Passing the Test
(This is Part 2 of What About Me)
Jesus encountered, in Matthew 8:18-28, a multitude of people who were following His teaching and healing ministry. He was moved with compassion when a great multitude of followers had been there a long time waiting to be healed and it was already evening. When night had come having compassion on them, “He ordered His disciples to depart to the other side (of a certain sea).” Jesus was asleep on the boat as they traveled and the disciples awoke Him because a great storm had arisen on the sea and the ship was covered with waves. His disciples said, “Lord, save us: we perish.” And He said unto them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” “Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.” Perfect love casts out fear. (1John 4:18)
You will notice if you read this entire chapter of Matthew 8, that in it Jesus is doing nothing as much as healing everyone who came to Him. This is a chapter on healing and getting rid of evil spirits, lying spirits, and destructive spirits! Jesus is not only concerned with our physical healing but also our mental health and emotions. He does not ever want us to be afraid. If he says in 2014, you are going to deliver a great speech that will save thousands; you aren’t going to die before 2014. You can take it to the bank. If someone says, “I promise you I’m going to shoot you in 2013,” you know they are lying or their shooting will not be fatal because the next year you will be preaching this great sermon. If you listen more carefully to what God’s word says to you, then what fear screams at you entirely will be just like it says in this story: there will be a great calm.
Recently I suffered a stroke. Scientists and doctors say they are usually caused by great stress. You don’t think your boat is going to end up in the bottom of the sea if God tells you that you and the boat are going to the other side. Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world gives, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27) (Note that Jesus did not say his peace was different, but that His form of giving it was different. Jesus uses the most unusual situations and formats to deliver His peace to us. We may initially see His bringing peace to us as bringing trouble to us or even despair but we would be wrong to come to such a conclusion. His ways definitely are not our ways. He forms peace in a different manner than the world does.) Jesus is the one who in another adventure on the sea we find walking upon the water. Whatever God calls or directs you to do, you will do even if you have to walk upon the proverbial water.
Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice and they follow me and another they will not follow.” (John 10:27) You don’t have to worry about some imitator telling you to walk on the water and allowing you to drown. If you are born again and not self willed, you will hear His voice only. Many Christians brought up in this lukewarm age have come to misunderstand that God is not seeking to create heaven on earth for you with no suffering. Sometimes the joy comes in spite of the suffering. This has been so since the resurrection. Jesus says, “Remember if you suffer with me, you shall also be glorified (manifested) with me.” Romans 8:17 says, “(You are) if children, then heirs; heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified (manifested) together.”
We are very near or in the worst suffering ever to hit the earth. (Matthew 24:21) Don’t be naïve or misled enough to think that suffering doesn’t happen to Christians. We are instructed in Romans 12:12 to, “Rejoice in hope; (be) patient in tribulation; and continuing instant in prayer.” Tribulation has its translation in the following words: “pressure, affliction, anguish, burdened trouble and chased off.” We need to learn to be patient in tribulation (Romans 12:12) to see the wonderful outcome that God has in all things for us. This is why we need to remain joyful in hope that His promises will all be materialized or manifest. Satan would love to see us so burdened down that we are easily chased off our stand and run away.
James 3:7 says, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” It does not say just to resist the devil but first to submit yourself unto God. Initially this may seem like something scary for a mere human to do. Let me tell you one story about standing up against Satan. I knew a young man whose housemate was a warlock who had sworn to kill him when he got home from work. I went to the house to make sure he was alright. It was a hair raising and maybe a hell raising experience. I was a very young Christian. God told me to take the cement block on their porch and break it. I obeyed. I could see the silhouette of the warlock doing some kind of incantation through his window and the young man standing full of fear like a statue. The horror was as thick as tar. When I broke the block I noticed a large numeral “6” had been formed when this block was poured. As it broke and I continued to silently pray, the most beautiful peace you could ever imagine descended upon me and the young man under the spell. From there on the story got better and more joyful.
If you ever face off with the devil directly, you may be a little frightened at first, but whether gradually or suddenly, you will discover that facing off with the devil is no big deal at all and to make sure of that God has given us spiritual armor. We can read about that in Ephesians 6:11, “Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” Ephesians goes on to explain what this spiritual armor is and how to use it in the evil day. Satan doesn’t want to see you standing him off with all the armor of God but Christian teachers often explain that the armor of God is for the front of you and does not protect your backside. Satan’s goal is to run you off from wherever God has stationed you and the devil is known for shooting people with a few fiery darts in the back to keep you from ever coming back when all you need to do is to obey God, resist the devil and he will flee from you. It does not matter what your past is but only that you have been born again as one of Christ’s sons.
Scripture concludes in Ephesians 6:13-14, “Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore…..” By submitting to God and standing, not only will the wicked one flee from you but you will still be standing on the other side of eternity when the time is right.
If anyone needs to be born again or if you have a sincere question about this article or Jesus Christ, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Minister David Prather