Monday, November 1, 2010

Storms of Life

Have you had a busy week? Was it hard week or an easy one? Isn’t it fun to face hardships? Were many people seeking after you?

If you were a teacher, how did the classes go this week? Did your class worksheets and lesson planners work OK for you?

If in business, how did the office look this past week? Nervous or were people at ease. Did your boss work you long and hard? Or, are you the boss who drove your people hard?

As a student, was this week bad? Few essays, few test? Maybe there is a term paper that is coming soon? Are things piling up and you can’t see the end for the amount of work you MUST do?

Things, problems, hardships, sometimes come up and we are blind-sided. We don’t see it coming. All is calm and POW, it hits!

Such is like that in our passage today. Turn to Mark 4:35-41.

Jesus and the 12 had a very full week as well. Much has happened and there was much demanded on them all. I think Jesus understands when we have full weeks and weeks that are demanding. There is time to rest—take it and be refreshed!

Easy to understand how it was for such a violent storm to come up so fast! The lake sits low in a basin surrounded by mountains. The Sea of Galilee is particularly susceptible or prone to sudden, violent storms. Cool air from the Mediterranean is drawn down through the narrow mountain passes and clashes with the hot, humid air lying over the lake. Wind and high waves are the result. Rain and all sorts of bad weather come crashing in on anyone on that lake. Even for experienced sailors, such storms are difficult. A Perfect Storm. High winds and even higher waves.

And these men were in a small fishing craft—maybe 10 feet long. (3.5 meters) They had been on the Sea so many times before BUT this time, things were different. One was Jesus was with them. Second, there had been a long session of Spiritual teaching done by the Master and three, they were not clued into the teaching as much as they should have been. Like last week, they had not been given the Holy Spirit. They were without spiritual understanding.

Let’s take an inventory of what kinds of things Jesus has had authority over…just for a few moments. Drives our a Demon, heals many people of illnesses, heals a man of leprosy, a man who was a paralytic, calls men to follow Him, has authority even on Holy Days, & forgives sin, has the authority to call men and women to Himself. Now, He is going to move into another area altogether different. There were physical healings, spiritual healings but now control and authority over nature. Way beyond His follower’s understanding.

In fact, they asked each other after this event, “Who is this guy?” This is way beyond what I can understand! “Even the wind and the waves obey Him!”

Let’s look at the ‘event’ and then how to apply it in our lives.

They were going across the sea. All was well, Jesus went to the rear of the boat and fell asleep (He did have a very full couple of days, teaching and healing.) The other guys were sailing. No motor sounds just the sound of the wind and the splash of the waves and now, some rain. The Teacher was still asleep in the back of the small boat when things got worst and worst!

I would guess the fishermen could see the storm coming on them. They were expert sailors. They could read the water, the air and they knew what kind of weather they were going to have. No CNN or DAPA Radar. No NHK Weather Channel. But it seems like they were caught napping. All of a sudden, POW, the storm hit! Wild winds and water splashing!

Mark 4:35 That day when evening came, He said to His disciples, "Let us go over to the other side." 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took Him along, just as He was, in the boat. There were also other boats with Him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke Him and said to him, "Teacher, don't you care if we drown?"

39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!" Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

40 He said to His disciples, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?"

41 They were terrified and asked each other, "Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey Him!"

APPLICATION: Life is hard. Sometimes it gets harder. Friends fall away. Spouse gets cold toward you. Work fails. Health goes down hill. Not a very happy time of the year anyway. In English, this season is sometimes called FALL. Not sounding alive or active but fall. Fall what? Fall down? Fall all the way into despair? Life is rough and now it may not be fun being active in it! You may want to end it.

The storms of life happen. From a friend on Face Book: “…dear friend and sister … died suddenly from a viral infection. Twenty-eight years young... vibrant - full of life and beauty- a soul sister who loved our family and modeled joy for me in so many ways. Why?”

What takes you to the next level in handling life’s harnesses? Do you live with a great many disappointments in life? Can you put your trust in God? Is He able to hold you up and give you hope? He is supposed to! Does He?

Been reading in Job recently. Hard to understand it but this time, I am reading it in the Message. Job is complaining about his hard and painful life but he does not blame God. He goes around the subject but he does find fault in his so called friends who give ‘the right answers’ but miss the heart of the problems. Job was going through a most miserable time of his life. He has lost his belongings, his health, his sons and daughters and he is in deep personal pain. He was feeling like he is alone. He also had a wife who is not very helpful: “Job, why don’t you just curse God and die!”

I wonder how we would have faced all those problems?

Sometimes, people give some strange advice and painful words of comfort. “Don’t feel so bad. It was even worst for me…” “Well, I had a cousin on my wife’s side who had a dog die and it was so sad for them.” “Be strong and don’t cry! Be a man!” “It can’t be all that bad!” “Find something to take this off your mind.” What did you do to deserve that from God?” “Are you in sin?”

During the storms of life, people forget the most fundamental points of caring.

If you were here this summer, I spoke from 1 Thessalonians 5:11~23. If you would turn to that section, you will find a great list of ways to keep your own heart in sync with how the Lord can prepare you for those storms of life.

11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

12 Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. 13 Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. 14 And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.

16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

19 Do not put out the Spirit's fire; 20 do not treat prophecies with contempt. 21 Test everything. Hold on to the good. 22 Avoid every kind of evil.

23 May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Your personal attitude has a great deal to do with how you handle hard times. If there is a heart of praise to start with, things will both look different and your options would be broader.

Romans 15:4~5 (New International Version)

“4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus.”

Isaiah 43:2 (The Message)

1~4 “But now, God's Message, the God who made you in the first place, Jacob, the One who got you started, Israel: "Don't be afraid, I've redeemed you. I've called your name. You're mine. When you're in over your head, I'll be there with you. When you're in rough waters, you will not go down. When you're between a rock and a hard place, it won't be a dead end—Because I am God, your personal God, The Holy of Israel, your Savior. I paid a huge price for you: all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in! That's how much you mean to me! That's how much I love you! I'd sell off the whole world to get you back, trade the creation just for you.”

As the 12 found out, Jesus was able, by His Authority, to calm whatever storms He wills. He did it for them on that Sea but later, when things got bad again, He was there to walk with them through the hard times. He can calm it and He can calm you. Both bring His Best out on our lives as we walk the Road of Faith together to Reflect His likeness. Oh, to be like Him. (See below for the words to this hymn.)

Going through hard times? He’s been there. And He has made it through. He will be there for my friend who lost her dear friend. He is there for you as you face hardships. Part of this walk is to know that we can depend on Him.

4 Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for you, and people in exchange for your life.”

Written by Wm Kirkpatrick, words by Thomas O. Chisholm, pub.1897

Copyright: Public Domain

Oh! To be like Thee, blessed Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

Oh! To be like Thee, oh! to be like Thee,
Blessed Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.

Oh! to be like Thee, full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wand’ ring sinner to find.

Oh! to be like Thee, lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer, others to save.

Oh! to be like Thee, Lord, I am coming,
Now to receive th’ anointing divine;
All that I am and have I am bringing,
Lord, from this moment all shall be Thine.

Oh! to be like Thee, while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love,
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.