. . . You of little faith . . .

Jesus uses these three words 13 times in 6 verses (NIV)

you of little faith

Matthew 14:22–31 (NIV)

Jesus Walks on the Water

14:22–33pp—Mk 6:45–51; Jn 6:16–21
14:34–36pp—Mk 6:53–56

22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

29 “Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

My Thoughts:

The first thought which comes to mind, I believe is what so many others say.  When Peter took his attention away from Christ, he began to sink.  Moreover, so much of that is true.  I would guess that most of us, when we feel we are struggling most, if we look back we had a gradual reduced role of Christ in our lives.

A second thought which hits me, one that Christ had even spoke of, is isn’t it amazing how the disciples had Christ right with them, in the boat and more, but still had troubling getting past all the limitations of trust we either are seemingly born with or learn as we grow into adults.

There is so much to gather from the Bible, but sometimes I really like to bring it down to its simplest form.  We can try to be a “Christian” all the time or simpler, we can always work on putting our faith in him, focusing on him and letting the outcomes take care of themselves.  Remember the number one commandment or greatest:

Matthew 22:37–38 (NIV)

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  38 This is the first and greatest commandment.

If we can just practice these – I truly believe we cannot worry about the rest.

Amen

 

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The New Heaven and the New Earth

Revelation 21:1–8 (ESV)

The New Heaven and the New Earth

21 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

Verses 1–8
The new heaven and the new earth will not be separate from each other; the earth of the saints, their glorified, bodies, will be heavenly. The old world, with all its troubles and tumults, will have passed away. There will be no sea; this aptly represents freedom from conflicting passions, temptations, troubles, changes, and alarms; from whatever can divide or interrupt the communion of saints. This new Jerusalem is the church of God in its new and perfect state, the church triumphant. Its blessedness came wholly from God, and depends on him. The presence of God with his people in heaven, will not be interrupt as it is on earth, he will dwell with them continually. All effects of former trouble shall be done away. They have often been in tears, by reason of sin, of affliction, of the calamities of the church; but no signs, no remembrance of former sorrows shall remain. Christ makes all things new. If we are willing and desirous that the gracious Redeemer should make all things new in order hearts and nature, he will make all things new in respect of our situation, till he has brought us to enjoy complete happiness. See the certainty of the promise. God gives his titles, Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, as a pledge for the full performance. Sensual and sinful pleasures are muddy and poisoned waters; and the best earthly comforts are like the scanty supplies of a cistern; when idolized, they become broken cisterns, and yield only vexation. But the joys which Christ imparts are like waters springing from a fountain, pure, refreshing, abundant, and eternal. The sanctifying consolations of the Holy Spirit prepare for heavenly happiness; they are streams which flow for us in the wilderness. The fearful durst not meet the difficulties of religion, their slavish fear came from their unbelief; but those who were so dastardly as not to dare to take up the cross of Christ, were yet so desperate as to run into abominable wickedness. The agonies and terrors of the first death will lead to the far greater terrors and agonies of eternal death.  Henry, M. & Scott, T., 1997. Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems.

Epilogue of Jim Bickford – My Friend

Last night I chased down a common friend of Jim’s and me.  I emailed him looking for some clarity for Jim’s passing, he was so young and with so much hope, so I thought.

It was as I suspected, Jim did have something chasing him, chasing him since I knew him.  It was chasing him hard and he ran, but it caught up with him at a weak moment.  He fought it hard and I believe was the motivation behind his books.  He was yelling his pain, but with hope.  Hope that if he could help you, he could help himself.

I don’t know why his books have not succeeded to the level so many other books that are not nearly as good.  With all the hope he was trying to grab of ours, he let go of his.

This revelation hurts my soul because I was nowhere in sight to help pull him through.  I feel as though I let him down by letting him go at this all alone, well without me.  This may have been what he wanted, but I am a better friend than that, I wish.

He was not married, I don’t ever even remember him having a girlfriend, no kids either I don’t believe. I do know he had a mom and a sister. He had just lost his dad before I met him at DCT.  The things I know about him are too few to few even to count, but I know I have one less friend, one less confidant.

As you read these words, I hope you are, I pray you will take a dime or two and look up his books, own them too and let Jim know that his hope is our hope too.

God Bless!

1. American Dreams Collection

2. Las Vegas Dreams

3. American Comeback

 

Run to Win . . .

1 Corinthians 9:24–27 (ESV)

24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.

25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

My Thoughts:  I believe we all are trying, but many of along the way may get tired, frustrated, worn out because sometimes being a Christian seems like we are walking uphill while wearing wet boots in the sand.  Yet, Paul recognizes the flesh pulls on our habits and behaviors and relates it to us in Romans 7:15 +

Sermon: Run to Win


Romans 7:15–8:18 (ESV)

15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

A belated goodbye and an advanced hello

I have a friend, this friend and I don’t talk much, don’t see each other much, but we always knew, it was just a matter of a phone call and we would be there for each other. He was a dreamer, I loved that about him and he wrote three books about dreamers: The American Dream, @The Las Vegas Dreams and The American Comeback. He even quoted me in his first book unknowingly and my quote has floated around the web and even got published in a book.

He was always inspirational, always overcoming the impossible. For example, he was just this guy and this guy interviewed personally some of the most successful business people in the world. He got their undivided attention and was able to interview them. He told me about a time when a big o’l limo picked him up from the airport. Then, in the middle of the interview the batteries in his recorder went dead and they interviewee, took it with stride and got him new batteries.

Over the years, we communicated less and less, but I was always checking in on his activity and seeing how he was doing. The last time I saw him personally was back in 2008, our company had a convention in Las Vegas and Jim and I got together. In the lobby of the hotel, Robin Leach walked by, Jim asked me if I wanted to meet him, I wish I had said yes.

The nicest person I ever met, the greatest dreamer, the greatest author, an inspiration. I went to his FB page and noticed that someone said something to him as in the passing. I reached out to people he worked with and did not get a response back – very quickly. I had this underlying fear; he had died and did not tell me. I searched the web for any information and could not confirm him being alive or having passed.

Today, I went to check again and noticed that the owner of the company I had sent a question to concerning Jim’s health had responded with a confirmation that Jim in fact had passed a couple years prior.

It brings tears to my eyes and my heart, I missed him before but even more now knowing the next time I need him here, he won’t be there. But more so, is I feel guilty because I don’t know what he was up against, why a man of seemingly good health in his 50’s died. I wonder if he knew something was up the last time I spoke to him. I wonder if he knew the entire time, I knew him.

I pray for my friend and I pray I will see him again in heaven, for I believe he probably is writing something for Jesus and I expect it to be good. God Bless you Jim!!

Amen.

Links to his books on Amazon:

Las Vegas Dreams

The American Dreams Collection

The American Comeback

Judgment Before the Great White Throne

 

Revelation 20:11–15 (ESV)

Judgment Before the Great White Throne

11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Verses 11–15

After the events just foretold, the end will speedily come; and there is no mention of any thing else, before the appearing of Christ to judge the world. This will be the great day: the Judge, the Lord Jesus Christ, will then put on majesty and terror. The persons to be judged are the dead, small and great; young and old, low and high, poor and rich. None are so mean, but they have some talents to account for; and none so great, as to avoid having to account for them. Not only those alive at the coming of Christ, but all the dead. There is a book of remembrance both for good and bad: and the book of the sinner’s conscience, though formerly secret, will then be opened. Every man will recollect all his past actions, though he had long forgotten many of them. Another book shall be opened, the book of the Scriptures, the rule of life; it represents the Lord’s knowledge of his people, and his declaring their repentance, faith, and good works; showing the blessings of the new covenant. By their works men shall be justified or condemned; he will try their principles by their practices. Those justified and acquitted by the gospel, shall be justified and acquitted by the Judge, and shall enter into eternal life, having nothing more to fear from death, or hell, or wicked men; for these are all destroyed together. This is the second death; it is the final separation of sinners from God. Let it be our great concern to see whether our Bibles justify or condemn us now; for Christ will judge the secrets of all men according to the gospel. Who shall dwell with devouring flames?

 

Henry, M. & Scott, T., 1997. Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems.

The Defeat of Satan

Revelation 20:7–10 (ESV)

The Defeat of Satan

And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, 10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

Verses 7–10
While this world lasts, Satan’s power in it will not be wholly destroyed, though it may be limited and lessened. No sooner is Satan let loose, than he again begins deceiving the nations, and stirring them up to make war with the saints and servants of God. It would be well if the servants and ministers of Christ were as active and persevering in doing good, as his enemies in doing mischief. God will fight this last and decisive battle for his people, that the victory may be complete, and the glory be to himself.  Henry, M. & Scott, T., 1997. Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems.

A Reminder . . .

James 4:11–12 (ESV)

11 Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12 There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?