Contributed by Jenna Bertels
“When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted and prayed to the God of heaven.” - Neh. 1:4
“With a prayer to the God of heaven, I replied...” -Neh. 2:4
“Then I prayed, “ Hear us God, for we are being mocked...” - Neh. 4:4
There is a secret weapon that is more powerful than a nuclear bomb. (But with positive effects) What if we all had the ability to utilize this secret weapon? It can be used to bless, to protect, and give honor to the one person who deserves it the most. This weapon is prayer. Nehemiah was in on the secret. He knew that at every moment - whether good or bad - he needed to pray. Through his prayers you can see the evidence of his dependence on God. He understood something very important, which came from his very heart of faith --- that God works through prayer. Imagine that, God actually hears us and responds! He has a reputation of being faithful - so it doesn’t bother Him to hear our requests and to answer them (of course if it’s according to His will).
Nehemiah believed at the core of his heart that God was able to do the impossible! I think what it all comes down to in the end, is trust. God allows us to be in situations so we can show Him we trust Him. And when we pray we are showing God we trust that He can take care of us. God wants nothing more than to be trusted by us - with that He can build a relationship with us. Without trust, there is no relationship to be had.
Trusting Him is more than just saying it, it’s an action. He’s going to put it to the test! In dealing with daily and big life issues, we are confronted with two options: option one, we can handle things on our own, to the best of our human strength and wisdom, or two, we can step back, pray, and trust God to handle things - believing that he has all wisdom and knows our lives inside and out. It’s just a fact - He knows best. Sometimes He can’t move until we move - move our ideas, thoughts, plans out of the way. Not that He doesn’t appreciate our thoughts, but that His plans are better than ours. He out-thinks us, even our most creative, well-thought out plans.
Recently, God had challenged me with the thoughts of how much do I really trust him? My husband and I just moved into our new place, (by the grace of God!), and it did not seem to come with a washer and dryer. My first thought - was, yes I should freak out, because we just don’t have the money! What are we going to do? Should I sell my kidney? This was not God’s plan, Then, I prayed to the God of heaven. I prayed and asked him to provide it for us, knowing that life can go on with out these items I chose not to worry about it. I would tell others, yes I prayed and am waiting on the Lord. Soon after, I receive a phone call from my parents, saying, “We want to buy you a house warming present, what do you want?” I proceeded to get really giddy and happy, thinking to myself, “Man, God really cares about me, about me needs.” All I needed to do was to ask and trust he was going to do it!
We have opportunities to grow in trusting Him daily, are we going to step back and allow Him to move? You will be surprised by the ways He cares for you, and by His intense desire to be our provider. Just sit back and watch How awesome He is!
"I bow before your holy Temple as I worship. I praise your name for you unfailing love and faithfulness; for your promises are backed by all the honor of your name. As soon as I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me strength...
The LORD will work out his plans for my life - for your faithful love, O LORD endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for you made me.”
-Psalm 138:2, 3, and 8
Contributed by, Epikos Community Member, Brett Nelson
TAKE COURAGE, I AM HERE
Jesus insisted that his disciples get back in the boat, and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home.
It's a funny thing, the idea of being away from God. I mean He is omnipresent right?! So how is it that at times He can seem galaxies away? Is it only our sins that seem to separate us from Him, or perhaps are there times where He wants to seem distant from us, see how we'll react on our own.
I love those times in life where God is so close, so present! He is my every thought, He is my every desire, He is near and I know it. I want to box those times up, I want them to be what life is forever, but the truth is there are times where He is going to say, "Hey you get back on the boat, go to the other side I have to finish up some business, I'll catch up with you."
Well. It was one of those times. And as it usually ends up for me, it wasn't pretty. I was in the boat, I was just trying to get to the other side. God soon felt so distant. The winds started picking up. The storm just escalated. The waves started hitting the side of the boat, even flowing up over into it. "God where are you??"
And you know things were really ugly because it was three o' clock in the morning, and not a one of them was asleep....
I know the feeling. Things were beginning to suffocate me, life was small, I thought of nothing but my boat being flopped around like a piece of wood. I thought of nothing but being stuck in that moment, thinking it was the end. It was me, and a boat, and a storm that had no mercy, and worst of all, God was nowhere to be found.
And here they found themselves at three in the morning, sleep deprived, afraid for their lives, and now something comes walking up to them on the water..... Are they hallucinating? It was easier to believe that it was a ghost, than that it was Jesus!
And it was right at this moment. In their fear, in their pain, in their hopelessness, on the brink of giving up, Jesus says, "Don't be afraid, Take courage, I am here!"
What incredible words.
God seemed far away. Hope was gone. Fear was about to completely take its toll, all to be washed away in an instant, and by one sentence: Take courage, I am here!
And now my favorite part!
Peter yells out through the storm, "Lord if it's really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water!"
What a picture, what a moment. Peter, looking out at this man, walking on water. This man that clearly stated he is Jesus! "if it's really you." What was this desire in Peter? I doubt it even crossed anyone else's mind! Not one other person on that boat, was thinking, "Yeah, if it's really you tell us to come out in the storm, and do something impossible!" I want to get ahold of that desire! It wasn't doubting God. It was a desire to experience Him in every possible way!! If Jesus walks on water... than I could..... if He tells me to.
That's where I was. Overwhelmed. And then like a ghost, like a shadow God showed up, and revealed Himself miraculous, revealed himself uninhibited to the laws of nature. I saw myself like Peter, "God, if it's really you, ask me to do something impossible, so I know the only way it could happen is you! Ask me to go on an adventure, that I would never have even thought possible, but it will be possible, because you are there, and you asked me to."
In that moment, all Peter saw was God! "Yes, Come!" that was Jesus's response. That was all Peter needed! Oh man, it was on, he was going to walk on water. He didn't think about it, there was no standard to follow, no guidelines on how to go about this, it was him and Jesus. I can picture him placing his feet over the side of the boat, sitting on the edge for a second with his feet dangling, and then fixing his eyes on Jesus and starting out on his incredible adventure, that only he has ever experienced!
That is where I am. God showed up. I was in the midst of the worst storm of my life, and God showed up. An adventure was looming. God if this really is you, then tell me to go to Bend. Tell me to do something I've never done before. Tell me to step out of this boat, step away from everything I've ever known and let me experience life as I have never known it, because I know I can, because I know you are there, and my eyes are fixed on you alone.
And this is a chance to learn from my wise mentor and predecessor in the faith:
But when Peter saw the strong wind and waves, he was terrified and began to sink.
Something very interesting happened. The waves were always there. They hadn't gone away. The wind hadn't died down. It was as bad as ever. That didn't matter to Peter, because it was Jesus, and that was all that mattered. With Jesus anything was possible, he had come to acquire this knowledge over time of walking with Him. But then, as he was walking, as he was doing the impossible, a different knowledge hit him...... the wind, a wave probably smashed right into him, it wasn't easy, it wan't pretty, it was a fierce ocean. This wasn't how he envisioned it. The reality of the situation had hit home. The knowledge that this was not supposed to be happening.
Knowledge is all around us. We grow in our knowledge of God. But we have our own knowledge too, and they usually don't align. Faith does not align with our earthly knowledge! When our eyes are fixed on Jesus, faith is alive, and we find the laws of the knowledge we and everyone around us have grown up with is completely insignificant!! But, it shifted in a second, just one splash of a wave, and Peter's eyes weren't on Jesus anymore, they were on the reality of waves and wind and a storm and the fact that he was standing in the middle of the water, and that was not how life was supposed to be. He began to sink!
We can't have two things in our mind. We either have our eyes fixed on God, and our hearts ready for whatever adventure He has for us, or we fix our minds on reality as we have always known it, which usually ends in us screaming out in a desperate cry, "Save me, Lord!!" And it was just a moment of doubt. It was just a moment where the knowledge he'd gathered his whole life, took over the knowledge he had come to know of Jesus, that nothing was impossible, that as long as He was there, he didn't have to be afraid, he could take courage, he could do anything.... even walk on water.
That is where I am, I took a step out of the boat. The waves are very real. The wind is picking up. But I can't fix my mind on that. I can't take my eyes off Jesus, because I don't care how things look, or what my human way of thinking would tell me to believe, all I know is that I only hear one sentence echoing through my mind......
"Don't be afraid. Take courage, I am Here!"
Epikos Community Blog
Welcome to the Epikos Community Blog where you can find and read blog posts from members of Epikos Church in Bend, OR. At Epikos we believe in the value of every member and this is a place for members to share about the work God is doing in their lives.