Guarding and proclaiming the unchanging truth in a changing world

Jesus in the Storm (Mark 4:35-41)

15th June 2020
Audio: 

What's our biggest problem as Christians? I suggest it is this: that we don't know God enough, we don't trust him enough, we don't love him enough and that we don't pray to him enough. But this is not a new problem and in a strange way, we should find that encouraging. For another group of Christians had the same problem - Jesus's disciples. Remember they were with the Lord himself for three years and their general slowness should encourage us that God is patient and loving and always seeking to draw us nearer to Himself.  

Jesus knew exactly what was coming - he knew there was going to be a storm. He deliberately placed his followers in harm's way. Being close to the Lord is no guarantee of a trouble-free life - rather the reverse. 

God may lead us into suffering so that he may show us more of himself. As I put it in my own case "the cancer cells meant it for harm, but God meant it for good".  The uncertainty, difficulties for my family, pain, frustrations, and fear, are all there, but the joy of being involved in the Lord’s work, of seeing him at work in those I’ve been able to introduce to Christ has been really wonderful. In fact, I have had more opportunities to share my faith in the last 7 years than the previous 50 combined.

Where's the ultimate place we see evil turned to good ? When we stand at the foot of the cross. The devil and all the forces of hell meant it for evil, but God used it for our good.

I am sure the disciples did all the things that experienced sailors would do - turn the boat into the wind, trim the sails, head for shore, bail out the water. But they didn't do the one blindingly obvious thing they should have done - ask the incarnate God who was right at hand for help. Even when they do in desperation do it it's very rough: 

They say, "Don't you care?" (v38). How hard it is for them to pray! How small is their faith!  How hard it is for us to pray and how small is our faith! Corrie Ten Boom said "When a Christian shuns fellowship with other Christians, the devil smiles. When he stops studying the Bible, the devil laughs. When he stops praying, the devil shouts for joy."

But let us be encouraged to pray, for how kindly the Lord is towards the disciples, how patient; yes he reproves them, but he is always doing so out of deep love. God is so kind and patient towards us despite all our serious shortcomings. Psalm 103 v13 says "As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those that fear him." God sees all the things that are wrong with us - our laziness, our weak faith, our lack of love, our secret sins, our cold hearts and our prayerlessness, and what does he do?  He is full of what the bible calls in Hebrew 'Chesed' which the Reformers of the sixteenth century  translated as "loving-kindness".

Out of this loving-kindness comes amazing divine power! Billions and billions of molecules are rearranged and suddenly there is a dead calm. Winds may drop but a storm-tossed body of water takes a long time to drop. In a second all is quiet, all is still. Such is the power of the divine word. It utterly transforms their circumstances.

What is their reaction? They are even more afraid! What's the answer to fear? More fear! "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Psalm 111:10). It begins to dawn on them who this ordinary-looking man asleep in the boat is. When they left the boat they knew him more than when they got in. Isn't that what we need? To know the Lord more, to love him more, and to pray to him more. For as the good old Puritan preacher Thomas Goodwin says, "The person who knows Christ best is the person who will pray best."

Prayer: 
Lord God, you know that we are in the midst of such dangers and that we cannot always stand upright because of the frailty of our nature: grant us strength and protection to support us in all dangers and carry us through all temptations, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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