Did He Really Say That?!

I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Luke 12:4-5 ESV

Today’s verse introduces a summer feature which I will call “Did Jesus Really Say That?!”. “But why Pastor Pete?” some of you will probably ask. “Why bring up those kinds of verses? Why not focus on the sweet and positive things that Jesus said?” Well, I guess the first answer is, “Jesus is way smarter than you or I.” If He tells us something, then in spite of how it sounds, He still has something good in mind. Take today’s verse, for instance. Jesus starts out by telling me not to be afraid of those who want to kill me. Now, in general, this does not calm my heart. Instead, I begin glancing over my shoulder, wondering who is planning what to do me in. But if we would scratch a little deeper beneath the surface, we would see that Jesus is teaching us to swim in a spiritual sense. Of course, it feels like He just tossed me into the deep end of the pool and said, “Go for it!”. But in reality, He is bringing a warning to our attention that far outweighs anything that an enemy could do to us. The life that Jesus wants us to focus on is beyond the horizon of this world. If He were to fail to tell us about God’s judgement, as to how we have lived our lives, He wouldn’t be doing us any favors.

Lately there has been a lot written about how the Chinese Communist Party is learning all our private information, in preparation for some future day. On my part I am not so sure that all the data which Google, Facebook and the American Government has on us is a whole lot better! But instead of worrying about what people would do to us, Jesus is telling us to chill. Don’t worry. Stop fussing about what other people can do. If you think the Tik-Tok folks know a lot, imagine God, who counts every hair on our head and knows every word, before we speak it.

"Bless those who curse you, think what they would say if they knew the truth." Mother Teresa

And yet, our God who knows everything about us, cared enough to send Jesus into our world to save us. Yes, there are difficult things He would have to say to us, just as when a mother screams at her child to get out of the road when she sees a car bearing down on us from behind. Jesus wants us to be aware, awake and focusing our fear where it will do us good. Only then are we ready for what He has to say next!

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God.  Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows. 
Luke 12:6-7 ES

Peace Be Still!

But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. Mark 4:38-38 ESV

Once my wife and I were invited to a get-together, at a house we had not been to before in an unfamiliar part of town. This was long before the days of GPS, so I started off listening carefully as my wife called out the directions that our friends had given. I turned left then right despite the fact that were getting increasingly further from town, I kept going, thinking that perhaps this was some sort of shortcut. Finally as we were instructed to turn onto a dirt road, I began to get an uneasy sensation in the bottom of my stomach that something was wrong. My concern was soon confirmed as we came around a sharp bend in the dirt road and it suddenly came to an end in the middle of a cow pasture!

We still laugh when we remember that day, but when more serious events of our lives begin to resemble getting lost in a cow field there is nothing funny about it at all. Events sometimes frightened us to the core. That is how those wet, weary disciples felt in the storm. They had obediently followed Jesus step by step, but the directions he had given seemed to have led them into a storm with no way out. They cried out thinking that Jesus was neither aware of or even cared about their situation. But Jesus did know and He did care both about their storm and ours. He has actually chosen this crazy situation that we are in to show us that He always knows and that He always cares. He has led us into this storm. As a nation a church, a family and an individual Jesus allows storms, so that we can learn to trust in Him – and when we fully trust, He calls out over the roar of the wind and waves, “Peace be still!” and a then great calm from heaven will come.

Looking to Jesus

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2 KJV

On those mornings when we feel disappointed or discouraged and start to complain we have a choice. We can look around at our gloomy situation or we can look to Jesus. Maybe we will choose best by remembering how Jesus chose and then humbly following Him with joyful hearts! I loved this song and video by Eric Kilgore. It reminds me that Jesus was thinking more of me than of His gloomy situation as He carried the cross and it also reminds me of the joy of Jesus Christ. I pray that you will also be blessed and encouraged this Sunday wherever you are. It is always good to remember again that He remembered you and me!