Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Storms of Obedience

In my last blog, I wrote about Storms of Association. This time we will be looking at a third and final type of storm, a Storm of Obedience.

Toward the end of Mark chapter 4, we find the disciples facing a Storm of Obedience. Jesus instructs the disciples to get into a boat with Him and cross over to the other side of the body of water.

Not long after setting sail, the disciples are facing an ever-increasing storm and the boat begins to be beaten by the wind and the waves. The storm is so bad that it begins to fill the boat with water. I’ve never been in this type of situation, but I’m sure it could be terrifying! Remember that a number of the disciples were fishermen by trade. They were accustomed to being in boats. They were used to a little bit of wind and water in the boat. Even so, they became fearful and ran to Jesus for help!

When the disciples go to Jesus to seek help, they find Him fast asleep in the midst of the storm. Being fearful of their lives they decide to wake Jesus up. Immediately, Jesus rebukes the wind and tells the sea to be peaceful and still. (Mark 4:38-39)

photo courtesy of freeimages.com

The disciples were awestruck by the actions of Jesus. Jesus used this moment as a lesson for them and they soon continued on their journey to the other side where they later ministered to a demon-possessed man.

The storm of the disciples arrived in the midst of their perfect obedience. The disciples did exactly what Jesus told them to do and they still faced a storm. There will be certain storms we face in life that are caused by our obedience, by being in the perfect will of God.

When Jesus woke up, He didn’t ask who was sinning or in disobedience. He also didn't say it was sent by God. Jesus never addressed why the storm happened, He just rebuked it. In fact, if the storm was sent by God, Jesus wouldn’t have rebuked it.

The word for rebuke used in this passage is the same word for when Jesus rebuked demons and evil spirits. Jesus overcame this storm by spiritual authority.

We usually know where our destination is supposed to be or where we are heading when we face a storm like the disciples. They got in the storm by obedience and got out of the storm by spiritual authority.

Every time there is a storm on the outside, there is usually an even bigger storm on the inside of us. Once we overcome the internal storm, the external storm can be taken care of. Jesus had authority over the storm He was able to sleep through and stay peaceful in.

We have now looked at 3 different storms, 3 different reasons, and 3 different solutions. Repent like Jonah, persevere like Paul, and speak and be at peace like Jesus.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Storms of Association

In my last blog, I wrote about Storms of Disobedience. Now we will be looking at another type of storm, a Storm of Association.

In Acts 27 we find Paul experiencing a Storm of Association. Paul and a number of other prisoners were under the care of a centurion soldier and were being sailed from Asia to Rome. (Acts 27:1-8)

After they were sailing for quite some time, Paul had a bad feeling about what was to come. Paul brought his concern about the possibility of losing the ship and their lives to those in charge. Unfortunately, the centurion went with the advice of those with more experience. (Acts 27:10-11) Paul was a religious man, a tent-maker, and in this case, a prisoner. Paul knew very little about sailing in comparison.

I’m sure most of us would have gone with the wisdom of the more experienced voices if we were put in a similar situation as the centurion. We can’t fault the centurion for ignoring Paul, a prisoner. But, this would later prove to be a nearly fatal mistake.

If Paul wasn't a prisoner then he would've had a choice, but he was forced to go with the choice of those in charge of him, those he was associated with.

Not long after they set sail they find themselves in a violent storm. They were stuck in this horrible typhoon storm for 14 days and nights. It was so bad that the sun and stars couldn't even be seen! After being stuck in an awful storm for 2 weeks, the crew were helpless and had lost all hope. (Acts 27:20)

It can be a challenge to hold onto faith and hope when we are in the midst of a difficult storm, especially when it lasts a very long time! It's one thing to experience a storm, but it's another thing for that storm to go on and on and on.

We don’t have to be worn down by a persistent problem. Instead, we can have faith and patience like Paul. We don’t have to lose faith and hope, instead, we can choose to persevere like Paul!

Paul notifies the crew that he was visited by an angel and all 276 of them would survive, but in order to survive, they would need to be shipwrecked. (Acts 27:21-26) After a short period of time, they find a place to crash the ship and they were all saved! (Acts 27:44)

photo courtesy of freeimages.com

Paul got into this storm because of somebody else, and Paul got out of this storm by perseverance. He had persevering faith even when everyone else had given up and had no hope. If we find ourselves in a Storm of Association, we need to persevere.

We can't assume all storms are caused because of disobedience or because of people we are associated with. Next time we will look at another type of storm, Storms of Obedience.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Storms of Disobedience

Recently, I had the opportunity to write devotionals once a week for the local newspaper in Park Rapids, MN. I wrote about three different types of storms we may face in life. Since they were already written, I figured I would share them here as well for anyone interested.

The first type of storm we will look at is a Storm of Disobedience. We can find a Storm of Disobedience in Jonah in the Bible. God instructed Jonah to go to the city of Nineveh in order to tell them to turn from their ways and serve God. Nineveh was the capital city of the Assyrian empire. At that time, the Assyrians were violent and vicious people that the Israelites were extremely fearful of.

Instead of heading to Nineveh as God had instructed, Jonah jumped on a ship to head to Tarshish. Nineveh is the modern-day city of Mosul, Iraq, and Tarshish was located in southern Spain. Jonah was supposed to make a short journey east to Nineveh (Iraq), but instead, he sailed west across the Mediterranean Sea to Spain. Jonah was heading in the opposite direction the Lord had told him to go. He couldn’t have been much more disobedient to the Lord. (Jonah 1:1-3)

Not long after they set sail for Spain, a huge storm interrupted their journey. Jonah ends up telling the crew to throw him overboard and then the storm would stop. The crew throws him overboard, the seas calm, and Jonah is swallowed by a giant fish. After spending three days and nights in the fish, Jonah finally prays to the Lord. (Jonah 1:4-17)

photo courtesy of freeimages.com

I don’t know about you, but I think I would have prayed before three days of being stuck in the belly of a fish had passed! I say this… but how often do we get stuck in hardships, or life’s storms and wait three days, three weeks, three months, or even three years before we pray to the Lord and get Him involved? It shouldn’t be so.

The Lord is always listening and ready to get involved in our lives. Many times all He needs is an invitation.

After Jonah finally prays to the Lord, the Lord delivers him and the fish spits him out on dry land. (Jonah 2:1-10) Jonah obeys and speaks to the people of Nineveh. After hearing about the Lord from Jonah, the people of Nineveh turn from their ways and the city is saved! (Jonah 3:1-10)

Jonah experienced unnecessary and needless pain because of his disobedience. All of us will face Storms of Disobedience at some point in our lives. All we need to do to start our way out of a Storm of Disobedience is reach out to the Lord and ask for forgiveness. It’s that simple!

We can't assume all storms are caused because of disobedience. Next time we will look at another type of storm, Storms of Association.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Poem- The Soul Winner's Reward

I wrote this poem the day before my father's funeral back in December of 2017. It just kind of came to me. It didn't take much work or time which was pretty cool! I shared this during his funeral service on that December 22nd.

Photo courtesy of freeimages.com

The Soul Winner’s Reward

Jesus died and rose for all women and men,
But they must believe in the Easter story to see heaven.
Believe in your heart and speak with your mouth,
And heaven will be yours instead of going south.
Once you are saved your job is clear,
Tell others about Jesus and may they have ears to hear.
Go into all the world and preach,
Speak to every single one and each.
The world must realize they are in need,
Of a Lord and Savior and friend indeed.
The harvest is plenty and the laborers are few,
So pray there would be harvesters anew.
Do not entertain any excuses you may feel or hear,
Whether they be clothed as shame or ignorance or even fear.
Hear and read and feed on the Word,
And you will learn how to be a good steward.
A steward of your time and treasures and your life,
A member of the Church body known as Christ’s wife.
When you lead one to Jesus you will see light and hope,
But remember it is their decision and you can’t push a rope.
Some plant some water and some harvest the seed,
All parts are vital and necessary in the process you see.
There are rewards in heaven for us when we live this way,
When we point people to the One and only true Way.
Jesus is the way the truth and the life,
And no one comes to the Father except through Him.

If you need an example of a soul winner to look up to,
Look no further than a man named Thomas Juni.
He never preached or evangelized from a large stage,
But he had a great impact even though he died at a young age.
He lived with passion and conviction and zeal,
Even if in his later years his body did not heal.
He shared Jesus boldly for years without excuse,
So if YOU think YOU have excuses you are being obtuse.
Tom lost much of his balance his eyesight and his voice,
But that could not stop him from sharing the Light of his life.
Dad did not stop sharing the Gospel at the end,
He continued to pass out dozens of tracts even from his death bed.
My dad proved that being a soul winner has little to do with physical strength,
But it has everything to do with your heart and doing it by Christ’s strength.
I ask of you today to help me with my father’s mantle,
And to continue to share the Gospel as he lived and taught.
Now that he is gone we will all need to pick up his slack,
So that the souls being won for the Lord do not begin to lack.
Evangelism was his passion and his legacy,
And now he is in heaven receiving the soul winner’s crown as his reward.
Be assured that now whenever you share Jesus or give out a tract,
That my father Thomas Juni will be in the cloud of witnesses cheering you on- and that’s a fact!