Tuesday, February 2, 2016, 8:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “In Faithfulness He Leads Me.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Mark 4:35-41 (ESV).
On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
The Other Side
Jesus had been teaching by the lake. The crowd which had gathered around him had become so large that he got into a boat and sat on it out on the lake, where he taught the people in parables. But, now it was evening, so he instructed his disciples to set out for the other side. So, leaving the crowd behind them, they took Jesus with them in the boat, just as he was, and they set off for the other side of the lake.
I would like it if you would think with me for a moment, from a spiritual perspective, what it might mean for us if Jesus were to invite us into a boat with him and he instructed us to go with him to the “other side.” The “other side” definitely means different, but it can also mean “the exact opposite.” So, from a spiritual perspective, I see this as the invitation we receive to his salvation, to be transformed of the Spirit of God from death to life; from slavery to sin to the control of righteousness; and from the power of Satan over our lives to coming under the power of God (See: Ac. 26:16-18; cf. Eph. 4:17-24; Ro. 6-8).
As well, when we get into the “same boat” as someone, it means we are in the same situation with them. And, that is what it means to come to faith in Jesus Christ. We are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are raised with Christ in newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24). And, “holiness” means separate from (different, unlike) this sinful world (the crowds), because we are becoming like Jesus (in the same boat as him).
The first thing the disciples did, after Jesus gave them these instructions, was to leave the crowd behind them. That is what he asks us to do, too, not that we leave this world and go live in seclusion, but that we separate ourselves from worldliness and from joining in with those who would practice what is in opposition to the godly and holy lives God has called us to live. We are to come out from the world and be separate and to no longer be conformed to their sinful patterns of behavior, and their thinking, values and speech.
And, lastly, either they were already in the boat with Jesus, or they left the crowds and got into the boat with Jesus, but they went with him where he instructed them to go. They obeyed his instructions, his words to them. And, they took him with them. If we are in Jesus by faith in him, he never leaves us, but sometimes we might leave him behind, and we might forget that we have been delivered from sin. So, we need to take him with us in thought, deed, and word wherever we go, which should be where he leads us to go. And, we need to take him just as he is and not try to change Jesus to fit our own lifestyles. It isn’t Jesus if we conform him to our likeness. We need to be transformed into his likeness. Amen!
So, as Jesus’ disciples – ones who have been crucified with him to sin – we listen to him, we obey his instructions, we leave the crowds (the world of sin) behind us, and we go with him to the other side, i.e. to the way of holiness and righteousness, as opposed to our previous lives of living in sin and for self. Peter said that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24), so this is the way in which we now travel with our Lord, in the power and the working of the Spirit of God within us as we yield to God’s Lordship.
Yet, Jesus never promises that going with him means smooth sailing all the time. Sometimes he allows storms (difficulties) in our lives to try our faith, to test our perseverance, to conform us to his likeness, to mature us in our walks of faith, and to get us to rely on him and not on our own selves. Although Jesus, when he lived in a human body, got tired and he slept, God never sleeps. He watches over us at all times. As well, Jesus was in complete control of the situation. The storm did not take him by surprise at all. So, even though the disciples felt as though Jesus didn’t care, because the waves were beating against them, he had it all under his control.
So, when the storms of life beat against us, and it feels sometimes as though God has forgotten us, or that he doesn’t care, or that he is not in control of the situation, and so we begin to fear, we must know and be assured that he is completely sovereign over every aspect of our lives. All the days ordained for us were written in his book before one of them came into being (Ps. 139). He doesn’t miss a beat. He allows these things in our lives for a purpose, but he will carry us through each and every one of them if we will just rest in him, and trust him to bring us through them.
Jesus got up after his disciples aroused him from sleep, and he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” The wind and the waves obeyed him. And, then he asked his disciples why they were so afraid. “Do you still have no faith?” he said.
Why do we get afraid? Fear is the opposite of faith. We get afraid sometimes because we are ignorant of God’s sovereign power over every aspect of our lives and over all things in heaven and on earth, because we have believed Satan’s lies that God is not all powerful, and that he is not completely sovereign, and that there is still a question of who is going to win this battle – Satan or God. Yet, the battle is already won for us. When Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, and he was resurrected from the dead victorious over sin, hell, Satan and death, he defeated Satan, and he won the victory for us over Satan’s power over our lives. All we have to do is to daily put on the spiritual armor which God has supplied with which to fight off Satan’s evil attacks against us, and to do so in the power of the Spirit within us, and in full assurance that this battle is won, and that Satan has been defeated.
When we come up against life’s difficulties and Satan’s evil attacks against us, which will come, we need to respond in faith, and not in fear. Fear says that we lack the faith to believe that God is in control. We don’t trust God completely with our lives. And, we are convinced that there are circumstances in our lives over which he has no power. I know, I have been there! Satan still tries to get me to be afraid and to not trust God with my circumstances or with the people in my life. And, it is then that I must put on my spiritual armor (See: Eph. 6:10-20) with which to fight off these attacks. In particular, I must fight off Satan’s lies with the truth of God’s word so that I don’t begin to believe the lies.
Yet, God/Jesus doesn’t always calm the storms going on all around us. Sometimes they beat hard against us, and we wonder if there will ever be any relief. The storms did not cease for Jesus. He was harassed at every turn, accused falsely, attacked fiercely, pursued hotly by the enemy, beaten, mocked, thought crazy, called “of the devil,” and hung on a cross to die, although he had done no wrong. His followers faced many of the same types of treatment as he had received, and many were put to death, too, on account of Jesus. Yet, what Jesus does promise is that he will be with us through the storms, and that he will calm the storm within us, i.e. he will fill us with his inner peace if we will just rest in him, and trust him, and not give way to fear. So, we need to believe in his faithfulness, and rest in his love and mercy, trust in his promises, and not give way to fear ever! Amen!
In Faithfulness He Leads Me
An Original Work / March 20, 2013 / Based off Various Scriptures
(Ps. 26:3; 86:11; 91:4-5; 111:7-8; 119:73-76; Is. 25:1,4&9; 42:6-7; Hos. 2:16-20)
Teach me Your ways, Lord, and I’ll walk in them.
Give me a pure heart. I’ll fear Your name.
Your love is always, ever before me.
Continually I’ll walk in Your truth.
You will cover me with feathers.
Under Your wings I’ll find refuge.
My Lord’s faithfulness will be my
Comfort and my shield.
The works of His hands are faithful and just.
Trustworthy are all of His precepts.
Your hands have made me, and they have formed me.
Give understanding of Your commands.
I have put my hope, O Lord, in Your word.
Your teachings, O Lord, are righteousness.
Lord, in faithfulness You have
Afflicted me so I may learn of
Your unfailing love and comfort
And Your truthfulness.
You are my husband; You have betrothed me
In love, compassion and faithfulness.
O Lord, You are my God, I’ll exalt You.
In faithfulness You’ve done wondrous things.
You’ve been a refuge for those who’re needy;
A shelter in storms; shade from the heat.
This is the Lord, we trusted in Him,
Let us be glad and rejoice
In His salvation which He
Provided through the Lamb.
Open the blind eyes; free all the captives.
Tell them of Jesus: “Be born again!”