When the Storms Rage On and On

He takes charge

 “Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.”

Deut. 31:8, NLT

You can go to the British Museum in London, England and view old nautical charts that were made in the early 1500s. Written on them are things like, “Here be fiery scorpions” and “Here be giants” or the classic, “Here be dragons.” These notations were written I suppose, to discourage any kind of exploration.

At this early point a man named, Sir John Franklin wrote on each map, “Here is God.” His sincerity was well noted– and it strengthened the sailors, and helped them to trust in a discovery that would lead to salvation for many.

35 “As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” 36 So they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed). 37 But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water.”

Mark 4:35-37

Jesus, all of a sudden stands up. He declares we must go to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. (He says, “Lake.” But this is not a lake.) It is the storm. It rips over the disciples. It confuses them, and causes fear.

There is enough waves, that the disciples (trained fisherman) begin to wonder why their world is “falling apart.” They realize they are in deep trouble, and I suppose many “crossed” themselves and prepared to die. Everything is now lost.

The certainty of death approaching can be quite sobering. It clarifies so much. If you’ve been at this “threshold,” you will understand what I am saying.

“But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” 39 Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.”

Mark 4:38-39

Where is Jesus? There He is, sleeping on a pillow. How can He sleep, when the world is going to end? They wake up Jesus, and pointedly ask Him, “Don’t you even care? We are at the very point of death!

Shaking off His slumber, Jesus stands. He looks at the vicious waves, and then announces, “Be at peace, be still.” Immediately the storm ‘shuts down.’ There is no reluctance, no hesitation. The waves become calm and subdued, instantly.

Jesus turns, He focuses on His own disciples. “Why did you doubt?”  He asks. And they can say nothing. “Where is your faith?” And they can say nothing. They are overwhelmed at the authority of Jesus.  They dare not offer anything that may confuse others who will encounter Jesus.

Confusion rules when desperation is present. But yet this is not true, confusion will enter in, when everything we see is impossible. We take a look at Jesus, and we see and discover His power and significance. Rightly so, He overwhelms us, and He takes us apart.

The disciples should have realized the strength of Jesus. He was so very tired. Yet He told His followers that He would bring to the opposite side of the lake. Being in the middle of the lake is not a factor.

Our lives should be focused on Jesus leading us through. He is in our small boat, and yet we struggle with our waves. They cripple us and completely dismantles us, the intense waves are breaking over us. But we should never determine that life will work without His presence.

We won’t always travel through calm waters. There will be definite times when we approach peace and confidence. Dangers that will visit us are not in our proximity. We are His children. We must bring our souls to rest. Amazingly, He does love us. We are His property and must believe that we belong to Him, He will bring us all the way home.

Never, ever doubt His deep love for your soul.

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Here Be Giants!

 

Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.”

Deuteronomy 31:8, NLT

There is an ancient map in London, England dated from 1525, that has some interesting notations written on it. At one edge someone wrote, “From this point there are fiery scorpions.’  And also written, was “Here be dragons.” On the other margin somebody else noted, ‘Here be giants.” But a believer named Sir John Franklin wrote on this same map, “Here is God.”

Certainly cartographical scorpions, dragons and giants seem to be bit quaint. We certainly don’t really believe in such things anymore. Yet the presence of God is true and quite real. He is present, and is quite active in the lives of everyone who has ever used a map of any sort.

35 “As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” 36 So they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed). 37 But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water.

38 Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”

39 When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. 40 Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

41 The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!”

Mark 4:25-41, NLT

The Sea of Galilee actually has four names, and it actually isn’t a sea, but a lake with sweet and good water. The lake is over 13 miles long and 7 miles at its widest point. The way the hills surround the lake can produce waves over 20 feet, due to unique weather pattern that exists today.

The disciples were seasoned fishermen. They had each seen tough times, but what is going to be unleashed on them is far and above anything they have ever seen. They were frightened.

Jesus was pretty much exhausted. He had been ministering for several days. This was a stretch. A trip across the lake would give Him a definite break. He is so tired, He falls asleep, using a “boat cushion” as a pillow. He is soon sound asleep.

The disciples seem to respect Jesus’ need for rest. But it all gets chaotic and confused quite quickly. None of them had experienced such a terrible storm. They woke Jesus up, and strongly suggested that He do something decisive. Otherwise, they would all be lost.

Jesus was awakened to another need. My guess is that He needed more sleep, but the present moment He needed to speak boldly into this ugly storm. The waves are quite nasty, but at His Word spoken, everything becomes quite serene.

His disciples are undone. They simply draw different conclusions. What they have just seen strips them down to a basic level. The deep presence of Him takes apart of all they understand. God takes them apart, and they end up in a very interesting position.

Our perceptions shouldn’t alter the presence of God. He is our steady rock in our ‘quicksand world.’ He shuts down our storms. You can truly rest with Him in your boat, controlling the storms.

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Impulsive Peter

Peter was the magnificent failure.  But I’m grateful for his story.  As we examine his life and his actions and decisions, we see a man who was so much like us.  I relate and understand Peter more then any other disciple in the New Testament.  He was so real. He was so impulsive. He spoke before he thought, jumped in without looking and acted without thinking it through. Let’s take a look at Peter’s life after he met Jesus.

1) Peter, the fisherman-– When Jesus came to where  the boat was kept, Peter latched on immediately to become a disciple.  Jesus said, “Follow Me” and that is all Peter needed to hear.  (Matt 4:18-20; Matt. 14:25-31).

2) Peter, the bold-– There was a situation on a boat in a terrible storm.  It was between 3:00 am and 6:00 am.  These men are desperately exhausted, and they were still three miles from safety.  They suddenly see what appears to be a ghost, walking through the vicious storm to the boat.  It is Jesus!  He is walking on water, as if it were a sidewalk!

Peter shouts out– “Lord, if it is really you, allow me to leave this boat and let me come to you!”  Peter steps out of the boat, and begins to walk– on water!  But the wind whipping frightened him, and he began to sink.  We see Jesus, reaching out to grab Peter, to save him from drowning.  Before we judge him too harshly, how many of us would do what Peter did?

3) Peter, the confessor— Jesus asked His disciples who they thought He was. Peter was the first to acknowledge Jesus’ deity as the Son of the living God. (Matt. 16:15-16)

4) Peter, the witness— Peter, along with James and John, have been chosen to accompany Jesus to go up to a mountain top to pray.  When they arrive, something happens to Jesus.  He is ‘transfigured’, His clothes shimmer and turn white.    Then Moses and Elijah appeared, talking with Jesus. Being a man of action and not knowing what else to do, Peter offered to build shelters for the three holy men. An authoritative voice from heaven let him know that this was a time to worship, and to learn (Matt 17:1-4, Luke 9:28-36).

5) Peter, the reluctant one— Just before their last Passover, Jesus starts acting strange.  He strips off His outer garments, until He is down to His underwear.  He fills a basin with water, grabs a towel, and then begins to wash everyone’s feet.  He has become the servant to His disciples.  And Jesus will declare that this specific path is for every disciple that will follow.  Peter is incensed, and declares himself to be immune from this claim.

6) Peter, the boaster— Jesus explains that the disciples cannot follow Him.   Peter boasted that he would lay down his life for Jesus. This brought Jesus’ prediction that Peter would deny Him three times that very night. I wonder what Peter thought about this. He may have found it hard to believe, but we know that Jesus never lies.

When Jesus is arrested, Peter follows the cohort into the Temple.  It is at this point, Peter begins to outright deny Jesus.  It seems Peter can’t vocalize any support for His teacher and master.  In his craven fear, Peter denies Him who spoke and taught him.  How very sad,  (John 13 and 18).

7) Peter the repentant— Jesus appeared to them again by the Sea of Gaililee.  It is Peter, who from his fishing boat, identifies Jesus as Jesus.  Once again, he jumps out of the boat, but this time to swim to the shore.  The others follow in the boat.  Jesus has started a fire, and fish are frying. On the shore, when they had finished eating, Jesus restores Peter. Peter reaffirmed his love for Jesus three times – the same number of times he had denied Him. Jesus said to Peter, “Follow me.”

From that point, Peter followed Jesus closely. He went on to be a great preacher of the gospel and a leader of the church. He wrote 1st and 2nd Peter in the New Testament.  In the Book of Acts, we see Peter cooperating closely with the Holy Spirit.  His compulsiveness has been majorly modified and adapted to fit into the Kingdom.  Peter is now a man restrained and directed into God’s Kingdom.

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