Terms and Conditions: Relationships

Click here, accept this, check here.  You’ve seen the words.  And they all signify the same thing, that you have read and accepted the terms and conditions of something.

 

This is week two of our Terms and Conditions series.  Last week we defined Terms and Conditions this way: Terms and Conditions: are rules by which one must agree to abide in order to use a service.

 

But do we really read those terms and conditions let alone plan to abide by them?  If you did, here are some things that you would know.

 

You have agreed that Twitter will have rights to all your content, even if you deactivate or close your account.

 

You have given Facebook permission to use all your photos in any capacity they want.  Including in advertisements.

 

By clicking “I agree” you have given Instagram a royalty-free, worldwide license to use or modify your photos and videos any way they’d like

 

Netflix reserves the right to disclose all of your information to third parties (i.e., law enforcement or the government) should they deem it necessary.  And you’ve agreed that Netflix will not be held liable if it gets hacked and your personal info is stolen.

 

If you are a LinkedIn user you have agreed to not lie, or “misrepresent your current or previous positions or qualifications.” So, if you are a dishwasher you can’t say that you are a sub aquatic ceramic hygienic engineer.

 

And if you listen to your music on Spotify you’ve said you’re ok with the section in their terms and conditions that reads, “We may collect information stored on your mobile device, such as contacts, photos, or media files.”

 

That means that you have given Spotify access to pretty much everything stored on your phone, but you’re ok, because Spotify insists that your info won’t be exploited.

 

Today’s message comes from Matthew’s Gospel in what has traditionally been called the Sermon on the Mount.

 

And it here that Jesus is speaking of relationships, and after warning people about the dangers of anger in the lives of those who follow him he adds some terms and condition for how we approach God in worship.

 

If you have your Bibles turn with me to Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:23  “So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you,. . . “

 

 

So, if we go back to our definition that Terms and Conditions: are rules by which one must agree to abide in order to use a service.

 

So,  let’s begin by looking at The Service

 

The service that is being provided in this case would be the opportunity to worship God.  Or to resume the fellowship that was broken by sin.

 

Remember last week we had looked at how humanity had been created to be in fellowship with God?  And how, when they violated the terms and conditions, that is they disobeyed God, that caused a fracture in their relationship.

 

It’s only when we experience God’s Grace and forgiveness that we can see that relationship restored.

 

You’ve probably heard me speak on forgiveness different times and how important it is in the life of the believer.

 

Forgiveness frees us from the chains of resentment and bitterness.

 

This summer when I spoke about the parable of the unforgiving servant you might recall I said:

 

The prison of unforgiveness is built by those who refuse to forgive, and the keys are held by the same person.

 

Catherine Ponder wrote, “When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.”

 

And you understand that when you say, “I can never forgive them”, you are locking yourself into a cell of resentment and bitterness.  And the bizarre thing is that you hold the key, at any time you can unlock the door and free yourself.  If you choose to.

 

It was Lewis Smedes  who said, “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”

 

Jesus was very clear in his teaching.   At the end of the Lord’s Prayer he told his followers, Matthew 6:14-15  “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.  But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

 

And there are times that you will need to forgive people who don’t even know they hurt you or haven’t acknowledged that they’ve hurt you or don’t think that they need to be forgiven.

 

I truly believe that, and in those cases, you forgive them for your sake, not their sake. You do that to set yourself free from bitterness and resentment.

 

Virginia H. Pearce writes, “Forgiveness is possible even when there is no restitution, no remorse on the part of the perpetrator.”

 

But that type of forgiveness will not mend a relationship.

 

When someone has been hurt or offended or betrayed then it causes damage to the relationship.

 

That’s what happens to our relationship with God when we are disobedient.  And disobedience to God is called “Sin”.

 

That’s why we are told in  Isaiah 59:2  It’s your sins that have cut you off from God. Because of your sins, he has turned away and will not listen anymore.

 

And so the bible tells us that if we want to worship God that we need to approach him with our relationships in order, and not just the vertical relationship with God, but the horizontal relationships we have with others.

 

God doesn’t just want us to have a restored relationship with him, but with those around us.

 

Let’s go back to the story, Matthew 5:23-24  “So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you,  leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.”

 

 

So here are The Terms and Conditions

 

If you are seeking to be in a relationship with God in what we call worship, perhaps corporate worship or even private worship, your prayer time and Bible reading, and you realize that you have offended someone, then you need to make it right, before you continue to worship.

 

Roger Hahn, in the Wesleyan Commentaries writes, “Worship of God is meaningless as long as we live in broken human relationships. People matter so much to God that He requires that we mend our relationships with them before we come and offer our gift to Him. “

 

Sometimes we wonder why there seems to be a barrier between us and God and why our prayers only seem to go as high as the ceiling.  It may be that we have built the barrier or put that ceiling in place ourselves.

 

And so, Jesus tells us that when we realize that we’ve done something wrong to someone, if we’ve offended them or hurt them that we need to make it right.

 

But what does that mean?  Is it just a matter of saying “I’m sorry”?

 

Jesus told a great story about a family where there was hurt and a broken relationship.  You probably know it as the story of the Prodigal Son.  The youngest of two sons demands his share of his father’s estate, he then leaves home and squanders his father’s hard-earned money.

 

Starting to sound familiar?  And when the son decides to return home, because he eventually ran out of money and friends, he realizes that he has some work to do in mending the damage he had caused in his family.

 

Let’s pick up the story in Luke 15:20-21  “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.  His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’”

 

So first you need to Own It

 

This is where we acknowledge that what we did was wrong and that we shouldn’t have done it.  This is what the son did when he said, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’

 

It’s what we are doing when we say, “I shouldn’t have said that, I shouldn’t have done that, I hurt you, I was wrong.”  We are owning our behaviour.

 

The person you hurt needs to know that you know that what you did hurt them.

 

And maybe you’re thinking, “But it was unintentional, I didn’t mean to hurt them.”

 

But if I was in Tim’s, as unlikely as that may sound, and I stepped backward and jostled you and you spilled your coffee, what would I say?  I’d say, “I’m sorry”.

 

I didn’t mean to do it, but it happened, and I would apologize.

 

And maybe you are thinking, “But if it happened to me, if those words were spoken to me, it wouldn’t have hurt me.”    But it didn’t happen to you, it happened to them, and the words weren’t spoken to you or about you, they were spoken to the other person, and whether or not you would have been hurt is irrelevant if they were.   So, own it.

 

And listen up, an apology with an excuse isn’t really an apology.

 

When you add “but” to your apology it stops being an apology and becomes an explanation.

 

“I’m sorry I got angry, but . . .”  “I’m sorry I cheated on you, but . . .” “I’m sorry I stole from you, but . . .”

 

Remember that after the but comes the truth, and when you add “But” to your apology you are in effect saying, “I’m not really sorry.”

 

The second thing is you need to do after you own it is to Say It  This is where it gets difficult.  Where you have to swallow your pride.  When you have to say, “I was wrong”.

 

If we go back to the story of the prodigal son, before the son returns to the father he has this conversation with himself, Luke 15:18-19  I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you,  and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’

 

He was sorry, he acknowledged to himself that what he did was wrong, but he also had to acknowledge it to his father.  It was his father whom he had hurt.

 

But it’s not just saying “I’m sorry, I was wrong” It’s also asking the person who you hurt, “Will you forgive me?”  And that can be even tougher, because what if they say “No”?

 

Hamilton Beazley author of the book “No Regrets” writes “Apologizing is making an admission that we erred, and we don’t like having to do that. . . . It makes us vulnerable because we are requesting something — forgiveness — that we think only the other person can grant, and we might be rejected.”

 

The next thing that we need to do is to Correct It   This is called restitution.

 

In the Old Testament the Law lays down specific examples of restitution, Exodus 22:1  If someone steals an ox or sheep and then kills or sells it, the thief must pay back five oxen for each ox stolen, and four sheep for each sheep stolen. It goes on to say in Exodus 22:3   “A thief who is caught must pay in full for everything he stole. If he cannot pay, he must be sold as a slave to pay for his theft.

 

There is a great example of this in Luke’s account of the Jesus story.  The story is told that a tax collector by the name of Zacchaeus meets Jesus and his life is transformed.

 

And in reaction to the grace and forgiveness that Zacchaeus was offered we read his response in Luke 19:8  Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, “I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!”

 

Zacchaeus didn’t just acknowledge that what he had done was wrong, but he set about correcting that wrong.

But what if the injury wasn’t intentional?  Exodus 21:33-34  “Suppose someone digs or uncovers a pit and fails to cover it, and then an ox or a donkey falls into it.  The owner of the pit must pay full compensation to the owner of the animal, but then he gets to keep the dead animal.

 

You may not have meant it,  but if you have taken something from somebody, or cost somebody something, then you need to return it and make it right.

 

It might be material or financial or it might go deeper than that.  It might be that through your words, or innuendo or lack of words that you cost someone their character, and you need to correct that.  And that can be tougher than fixing the material wrongs, but it has to be done.

 

Corrie Ten Boom was a survivor of the Nazi prison camps and she wrote, “Four marks of true repentance are: acknowledgement of wrong, willingness to confess it, willingness to abandon it, and willingness to make restitution.”

 

And sometimes, unfortunately, there is no correcting the wrong.  The Nazis killed Corries family, stole her dignity and years of her life.  Those things couldn’t be corrected.

 

When someone has lost their life, their health or their innocence because of your actions you can’t make restitution.

 

If your actions cost someone their marriage, how do you make restitution for that?

 

And don’t expect an apology and forgiveness to be a magic wand, some things can’t be repaired.

 

You need to try and make it right but, in some cases, there will always be reminders of the hurt.  That doesn’t mean that forgiveness hasn’t happened, it does mean that some scars last forever.

 

Shannon L. Alder writes, “How you correct your mistakes will define your character and commitment to a higher power.”

 

If you are letting things go uncorrected it is a reflection on your Christian character.  And if you can’t make it right, then acknowledge that.  “I can’t give you back what I’ve taken from you and I’m so sorry”

 

But it’s not just restitution, when Paul was preaching to the crowds early in the book of Acts we read this excerpt from one of his sermons.  Acts 3:19  Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away.

 

The next thing we need to do is Stop It It’s not enough to say you’re sorry, to ask for forgiveness and even to offer to correct the offence if you’re just going to do it again.

 

If your behaviour results in someone being hurt or betrayed, then stop it.  And when we choose to stop a behaviour it’s called repentance.  To repent literally means to turn from something.

 

So, if I’m walking across the platform, and I realize that I’m going in the wrong direction, I repent.  Right there, that turn, did you catch that?  That’s repentance.

 

There is a passage from the Old Testament, that also falls under the Terms and Conditions category, and it says in 2 Chronicles 7:14  Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.

 

When will God hear his people?  When they turn from their wicked ways, when they repent.

 

It’s really hard for someone to take your apology serious when you keep doing what you were doing.

 

Paul was writing to the church in the city of Corinth and he was referencing something he said in an earlier letter, let’s pick it up in 2 Corinthians 7:8-9  I am not sorry that I sent that severe letter to you, though I was sorry at first, for I know it was painful to you for a little while.  Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to repent and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way.

 

Sometimes it takes the pain of a broken relationship to lead us to repentance.  And sometimes it takes someone challenging us on our behaviour to bring us to the same point.

 

Those are the steps that each us will have to take at some point in our lives.

 

And here is what needs to happen when someone has taken those steps with you, Accept It

 

In the book “When Sorry isn’t enough: Making things right with those you love”  Gary Chapman writes  “The choice not to forgive pronounces the death penalty upon the relationship.  Without forgiveness, relationships die.”

 

And remember Corrie Ten Boom, she had a lot more to forgive people for them most of us ever will have and she said “Forgiveness is the key that unlocks the door of resentment and the handcuffs of hatred.  It is a power that breaks the chains of bitterness and the shackles of selfishness.”

 

Because an apology alone cannot restore a relationship, there has to be forgiveness.  In God’s grace that is what each one of us is offered.  If we go back to the sermon that Peter preached at the temple, we read, Acts 3:19  Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away.

 

Our part of the equation is to repent, God’s part of the equation is to forgive.  And we see that over and over again through the scriptures when we come to God and we confess to him that we are sinners, and we repent and ask him to forgive us, he forgives us.  He doesn’t make us grovel or repeat the words over and over again.

 

You’ve heard it before, actress Marlene Dietrich once said: “Once a woman has forgiven her man, she must not reheat his sins for breakfast.”

 

God doesn’t reheat our sins for breakfast and he doesn’t want us to reheat the sins of other’s for breakfast.

 

If you say you have forgiven someone, then act as if you’ve forgiven them. Some people say they’ve buried the hatchet, but they keep the handle visible just in case they need it again.

 

Most of us can recite the Lord’s prayer from memory, and if not here is a reminder of how Jesus taught his followers to pray, remember right in the middle when he said, “And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

 

And just in case those who heard him missed it he adds to the end of the prayer, Matthew 6:14-15  “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.  But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

 

Here is an addendum, we often talk about forgiven ourselves, but sometimes before we can forgive ourselves, we need to apologize to ourselves.

 

We need to acknowledge that we made the wrong choices and made wrong decisions and that those choices had consequences.  We need to make a commitment to stop that behaviour, and then we need to forgive ourselves.  And forgiving ourselves is like forgiving others, it means we are no longer going to keep going back to that offence over and over again.

 

Gary Chapman writes, “No positive purpose is served by berating ourselves explosively or implosively.  All such behaviour is destructive.”

 

I don’t know where you are at this morning, or what you may have to do.  But you do, so let me pray that God will give you the grace and the courage to take that step.

 

 

 

 

David and Who?

Are you a Survivor fan?  Have you been following the new season?  Maybe like me, you’ve only seen the commercials.

I don’t think I’ve seen an episode of a Survivor in ten years and it’s probably been fifteen years since I’ve watched an entire season.  But other people are apparently watching it because it’s now in its 37th season.  And the title of this season is “David Vs. Goliath.”

I wonder how many people understand the significance of the title?  I mean, they know that it means the weaker vs the stronger and they may even know there was a giant involved but do they know the story originated in the Bible?  Did you?

There was a time, that most people could have told you most of the story of David and Goliath because they learned the story in Sunday School, Vacation Bible School or church.  But that is no longer the case.

The Bible tells us that God’s word will not return void, meaning it will always be effective in people’s lives.  So I wonder if somewhere out there, someone has picked up the Bible to delve more into the origins of “David vs. Goliath”?

It might be a really cool story that we only get to hear in Heaven.

Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.  

 

Terms and Conditions: In the Beginning

Until 1991 I don’t think I ever heard the words “Terms and Conditions”, at least not together, and then I installed my first software package and I had to “Click here”.

 

And over the past 27 years, I’ve probably clicked on a million Terms and Conditions boxes, I just made up that number.  And you probably have as well.

 

So, what are terms and conditions?  Well, here is the definition that we will be using over the next several weeks: 

Terms and Conditions: are rules by which one must agree to abide in order to use a service.

 

And the service might be software that you are installing, or a website you are visiting, or content you are downloading.

 

But regardless of what the service might be,  there are rules that you’re expected to follow if you avail yourself of that service.

 

But have you ever stopped and read the Terms and Conditions that you are agreeing to?  Probably not, after all not only are they daunting but they are quite voluminous as well.  That means long.

 

When you clicked to agree to your iTunes account you were saying that you had read the 19,972 words of the contract and that you agreed with them.  The iTunes terms and conditions are longer than Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

 

But that pales in contrast to what you agreed to if you are a PayPal user.  The PayPal terms and conditions, that you said you read and agreed to, are 36,275 words long, that’s the equivalent of 10 of my sermons and longer than Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

 

But those who wrote the PayPal terms must not have read Hamlet and if they did they must have missed the line from Polonius when he says, “Since brevity is the soul of wit / And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes, I will be brief…”

 

This summer, as I was about to click and agree to a new set of Terms and Conditions I realized that it’s not just with software, iPhones and websites where we are required to play by the rules.  The Bible is full of examples of terms and conditions.

 

This morning we are starting at the beginning, which is usually a good place to start.  The scripture that was read for us earlier today, lays out the Terms and Conditions that God laid down for the first couple in the Garden of Eden.

 

Let’s pick up the story in Genesis 2:15  The LORD God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it.

 

Remember the definition we started with, Terms and Conditions: are rules by which one must agree to abide in order to use a service.

 

So let’s start with The Service

What was the expected here?  Well, if you know the story, God had created the first man and first woman, Adam and Eve.  And they were placed into a perfect world to live and to have fellowship with God.  God placed them in a perfect world and it would appear that in that perfect world God had provided everything the couple needed.

 

They lived in a beautiful garden in fellowship with their creator. We don’t know exactly where the Garden of Eden is or was, although some have tried to guess

 

First of all the Garden was situated in an area called Eden, so the Garden was not all of Eden, It was just a part of Eden.

 

The garden we are told was filled with trees and not just any trees we are told they were beautiful, and they produced delicious fruit, which tells us that God wasn’t just concerned with the practical but also with the aesthetics.

 

And if we pull down a map here, we are also told that the Garden was watered by a river that eventually became four rivers, today we know about the Pishon and the Tigris and the Euphrates, we don’t know where the Gihon may have flowed but with the other three we can guess that Eden may have been about here.

 

 

However, with the changes that would have happened to the geography after the great flood, we really don’t know.  We’re not even a hundred percent sure what the climate was like,  but considering we are told in Genesis 2:25  Now the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame. We have to assume that it wasn’t Nova Scotia weather.

 

As a matter of fact, we have a photo of what many people feel is the entrance to paradise. (show pic of Grand Manan)

 

And after God had created them he had given them pretty explicit instructions of what he wanted them to do he said in Genesis 1:28 we read Genesis 1:28  Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. . .”

 

Which considering they were running around the Garden naked that probably wasn’t that much of a stretch.

 

 

But there was more to the story,  God also told them what they weren’t supposed to do Genesis 2:16-17  But the LORD God warned him, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden—  except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.”

 

These were  The Terms and Conditions

 

So, they are supposed to make babies and fill the earth, but they aren’t supposed to eat the fruit from just one tree out of all the trees in the garden.  Good work if you can find it. I mean that seems like a pretty good gig to me.  The only condition is that they couldn’t eat the fruit from one tree.

 

32 words, that was it.  Not 32,000 words, not 3,200 words, not even 320 words.  Just 32 words.

 

And you know what came next, right?

 

The Violation

 

Everything is going good and the devil crashes the party.  Adam and Eve are in the process of doing what they supposed to do and not doing what they weren’t supposed to do.

 

And Satan arrives and says “Yo kids, what’s happening?” And they say “Not much we’re just hanging around the garden working at making babies and not eating from that tree.”

 

And Satan says “Excuse me if I’m being nosy but how come you aren’t eating from that tree? That’s a great tree, as a matter of fact, it’s probably got the best fruit of any tree in the garden.”

 

“Well,” says Eve, “God told us not to eat from that tree because he said we would die if we did.” “That’s a crock” replies Satan, “The only reason He won’t let you eat from it is because it’s the best fruit in the garden and he knows that if you eat from it you’ll be just like him.  Besides a loving God wouldn’t let you die just because you ate one little tiny piece of fruit, go ahead, Bon Appetit.”

 

You know the story, Eve took the fruit took a big bite and said, “This is delicious Adam, you should really try it.”  And he did.

 

And those two bites signalled the end of the world as they knew it.  Their innocence was shattered, and mankind was steered unto the path of sin.

 

I read once that the trouble wasn’t the apple in the tree it was the pair on the ground.  And yes, I know that it doesn’t say apple anywhere in the bible and the climate wasn’t cold enough to grow apples, enough already.  It was just a joke.

 

So where were we in the story?

 

Oh yes, Eve has been tempted by the devil to disobey God and she, in turn, tempts Adam and it is literally the bite that changes the world.

 

With that bite, their eyes were indeed opened and they were overcome with shame and tried to cover their nakedness.  Up to that point, there had been no shame, no sense of right and wrong.  I don’t know if there was any magical power in the tree of knowledge of Good and evil or if it was the simple act of disobedience that made them realize the difference between doing what they should do and what they shouldn’t do.

 

Regardless of what caused it to happen their innocence was no more because of The Violation

 

The directions that God gave were very simple, don’t eat from that tree, you see that tree over there?  Don’t eat from it, get it?  And I’m sure that they nodded and said, “Got it.”

 

It wasn’t rocket science; there was no ambiguity about the command.  “Did he mean we shouldn’t eat from it on Saturday or we shouldn’t eat from it on Sunday?”  “Did he mean we shouldn’t eat from it at all or that we could eat from it as long as we didn’t eat from it to excess?” or “Maybe he meant that we could eat the fruit that was rated ‘g” but not the fruit that was rated ‘AA’ or ‘R’ and we’d have to exercise our own judgment on the fruit that was rated ‘PG 14’.”

 

God has given us a book that tells us what he wants us to do as well as what he doesn’t want us to do.  In its simplest form, it is the Ten Commandments but there is more than that.

 

Throughout the book you discover verses like Galatians 5:19-21  When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures,  idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarrelling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division,  envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

 

It’s not like God has a whole list of unwritten rules that he is expecting us to follow listen to what Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:16-17  All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.  God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.

 

And so regardless of what some people want you to think there are things that are right and things that are wrong in this life.

 

The Result

 

When Satan showed up and began his temptation he asked Eve “Did God really say you must not eat any of the fruit in the garden?” and listen to what Eve said “Of course we may eat it, it’s only the fruit from the tree at the centre of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God says we must not eat it,”

 

It would appear that she had a pretty firm grip on what they weren’t supposed to do,  now notice what else she adds “or even touch it or we will die.”   God hadn’t commanded them not to touch it, he just told them not to eat the fruit.  For that matter, they could have cut the tree down chopped it up and used it for firewood and been done with temptation.

 

In our lives how much of the wrong that we do is done in ignorance?  How often can we honestly say, “I didn’t know that was wrong.”? “You mean I shouldn’t have cheated on my wife, stole from my employer and lied to my parents.” “Who would have thought that was wrong?”  Duh.  You.

 

Parents, did you ever have a situation where one of your children did something they knew was wrong and then they hid from you? Because they knew that they had done wrong.  I’m not sure if they thought they could hide forever or just until you got over being mad.  That’s what happened with Adam and Eve.

 

God came looking for them and they hid, broke fellowship with God.  Up to this point Adam and Eve enjoyed being in the presence of God but all of a sudden, his Holiness revealed their disobedience.

 

But why did they hide?  Because they were afraid.  But afraid of what?  Genesis 3:9-10  Then the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”  He replied, “I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.”

 

Was it being physically naked that made Adam afraid, it would appear so because the first thing they did was to cover themselves.  But these two had been walking around buck naked since day one and it hadn’t bothered them, why now?  I think that Adam and Eve were overcome with shame and they covered themselves physically because they couldn’t cover themselves spiritually.

 

Have you ever noticed that little kids have no qualms about running around starkers?

 

Indeed, they seem to enjoy it.  But there comes a time when their innocence disappears, and they feel compelled to cover up.  You say that’s cultural Denn, well to a certain degree yes.  But even in cultures in much warmer climates where in the past they wore considerably less than would be considered acceptable by western standards most still wore something.

 

As a believer have you ever been ashamed to be in the presence of God because of disobedience in your life?  Maybe during your own quiet time, or during a worship service or maybe during communion.

 

Adam and Eve knew that what they did was wrong, and it caused a tear in their relationship.

 

Even though they did what was wrong, and they knew it was wrong they refused to accept responsibility for what they had done.

 

Let’s go back to the story, Genesis 3:11-12  “Who told you that you were naked?” the LORD God asked. “Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?”  The man replied, “It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it.”

 

Boy does that sound familiar. How often when confronted with doing something they shouldn’t be doing have you heard your kids say in response “Yes but.”?

 

As a matter of fact, how often when confronted with doing something that you shouldn’t be doing have you heard yourself say “Yes but.”?

 

Adam was frantically looking for a way out.  It was Ashleigh Brilliant who said, “If you can smile when things go wrong, you have someone in mind to blame.”

 

And Adam and Eve seemed to embrace that because they started by Blaming Each Other

 

Lady Nancy Astor said, “In passing, also, I would like to say that the first time Adam had a chance he laid the blame on a woman.”

 

But it wasn’t so much Eve that Adam blamed, let’s go back to Genesis 3:11-12  “Who told you that you were naked?” the LORD God asked. “Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?”  The man replied, “It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it.”

 

It wasn’t just “The woman”, it was “The woman you gave me.”  Adam was blaming God.

 

And what was Eve’s response to Adam’s charge?  Genesis 3:13  Then the LORD God asked the woman, “What have you done?” “The serpent deceived me,” she replied. “That’s why I ate it.”

 

She blamed the devil.

 

It was the classic “The Devil made me do it.” Defence and the poor Devil didn’t have a leg to stand on.

 

Yes, the Devil will tempt us to do wrong, yes he wants you to fail as a Christian.  But you don’t have to.

 

One of the greatest promises in the Bible is found in 1 Corinthians 10:13  The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

 

 

The bible never says that we won’t be tempted, but it does say we don’t have to give in to temptation.  There isn’t anything that you will be tempted to do that somebody else hasn’t already been tempted to do and yes some did give in to that temptation, but many didn’t.

 

All Adam and Eve had to do was whistle and God would have been there and turfed the Devil out on his ear.  But no they were enjoying the conversation.

 

And you know and I know that when we are being tempted, that if we actually stopped and prayed about the situation things would probably go in a different direction, but then again maybe that’s what we are afraid of.

 

It was Margaret Oliphant who said, “Temptations come, as a general rule, when they are sought.”

 

How often in our lives do we seek to blame our behaviour and our failures on others?  “It was because of my parents or my teachers or my friends. They led me astray.”

 

Or “God, if you hadn’t made me this way.” Or “God if you hadn’t brought that person into my life.”

 

Motivational speaker Dr. Robert Anthony claims “When you blame others, you give up your power to change.”

 

And so, you don’t need to change if it was someone else’s fault that you sinned.

 

Very seldom do you hear someone say, “I sinned, it was my choice, nobody forced me tempted me or enticed me, I did it because I wanted to.”

 

The Consequences

 

I’m not sure what would happen if you didn’t live up to the terms and conditions of PayPal, I do know that technically they can take your music away if you don’t live up to the terms and conditions of iTunes.

 

In this case, the relationship between God and man was severed.   God had asked them to not do one thing and trusted them to not do it, and they did it.

 

But you know the story could have had a different ending.

 

If we went back to Genesis 3:11-12  “Who told you that you were naked?” the LORD God asked. “Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?”  The man replied, “It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it.”

 

“Yes,” Adam admitted, and then if instead of trying to shift the blame I wonder what would have happened if he had of said, “I was wrong and we are so sorry, next time we will call out to you and we’ll resist temptation.”

 

Do you think God would have forgiven Adam and Eve?  I do.  And while that might be a hypothetical question what happens when we sin isn’t, the word of God promises us in 1 John 1:8-9  If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.  But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.

 

So where are you at?  Let’s see if we have all of the story straight.  In the beginning, God created Man and Woman and they lived in fellowship with him and when sin came into the world it separated us from God.  And it continues to separate us from God.  Romans 3:23  For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. And ever since that first sin we have tried to bridge the gap with our own efforts, with religion, giving, good deeds but they are never enough.  The consequences for Adam and Eve was spiritual death, and that holds true today, Romans 6:23  For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

The gap can only be bridged with the cross of Christ, and that’s why we are told in Ephesians 2:8-9  God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.  Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

 

So, where are you?

 

If you’ve never experienced that forgiveness if you are still on the other side of the separation, then today would be a great time to move across.  It’s as simple as asking, here’s a suggested prayer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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And That’s why we Need Grace

Last week I read an article about how the Nova Scotia Government has brought forward new laws which defined pedestrians, cyclists and certain others as “vulnerable road users”.  Under the new laws, the fines have doubled for accidents that seriously injure or kill them.

And my first thought was, that’s a good thing.  But then I stopped and thought, what exactly will the new fines do?

Will people be more careful as they drive? Will there be fewer fatalities because of the increased fines, or will the provincial government coffers be the only ones that benefit.

Kelsey Lane, transportation coordinator for Halifax’s Ecology Action Centre, said the change was “huge” and said it should help make roads and highways safer for everyone.  Really?

The fines were doubled in 2015, but apparently, the bureaucrats have decided that wasn’t enough.   But, I’m not sure that the decision to accidentally run over someone, regardless of who they are, will be affected by the size of the fine

If the new fines are to be a punishment, then so be it.   But, if the fear of punishment is enough to change human behaviour than hell itself should be enough.  But it’s not and we still need Grace.

Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.

Storms of Life 4

Dad told me that once as a teen he was with his father on their fishing boat when the weather turned nasty.  Dad was whining and complaining about how rough it was and how he wished that they had of stayed home instead of going fishing.

 

And his father told him, “you wouldn’t want to be ashore in a storm like this, it’s much safer out here if you were ashore a tree could fall on you.”

 

And the reality was my Grandfather probably wouldn’t have headed out in the Bay of Fundy in a small fishing boat if he knew that rough weather was coming, on the other hand, they were already there.  To turn around would be to lose valuable time and spend valuable money on fuel when they were already where they had to be.  And so they safely weathered the storm without a tree falling on them.

 

This is week four of our “Weathering the Storms of Life” series.  Over the past three weeks, we’ve focused on storms that happened at sea.

 

In week one we looked at the Old Testament story of Jonah and the storm that he found himself in when he was disobedient to God.

 

And you’ll remember that we learned five things from that story.

 

1) Not Every Storm Is Our Fault

2) Every Action Has Consequences for Others.

3) Don’t Make Major Decisions When You Are in The Midst of a Storm.

4) No Storm Lasts forever

5) The Remedy for Disobedience Is Obedience.

 

Two weeks ago we looked at the time that Jesus calmed the storm that he was in the with the disciples on the Sea of Galilee.  And from that story we learned:

 

1) Sometimes Obedience Leads Us into Storms

2) Jesus Is Always With Us In The Storm

3) The Storm Teaches Us About Ourselves

4) The Storm Teaches Us About Jesus

5) It’s Easy to Nap When You Know Who’s in Control.

 

Last week we looked at the story of Paul’s voyage to Rome and the multiple storms he encountered.  And there were five lessons there as well:

 

1) Sometimes a Storm is just a Storm

2) Storms Don’t Always Come Alone

3) If There’s Something You Can Do, Do It

4)The Consequences of the storm Can Outlast the Storm

5) Never Forget, God is There

 

But not all storms happen at sea; I happen to think the cool ones do.

 

This week the storm story is a story of a story.  We are going back to the Parables of Jesus, the stories that Jesus told to illustrate the Kingdom of God.  Matthew and Luke both record this story, and we are going to settle into Matthew’s account.

 

Matthew 7:24 & 26  “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. . . But anyone who hears my teaching and ignores it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand.

 

So let’s start with The Back Story  Jesus begins by telling the story of two men, because one man wouldn’t have been enough and three men would have just confused the issue.

 

And the two men had some things in common, they both heard the teaching of Jesus, they both embarked on a project, they both made choices, and they both encountered a storm.

 

In the story, the project they embarked on was the task of building a house, which of course was an analogy for the life that each one of us creates for ourselves.

 

 

And although we didn’t actually “Build” them, we designed both of them, and we were on site every day, checking progress and bringing the contractors home-made chocolate chip cookies.  It’s incredible how far home-made cookies go.

 

And over the past thirty years I have been involved in 3 church building projects, and in each of those I was involved in the design, I was on site every day and I took part in the building project.  Swinging a hammer, lugging stuff and painting.    I love building.

 

And I have discovered that in each of those cases you need to be careful about what’s happening while the building is under construction because you will pay later for any shortcuts that were taken during the building process.

 

And trust me when I say that nobody will care more about how your house is constructed then you will.

 

 

And so, the two men, both build their homes.  One chose to build on bedrock; the second man built his house on sand.  The commentators tell us that this would have been a story that would have had people nodding.  It made complete sense in their culture, time and geography.

 

Barclay writes in his Daily Study Bible, “There was many a gully which in summer was a pleasant sandy hollow, but was in winter a raging torrent of rushing water. A man might be looking for a house; he might find a pleasantly sheltered sandy hollow; and he might think this a very suitable place. But, if he was a short-sighted man, he might well have built his house in the dried-up bed of a river, and, when the winter came, his house would disintegrate.”

 

Ultimately both men made decisions, decisions that would dramatically affect the quality of their lives later.

 

And Jesus explains very clearly what he was trying to say:  He didn’t beat around the bush or try to sugar coat his words.  Let’s listen to his words again.    Matthew 7:24 & 26  Jesus said, “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, But anyone who hears my teaching and ignores it is foolish.”

the same as wise and foolish.

 

Because it’s easier for a wise person to gain knowledge than for a smart person to gain judgment.

 

And we’ve all met people who are incredibly smart but dumb as dirt when it comes to making practical decisions about life.

 

So, one of these men, the wise man, hears the teachings of Jesus and chooses to make those teachings the foundation of his life, even though it’s not necessarily the easy choice or even the popular choice.

 

The second man heard the same message but made a different decision about what he would do with that message.  He chose to ignore the message.

We don’t know what the philosophy was that he built his life on, but we do know what it wasn’t.  It wasn’t the teaching of Christ.

 

In this parable Jesus first of all, demands that people listen to his message and then he demands that people do something with what they heard.   Knowledge only becomes relevant when translated into action.

 

When I first went to work with Dad on the tugs, he gave me a big lecture about doing as I was told and not questioning him or anyone else, that it expected that as soon as they told me to jump that I’d be in the air asking how high?

 

And as I looked at him with that 15-year-old, “I know everything” look, he explained that if we were towing something and the cable or rope broke, and someone yelled “Get down!” and I didn’t I might get my head cut off.  That made sense, even to a 15-year-old who knew everything.

 

And the same way you don’t build a house overnight, you don’t build your life overnight.

 

Stephen Covey wrote, “Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.”

 

So let’s continue with our story: Matthew 7:24-27  “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.  Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock.  But anyone who hears my teaching and ignores it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand.  When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”

 

Which of course is The Storm Story

 

Presumably, the houses weren’t built in the midst of the storms, but the storms eventually came.  And it seems that they came from all directions.  The story tells us that the rain didn’t just come, it came in torrents.  And the heavy rains caused the floodwaters to rise, and the wind was beating against the house.

 

Last week I spoke about how there are times that one storm seems to follow right on the heels of a previous storm.

 

But even within the same storm, there are various elements to the storms.

 

You get sick, and then you can’t work so you can’t pay your bills, and you lose your car.  Not multiple storms, but elements of the same storm.

 

In the story that Jesus told the storms are identical, torrential rains, flood waters and wind.  But it is in the end result that we see the difference.

 

At the end of the day, one house is

 

So, what are some of the  Lessons from the Story

 

1) Storms will Come  Regardless of how nice the weather is when you are building your house, you can be assured that at some point storms will come.

 

So, If you are building a house in Canada, you ought to prepare for snow and if you a building a house in Florida ought to prepare for hurricanes.

 

But sometimes we get hurricanes in Canada, and there have been times they’ve gotten snow in Florida.

 

There may not be a storm today, but storms will come.   Your life may seem peachy right now, but the chances are that at some place in your future a storm will come.

 

 

My first pastoral family was Jack and Charlene Mackenzie, or as we all called them “Pastor and Mrs.” And they have been the Godliest people I have ever met, an incredible example of faith and personal holiness.  If faithfulness exempted us from storms, then life should have been cloud free for the Pastor and the Mrs.

 

Lou Gehrig’s diseaseDisease.

 

Jesus reminds us in  Matthew 5:45  For He (God)  gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and He sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.

 

But with that in mind, listen to the promise that Jesus made to his followers in John 16:33  “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

 

 

Or as Shannon Alder reminds us, “There is always a storm. There is always rain. Some experience it. Some live through it. And others are made from it.”

 

And remember the wisdom of Bee Stanton from last week: “A wise old mariner perhaps once said ‘Never grumble of how the winds they howl, tis one of the few things in life you cannot change.”

 

Which leads us to the next thing we learn,  The Best Time to Prepare for a Storm is Before the Storm  Kind of like the old guy who never fixed his roof because when it was sunny, it wasn’t leaking and when it was raining it was too wet to work on the roof.

 

The time to prepare for the storm is when the sun is out.  The best time to build a house and to build a life is when the storm isn’t raging around you.

 

Sometimes we get the warning, “a storm is coming get ready. ” But often times we miss the warnings, or we underestimate the power of the storm.  And it’s at those times that we discover how prepared we are.

 

When Angela and I first started dating, we took a group from the bible college out on Dad’s pleasure boat for the day.  It started as a really nice day, but the time we were done our three-hour cruise the wind had really blown up.

 

Dad had a new window that he was planning on installing in the boat, and he had it laying on the deck in front of the cabin.  I didn’t notice it until a gust of wind picked it up and blew it overboard.  Probably should have secured it before the wind came up.

 

The middle of a hurricane isn’t when you should be putting your patio furniture away, and the middle of the snowstorm isn’t when you should be discovering that you forgot to put gas in the snow blower.  Not that I know anything about that.

 

But I do know for a fact that sea sick medicine is a lot more effective if you take it before you get sick.

 

Your Foundation is Important in the Storm  We’ve all seen pictures of icebergs.  In 1981 I had a great summer job on the Irving Cedar which took me to the magnetic North Pole, and we got to see Icebergs on our way there.  And there were a few days that it got stormy and we were bouncing around, and they were just floating placidly along, it was so cool.    And that was because so much of the berg was beneath the surface.

 

Luke’s account of this parable is a little different than Matthews.  Luke 6:48-49  It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against the house, it stands firm because it is well built.  But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.”

 

Jesus told another parable where he compared our Christian experience to plants and explained how the plants that had developed deep strong roots were more likely to survive than plants with shallow roots.

 

And how do you make sure that you have a strong foundation in your Christian life?  Start by reading your Bible.  Paul reminded the early Christians in Ephesus of this truth when he wrote, Ephesians 2:20  Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself.

 

And the way you build on the foundation of the apostles and prophets is to read them.  And if you don’t have a bible to read, let one of the staff know, and we will get you one in a modern translation.

 

But it’s not just reading your bible, make prayer a habit, join a small group and make regular worship a part of the routine for you and your family.

 

 

The time to be preparing your foundation isn’t when you just found out you are ill, or unemployed or there are problems with your kids, the time is now.

 

It has often been said, “The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.” Nobody knows who said it, but nobody argues with the truth of the statement.

 

You should have started laying the foundation of your faith a long time ago, but if you didn’t then start today.

 

The Results of the Storm Will Differ for Each of Us

 

Everybody goes through a storm differently.  Before we moved to where we are now, we lived further into Kingswood.  And our house was down in a sheltered area, and I remember the night that Hurricane Juan went through.   The power had gone off in the middle of the night, and it was still off when we got up in the morning.

 

I remember looking out the window and thinking, “Well that was much ado about nothing.”  And then our son came home from working in Bedford and told us about how much damage there had been in town.

 

Both men went through the same storm, one man’s house stood, and the second man’s house fell.  In their case if was because of poor planning and poor preparation.

 

But understand that every storm is different, and so are the people who experience the storm.  Their life experiences, the faith background the foundation they have established and all of those things will dictate how we weather the storms.

 

Don’t try to project on others how you think the storm should affect them. You can be there for them, but you aren’t them.

 

And finally, and most important, God is With Us in the Storm.  Maybe You are wondering where it said that in the story.   Remember how the story began, Matthew 7:24  Jesus said: “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.”

 

And in Jesus teachings, he reminds us how much God loves us and cares for us and how he will always be there for us.

 

The prophet writes in  Nahum 1:7  The LORD is good, a strong refuge when trouble comes. He is close to those who trust in him.

 

If you’ve never accepted the forgiveness and grace of Jesus, those promises are just a prayer away.

 

And here is the promise from the past three messages:   Proverbs 10:25  When the storms of life come, the wicked are whirled away, but the godly have a lasting foundation.

 

And a new promise for today from the book of Romans, Romans 8:35-39  Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?  (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”)  No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.  And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.  No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

 

Benediction:

Numbers 6:24-26  ‘May the LORD bless you and protect you.  May the LORD smile on you and be gracious to you.  May the LORD show you his favour and give you his peace.’

Who’s to Blame? FBL

The question that people are asking is:  Who’s to blame?  Last week in Quebec, a 52-year-old man was hit and killed by a vehicle outside of Montreal.  There seems to be a simple answer there.  Obviously, it must have been the man himself or perhaps the driver of the car that hit him.

But nothing is that simple.

Earlier in the evening, the man had been taken to the hospital by the police, who had responded to a call that the man was intoxicated.  Shortly after midnight the man checked himself out the hospital and stumbled into the night where the police found him staggering along the road.  After speaking with the man, the officers decided to let him make his own way home.  25 minutes later, a motorist called 911 to report that she had just hit something.

Quebec’s independent police watchdog has launched an investigation, but in looking at public opinion, some are blaming the hospital for releasing the man, others blame the police for allowing him to walk home, but very few people blame the driver or the inebriated man.

It’s interesting that nobody is blaming alcohol and maybe that’s because that would lead to too many awkward questions about the view of drinking in our society.

Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.

 

 

Storms of Life 3

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that it seemed that whenever Dad and I were chatting that our conversations often drifted to storms that we had been in together when we were at sea.  And the reason, of course, is that the storms are more memorable than the nice days at sea, not necessarily more pleasant, just more memorable.

And it seemed that whenever the talk turned to storms that inevitably there was one storm in particular that Dad would bring up.

The year I was in grade 12 Dad worked for Atlantic Towing in Saint John on a salvage tugboat.  And he worked 2 weeks on and 2 weeks off.  Often times during his two weeks off Dad would freelance for other companies as skipper.  Sometimes he would work on the Pilot boat, running pilots out to ships coming into the harbour.  Other times he worked for a company that was dredging Saint John Harbour.  And sometimes he worked for a company that owned a retired RCMP patrol boat by the name of the Burin.  The Burin was 48-foot-long and a little over 20 years old, if she had of been a horse you’d say that she been ridden hard and put away wet.

And now the Burin’s sole function in life was transporting crew members back and forth to ships that were anchored outside the harbour.

Well, one winter night a storm had settled into the Bay of Fundy and Dad was on call for the Burin.  I was in my room doing homework, not that can’t be right, I was in my room reading and Dad came in and told me that he had gotten me some work as a deckhand on the Burin.  Which was kind of funny, because I didn’t know I was looking for work as a deckhand on the Burin.

 

The storm had escalated to the point that they had shut down the Harbour, nothing was going out or coming in.  Unfortunately, there was a ship anchored off the city that had allowed a number of their crew to go ashore before the storm had gotten worse.  Now the ship had to sail and the company that owned the Burin had accepted the job to get the crew members out to the ship.

 

The problem was, that they had a skipper, but their regular deckhand refused to go out in the storm, and Dad said that wouldn’t be a problem, he had a deckhand.  And he assured me that I wouldn’t have to worry about being sick, that I’d be too scared to be sick he was wrong.  I was sick and scared.

 

It was the most terrifying night of my life.  We finally got out to the ship and then we had to get the crew back on board, which meant they had dropped a rope ladder over the side, Dad would bring the Burin alongside, in these enormous waves, I’m not sure how big they were so I’ll make up a number, they were a thousand foot.   I would help the crew member get in position, we would go up on a wave, they’d grab the ladder and we’d disappear from under them and every time you just prayed they could hang on.

 

And it seemed that every time we’d talk about being at sea Dad would bring up the night on the Burin and how scared and sick I was, and then he’d laugh.  And I’d remind him that I had never gotten paid for that night and he’d laugh again.

 

This is week 3 of our “Weathering the Storms of Life” series.  On the first week, we looked at the story of Jonah and the storm he found himself in.

 

And you’ll remember that we learned five things from that story

 

1) Not Every Storm Is Our Fault
2) Every Action Has Consequences for Others.

3) Don’t Make Major Decisions When You Are in The Midst of a Storm.

4) No Storm Lasts forever

5) The Remedy for Disobedience Is Obedience.

 

Last week we looked at the time that Jesus calmed the storm that he was in the with the disciples on the Sea of Galilee.  And from that story we learned:

 

1) Sometimes Obedience Leads Us into Storms

2) Jesus Is Always With Us In The Storm
3) The Storm Teaches Us About Ourselves
4) The Storm Teaches Us About Jesus

5) It’s Easy to Nap When You Know Who’s in Control.

 

And again, if you missed those messages the manuscripts and videos are available on the church website.

 

This week’s story comes from the book of Acts in the New Testament.

 

So let’s start with The Back Story the story begins when Paul after having returned to Jerusalem to meet with Jesus’ brother James and the other leaders of the baby church is arrested.  Paul had been worshipping at the temple and after he was recognized by some of the Jewish leaders a near riot breaks out.

 

You’ll remember that Paul had been a high-profile Jewish leader who was intent on destroying the early church before his conversion.  But now that he was a Jesus follower his old compatriots weren’t amused to see him back in Jerusalem.

 

A Roman officer ordered Paul to be arrested and we pick up the story in Acts 21:37-38  As Paul was about to be taken inside, he said to the commander, “May I have a word with you?” “Do you know Greek?” the commander asked, surprised.  “Aren’t you the Egyptian who led a rebellion some time ago and took 4,000 members of the Assassins out into the desert?”

 

Talk about a case of mistaken identity.  Paul tells the commander who he is and asks the commander for permission to address the crowd, which was granted.  And Paul proceeds to tell the mob the story of his conversion and urges them to embrace the claims of Christ and repent.  Well, that goes over like Denn trying to pole vault.

 

The commander orders Paul to be whipped so he will confess, they hadn’t invented waterboarding yet.  But before the whipping commences Paul plays his trump card.  Which has nothing to do with the President and is simply a term indicating the winning card in a card game.

 

We pick up the story in Acts 22:25  When they tied Paul down to lash him, Paul said to the officer standing there, “Is it legal for you to whip a Roman citizen who hasn’t even been tried?”   Oops.  A bit of a blunder.

 

And the next two chapters are filled with intrigue and deception, the Jewish leaders conspire to kill Paul, the Roman commander hears of the plot and transports Paul to the city of Caesarea to stand trial before the Roman Governor, a man named Felix, who left Paul in prison for two years.

Finally, Felix is replaced as governor by Festus who agrees to hear Paul’s case.

 

The Jewish religious leaders demand that Paul be returned to Jerusalem to stand trial before the high priests, all the while planning on ambushing him and killing him on the way Jerusalem.

 

So, you still with me?  Governor Festus asks Paul if he’s willing to stand trial in Jerusalem and we read Paul’s response in Acts 25:10-11  But Paul replied, “No! This is the official Roman court, so I ought to be tried right here. You know very well I am not guilty of harming the Jews.  If I have done something worthy of death, I don’t refuse to die. But if I am innocent, no one has a right to turn me over to these men to kill me. I appeal to Caesar!”

 

Which was Paul’s right as a Roman Citizen.  And at that point everything stopped, kind of like if you are arrested and are being questioned, once you ask for a lawyer, the questioning should stop.

 

So if we keep reading we discover, Acts 25:12  Festus conferred with his advisers and then replied, “Very well! You have appealed to Caesar, and to Caesar you will go!”

 

There is a whole other story that follows where Paul ends up stating his case and sharing his testimony with the Governor and King Agrippa, who like King Herod before him was just a puppet king under the Romans.

 

But ultimately we arrive at Acts 27:1  When the time came, we set sail for Italy. Paul and several other prisoners were placed in the custody of a Roman officer named Julius, a captain of the Imperial Regiment.

 

And this is where we discover The Storm Story

 

And then things go to pieces.  Listen to some of the descriptions over the next forty verses.  Acts 27:4  Putting out to sea from there, we encountered strong headwinds that made it difficult to keep the ship on course, so we sailed north of Cyprus between the island and the mainland.

 

Acts 27:7  We had several days of slow sailing, and after great difficulty we finally neared Cnidus. But the wind was against us, so we sailed across to Crete and along the sheltered coast of the island, past the cape of Salmone.

 

Acts 27:9  We had lost a lot of time. The weather was becoming dangerous for sea travel because it was so late in the fall, and Paul spoke to the ship’s officers about it.

 

Acts 27:14  But the weather changed abruptly, and a wind of typhoon strength (called a “northeaster”) caught the ship and blew it out to sea.

 

Acts 27:27  About midnight on the fourteenth night of the storm, as we were being driven across the Sea of Adria, the sailors sensed land was near.

 

And then finally,  Acts 27:41  But they hit a shoal and ran the ship aground too soon. The bow of the ship stuck fast, while the stern was repeatedly smashed by the force of the waves and began to break apart.

 

I think I may have been on that trip or one like it, where a shipwreck would have been a welcome development.

 

And that leads us to,  Lessons from the Story

 

Sometimes a Storm is just a Storm 

 

You will remember that in the story of Jonah it was Jonah’s disobedience that caused the storm.  God said “Go”, Jonah said “No”.  God wanted Jonah to go East, Jonah went west.  And as a result of his disobedience, he wound up in the middle of a storm.  And we discovered that some storms are caused by our disobedience.

 

But last week we discovered that the Apostles were obedient to what Jesus asked them to do, he told them to get into the boat, he told them to set sail.  And they did exactly what they had been asked to do, and they wound up in a storm.

 

To be truthful I find the first example a lot easier to understand than the second example.

 

In the case of Paul, we don’t see God telling him to set sail nor forbidding him to set sail.  It was a decision that Paul made, and as a result of that decision he found himself in the midst of a storm.

 

Sometimes we are the cause of our storms, you smoke and get lung cancer, you cheat on your spouse or neglect your spouse and your marriage dissolves, you do something illegal and you go to jail.

 

But, I was at a funeral earlier in the month for a lady who had never smoked, and she died of lung cancer.  I’ve sat across from people who were completely blindsided when their spouse walked out on them.  And believe it or not, I’ve met innocent people who were charged with crimes.

 

We are on a journey in this life and it’s not always a safe journey.  Sorry.

 

I would say that Paul was in the storm because of a decision he made.  He chose to appeal to Caesar and because of that choice he was put on the ship and ended up in the storm.

 

Remember I told you that he had the opportunity to speak to Festus and King Agrippa?  When he was done we pick up this conversation between the two politicians:  Acts 26:32  And Agrippa said to Festus, “He could have been set free if he hadn’t appealed to Caesar.”

 

That would have been handy to know beforehand.

 

Storms Don’t Always Come Alone  I’m sure that by the time they were in the midst of the third storm they must have been thinking, “surely this has to end”.  They must have felt like Mr. Murphy was sailing with them.

And we talked about that a couple of weeks ago, that every storm has an end, but sometimes there is another storm right behind the first one.

 

Do you remember the Old Testament story of Job?  All of his livestock is stolen, his house is destroyed, his children are killed and then he ends up with boils all over his body.  One storm after another.

 

On 24 November 1992, The Queen gave a speech to mark the 40th anniversary of her Coronation. She began her speech with these words,   “1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure. In the words of one of my more sympathetic correspondents, it has turned out to be an ‘Annus Horribilis’.”   Which if you don’t speak Latin is translated “A horrible year.”

 

That year three of the Queen’s children separated from their spouses, the media seemed to take particular pleasure in picking at the Royal family and Windsor Castle caught fire and was extensively damaged.  And any year that one of your castles catches on fire has to be a horrible year.

 

Eventually, Job’s storms ended and for the Queen 1992 ended on December 31st.  For Paul and the crew of the ship they storm finally blew itself out, and your storm will end too.

 

If There’s Something You Can Do, Do It.  If you read through the story you see the ship’s crew taking shelter close to shore, they ran ropes under the hull to hold the ship together,  they tried to lighten the ship by throwing cargo overboard, they set sea anchors and when they got close to shore they dropped four anchors to slow down their drift onto the rocks.

 

They did everything they could humanly do.

 

I know it’s an old joke but the story is told about the man in the flood and as the water got up to his front door a canoe came by and the guy in it said “Hop in I’ll give you a lift”, to which the first man replied, “no thanks the Lord will save me.”  Well eventually the water got to the second floor and a man in a speedboat came by and the fellow in it said, “Hop in I’ll give you a lift”, to which the first man replied, “no thanks the Lord will save me.”

 

Well you know how the story went, the water go roof high and a helicopter arrived offering the man a lift to safety but still, he declined, saying, “no thanks the Lord will save me.”  And then the man fell off the rood and drowned.  When the man got to heaven he demanded of God, “How come you didn’t save me?” And God answered, “Hey I sent two boats and a helicopter.”

 

God is an awesome God and God is a miracle-performing God, but God also gave us a brain to use.  If you have a toothache go to the dentist.  If you are feeling sick, see a doctor.  Take care of your car, your house, your health and your marriage.

 

I know a lady who stopped wearing her glasses because she was convinced that God would heal her vision, then she got headaches from not wearing her glasses.  Maybe God had already healed her vision by providing glasses.

 

 

The next thing we learn is The Consequences of the storm Can Outlast the Storm    When the storm was over, Paul and Luke and the others were on a beach, just not the beach they were heading for.  Let’s pick up the story in Acts 27:42 – 28:2  The soldiers wanted to kill the prisoners to make sure they didn’t swim ashore and escape.  But the commanding officer wanted to spare Paul, so he didn’t let them carry out their plan. Then he ordered all who could swim to jump overboard first and make for land.  The others held onto planks or debris from the broken ship. So everyone escaped safely to shore. Once we were safe on shore, we learned that we were on the island of Malta.  The people of the island were very kind to us. It was cold and rainy, so they built a fire on the shore to welcome us.

 

In the first two stories we looked, we saw storms that suddenly stopped.

 

The winds stopped blowing, the sea becomes calm.  But even in that, there were consequences.  I’m sure that some of the sailors who threw Jonah overboard lived with that decision for the rest of their lives.  They didn’t know how the story ended.  As far as they knew they had killed a man.  And even when the storm ended for the sailors it continued for Jonah.

 

In the second storm, well after the winds had calmed down the storm would shape how the apostles viewed themselves and Jesus.

 

When a storm leaves you without a spouse or a child, you’re never the same.   Sometimes a business failure allows you to change directions.  Because Paul and Luke ended up on the Island of Malta they were able to share the gospel with people who wouldn’t have heard it otherwise.

 

Recently I bought a print from our very own Bee Stanton that says, “A wise old mariner perhaps once said ‘Never grumble of how the winds they howl, tis one of the few things in life you cannot change.”

 

Which goes along with Bryant H. McGill who wrote: “When the storm rips you to pieces, you get to decide how to put yourself back together again.”

 

You will decide if you will simply go through the storm or if you will grow through it.  You will let the storm make you better or bitter.

 

And finally, Never Forget, God is There In the middle of the storm Paul took time to pray and took the opportunity to thank God.

 

The promise of God is that he will be with you, period.  In the good weather and in the storms.

 

In the storm claim Isaiah 43:2 as your own promise Isaiah 43:2 When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.

 

And it was because of Paul’s confidence in God’s presence and God’s promises that he was able to encourage the rest of the crew and passengers.  You don’t know who might be watching how you respond to the storm.

 

So a couple of thoughts to finish up, Hunter S Thompson asked the question,  “So we shall let the reader answer this question for himself: who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed?”

 

And here is the promise from the past two messages:   Proverbs 10:25  When the storms of life come, the wicked are whirled away, but the godly have a lasting foundation.

 

 

Benediction:

Numbers 6:24-26  ‘May the LORD bless you and protect you.  May the LORD smile on you and be gracious to you.  May the LORD show you his favour and give you his peace.’

A Quandary

It really is a quandary.   A while back I read a news story entitled, “The New Canadian Morality”.

The story concerned a survey sponsored by Angus Reid Strategies that asked Canadians their opinions on 21 ethical questions.

The results of the survey showed that 60% of Canadians still identify themselves as Christians.  Which is interesting when you consider that the majority of these same people said they  supported same-sex marriage, abortion, euthanasia, divorce, viewed marriage as irrelevant and felt that animals were more deserving of protection than the pre-born or the terminally ill.

Now, I understand that many people feel that one’s morality shouldn’t be forced on others, never mind the fact that it is done every day, it’s called the law.

But on the other hand, those who describe themselves as Christians are called to be something, they are called to be Christ followers and Christ followers are supposed to follow Christ.

It would appear that in many cases just calling yourself a Christian has little, if any bearing on how you behave and what you believe.

Which begs the question that Jesus asked 2000 years ago in Luke 6:46,  “So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’, when you don’t do what I say?”

Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.

 

 

Asleep in the Storm

It started out kind of petty and ended up being kind of funny.

It was 1978 and I was fishing with my Dad out of the Gaspe Coast of Quebec. The boat hadn’t been converted to a seiner yet so we were still configured as a midwater trawler.

Dad was chief mate; his twin was captain and there were 7 others of us who made up the crew.

It really was a motley group that Dad and Clint had recruited, most of us had no fishing experience but what we lacked in experience we made up for in ignorance.  It was pretty sad to start, we were all “learning the ropes” so to speak.

And the Twins took it with a fair amount of grace and patience.

Except when it came to John.  John was our cook, he wasn’t a bad cook, but he annoyed the life out of Dad.  John had never been to sea before and he embraced the experience with an exuberance that drove Dad nuts.  John couldn’t mop the floor he had to swab the decks, it wasn’t enough for him to answer Dad or Clint in the affirmative he had to say “aye, aye skipper”.   His nickname soon became “Salty Dog”.

So, we were in North Sydney, and the forecast was calling for a bit of a blow, a captain on another boat mentioned that there’d be no fishing for a couple of days because of the weather.

 

The problem was that Dad and Clint had spent too long on the salvage tugs where weather wasn’t an issue.  Clint decided to prove a point and show the rest of the fleet that you could midwater trawl in rough weather.

 

And Dad saw an opportunity in the storm, they would introduce Salty Dog to a Nor-Easter and he’d quit.

 

Well, it was quite the night.  We worked on deck in water up to our waist and we caught fish, Clint proved a point, you could fish in a storm.  It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t fun but it was doable.

 

But the highlight of the trip was on our way back to port.  We were pitching and rolling and I was sick, that was just to be expected.  Dad and Clint were in the wheelhouse when they noticed that out on the bow, with one foot up on the rail, looking out across the waves and smoking his pipe was . . . “Salty Dog.”

 

The boat was laid up that summer to be converted to a seiner and John wasn’t invited back but he proved that he loved a good storm.

 

This is week two of our Weathering the Storms of Life series.  Last week I looked at the story of Jonah and the storm he found himself in.  And from that story we discovered five lessons about storms.

 

1) Not Every Storm Is Our Fault
2) Every Action Has Consequences for Others.

3) Don’t Make Major Decisions When You Are in The Midst of a Storm.

4) No Storm Lasts forever

5) The Remedy for Disobedience Is Obedience.

 

And if you weren’t here last week and want to hear those points fleshed out there is always the video or podcast, both are available on the website.

 

Today we are jumping to a Jesus story that is told in all three of the Synoptic Gospels, the Synoptic Gospels are Matthew, Mark and Luke.  And they are called that because they contain many of the same stories.

 

So, let’s begin with the Back Story:  The story begins with Jesus on a beach on the Sea of Galilee.  Jesus is teaching the crowds and as they press in against him he commandeers a boat to use as a floating pulpit.  I love it.

 

Jesus had begun his ministry preaching in the synagogue the way it had been done for hundreds of years, but as his ministry expanded so did his methods.  He realized that if he was going to reach everyone he was called to reach it wouldn’t happen in the synagogue, because some people just weren’t going to come to the synagogue.

 

That same discovery was made by John Wesley 1700 years after Jesus made it.

 

George Whitefield a contemporary and friend of Wesley’s was preaching to the miners, as many as twenty thousand of them at a time, in the open air; and he was seeing hundreds of converts.

 

And so, Whitfield sent for John Wesley to join him. But, Wesley responded by writing, “I love a commodious room, a soft cushion, a handsome pulpit.”

 

He was almost offended by the concept of open-air preaching.

 

Wesley would later write, “I could scarcely reconcile myself at first to this strange way—having been all my life (till very lately) so tenacious of every point relating to decency and order, that I should have thought the saving of souls almost a sin if it had not been done in a church.”

But Wesley came to the conclusion if he was going to reach the unchurched he would have to go to them.  And he scandalized the Anglican Church, and was criticized for his actions.

 

I’m pretty sure that there were those who thought what Jesus was doing was a little unorthodox and criticized him for preaching and teaching outside of the synagogue.

 

Through the day Jesus continued to teach, to the crowd that had gathered and then later in the day he took time to meet with the twelve, for some more in-depth teaching.

 

If you are only relying on the teaching that happens on Sunday morning, the preaching to the crowd, for your spiritual food you will find it difficult to be properly nourished.

 

We have all kinds of opportunities for you to go deeper in the word with various Life groups that are offered at Cornerstone.

 

Nothing is more frustrating for a pastor then when someone tells them they are leaving the church because they aren’t being fed.  It’s like telling the cook that the meals don’t satisfy.

 

I don’t know about other pastors, but when I hear that I want to lay hands on them. . . and pray for them, “O Lord teach them to eat.”  But that was a tangent, no charge for that, it was free.

 

So Jesus spends the day teaching and we arrive at Mark 4:35-36  As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.”  So they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed).

 

I would suspect that because the writer says they took Jesus in “The” boat and not just “a” boat that it was probably the same boat that he had preached from earlier in the day.  And we know that on at least one other occasion when Jesus preached from a boat that it was the boat that belonged to Peter.

 

And this leads us to the, Storm Story   So Jesus has been teaching all day and he was probably emotionally spent.   When I started preaching I was amazed at how much preaching takes out of you, and it doesn’t take nearly as much out of me as time spent with people.

 

The thing most people don’t understand is that I’m a bit of an introvert, I know that’s hard to believe, but I am.  And being in crowds of people and interacting with people drains me.  It’s not that I don’t like it, it’s just that it drains me of emotional energy.

 

And we discover in the story that Jesus used this as an opportunity to get some sleep.   Ahhhh, the joys of sleeping on a boat.   I remember afternoons when we were heading out to or in from the fishing grounds of flaking out on the net in the sunshine and ending up dead to the world.

 

And it seems this what happened here.  The guys are doing the sailing and Jesus is sleeping in the stern and we pick up the story in Mark 4:37  But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water.

 

Those in the know tell us that the Sea of Galilee  (which wasn’t a sea, it was just a big lake) is notorious for its storms.  They can literally come out of nowhere, one writer said: “It is not unusual to see terrible squalls hurl themselves, even when the sky is perfectly clear, upon these waters which are ordinarily so calm.”  It was because of the shape of the hills around Galilee and the ravines which funnelled the winds from the hills down to the water.

 

So, it wasn’t like they sailed knowing that a storm was coming, and they had no weather channel to check.

 

And I don’t know this for sure, but I’m suspecting that the boat was pretty close to its maximum capacity.  I’ve seen pictures of what the fishing boats were like in the sea of Galilee, and they weren’t designed for 13 men.  Even if each guy only weighed 150 pounds you had pretty close to a ton of people on board. Not a figurative ton, a literal ton.

 

So the boat would have been sitting low in the water to start with, probably responding sluggishly because of the extra weight, a little tippy because the centre of gravity was thrown out of kilter.  You can almost hear Peter yelling that the guys to sit down and stay still.

 

And as the wind increased the waves began to break over the gunnels the boat began filling with water, and not only that but Jesus was asleep.  Mark 4:38  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?”

 

Note, they didn’t ask Jesus to help, instead, they make an accusation “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”

 

Because of their circumstances, the disciples formed a very unflattering opinion of Jesus.  They accused him of not caring about them.  How often have we said in the midst of the storm, “Where are You, God?”  “Why have you allowed this to happen?”  or “You must not care”.

 

And even though they didn’t actually ask Jesus to do anything in the next verse we read,  Mark 4:39-41  When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the water, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm.  Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”  The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!”

 

One minute it was storming, the next minute, nothing.  As we’d say on Grand Manan it was flat calm.  And that isn’t the way it’s supposed to happen.  The wind doesn’t simply stop and if it did the sea doesn’t magically become calm but it did.

 

That was so impossible that it scared the disciples more than the storm did.

 

So, what do we learn from this story?  These are the  Lessons from the Story

 

Sometimes Obedience Leads Us into Storms  Last week Jonah ended up in a storm because he was disobedient.  God said go, Jonah said no.   God wanted him to go east, instead, he went west.

 

But here, the disciples were following Jesus’ direction, they couldn’t have been more obedient.

 

In 1952 Jim Elliot followed God’s direction and calling to go to Ecuador as a missionary, and in 1956 it was there he was killed by the very people he went to minister to.  He was 29 years old and left behind a wife and a year-old daughter.  Really?

 

 

On December 11, 1889, Rev and Mrs. Henry Johnson became the first Wesleyan Missionaries when they sailed for Sierra Leone with their toddler song Irvin.  Rev Johnson wrote out his commitment with these words. “The Lord being my helper, I do this day consecrate to the Lord and lay upon His altar, not to be mine any longer, only as the Lord wills it, my wife, my home, my child, my position, my papers, my church, my friends, my reputation, my relatives, my plans of life, my convictions of right, my political opinions, my reform ideas, my health, my mind, my body, my pride, my ambitions, my all. The Lord take me and cleanse me and make me wholly thine through the blood of Jesus.”

 

When I first visited Sierra Leone, I visited the plot of land where the first Wesleyan Missionaries were buried and stood at the grave of Irvin he died in Sierra Leone when he was 5 years, 4 months and 4 days.  That must have been a storm for his parents.  Really?

 

We don’t and won’t always know why obedience sometimes leads us into storms, but sometimes it does.   You do what you God is asking you to do and yet.

 

And that leads us to the next lesson, which is:  Jesus Is Always With Us In The Storm   The disciples must have forgotten about Jesus, and when they remembered that he was there, they were afraid that he had forgotten about them.

 

If you are a Christ follower his promise is not that hard times won’t come, but that he will always be with you.   The promise was made to the people of Israel in Deuteronomy 31:6  So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”   And reiterated for those who follow Christ in Hebrews 13:5  . . . For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.”

 

And after Jesus had been crucified, died and rose from the dead he made this promise to his followers.  Matthew 28:20  Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

 

It seemed in the midst of the storm that the disciples were all alone, but they weren’t.

 

It was Franklin Graham who wrote: “No matter what storm you face, you need to know God loves you. He has not abandoned you.”

 

You may not “feel” his presence, but that doesn’t negate his promise that he will never leave you nor forsake you and he will be with you always even to the end of the age.  In the sunny weather and in the storms.

 

 

The Storm Teaches Us About Ourselves   The apostles learned some things that day about themselves and about Jesus that they would never have discovered on a sunny day on the beach.

 

Willa Cather reminds us “There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm.”

 

This storm gave the apostles a better insight into themselves and into the power of Jesus.  It was here they discovered their lack of faith.  It’s one thing to say that you believe that Jesus can keep you in the storm when you are not in a storm, it’s another thing to say you believe that Jesus can keep you in the midst of the storm you are in.

 

When the apostles questioned the compassion of Christ:  Don’t you care that we are going to drown?  They were discovering what they believed and didn’t believe about Jesus.

 

And it was in the midst of the storm that they learned that Jesus most certainly did care.

 

But they also learned that Jesus equated their fear with faithlessness.  Listen to his words in Mark 4:40  Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

 

They thought they were afraid of the storm, but the reality is that they were afraid because they didn’t trust Jesus to keep his promise.  Remember what he told them at the very beginning of the story:  Mark 4:35  As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.”

 

The started the journey with him, but they didn’t believe him when he said they’d finish the journey with him.

 

It is in the storms that you will discover just how much you trust God, just how much you believe his promises.

 

The Storm Teaches Us About Jesus

And not only did they make discoveries about who they were, but they also made discoveries about who Jesus was.

 

It was as a result of the storm that the apostles ask their very first question about Christ’s divine nature:  Mark 4:41  The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!”

 

You see storms give us deeper insight into who God really is and what he can really do.

 

I was talking to a man the other day who has been going through storms, he has been a Christian since he was a teen, but he told me that his relationship with Christ had never been an intimate relationship until he needed to lean on Christ during this particular storm.

 

He said that he wished that things had of turned out different, but his relationship with Christ is deeper and more intimate than it had ever been and for that he is thankful.

 

It was Holocaust survivor Corrie Ten Boom who wrote,  “

 

And that trust extends upward.  Jesus told the crowds who followed him,   John 12:44  . . . “If you trust me, you are trusting not only me, but also God who sent me.  And conversely, if you don’t trust Jesus then you don’t trust God.

 

The next thing we learn we discover in Mark 4:38  Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. . .

 

And it’s here we learn It’s Easy to Nap When You Know Who’s in Control 

 

Everybody else was panicking because they could only see the storm, but Jesus knew the storm had no power over him.

 

When I was sailing with Dad when I had a chance to sleep, I slept.  I never fretted over whether or not we would make it safely home because I trusted Dad.  There were times I couldn’t sleep because I couldn’t stay in the bunk, but that’s a story for another time.

 

King Davide wrote in Psalm 91:1-2  Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  This I declare about the LORD: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.

 

Remember Jesus associated the apostles fear with lack of faith?  So trusting in Jesus is simply replacing our fear with faith.

 

And maybe you think that there are no storms in your future,  1500 years ago Augustine  wrote these words:

When you have to listen to abuse, that means you are being buffeted by the wind. When your anger is roused, you are being tossed by the waves… Rouse him, then; remember him, let him

Last week we ended with the promise from Proverbs 10:25  When the storms of life come, the wicked are whirled away, but the godly have a lasting foundation.

 

If you’ve ever been to a funeral that I have performed, then you’ve heard the promise found in

Psalm 121:1-8   I look up to the mountains— does my help come from there?  My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth!  He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber.  Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps.  The LORD himself watches over you! The LORD stands beside you as your protective shade.  The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night.  The LORD keeps you from all harm and watches over your life.  The LORD keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.

 

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They Said She Weighed as Much as a Duck! FBL

In going through my family tree, I discovered that my family has been done wrong. It happened over 300 years ago, but I still I think I’m owed an apology.

I’m sure it started with the best of intentions, but it ended as a witch hunt, and I’m not speaking metaphorically.

On July 26, 1692, my 9th Great Grand Mother, Mary Bradbury, was charged with, and I quote:  “Certaine Detestable arts called Witchcraft & Sorceries (which) were Wickedly Mallitiously and felloniously practiced. . .”

Over 100 of her fellow citizens were called as character witnesses and her pastor testified that Mary was “full of works of charity & mercy to the sick & poor.”

But it wasn’t enough, when the trial was over Gram was sentenced to hang, and she only escaped when friends orchestrated a jailbreak.

Historians blame what happened on a host of personal grudges which made her the scapegoat of a family feud.

Do I really think that the present-day residents of Salem owe me an apology for what their ancestors did to my 9th Great Grand Mother?  No, not any more than I believe that my descendants will be responsible for what I do today.  But, I do believe that I am responsible for what I do today.

Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.