The Voyager: Encouragement for Life's Journey
Below you will find articles from our Church's leadership meant to encourage you and give you insight into questions about life, faith, and God.
Questions About Miracles
“You are the God of miracles and wonders! You still demonstrate your awesome power.” (Psalm 77:14 TLB)
What is the miracle you need in your life? What are you asking God for? All of us have some area where we need God to intervene. Maybe you are facing an illness, overwhelming debt, or you are struggling with depression or in a tense relationship. Even people who wouldn’t consider themselves religious will often turn to prayer during hard times, hoping that maybe heaven is listening.
It is not unusual to wrestle with doubts and questions even while we are hoping that God will come through for us. Here are three questions we most often wrestle with as seek God for the miracles we need.
1. Can God?
Can God heal me? Can he deliver me? Can he provide for me? This is probably the easiest to answer. Of course God can. He is all powerful. God can in one moment take someone from death’s doorstep to perfect health. He can with one word erase the depression and anger we fight against every day. He has no limits to his provision and could easily provide for all our needs and even our wants without sacrificing anything. In fact, we are so convinced that God can that when God doesn’t some of us decide there must not be a God or maybe that God doesn’t love us and so that is why he doesn’t intervene. Surely if God exists and he loves us, he would intervene. This leads to the second question:
2. Does God want to?
Maybe you have settled the question as to whether God can but you wonder if he really wants us to be healed, delivered, and provided for. Any good Father would want his children to have the best possible life. We read the memes citing Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you… They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” If this is true, why do we still experience disasters? Of course we may not realize that the context of Jeremiah 29:11 is that the Israelites are going to spend 70 years in exile before they experience the promise of Jeremiah 29:11. God did want a good future for his people and he knew the way to get them there was to work on what was inside of them first before delivering them from the outside circumstances. This leads to the third question:
3. Will God?
Will God heal, deliver, and provide for us? If he can and he wants to then why wouldn’t he? As I ponder that question myself I can hear the Father ask me his own questions.
God is still and always will be God. His nature is unchanging. If our circumstances cause us to question if he is good and loving then we know that there must be something inside us that needs to change. Our faith ultimately shouldn’t be in what God can do for us but in who he is. Romans 4 uses Abraham as an example of someone who despite what his circumstances looked like, he trusted God because of who God is. As we grapple with the questions of why miracles do or don’t happen and why some prayers seem to go unanswered we must not let go of our assurance in the goodness and love of God.
The next time you pray ask God to show you how you can participate in seeing a miracle done in your life!
Article by Pastor Shawna Carpenter, 4/29/20
“This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary” (Hebrews 6:19, NLT).
Hope is trustful anticipation, springing out of one’s trust in God. This hope is expressed in patiently waiting in confident trust in God’s future that He has for one’s life, both for this earthly realm and eternity to come. Carefully consider Isaiah 40:31.
“But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (NIV).
“But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint” (NLT).
“But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings as eagles; They shall run, and not be weary; And they shall walk, and not faint” (KJV).
Recognize the connection between hope, trust, and waiting. When we place all our hope in God, trusting Him in the context of personal relationship, we will progressively learn how to wait on His timing without getting stressed out because things are not happening within ours. This waiting is not passive, but the reality of actively pursuing to know God more through one’s personal relationship with Him. How much we trust God is a direct result of how close we are to Him.
Let’s go back to our central text . . .
“This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary” (Hebrews 6:19, NLT).
This hope with which our souls are anchored is the hope of access to God that Jesus died to give us. When we look at the cross, we see the fact that Jesus died for us. But to see why He died, we must look into the temple, “Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom” (Matthew 27:50–51, NLT). The torn curtain in the temple proclaims the fact that we all have access to a direct, personal relationship with God. Through trusting in what Jesus did for us as the only way by which we are made right with God, we all can know the life that is found only in relationship with Him, a life of hope.
This is the hope that is an anchor for our souls, a bedrock on which we can rest our whole selves. The term “souls” that is used in Hebrews 6:19 refers to that unseen reality that animates life itself. One’s soul is one’s identity and definition, the source of the individualized “self” that we each possess. The soul encompasses one’s mind, intellect, will, and emotions. Therefore, the condition of a person’s soul determines how that person thinks and acts.
In this time of limited access due to the current pandemic, God is calling us to anchor our very selves in the access that we have to Him. Echoing from His heart, God is urging us to daily walk the blood-paved path into His presence that Jesus made for us. God is calling you into the Most Holy Place, the place of personal interaction with Him. God desires you to experience Him in personal relationship beyond anything you have experienced in the past. Will you answer that call? Will you make the time to spend with Him, focusing on getting to know Him more?
God did not design prayer and Bible reading to be superficial religious duties and rituals, but practical contexts for engaging Him in two-way communication by which personal relationship with Him is practically experienced. He invites us to talk with Him and learn how to hear Him speaking to us by His Spirit. It is in that place of personal connection and interaction with God that the anchor for our souls is found.
“And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:19–22, NLT).
“So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most” (Hebrews 4:14–16, NLT).
Article by Pastor Jeff Pfingston, April 24, 2002
A Journey to Death and Life
"Our God is an awesome God. He reigns from heaven above. With Wisdom, Power, and Love. Our God is an awesome God." Song by Rich Mullins
A couple of years ago, I married a man who had been a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for over 60 years. He moved to Florida, where I lived, and we started our happy journey. We would read books and the Word of God together. We would sing the old gospel songs together. One night he woke me up praying in his heavenly language while weeping and laughing. This went on quite a while and then he turned over to me and continued. I laid in awe listening to this wonderful man commune with God. It seemed as if our dreams of living the last part of our lives would be a happy time in the Lord.
Within a couple of months he became sick. He spent a few nights in the hospital. Upon returning home, he said he wasn’t going to the doctor. He believed God would heal him. As time went by, he began to have serious issues so he decided to cooperate and do what needed to be done.
We had been married for over a year when he was diagnosed with cancer.
From that time forward, his body deteriorated and he had to go stay where
he could get the help that he needed. I didn’t understand any of this because
it wasn’t what we had planned. I kept asking God ‘why’ and He gave me
the Scripture “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your
own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5 NKJV). I settled in to caring for my husband to the best of my ability.
As time went on, many changes happened and I experienced a journey that was straight from the throne room of God. As my husband laid in that bed he sang gospel songs, he laughed and cried, he took imaginary communion, he preached, he spoke in his heavenly language while looking straight at God. He gave me the most beautiful word from the Lord that I had ever heard. I felt like I was standing before God and He was talking directly to me.
As I sat by my husband, I would weep from the beauty that I saw surrounding Him from the heavens. He never complained nor asked for anything. It was a journey that changed my whole life. I felt like I had been ‘born again’ for the second time. I saw that when you start to transition to the spirit world, there is NO stopping or
coming back. It is then TOO late if you are not ready to go into eternity.
My heart became so conscious of the many souls that weren’t ready to meet God and I would weep uncontrollably. I realized that nothing in this world that we would do was more important than going out into our world and telling the good news of Jesus.
When my husband passed on to the next world, I could almost hear him shouting victory and I knew that he also was kneeling at his Saviors’ feet. Now I am very somber and anxious to do the work that my Father has for me to do. I want to hear His voice saying. “Well done, thou good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21).
I have a question for you. Have you taken time out from your busy days and or schedule to reflect on what you are really supposed to be doing in your christian walk? It's not about pomp or circumstance, but it’s about going to the cross daily and laying yourself all out to our Lord.
I pray that God, our Father, will lead you down a path that will make Himself more real to you than ever before. May God bless you and keep you. May he cause His face to shine upon you and give you peace (Numbers 6:24).
Article by Glenda Blakkolb
COVID-19 has ripped from our grasp our past concepts of “normal.” Phrases like “shelter-in-place” and “social distancing” have been infused into our regular conversations. It is a time of apprehensive uncertainty.
It is also a time of great opportunity. It is a very personal, individualized opportunity that contains within it a vast potential for great benefit or immense disaster. To seize this opportunity for the greatest benefit, we must adopt a mindset like that which David expressed to God in the middle of the wilderness . . .
”O God, You are my God; I earnestly search for You. My soul thirsts for You; my whole body longs for You in this parched and weary land where there is no water. I have seen You in Your sanctuary and gazed upon Your power and glory. Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise You! I will praise You as long as I live, lifting up my hands to You in prayer. You satisfy me more than the richest feast. I will praise You with songs of joy. I lie awake thinking of You, meditating on You through the night. Because You are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of Your wings. I cling to You; Your strong right hand holds me securely” (Psalms 63:1-8 NLT).
In the middle of great difficulty and uncertainty, David saw the potential of the opportunity before him and chose to seek God. He chose to allow the adverse conditions of the situation to propel him to pursue God in the context of personal relationship with Him. The scarcity of resources caused David to seek God as his Resource!
What about you? What will you do with this time? As we are “sheltering” at home, are we spending time growing closer to God, hungering to know more the practical reality of the fact that the greatest shelter we have in life is God Himself? David understood this reality, proclaiming it vividly in Psalms 61:1-4 . . .
“O God, listen to my cry! Hear my prayer! From the ends of the earth, I cry to You for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock of safety, for You are my safe refuge, a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me. Let me live forever in Your sanctuary, safe beneath the shelter of Your wings!” (Psalms 61:1-4 NLT).
This mindset will translate into time that is intentionally set aside to spend with God, purposefully allocated to giving God one’s full attention. It is in this that the great potential of this time is realized. God’s desire for each of us is that this time is a context through which we grow to know Him more through intentional pursuit. He is using the fear and scarcity of this situation to urge us to seek Him. How will you respond?
I want to share with you another moment of isolation in David’s life. As he was isolated in the wilderness, he also had a time of isolation in his own home. It was a moment of great potential. This time, David misused the moment and experienced devastating results that impacted his entire family. The disastrous potential of the moment became reality. Let’s look at the following passage:
“In the spring of the year, when kings normally go out to war, David sent Joab and the Israelite army to fight the Ammonites. They destroyed the Ammonite army and laid siege to the city of Rabbah. However, David stayed behind in Jerusalem. Late one afternoon, after his midday rest, David got out of bed and was walking on the roof of the palace. As he looked out over the city, he noticed a woman of unusual beauty taking a bath. He sent someone to find out who she was, and he was told, ‘She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.’ Then David sent messengers to get her; and when she came to the palace, he slept with her . . .” (2 Samuel 11:1-4 NLT).
Once again, David was in a time of great stress. A war was raging. By his own choice, he was at home. Perhaps Bathsheba was a means of distraction from the mental burden of the war, a way of momentarily relieving some stress. It was a decision in the moment that led to consequences that impacted David’s family forever. Bathsheba became pregnant. David tried to cover his sin through the murder of Bathsheba’s husband, using the war itself to facilitate the homicide. The baby that Bathsheba carried did not survive. See the consequences expressed to David by God through the prophet Nathan . . .
“From this time on, your family will live by the sword because you have despised me by taking Uriah's wife to be your own. This is what the LORD says: ‘Because of what you have done, I will cause your own household to rebel against you. I will give your wives to another man before your very eyes, and he will go to bed with them in public view. You did it secretly, but I will make this happen to you openly in the sight of all Israel.’ Then David confessed to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the LORD.’ Nathan replied, ‘Yes, but the LORD has forgiven you, and you won't die for this sin. Nevertheless, because you have shown utter contempt for the LORD by doing this, your child will die’” (2 Samuel 12:10-14 NLT).
David was forgiven, yet the consequences were immense. In his moment of isolation, he made a devastating decision. In our moment of isolation, the enemy wants us to do the same. The stress of this pandemic can easily push us to apply coping mechanisms. Some of those mechanisms are destructive due to their inherent, biblically-defined sinful contexts. These are things that open the door to life-controlling dependencies that are fundamentally contrary to one’s dependency on God. Other coping mechanisms may be hobbies and interests that are not wrong in themselves. The inherent danger here is found when one tries to rely on these things in the place of spending time with God. To rely upon hobbies and other means of diverting entertainment to the neglect of one’s relationship with God is to place oneself on a destructive path. This is a time in which God is teaching us to intentionally pursue Him, using the present situation to teach us principles by which the rest of our lives must be lived. God does not want us to learn to just cope. He wants us to live. That life is only found through one’s personal relationship with God.
How about you? What will you do with this opportunity? The choice is yours.
Article by Pastor Jeff Pfingston