The storms of life come. Each storm has its own name. The storms of illness, lack, rejection, financial need, family problems, and failure are just a few. Some storms last longer than others. There are powerful storms which can threaten our very lives.
Each year it seems someone we know or we ourselves experience the storms of life. Unlike a natural storm, sometimes a storm of life comes without warning. There could be much damage when a storm finds you unprepared. The damage may be financial.physical and emotional. You may look composed on the outside but ravaged on the inside, depressed and battling feelings of hopelessness. Asking yourself what did I do wrong. There is a deep sense of disappointment in God and others who may not have assisted you. In your heart there is anger and resentment towards those, who you feel may have contributed to the stormy situation by their actions or inaction.
Have you just come out of a situation that felt like a storm? You feel as though you have been battered. The storm may have ended but it has left you torn apart and burdened, devastated, almost ready to give up. You are tired, weary, overly anxious, stretched beyond your capacity. You feel you do not have the strength to bear anything. You think you will either crumble under the pressure or just explode. You want to throw in the towel. You are overwhelmed.
For some, the storm is still raging. You want to be rescued. You are getting impatient waiting for help. It seems to you like no one notices your need. When is someone going to help me, they have forgotten about my plight, no one cares about me. You say to yourself as tears fill your eyes and stream down your cheeks. The storm has overwhelmed you.
You have weathered many storms in the past but this storm which you are presently experiencing is the worst. You feel as though your strength is gone. For most of your life, you have had to endure storms. You are overwhelmed.
You experienced a storm because you ignored the warnings. You blame yourself. It is time to forgive yourself. The storm has beaten you. Don't you dare beat up yourself too.
You have lived by all life's rules and the precepts of God, yet a storm came and devastated you. It is a fact that kind, loving and God-fearing people also experience storms. No one is exempt from the storms of life, so we must do our best to be prepared.
You complain that others have recovered from the same storm that hit you and moved on with their lives, but you are still in ruins. I urge you to avoid the comparisons. No more self-pity. The one who calms the boisterous winds and raging seas also gives strength to withstand a storm and regain what you have lost. He is reaching out to you. Jesus is speaking peace to you.
Severe weather conditions like storms and hurricanes are very scary, even the disciples of Jesus, skilled fisherman panicked during a storm. Jesus was with them in the boat during a storm, but he was sleeping. Peter awoke him frantically saying Lord are you not concern that we would perish. Jesus answered why are you so afraid. Jesus identified the real issue, the main reason they panicked and were terrified even though he (Jesus) was with them. They were so afraid because they had little faith. This was not a condemnation.
Little faith when exercised can help us achieve certain things. But little faith panics during the storms of life. Little faith loses hope quickly. Little faith doubts God's love. Therefore we need to keep increasing and growing our faith. I hasten to add that we cannot manufacture faith as it is a function of our relationship with the Lord. Faith comes from God's word and will increase by God's word. Faith is not a positive feeling or emotion. It is more than being optimistic. Our faith must be anchored to God and his word. Faith is trust and confidence in God's character. Faith is seen by our actions. Faith is not only about hearing the word of God. Jesus said if you hear my words and do them (put them into practice) you will be like a wise person who built their house upon a rock, so when the flood waters rose and the winds beat violently against the house. The house did not fall because its foundation was on a rock.
Beloved, we must not be afraid. For the storms of life will come. Our Lord is our shelter in the times of storm. Jesus gives us peace in the midst of the storm. Our God is a very present help in the time of trouble. Let us place our trust in the Lord. The writer exhorts in Isaiah 26:4, "Trust in the Lord forever, for in the Lord God we have an everlasting rock."
The Palmist in Psalm 61:2 said, "When my heart is overwhelmed (faint) lead me to the rock that is higher than I". He declares to God you have been a shelter for me.
Come to the Yahweh who is the Rock. Come find shelter and safety for your soul. He will give heed to your cry and your prayer.
To speak on Christianity, you need to know firstly why you are a Christian? Why do you wake up early on Sunday morning, get all dress up to go to Church? Is it because it is a routine or you were trained that way?
Anyone who holds the microphone is a teacher but how can you teach, if you have not been taught yourself. How can you defend a religion you know nothing about?
Yes I am a Christian because the Bible tells me; "God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). But Christianity is more of a relationship, it needs to be experienced.
I met a young man in a cab who could quote the Bible verses from Genesis to Revelation but he does not have a clue on why Jesus came and died. I was amazed when he said the bible brainwashes. I came to understand that he was forced to go to Church as a kid and forced to recite bible verses by his parents but no one could explain to him reasons why he should have a relationship with God. Sadly now a grown up, he is confused, he believes nothing but his instincts.
Like this young man, many youths are trapped in a religion they do not understand and they feel forced to believe what they cannot defend. Is it interesting that those who persecuted Jesus were not pagans but teachers of the law of God, they believed in Moses and Abraham but could not recognize the Son of God. The same God, they claim to worship.
DEFINE A CHRISTIAN
The disciples where first called Christians in Antioch in Acts 11:25- 26.
"Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch".
The word “Christian” is used three times in the New Testament (Acts 11:26; 26:28;1 Peter 4:16). The disciples where also called Christians because they identified themselves as followers of Jesus Christ in their behaviour, activity and speech. Christian simply means "follower of Christ".
However, going to Church and being a good person does not make you a Christian. The Bible states in Romans 10:9 that If you declare with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord" and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.This is what makes you a Christian, although you need to believe in your heart. But you need to understand why Christ died to accept Him in your heart. A true Christian is a person who has put faith and trust in the person and work of Jesus Christ, including His death on the cross as payment for sins and His resurrection on the third day. The misunderstanding we have in the Body of Christ is the distinction between THE RELIGIOUS VS THE SAVED.
COMPARE CHRISTIANITY WITH OTHER RELIGIONS
Christianity is the only religion where the worship in the person of the (Holy Spirit) Spirit of Christ resides in the worshiper. He empowers us to live godly lives.
It is the only religion where the Lord of Lords humbled himself to become man, to learn to speak in a language he already knew, to learn to crawl, walk and related with people He already knew. The Word of God was made flesh and dwelled among us (John 1:14).
Christianity is the only religion we are taught to love our enemies. And pray for those who persecute us.
Every other religion teaches us to earn our way to God, Christianity is the only religion that teaches God demonstrated His love for us even while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8).
Other religion have different practices to appease their gods, Christianity is a relationship with our Maker (Psalm 145:18-19).
No other religion has an empty tomb. Christians are the only people who follow a leader who died and came back to life (Mat. 28:6).
He became our substitute, He is our surety(Col 2:13 -14). He became a curse to redeem us. Jesus took upon Himself what belongs to us so that we could receive what belongs to Him.
Therefore, when faced with persecutions, be confident in this; Satan has no authority over the believer in Christ. Christ paid it all in full. He assured us that no trial will test us beyond our ability to bear it, and “he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
To be continued (Part 3) - Defense for being a Christian
One of the most difficult parts of the Christian life, is the fact that becoming a disciple of Christ does not make us immune to life’s trials and tribulations. Jesus did not promise our life will be a bed of roses because we became Christians, but Jesus said be of good courage. He said; "am sending you like sheep among wolves" (Matthew 10:16).
In Acts 21-23 we read Apostle Paul's persecution in Jerusalem. He was arrested, imprisoned, convicted and at various stages called to defend his faith. Its no surprise that Paul was arrested, because Jesus said He is sending us as sheep in the midst of wolves, which implies that we will be treated the way wolves treat sheep. We may be dragged to court, flogged, challenged by governors, have parents and children put to death and strongly despised by many but Jesus assures us - 'I have overcome the world'.
I cannot help but admire Apostle Paul's dedication to the great commission, the bible states in Act 21:1- 15 that though by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit he was warned by the believers at Tyre and at Caesarea by Prophet Agabus of the persecution in Jerusalem, nevertheless Apostle Paul was not frightened. He said "I am ready not only to be tied up in Jerusalem but even to die there for the sake of the Lord Jesus."
Though he was arrested, persecuted and beaten up yet anytime he was called to defend his faith, he will use the opportunity to evangelise. He will speak on the need to be a christian or follow Jesus Christ.
The Bible clearly teaches that God loves those who are His children, and He “works all things together for good” for us (Romans 8:28). This must therefore mean that the trials and tribulations He allows in our lives are part of the working together of all things for good. As a believer, we should accept all trials and tribulations must have a divine purpose. After all the Lord told us to walk by faith and not by sight so in all things, God’s ultimate purpose for us is to grow more and more into the image of His Son (Romans 8:29). It is part of the process of sanctification, being set apart for God’s purposes and fitted to live for His glory.
However, its not pretense that it is not easy to face tribulations and smile. But let the words in Mat. 5:10 be your comfort; "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for their is the kingdom of Heaven."
Believers are commanded to go into the world and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ whether it is comfortable or not, whether there is a societal acceptance or not. The great commission is to spread the Goodnews of Jesus Christ. But how can you preach a message you are not proud of? How can you win souls by the power of the Holy Spirit if you do not know your identity in Christ Jesus? Many Christians do not know why they are Christians. Are you a christian because you were born that way or because your parents take you to Church?
“Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He will sustain you”. -Psalm 55:22 (NASB)
What must we do when facing difficulties, having fears, worries and doubts? Being a Christian does not exempt us from troubles in this life. The Bible tells us of people who had the similar problems we have; Job, David, Ruth, Esther, Paul, Peter and others.
Georg Neumark1, court poet and secretary of archives under Duke Wilhelm II of Saxe-Weimar, has left us the hymn of trust in God: "If Thou But Suffer God To Guide Thee.", written in 1641, at Kiel, when, after being robbed of practically all he possessed except his prayer-book, and later in his life became blind; Neumark had an unexpected opportunity when he obtained employment as tutor in a wealthy family. He was a destitute student at the time. Having more trials in life-heartaches and poverty-, he relied on God’s promise, “Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He will sustain you”. The hymn, one of his best, is about thanking God for His sustenance and for His strengthening him in times of troubles.
Fellow believer, what difficulties do you have today? Are you worried? Cast your burdens upon the Lord, tell Him all about it and He will give you strength to face each day and be able to stand against those trials in life.