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God’s Watchfulness

We’re continuing to look at the Gospel of Mark.  In my last post, we saw that after sending the disciples off and dismissing the crowds, Jesus went up on a mountainside to pray and seek the Father.

He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them.   About the fourth watch of the night he went out to them, walking on the lake.  He was about to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost.  They cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified.
Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage!  It is I.  Don’t be afraid.”
Mark 6:48-50

The disciples didn’t know that the Lord could be up on the mountain praying and watching over them at the same time.

We sometimes think that God isn’t watching us.  Or maybe He’s simply ignoring us.  The truth is that the Lord not only knows where you are, but He also knows the quickest route to get to you.

There seemed to be no way for Jesus to be in a position to help the disciples.  That is until He started walking across the water.

He took the quickest path to the boat.  Remember, the things that keep us down don’t bind the Lord.  He knows how to show up in your time of need.

The disciples weren’t looking for Him to appear.  As a matter of fact, it seems that they were more afraid of the Lord walking on the water than they were of the storm.

If you’re going through a storm today, don’t be afraid, Christ is nearby and ready to help you.  Make sure you place yourself in a position to receive His help.  Don’t fear His solution more than your problem.

Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down.  They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.
Mark 6:51-52

The weather is something you and I can’t control.  Every part of the USA has some kind of natural dangers that occur regularly.   Most of what you encounter in these conditions is out of your hands, all you can do is prepare for it, and do your best to survive through it.

Even worse, are the spiritual and emotional storms that we face.  Many times they come upon us with no warning at all.  These upheavals can sometimes ruin the rest of our lives.

The good news is that no matter what you face in life, you’re never alone.  When the disciples struggled to cross the lake they were never out of the Lord’s protection.

It’s good to know that when danger arises, He can walk on water to rescue you.  Only He has the power to still the storm you’re going through and never break a sweat.

The trouble with the disciples was that they had not understood all that they saw in Jesus up until that point.  Scripture says that their hearts were still hard.  They should have been able to expect the Lord to show up when they needed Him.  Instead, they end up completely amazed that they were able to survive the ordeal.

Remember that the Lord can make a way for you when the path seems hopeless.  Never forget to acknowledge His protective care over your life.  Even in your darkest time, expect the Lord to show up and guide you to a safe haven.  Yield to Him today and let Him direct you to your destiny in Him.

Question: How has God rescued you from an “impossible” situation in the past?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

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Posted by on March 12, 2018 in Encouragement, Faith, Power of God

 

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Walking with the Shepherd

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASometimes we get the idea that we have to set the agenda for our lives. But that’s not the right way to live. It’s the Lord who should be choosing the path we’re on.

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Psalm 23:1-3

Green pastures, quiet waters and right paths – what else could you ask for in a Shepherd? He knows the way ahead and he knows the needs of our hearts. There’s no one who’s more worthy of our trust than the Lord is.

In the real world sheep don’t get to choose their shepherd. They belong to whoever owns the flock. It’s not up to them to decide to leave one shepherd for another. But because of the work Christ did on the cross, we have the privilege of choosing Him no matter what our background might be.

The blessing is now ours to be led in the best possible way. We can walk along paths that will restore us rather than harm us. We have something that can feed our hungry souls and living water to refresh us.

Trust the Shepherd of your soul. He’s worthy of that trust. Realize that He wants the very best for you if you’ll just open up and receive it. There’s no greater place to be.

Of course there will be problems

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Psalm 23:4-5

The valley of the shadow of death – it definitely sounds like a place I’d rather avoid. As if that wasn’t enough, there are also the enemies. Sheep are defenseless against such predators as wolves and lions. The world can be a very evil and dark place sometimes.

Praise God that we have a Shepherd who knows the dark paths we must take. He’s been there and has come through victoriously. When I don’t know the road ahead, I can rest assured that He does.

I can be free from the fear of enemies. His rod and staff will be my protection. As a matter of fact, my enemy will have to watch as I feast at the table of the Lord. The Shepherd will bring me through, in spite of the enemy’s best-laid plans to destroy me.

When the burdens of life start getting me down – when I start getting discouraged – He’s right there to anoint me with the oil of His joy. He knows just how to refresh and invigorate me.

If you’re going through a hard time today; turn the problems over to Jesus. Let Him comfort, refresh and renew you.

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
Psalm 23:6

His goodness is unmatched. He wants the best for your life. His plan for you is greater than you could have ever asked or imagined.

His love for you is deep and unchanging. Never think for a moment that you have to win, earn or work to receive His love. He showers it on you freely.

If you have never given Christ your all, then today is a good day to surrender. Commit everything you are and everything you have into His hands. He only wants the very best for you. Take the time right now to bow your heart and place your life in the hands of the Chief Shepherd.

Question: How has Christ been a Good Shepherd to you in the past?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on August 21, 2015 in Encouragement, Faith, God's Provision

 

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Running Away – Part 1

Genesis 16:7-8
The angel of the LORD found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur.  And he said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?”
“I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,” she answered.

Here Hagar finds herself in a no-win situation.  She has just become pregnant by Abram, the husband of her mistress, Sarai.  Originally it was at Sarai’s insistence.  But now Hagar is hated and mistreated for her obedience.  She felt no other choice but to run away from the situation.

Many people use outdoor activities as an escape from the problems of life.  I have met many long-distance hikers who are on the trail to “find themselves.”  Just like Hagar, they are trying to get away from their problems.

It’s okay to run away sometimes, as long as we know where we are running to.  When she was asked what she was doing, Hagar admitted her problem.  She told the angel that she was running away.

That’s the first step to healing.  You must admit to yourself and to God that you are trying to cope with something beyond your strength to deal with.

If this describes you, take the time to admit your condition.  Be honest with yourself and seek the wisdom of God to see you through this difficult season.  Let His arms of compassion surround you and begin the process that will lead you back to an abundant life.

 
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Posted by on July 25, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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Crossing Over

Luke 8:22-25
One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s go over to the other side of the lake.”  So they got into a boat and set out.  As they sailed, he fell asleep.  A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.
The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”
He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm.  “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.
In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this?  He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”

Being out in the open water in a storm is very risky.  Even with all the modern equipment that boaters have today, it is no easy thing to navigate in a raging storm.

In this passage, the disciples are crossing a lake and a huge squall engulfs them.  The wind is against them and the waves are filling the boat.  Imagine their terror when they realize they’re not going to make it.

Yet all the while, Jesus was with them.  That was a factor that, apparently, none of them considered to be important.  When they woke Him, Jesus showed Himself to be in control of the forces of nature.

Never forget that truth in your times of struggle.  The Lord is in control of the winds and the waves.  We have got to remember that, even when the road ahead seems hopeless.  I can rest assured that nothing will touch my life, except that which will help me.  I need never fear for the future.

Remember to place yourself in His care each and every day.  The Lord has already walked the road ahead and is well able to bring you through.  Trust His wisdom and grace to handle each situation that arises.

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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All Good Things

2 Samuel 22:31-37
“As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless.  He is a shield for all who take refuge in him.  For who is God besides the LORD?  And who is the Rock except our God?  It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.  He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights.  He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze.  You give me your shield of victory; you stoop down to make me great.  You broaden the path beneath me, so that my ankles do not turn.”

It is God who blesses us with all good things.  It’s always the right day to give thanks for the beautiful sunrise, for that parking spot close to the door, and for the the large tax refund.  A prayer of thanksgiving is always appropriate when you see the night sky that seems to stretch on and on forever before you, taking your breath away.

Most people are so ungrateful to God.  Something big has got to happen to them in order for them to praise the Lord.  We need to learn to praise Him for all things, big and small.  We need to acknowledge that He is our victory in every problem and situation that arises.  It is the Lord who guides us forward down the clear, broad path at our feet.

All these things and more come from our heavenly Father.  Take the time today to thank Him for some things you don’t usually think of throughout the day.  It will make the day ahead that much more awesome.

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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The Water Walk – Part 3

Mark 6:51-52
Then he [Jesus] climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down.  They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.

The weather is something you and I can’t control.  Every part of the USA has some kind of natural dangers that occur regularly.  Whether it’s tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, or mudslides, there is no way to stop it once it starts.  Most of what you encounter in these conditions is out of your hands, all you can do is prepare for it, and do your best to survive through it.

Even worse, are the spiritual and emotional storms that we face.  Many times they come upon us with no warning at all.  These upheavals can sometimes ruin the rest of our lives.

The good news is that no matter what you face in life, you’re never alone.  When the disciples struggled to cross the lake they were never out of the Lord’s protection.  It is good to know that when danger arises, He can walk on water to rescue you.  Only He has the power to still the storm you’re going through and never break a sweat.

The trouble with the disciples was that they had not understood all that they saw in Jesus up until that point.  Scripture says that their hearts were still hard.  They should have been able to expect the Lord to show up when they needed Him.  Instead they end up completely amazed that they were able to survive the ordeal.

Remember that the Lord can make a way for you when the path seems hopeless.  Never forget to acknowledge His protective care over your life.  Even in your darkest time, expect the Lord to show up and guide you to safe haven.  Yield to Him today and let Him direct you to your destiny in Him.

 
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Posted by on July 1, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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Storms

Job 38:22-27
“Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of the hail, which I reserve for times of trouble, for days of war and battle?  What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed, or the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth?  Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain, and a path for the thunderstorm, to water a land where no man lives, a desert with no one in it, to satisfy a desolate wasteland and make it sprout with grass?”

When my wife and I were first married, we lived in a house by a lake.  When thunderstorms would come through, you could see them getting closer from miles away.  I would love to shut all the lights in the house and sit on the front porch to watch them.

Then, when we moved to Maryland, we lived in a townhouse.  I had to walk a couple of blocks to a playground for an open view to the west.  I could watch the storms from there.  Usually, I was able to time it pretty well – I knew exactly when to start running home so I would make it before the downpour hit.

I do enjoy watching a thunderstorm approach – it reminds me that there are things in this world beyond our control.  It is easy to see that truth illustrated by the weather.  In society, where electricity, cars, and computers put the illusion of control at our fingertips, it is harder to grasp that concept.  Usually we only realize how frail we are when something breaks down or a natural disaster occurs.

We need to place our whole lives in God’s hands.  Only then will we be secure from the storms of life.  We can then watch the approach with the confidence that comes from knowing that we are safely sheltered in His unshakable arms.  Whether you have done it in the past or not, today would be a good day to go before God and place your whole life in His care – you will be glad that you did.

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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