Christianity 201

September 7, 2019

Straining at the Oars

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:32 pm
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Once again we’re featuring the ministry of Toronto area Bible teacher Gordon Rumford and his devotional website.  Click the header below to read at source.

Someone Is Watching You

“He saw the disciples straining at the oars,
because the wind was against them.”
Mark 6:48 (NIV)

Jesus and the disciples had just completed a tremendous day of ministry in which Jesus had performed a miracle that only God could do. He took the small meal of a poor boy and created enough food for over five thousand people to eat all they wished.

The miracle was so remarkable that the people tried to make Jesus king by force. They greatly desired someone with such miraculous powers to lead them to political victory over the Roman occupational forces.

Jesus would not have any part of such a political movement. He had already sent the disciples away from the scene into a boat to cross to the west side of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus did not wish the twelve to have their minds infected with such political ambitions.

They were dealing with Galilean Jews in this scene and Galilee was the source of much political unrest. Various Galilean Jews had been involved in trying to set up a political uprising in Jesus’ time. So Jesus quickly got the disciples out of there.

Then He went up onto the mountain nearby to pray alone. Jesus had much to pray about just then. The crowds would reject His message the next morning. Herod Antipas, the Roman ruler of Galilee had recently beheaded Jesus’ cousin John the Baptist.

Further, the Jewish leaders, especially to the south, had initiated great hostility toward Him. So there was much to burden our Lord’s heart and cause Him to seek the Father’s help.

It was from this vantage point during the night that Jesus looked out on the Sea of Galilee and saw the disciples being threatened by a storm. Some of the disciples in the boat had made their living fishing on this sea at night, so they understood its temperamental ways. They had been in storms before but this one was so ferocious that it had all of them terrified.

We notice two very significant things as we read the account of the storm on the sea. First we must recognize that when the disciples obeyed Jesus and got into the boat to cross the Sea of Galilee they immediately found themselves in a life threatening situation. Obedience to God is no assurance of a safe and pleasant passage to heaven.

Through the centuries the witness of the martyrs has proven that following Jesus is often dangerous and deadly. There is no room for argument on this one. Right in the Bible we see the results of obedience to Jesus.

This is why it is recorded five times in the Gospels that Jesus said we should to take up our cross and follow Him. So Jesus calls His followers to die to personal ambition in order to live for Him.

Our Lord is constantly watching the journey of every follower He has, just as He watched the disciples on the sea. We never disappear from the watchful eye of the Lord.

Yes, we shall endure sorrow in this life but we may be assured that our beloved Saviour is watching and in His time shall appear for our deliverance.

…weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”
Psalm 30:5 (NIV)

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March 22, 2019

In Christ We Have All That We Need

Today we return again to the blog with the unusual name, More than Useless, written by Thom Fowler. Also, I finally spent enough time at the blog to find out why it has the name it does. It’s taken from the lyrics of a Reliant K song.

And sometimes I think that I’m not any good at all
And sometimes I wonder why, why I’m even here at all…

…But then you assure me
I’m a little more than useless
And when I think that I can’t do this
You promise me that I’ll get through this
And do something right
Do something right for once

As always, click the title below to read this at source.

More than Enough

NLT.Mark 4.35 As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” 36 So they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed). 37 But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water.

38 Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”

39 When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. 40 Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

41 The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!”

One story that sticks in my mind from when I still lived at home, was my father, who was a minister as well, was out checking the situations with some families who were in need in our community. In particular, he was helping determine what, if any, foodstuffs they needed.

In one home, as he was inspecting their pantry, he found numerous cans of soup. He asked why they weren’t eating it, their response? “We don’t have any crackers.” They weren’t trying to be smart or silly, in all seriousness they thought they couldn’t eat the one without the other. In their ignorance, they had underestimated what they could do with what they had. The soup was more than enough to meet their need!

In today’s passage, Jesus is in a boat with his closest companions, they had been with Him from the beginning. They had seen Him perform miracle, after miracle, after miracle. But when they ended up in the middle of a very scary situation – and remember several of them were seasoned fisherman – they began to panic! They knew the serious danger in which they found themselves.

And where was Jesus? Sleeping! He was exhausted – so much so that even the high waves breaking in the boat as it began to fill with water didn’t even faze Him!

When they woke him, he immediately – to their absolute amazement – brought the stormy sea to a “great calm” with a simple command of Silence! Be still!

And they just weren’t amazed, they were terrified! Exclaiming, Who is this man? Even the wind and waves obey him!

They really had no idea with whom they were dealing! They didn’t realize that with Jesus they could handle any situation. They weren’t limited because of what they didn’t have – in Jesus they had everything they needed. They had underestimated what He was capable of. They may not have known what He could do! But they found out in a hurry!

Lord Jesus, do we underestimate what Your power can do in our lives? We know You, to a certain degree but do we truly trust that For with God nothing [is or ever] shall be impossible”? (Luke 1:37 AMP) Do we cling to false hope? Do we have as our mindset that we will just have to tough it out?

Jesus tells us in Matthew 11:29-30 AMP ,Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me [following Me as My disciple], for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest (renewal, blessed quiet) for your souls. For My yoke is easy [to bear] and My burden is light.”

Savior, help us to cling to true Hope – You! May our grasp never falter and even if it does, may we take solace in knowing that Yours never will! You will always be more than enough!


Here’s the Reliant K song referred to in the intro complete with lyrics. (It really rocks out; remember we warned you!)

May 24, 2012

Cultural Overlay Adds Depth to Familiar Bible Story

The majority of Jesus’ disciples may have been fisherman, but generally, we see a kind aqua-phobia among the people of that region.  I was reminded of that this week when I decided to check back with Kevin Rogers’ blog, The Orphan Age, where this appeared under the title

WAKING UP TO THE CHAOS DRAGON
It’s good to be well rested because you never know when your strength will be tested. Consider the disciples with Jesus in the midst of a brutal storm. With their strength being exhausted bailing a swamped boat, their sense of peace was gone.

Mark 4:

35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped.38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

Tom Boomershine is a Bible scholar who gives us an interesting perspective on this story. The fear of the fisherman may have had a spiritual twist to it.

The chaos dragon lived in the sea and a common belief in the ancient world was that storms in the sea were caused by the sudden rising of the chaos dragon. 

Storms were a kind of tidal wave caused by the great dragon, a symbol for the cosmic powers of evil.

The chaos dragon is in the background of stories in the Old Testament and some of the Psalms. The story of the flood in Genesis reflects the Ancient Near Eastern myths of the chaos dragon. It is a sign of the powers against God. Contemporary movies have developed a large repertoire of signs of the powers of evil.[i]

Even though they were with Jesus, these fishermen grew up on stories from many sources about the dangers of the sea. What evil power was at work seeking to destroy them?

Were they thinking about Jonah who was awakened by the sailors when a violent storm threatened to destroy them? They were not spared until Jonah confessed his wrongdoing and had the men throw him overboard into the frothing chaos.

The disciples waken Jesus and frantically yell over the howl of the storm, “Don’t you care if we drown?”

Have you ever prayed like that? You are facing a life storm that has the capacity to destroy you and you cry out to God asking if He cares. Sometimes there is faith enough to believe that God is with you, but not enough faith to believe that God cares about the fearful circumstance. God may be nearby, but you are going down and cannot understand why God is sleeping.

“Don’t you care if we drown?”

The truth is that Jesus does care. It is God’s preference that none would perish. But in the threat of destruction we lose our ability to see love. How can a loving God allow this to happen? Fear and anger howl like the storm drowning out the quiet-natured presence of peace. Jesus is here, but why is sleeping at a time like this?

“Don’t you care if we drown?”

Jesus cares.