Lord, Save Me – I am Drowning


JESUS walking on water is one of the most popular stories in the Bible. Jesus defied the laws of gravity and not even Sir Isaac Newton could explain this awe-inspiring phenomenon. When Jesus saw His disciples’ boat taking water and being tossed around in the middle of a storm (Matt 14: 22 – 33), He decided to walk on water and meet them where they were. Jesus broke the laws of gravity to deliver His disciples from a horrible storm. As He got close to the boat, Jesus said “Don’t be afraid, I am Here.”

Although, we all know this story as “Jesus walking on water,” it’s important to remember that Peter also walked on water that day. Thinking it was a ghost, Peter said “Lord, if it is really you, tell me to come to you on the water.” Without hesitation, Jesus commanded Peter to come on the water, and he did – Peter walked on water just like Jesus. Can you imagine the look on the other disciples’ faces watching Peter taking one step after another going towards Jesus on the water? Yes, eventually Peter started to sink when he shifted his attention away from Jesus to focus on the storm around him (v 30). Peter, as he was drowning, cried to the Lord for help: “Lord, save me.” Lord, I am drowning out here and I am not going to make it.

Maybe, some of us feel like we’ve been drowning lately, drowning in debts, emotional pain, physical pain, marital problems, parental challenges, etc. Some of us might even be struggling with our own faith or the lack thereof. No matter the storm, we must remember Jesus is always right there with us; however, we must not shift our focus away from Him and magnify our problems. Jesus knew Peter had enough faith to walk on water and not drown in the middle of the storm. Jesus did not calm the sea, nor did he rebuke the wind to make things easier for Peter, but He commanded him to walk on water with the wind and the waves raging around. That’s when our faith can shine the brightest, in the middle of the storm. As long as Peter had faith and kept his focus on Jesus instead of the storm, he would’ve made it without drowning. Beloved, let us hang on to our faith and continue to keep our focus on Jesus. However, when we feel like we are drowning, we do not be afraid to cry out to the Jesus: “Lord, save me – I am drowning.” Jesus will stretch out His hand and catch us.

Love you all,
Donny Pierre

Don’t Be Afraid, I am Here

In Matthew 14: 22 – 33, we read the story of Jesus’s disciples travelling on a boat by themselves while Jesus was spending time alone on a mountain praying. Eventually, they found themselves in a middle of storm being tossed around by the wind and the waves, and Jesus was not with them in the boat. What should have been smooth sailing became a nightlong battle. Certain storms in life can be very unexpected. Sometimes, we expect smooth sailing through life only to find out there is a storm brewing in the horizon – a storm that we are ill-equipped or ill-prepared to deal with (an illness, a financial struggle, a pink slip, a divorce, the death of a loved one).

The disciples have experienced storms in their lives before, and back in Matthew 8: 23 – 27 they went through a storm with Jesus on their boat. During that storm, they thought they were going to die only for Jesus to get up from his sleep to rebuke both the disciples and the storm. During the storm in Matthew 14, Jesus was not in the boat with them physically, but He was always aware of what was going on – He could see them in the storm (14:24-25). I can only imagine the kind of conversation the disciples were having during that storm. Maybe, they were thinking, “Where is Jesus when you need him. Last time, we made it through the storm because He was in the boat with us. Now, He is not – what are we going to do?” Beloved, no matter how dark it gets in life, no matter the storm we may be going through, rest assured that God knows, and He is able to act on our favor at the right time. Let us not lose faith and let us always hang on to our hope in Christ Jesus.

 When Jesus saw them in the middle of the storm, He did not guide them out of it just yet. Jesus started walking on the water and met them where they were. Jesus may not always bring us out of difficult moments and the challenges we face in life right away, but He can certainly meet us in the middle of them all. Jesus said, “I am here, do not be afraid.” I know it looks bad, and it does not seem like you are going to get through it, but “I am here, do not be afraid.” I know the odds are stocked against you and this storm been raging on for a while, but “I am here, do not be afraid.” Beloved, we need to constantly remind ourselves of the power and the presence of Christ in our lives to remain strong in the faith during the storms of life. The best ways we can be reminded of his power and presence are through the reading of scripture, prayer, and worship. Jesus is here, do not be afraid.

Grace and Peace,
Donny Pierre

Prayer Gives Us Access to God

The Bible says, “Never stop praying,” (2 Thess 5:17) and all throughout scriptures we can clearly see the significance and power of prayer. Phillip Yancey says, “Prayer is a declaration of total dependence on God,” (Prayer: Does it make any difference). In other words, the life of a Christian must be a life of total surrender, especially in prayer. However, I cannot help but wonder if there are times in life when we are most likely to totally surrender in prayer than others.
       Mr. Yancey shares a story in his book on prayer about an interview with a Chinese pastor who spent decades in prison because of his faith and ministry. “Every year that pastor led hundreds of people in a prayer commitment on the bank of a river, and everyone present knowing that the act of baptism may well lead to their own arrest and imprisonment.” “What can Christians in the rest of the world do for you?” Mr. Yancey asked the Chinese Pastor, and every time without exception he responded: “You can pray. Please tell the church to pray for us.” I know his answer sounds like a Christian cliché – something we usually say in response to any difficult situation and uncomfortable question coming from another believer. Please, keep me in your prayers – something most Christians say to verbally acknowledge their belief in God’s ability to respond to their current situation. Indeed, it is a powerful statement. However, I want us to challenge our prayer life this morning: How much faith do we really have in that statement? You see, when the Chinese pastor asked Mr. Yancey to pray for them, they had completely surrendered everything unto God. Their own lives were at stake knowing that getting baptized into Christ could very well be their last day of physical freedom, but a new day of freedom in Christ Jesus. Mr. Yancey said, “I have since learned that Christians who have no access to earthly power truly believe prayer gives them access to a greater power.” (Prayer: Does it make any difference, page 117)
  With everything that’s been going on these last couple of years, I really hope we, believers in Christ, have gotten closer to God in prayer. Where else can we go but to the Lord? We have access to the greatest power in the universe: “The throne room of God’s Grace.” We need to take advantage of that, because we have no power to face all the storms and challenges of life on our own; therefore, let us stay in prayer and call on God who has all the power in the world to accomplish His good will in our lives (2 Chronicles 20: 12)

Grace, Peace, and Love
Donny Pierre

Trusting God in the middle of the Storm

Several years ago, I remember being at a conference when the speaker asked several people in the audience to come on the stage for a team building excercise called “trust fall.” A “trust fall” is when a person deliberately falls backward without looking, trusting a group of people behind them to catch them. When the speaker asked people to volunteer for this icebreaker, I did not go up there because I did not know the people who were supposed to catch me. It is hard trusting people you don’t know with your life, and I did not know for sure if they were strong enough to catch me or if they would willingly choose to let me hit the floor. Several people volunteered, and when I saw the team catching those falling backwards one after another, I started to believe that maybe, just maybe, I could’ve done it. It was a good team building exercise and I certainly learned a few things about trust.
           Beloved, we can trust God wholeheartedly to catch us when we fall. We can trust God because we know who He is. The Bible says in Psalm 9:10, “Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.” My hope is firm because of what I know about God, “I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that God is able” (2 Timothy 1:12). In Acts 27, while everyone aboard the ship had given up hope and preparing to die, Paul trusted God to see him through the storm. He trusted God because he knew God was and still is a man of His word. Before the storm, while Paul was still in Jerusalem, God promised him that he would make it all the way to Rome to testify for Him (Acts 23: 11). So, in the middle of the storm, although Paul knew they were about to be shipwrecked and lose cargo, he trusted that God would deliver them because of the promise He made. Paul did not know how, and he certainly did not know when, but he believes when God makes a promise, it will come to pass. God is more than able to keep all the promises He’s made to us in the Bible. We can believe and trust God to see us through this pandemic or whatever storm you might be facing because He has a history of keeping His promises. The Bible says in Numbers 23: 19, “God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?” Do you believe in that? Do you trust God? Beloved, when going through any storm in life, it’s important for us to recall the promises of God so that we can trust He can and will see us through it. 

Grace and Peace to you all,
Donny Pierre

What do you want me to do for you? Luke 18: 35 – 43 Mark 10: 46 – 52

The other day, I went to see my doctor and the person at the front desk asked me one simple question with a smile on her face, “Good morning, how can I help you today?” It was easy for me to answer this question because I went there with a specific goal in mind. I did not have to give it much thought, l didn’t have to scratch my head trying to remember why I was there and what I needed help with. I was able to tell them exactly what I needed help with.

          In Luke 18: 35 – 43, we read the story of Jesus healing Bartimeus who was a blind man. During those times, people with blindness were considered outcast and they often found themselves begging for living (John 9:1-3). When Bartimeus heard Jesus was in town, he knew the Son of God could heal him – he had faith that Jesus could give him his sight. It is highly likely that Bartimeus has heard of all the miracles Jesus was doing throughout the land of Palestine. Remember, Jesus’ reputation of being a healer or miracle worker preceded him – many followed him because they wanted to be healed of their various diseases (Matt 14:14, 19:2, 21:14, 12:15). Although there were some who tried to stop Bartimeus from getting to Jesus, he did not stop screaming His name. He knew Jesus could help him, and his tenacious faith was about to be rewarded. Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” It is hard for me to believe Jesus did not know what Bartimeus needed from Him. However, I believe Jesus offered him an opportunity to express his faith which played a role in his healing process (Luke 18:42). Without hesitation nor a shred of disbelief, Bartimeus said, “Lord, I want to see.” Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.”

   If Jesus were to ask you and me the same question today: “What do you want me to do for you?” Would you be ready to answer this question? What would you ask for? Would you have to think about it or would you have a list of demands ready to go. Paul reminds us in Philippians 4:6 to present our requests to God through prayer and petition. Whatever it is we want God to do for us, we can present it to him in prayer; however, we must have faith that God is able and trust His will in the process. Just like Bartimeus, we need to be tenacious and intentional in our prayer life, because there might be daily hindrances to keep us away from accessing the throne room of God’s Grace (Hebrews 4:16). Jesus already knows our needs and the desires of our hearts. However, through prayer, we can boldly and confidently tell Jesus what we want him to do for us and expect His will to be done in our lives.

PRAY, PRAY, PRAY

Donny 

Living A Transformed Life Romans 12: 1 – 2

The Book of Romans, written around 56 – 58 AD during his 3rd missionary journey, is considered to be Paul’s “Magnum Opus.” It is the apostle’s greatest body of work. If Paul were an artist, Romans would be his masterpiece, because it is his most influential epistle in the Bible. Many of the beloved verses disciples of Christ have memorized over the years are from the book of romans, such as Romans 8: 28 and Romans 12: 1-2. Let us focus on the latter: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing, and perfect will.
          In Romans 12: 1 – 2, Paul is teaching his audience how God can transform the lives of those who are saved. God wants to change you into a better and more mature version of yourself, but two things are required of you: a) Salvation into Jesus Christ through water of Baptism (Rom 6: 3 – 5) which is a prerequisite to living a transformed lifestyle, b) Surrender your life into the hands of the potter (Rom. 9: 20 – 21). For God to transform your life into what He envisioned (Jeremiah 18: 1 – 4, 29:11), you must be born again (John 3:3) and willingly relinquish all control over to God – Trust His vision and process for your life because it is a good one (Jer 29:11). The Potter has a clear vision in His mind of how He wants to shape your life and what He wants to mold you into, and this delicate process requires complete surrender into His hands. This godly transformation does not occur over night, but it is a lifelong ongoing process that starts with the renewing of your mind. To transform your life, you need to first start by changing the way you think because your mind determines the course of your life (Proverbs 4:23). The thoughts you entertain in your mind, good or evil, eventually influence your emotions, your behaviors, your actions, and your overall way of life. Second, to transform your life you cannot keep imitating the behaviors and pattern of the world around you. Several times in the bible God encourages His people to be different, to be unique by following the footsteps of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2: 21). Love like Jesus – Forgive like Jesus – Obey like Jesus – Be gracious like Jesus – Be discipline like Jesus – Work hard like Jesus – Sacrifice like Jesus – Pray like Jesus – Be faithful and hopeful like Jesus. This ongoing godly transformation can only happen when we become less and less like ourselves and more like Jesus Christ (John 3: 30). God is in the business of transforming people’s lives into the likeness of His Son Jesus Christ.

I love you all,
Donny Pierre

THE “I AM” STATEMENTS OF JESUS CHRIST IN THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN

In John’s account of the Gospel, unlike the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), the apostle presents 7 formal and direct “I AM” statements of Jesus, each containing the words “I am” and a predicate: I AM the bread of life (6:35), I AM the light of the world (8:12), I AM the gate (10:7,9), I AM the good shepherd (10:11,14), I AM the resurrection and the life (11:25), I AM the way and the truth and the life (14:6), and I AM the true vine (15:1,5). Another “I AM” statement is implied in John 4:10-14, “I AM living water. Each statement is meant to reveal Jesus’ Divine purpose, power and identity to his audience, which is the purpose of the Gospel according to John.
          The words “I AM” echoes loud and clear God’s profound response to Moses’ question in Exodus 3: 13-14, “ Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”

          John intentionally used the sacred divine formula for the name of God, “I AM,” because he wanted his Jewish audience, who were remarkably familiar with the prophet Moses and the Torah, to make a connection between Jesus and God. Hence why he wrote in John 1:1-14, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.He was with God in the beginning.Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind… The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

          The very opening statement of John’s account made clear the purpose of his writing: to reveal the Divine nature of Jesus’ identity. Throughout his Christological discourse, John presented about 7 miracles of Jesus and each one of them was meant to create an occasion or opportunity to communicate the self-revelation of God. Not only His miracles, but John also wanted his audience to see how Jesus’ teachings were a precursor to His Messianic revelation. For example, Jesus healed a blind person in John 9 and said to His audience, “I AM the light of the world. Jesus resurrected Lazarus in John 11, and said to His audience, “I AM the resurrection and the life.” Jesus encountered a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well in a village in Samaria, asked her for some water and then said to her, “I AM Living water.” Jesus was walking on the sea of Galilee when the apostles who were on a boat saw Him and got scared, He said unto them, “Do not be afraid; I AM.” Only the Great I AM can walk on the waves of the sea (Job 9:8).
          Jesus wanted and still wants everyone to know who He is and how powerful He is so that we may believe in Him and have eternal life. When the Samaritan woman left Jesus, she went into her village and told everyone about Jesus. The Bible says many more Samaritans sought after Jesus because of her testimony (John 4: 41-42) and eventually believed that Jesus is the savior of the world. Is Jesus the savior of your life? Because He wants you to know today: “I AM the savior of the world.” Jesus is the one we all need in life – the one who can help us in our time of needs – the only one who can save us from this wretched world. Jesus is THE GREAT I AM.

I love you all
Donny Pierre

The Unlikely Disciple Joseph of Arimathea John 19:38-42

In the Bible, there are at least 3 Josephs that we know of: a) Joseph, the son of Jacob in the Old Testament, b) Joseph, the husband of Mary the mother of Jesus, c) Joseph of Arimathea. Also, I should mention there might be another Joseph that we do not know much of in the New Test. He is identified as Joseph or Joses the son of Mary, and the brother of James (Matt 27: 56, Mark 15:40). Remember, in Bible times Jewish people did not typically have last name. They were identified by where they were from and whose family they were born into. For example, Christ or Messiah is Jesus’ title and not his last name, or He is often identified in the N.T. as Jesus of Nazareth. How about Mary Magdalene, that was not her last name either – It is Mary of Magdala, which was a small fishing village on the western shore of Galilee. Joseph of Arimathea was a pharisee from the Judean town of Arimathea (Luke 23:51)
            Joseph of Arimathea is one of the unsung heroes of the Gospel story. He plays a major role in the burial of Jesus Christ and fulfilled the prophecy that the Messiah would be buried in a rich man’s tomb (Isaiah 53:9). Also, Joseph’s story is mentioned in all 4 accounts of the Gospel (Matt 27:57, Mark 15:42-46, Luke 23:50-53, John 19:38-42). The Gospel writers describe Joseph as a respected member of the Sanhedrin council. The same council that condemned Jesus to death after having conducted a fraudulent trial in the home of Caiaphas, the high priest (Luke 22:66, John 18:13-14). Without having any evidence to corroborate their charges against Jesus, the Sanhedrin Council sent Jesus to Pilate to be tried under Roman law because Judea could not legally condemn someone to death without Rome’s approval (John 18:31). Joseph of Arimathea was a member of that Sanhedrin Council. However, he never approved of their decision to condemn Jesus because he was secretly a disciple of Christ.
            According to John 12:42-43, many religious leaders, including some of the Pharisees, believed in Jesus but they would never openly acknowledge their faith in Christ for two reasons: a) fear of getting kicked out of the council, and b) they loved human praise more than the praise of God. I believe Joseph had to keep his faith in Christ a secret because if he were kicked out of the council, he would not be able to make any demands of Pilate regarding Jesus’s body to bury Him. However, he was not afraid to let the council know that he did not consent to their unsubstantiated decision to condemn Jesus (Luke 23:51). It is my belief that God was at work in the background making sure that the body of Christ did not stay on the cross that day, because it was a Roman tradition to leave the corpse of criminals on the cross as an example to subdue the people. BUT GOD, through His divine power and foreknowledge, had blessed and prepared an unlikely disciple, Joseph of Arimathea a member of the Pharisees who were bitter enemies of Jesus Christ, to make sure that His purpose would be fulfilled.
            Beloved, it is amazing how God is able “to work all things together for the good of those who love [Him] and are called according to His purpose.” I wonder if Joseph of Arimathea knew the role He was playing in the Gospel story. I wonder if he knew he was fulfilling Messianic prophecy. Maybe He did not. However, what we do know for certain is that God was, is and will always be control.

I love you all
Donny Pierre

The Origin & Purpose of Angels

What comes to mind when you think of angels? Do you think of a human being with wings on their back and a halo above their head? Do you think of cute little babies flying around with a bow and arrow? Or do you think of something else. The study of angels or the doctrine of angelology has always been intriguing to believers and non-believers alike, and I believe there are many things we can learn about them from the Bible.
          Angels are spiritual and non-corporeal beings created by God (Col 1:16, Gen 3) to serve as his messengers, soldiers, and representatives. Angels are spiritual forces created to carry out God’s purpose and will in the universe. They played a major role in how God operated in the Bible, Old and New Testament alike, and they are still carrying out His purpose today
          Join us for another Q&A night on March 19th at 7:00 pm as we explore what the Bible has to say about the origin and purpose of angels.

Donny Pierre

I AM PRAYING FOR YOU

As disciples of Christ, we have certain “Christian Clichés” that are part of our daily vocabulary: God bless you – God is good – thank you Jesus – Praise God – Amen, Hallelujah – Won’t He do it – I am praying for you – The list goes on. Now, allow me to remind you that the word “cliché” is defined as: “A phrase that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought.” There is nothing inherently wrong with these clichés, but I cannot help but wonder how genuine the intent behind these statements is. Are these clichés phrases that we simply say as part of our Christian culture, or do we really appreciate and grasp the spiritual power these statements.
          “I am praying for you” or “You are in my prayers” are phrases that we use all the time to express sympathy and a sense of Christ-like community, and it is spiritually uplifting to know other God-fearing Disciples are in fact praying on your behalf. However, how many times have some of us been guilty of telling people that we are praying for them and fail to follow through. We are busy people, and we tend to forget certain conversations at times. I genuinely believe that we do not mean to, but it happens to the best of us. I know I have been guilty of that. Therefore, I have been intentionally taking notes in my prayer journal or setting up reminders on my phone calendar, because I do not want this powerful and uplifting statement, “I am praying for you,” to be nothing but a cliché for me.
          Brothers and sisters let us continue to genuinely pray for each other and with each other whenever we have the opportunity. Prayer can help us connect on a deeper level with our Heavenly Father and strengthen our fellowship as a community of faithful believers. May we never take this statement lightly because there is power in prayer.

I am praying for you all, always
          Donny Pierre