.

In the area of Matthew 5:37, the Lord teaches us to weigh our options, check our intentions, confidently make our decisions, and stick with them. Don’t make any special oaths “on a stack of Bibles” or “On my great, great grandma’s grave!”. Usually people who use excessive language like that cannot be trusted and they are trying hard to sound convincing.

Rather Than Fear and Doubt, What We Really Seek Is Wisdom

James 1:5-8  If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.  (6)  But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.  (7)  For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.  (8)  A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

           You may ask the Lord, “Should I do this or do that?” If you get no clear answer, weigh all the reasons why you think you shouldn’t and all the reasons why you think you should and go with the one that you believe serves the best and greatest purpose.

Then stick with it! Let the tree fall where it may! Or as Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 11:3  …and if the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be. Sometimes you just don’t know which way the proverbial “tree” is going to fall and you have to learn how to be comfortable with that.

To do anything differently is to be ruled by the spirit of fear, and remember what Paul says in 2 Timothy 1:7  For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. It takes the power of confidence, love for yourself, and a stable (sound) mind to make a confident decision, being convinced of your true intentions, and letting the tree fall where it may. Not in an angry and pushy way, but just letting it happen and being at peace with the outcomes.

We Must Let God Purify Our Hearts of Double Mindedness

James 4:8  Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
           “…and purify your hearts…” Purify our hearts from what? From fear. Fear of what? fear of rejection…fear of other people’s opinions…fear of making the wrong decisions…fear that you may lose some opportunity

           BTW, when making a decision, if you have to say to yourself things like “They can just get over it!” or “I don’t care if they like it or not!” with a raunchy attitude, then you really aren’t comfortable with the decision yet. You are still trying to justify it and convince yourself.

           The idea is, “I know why I’m doing this and I believe I have the right intentions and goals in it”. I’ll use myself as an example, like Paul did. I can probably think of at least five good reasons why I should not have a blog or post anything from my blog online. I can also probably think of at least five good reasons why I should. Which one should I do? The one I believe serves the most good. It isn’t about the number of subscribers or the greatness of the content. It’s about what I believe in my heart I should be doing. Are there people who disapprove? Probably! Are there people who approve? Probably! There is a point at which you just say “yes” or “no” and quit revisiting it in your mind.

Once You’ve Weighed the Options, Stick With Your Decisions

           John 6:65-66  And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.  (66)  From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

           “…many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him” – Did Jesus sit around saying, “Should I not have said that? Did I miss God on that message?”. No, He didn’t! He doubled down and asked those closest to Him in John 6:67 …Will ye also go away? Offending the masses wasn’t the goal, but neither was keeping them at any cost the goal either!

           Pilate, as wicked as he was, understood the concept of sticking with your decisions in John 19:19-22  And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.  (20)  This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin.  (21)  Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews.  (22)  Pilate answered, What I have written I have written.

           There really can be a time when you stop trying to placate the masses, who are only following the other masses, anyway. Ask God to help you just stick to your convictions! There will those who don’t like it, and there will be those who do like it. But, neither of those are the goal…I know it’s hard to believe that being approved of is not the goal!

The goal is being at peace with God about our decisions, or as Paul puts it in Romans 14:22-23  Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. (When you are at peace that what you are doing is right before the Lord, and you truly know why you are doing it, you are set free from the need to make sure everyone understands and that everyone is okay with it – as the Bible also says in 1 Corinthians 10:29 …for why is my liberty judged of another man’s conscience? – In other words, if it’s just preference, then it’s totally okay if someone doesn’t like something you’re doing (provided it isn’t sinful). You don’t even have to get mad about it!). Happy is he (obviously this applies to women too) that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.  (23)  And he that doubteth is damned (condemned) if he(fill in the blank with whatever decision you are making at the time.)

           “Pastor Fulmer, if you teach this, there will be people who do things and say it’s from God!”. Probably, but as the Bible also says in Romans 14:4  Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth In other words, they’ll have to answer to God for that, not to us!

So, Let Your Yea Be Yea and Your Nay Be Nay!

James 5:12  but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.

           Paul calls pride 1 Timothy 3:6 the condemnation of the devil. But, the inability to stick with a decision you’ve made is also the condemnation of the devil. It plagues you with the torment that “Maybe I’ve done something wrong” or “I wonder if I’ll get preached at for it” (if that’s the way people who are learning and trying to get better are handled, then you can’t do much about that toxicity anyway)…“Maybe I’ve made someone angry” or “Maybe I won’t be considered”. My friend, at some point you will make the wrong decision (or be thought to have made the wrong decision), you will make someone angry, and you will lose opportunities.

Those are not the questions to ask. The question to ask is, “Provided the decision doesn’t include sin, are you at peace with your decision, as unto the Lord?” If so, remember Romans 14:22 Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.

Just Do What You Know to Do – A Lesson from Simon the Canaanite

Matthew 10:2; 4  Now the names of the twelve apostles are these…(4)  Simon the Canaanite…

Simon the Canaanite is someone you don’t read too much about in the scriptures. But, he was among the faithful apostles of Jesus Christ! Tradition holds that he preached the Gospel in Mauritania, Africa, and even in Britain, where he died by crucifixion around A.D. 74. Though the word “Canaanite” is used of him, this does not mean he was from the land of Canaan. He was indeed a Hebrew.

Someone from the land of Canaan is the Greek word Chanaan, as used in Acts 13:19  And when he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Chanaan, he divided their land to them by lot.

This word “Canaanite”, as it pertains to Simon, is the Greek word Kanaanites. This was actually a political slur for those of an independent Jewish political party that was fighting for the independence of Israel from Roman rule.

It seems they were dismissed as nothing more than crazy, rebellious political zealots who didn’t want to conform. Politics haven’t changed much! Therefore, Simon is more correctly identified in Luke 6:15 and Simon called Zelotes.

It’s interesting to note here that Jesus had politically active people in His group! This doesn’t mean Jesus’ goal was for His group to become a political party, though they did influence local and national politics. We’re told today that religious people should keep their religious viewpoints out of the political discussion. But, how is silencing the speech of those with whom we may disagree going for us?

Simon had the zeal and desire, not to just see wrongs be made right, but to do something about those wrongs. He was just doing what he knew to do at the time. This is the kind of person with whom Jesus chooses to work!

No doubt Jesus had to polish up Simon’s character and approach along the way, but it seems the Lord was glad that Simon just wanted to do something.

The Lord doesn’t need someone to figure out the perfect way to do things before He can use them. He just needs someone who isn’t afraid to try. He takes care of shaping them into the person He wants them to become!

As important as political independence is, spiritual independence is far more important! The Lord changed Simon’s focus from earthly political independence to eternal spiritual independence, which is brought through the Gospel!

Simon started out doing something locally because that’s all he knew. All God needs is for you and me to do what we know to do right where we are in order that He may lead us into our greater calling for His kingdom!

Will you join me in being that person?

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