FOCUS ON THE SHORELINE
In past years I’ve had the opportunity of Alaska commercial fishing where I experienced some things that paralleled some valuable spiritual principles. I would like to relate one lesson I learned on boats when working on turbulent ocean waters where you’re guaranteed to get seasick if you don’t know how to deal with it. My first day, my first hour I felt myself getting super seasick as our fishing boat left shore and encountered four foot plus waves. My friend Joe the captain, seeing what was happening to me, with a smile, shouted to me, “Focus often on the stable shoreline or the overall stability level of the distant ocean line and you won’t get sick!” Remarkably, when I glanced often at the stable shoreline my seasickness tendency stopped. Later, I found I could work comfortably with no seasick problems on waves that were as high as eight feet, as long as I glanced at times to the stability of the distant shore line or overall ocean level line.
The spiritual lesson I saw through this experience is the comfort of the Bible, or God’s word, which is so completely stable to us who like everybody else who wonder at times just what’s going on in our troubled world. People shooting people, the grade school activity of the political world of our country, forest fires and global warming worries. And to realize that this is tame when we read the reports of unbridled violence effecting millions in other parts of the world. We know God is as heartbroken over what they are going through as He would be concerned about us. Scripture says that in these last days before Jesus comes things will only get worse as the angels begin releasing the four winds of strife in every direction that they have been for ages holding back. The answer to peace in all this I’m realizing, is to ‘focus on the stable shoreline of God’s word,’ which gives stability to our hearts in these troubled times. “For we have also a more sure word of prophecy, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts;” 2Pet. 1:19
A couple weeks ago a gentleman and wife drove into our drive way where I was working. I had no idea who he was but he knew my name and said they were in the neighborhood and were simply sharing the gospel. In politeness I listened until he mentioned that Jesus was the son of God but not God and that the Holy Spirit was not God or part of a trinity. This really set off an alarm in my soul because how could Jesus’ life and death be complete as a substitute for all of us unless He was the Creator of all mankind. And secondly what do you do with the Bible explanation about Jesus that says, “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” John 1:2 Also Col. 1:17 “And He was before all things, and in Him all that things consist.” He seemed taken back when I related this to him.
Then I explained to him his beliefs about the Holy Spirit were really scary to me because we were talking about the very heart of the gospel, for without the supernatural intervention of Jesus and the Holy Spirit in our lives, how could we in our carnal natural weakened state ever prepare for citizenship in the eternal kingdom where everyone there will, in love, be doing right because it is right? Why would Jesus say, “I will send you another helper that will abide with you forever, the Holy Spirit of truth” John 14:16-17? Why would God have had written in the holy scripture, “For there are three that bear witness in heaven; the Father, the Word [Jesus John 1:1] and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one.” 1 John 5:7?
I told the gentleman that if he would hold on a minute, I would like to get my Greek bible and show how all three of the Godhead are regarded as divine and as Jehovah . . . but then I was shocked when the man, in total confusion and frustration, told me he didn’t have time for ‘that garbage’ and peeled out of my driveway.
The thought after experiencing this began going through my mind, that we all will only know frustration and confusion when we fail to focus on the only thing that is stable and that is God’s word and plan for our troubled, wave-tossed earth. I’m so glad for a God Who put everything, even Himself, on the line for us that we can have the assurance of eternity and the divine Holy Spirit that is preparing our hearts today for heaven, as long as we keep our focus on the stable shoreline. Aren’t you?
is a semi-retired pastor that continues to work part time on assigned projects for the North Pacific Union Native Ministries department. He and his wife, LeeAnn, have four married children and eight grandchildren which keep them busy.
The Word of Promise audio Bible is used by permission. For more information and to purchase the complete audio Bible go to https://www.wordofpromiseapp.com/.
Woe to the Scribes and Pharisees
1 Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, 2 saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. 4 For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. 5 But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. 6 They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, 7 greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.’ 8 But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. 9 Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10 And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. 11 But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. 14 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation.
15 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.
16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obliged to perform it.’ 17 Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that sanctifies the gold? 18 And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gift that is on it, he is obliged to perform it.’ 19 Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift? 20 Therefore he who swears by the altar, swears by it and by all things on it. 21 He who swears by the temple, swears by it and by Him who dwells in it. 22 And he who swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by Him who sits on it.
23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. 24 Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!
25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.
27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, 30 and say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.’
31 “Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt. 33 Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? 34 Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city,35 that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.
Jesus Laments over Jerusalem
37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! 38 See! Your house is left to you desolate; 39 for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ”
Jesus Predicts the Destruction of the Temple
1 Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. 2 And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”
The Signs of the Times and the End of the Age
3 Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
4 And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.
9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. 10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. 11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.
The Great Tribulation
15 “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), 16 “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.17 Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. 18 And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes.19 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 20 And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved;but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.
23 “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. 24 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand.
26 “Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it. 27 For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 28 For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.
The Coming of the Son of Man
29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
The Parable of the Fig Tree
32 “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near.33 So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors! 34 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.
No One Knows the Day or Hour
36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. 37 But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 38 For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.40 Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left.41 Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. 42 Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 44 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
The Faithful Servant and the Evil Servant
45 “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? 46 Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. 47 Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods. 48 But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ 49 and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, 50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, 51 and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Praise to the Lord for His Love and Faithfulness
A Psalm. A Song for the Sabbath day.
1 It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High;
2 To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning,
And Your faithfulness every night,
3 On an instrument of ten strings,
On the lute,
And on the harp,
With harmonious sound.
4 For You, Lord, have made me glad through Your work;
I will triumph in the works of Your hands.
5 O Lord, how great are Your works!
Your thoughts are very deep.
6 A senseless man does not know,
Nor does a fool understand this.
7 When the wicked spring up like grass,
And when all the workers of iniquity flourish,
It is that they may be destroyed forever.
8 But You, Lord, are on high forevermore.
9 For behold, Your enemies, O Lord,
For behold, Your enemies shall perish;
All the workers of iniquity shall be scattered.
10 But my horn You have exalted like a wild ox;
I have been anointed with fresh oil.
11 My eye also has seen my desire on my enemies;
My ears hear my desire on the wicked
Who rise up against me.
12 The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree,
He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
13 Those who are planted in the house of the Lord
Shall flourish in the courts of our God.
14 They shall still bear fruit in old age;
They shall be fresh and flourishing,
15 To declare that the Lord is upright;
He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.