Raging Storm

Matthew 8: 18, 23 – 26

Now when Jesus saw a crowd around Him, He gave orders to depart to the other side . . . and when He got into the boat, His disciples followed Him. And behold, there arose a great storm in the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves; but He himself was asleep. And they came to Him, and awoke Him saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing!” And He said to them, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” Then He arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and it became perfectly calm.

Let me ask you a question today. Do you think when Jesus got into the boat, he knew there would be a storm? As we stop and ponder this situation, I bet a lot of us would expect that Jesus was aware a storm was coming. He was prophetic after all. I mean, how does he not know? If we presume he did know a storm was coming, then how rational does it sound to lay down and take a nap? I mean, knowing a big storm was coming, a storm capable of capsizing the boat, he went to sleep. We know it was a big storm because the waves were threatening to swamp the boat. Also, the disciples tell us they were “perishing.”

When he was aroused, he was nonchalant. The disciples must have been amazed, dumbfounded, and infuriated. “We’re dying here, and he is bothered that we awoke him? Really?” It gets worse for them, though. He was bemused to have been awaken for something as trivial as a life-threatening storm. He chastised them for having so little faith. The God’s Word version says it even more plainly, “Jesus said to them, “Why do you cowards have so little faith?”

What did he expect to happen? Did he expect to get to sleep all the way to the other shore even knowing that a tempest would assault the boat? Apparently, he did. Do you find this baffling?

It seems clear that he expected his disciples to take care of the storm. The humor in the situation is that he has just spoken on anxiety, but I don’t think his disciples would have considered a raging storm mere anxiety. Their lives were in peril. Jesus, though, sounded annoyed that they didn’t handle the storm themselves. “Why have you so little faith that you feel the need to awaken me?” None the less, he spoke to the wind and the sea and the sea became perfectly calm.

Verse 27 reads, “And the men marveled, saying, “What kind of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?” Jesus’ response can be found in John 14: 12, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to the Father.”

There is a lesson here. What is Jesus saying to us today?

Renewal

Psalm 13

How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart all the day? How long will my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O LORD my God; enlighten my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death, and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my adversaries will rejoice when I am shaken. But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, because He has dealt bountifully with me.

Throughout the Covid crisis, I have tried to write to the needs created by the virus outbreak. Of course, each person is at a different place in situation, emotions and their walk with God. Still, there have been outstanding sentiments which, have washed through the world, affecting many. At first it was fear and panic yielding the resultant shortages. Then there was resignation and accompanied by increasing faith, followed by prayer and courage. Interspersed in there was a second wave of fear as people lost their jobs or were temporarily furloughed. Through each of these stages we have reached out to our God for comfort and strength. Many people will be able to testify about how God embraced them during the tough times. However, we have now reached the hardest stage of all, uncertainty. Should we begin to return our lives to something that resembles normal or not? What are the costs and benefits?

That is a challenging question for which I do not presume to have an answer. What I have noticed, though, is rising emotions flooding the country. Fear has given way to anger. I believe this anger is born of frustration and loss. There are many different kinds of loss; jobs, activities, freedom of movement, and so on. Of course, in the midst of the challenge each person is experiencing, I cannot forget those who grieve for loved ones who have died from Covid-19. In the beginning, we all were in the same boat, none of us knowing what tomorrow would hold. Now we have diverged in our experience and our loss. Those divergent experiences are becoming increasingly divisive. We are becoming politicized in our separation, even amongst Christians.

Our need is, therefore, great. Whereas we stood as one people locked in battle against a common enemy, we have now become splintered. People’s hearts are more aggrieved now than in the beginning because of the isolation. Physical separation has given way to emotional and ideological separation. People are hurting and the anger you hear in the marketplace of ideas is the rejoinder to that intense stress response. By now, even people’s physiology will be reacting to the increased tension.

Fortunately, we have a remedy. Here is the way to take care of yourself. Please pass this on to anyone and everyone, but especially those who you notice expressing intense emotions. First, there is no pill, prescription, method or remedy better than our Lord. Entering into a quiet state of mind and putting ourselves fully in His hands and even His embrace is the best tonic of all. Bathe yourself in His presence. You may find the Psalms very helpful for finding that place of refuge.

Second, let us return to prayer. Today’s psalm is titled, “Prayer for help in Trouble,” which sounds appropriate. The more we focus on others, the nation, and the world through prayer, the more our minds are able to shift the attention off ourselves thereby reducing our stress. That is not to say your problems aren’t real and valid. It is just means that you need a break from them. So, this is an opportune time for prayer. The more we pray for others and for the broader situations we all face, the more cathartic it will be for us. Therefore, pray so that your soul may receive nourishment from above. In the balance you will be doing God’s work and helping your fellow humans.

Third, tap, tap, tap! Do you remember the article on Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) which was highlighted in the Word of the Day on April 21st? Click here. Our God has created a biomechanical mechanism which we can use anytime to reduce stress in our bodies. See this insightful message from two Christian EFT practitioners. There is also a link on our website: IveyMinistries.org.

Fourth, turn off television news. It is really tough on you. If you can, try to get your news from print media. There are sources which provide curated articles and show a very low bias. Personally, I think you will be blessed to avoid both the liberal and conservative bias so that you can be persuaded by your own heart. Look for news feeds which give you data so that you can sort through it for yourself. Still, even limit that. Your spirit was not intended for 24-hour news channels or even the inundation you can get through print or internet news. Catch up on the headlines then let it go. It’s just not good for us to dwell on those things. What did God tells us, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things,” (Philippians 4: 8). Dwell on the good news.

Our spirits need God now more than even in the beginning of this crisis. We are tired and it feels we are pursued from every angle like David was. But also, like him, we have our refuge in the Lord. Take full advantage of this time with God. You may never have an opportunity to spend such large amounts of time with him again. Feed on His presence so that you may be renewed.

Courage vs. Denial

Deuteronomy 31: 6

Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.

So, I’m working today and praying as I do and asked Father to give me a heart of courage that I may stand strong and confident during these trying times. He said to me, “Ivey, you have one of the strongest hearts I know. That does not mean that you don’t feel. There is a big difference between courage and denial.”

That was an eye opener for me, and I had to stop what I was doing and begin to write. He has told me before that I have the heart of a lion, but He has also shown me that I have a big heart. Are these congruous with one another? What’s more, over the last many years He has continually unveiled a tender heart within me. How does tenderness harmonize with courage? All of a sudden, I feel like the lion from the Wizard of Oz. Not so very brave and yet . . ..

A truly courageous person allows her heart to feel. Anesthesia is not synonymous with courage. As a young person I learned to be brave by anesthetizing my heart. To feel was to experience pain. Our Father had quite a job on His hands to get me to allow my heart to feel. I didn’t want to feel the pain, who does? Living without the ability to feel deeply and strongly is not the way. Learning to feel the full range of emotions and still stand confidently with the courage of a lion is the grown-up stuff of life and even (or especially) of Christianity. If your heart does not weep right now when you hear of the thousands of deaths around the world then you need God to perform heart surgery. The tragic circumstances should not cripple you though. Perhaps it brings you to your knees but in prayer rather than defeat.

As I have pondered this today, Father has shown me that the reason I am able to feel deeply and tenderly and yet be strong is because I have learned to turn to His presence within me. I do not meditate on negative thoughts or doomsday scenarios. I keep picturing angels with flame throwers. I seek God within me. I will tell you another truth. I do not inundate myself with press conferences or news. In fact, I try to stay far away from sensationalized broadcasts. Those people peddle fear and discord and I cannot afford to have those deposits made in my spirit.
Another thing I do is pray. I am praying more now than ever before. There have been seasons of prayer in my life previously, but I know that I need the prayer as does all the world. I am praying for you and every other person on this dirt ball that is hurtling through space. I feel the responsibility to pray but I also know that I am taking care of my spirit by praying. My own spirit needs more prayer and nurturing than normal.

Learning to be tough and tender has been one of the hardest lessons of my life. I am sure I am not where I need to be yet, but I thank my God for where He has brought me. I can feel the love and compassion of God and even express it, but I have God’s own strength to stand in a torrent and fight with conviction and vigor. I have finally realized that to be like my Father, I must be tender-hearted, allowing myself to feel things intensely, and yet be strong and courageous. Denial is not bravery. It is buckling to a lie, bowing one’s knee to cowardice. I will not buckle in this time of challenge. I will stand boldly, with you in, the name and faith of our Father. Let us, therefore, stand – shoulder to shoulder in compassionate courage.

If you need someone to talk to, you are welcome to call or email me. We are in this together.

Wisdom Without Fear

Isaiah 41:10

‘Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

I have coined a new expression that is my guide for this time of extreme confusion over the corona virus. It is “Wisdom without Fear.” We should exercise reasonable caution throughout the flu and cold season anyway, but especially now with the corona virus spreading. However, we should not be in a panic. We are called to meet calamity with faith rather than fear. We must stand in faith and pray against the virus asking our Father to intervene on our behalf.

Our Father expressly says, “Do not Fear, for I am with you.” Let those words ring through your mind day and night. Look at the rest of the verse. Doesn’t it give you great comfort? These are words that will encourage others as well. You could write this verse on small cards and hand them out to people. You could email it to a bunch of folks. You might need to memorize it for when you speak with people.

Inside me, these words reverberate loudly and give my heart courage. They take my focus off the problems and onto Him. Confidence soars when our hearts and minds rest on the goodness of the Father.

What encouragement do you need today? What encouragement can you give? Is there someone with whom you can share the Word of the Day? Even if you are staying in your home, you can share the good news with folks via email and telephone. People are going to be isolated over the next couple of weeks. I can do some writing and you can do some sharing. Let us reach out to everyone we can to give them comfort and encouragement. The virus can spread very quickly, one person by one person. The good news can too if we will take a moment to spread it.

Our God Reigns!

Psalm 93: 1

The LORD reigns.

That should be enough said. That should be enough for all and yet . . ..

The panic over this corona virus is insane, but here is my question, “Are all the people who are out buying yards and yards of toilet paper and who are closing their businesses, are they all unsaved people?” In other words, are Christians part of the panicking horde?

Clearly, the answer is yes. Churches have cancelled services. Really? Instead of cancelling services we should simply change them to prayer services. Are you afraid of congregating more than 20 people in a church? How many times has our Father told us not to fear? The NASB has 57 verses that say, “Do not fear.” The King James has 64 instances of “Fear not.” What about Jesus? What does he have to say? I think his position is most clearly articulated in Mark 5: 36. Jesus was called to the house of a synagogue official whose daughter was sick. He entered a house of chaos and panic. Jesus confronted this situation with these words, “Don’t yield to fear. All you need to do is to keep on believing,” (TPT).

I could go on, but the point is made. How many times does God need to say “Do not fear” for us to recognize that as an edict from the Most High? Jesus showed us the way. Our God is on the throne! He reigns. He is clothed in majesty and power. Jesus showed us that all we need to is: 1) not yield to fear, and 2) believe. Be a believer. Believe that our God reigns, that he is both a good and a mighty God and that He is well able to care for us over some virus. God reigns. He created the entire universe and IF we will get into agreement with Him, He will stamp out this virus.

He cannot get into agreement with fear though. He is a faith God. He connects with faith. We shall not contract the virus and we will not die from it. You don’t have to cancel your events. You don’t have to shut yourself up in your house. More than anything, as Christians, we shouldn’t be spreading fear. We should be proclaiming, “Our God reigns!”

I am calling on you to be the voice of rationality and faith in this time of chaos. Be the one voice crying out in the desert, “Prepare the way of the Lord!” Use this time to show your faith, to declare the greatness of our God and Father. Please stand up and be bold! And pray. This is your moment in history. This is the moment that God has called you to. This is the moment God appointed for you to stand up and boldly declare faith. Let us be the ones God uses to heal a nation and a world. You are His warriors in this earth and this is the very moment to which you were called. Pick up your sword and declare, “My God reigns.”

If you have any questions or need any help, please contact me at 336-946-6045, or email me at irorie@iveyministries.org. Please share this email with your pastors and offer my support to them and your church. If you need a faith minister to come to your church and pray or anoint your people with oil, reach out to me at the number or email address above or via our website at www.iveyministries.org. Do not feel you have to stand alone. This is a time for all people of faith from all denominations to come together and stand shoulder to shoulder for the Lord. Together, with our God, we shall prevail!

Advance Team

Deuteronomy 31: 8

“The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

To what can you apply this verse in your life? You know we all have areas of our lives where we don’t stand quite as firmly. When we find them, though, we can throw this verse at them and be renewed in our faith.

Every word of this verse is wonderful, but I love the idea that the Lord, our God, is going before us to prepare the way. By the time we get to the situation, He has already been there and fixed it. Man, we’ve got to get a revelation of this. What do you dread? Is there a situation that challenges you like an upcoming physics test or doctor’s appointment? Or, is there a person who is a source of discomfort? Maybe you’ve got an ugly project at work that you keep putting off.

One recent example of that for me that was getting the tax information pulled together to give to the accountant. The accountant is doing the hard work, what was I dreading? Well, it is a laborious process and it takes time. I would rather work on a project where I can throw physical energy at it and accomplish it. None the less, it had to be done. Well, Father goes ahead of you to work out details, to line-up the proper people for you and to lay at your feet all the resources you need. Yahoo! It works! I did need some resources and they were there, the people I needed were available and all of the information is at the accountant’s office. Yea! I needed to yield myself to the Father’s presence, then all was well.

No matter what the situation or project, Dad promises that He will not abandon you. He is going to be with you all the way. Better yet, He is even going to get there before you do. While you are still worrying about it and procrastinating, He has already gone before you to prepare the way. You’ve gotta love that.

The part we all need to hear the loudest is that He will never leave us nor will He ever forsake us. Even when you feel alone, He is there. Whether or not you can feel His presence, you can know He is with you. He will not fail you, ever!

Most of all, do not fear! Do not be dismayed! The Lord is with you. What have you to fear? Does anything have you in its grip right now? Relinquish it to your God and lean into His presence.

Fear, Go!

Judges 6:23

The LORD said to him, “Peace to you, do not fear; you shall not die.”

I must write again on the Corona virus, or more to the point, the spread of the virus. I have been amazed at the reaction to this virus. It seems that the reaction has been stronger than with previous contagious diseases. This has moved me to tell you one thing which feeds and spreads the virus at least as much as any other factor. Fear.

Fear is fueling the spread of Covid 19. One of my friends brought up a good point recently. The Corona virus has a name and every name must bow to the name of Jesus. Jesus is the pinnacle. He and his name are the highest things in this or any other universe. Everything, including Covid 19, must bow to Jesus, but fear is powerful.

Do you remember that Job realized that his dread had drawn the very thing he feared to him? He finally learned that faith in the Father overcomes fear and all its contaminates. Faith presides over the faithful and there is no fear in faith.

Whose banner are we flying? Even as Christians we may find ourselves falling in fear rather than standing in faith. You’ve got to say, “This virus shall not touch me or my family. We are immune to its effects.” No disease, no pestilence or plague has any right to touch your body. I don’t expect you to be foolish. Wash your hands, but tell other people and yourself that your God is bigger than any virus this planet has ever bred. Let faith words come out of your mouth. Say, “God’s protection is over my family and Father, I thank you that no disease can come near my family.” You have a promise of health. Use it! Don’t just sit and be a passive victim. Speak! You gotta say something. What will you say? Will they be fear words or faith words?

This is a great evangelical opportunity. Share the love of God. Give people the good news. Dig out some protection verses and some healing verses and make a stand. You know, you can go to our website and run a search and find lots of verses and support.

I am telling you, fear is spreading this virus. Control the fear and you will control the virus. Control the fear and you will eliminate the virus. Let the people of faith stand up and say something. My God is bigger than a virus. He is salvation to all people. Will we be counted in this time of crisis or will we be silent? May the earth tremble with our united voice. Our God, Yahweh, is King. He presides over all and everything that is named must bow to Him. He is health. He is wellness and there is no fear in Him.

I shall not fear! Will you encourage someone today with your bold faith?