Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Faith of an Outsider

Just what kind of faith does anyone need to really have faith?  This is a good question.

We want to look at that this Sunday as we turn our attention to Mark 7:24-30.

If it is at all possible, try and be at the Chapel before 10:30 AM so that all can have the seat they want and that you will be there for the beginning of our time of worship.

May His Grace fill you as you seek ways to know Him and to make Him known!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My Dad is stronger than your Dad 2/6/11

When I was a kid, it was really important to establish a certain status of where you were on the teen food-chain. Who had the upper hand? “I can do this” and “I’d did blab, blab, blab.” My Dad is stronger than your Dad! My Mother is stronger than your Dad! It was all for show and it really did not have any basis on truth or whether or not your dad could indeed even want to be stronger than another man.

It was all status. Who you were and what you could do was always challenged. An over night at a friend’s house would ALWAYS include each kid telling the most outrageous lies about themselves. Things that were really extreme! Mine was that the De La Cour family adopted me as Space Travelers had left me behind in New York City. Since few boys had ever been to NYC, it was believed. My older brother went along with this lie and told the boys that it was true; I was from a planet behind the Coalsack Nebula. (FYI: The Coalsack Dark Nebula (or simply the Coalsack) is the most prominent dark nebula in the skies, easily visible to the naked eye as a dark patch silhouetted against the southern Milky Way.)

That is nothing in the scope of being outrageous as our next passage in Mark’s Gospel, chapter 6:45-56. A man who could walk on water! That would have been a great campfire story, except that it was 100% true. Let’s read this and see what we can learn from it.

Jesus Walks on the Water Mark 6:45-56

45 Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of Him to Bethsaida, while He dismissed the crowd. 46 After leaving them, He went up on a mountainside to pray.

47 When evening came, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and He was alone on land. 48 He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. About the fourth watch of the night He went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, 49 but when they saw Him walking on the lake, they thought He was a ghost. They cried out, 50 because they all saw Him and were terrified.

Immediately He spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” 51 Then He climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed, 52 for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.

53 When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret and anchored there. 54 As soon as they got out of the boat, people recognized Jesus. 55 They ran throughout that whole region and carried the sick on mats to wherever they heard He was. 56 And wherever He went—into villages, towns or countryside—they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged Him to let them touch even the edge of His cloak, and all who touched Him were healed.

Let’s walk through this story and see what is going on:

As soon as the feeding of the 5,000 were over and that the extra bags of food were picked up, IMMEDIATELY Jesus made His men get into the boat. He was to stay behind to dismiss the crowd. He also had some unfinished work to do. It says: 46 After leaving them, He went up on a mountainside to pray.

The crowd might have tried to persuade them to FORCE Jesus to be their political leader. After all, He could do it all! He could make sick people well; He could feed them, protect them from death and maybe even make the Roman army leave. He was a superman!

Crowds in this sort of a situation look for someone to follow. Look at the events in Egypt. Who will lead them? Who is talking the most? Who is getting the people to side with them? The one who is the most dynamic might indeed be leader of that country were 40% live under the poverty level. The Christian minority has been suppressed for over 30 years. The economy is in shambles. Police can’t be trusted. The SAME man held the power over them for most of their lives! Certainly, there most be someone who can walk on water? And, if we find him, we will follow him. We just need a change. Almost---any change will do!

But is that OK with you? Anything other than what I am going through right now. I need a change. If it would get me out of the problems I am facing now, fine! Even if it takes away some personal freedoms and be outside what I know to be God’s Will for me? But, NO! I’d better not! I have a Christ-Life to live. Stay the course!

So, Jesus gets away to pray. He finally finds some peace and quiet and He talks with His Father. What would He say to Him? What would His Father say back? Speculation again: “I love you Father! I praise You! I lift up Your Holy Name! Thank You for what You are doing! Thank You for what You will be doing!” And as evening comes, Jesus looks out over the Sea and sees His men in that boat. He saw them straining at the oars, because the wind was against them.

And what did Jesus do next… About the fourth watch of the night he went out to them, walking on the lake. It was almost dark when they started. During the night, Jesus could see them out there. Now, it is 4 in the morning and still they are rowing. The wind was up against them all night long. It was a hard day’s night. They’d been working like a dog! And at 4 AM, Jesus walks on the water by them while they were in the boat on His way to the other side of the Sea. He intended to go right by them.

He went to them. True, not in the usual way but He went to them. He cared, yet He was about to pass by them, What is all that about? He was also not going to show off to them. And when they saw Him, they greeted Him and called out to Him with glee. No, they freaked out! when they saw Him walking on the lake, they thought He was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw Him and were terrified. Very … predictable response on their part.

Granted, none of them have ever seen anything like it before and neither have you. You’d do the same as they. Walking on the water is radical! It is not something you see every day---in fact, you will never see it! But here comes Jesus. Walking on the water.

My Savior can walk on water; Can your savior do that? There are a lot of false saviors in the world today. In First John, he calls them the “anit-christ.” And they will increase in the world as the end comes nearer. Many claim to be The Christ but only One is the REAL Christ…and His name is Jesus. And there is huge amount of evidence to support that! The Bible, changed lives. Many verses in the Bible point to Him as being The Messiah.

Isa 50:6 for one, tells of the time of His problems at the trial. “I offered My back to those who beat Me, My cheeks to those who pull out My beard; I did not hide My face from mocking and spitting.”

And the long verses from Isa 53:4-12.

That Savior was walking on water. Is that so hard to believe? We have seen from our studies so far, that this Jesus had 100% authority over scores of things…from nature, to sickness, to demon spirits, to death itself. He did not do this to show off. He was going to pass them but when they cried out, He went to them to give them comfort.

“Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Comfort, ye My People!”

You see, the fishermen and those who lived around the sea had a belief that demons lived in the deep waters. They lived down there and they would, from time to time, visit the surface and cause damage. Jesus spoke to them, “It is I!” “Don’t be afraid!” I’ll take care of you. Haven’t I already shown you how I take care of you? I provide all you will need. You can be filled and be satisfied in Me.”

And the waters in your life are stormy. You are in deep water and the wind is blowing, and you may fall overboard. It is dark and there are no lights but you are splashing, turning, falling deep into the dark unknown. And Jesus speaks to you. Right where you are today! Verse 36-b and all who touched Him were healed.

Does that sound good to you? That is how this passage ends. That is a good ending. But the rest of the story is yet to be lived out.

The Gospel has a good side to it! Redemption, Salvation, eternal life! Forgiveness! The rewards of following Him! Being partakers of the Divine Nature! (2 Peter 1:4) It’s all-good!

But the Gospel also has a dark side to it. We will have persecution. “My prayer is not that You take them out of the world but that You protect them from the evil one.” John 17:15

Think about it! Jesus had been with them as they came over the sea in the storm…He calms it. They landed and are met with a man with a legion of demons…He sets him free. They see a woman who, for 12 years, has been bleeding…she is healed. A young daughter of a synagogue ruler been brought back from the dead. 5,000 people filled with fish and bread and now this-walking on the water. ……..And all along, they were hearing the teaching of this Man Jesus. Vs 51-52 They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened. So why should we be surprised? Are we hardened, too? Jesus has the authority over all things.

He has authority over you. He is calling you to follow Him. He is calling you to give what you have to keep that which only He can give you. Life in HIS Name! He is calling you to call Him ruler of your life. He will not knock you down. He will not smack you on the side of the head. He will not pull your leg. He just went to the Cross and died for you.

And now He is walking on the water. Showing you His Power. Let Him take you for a walk of your life. Let Him be who He is: Lord of ALL. And all who touched Him were healed