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“Rooted” With Billy Huddleston

Written by scoopsnews on July 29, 2018 – 4:56 am -

Billy Huddleston

Billy Huddleston

But if thou canst do anything, have compassion on us, and help us.  Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.  And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”  – Mark 9:22-24

Like the caring father who sought healing for his son, we oftentimes find tension between faith and belief as we bring our petitions before the Lord.  How can you find hope when it seems as if all hope is gone? How do you find peace when war is raging all around? How do you find life in the midst of death?  It’s difficult, isn’t it? Yet, in spite of all this, I really believe that we want to believe. But, there is always a struggle between faith and doubt; and this is the struggle we find in the passage of Scripture above.

I can’t imagine how overwhelming this whole scene must have been for the boy and the father.  He comes to find Jesus, but Jesus isn’t there. (Jesus was on the Mount of Transfiguration with Peter, James and John at the beginning of this story.)  Even worse, Jesus’ disciples couldn’t heal his son, then the disciples started arguing and finally, a crowd gathered to watch the outcome. How frustrated this father must have been! 

Then Jesus appears.  I’m so glad that Jesus can do what we cannot do!  I also hope someone is encouraged by the father’s transparent honesty when he said, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.”  Isn’t that so real? Today, we try and appear like we have it altogether. But we don’t. None of us do. But this father understood that Jesus was the only One who could help him.  And you know what? Jesus didn’t scold him and say, “Well, get rid of that unbelief and then I’ll heal your son.” No. Instead, we watch love go to work.

I want you to grasp this because there’s so much here for us. The question is not whether we have a great amount of faith, the question is, “Who is the One in whom our faith is placed?”  The father of the boy admitted that his faith lacked in some areas, but at the end of the day, Jesus wasn’t concerned with the amount of faith the man had, He wanted to make sure the faith he had was in the right place.  Folks, don’t be discouraged by the frustration you’re experiencing. Don’t be paralyzed by your inability to be able to handle your problem on your own. Don’t be intimidated by the crowd. Why? Because Jesus can do what we can’t.  Just place your faith in Him alone!

 


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“Rooted” With Billy Huddleston

Written by scoopsnews on June 24, 2018 – 6:45 am -

 

God with US

Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.

Isaiah 7:14

So, all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”

Matthew 1:22-23

There are times that we all need reminders

I’ve found that to be true in ministry, in life. I’m sure most – if not all – would agree. And, it’s good when those reminders come. I had one of those reminders last evening.

My summer schedule is in full swing. (For those of you who don’t know me, I live my life singing and preaching the Gospel and, currently, I’m in the middle of a 3-weektrip.) I’m very blessed to do what I do. And, I love it! But, sometimes the road can become long and tiring.

Back to last night.

It was the beginning of an open-air, old-school camp meeting in East Central Pennsylvania. Oh, did I mention it’s a 10-day camp? By the time it closes, I will have preached 15 different times and, then, leave the next day for North Carolina to start all over again.

Can you tell this is on my mind?

It was last night as well.

As I prepared, I couldn’t get the simple, yet profound thought of “God with us” out of my mind. So, I chose the above verses as my text.  

Let’s step out of the story here for a moment.

I am well aware that many feel alone.

Many are overcome with feelings of inadequacy.

Look around, and you will see the outcasts, the unwanted, the seemingly unloved. Hopelessness seems to abound.

Melancholy controls.

It’s all around us.

You can see it in . . .

. . . the 24-hour news cycle . . .

​​. . . the beggar on the exit ramp . . .

​​​. . . the estranged spouse sitting on the church pew . . .

​​​​. . . the broken looking for love wherever it can be found . . .

​​​​​. . . the list could simply go on, and on, and on, and on.

 

I’ve learned that good people have hard times. And, even while you read this, you may be in a circumstance that you’re not sure how it will resolve. Or, perhaps you’re on the verge of giving up – believing life will always be this way.

Will you hear my heart?

I believe God wants me to remind you of this: The sun’s coming up!

DO NOT allow your present circumstance to name your tomorrow.

Let me repeat it.

DO NOT allow what you are going through at this moment to determine your future.

Here’s your reminder:

You are not alone.

God is with you.

In you.

Feet that walked down golden avenues trod through manure for 33 years so you’d never be alone. Toes that dangled in the crystal sea got dirt under their nails to prove how special you are.

Here’s your reminder:

You are loved.

​​You are wanted.

​​​You are an outcast no more!

 

Because of what He has done.

 

Now, about last night . . .

 

As service began, the worship leaders had technical difficulties and had to scrap everything that they had planned. New songs had to be thrown together on the fly. An entirely different direction was embarked upon.

 

Service began . . .

. . . Jesus Messiah, name above all names . . .

​​. . . My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus blood and righteousness. . .

​​​. . . Jesus you are loving . . .

 

The offering is taken.

A special is sung . . .

. . . Jesus, only Jesus

 

Then, the spoken Word: God is with Us!

. . . His name is Jesus, Immanuel . . .

 

And, that changes everything.

 

God orchestrated the service and lives were changed.

         A young man was delivered from pornography because he realized he’s not alone.

         An older lady left her worries at an altar because she realized she was not alone.

         A marriage was reconciled because they realized they were not alone.

         A preacher was encouraged, strengthened because he realized he’s not alone.

God is with us.

And, He’s strong enough to meet every need.

Be reminded.

Be encouraged.

Until Next Week……..

Billy


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“Rooted” With Billy Huddleston

Written by scoopsnews on June 11, 2018 – 10:30 am -

God’s Got Your Back

“And when he came to his disciples, he saw a great multitude about them, and the scribes questioning with them.  And straightway all the people, when they beheld him, were greatly amazed, and running to him saluted him. And he asked the scribes, “What question ye with them?”

– Mark 9:14-16

 

A crowd comes looking for Jesus.  In that crowd, there are members of the religious leadership.  You know the story; these religious leaders are always looking for a way to trip Him up.  But this time, Jesus isn’t there, so they decide to go after His men. So, they begin to argue and fuss at the disciples.

 

But there’s something I want you to see in this passage that I believe will bless you.  It’s in verse sixteen. As Jesus, Peter, James and John come down from the Mount of Transfiguration, Jesus doesn’t go up to His disciples and say, “Okay guys, what are you talking to the religious leadership about?”  No, Jesus goes to the religious leadership and says, “What are you debating, discussing, and arguing about with them?”

 

When I take in everything being said in this passage, verse sixteen tells me a blessed truth – Jesus has my back.  If I will stand for Him, He will fight for me!

 

Friends, unlike earthly kingdoms, that are defined by a group of people, politics or slogans, the Kingdom of God is defined by the nature of its King – Jesus.  The more we pray, meditate and imitate Him, the more Kingdom life will be lived through us. This is important because Mark’s gospel says, “The Kingdom of God has come.”  Meditate on the words has come, for a moment. This does not mean that we live our daily lives for self and someday when we get to heaven we’ll have a mansion on the hilltop.  What it does mean is that we don’t have to wait for the Kingdom of God to come – it’s already here. That’s what this section of Mark’s Gospel is all about, how to live in the Kingdom today! 

 

What does that have to do with the passage above?  Well, here’s the nugget of truth. When you live for Jesus and walk in the fullness of God, Jesus will fight for you.  When the enemy comes and tries to pull you down – He’s got your back!


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“Rooted” with Billy Huddleston

Written by scoopsnews on May 27, 2018 – 7:51 am -

Compassion Recognized

Mark 1:40-42

Today, a leper comes to Jesus.

With nowhere else to turn. No place else to go. This broken creation makes his way to the Master Artist.

Have you ever noticed that wherever you find Jesus, you usually find crowds of people? Except for those solitary times of prayer—there are always crowds of people—and usually at least twelve guys somewhere in the shadows.

Many times, we see hundreds. Sometimes there are even thousands. There’s just something about Jesus that seems to draw a crowd. Today would be no different. Jesus has been advancing the Kingdom. Matthew puts this event in chapter eight, right after the Sermon on the Mount. If that’s accurate then the crowd would have surrounded Jesus.

Do you see it?

Jesus is surrounded by the multitude.

Everyone seems to be captivated by His presence. That is, everybody except for the group of people toward the back. They’re whispering, pointing. What’s the distraction?  

You’re there. You’re part of the crowd. Go ahead. Turn around and see what’s happening.

Looking in the direction where one is pointing, you see him. He’s hobbling toward the crowd—toward you. You can’t help but notice hisunkempt hair, torn clothing, and covered face.

Gasp!

It’s a leper.

“Hey! What’s he doing here?”

“Someone lasso the trash and drag him back to where he belongs!” You notice those around you covering their noses, and you smell it, too—the odor of decaying flesh. The stench of rotting skin is unmistakable. Several begin to gag.  

But the leper continues. He’s not looking at the crowd.

He’s focused on an audience of One.

The people know if they breathe the same air, touch the same ground then they, too, will be defiled. So they back away.

But look! As the multitude parts . . . Jesus stands firmly in place, unwavering. Undaunted. Unafraid.

This leper continues toward Jesus with hishead cast down, ashamed of his condition andfearing for his life. Watching from a distance, you see him fall on his face before Jesus.

We listen as he begins to worship at His feet. We hear him as he begins to speak. Listen to his trembling voice. What’s he saying?

Compassion Requested

If You are willing, You can make me clean” (Mark 1:40).

Notice, he’s not saying, “If You’re able.” In fact, there’s no question of ability in that statement. He obviously believes that Jesus has the ability and the authority to restore his life.

In the context of this day, the people would have believed the following. He’s getting from God exactly what he deserved. This is payment—a penalty for his sin. God had removed His hand of mercy from this pitiful man’s life.

See, that’s how the people could justify their lack of compassion. If God didn’t love this man,why should they? But, the leper believes if Jesus is the Promised One—the One who acts on God’sbehalf—then He could, should He choose, extendHis hand of mercy. He could show compassion, and love, and restore his broken life.

Compassion’s Response

How would Jesus respond? Keep watching.

“Then Jesus, moved with compassion . . .” (Mark 1:41).  

Can we pause here for a moment? When we read that Jesus is “moved with compassion” we need to know that this is really strong language. “Moved with compassion” in the Greek language is splanchnizomai. It’s pronounced: Splangkh-nid’-zomahee. And it means: to be moved as to one’s bowels; to feel deep sympathy for; to be moved with compassion. The bowels were thought to be the hub of love and pity.

It’s referring to a deep inner emotion that’sgenerated from the seat of passions. It’s an arousal of emotion that results in response. This is coming from the place where anger is born, where frustration exists or indignation is found. But, it’s also the birthplace of tender affections such as love and care. Jesus is moved by a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow, so much so that it’saccompanied by the strong desire to alleviate suffering.

In other words, it broke His heart.

He saw the isolation. He recognized the hurt, the pain.

Jesus was moved by the leper’s condition.

This strong phrase (“moved with compassion”) is used almost exclusively in Scripture to describe what happens inside Jesus.At least eight times in the Gospels we run across this phrase. We see it four times in Matthew, three times in Mark, and twice in Luke. It’s referring to what’s going on inside of Him.

Please.

A leper comes to Jesus. Begging. Pleading: “If You are willing. . . .

What would Jesus do? With the Father’s heart pounding in His chest, He. . .

“. . . stretched out His hand and touched him,”

Jesus does the unthinkable.

And He does it without hesitation!

He reaches out and touches the unclean. Canyou see how far compassion is willing to go?

What others were afraid of, Jesus was not.

When all society was willing to throw this man away, Jesus would not.

When everyone else turned their backs, Jesus could not.

He touches the untouchable! He reaches down, takes the man by the face and lifts it so they’re looking eye to eye. When he looked into Jesus face he saw the Father’s heart and heard as He . . .

“. . . said to him, ‘I am willing; be cleansed’” (Mark 1:41).

I want to.

I am willing.

Be clean.

Compassion’s Result

As soon as He had spoken, immediately the leprosy left him,

and he was cleansed” (Mark 1:42).

Life is restored. Jesus didn’t receive what the man had when He touched him. The leper received what Jesus had. Real life. Restoration. The outcast is now part of community. His life is changed.

It was the Father’s tender heart pounding in His chest.

It moved Him.

It’s what He wanted to do.

It’s what He’s still doing.

Touching the unclean places of our lives.

Making whole what we’ve broken and tried to hide.

He places His holy hands onto our tear-stained faces—and lifts our eyes to meet His.

And He makes us whole.


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Rooted With Billy Huddleston

Written by scoopsnews on May 20, 2018 – 7:13 am -

Chosen

John 3:16

“For God so loved the world (you),

that He gave His only begotten Son,

that whosever (you, me, everyone, anyone)

believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

The third grade is a wonderful time in a childs life. Its that time when little boys begin to notice little girls; when they begin to realize that theres something different about them . . . something wonderful. So, they begin to try to get their attention by pulling their hair and punching them in the arms. You know, to show them how special they are. Its how little boys express themselves.

It was certainly a memorable time in my life.

I was a student at Williams Avenue Elementary. And, as a little boy, I was now beginning to notice girls. Not thegirls my age. Instead, I had my eyes on a greater prize: Miss Parsons, the music teacher. She was smart. She was talented. She was kind. And, to top it off, she was beautiful. Childhood crush . . . she was my kind of woman!

Rhondas story was different. Because . . . well . . . Rhonda was different.

Rhonda lived around the block from me and was in my third grade class. She came from a home where life was anything but easy. Mom and Dad lived their liveswithout much regard for her. Or at least thats how it seemed. She was heavier than the rest of us and wasnt taught much about personal hygiene. She didnt have the nicest of clothes and often whatever she wore on Monday she would still be wearing on Friday. Needless to say, we noticed, and we let her know how different she was. Children can be cruel.

Life can be tough when youre different. Life was tough for Rhonda.

Not only did Miss Parsons notice, she cared.

We often had activities in music class that required a partner. Whether it was sharing an autoharp, dancing or singing a duet in our choir, the Melody Makers, wed have to partner off. Sometimes those partners were assigned, other times wed choose.

All the boys would line up against one wall and the girls on the other. From the first boy to the last partners would be chosen. That was a process that could be exhilarating. If you were in the front of the line you had the pick of the litter. It was a process that could be excruciating: If you were at the end of the line you were stuck with whomever wasn’t chosen. The process was humiliating. Rhonda was always that one not chosen.

Her body language began to tell the story. Wheneverit was time to partner off, shed take her place with the other girls. Shed stand at the end of the line with her shoulders slumped, head down realizing that she was going to hear Miss Parsons force the last boy to be her partner.

I cant imagine how that felt. Sure, there were plenty of times I wasnt first choice and I know at least once or twice I was chosen last. But, every time? I cant begin to understand what that would have done for ones self image at such a young age. Unwanted. Overlooked. Last choice. Rhonda.

I was helping Miss Parsons between classes oneschool day. (I always found a reason to be around Miss Parsons!) As I began to wrap things up so I could get tomy class she asked me to do her a favor. Of course! Id do anything she wanted me to do! Remember, I had my eye on her. But I wasnt ready for what she said next:

Next time we have a partner time in class, I want you to pick Rhonda to be your partner. Will you do that?

I couldnt believe my ears. Didnt she know what she was asking of me? Remember, this is the third grade. Little boys and girls are beginning to notice each other. If I partner with Rhonda that will be the end! How could such an ugly request come from such a beautiful mouth? No way, no thanks, Id never do that. I didnt really care for Miss Parsons anymore.

I turned to storm out of the room as she continued:

“But Billy, its what a Christian would do…

I knew she was right. She knew I knew. I came from a church going family. But, to be honest, I didnt care.

Time passed. I dont know how long. Eventually it was time. Today in music class we would have a partner activity. Miss Parsons lined all the girls up along the wall. Rhonda took her place at the end of the line, head down, shoulders slumped. Then, she lined the boys up along the opposite wall. And, for some reason, today was my lucky day. I was right in the front. I was first. Id have first choice.

I heard her voice: “Billy, pick your partner.

My heart was pounding as I looked up and down theline. I saw Lisa, Lori and Lana. I saw all the girls whom I wanted to choose as my partner and was trying to figureout whose day I was going to make.

Then, I saw Rhonda.

Head down, shoulders slumped and my heart beganto pound faster. So, I made my choice:

Rhonda.”

Do you know how special you are to Him?

I want you to remember this today . . .

God looked across time and spoke your name.

How will you responded?

You’ve been chosen.

 


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Rooted With Billy Huddleston

Written by scoopsnews on May 6, 2018 – 3:39 am -

 

Excitement of the Miracle

“But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth

to forgive sins”—He said to the paralytic, . . . “ (Mark 2:10)

Can you imagine the excitement of the four burdenbearers at this point? This is exactly why they brought their “burden” here. Their journey wasn’t motivated by the concern for this mans sin. They brought the paralytic to Jesus for his physical paralysis to be dealt with. First, Jesus would deal with the spiritual.

Now it was going to happen. They’re around the hole they had uncovered in the roof. They’re dirty, bleeding, tired. But now their efforts would pay off. Jesus was about to lift this burden. Imagine their anticipation as they begin to cheer Him on: “Yes! That’s why we brought him here! Make him walk, make him walk!”

Jesus focuses upon the man on the mat and continues:

“I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house

(Mark 2:11).

The entire crowd is engaged in the moment. Every eye is transfixed on the lifeless form that had been lowered through the roof. Suddenly—     fingers that were motionless start to twitch.

Crooked, bent legs begin to straighten.

Twisted, limp arms gather strength.  

The picture mesmerizes the crowd as the new arms push up from the floor so he can try out his new legs. As he stands, he doesn’t stumble once! As he stretches, squares his shoulders and lifts his head, we notice that he stands as tall as anyone in the house. He looks over at the mat where he had been enslaved with the sentence he had lived with for so long.

He’s going to claim that baggage. He leans over. There’s a gasp as everyone sees—without stumbling—he bends over and grabs the mat. As he throws it over his shoulder, the entire crowd in the house parts. Yes, the same crowd who wouldn’t let him in, now has no choice but to make room for the walking miracle.  

“Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out

in the presence of them all. . . . (Mark 2:12).

He’s walking out!

In full view of everyone.

This is not the same man.

Well, it is the same man.

Only, Jesus has transformed his life.

Jesus has restored this masterpiece!

Can you imagine being there? How would you have responded? Let’s look at their response:

“. . . so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying,

“We never saw anything like this!” (Mark 2:12)

Their jaws are on the ground. With their very eyes they had seen it. A man lowered through the roof walked out in full view. Amazing. Stunning. Incredible. They’re asking, “What in the world did we just see?

Let’s pause for a moment. It’s time for a question: When was the last time you left a gathering saying, “What in the world . . . ? Not because something chaotic has happened or aspectacle occurred. But, because Jesus came upon the scene in such a real way that there was no other way to explain it. He was simply revealedand lives were changed! Don’t you long for that?

So, when was it?

Has it been recently?

Or, have you ever experienced that?

Isn’t that what we as Christians long for?

We want to see Him!

“We never saw anything like this!”

That’s what they’re saying.

Jesus had changed a life.

In a very public way.

Simply amazing.

Now, He’s on the move. . . . again.

 


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Rooted With Billy Huddleston

Written by scoopsnews on April 29, 2018 – 4:59 am -

How Would You Answer?

Mark 2:8-14

“Why does He talk like this? Only God can forgive sins.”

That’s what they’re saying.

The scribes and Pharisees—the religious leadership of the day—are in an uproar because of the statement Jesus has made. Their egos have been bruised! Remember, the people are saying that Jesus teaches better than these scribes and Pharisees. He teaches as one having authority, like He actually knows what He’s talking about. So, these insecure, intimidated religious leaders are now looking for any reason to discredit Him. Now, in their hearts, they think they’ve got Him.

Have you noticed that we can’t get anything by Jesus? He’s the Knower of our hearts. We simply think something, and He knows. So, Jesus knows exactly what these guys are thinking!

Jesus knew their hearts, but He could see on their faces they disagreed with His statement. He knows where they are, but He refuses to leave them there. Have you realized this about Jesus? He knows exactly where we are. He meets us there. But, He refuses to leave us in that position. He’s constantly working on His masterpiece—restoring it to what He knows it can be.

He knows exactly what these people arethinking, what’s going on in their hearts, where they are, yet He refuses to leave them there! Listen as He speaks:

“Why do you reason about these things in your hearts?

Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’

or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’?”

Mark 2:8-9

Let’s think about this question for a minute.

How would you answer?

Before you do . . . which would be easier for the paralytic? Remember, his body doesn’t work. There’s no strength in his legs, no developed muscle. He’s the unwelcome, unloved outcast. All eyes are on him.

How about the scribes? What would be easier for them to hear as they sit in judgment and condemnation?

What about the crowd?

What about you?

How would you respond?

Let’s note that everyone is not at the same place in the story. We all come from somewhere, each has a perspective dictated by his or hercircumstance, all have a point of view. It’s too easy for us to quickly jump to conclusions and make judgments.

So . . . how would you answer?


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Rooted with Billy Huddleston

Written by scoopsnews on April 22, 2018 – 7:23 am -

When Storms Come
(Mark 4:35-41; 6:45-53)

I want to share a chapter from a book I coauthored with you this week. You’ve been on my mind . . . It’s been on my mind. Maybe you need to be reminded. I know I do!

It’s a little longer than usual. But, read it to the end and be encouraged.

When Storms Come (from Masterpiece)

​There’s something wonderful about a good storm; the mighty rolls of thunder, majestic flashes of lightening and the metered pitter patter of raindrops sometimes gentle, other times fierce. It’s an incredible display matched by few others.
I’ve always loved a good storm. I can remember as a boy sitting on the porch in southwestern Ohio with my dad simply listening, observing, feeling the storm as it came and went. I can even remember one time when half of our city block was being rained upon while the other half was dry and sunny. There’s no other way to say it . . . Simply amazing!
When I moved to northeast Illinois for college I experienced storms in a whole new way. The Ohio Valley is filed with rolling hills that eventually grow into the Appalachian Mountains. Northeast Illinois is flat; you can see for miles. I remember times when the wind would pick up and you could literally watch the storm brew and advance across the horizon.
I can’t help it, I just love a good storm.
​But not all storms are good.
We’ve all seen reports of the devastation left behind the path of a tornado, hurricane or tsunami. Homes demolished. Cities wiped out. Landscapes forever changed. Lives stolen. Certainly, not all storms are good.
Just as we have seasons in our lives, we will also experience storms. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow stated this reality when he penned the words, “Into each life some rain must fall”. There’s simply no way around it. Storms are a part of life. Some, we’ll see brewing on the horizon. Others will blow in unaware. In a moment we find ourselves in a situation that we seem to be clinging for our lives. We wonder if our homes will withstand the gust, how or if we’ll make it through and dread to see how the landscape has changed when the sun begins to shatter the darkness.
What do we do in those times?
How should we respond?
​Tale courage. It’s still all about you.

Get Ready
In Mark 4:35-41 and Mark 6:45-53 we learn some powerful lessons on what to do when storms come. There are two recorded physical storms in the disciples walk with Jesus. Undoubtedly, there were more than just two storms in the three years they were together, but these two must be significant because we have their account in Scripture. Both happened during the second year of their walk with Jesus and both occurred while they were in a boat on the sea.
​Water was, is and always will be of great importance to any culture. In Scripture you see that almost every major biblical event occurs near some water source. Throughout the Old Testament large bodies of water are synonymous with death. It had also been referred to as “the abyss.”
Why? Well, remember that in biblical times they didn’t have the technology that we now have. They weren’t able to go far below the surface of the water and see what was beneath. They had watched as people would venture out on the sea and never returned. They had heard the tales that had been spun from such events.
In chapter four we talked a little about the Sea of Galilee. You’ll remember that it’s the largest body of fresh water in that region. It’s a place of activity: commerce, travel, gathering. This sea was notorious. Because of the geography (remember, from the air it would look like a basin of water surrounded by a mountain range) the mood of the sea could shift without warning. A stiff breeze could race down from the mountains and across the waters changing smooth sailing into a nightmare for any traveler. This is the sea where these storms occur.

Kingdom Business
​The Master Artist has been displaying the canvas. The Kingdom is growing. In fact, so many gathered to hear Him that today He had actually taught from a boat. The day had been full, the crowds had been demanding.
When evening came and the teaching time was over, we hear Jesus speak to the disciples in a tired voice:

“Let us cross over to the other side” (Mark 4:35 NKJV).

​The disciples had also put in the exciting but long hours of ministry. Longing for respite, they push out on the sea. As the boat sails from the shore, the crowds that had gathered begin to disperse. The farther the boat gets from land, the crowds appear smaller and smaller until eventually they’re out of the disciples sight.

Turn of Events
​Daylight gives way to night as they set their course. Jesus, tired from the demands of the day, makes His way to the back of the ship. He finds a cushion and lies down. The gentle breeze and rocking of the waves are perfect ingredients for much needed rest. He drifts into slumber.
The disciples scatter around the boat. They, too, were enjoying the solitude, the peace, the rhythm of the sea.
As the journey continues, the wind begins to strengthen. As the wind begins to challenge the ship, lightening fills the air. And, with a fierce crash of thunder, the sky opens and begins to discharge its fury. The gentle breeze is now ferocious, and relaxing waves have become relentless— crashing into the boat.
Remember four of these twelve men are fishermen. Because they’re at home on the sea they know what they have to do. This is a battle they’ve fought before. They spring into action; grabbing oars, ropes, sails. They’ll not go down. Not tonight. Not like this.
We don’t know whether the other disciples felt at home on the sea, but we can assume they knew that water belonged outside of the boat—not inside. So, we see the fight in them, too. They grab buckets, pails and begin to scoop the water from the boat back to the sea.

The Battle Rages
The disciples are fighting. Jesus is asleep.
This is almost more than the disciples can take. Doesn’t He realize what’s going on here? How can He sleep through this storm? How is that even possible? Enough! Something has to be done.
One of the disciples makes his way to the back of the boat. He’s had all that he can take. He walks over to where the cushion is and begins to shake it. We hear the fear, the concern in his voice as he speaks:

“Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” (Mark 4:38 NKJV).

Listen to his voice. Hear his concern. We can translate this: “Jesus, we’re in a storm!. The boat’s filling up. We’re losing the battle. Jesus, we’re about to go down. Life is about to end! Do something!” He’s afraid for his life. Jesus understands.
We watch Jesus as He wipes the sleep from His eyes and stands to His feet. We see Him as He makes His way to the front of the boat. He faces the tempest, looks it in the eye, and speaks:

“Peace, be still!” (Mark 4:39 NKJV)

​Jesus speaks: “Be muzzled.”
When the word came from His mouth, as the last syllable flipped from His tongue, the storm must obey. Remember, when Authority speaks it must be obeyed. And, the source of Authority has spoken.
Just as quickly as the mood of the sea shifted earlier, now it responds to the Master’s voice. The winds die down. Stars reappear. It’s smooth sailing for the rest of this journey. The disciples are left wet, shivering, and staring at each other saying:

“Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!”
(Mark 4:41 NKJV)

It’s not really about weather, you know.
Electric lightning that splits boats,
gale-force winds that hurl boats,
44-foot waves that sink boats.
It’s not about the weather at all.
It’s still about you.
Can you learn that even in the midst of your darkest night—
​your worst storm—
​​your unimaginable nightmare—
that the Master Artist is at work?
He may be silent. You may not hear His voice right away.
But He’s working behind the scenes in ways you can’t see.

The doctor’s office calls, and the test results are back.
The news isn’t good.
Your Savior knows all about it.

It seems you’ve had the children in church all their lives.
But now you’re hearing rumors about your high-school daughter.
STDs?
Your Savior isn’t shaken.

You promised “till death do us part.”
But can you forgive yet another affair?
Your Savior has the answer.

You’re a good person. But suddenly you find yourself in the midst of a storm. And it’s not just any storm. Lightning has disintegrated your walls and now your home—your safe haven—is now anything but.
Gale-force winds have hurled you into such pain you don’t see how you’ll regain balance. You’re debilitated.
The monstrous waves have beaten you prostrate into the darkness. You’re wondering if you’ll even recognize the sun . . . should you ever see it again.
The answer is in the Master Artist. Though He may be silent, He is at work. He is moving, doing, restoring.
In the Greek language—the language in which the New Testament was originally written—there are two words for our “do.” One is prosso and it’s equated to an external activity. The disciples wanted Jesus to do something externally in the midst of the storm. “Can You grab a bucket, Jesus? Will You help us? We need Your physical help here!”
Prosso IS physical activity. It’s engaging oneself in physical activity. It’s painting a tool shed.
The other word for “do” is poieo. Our word poetry is derived from this. It also refers to external activity—but it’s strength that flows from the inside. It comes naturally.
Jesus doesn’t paint tool sheds. But as the Master Artist, He spreads His brush freely, with urgency and extreme focus across the canvas of our lives. The beauty He creates in your life comes from within Him.
You are not simply on His “to DO” list; something to check off and accomplish externally. You are His “DOING”—His healing, restoring, beautifying. And that kind of “do” comes from deep within Himself. Out of who He is, He makes your life better.
From naturally within Him, He muzzles the wind.
He commands peace for your soul.
He stops the storm.
He draws you near.

It feels as though the focus is on the storm, doesn’t it?
That’s where our attention naturally goes.
But look closer. Perhaps in the lower deck, with His head on a pillow, you’ll see a Master Artist who at any moment is about to poieo.

Can you trust Him? In the midst of a storm, can you trust Him?
His focus isn’t a storm. His focus is you.

A Miraculous Day
The entire day will be remembered forever. The Bible tells us five thousand people have been fed, but that’s only counting the men. If we counted everyone, it would easily amount to ten or fifteen thousand who were fed. Women and children were there, too.
And how were they fed? Not by the caterers. Jesus had done it with just a few fish and loaves. The crowds were ready to crown Jesus king.
The political climate seems delicate. John the Baptist has already been executed. The enemies of Jesus and the Kingdom were on the prowl; the Pharisees and Saducees were in wait ready to pounce.
Jesus was aware:

“Immediately He made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him
to the other side, to Bethsaida, while He sent the multitude away”
(Mark 6:45 NKJV).

Another Storm
​We can hear His voice: “You go on to Bethsaida. I’ll catch up with you later.” The disciples are more than willing to do as Jesus has said. The day has been exciting but exhausting. So, we watch them as they climb into the boat, press from the shore of the sea and begin to sail toward Bethsaida.
As they do, Jesus makes His way to a mountain to pray. He would use this time to gather strength from His Father, direction for the storm that He’d soon face. As He prays, the disciples sail.
Back in the boat we watch as the sun has gone down. Once again, the disciples are in the midst of a storm. The wind picks up. Waves crash in. They spring into action; they fight the fight.
There’s a big difference in this storm and the one they just survived in Mark 4. Remember in the last storm Jesus was asleep in the back of the boat. Today, He’s nowhere to be found. In fact, they had left Him back on the shore. The One who had muzzled the storm was far from them. This would be it. They’d go down. This would be the end.
Can you imagine what they were feeling? Can you just sense that their confidence was nowhere to be found? What now? Notice the Scripture:

“Now when evening came, the boat was in the middle of the sea;
and He was alone on the land. Then He saw them straining at rowing,
for the wind was against them” (Mark 6:48 NKJV).

That’s probably the best description of how they were feeling: the wind was against them. Have you ever felt like that? One step forward, two steps back.
The oars are growing heavy. Their hands are rope-burned, backs are sore. For more than eight hours we get the sense that they only made it about three-and-a-half miles. They’re barely holding their ground. They’re about to go under. But, wait:

“Now about the fourth watch of the night
He came to them, walking on the sea. . . . “ (Mark 4:48 NKJV).

He came to them . . . walking on the sea. Think about this: A storm that the disciples could not navigate through, sail through—Jesus walks right through. He is not phased. The wind cannot halt His movement. He gets in the boat with them, the wind dies down, and they anchor in Gennesaret.
Two storms during the disciples time with Christ. Why does that matter to us? Because storms are a part of life. Sometimes we, too, feel like crying out to the Artist, “I’m drowning! Don’t You care? Are You even aware? Are You even here?”
Because it’s inevitable that “Into each life some rain must fall,” to quote Wadsworth again, we need to be prepared. We need to know how to respond to the storms. We want to learn the lessons that the disciples learned those nights. Here are five.

Lessons Learned
#1: Obedience doesn’t equal ease. In each situation the disciples were simply doing what Jesus had told them to do. They could have easily shouted, “Hey, Jesus! We’re being obedient. So why are we in a storm? I mean, we’re doing what You told us to do!”
​Obedience doesn’t equal ease. Read any book on persecuted Christians. Their obedience never equaled an easy life. (We recommend Heavenly Man by Brother Yun; Captive in Iran by Maryam Rostampour and Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand.)

From Billy​
I was born in 1972, so that means that I’m a product of the 80s. Those were my formative years. In the early part of that decade, my dad had an 80s van—sloped nose front, custom paint stripes down the side, tear drop tinted windows, slide the door open and shag carpet was everywhere. He thought he was cool! So did my friends and I.
We loved it when he gave us a ride to and from school in the cool van. We’d stop at Burger Chef and get milkshakes. The only problem? Well, music-wise dad was stuck in the 70s. He had an eight-track player in the van. (An eight-track player was like a CD player only totally different. I think cavemen invented it. It was used before cassette tape players were installed in cars. And I think those were invented by the early Romans.)
There was one song in particular that I remember. The intro was vibrant as the artist began to sing, “I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden!”

​He never said it would be easy, but He said that He’d be there with us through it all. You know what that means? It’s going to be good. Like the three Hebrew boys from the Old Testament who were thrown into the fiery furnace: “God will either save us from the flames, or He’ll take us to heaven. Either way, He has our back.” It will end good.

​#2: Don’t quit. The disciples learned this lesson right in the middle of the storm. Have you noticed that the temptation to quit is always strong? When the storm is raging and the night is so dark that it’s hard to sense His presence, it would be easier to curl up in the fetal position and just give up. We’ve all been there.
Jesus sees you in the storms. He’s not ignorant to your situation. Listen to the words of the psalmist in Psalm 121:1-4 NKJV:

I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to be moved;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep.

​Don’t quit. When you can’t see Him, He never takes His eyes off of you. He will not let you drown. He’ll always come through. Which leads us to the third lesson.

#3: In the midst of your greatest need, He’s there. Jesus went to the disciples. Moved by their circumstance, He did not leave them on their own. But when did He show up?
It wasn’t when the storm began brewing.
Not even when the boat was half-full of water.
Jesus arrived when they needed Him the most. When they saw no way out, He became their way out. They had reached the end of their striving, and Jesus was there.
He’s there. Wouldn’t it be great to simply marinate in this truth for a while? So often we’re tempted to do it on our own. So many times we think the answer lies in our efforts. And in the midst of our striving, we fail to realize He’s there.
In every circumstance, He’s there.
In the midst of every storm, He’s there.
In the midst of your greatest need.
You are His masterpiece. Every stroke of the brush is restoring who you were meant to be. When situations are out of control . . . when the world is spinning wildly, chaotically, remember that He’s there because He cares. You are a dream in the Artist’s heart. Each shade, every hue is for your good. He is the Master. He’s in control.

#4: You don’t always end up where you thought you’d be. In Mark 6, Jesus told the disciples to go to Bethsaida and that He’d catch up. However, after they struggled through the storm and Jesus got into the boat, they anchored in Gennesaret. (See Mark 6:53.)
Gennesaret. That’s not where they thought they were going. That wasn’t on their itinerary; it wasn’t a planned destination. Yet, that’s where they ended up.
You know through the life you’ve lived thus far, that things don’t always turn out the way you planned. Just talk to the young widow who lost her spouse to war and is left to raise a family on her own.
Speak with the father and mother whose son battled brain cancer at the age of 14. Then rejoiced at 15 because the battle seemingly had been won, cancer defeated. Yet it reared it’s ugly head more fiercely at 17 and claimed victory before his 18th birthday.
Sit down with the widower who lost his mate of 67 years and now lives life alone, losing part of who he is. They’d say, “It wasn’t supposed to happen this way.”
“We were going to grow old together.”
“You’re not supposed to outlive your child.”
You don’t always end up where you thought you’d be . . . but when Jesus is with you, it becomes the right place.

​#5: You always land where you’re needed most. You may not understand why you are where you, but be sure of this: God will use you for His glory exactly where you stand.
The subheading in the New King James Bible to Mark 6:53-56 (when they anchor in Gennesaret) says this: Many Touch Him and Are Made Well
It seems odd to highlight a subheading, but it’s important that we catch it: MANY. Because they anchored there, many lives were changed. It’s not where they thought they were going. But, it’s exactly where they needed to be. People were changed, lives transformed, masterpieces restored by the Master Artist Himself.

Turbulence Happened
Two storms in the disciples’ three years with Jesus. In the first, Jesus was present. He was asleep in the stern. In the second, He had withdrawn to a mountain while the disciples struggled. The darkness of night prevented them from seeing Him, but He could see them.
The difference is great.
The withdrawal was necessary.
Why? Because Jesus knew the disciples would soon be in the storm of their lives. They needed to learn to trust their spiritual eyes more than their physical sight.
The Artist is always at work . . . even in the midst of a storm.
Can you trust Him?


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Rooted With Billy Huddleston

Written by scoopsnews on April 15, 2018 – 6:25 am -

Touching Jesus
Part Two

Last week we began a journey with some men that needed to get their friend to Jesus. Touching Jesus was all that mattered. So, let’s jump back into the story . . .

Whatever it Would Take

“And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd . . . ”
(Mark 2:4)

They start their journey. Gently—but firmly—they each take a corner of the mat that’s connected to wooden poles and lift. They begin to carry this man to the place where Jesus is. How far did they have to walk? Was it a few blocks or a few miles?
Obviously, the distance wasn’t a concern to them. The issue? Get to Jesus! Their arms become fatigued. Pain sears through their lower backs, and they’re realizing how difficult it is to carry a human across rocky paths,
up hills,
down dusty roads,
and through narrow streets.
Finally, they reach the home.
Now, their hearts sink.
They see the house. And they see the crowd spilling out the door and huddling around the windows. How will they ever get inside? They realize the nature of the crowd and the stature of a paralytic. They have to try.
Jesus was in the house!
​Touching Him is all that matters.
​They edge their way to the door.
​Desperation has now become personified.
​​It’s their heartbeat. It’s the sweat on their brows.
​​It’s the agony piercing through their strained muscles.
​They inch their way along the outside, but the crowd is ruthless. Someone screams, “Hey! We were here first.”
Another, “If we could move forward, we would! We can barely see and hear what’s going on. So, stop pushing.”
​They can’t get in.
​They don’t give up.
Desperation’s heartbeat only pulsates faster.
​Rocks inside their open-foot sandals have rubbed their feet raw.
​​Their palms, sweaty and burdened from the weight, slip on the poles holding the mat. The four men tighten their grip and clench their teeth in conjunction with the muscle spasms. They are burden bearers.
Jesus is in the house!
They will not give up.
​Desperation is alive.

“ . . . they uncovered the roof where He was . . . ” (Mark 2:4)
Unstoppable
​They exert the effort to carefully carry this man up the stairs toward the flat roof. Desperation pushes each one of the eight individual feet up each stair.
The mat hits the wall.
One of the four men trips.
​Regaining their balance, they continue up the stairs until finally reaching the roof. They’re actually on top of the house!
​Let’s watch as they lay this man down. No time is wasted. They immediately spring into action. They’re surveying the roof trying to find the exact location where Jesus is teaching. It wouldn’t do any good to lower him toward the back or middle of the house. They’ve already seen the crowd’s response. That won’t be good enough. They need to get to Jesus!
When they find where He is, their action continues as they begin to “unroof” the roof. With their bare hands they begin prying loose the tiles.
It’s hard work.
It’s painful work.
Nails are turned back.
Flesh is sliced as they uncover the roof.
But the price is worth the cost as they work to get this man, this burden to Jesus.

“So when they had broken through. . . .” (Mark 2:4)

​When the tiles are removed, the thatch that makes up the roof is exposed. They will not allow this barrier to stop them.
Jesus is in the house.
​Touching Him is all that matters.
​ Desperation.
On all fours—and with Navy Seal Team Six precision—they begin to remove the barrier. With bare hands they dig. And they dig. And they dig.
Can you imagine being on the inside of the house at this point? You’re captivated by Jesus presence. You’re hanging on every word. Then, you begin to hear scratching from the roof. Squirrels? Raccoons?
You try to ignore it when something suddenly hits your shoulder. You brush it away as another piece hits you on the head. What in the . . . All of a sudden, another piece hits the ground as light begins to shine down. Your attention is now focused upward as you watch dust particles in the light coming from a hole in the roof!
The roof is caving in. The crowd pushes back as you see four sets of hands tearing through the roof; four sets of hands digging through until they begin to lower a mat right to the feet of Jesus.

Target Reached

“ . . . they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying” (Mark 2:4)

​Hanging over the edge of the hole, they begin to carefully lower this man to Jesus’ feet.
​Jesus was in the house.
​Touching Him was all that mattered.
​When the crowd wouldn’t let them through the door,
​they uncovered the roof.
​They had to get to the Artist.
​What an incredible picture.
​What beautiful desperation.

Let’s Get Personal
​We have a lot to consider with this, don’t we? First of all, these four men give us a magnificent picture of genuine friendship. They also demonstrate their willingness to be burden bearers. And they display an intense desperation to have a legitimate encounter with Jesus.
​We also learn a lot from the paralyzed man’s situation. When it seemed impossible for him to get to Jesus, Jesus moved the right men into his life to bring him to the Great Physician.
​Can you relate?
​It’s about you.
​At times does it feel as though the distance between you and Jesus is just too far? The journey too difficult? The odds stacked against you are too high?
​That’s why sometimes we need a little help from friends.
​Real friends will move you closer to Jesus.
​Whatever it takes.

For more information on Billy Huddleston: HERE


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Rooted With Billy Huddleston

Written by scoopsnews on April 8, 2018 – 9:15 am -

Touching Jesus
Part One

John Stallings penned the words,

“Touching Jesus is all that really matters,
then your life will never be the same.
There is only one way to touch Him,
just believe when you call on His name.”

​I hadn’t thought about that song for years. Until one night at a revival meeting in northeast Ohio that it flooded my memory.
It had been a good week. The crowds were good, services lively, and the Spirit of God was present. People had been responding, and lives had been changed. Masterpiece’s restored.
It was the last night of the meeting and a spontaneous testimony service erupted. It was beautiful. People stood to share what God had been doing in their lives. You could really sense a genuine atmosphere of praise.
​And then she stood. Her face was worn and tired. She stood with her shoulders slightly down. Her dress was very common. I’ll confess, I don’t remember her name . . . however, I’ll never forget what she said.
Her voice trembled as she spoke. She shared how difficult the past few years had been—especially the last year. I listened intently as she described how her husband of 60-plus years had lost his battle to Alzheimer’s Disease, her family had deserted her, and now she was facing sickness herself. Yet, she had a testimony.
She relayed to all in the sanctuary that night that God had been her constant and had proven to be true through it all. She continued her story and with a stronger, more determined voice concluded with this statement that has stuck with me:

“The last few years have been so very hard. However, I know this is true:
The promises that are before me are greater than the pain of my past!
You see, I have Jesus, and He’s all I need.”

​That’s when I realized that this woman had touched Jesus! And the memory of this song from my childhood replayed in my mind.

“Touching Jesus is all that really matters. . . . ”

​Can I confess to you there are so many times that I think of everything else but this? I come to a church service thinking about what I’m going to sing, what I’m going to preach, how the flow of the service will go, wondering who’s going to show up. . . . Consumed by so many things—everything but the most important: Touching Jesus.
I hope that statement’s not too shocking. I feel I can confess this because you’re likely the same way. I mean, we all live lives in a very real world. There are occupational issues, family concerns, and obligations that want to occupy our time and thoughts. If we’re not careful, these things will control us.
I need this reminder; perhaps you do, too. Touching Jesus is all that really matters. If we’ll touch Him, our lives will never be the same.

Another Broken Person

“Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men” (Mark 2:3)

This story is one that has been filled with heartache and struggle. We’re not sure when it began, but obviously, it’s been going on for quite some time. Another smeared life turned upside on the Artist’s canvas. What has happened?
He’s a paralytic. In other words, his body doesn’t work. No movement in his arms. No strength in his legs. His limbs are dead; useless.
He’s broken.
We don’t know how he ended up like this. It could be that he was born this way. Maybe he was dropped on his head as a child. Or perhaps it was the result of a tragic accident later in life. How he arrived here is unknown. He’s just here: paralyzed, dependent, pathetic.
Jesus—the One who speaks authority over evil, chases sickness away, touches the untouchables—is across town.
Was there a stirring in the paralytic’s heart to get to Jesus? Were thoughts rushing through his mind of getting to where Christ was? Or, did his friends simply insist that he go? Perhaps he was embarrassed. After all, he can’t feed himself, bathe himself, or go for a walk. He could never get to where Jesus was. Not, on his own. What a pitiful state. Just lie there. It was his sentence. It was his life.
However, the story doesn’t end there.
We meet four men. They’re nameless men.
No titles or position. But they have huge hearts.
They define the word friendship.
When the paralytic couldn’t get to where Jesus was, they would take him. What this poor man could not do for himself, they would do for him.
Matt carriers. That’s who they are.
Burden bearers.
​The Greek word pheró (fer’-o) can be translated to bring, bear, carry, or carry a burden. That’s what his life had become—a burden. He was a burden not only to himself but to others as well.
If he were to eat, someone would have to feed him.
If he were bathed, someone had to wash him.
A burden. And the burden has become much too heavy. So, they go to the only place they know to go. They bear the burden across town.

Jesus Was in the House.
​Touching Jesus was all that mattered.
​So, they bring him to Jesus.
You see, if Jesus would touch a leper, certainly He can meet this need.
​If He could banish sickness, disease, and evil . . . then paralysis is no challenge.
​ They’re so desperate for a genuine encounter with Jesus, they’re, willing to do anything to make it happen! Let’s highlight this. It’s an important fact!
​They are so desperate to get to Jesus, they’re willing to do WHATEVER IT TAKES.
​Do you know that God absolutely loves it when we’re desperate for Him? Oh, how that blesses Him! Flash forward to Luke 18:35-43. We see this same kind of desperation in the blind man beside the road. He’s so desperate for a genuine encounter with Jesus, he starts shouting, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
​He’s an outcast. Just like this paralytic.
​People consider him a freak. Just like this paralytic.
​He’s desperate for wholeness. Just like this paralytic.
​Jesus is so moved by the blind man’s desperation that in spite of all the other things vying for His attention, He stops in front of the blind man and heals him.
​Have you experienced this kind of desperation? Are you so spiritually desperate for a genuine encounter with Jesus that you’re willing to do WHATEVER IT TAKES to experience Him?
​We’ll pick up here next week . . . Until then, let’s live with this sort of desperation to touch Jesus in our lives. Not only for ourselves; but, for others as well.

For more information on BILLY Huddleston, visit billyhuddleston.com.


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