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Monday, August 29, 2011

Storm scene

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"Till The Storm Passes By"

"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).

Till The Storm Passes By
As most of you know, due to the intense media coverage of Hurricane Irene, we had a severe storm come through our area this weekend.  We were to the west of the hurricane's main path up the east coast but still had a lot of rain and high winds. Some of our friends had power outages but the damage in our area is minimal and few lives were lost due to the many warnings we received. Driving after the storm we encountered a roadway of small broken tree branches and we have a lot of lawn cleanup today.

Fallen tree over church parking lot (Hurricane Irene)
A church we served in Massachusetts (1993-2001) had a large tree fall right over the entrance to their parking lot. Today all throughout our region many are dealing with storm damages of varying degree. But early Monday morning as we prepare this message the sky is bright blue, the winds are completely stilled, the school buses are loaded with students and drivers are heading to work. The storm has passed! For our devotional message today let us consider a famous storm in the Bible.

Sea of Galilee (photo by Chaucee Stillman)
Matthew, Mark and Luke all recount the story of Jesus climbing into a boat with His disciples to cross the Sea of Galilee. It's 700 feet below sea level and its deepest point descends 150 feet. The sea is 13 miles long and 7 miles wide, surrounded by hills. Jesus had called four of His disciples into ministry from this very sea. 

The winds blowing across the land intensify in close proximity to the sea, often causing violent and abrupt storms. 
Several of the disciples were seasoned fishermen who had spent their lives on this lake. They'd undoubtedly survived many storms, but in today's Scripture account a severe squall released its windy furor which caused the still waters to erupt thrusting powerful waves of sea water above the boat.

Can you just imagine the scene; the men running about the boat to find watertight containers to bale out the water as it swirled about their feet and was rising. They surely panicked and feared for their lives. All except One; the Son of Man who, of all things,
was sleeping soundly on a cushion in the stern!

Nerves completely shattered by now, 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 Still
The disciples, still shaken, after their death defying ordeal, now witnessed the instant calming of the horrific storm once 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 thereby drowning 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 or human intervention. 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

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

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

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Till The Storm Passes By"
 Video  Vestal Goodman

"Praise You In The Storm"  Video  Casting Crowns

"Peacespeaker"  Video  Instrumental We use this song as background to our podcast today.  Here's a vocal version.

"Wonderful Peace"  Video  Dene Taylor

"He Hideth My Soul" 
 Video  Haven of Rest Quartet

"Just As I Am"  Video  Brian Doerksen

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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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