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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Office view after ice storm 2/2/11
Our office view this morning after the ice storm

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Does God care?

"During The Storm"

"But He (Jesus) was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they (the disciples) awoke Him and said to Him, 'Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?'” (Mark 4:38). "Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you" (1 Peter 5:7).

We didn't get the severity of the storm overnight which was so ominously forecast yesterday. With the temperatures presently rising it would appear that we’re over the worst of it. Our electrical wires were appearing as sagging jump ropes when we awakened but already the ice is melting and they are returning to their more taut position. Of course, in other areas here in the USA, they’ve been plastered with heavy rains, snow and ice.

Australian cyclone 2/2/11We received several emails from readers in Australia requesting prayer concerning a major typhoon storm they are experiencing. Gusting winds at the center of the storm were recorded at 186 mph, and the front spreads 300 miles across. The Prime Minister announced, “This is a cyclone of savagery and intensity. People are facing some really dreadful hours in front of them."  We are praying for our brothers and sisters as they brace for this deadly storm.  We also pray for the Egyptian people, especially our Christian brothers and sisters, as they face another kind of storm.

Ron Hoover is a friend of ours whose family has been going through a very difficult storm since early January. His daughter, Teena, and her family were traveling from the U.S. and landed in the airport in Indonesia where her husband collapsed. He was rushed to the hospital and put through many tests where it was eventually learned that he was dealing with an acute case of leukemia. Teena’s family has been encouraged and strengthened as scores of believers have supported them in prayer during their ongoing ordeal. It’s also the way God shows that He cares through the interest and support of other believers.

In our Scripture setting Jesus had spent the day speaking in parables to the large crowds of people who had gathered on the shore of Galilee. At the end of the day Jesus told the disciples that He wanted to cross over to the other side to the region of the Gerasenes. As they were crossing a furious storm suddenly rose and threatened to capsize the boat. Surely the disciples would find Jesus observing the furious squall when they set out to look for Him.

Jesus asleep on a cushionBut to their utter dismay they found Him sleeping on a cushion in the stern. I recall from my ministry training days that this text is among the proofs of Christ's humanity. It’s remarkable that He was able to sleep during a massive storm that caused great anxiety among the experienced fishermen. Isn't that the kind of peace we want during the inevitable storms of life, as we realize that God is in control?

These seasoned fishermen, who had plied these waters for many years, recognized the imminent danger. They awoke Jesus and asked a very pointed question, "Do You not care that we are perishing?" Isn't this the very question we have all asked or wondered thousands of times? Let's just condense it to this probing thought, "Does God care?"

Jesus does not answer the disciples with words, but with a mighty demonstration of His power. “He rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet. Be still’.” A complete calm followed the Lord’s commands. Not only were the disciples rescued, but they also learned a valuable lesson. Many years later one of those same disciples wrote, "Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you." After years of walking with Jesus it was no longer a question to Peter, but a settled fact that has become a cherished truth comforting believers for nearly 2,000 years. "He cares for you."

Like the disciples we may at times wonder, "Does Jesus really care?" But His Word abundantly demonstrates and teaches that He does. Some of you are in the midst of a trial today. Your faith is being tested. Settle this much. Today He has not changed. God cares for you. We can personalize that, "He cares for me." His care is motivated by His love, under-girded by His power, and assured by His faithfulness. May the Lord help us to hide this truth deep in our hearts today! Yes, He does care.

O yes He cares; I know He cares, His heart is touched with my grief;
When the days are weary, the long nights dreary, I know my Savior cares.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer: Father, You assure us time and again of Your compassionate love toward us through Your Word, through fellow believers, through extraordinary intervention and whatever other means You ordain. You respond to our needs faithfully, but we confess that our doubts begin when Your voice is silent about particular ongoing needs we’re dealing with. It is in these instances that we begin to wonder, do You really do care. But we desire to prove our faith to be genuine by trusting You even when You are silent. Help us to persevere in prayer as we seek to understand Your overall plan in these troubling matters. And when we don't understand Your plan help us to trust You because faith that cannot be tested is faith that cannot be trusted.  Amen.

As I prepared today's message another Scripture portion came to mind that would seem to have been written after the events described in today's message. But actually it's a Psalm written hundreds of years earlier! "He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm, and He guided them to their desired haven. Let them give thanks to the LORD for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for men" (Psalm 107:29-31).

Ice font
Some ice storm photos

Dogwood after ice storm 2/2/11
So far our backyard dogwood is managing just fine.

Tree flattened after ice storm 2/2/11
However a large evergreen in our side yard beside our dining room is practically flattened by the ice and snow!

Fallen tree after ice storm 2/2/11 and icycles
Early this morning we were both awakened by a loud crackling sound as a large tree behind our house fell. Also note the icycles along the side of our barn which are leaning inward, apparently due to the wind!

Purple finch at window feeder
Last week we placed a bird feeder right on our office window just feet way from where we work. The finches are getting comfortable feeding from it now.

Purple finch at window feeder
This purple finch may just be saying, "I've had enough of this winter!"

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
Click on the link to open and play.

"Does Jesus Care?"  Video  The Isaacs  A beautiful song with outstanding coordinating photos.

"Sometimes He Calms The Storm"  Video   Scott Krippayne  A very well-written and thoughtful song I came across in search of supporting music for today's message. I especially like this line:
"Sometimes He calms the storm and other times He calms His child!"

"Praise You In The Storm"
 Video  Casting Crowns

"A Shelter In The Time Of Storm"
 Video  J. Ashley Milne

We mentioned Ron Hoover in our message concerning his daughter's husband, Mike, who is getting stronger and will soon return to the U.S. for full recovery.  When Ron came for dinner last week he gave us a book, "If God Is Good", written by one of our favorite authors.  It has been a source of strength and encouragement during his family's time of trial.
421324: If God Is Good . . . Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil If God Is Good . . . Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil
By Randy Alcorn / Random House, Inc

Difficult times beg questions about God's goodness and power. Offering compelling true stories, fresh answers, and biblical insights, Alcorn challenges the logic of disbelief and reveals the big picture of who God is and what he's doing in the world---equipping you to share your faith clearly with those experiencing pain and fear. 432 pages, hardcover from Multnomah.

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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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