"When Life Is Hard" — A Year with Jesus for 01/01/2018
New Devo: "Spiritual Warfare"
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Note from Jesus
There are times when life is very hard. Remember when I fed 5,000 people out of five loaves and two fish (Matthew 14:13-21)? The people were tired, the hour was late, and My disciples were not ready to handle the problem. So I want to remind you where I was emotionally before all of this started.
Herod had just killed My cousin and great forerunner, John the Baptist (Matthew 14:1-12). I felt both the personal loss of this great servant of God and also the burden of knowing that John's fate would soon be My own (Matthew 17:10-13). I was trying to get away to a quiet place and pray when the crowd found Me. Matthew sensitively describes My situation:
And so he [Herod] sent orders to the prison to have John beheaded, and there was his head, displayed on a platter, given first to Salome and then passed on to her mother.
John's disciples went to the prison, got John's body, and buried him. Then they went to tell Jesus.
When Jesus learned what had happened, He got on a boat and went away to spend some time in a private place. The crowds, of course, followed Jesus on foot from their cities. Though Jesus wanted solitude, when He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, and He healed the sick and the lame.
I share this because I want you to realize that I know about life being hard — about needing to grieve and regroup by being alone, yet not being allowed to have that time. So when your life caves in around you, please don't believe the lies of the enemy that I don't care about your pain and that your pain doesn't matter to the Father. There will be times when you are tempted to feel that the devil's lie is true, but please remember the real truth. I know human anguish. I know it not just because I am God, but also because I have been mortal, God Who is one of you. I know what it's like to face the storms of life and feel like they are going to swallow you whole. That is why what happens next is so important for you to believe.
As I tried to be alone with the Father, I sent the disciples away. Soon, they were overwhelmed in their boat by a storm. What they were facing physically, I was facing emotionally. Nevertheless, I went to be with them. In the middle of My raging emotional storm, I entered into their battle with their storm.
While I was approaching them in the storm, Peter did what early Peter often did: he made a bit of a mess of things by presuming to do something the others would never dream to do. But don't miss this truth: he did it! He walked on the water to Me until he became distracted by the storm. Still, in the roiling power of the storm, this seasoned fisherman — this man so familiar with survival in the sea and her storms — didn't try to save himself. Instead, Peter cried out to Me to save him, and I rescued him.
So here's the deal. When you are going through your own storms, call out to Me. Welcome Me into the middle of your messes, trials, struggles, and storms. When you do, I will join you in them. You will never be alone (Hebrews 13:5-6). When My arrival seems to take forever, don't despair. I will come to you in the storm. You may not recognize My presence at first, but keep looking for me. I will be there. One way or another, I will get you to your true destination. You will find rest, hope, and peace for your soul.
Don't forget, I know what it's like to face the worst storms of life, and I will not abandon you to fight them alone.
Verses to Live
Please read this account of these important events in My life. They are taken from both Matthew's account and John's account of these events. It is more than a story; it just may be your story or the story of a friend. Remember, I won't abandon you in the storm. Look for Me when the storm seems most fierce and you can't figure out how to go on — or even better, look for Me at all times and in all situations in your life and stay with Me so you will be ready for whatever comes.
Immediately [after feeding the 5,000] Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on to the other side of the sea while He dismissed the crowd. Then, after the crowd had gone, Jesus went up to a mountaintop alone (as He had intended from the start). As evening descended, He stood alone on the mountain, praying.
The boat was in the water, some distance from land, buffeted and pushed around by waves and wind. Deep in the night, when He had concluded His prayers, Jesus walked out on the water to His disciples in their boat.
After rowing three or four miles through the stormy seas, they [the disciples] spotted Jesus approaching the boat walking mysteriously upon the deep waters that surrounded them. They panicked.
Jesus (to the disciples):
I AM the One. Don't be afraid.
Lord, if it is really You, then command me to meet You on the water.
Peter stepped out of the boat onto the water and began walking toward Jesus. But when he remembered how strong the wind was, his courage caught in his throat and he began to sink.
Master, save me!
Immediately Jesus reached for Peter and caught him.
O you of little faith. Why did you doubt and dance back and forth between following Me and heeding fear?
Then Jesus and Peter climbed in the boat together, and the wind became still.
They welcomed Jesus aboard their small vessel; and when He stepped into the boat, the next thing they knew, they were ashore at their destination.
And the disciples worshiped Him.
Truly You are the Son of God.
Response in Prayer
O Father, give me courage in my storms to call out to Jesus. Give me courage in my weakness to find Jesus' strength in my storms so that I can welcome Him to me and can find peace, hope, and strength for my soul. In Jesus' name, I pray.
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