Don’t Worry

“Are we there yet?” “Where are we?” “I want that now!” “What if?…..” “Don’t forget!….” We’ve all heard and asked these questions before, and usually get answers like, “Trust me.” “We get there when we get there.” “Stop worrying.” or simply, “no.” Why do we ask these questions? Because we want to know? Because we’re curious? Because we don’t trust? Because we worry? What is worry? What is trust?

Often times I find myself in a stage of life where I’m not sure who to turn to. Worry clouds my thought and judgment. I can’t think straight. I am driven by a single thought. “What if?” I find no comfort in friends, no comfort in family. My home feels like a prison and my life, hell. Worry is all around me like the storm on the Sea of Galilee, and I am Peter, sinking slowly.

Why didn’t Jesus save Peter then and there? Why did he even let him sink? He could have kept Peter walking solidly on water all the way out to Him, but instead He chose to let Peter see the tumult around him, to lose faith for a moment, and to sink. This is where I am right now. I am sinking. I am hopelessly drowning. I see the storm around me and I lose faith. I lose sight of my goal and my savior and focus on the world around me. But wait. Peter does not sink. The story is not over yet.

Peter cries out to Jesus to help him. This is very significant. Here he is, sinking in a massive storm, thinking that he is going to drown, and Jesus gives him a tiny bit of faith, enough faith to realize that he needs help. I need help. I must humble myself to understand that I indeed need help and I lift my hands to heaven, fall on my knees, and cry in a loud voice, “Father forgive me. Save me from this tumultuous storm. Lift me into your safe embrace. Keep me from falling.” Peter found faith, the faith that Jesus gave him, and cried for help.

And Jesus responds. The Savior reaches out his hand to rescue Peter and pulls him up out of the storm. He responds to Peter’s desperate cry for help, his small amount of faith. You see this is why we must never lose faith. Even the tiniest flicker of faith, the quietest prayer, the smallest plea for help, the Lord hears it and He will respond. Jesus denied Peter the ability to walk on water in order that he might save him. God does not say no in order to reject us, but to redirect us. He has everything in the palm of His hand, your life’s story, your falling and rising. He knows what is best, what you need the most, and He will always lead you to it. He will always respond to your cry of help. Put your full faith in Him, the creator of all. You will stumble and fall, but He will lift you up again. He will answer when you cry. He will lift you up.

Jared Vandyke

The Parable of the Sower

Think for a moment of the parable of the sower and his seed.  This is a story which most (if not all) Christians are familiar with.  The seed falls in four different locations, and in three cases it does not produce fruit for various reasons.  Sunday school classes often teach this particular parable for its simple structure – it is easy to grasp, even at a young age.  It is interesting, then, that we so readily forget it.  If you are like me, you typically think of yourself as simply the “good ground” we read of in Matthew 13:8.  This is altogether too easy a mindset for us to slip into – I’m saved; it’s all meaningless now.  Nothing I do can merit my salvation, and it’s already been bought anyway.  I’m good.  Now I just have to find the best way to produce some fruit. 

If we adopt this thinking, there is nothing here for us – this parable is totally meaningless.  We would do well to consider ourselves in connection to the other kinds of soil.  By nature, of course, we are the hard ground that the seeds are incapable of penetrating; we know this and are often willing to acknowledge it.  But we are sometimes also the other soils as well.  How often do we not make our faith overtly obvious in the best of times but then become mysteriously quiet in the face of trials?  When we do so, we are the stony soil – there is precious little foundation there, and the sun blisters and withers anything that grows.  When the seeds of offensive doctrine are sown to us by God’s Word, how do we react?  Often, we are choked out from confessing them by the thorny old man.  When the command comes to us to lead a new and godly life, the old man closes our throat with his thorny earthly pleasures and prevents us from speaking up in obedience.  Instead, we continue to live lives of utter sinfulness, drinking, lusting, and lying as we did before.

Now acknowledging our shortcomings, we can consider our ultimate place – the soft soil.  Remembering that is only by the Spirit’s continual work of sanctification in us that our inner thorns are more and more uprooted, we ought to turn to God in utter dependence and thanksgiving!  However, now that the gospel is able to take root in our hearts, the work is not at an end.  The plant must continue to grow and to produce fruit.  What better way to cause this growth than the opportunity we have tomorrow morning?  Enter into God’s house and worship Him.  When you hear the Word preached, you will grow spiritually in the warmth that is the “Sun of righteousness” (Malachi 4:2).  Jesus Christ, the living water, will enter into the roots of your faith and heart and rejuvenate you from your thirst after a long, sinful week.  Only when we have the grace of God within us are we able to produce the fruit that He demands of us.  If we fool ourselves into thinking that we can produce fruit of our own accord, we will find that we fail; it will be tainted by our self-righteous pride, and it will be rotten.  This fruit is not pleasing to God – of such He says, “I will spue thee out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:16)!  So, child of God, when you go to the house of God tomorrow, soak up the sunlight, and drink of His goodness!

Matthew Koerner

Childlike Faith

“Out of the mouths of children…”

All my life I have been told, and have told others, “not to act childish.” There are several different adjectives that may be used to describe someone acting childish. Obnoxious, babyish, annoying, immature, selfish; all of these are undesirable attributes. This however, is a collection of the worst characteristics that a child obtains and only highlights their sinful nature. By making a slight adjustment and changing this word to “childlike,” we are able to focus on the beautiful gift of children, and see them the way Jesus does.

Beauty, trust, joy, forgiveness… these are wonderful gifts from God that a child obtains. The most predominant one of them all is their faith. Oh, if it were only easy to trust in our heavenly Father all the time, with our whole heart, as a young child trust in their earthly Father! In Matthew 6 we are reminded that our heavenly Father knoweth all the needs that we have, but without this faith we are unable to find comfort in these verses.

“…What shall we eat? Or, What shall we drink? Or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek: ) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things” (Matt. 6: 31, 32).

Did you as a small child worry about whether or not your parents would cloth and feed you? Why then do we worry and lack faith in our heavenly Father?

Childlike faith is NOT a childish faith. A child will love and serve their parents because of the love and care they receive from them. A child is humble, and at a young age does not live their life focused around their appearance and/or reputation. A child will openly and honestly ask questions. They do not challenge or ask confrontational questions, but they eagerly seek the truth. A child desires to be taught! They constantly strive to learn and (generally speaking) will faithfully accept and follow answers and instructions given to them. Over and over again in the New Testament, Jesus exhorts his disciples to humble themselves as children.

“Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18: 3-4).

Imagine if we lived like that? Whole-heartedly trusting in our Lord for our every need. Imagine if we prayed like that? Without our “mature thoughts” sneaking in and clouding our fellowship with the Lord.

But where does this “childlike faith” go? Is it something that God graciously gives to children, and then takes it away? Quite obviously, the answer is no. On the contrary, it is something that we choose (whether knowingly, or unknowingly) to dispose of ourselves! It is a blessing to be able to mature in the knowledge and love of God. However, as we become more independent in an earthly way, it is important not to think of ourselves as less dependent on God.

Grow in your knowledge of God. Thank him for able minds and faithful pastors to lead us in the truth. Search the Scriptures to hear of His law and read of His promises. Sing praises from the bottom of your heart, and teach the children in your life about the vast and mighty powers of our God. And the next time you pray for God to give your child (or niece, nephew, sibling, cousin, friend, etc) faith, pray for yourself too. Pray for perfect praise, and a childlike faith.

“And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David’ they were sore displeased, And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise? (Matt. 21: 16)

Averly Kikkert