Saturday, 26 January 2013

Storms of Life

blog_jesus_in_storm_backhuysenEver been in a major storm?  Maybe a hurricane?  Or tornado?  Or massive rainstorm?  Scary isn't it.  But in life, we will all go through storms.  Some are massive hurricanes and others are gentle drizzles.  But we all go through storms.  In Mark 4, we see the disciples going through a major storm on the Sea of Galilee - the winds and waves were threatening to sink the boat.  Let's read....

On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, "Let us cross over to the other side."  Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him.  And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. 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?" 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. But He said to them, "Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?" And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, "Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!" - Mark 4:35-41

Let's look at some facts about storms...

  • Storms are inevitable - we can't avoid them.  As we journey through life, we will eventually encounter storms.  And it seems like they come at the most inopportune and inconvenient times, don't they!

  • Storms can happen even to those closest to the Lord.  Who was in the boat?  The 12 disciples, those who were closest to Jesus.  In fact, there were other boats following Jesus and the disciples (V36) and they too got caught in the storm.  Followers of Jesus are not immune to storms.

  • Storms can also come from God.  Jesus said 'Let us cross over to the other side' (V35).  Jesus told them to go over the sea to the other side. And because they obeyed Him, they ended up in a storm!  This storm came as they were right in the middle of the Lord's will!

  • Storms can be life-threatening.  'And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling' (V37).  The storm was so massive, the wind so strong, the waves so high that the boat was about to sink!  And everyone aboard was at risk of drowning!  Your storm might be cancer or some other illness.  Or it can be financial debt that threatens to sink you.

  • Storms can cause us to doubt.  At the height of the storm, the disciples cried out to Jesus 'Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?' (V38)They doubted His care and control.  And they questioned His Word - He said they were going to cross OVER, not go under!  Haven't we cried out to God in the midst of our storms - 'where are You?  Don't You love me anymore?  Don't You care?'  Doubt.

You ever been in a storm like that?  A storm that comes upon you even though you know you are right in the middle of God's will?  Or because you have been obedient?  Maybe it's a storm that comes upon you at work - your boss asks you to fudge a few numbers on the annual report and you say, 'no, I can't, that would be lying'.  And now your boss brings the hammer down on you.  And perhaps this storm even causes you to doubt God's goodness or justice.  Yep, we all go through storms.

Let's look at a few things we can do...

  • Take Jesus along.  The disciples at least took Jesus with them!  Look at V36 - 'they took Him along in the boat'.  Good job guys!  Knowing that we will eventually encounter storms, shouldn't we always take Jesus along?

  • Remember that Jesus is in control, not us.  Remember, there were several fishermen in the boat.  And maybe they thought - we can handle this!  Maybe they even said to Jesus - 'Lord, You're tired, go take a nap.  We'll take care of this - we're expert fishermen!!  Been there, done that, got the T-shirt!'  In the midst of our storms, we need to remember that the Lord is in control, not us.

  • Remember that the Word of the Lord brings calm.  The disciples, with great fear and perhaps some irritation, woke Jesus up from a good nap.  He stands up, rebukes the wind, calms the waves.  How?  By His Words - 'Peace. Be still!' (V39).  He simply speaks and the wind and waves obey!  In the midst of our storms, shouldn't we turn to the Word of God to find rest, peace and calm?

  • Have faith.  The disciples should have had faith in Jesus.  In fact, Jesus rebukes them for their lack of faith - 'Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?' (V40).  Remember, they had just previously seen Jesus heal, work miracles, confront the Pharisees.  They had just heard Him teach several parables - one of them being the parable of the mustard seed.  They should have had faith, even mustard seed faith.

  1. They should have had faith in Jesus' presence - with Him in the boat, they wouldn't sink!

  2. They should have had faith in Jesus' power - they saw Him do miracles and healings.

  3. They should have had faith in Jesus' promise - He told them they were crossing OVER the Sea.

  4. They should have had faith in Jesus' peace - He was asleep, at peace.  They should have had faith that things were going to be OK!

  • Worship the Lord.  V41 says they 'feared exceedingly, and said to one another, "Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!"'.  That word 'fear' there means awe and respect and reverence.  It is in fact a healthy fear of the Lord.  It is worship - when we give to God the reverence and respect He deserves.  The disciples were beginning to see that this ain't no ordinary carpenter!  This is God in human flesh!  And thus, they feared exceedingly.  They worshiped.

So what storms do you face at the moment?  Take heart and remember to take Jesus along, let Him have the controls.  You be still, be at peace, have faith.  And worship Him for He is mighty to save.
The LORD your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing. - Zephaniah 3:17

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Please Pray...


Hi all,

Hope you are having an awesome start to the new year.  Can you believe it’s already the 2nd week of the year?!  Here are a few prayer requests, please pray…

1.    Permanent visas – as you know we applied for our PERMANENT residency visas back in August of 2012.  I called Immigration NZ and discovered that they haven’t even assigned our paperwork to any case worker yet!  So it’s still sitting in some pile of applications on someone’s desk somewhere!  And our current TEMPORARY WORK visas expire in 21 days!  So I am in the process of filling out more applications to renew/extend our current temporary visas while they process our permanent ones.  But Immigration said that can take a month or 2 to process!  So while they are processing our temporary visas, we need an INTERIM visa just to stay in the country.  Ahhh!  Please pray that we get the INTERIM visa so we can get the TEMPORARY work visas so we can eventually get our PERMANENT residency visas!

2.    M – the recipient of my kidney has agreed to go through the Gospel of Mark with me!  He still hasn’t made a decision for Jesus yet, but he is close!  He says he wants to ‘learn more’ before he makes up his mind.  Pray that we have awesome times in God’s Word and that God will speak to him and bring him to the point of accepting Jesus.  We will start in Mark in a couple weeks and hopefully will do it weekly or every other week.

3.    Z’s friend – our 8 year old son had shared the Gospel with his classmate a couple months ago and his friend had prayed to accept the Lord!  For Christmas, Z bought his friend a bible.  And now his mom and him read it often at night.  She said it was a very special gift for them!  I talked to her about her son’s new faith and she said she thinks it’s great – she wants him to learn Christian values and morals.  She said she grew up in a nominal Christian home, but never practiced her faith.  Her husband is agnostic.  Pray that we can continue to be an influence in their lives as we seek to point them to Jesus.

4.    T’s friend – T had also prayed with her schoolmate and teammate (basketball) a few months ago to accept the Lord.  But we haven’t had a chance to talk to her parents about her faith.  Now that basketball is over, we don’t see them as much.  Pray that we can talk to them soon about faith and Jesus.

5.    School – the kids are on summer holidays at the moment (it’s summer in the southern hemisphere now) and will start school in less than 4 weeks.  T will start middle school (year 7)!  J will start his last year of middle school (year 8)!  And Z and D are still in primary/elementary school – years 4 and 2 respectively.  Wow!  Pray they start well and  that they can be light and salt for Jesus with their schoolmates.