Four in the Furnace

In Daniel chapter 3, is the story of the three young men Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and their brush with the fiery furnace. These young men had been through a lot.  Back in chapter 1 we read how they were ripped from their home in Jerusalem, at a young age, when the King of Babylon raided and destroyed their city.  They were marched as prisoners across the desert and held against their will in the palace, along with Daniel and other young men who were selected to learn the Babylonian culture.  They were to be trained and educated in this new society. They were given new names, and basically in a failed attempt, the King of Babylon tried to brainwash them.  He wanted them to turn their back on their God, The God of Heaven.  But Daniel and the three stood their ground, refusing to eat from the King’s table and resisting the attempts of the court officials. The Bible tells us they resolved themselves not to be defiled.

Now in chapter 3 we find these three men still held on to a strong resolve.  They were bold in their faith.  They would not deny their God, no matter what the cost. King Nebuchadnezzar made a proclamation to the whole country in front of all the officials he had summoned together. Each and every person was to bow to his newly erected statue of gold or burn in the furnace.  And in no way, shape or form would he stand for it when these men would defy his order.

The three were called out after they were the only people in the crowd left standing on their feet. Everyone else was face down on their knees worshipping the statue.  So the King ordered them to be brought before him.   He gave them one last chance to concede, but they stood tall and strong and still refused to bow. Here’s what they said, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand.   But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18)

The King was not too happy and ordered the furnace be cranked up; 7 times hotter than usual.  I can’t imagine how those young men must have felt at this moment.  But if you think about it, this just makes God’s miracle that much bigger!  He also ordered the strongest soldiers in his army to tie them up.  I believe God wanted us to know this detail.  He specifically told us it was the strongest soldiers so that we would see that it doesn’t matter how big our problem is, how big our stronghold is or how big the issue is we are wrestling with.  God has a plan.  If you feel like you are about to be heading into a fiery furnace don’t panic.  If you are in a fiery furnace right at this moment DO NOT GIVE UP!!! God has a plan.  You may not be able to see what He is doing, but He is working things out and you are about to see His plan unfold.  You are about to be rescued!!!

In verse 21, Daniel records how these three friends had on all their clothes, their turbans, pants and robes. Again, I believe God makes sure we know these details because of what we are going to learn after they come out of the blaze……. But first let’s check out the furnace.  While still bound they were thrown in the furnace.  Remember it’s 7 times hotter than usual.  But when the King observed them inside the furnace they were untied, and unharmed. And there was not only 3 but 4 men; the King himself saw the fourth man.  Why was Jesus in there with them? Because He is always with us.  It doesn’t matter if we are in a pit, in a fiery furnace, in a Den of Lion’s, in the midst of an illness, a death or any other difficult or trying time in our life; Jesus, the Lover of our Soul is always by our side.

Now back to the clothes.  When they came out of the furnace they were not burned they were not scorched and they did not have the smell of fire on them.  Hallelujah!!! God showed us that they were fully dressed so that we can see how large this miracle is.  If they had only been wearing a small covering the proof of God’s protection would not have been as evident; there was not even the smell of smoke; right down to their turbans.  And because of their faithfulness and trust in the God of heaven this is what happened with the King.

 Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.”

 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon. (Daniel 3:29-30)

If your problem is overwhelming and your furnace is hot, do not be afraid.  Do not be discouraged.  Stand in your faith like these 3 young men; who knew that no matter what, they would refuse to back down.  They refused to kneel down.  They stood out in the crowd.  Although every other person fell to their knees, these 3 stood strong and confident.  They believed that no matter how our Lord chose to work this out, it was His decision and for His glory!!!

Do you trust God to work out your furnace issues in His way?

Sometimes God allows us to walk through a fiery furnace without feeling any heat.  But other times the flames are hot and we’re surrounded.  Our mindset has to be in that place of surrender.  The same place Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego found themselves right after they were brought before the King.  A place of trusting God with whatever outcome occurs.  The lyrics from the new Mercy Me song play over in my mind when I think about these seasons of life.

I know You’re able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone

They say it only takes a little faith
To move a mountain
Good thing
A little faith is all I have right now
But God, when You choose
To leave mountains unmovable
Give me the strength to be able to sing
It is well with my soul

When the fires of life test and refine us, we must cling to Jesus, our Hope, and believe that He is with us and no matter what happens, He will NEVER leave our side!!!

Cindy Montgomery, New Beginnings Outreach Ministries

 

 

 

 

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Cast Your Cares

If you are reading this and you worry too much raise your hand.  Did you know worrywart is an actual word?  It’s in the dictionary.  Yes, that’s right, I really thought it was just some made up word that we use.  Turns out its real and it’s defined as, a person who worries too much or who worries about things that are not important. This describes me.  I am such a worrywart.   At times, I actually catch my mind racing, with worries- jumping from one thing to another.   And before I even realize what I’m doing, I find myself over thinking things to the point of emotional and mental exhaustion.

I feel like I seek God, and I make a fairly good attempt to have balance in my walk.  I try to make Him a priority.  But, it seems like no matter how much effort I put out this issue with worry always creeps back in.  I worry about so many things.  I worry about my husband, my kids and my grandkids.  I worry about my friends and finances, my job, my house, my car, my pets and spiritual battles.  I worry if maybe I upset someone or offended them and oh yes, my heater in my office at work. Did I leave it on?  I’m a little OCD and that’s the appliance I am currently focused on.  (Its changed several times over the years).  And if there aren’t any issues going on around me, I’ll find something to worry on.

I’ve read books, Battlefield of the Mind and other books that have helped me learn how to be healthier emotionally and how to work through spiritual warfare and low self-esteem, but worry seems to be that issue I keep struggling with.  Hmmm- I keep struggling with.  Maybe “I” should stop struggling and allow God a little room to get into this fight.

1 Peter 5:7 says, Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (NIV) and Psalm 55:22 says, Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.

Cast…. This word just makes me think of fishing.  I have a lot of good memories of fishing with my Mamaw and Papaw when I was a child.  I fish with my husband now.  I’m not too bad either (Although, he might have a different opinion). Never once have I cast and thought it was for nothing.  I always, always cast out with a feeling of anticipation and I always expect this to be the time I catch the big one.  Each time I cast I don’t get upset or angry I just always cast again with expectation.

Why then do I have such a hard time casting my cares on Jesus?  Do I not expect Him to take them?  Do I not trust Him to deal with them as well as I will?  His word says He will take them and sustain me…… It sounds to me like I have a trust issue.  Here’s the crazy thing.  I trust Him, I do.  I know I do.  I have faith bigger than a mustard seed.  I’m sure of this because He told me so. And I know beyond any doubt; He is all I will ever need. But I’ve learned to trust Him with the big things.  I’m your girl in a crisis.  I am going to allow God to flood into that situation and I am going to set my mind on Him and keep it fixed there.  But it’s the little things I worry with.  The things that may or may not turn into a real problem.  The things that might become a crisis, but aren’t even an issue yet.

One version of God’s word tells me in 1 Peter 5:7 to cast the whole of my cares and another says all my cares.  He doesn’t tell me to pick and choose which cares.  Or only the ones I think He can handle.  I need to give Him every single care.  By holding on to some of my cares I give the enemy power in that area to use it as a weapon against me; against my mind.

As I continue to walk this journey with Jesus I’m going to begin to put into action these verses in Philippians.

 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6-7

When these worries begin to flood my mind I’m going to present them to the Lord.  All the little things (not just the big things).  If I become more aware of this process then verse 6 tells me God’s peace that I can’t fully understand will guard my heart and mind.  I will have a peaceful mind and a more productive walk.  My anxiety will decrease and my trust will increase.  Jesus wants to flood our lives with His presence.  He wants us to live a happy productive life.  He never promised I wouldn’t have problems.  But there is a difference in things that happen out of my control and things I create that affect me.  Being a worrywart definitely falls under the category of something I create.

The same way I cast when I fish, I am going to cast my worries. And believe He will replace my worry with Peace.  And if I feel myself letting the worry creep back in I will not get upset at myself or God I will do what any dedicated fisherman does.  I will simply cast again.  Expecting big results each time.

When you trust Jesus with all your worries you:

C- Cancel

A- Anxiety

S- Stress and

T- Turmoil

Cindy Montgomery, Women’s Leader, New Beginnings Outreach Ministries

 

 

 

Your baggage belongs to Jesus

John 4:1-26

Baggage is something we all carry.  I’m not referring to a suitcase. I’m talking about emotional baggage.  Heavy burdens that come in all shapes and sizes.  These things can become very cumbersome to carry, weighing us down to the point of stifling us.  Most of us have spent awhile collecting these things. The load can get so heavy at times we have to stop right where we are, taking a moment to rest and readjust the weight. Other times we try and seek relief with things like alcohol, drugs, food, shopping or even relationships; but that isn’t healthy and it only gives us temporary relief; the key word is temporary.  We find moving forward with our lives and making healthy decisions difficult, when all we can really think about is this giant load we’re dragging around and the pain we feel.  It can be exhausting.

We also carry small pieces of baggage.  You know, the ones other people can’t see but we know they’re there.  We do a good job hiding them so nobody sees us carrying them.  Sometimes our pockets get so full, nothing else will fit.  We walk around uncomfortable all the time afraid someone might get a glimpse of what we’re trying so hard to hide.

And lastly, the baggage we didn’t realize we were still carrying.   We’ve gotten so used to the way it feels we sort of forgot all about it.  Then we run into someone we haven’t seen for a while and we’re thrown into a situation that takes us back to a place, in our mind, we thought we would never go again.  Then the issue suddenly rears its ugly head.

If any of these scenarios sound like you and you’re tired of carrying this heavy load, look no further, I have an answer for you.  A permanent solution.  The same man who carried a heavy cross up Calvary’s mountain, can and will carry your baggage.  Jesus doesn’t care who you are.  He doesn’t care where you’ve been and He doesn’t care what you have done.  The amazing thing is He loves us and He WANTS to do this for you.  Most importantly- He gave up His life, to do this for you.

In John Chapter 4, we read about Jesus meeting the woman at the well.  She could not understand why he was talking with her and asking her for a drink of water; she was a Samaritan and Jews didn’t associate with Samaritans.  Jesus didn’t care, He was offering her a new way of life. Regardless of who she was and regardless of what she had done.

Verses 16-18 Read as follows, He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back. I have no husband,” she replied.  Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband.  The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

This woman was no doubt carrying baggage.  After 5 relationships that had ended for one reason or another.  Her baggage may have been getting pretty heavy.  But God…..

Our Heavenly Father doesn’t care where we’ve been, He cares where we are headed and how we feel while we get there.

If you are carrying around a heavy load, stop…… He will meet you right where you are and you can lay it at His feet.  If you have concealed baggage let God reach in and take it away.  You’re secret pocket where you carry around the things you hide from the world; is no secret to Him…..Give Him permission to reach in and He will take it.  And, ask Him to reveal all your hidden baggage. You may not even realize you’re still hauling it around.

The Bible says in Matthew 11:28 (NKJV), Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  The definition of heavy-laden is 1. Loaded with great weight.  And 2. Burdened with grievous cares.

And 1 Peter 5:7 (NLT) says, Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

What happened to the woman at the well? She believed and received.  She accepted His offer of living water and handed over her burdens.  And in verses 39-42 we read, Many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus because the woman had said, “He told me everything I ever did!”  When they came out to see him, they begged him to stay in their village. So he stayed for two days, long enough for many more to hear his message and believe. Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard him ourselves. Now we know that he is indeed the Savior of the world.”

Jesus paid the price for our sins; He paid for our freedom. Don’t we owe it to Him to stop trying to live our life on our own and allow Him to have His way……

He carried the cross. He can carry your baggage!!!

Cindy Montgomery, New Beginnings Outreach Ministries

Perplexed But Not Desperate

2 Corinthians 4:4-16

I had the privilege to speak in church a few weeks ago.  I say privilege because any time I get to talk about Jesus it’s exciting.  I love sharing the love and blessings He has poured out on me with others.  Although, I have to step out of my comfort zone because I am not a public speaker; when the Lord lays something on my heart I feel like I’m going to burst and I push through the feelings of not wanting to talk in front of a group because I know it’s what He’s asking me to do.  I choose to be obedient because He sufficiently broke me, which is a good thing, and all I want is to walk in obedience the rest of my days.

But, since the day after I spoke, January 25, 2017, to be exact I have been attacked, beaten down and targeted from all sides and every angle.  I have been sick physically as well as many other issues.   This has caused me to use my most proven battle tactic and a phrase I tell myself is the best thing to do during times of crisis, “Stop, Drop and PRAY!!!

Even though I have been seeking Him and trusting Him to work all these things out for good.  I feel a bit overwhelmed.  Just when I think I’ve got this down, I have to suffer through some more growing pains.  Which is never pleasant.  The enemy will sometimes come at us from a different front too.  And then what, foreign territory.  An attack we weren’t expecting and from out of nowhere.  What do we do?

We praise God for teaching and instructing us and allowing us to grow in a new area.  We tell the enemy of this world that although this is new territory for us, it is not new territory for our Father.  We don’t allow the enemy of this world to gain ground in our lives and we keep our eyes on Jesus.

I was feeling perplexed which means 1. Filled with confusion or bewilderment; puzzled.  2. Full of complications or difficulty; involved.* adjective puzzled, confused, stumped, baffled, bewildered, mixed up, muddled, bemused, confounded, mystified, fazed, dumfounded, nonplussed, befuddled, flummoxed. Mentally uncertain addled, adulated, confounded, confused, muddle-headed, turbid.

Then I realized it was time to take a stand with a boldness of the Holy Spirit that the Lord has filled me with.  Verse 8 in 1 Corinthians 4, tells me that even though I am perplexed I am not driven to despair.  And that even though I am pressed on every side by troubles I will not be crushed.  If you believe Gods word to be truth then you have to believe this, receive this and stand on this.

I am choosing to stand up, even though I have felt like sitting down.  I am choosing to raise up my shield of faith. And through that act I will be protected from ALL the flaming arrows of the evil one, (see Ephesians 6).  Even as I write this, my perplexed feeling is fading and a feeling of strength is rising up within me, because God has promised to give strength to the weak. Remember,…… we are fragile, God is not,  we are weak, God is not, we are broken, God is not, we are lost, we are troubled, we are bruised and desperate, but God is not. Therefore, we have overcome all these things because we are made perfect in HIM.

I decided to share this because God deserves all glory!!!  And just when the enemy thinks I’m getting defeated I will stand up and claim a victory for the Lord!!!  Our eyes should not rest on our current troubles but on the promises of our Father and the certain victory that awaits.

Pray with me.  Father God, Let your Holy Spirit fill us up to overflowing with a boldness, with a peace and with courage and strength.  Let us feel Your presence settle on us and saturate us through and through.  Even though we face difficulties in this life, use these circumstances to mold us into people you can use to bring you glory.  Give us wisdom and discernment to know how to handle these situations and struggles in a way that is pleasing to you.  Your word tells us, You did not make us with a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind.  Let us rest in and believe on those words as we face life’s problems.  Let us place all our trust in You.  In Jesus Precious Name We Pray, Amen.

Cindy Montgomery, New Beginnings Outreach Ministries, Women’s Ministry Leader

Living in the Light

1 John 1:5-7, in the NIV says, This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all[b] sin.

Have you ever been surrounded by total darkness.  I mean literally total darkness.  It’s something we don’t often experience.  There’s usually some form of light making its way into the darkness.  Either the moon, a street light or the light from a distant house or oncoming vehicle.  There are occasions however, where we find ourselves surrounded by a total blackout.  I’ve been there; feeling my way along a wall for that much sought after light switch.  Or in the event of a power outage, for candle and matches or a flashlight, because suddenly we are in desperate need of a source of light.

When we choose to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior suddenly He becomes our source of light. I think of it like this.  If we are standing in the dark with our eyes closed and the light is turned on.  We won’t see the light unless we open our eyes.  The same thing happens when we receive Jesus.  The light of the Lord will shine into our lives but if we fail to open the eyes of our heart we won’t be able to see His light.   The light will be there but we won’t be taking advantage of it.  We have to learn to shed our old habits and let God have full access to our lives if we want some necessary changes to occur and develop a habit of living in His light.

I was one of those people who chose Jesus, but then walked around in darkness. It wasn’t complete darkness; not a total blackout, but I had just enough light to see.  I decided what areas of my life I was going to share with God, instead of letting Him have access to every part of me.  I wasn’t able to accept His forgiveness and accept the truth; He cares about every part of me.  Even the broken parts.  Those parts I was ashamed of and wanted to keep in the dark, God desired to shine His light in those areas and fix my brokenness.

We allow things like shame, complacency, pride, addiction, oppression, chaos, judgmental attitudes, disbelief, misunderstandings, and low self-esteem, should I go on? To simmer in our lives.  All of these things, all these lies, these imperfections are not of God and it is not in His plan for our life.  Those things are darkness and in Him these is no darkness.  By learning to allow Him to shine in every area of our life He exposes hidden sin, lies we have believed and all the things we struggle with. He wants us to invite Him in to those area, exposing everything with light and He cleans up the mess.

Are we being completely honest with ourselves about our fellowship with Him? It can become a way of life to lie to ourselves about the condition of our relationship with our Savior.  We can become complacent.  Are we living in truth, or is our life shrouded in false truths?  In how much darkness are we walking?  I believe by reading these verses in 1 John no amount of darkness should be acceptable to us as believers, we should strive to be in and of the Light.

After much prayer and self-examination I now choose to walk in the light, I now choose to walk in the truth, I choose to face God full on and trust me it’s a beautiful picture.  Turning to face Him, exposing all the areas of my life, allowing Him to have complete and total access and spending time to make sure He is first, is the best decision I could ever have made for my relationship with my Savior. It was a process.  And it’s a choice I have to make every day because I am stubborn, I get distracted very easily and I get lazy.  Thankfully he doesn’t see my failures and imperfections. I know, I am a work in progress and His word says, He delights in me!

Begin to speak positive things into your own life.  Say and believe, I decree and declare, I am a child of God.  I am marked and sealed in Him.  I am precious in His eyes. He is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.   I believe He is the light of the world and in Him there is no darkness at all.   I will surrender every part of my life to Him.  Empty me out of me and fill me up with you God!!!

Here’s the thing….Jesus died on the cross for you (and me).  He didn’t die so we could walk around saved yet stumbling along in the darkness.  He not only wants the lost to be saved, He wants the saved to live in victory.  Victory won’t come unless you expose the lies, unless you stop trying to do this life on your own and realize He is what gives our lives beauty and meaning; HE IS LIFE!!!  He knows all the secrets you carry, he has already seen every dark corner but He wants you to invite Him to turn on the Light.

You are the desire of His heart, make Him the desire of yours and let His light shine in!!!

Cindy Montgomery, New Beginning’s Outreach Ministry Women’s Leader

JESUS

Jesus, God’s Son, sent as His gift to the world.  His gift to each of us.  How many times we’ve heard His name.  But, just how often do we stop, really stop and drink it all in. And think about His life…..

His birth was foretold through many prophecies in the Old Testament including Isaiah 7:14, Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (KJV)

Most people whether you’re a parent or not have held a newborn infant in their arms.  Jesus, was once a newborn infant tiny, fragile and he smelled like a new baby.  He cried when he was hungry or uncomfortable just like every other baby ever born.  His mother, experienced the emotion of holding her child for the first time.  She looked down into his tiny little face and fell in love. I’m sure the magnitude of the importance this child would play on the world was in her mind……. But I also can imagine as she looked into that tiny face she simply saw her infant son.

Her baby would be named Jesus because an angel had told Joseph this when he appeared to Mary’s betrothed.  So on the baby’s eighth day of life according the Law in Leviticus 12, He was taken to the temple by Mary and Joseph, circumcised and officially given the name Jesus.  Also, according to this law they were to present a year old lamb for burnt offering for the purification process.  If she cannot afford a lamb she is to bring two doves or two young pigeons.  In Luke 24, God’s word tells us Jesus parents presented two doves or two young pigeons for the burnt offering.  It seems by this scripture that even though God could have chosen His son be born into the most wealthy and financially stable home in this world, He chose a humble family.  How profound, the Mother of the Savior of the world took the least expensive of the sacrifices.

He grew, and I’m sure in the eyes of His mother He grew quickly.  I imagine He experienced everything a toddler experiences, including bumps, bruises and mischief.  I wonder if Mary guarded Him ever more carefully because she knew He was God’s son.

The Bible doesn’t speak much about His adolescent years. But each year His family would travel three days from their home in Nazareth to Jerusalem to celebrate the Festival of the Passover.  In Luke 2, he writes about what happened on the trip the year Jesus was twelve.  And to make a long story short, He was lost from His parents for three days.  And after looking everywhere they found Him in the temple.  I can just imagine, as a mother, Mary couldn’t decide whether to scoop Him up and hug Him or box His ears for scaring her so badly.  But Jesus answered, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know I was in my Father’s house?”  Jesus was Mary and Joseph’s child but He was God’s Son. In Luke 2:51, he tells us Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.

When He was 30 He began His ministry, He was baptized by John and spent the next forty days fasting.  Then He was tempted and tempted and tempted again. But He stood strong and showed us that His battle was fought and won by using the words of His father.  And His faithfulness made Him stronger.

I don’t think there are big enough words to describe his ministry.  The beauty, the stories, the healing and miracles.  His teaching; we can read and re-read and each time learn and grow.  His parables impact our lives still today and can be compared to almost every situation we find ourselves in.  Seeking Him, desiring Him, having a passion for Him makes our lives worth living.

I think I will end there…..We should think on His life.  The Baby, The Child, The Man.  The Teacher, The Preacher, The Healer, The Master, Immanuel,  The Lamb of God, The Anointed One,  The Son of God, His gift to the World.  His gift to you.

 Cindy Montgomery, New Beginning’s Outreach Ministries Women’s Ministry Leader

Sink, Swim or Walk on the Water

Matthew 14:22-33 (NIV)

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?”

32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Many times in my life I have felt like Peter.  Some time ago I made the decision to step out of the boat.  I no longer wanted to stay in that place of safety. (Anytime we choose to go deeper with God there are always some growing pains involved.)  I decided to get out and walk toward Jesus. The desire of my heart was to move closer and closer toward Him.  However, there was a time I began to feel myself sink.  Just like Peter, I doubted.  I doubted myself and, although it’s painful to admit, I doubted Him.  When the storm began raging the wind distracted me. But then He spoke in that familiar voice and got my attention; He reached out took a hold of my hand and pulled me back up.

There was another time I started to sink, but this time He remained silent for just a bit.  He knew there was something in me that had to be accomplished.  Once I sank down deep enough I had to start swimming. I flailed around, struggling to keep my head above water.  It felt like I was swimming forever.  I just couldn’t quite figure out how to get myself back up on the surface of the water. What was Jesus doing while I was battling the waves and current?

I believe He was watching and waiting on me.  Waiting for me to surrender and stop fighting.  To realize how tiring it is to try and do life on my own.  Waiting for that moment when He knew I was ready to stop trying to save myself and take His hand.

It’s those times in our life God uses to grow our faith.  When we learn to rely on Him and seek Him in the good times and the bad; whether the sun is out or we’re in the midst of a terrible storm. To declare that He is the Lord of each and every part of our lives.

After we go through the sink and swim process, this is where it gets really good. Walking on the water.  To trust Him and not doubt, to have courage and not be afraid.  Once we learn Jesus is all we need, walking on water come as naturally as walking on solid ground.  The distractions of the wind and waves, those distractions of the world fade away in the power of His presence.

If you choose to stay in the boat your relationship with Him won’t grow deeper. If you want to develop that personal connection you have to go to Him. But remember without Him we sink, we swim and eventually we drown.

Your courage comes when you place all your trust in Him.  Get out of the boat, take His hand and walk.

Cindy Montgomery, New Beginnings Outreach Ministries, Women’s Leader