Today’s Texts and Thoughts of Encouragement
“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch forth Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Your right hand will save me. The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy and loving-kindness, O Lord, endure forever – forsake not the works of Your own hands.”
“Say not, my soul, ‘From whence
Can God relieve my care?’
Remember that Omnipotence
Hath servants everywhere.
His help is always sure,
His methods seldom guessed;
Delay will make our pleasure pure;
Surprise will give it zest.
His wisdom is sublime,
His heart profoundly kind;
God never is before His time,
And never is behind.
Hast thou assumed a load
Which none will bear with thee?
And art thou bearing it for God,
And shall He fail to see?
Be comforted at heart,
Thou art not left alone;
Now thou the Lord’s companion art
Soon thou shalt share His throne.”
J. J. Lynch
Today’s Study Text:
“And a heavy squall of wind came on and the waves dashed into the boat, so that it was beginning to fill.”
“The Prince of Peace” – Part 5
“Ready to Capsize”
“We look around us and we think that people look like they’ve got it so together and we’re just absolutely sure we’re the only one that’s a wreck in the room, and that is not true!”
Who Do You Trust
Have I ever found myself in a disastrous situation where I felt as if my stormy life was about to capsize?
“Crisis crushes. And in crushing, it oftens refines and purifies.”
“Are you in a storm? Well, if not, they will come.”
The Storm, Part 2
For a number of years, my sister and her family along with three other couples made an annual trip to Lake Powell in the month of August. The group rented a houseboat and towed their ski boats and wave runners out to a favorite location in a quiet cove that they made their home for several weeks.
Now anyone who happens to be acquainted with Lake Powell is well aware that during the summer months, lightening and thunderstorms make a frequent appearance in this desert region. While most of their trips had taken place without any severe storms, one particular year, a terrible thunderstorm rolled in with fierce winds and cloud bursts accompanied by torrential rain. With the smaller boats tied to either side of the houseboat, the force of the winds began to batter the smaller boats against the sides of the houseboat.
Concerns among the group were reasonable for the smaller boats were taking such a beating. It was decided that several individuals in the group would work hard to tighten the ropes that were to provide stability between the smaller vessels and the much larger houseboat. Because it was not only extremely windy and rainy but also very dark with minimal ground light, working to bring steadiness in the deep darkness proved to be a dangerous task.
As all the individuals worked to safely secure all the boats, the ropes on one ski boat got caught around the windshield. Due to the heavy rain, this situation wasn’t visible and all of a sudden, the added pressure from the rope, snapped the windshield off the boat and what was designed to be a protective shield became a flying missile, hitting my sister’s friend in the head – actually part of the windshield hit her in her mouth, knocking her unconscious and bleeding profusely.
Fortunately, there were two nurses and a dentist among the group and each year when they went to the lake, the medical people on the trip put together a first aid pack that included I.V.’s and many emergency items that in the case of an unexpected event, helped them as a “trauma team” to give “hospital-like” first aid. In this case, through “radio” assistance from the houseboat, they were able to relay an “SOS” and a medical evacuation helicopter landed on the beach of the cove and despite that terrible storm, they were able to get the injured person to the hospital in Page, Arizona where she was flown by a medical team to a hospital where her life-threatening injuries were treated immediately. Praise God, after many surgeries, she survived what most people thought were injuries too massive to live through.
Whenever I read about the storms that Jesus and His disciples encountered on the Sea of Galilee, my mind always goes back to this Lake Powell experience of my own family and I recognize, as they did, that in order to survive a traumatic storm, one needs to be properly prepared in advance.
In the case of Jesus and His disciples, more than once we read about their difficulties out on a stormy sea. If we want to get a picture of what occurred on the Sea of Galilee on the night Mark describes in Mark 4, it is important to look at the geography which surrounds this lake. As portrayed by Rousseau and Arav in Jesus and His World and in the book Jesus and the Land: “Two extensive valleys on the western side of the lake funnel wind into the lake. Westerly gusts can arise in the afternoon, turning the placid lake into a high sea with waves soaring up over seven feet. The lake also is 682 feet below sea level, which makes it susceptible to downdrafts when ‘cool air from the Golan Heights meets the warm air coming off the lake’, and these contribute to sudden and unpredictable storms. Sudden storms are therefore familiar sailing hazards.”
As Mark tells us, the disciples in the boat with Jesus were no amateurs. These men were experienced fishermen. They knew the dangers on the Sea of Galilee. And yet, this stormy night, they found it extremely difficult to navigate in the darkness.
I find that in the geographical description given by contemporary writers, they chose to use two interesting words to portray the events that could take place during a storm on Galilee: the words are “unpredictable” and “sudden.” This tells me that without any warning a storm would arise which was unpredictable. This means it couldn’t be known beforehand, even with the basis of special knowledge. The fact is that with experienced “sailors” in the boat, men who had most likely spent much of their adult life on the Sea of Galilee that they, as a group, could not foresee what would happen on that particular night. They didn’t know how very violent the winds would become and how dangerously the waves would batter their vessel as well as all the other “little ships” that came along trying to make it to the “other” side of Galilee.
If I had to describe the stormy times in my own life, I think the two words used to characterize that turbulent night on Galilee are more than appropriate to explain how I’ve felt when without any notice some event develops out of nowhere and my first thought is, “I’m going to capsize. I’m taking on too much water. I’m going under – for sure!”
I imagine that most of you have also run into a situation where you may say to yourself, “Where did all this trouble come from?” And often, these unexpected, out-of-no-where crises hit us so hard we don’t have time to even get our wits about us. Without notice we are trying to survive in a sea with seven feet waves swamping us. And every time we think we have gotten a hold of our life-jacket, out of the darkness another wave knocks us off balance and we’re trying to grab anything we think will save us.
What do you and I do when life’s storms, unpredictable as they are, suddenly hit us?
One thing we can take encouragement in is that God’s children, down through history, have not been immune to adversity. Trials don’t hit us because we have been abandoned by God or just because we don’t “feel” like He is with us at a particular moment in time. In fact, one of God’s special children, the Psalmist David, writes a great deal about times of affliction and adversity in his own life. And he doesn’t just say, “Things are tough, I hope I will make it through. Good luck to you.” No, David lays out to us what should be our First Aid Kit before the storm comes and takes us down. In Psalm 119: 49, 50 we are advised to “Remember the word unto Thy servant, upon which Thou hast caused me to hope.” First of all, we are to never forget God’s promises which are the foundation of our hope. When you and I feel like we’re going to capsize, we need to remember that all around us are God’s life-jackets of hope – His promises that He keeps His Word – even during the worst storms. But that isn’t all.
The psalmist also says that, “My comfort in affliction is because Your Word ‘quickened’ me.” As the Hebrew word “châyâh” tells us: “revived and restored me to life. God surely saved my life.” Author Jerry Bridges correctly points out in his book, Trusting God Even When Life Hurts, that “Just as the faith of salvation comes through hearing a message of the gospel, so the faith to trust God in adversity comes through the Word of God alone.”
During the storms of life may our foundation be the Word of God – His promises that we hang on to when the unexpected and sudden storms seek to shake our hold. In the words of Tammy Felton: “We cannot abandon life because of its storms. The strongest trees are not found in the safety of the forest, rather they are out in the open spaces – bent and twisted by the winds of all seasons. God provides deep roots when there are wide spreading branches.”
“They who dive in the sea of affliction, bring up rare pearls.”
The Golden Key of Prayer
Sermon - 1865
“Like weary waves,
thought flows upon thought,
but the still depth beneath
is all Thine own.”
“Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.”
John Greenleaf Whittier
“Storms can be God’s messengers.”
Anne Graham Lotz
I Saw the Lord
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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