As we continue to focus our stories on trusting God, Angela, our Groups and Missions pastor, is joining us again to share some of her thoughts about trusting in the claims of Jesus as Himself.
I still remember her sweet voice singing,
‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, Just to take Him at His Word; Just to rest upon His promise, And to know, ‘Thus saith the Lord!’ …
She sung with such conviction and passion, I knew there was something deeper beyond her words, and I longed for that to be true of me someday. Her name was Agnes; she was a widowed senior the Lord used to nurture me in my faith when I was a child.
Oftentimes, when individuals are asked, “Who is Jesus?” their responses are all over the map. Some say Jesus was “a good man, a moral leader, a historical figure, a great teacher, or one of the prophets of the Christian Bible.”
On one occasion, Jesus asked this same question to his first disciples,
…’Who do people say I am?’ They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.’ (Mark 8:27-28)
Then Jesus posed this question directly to his disciples,
But what about you? ‘Who do you say I am?’
How would you respond to this question?
For those of us who have a relationship with Jesus, the response is vastly different. Like most relationships, we come to know others by spending time with them. By doing life together. By giving them space and opportunity to reveal themselves to us.
Our most reliable knowledge of Jesus comes from the Bible. Historically speaking, Jesus was a Jewish man who lived and preached a little over 2000 years ago in the region of Palestine—the modern-day country of Israel. The Bible paints an astonishing picture of this man and his works. He’s described to be of miraculous birth. His public years were spent preaching, teaching and performing miracles. He clashed with religious leaders of the day, and his life ended with a horrific, brutal death. But His story does not end there. The Bible also describes Jesus rising from the grave three days after his death!
What makes Jesus different from other religious revolutionaries? The difference lies in the claims He made about himself. He did not vie for political power or seek to establish his own religion. Instead, He made an unprecedented claim: that he was the Son of God and had come to heal, redeem, restore and reconcile man to God.
Jesus made these claims about himself:
The Bread of Life
The Light of the World
The Good Shepherd
The Son of Man
In the Father and the Father is in Me
The True Vine
Gentle and Humble in heart
The Lion of the tribe of Judah
The Rose of Sharon
A Healer, A Servant, A Sacrifice
The Almighty King
The Righteous Judge
The Living Word
Famous writer, C.S. Lewis once wrote that Jesus’ life and message were so unique that he simply demands a response from us today.
If Jesus was just another huckster religious leader, then he was a liar and must be ignored. But if Jesus really was who he said… then no matter how messed up our lives are, we can find real meaning and hope. It means there’s a way to break out of the pain and frustration of everyday life and have a purpose. The Christian faith is based on the belief that Jesus was exactly who he said he was. (Mere Christianity)
The apostle, Peter answered Jesus’ question with a profound declaration:
You are the Christ (Messiah), the Son of the living God. (Matthew 16:16)
He didn’t fully understand his own declaration until after Jesus had been crucified and resurrected. Peter later came to know the claims of Jesus in a “personal,” intimate way and it transformed his life. The same is true for countless followers of Jesus throughout the ages.
Personally, I know that I know Jesus is my Savior, Healer, Redeemer, Perfect Father, Provider, Comforter and Friend. Not by what I have read in books or even in the Bible; but by what I have experienced in my personal journey and relationship with Him.
Throughout the centuries, people have debated almost everything about the life and message of Jesus. But no matter what anyone else says, Jesus’ significance boils down to just one question: How will YOU respond to this man, Jesus, and his claims?
Jesus said, “I AM the way, the truth, and the life… ” (John 14:6).
Will you trust Him enough to give him your life? All of it; not in part? To trust Him wholly and completely…no matter what?
For me, that same hymn sung by Agnes so many years ago, has become the declaration of my own heart:
I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee, Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend;
And I know that Thou art with me, Wilt be with me to the end. AMEN!
[Works Cited: http://www.gospel.com/topics/jesus]
Today our writer is SMC’s Women’s Ministry lead coordinator, Joanne Soliday. She’s telling us some of her personal lessons about trusting God through His Word and gifts us with her encouragement by challenging us to be reading the Bible. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us, Joanne!
How do you think calmly about Scripture when it is the heartbeat of your life?
One of our leaders at St. Mark’s Church once told a story that has never left me. She said that each one of us over time has wished for moments or a few last words from a loved one that has passed away. I resonated so much with her thoughts! I often long for a “last letter” from my father who left us 15 years ago.
But her next words struck me! She said, that the Bible is like that letter left by our Father in Heaven.
That’s exactly how I feel about Scripture. We have this wonderful letter and it continues to teach us. Time after time, I learn something different from the same verse and the same story. But one of the consistent points God is teaching us is to trust Him. Each story, God is inviting people to trust Him.
Over these last years I find it more important to memorize important passages. In order to trust God in all things, I think that happens when you decide you’ll rely on Jesus to direct every step of your life. You might not be carrying a Bible everywhere you go but you must have the Word with you!
Memorizing verses brings me comfort, keeps me seeing the bigger picture and helps me to help others. It has proven to be one of the most crucial pieces of my journey with Christ. I whisper scripture to myself many times a day. Sometimes I wonder if anyone hears it and thinks I’m crazy!
Breathing scripture in and breathing it out brings a sense of calm that is unattainable for me in any other way.
I guess it’d be fair to admit that I’m head over heels in love with the New Testament. I know I should love each of the books of the Bible equally, but I will be transparent and say it’s not easy to keep the Old Testament as close to me.
I love the Words of Jesus!
I can’t tell you how much I read the letters in red and feel He’s sitting in my living room talking to me. I love the way HE….
• Was born in a humble way with a star that pointed us to HIM
• Speaks directly so there’s no confusion about His expectation
• Speaks in parables so we can work hard to see ourselves in each one
• Slaps the hands of those who try to judge others
• Describes how the “rules” are not as important as the heart
• Loves those who we would say are unlovable
• Begs people to “be” with him instead of “doing” more (I love that old phrase that we should be human beings instead of human doings!)
• Talks about women and embraces them as He does (LOVE THAT!)
• Has ultimate patience with those who are his disciple and explains HIS purpose to us again and again
• He took time alone so He could take time with crowds
• Teaches us to sacrifice and how He made the ultimate sacrifice
• And so much more!
The words of Jesus will always be my guide and the heartbeat of my soul.
When I do read the Old Testament, I’m drawn to the Psalms first. What raw prayers they are! No words minced. Pain…Joy…Confusion…Passion. I turn there when I’m tempted to be “nice” in my prayers!
And last, but for sure not least, I’m a fanatic about reading the prophecy in the Bible and then reading the outcomes! How can we ever need more proof than this? Time after time, we can see what God showed us would happen and then how it happened. This little chart is in our SMC Essentials Guide. It is my devotional for this week. More Proof!
The chances of one man fulfilling even eight prophecies is 1 in 10 to the 17th power (1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000)
What a gift we have in scripture. And now…the only thing we need to do is receive it!
Is Scripture the heartbeat of your life?
This movie has become one of the top 10 epic love stories. A poor 17 year old artist, Jack Dawson, who won a ticket while gambling for a ride on a ship and Rose DeWitt Bukater, a beautiful aristocrat whose mother was forcing her to marry a man she didn’t love, met on that boat and fell in love. It was the Titanic.
There was one scene where Jack and Rose were standing at the bow of the ship watching the sun set over the ocean. Jack, who was a risk-taker, knew Rose was not because she’d lived by the rules her entire life. Risk was not in her vocabulary and trust was locked up tight in her heart.
That evening, with his tender voice, Jack asked Rose if she’d trust him . He wanted her to depend on him and trust him that he’d hold her and not let go so she’d spread her wings and fly. Yet, while he held her, he wanted her to know that if she did trust him, she’d experience freedom and redemption she’d never known before.
“Do you trust me?”
“I trust you.”
As she stretched her arms as wide as she could, with relentless trust, she felt freedom blow over her.
Trust. It’s confident reliance on something or someone.
Trust is a big thing and it began all the way back to the beginning and Scripture is filled with definitions, instructions and examples of trust. The people in the Bible, when it boils down to it, all had the choice to trust God or not. And that hasn’t changed since.
Even though it’s a challenge, we all have the same capacity to trust God completely and God gives us plenty of opportunities to practice trusting Him wholly.
And God trusts us when we give ourselves wholly to Him.
Here on this blog over the next month, we’ll be digging into the Bible to see what God has to say about trust. We’ll also have women here at SMC share personal examples of times where trust was tested and what they learned through the process.
You’re also invited to a brunch for women of all ages and gather together for food, fellowship and stories about real life trust experiences. We want you to come and bring a friend, daughter, mom, aunt, sister, or any other woman in your life with you. Trust us…it’ll be worth it.
Trusting Wholly, Holy Trust
Saturday, March 8 | 10am-12pm | SMC Reformation Hall
TICKETS: $5.00. Purchase 2 tickets and bring a friend. You do not want to miss this!
CHILDCARE available for children Birth through Grade 5. Registration for children is required.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org
“Trust in the Lord with all you heard and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
I’ve been needing quiet time, but lately time’s been smothered by responsibilities that came out on top. And they’re still there but the kids are in bed, my husband is in another state tonight and I’m bundled up under a blanket on the sofa and am playing and listen to George Winston on Pandora as an instrumental piano piece of the classic hymn “Just As I Am” starts to play.
I knew the tune but I was compelled for some reason to search for the words written by a women in 1835. “Just as I am…thy blood shed for me…Just as I am fightings and fears within, without…Just as I am thou will receive, will welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve…Just as I am, thy promise I believe…Oh Lamb of God, I come, I come.”
Oh Lamb of God, I come? Just as I am?
Just as I am on this boat of life where some days are a smooth ride but there are often days that make me seasick with stress and my head feel dizzy.
But I’m on this boat with one eye blind and the other eye seeing God’s Spirit calling out to this new generation to step out of the boat into the ocean.
Am I on the right boat, though? Should it be the one staying tied to the dock or is it the boat that leads out to the ocean deep where my faith is told to stand?
Then this song surfaces.
“And I will call upon Your name and keep my eyes above the waves. When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace for I am yours, and you are mine. Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders. Let me walk upon the waters wherever you would call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander and my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior.” (Oceans by Hillsong)
A couple of weeks ago at church, I had an impromptu breakfast with a woman I respect. I was telling her all the responsibilities I’ve loaded “in my boat” and wondering if it’s going to start sinking if I put anything else in it. Yet, for some reason I still felt restless about something. Is there something else or something different God wants me to do? Or maybe the question is “Am I on the right boat?”
My friend then said, “As believers, we’ll always have a feeling of restlessness with the longing to see him face to face in heaven.”
Afterwards, it’s like a wave comes over me and I hear the quiet voice of the Spirit say,
“You’re doing what I’ve planned for you to do right now. That’s where I want you today. I want you to feel a little restless so it’ll remind you of Me so we’ll stay in communion with each other. Listen, then obey, when I tell you that I want you to do something different or new. Each day has purpose. It may be to have extra grace on your children one day. It may be to call a friend you haven’t talked to in a long time. Another day it may be to take another big step of faith away from that boat into the ocean to go for a dream you never thought possible. Trust I’ve got things under control as I bring you closer to Me.
Be. Just. Who. You. Are.
While explaining My promises to your children – be just who you are.
While you’re telling your co-worker who doesn’t go to church about a Christian song you heard on the way to work and why it spoke to you a special way – be just who you are.
While you’re having to ask a friend for her forgiveness – be just who you are.
While you’re in a group and are expected to share your thoughts even though you’re too scared to – be just who you are.
While praying to Me – be just who you are.
While encouraging others – be just who you are.
While spiritual restlessness is still simmering in your soul – be just who you are.
While waves of fightings and fears within and without arise – be just who you are.
Be just who I created you to be.
Because I AM.
For I AM yours, and you are mine.
I say to you, “Don’t be afraid…for I have called you by name; you are mine.”
The melody is so sweet to hear you sing, Just as I am when you surrender yourself. I’ll take you deeper than your feet could ever wander” on your own.
God is singing those words to each of us:
“Don’t be afraid…for I have called you by name; you are mine.”
Can you hear them? Are you making time to listen for them? Will you ask God to whisper those words to you?
I am yours and you are mine.