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Monday, November 2, 2009

Farm on Meadow View Road, Lancaster PA
A peaceful scene on Meadow View Road, Lancaster PA.
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"Knowing God's Peace"

"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" (Mark 4:39 NKJV). "And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:7 NIV).

We pass the peaceful farm scene shown above as we drive through the country on our way to church. To me it conveys a sense of peace and a slower pace from a bygone era. It also reminds me of an illustration many of you perhaps have read.

Two artists were once commissioned to paint a picture that would depict peace.  One painted a landscape with a mountain lake – calm, tranquil, unperturbed, set in beautiful green hills, encircled by tall pine trees reflected in the mirror-like surface of the lake.

The second artist painted a turbulent scene with a violent waterfall crashing down on jagged rocks.  Alongside the waterfall was a slender birch tree, with its fragile branches reaching just above the crashing foam.  In the fork of one of the branches was a bird's nest, in which a small bird, lying serenely, was fast asleep.

The second artist had captured the feeling of peace that we can know in our troubled world amid the storms of life that daily rage about us.

But how about another scene. I was unable to find an artist's rendition of it and it took place long before the invention of the camera. A man peacefully sleeping on a boat as experienced fishermen panicked for their lives during a furious storm!

Sea of Galilee (photo by Chaucee Stillman)
Matthew, Mark and Luke tell the story of Jesus climbing into a boat with His disciples to cross the Sea of Galilee. Jesus had called four of his disciples into ministry from this sea. Seven hundred feet below sea level its deepest point descends 150 feet.  The sea is 13 miles long and 7 miles wide, surrounded by hills.

The winds blowing across the land intensify close to the sea, often causing violent and unexpected storms.  
Several of the disciples were seasoned fishermen who had spent their lives on this huge lake and undoubtedly survived many storms, but when this squall released its windy furor it caused the still waters to erupt and plunge powerful waves over the boat.

Can you just imagine the scene: the men scrimmaging to find watertight containers to bale out the water as it first covered their feet, rose up to their knees and would soon swell over their heads.  All the men panicked and feared for their lives.  All except One; the Son of Man who, of all things,
was sleeping on a cushion in the stern!

With shattered nerves the disciples awakened Jesus and asked passionately, "Teacher, don't You care if we drown?" (Mark 4:38b). Jesus responded to the disciples with a reprimand for their lack of faith, "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?" (Matthew 8:26).  He then got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, "Peace!  Be still!" and the winds and waves obeyed their Creator. 

Peace be StillThe disciples, still shaken and terrified, noted the incredulous and instant calming of the storm after Jesus commanded the elements to be still. Consider the roller coaster ride their emotions took as the sudden storm broke loose, the waters rose, and then the miracle that followed.  Their emotions went from concern to worry, then fear, then terror, then disbelief, tremendous relief, and finally amazement. Stunned by what they had seen, they surely shook their heads in astonishment as they began to ask each other, "Who is this?  Even the wind and the waves obey Him" (Mark 4:41).

When our hearts become troubled they're much like the storm tossed sea. It causes unrest within our soul and our passions become unruly. Fear and anxiety are inevitable as the deadly water of doubt, unbelief, rebellion and other harmful attitudes rise up within us which drown our faith in God.

Challenges, trials, and tragedies will always exist. But God has promised that His peace is available to all who seek Him – He offers a peace that transcends human understanding.  This peace will guard our hearts from anxiety, fear, terror, and strife. "He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.  You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day" (Psalm 91:4,5).

Jesus looks on but eagerly awaits our beckoning call. He comes into our lives upon our invitation as we ask Him to save us.  He says, "Peace!  Be still!" to the conflict, doubts, fightings, and fears that grip our hearts.  We no longer strive to save ourselves, but we ask Jesus to save us.  Fear is overcome by faith when we ask Jesus to be our Savior, to guide us over the troubled sea of life.

Just as I am, though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fightings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, we thank You for the powerful God that You are.  Even the winds and waves recognize the Creator and obey Your voice.  Your Word is like a lighthouse that directs us safely toward heaven when the furious waves swirl about us and the water rises around us.  Keep us firmly anchored in Your ways so that we endure to the very end.  In Jesus' name we pray.  Amen.

Today's text can be read at Mark 4:35-41

Farm on Meadow View Road, Lancaster PA
Last Sunday afternoon I drove in to have a closer look at the beautifully restored brick farmhouse on the farm featured in today's photo.

Farm pond on Meadow View Road, Lancaster PA
A peaceful farm pond on the property.

Maples in Mastersonville PA
The maple trees near our church were at their peak on October 25.
Yesterday most of the leaves were gone.

Sign in front of our home
Today, Darryl Eckert, a friend of mine came over and placed this sign in our front yard as a witness to passers by.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
Click on the link to open and play.
(In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.)

"Just As I Am"  Video  Brian Doerkson
Background Story:  Charlotte Elliot of Brighton, England was an embittered woman. Her disability had hardened her.  "If God loved me," she muttered, "He would not have treated me this way."  She and her family were having dinner one evening with Dr. Malan when she lost her temper and railed against God and her family. Her family left her in the room alone to talk with Dr. Malan.

"You are tired of yourself, aren't you?" he asked. "You are holding to your hate and anger because you have nothing else in the world to cling to.  Consequently, you have become sour, bitter and resentful." "What is your cure?" asked Charlotte.  "The faith you are trying to despise" he responded. As they talked into the evening Charlotte softened: "If I wanted to become a Christian and to share the peace and joy you possess," she finally asked, "what would I do?"  "You would give yourself to God just as you are now, with your fightings and fears, hates and loves, pride and shame."

Charlotte did come to Jesus just as she was and wrote the hymn "Just As I Am" in 1836.  She lived to be 82 and wrote about 150 hymns, thought she never enjoyed good health. After her death family members found over 1000 letters she'd kept in which people expressed their gratitude for the way this hymn had touched their lives.
(Adapted from "Then Sings My Soul" by Robert J. Morgan)

"Peacespeaker"  Video  Instrumental

"Wonderful Peace"  Video  Dene Taylor

"He Hideth My Soul" Audio
Lifespring Podcast with Scott Wesley Brown or Video  instrumental with Smokey Mountain Hymns

"Till The Storm Passes By"  Video  Vestal Goodman

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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