Sailing a ship in stormy weather can be hazardous unless the captain has the knowledge and expertise. High winds and enormous waves can cause the ship to sink or shipwreck. Many a vessel has been lost due to treacherous seas. Like the tempest at sea, we are living in a troubled world. However, Jesus said "...in the world you will have tribulation..." (John 16:33) Paul also wrote in 2 Timothy, "...in the last days perilous times will come." (2 Tim. 3:1) Listening to the news we can see that we live in very dangerous, risky and unpredictable days. One who does not have the Lord as his Savior, is generally fearful and fretful. Jesus is our lighthouse, illuminating the path to safety. Through His direction and knowledge from His Word there is hope. (Heb. 13:20-21 "Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to who be glory forever and ever. Amen") In light of the fact of circumstances we face, let's see how our Great Shepherd is characteristic of the lighthouse to us....
Psalms 23 says, "The Lord is my shepherd;" Making Jesus the ruler of your life, places Him as your protector, and watcher of your life. A lighthouse is guidance to safety. Surrendering to Him, just like sheep do to a shepherd, allows Him to be a guide of security. Sheep know the shepherds voice and where He leads they follow, unlike goats that question and butt everything that comes against them. (John 10:4)
"I shall not want." Phil. 4:19 says, "He supplies all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." As your Shepherd, He's going to make sure you have provision for every necessity. His supply is satisfying if we follow Him, as a ship that follows the light from the lighthouse. The Bible also tells us, He will give us the desires of our heart as long as we are delighting in Him. (Ps. 37:4) In the place of every need is supply.
"He makes me to lie down in green pastures;" When sheep lie down it means they are satisfied and content. Because we are in His presence there is fullness of joy we can rest untroubled as well as at peace, "I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety." (Ps. 4:8 & Ps.16:11) Even in the midst of a stormy sea the beacon shines to give us confidence and peace.
"He leads me beside the still waters." We can be sure He's leading us to a place of refreshment and tranquility. When we delight in His Word, as we meditate day and night will place us by the rivers of water which provides sustenance. Therefore, keeping us refreshed and prosperous, quenching our thirst. (Ps. 1:1-3 & Jer. 17:3)
"He restores my soul;" God forgives our iniquities and heals all our diseases. (Ps. 103:3) Regardless of how much we mess up, when we repent He forgives. Because of His infinite mercy and grace we are restored. The Holy Spirit gently signals us during times of struggles to escort us to the sanctuary for redemption.
"He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake." We can depend on the guidance of the Holy Spirit. (John 16:13) He will usher us in the right direction and in safety. His Name is the Lord our Righteousness, Jehovah Tsidkenu. Ps. 32:8 God says, "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye." Keeping our vision focused on Him assures traveling in a sheltered course.
"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death," Life is full of tribulations and temptations. One thing for sure, is we are going to the other side of the problem. But we must remember not to set up camp in depression or sorrow. We are more than an overcomer through Him. Especially when storms are raging, there's trust in His guidance. Pro. 18:30 "As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him."
"I will fear no evil, for You are with me;" Paul wrote, that God didn't give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love and of a sound mind. (2 Tim. 1:7) As long as we abide in the presence of the All Mighty God, we remain in His protection and fear will not affect us. (Ps. 91) Relying on the promise of His faithfulness to never leave or forsake us brings courage and strength. (Deu. 31:6-8) Just like the light signaling lost ships gives hope.
"Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me." God's Word is the instruction we need to get us through our life. In Ps. 119:105, it says, His Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. That means it will point us in the right direction daily and for things to come. If we refer to the Bible everyday, it will teach, correct, and admonish us in living. (2 Ti. 3:16)
"You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;" God is on our side. He will contend with those who contend with us. Although there are enemies, we will not just survive, but feast in the midst of them. We come out on top of situations because of Him. Ps. 18:3 says, we can call upon the Lord, and He will deliver us from our enemies. Our trust and faith in Him, will bring peace with any adversary. (Pr. 16:17)
"You anoint my head with oil;" The anointing of oil upon the head is symbolic of blessing, protection and empowerment. We are sanctified and set apart for Him. (1 Cor. 6:11) We are chosen to proclaim the praises of God. (1 Peter 2:9)
"My cup runs over." Jesus said He came that we might have life and have it more abundantly, overflowing, much more than is expected or needed. This is the blessing that spills over. We are blessed!
"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life;" As long as we remain faithful to God's Word, we shall be in His mercy. Ps. 65:11 says, God crowns the year with His goodness, and richness overflows wherever He is. Steadfastly abiding in the Word and His presence guarantees goodness and mercy.
"And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever." We have guarantee of our place for eternity when Jesus becomes our Lord and Savior. This is a promise of security in eternity.
We want to encourage you to mediate on this scripture and let it become a reality in your heart. Realize that through the Word, God has given us guidance for anything we may face. He encourages us with the promises of provision, protection, healing, blessing, and His benefits. Our failure to recognize these, believe and trust Him, and receive it, puts us at risk in these insecure days. Don't shipwreck because you reject faith and a good conscience. Keep your eyes upon Jesus and sail through to the shore. You can do all things through Him, who gives you strength. (Phil. 4:13)
Do you find yourself overwhelmed or stressed with all the things on your 'To Do' list? With all the decorating, shopping, planning, events and just regular everyday chores, it seems like the list just keeps growing. Not to mention all those that want to help add things to your list.
It's actually easy to get engulfed in feelings of pressure, thinking there's not enough time to get everything done. So, we want to help you enjoy the season and keep you from freaking out in the season. If you'll do the following we know that you'll have a lot more peace and a lot less anxiety!
1. First things first. Put the Lord first in your day. Mark 12:30 says, "And you shall love the Lord your God will all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and will all your strength. This is the first commandment." Love is recognizing and honoring. It's so easy to get distracted and forget God. But we must remember He IS the reason for the season. It's because of His love that we celebrate Christmas. Besides that, you'll find giving Him first place in your day, will produce peace, order and joy!
2. Take moments throughout your day to 'smell the roses'. In other words, slow down! Rushing only causes pressure and stress. Realize the task WILL get done, you WILL get to where you're going, and everything WILL come together. By slowing down you not only give yourself time to enjoy the moments, but generate peace for you and others. Life is short, appreciate it. Eccl. 3:13 "and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor—it is the gift of God."
3. Rejoice, sing and praise God. It is a proven fact that music can affect our behavior and our emotions. Ps. 63:3-5 "Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips shall praise You. Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name, My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness (abundance), and my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips." So listen to some beautiful Christmas music and sing along. This will help create an atmosphere of peace and joy!
Putting forth an effort to do these three things will promote joy and peace. The experience of Christmas, perhaps, will be better than ever before. And although there are challenges, remember Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year!
Breathe, just breathe! Don't let the pressures of the holiday's get to you. Right now it's easy to look at your finances and feel the stress of it all. Wondering how you're going to buy Christmas presents, donate to those favorite charities, and pay all your bills on time. Or perhaps you're considering how much time you've got to get everything done. What ever your dilemma, take a deep breath and trust God. The devil wants to get you anxious and frustrated about things. And the more bothered you are, the less peace you have.
So how can you eliminate troubled thoughts? If you will begin to do the following you will experience the peace of God.
1) Cast all your care upon the Lord for He cares for you! (1 Peter 5:7) This means to throw, toss, or fling your worry over to the Lord. This does not mean in prayer we rehearse all the problems and woes. We must take the thought of concern in prayer to the Lord with the answer from the Word of God. For instance, if you're afraid that you're low in money, in prayer you would find a scripture that confirms God's answer to your need. Phil. 4:19 "And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." would be one of the scriptures you could validate for God's provision to you. Praying using this scripture not only builds faith in God, but proves His answer to your problem.
2) "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths." (Ps. 3:5-6) Full trust is confidence in someone. It's believing without any doubt that they will do what they said. We must arrive at the place of taking our perceptions and view them through the Word of God. That means if you are looking at your situation through the eyes of past insufficiencies, you have to cast those imaginations down, bringing your thoughts into focus with God's promise. Remember, "He is able to make all grace abound unto you that you having all sufficiency in all things, will abound to every good work." (2 Cor. 9:8) By recognizing your need for God's intervention you unlock the paths of His direction.
3) "By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name." (Heb. 13:15) Now it's time to exercise faith. When we believe something we act like we do! We need to give praise and thanks to God for something, even if it hasn't happened yet. This exercises our belief that we already have received it by faith. Since God operates by faith, just as He releases faith in His words, so must we. Declaring His Word over our circumstance is proving we believe and agree.
Remember the thief (the devil) comes to steal, kill, and destroy. But Jesus said He came to give life and give it more abundantly. This 'Life' comes from the Word of God - it's our source to live in victory. Using these scriptures will activate faith, reveal your submission to God, and help you resist the devil's stress. Thus JOY and peace come and you have deflated the Holiday pressures.
Pastors Michael & Ginny Gulotta
Pro. 11:25 "The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself."