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"From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I." Psalm 61:2

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Life is challenging to say the least. We need God and we need Him desperately every day! It is true; we either have just gone through a trial, we are going through a trial, or we are about to be tried. The sea of life is often stormy and sometimes the problems seem to come right into our ship and sink us. The Christian's life is sort of like a sea going ship, travelling on a sure appointed destination, riding on the waves of mercy, staying afloat by grace and carrying an anchor of hope in the unseen hand of God's providence and protection. It seems nice to stay in the safe harbor, but that's not what God made nor saved us for. Believers in Christ are vessels of mercy made to be saved from sin and this world and rise to every occasion, even stormy times. Remember, God told Noah to build a ship because a storm was coming. Noah did so and Noah and his family and all the animals rode out the storm of God's vengeance on a sinful earth. Noah's ark is a type of the Lord Jesus Christ and we are to run to Him for safety when life is shaky or still. The way to tell if a ship will float or not is to put it in the water. The ark floated, no matter how strong the wind, nor how high the water rose. That's because the ark was built according to God's instructions. We can make it too when we trust and depend on God and not ourselves. There was another great ship called the Titanic that was supposed to be unsinkable. That ship sank though because it was built by man. If you want your boat to float, let God build it. God builds lives that can weather the fiercest storms and endure the most severe trials.

Have you ever wondered why God just doesn't take us right to heaven when He saves us or why He allows trouble to overwhelm us so? Most of us probably have a passing thought in that regard, but then in our better moments we know that were it not for our trials and problems, we would not know how great and glorious His salvation really is. God wants us to depend on Him and a stormy life sea will make sure that we do. Also, God wants us to know that our ship will not sink. Every Christian is indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Yes indeed, Christ lives in us, and storms, and problems, and hard to get along with people and sickness and even death will only prove our sea worthiness because of Him.

"Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world." 1 John 4:4

The truth is we can't be overcomers until we're overwhelmed any more than we can be saved without being sinners! The mystery of godliness is magnified in the sea of life but that's no reason to get out of the boat (unless Jesus calls us to). We must take the helm at hand and sail on for Jesus. If God has called us to be priests and kings, then he also intends for us to be the captains of our own ships. Not doubting that our steps are ordered by the Lord means we take each step by faith. But we take the steps, we make the decisions and we do it knowing it's not really us but God enabling and using life situations to prove He is more valuable and glorious than anything this world has to offer. The ship (our life) is God's, we just get to steer it for a little while here on earth.

I heard a story that a boy made a little boat and while floating the boat in a little creek near his home, a strong wind and rain storm carried the little boat far away from the boy. Sometime later, the boy was walking along the sidewalk of the storefronts in town when he spotted his little boat through the window on a shelf in the local pawn shop. Quickly, the boy ran into the shop and asked the owner about the boat. The pawnshop owner said someone had brought the boat to the store and exchanged if for money. The boy was so glad to find his little boat, but was disappointed he couldn't have what was his without paying the ransom debt. But he cared so much for the boat that he left the store and went to unfamiliar neighborhoods to do community service like picking up trash and delivering food and newspapers. Actually, it was his father's business so the boy worked really hard to please his father. Finally, his father told him it was time to go get the little boat and to pay the price required to bring it home. The boy went to the pawn shop, paid the price to make the boat fully his and left the store as happy as he could be. As soon as he got out of the store with the little boat, he held it close and said "Little boat, now you are doubly mine, I made you and now I bought you!"

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Did you know that you are twice God's? Yes, He made you and He bought you! Isn't that wonderful to know? It's especially good to know when we're overwhelmed. Notice, our text verse says "when," not "if" I'm overwhelmed. There are a couple of verses in the gospel of John Chapter ten which allude to the double security of the Lord's possession. Verse twenty-nine tells us that the Father has us in His hand and in verse twenty eight the Lord Jesus says we're in His hand too. Now there is no way the devil or anyone else will be able to swamp our vessel, including ourselves.

"When thou passeth through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the Lord Thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour." Isaiah 43:2,3A

Ecclesiastes says that there is a time for everything. Romans says that all things work together for good to them that love God, and Psalm sixty-one says that higher ground can be found. Let's take the helm even though we may be overwhelmed. God always gives us something to look forward to. God has our course charted, our homeland sited, and has written the reason on our hearts. Let's drive! It's the only way we'll know for sure that if He brings it to us, he will bring us through it. There may be some turns ahead. Let's see!

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Edward Everett Hale said, "I am only one but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something: and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do." When we think we have to do everything, often we end up doing nothing. But when we realize the one thing we ought to do and do it, everything else seems to fall in place. There are a lot of hurting people in this world, in SPBC even. I would like to comfort and help and heal everyone of them, but I can't. I believe you feel the same way. As much as we might want to, we cannot reach everyone, and fix everything; but, we can reach someone and fix something. It's no secret, we are limited but God equips us with the specific need for the specific work he has called us to do. When we focus on the things God has placed before us, even if it's just one person or one role, or one opportunity, we are living like Jesus and glorifying God.

"And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian." Luke 4:27

The above verse is part of the scripture read by the Lord Jesus Christ in the temple. Notice that in spite of all the need, only one leper was cleansed. So, even our Saviour and the creator of the universe didn't heal or rescue everyone in need. As long as we are on earth, there will be more hurt than we can heal, more needs than we can meet and more brokenness than we can fix. Instead of letting that overwhelm us, it ought to motivate us to press on toward the mark of the high calling of Jesus Christ. As we steer clear of discouragement and drift off into complacency, we are reminded that if we can make a difference for godliness in that one person, or we can help just one, encourage just one, or pray for just one, then it's worth staying the course. In the "starfish" story, a little boy was walking along the beach throwing starfish back into the ocean that had been stranded in the sand during the receding tide. A man walking the beach asked the boy what he was doing, and when the little boy explained his mission, the man said, "Son, there are miles of beaches and thousands of starfish washed ashore. What you are doing will not make a bit of difference." The little boy replied as he reached down, picked up a starfish and threw it back into the ocean, "It made a difference to that one!"

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A visit or phone call, text or email; how many opportunities does God have to provide us with before we realize that each one is important enough to do if it's the only one we can do? If we try to catch two balls at the same time, most likely we won't catch either one!

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Grace keeps our ship afloat but grace is not an excuse to do wrong; rather, it's a reason to do right. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should. It's hard to be in more than one place or to do more than one thing at a time and that's especially true when you are in the driver's seat (and you are). Keeping your life between the ditches takes concentration on doing what's right, what ought to be done. God provides us with a driverís manual, it's called the Bible (BIBLE = Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth). Texting while driving is against the law in Georgia and the failure to obey that rule has resulted in many highway deaths and injuries. Operating your life and not doing what you ought to do is about like texting while driving, it's dangerous.

"Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men." Acts 5:29

We know what we ought to do. There is no excuse for not doing it either. God's written word, His creation, His Holy Spirit and our redeemed conscious provides all the data and information needed on our instrument panel for our life vehicle. In the sermon on the mount, Jesus said the man who heard His sayings and did them (did what he ought to do) would be in pretty good shape when the stormy winds started blowing, for he would be on a rock. Having so many opportunities and facing so many choices surely may overwhelm us. When that happens, it may be necessary to pull over and apply the four H's.

            Does it Honor God?
            Does it Help someone?
            Will it Hurt somebody?
            Do I have to Hide it?

And don't ask someone else what to do, you are the driver!

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Since trouble is real and radical we must set our sights on our all mighty, merciful God and His great tributes. We must never put our hands on the helm without putting our hearts in His hands. To live in His presence and to depend on His guidance each day will assure us a safe landing, though it may not remove the turbulence.

"For lo, he that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and declar-eth unto man what is his thought, that maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth, The Lord, The God of hosts, is his name." Amos 4:13

When Jesus said "without me ye can do nothing," He did not mean it egotistically. Rather, it was a way of stating the truth that we were created to live in dependence upon God. If you feel overwhelmed, needing God in your life, that's exactly how you are supposed to feel. You were never intended to do life on your own, even though you have been licensed by God to drive. Really, the weight of the world is not on our shoulders, but is on Christ's shoulders. We can trust Him as He is at work in our world, as overwhelming as life gets, moving and healing and showing us where we can be His hands and feet. May we give him our heaviest burdens and our most overwhelming circumstances for He is truly the rock that is greater than all. We can start small right where we are, loving and serving where He has us right now. We can do what we ought to do and ask Him to forgive us for not doing it sooner. We can trust Him to keep us on course and never, but never question the captain's judgement.

Brother Randy

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