Friday, July 8, 2016

July 9, 2016

A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still! ”Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!Mark 4:37-41

Do you still have no faith?

Isn't that a piercing question?

What He is really asking is, "Do you have a faith that's greater than your fear?"

Still a piercing question!

Why did Jesus allow His disciples to endure such a fearful experience as this fierce and frightening storm?

Jesus knew the only way to learn how to handle fear is to experience it. Fear is a decision. Not always a rational one but a decision none the less. 

Faith is also a decision, a rational one. So, faith is coming to a rational decision in the midst of irrational fears. Faith is suddenly remembering that Jesus is in the boat during a storm. Faith is consciously shifting your focus from the storm to the Savior.

Unless you go through some storms and get scared to death you won't learn that God is faithful in the storm. And if you don't learn it there will be plenty more storms to help you learn it.

Until you have accused Him of not caring about your life can you learn the reality of how - and how much - He really does care!

Until you experience the terror of feeling your life is out of control do you fully understand the power of being under His control.

Only when you have had some, "Who is this that even the waves and winds obey Him" moments can you appreciate His sovereign power.

Once you have been terrified (feared with a great fear) in His presence you can begin to understand that faith begins with the fear of God. When you fear God more than you fear anything else then you are at a place where you can rationally choose faith.

Don't be surprised by the storms.

Don't despise the storms.

Don't go through a storm without Him.

Don't waste the fear you feel in the storm!

Facing a storm without Him should be your greatest fear. 


n the Gospels, 125 times Jesus says something as an imperative statement like, "Love Others." These 125 statements are on a number of different topics or themes. The number one theme, which is 21 times, is a variation of "Don't be afraid," "Fear not," "Have courage". The next closest is eight and that is the "love your neighbor" theme. What makes Christianity unique is that we are the Faith that teaches love. And yet, even though love is the central theme of Christianity, the number one statement that Jesus makes more than any other statement is, "Don't be fearful. Don't be afraid." Jesus knew fear holds too many people back from God's best for their lives.


If you are a follower of Christ, what is the benefit for you?

What is the end game?

When you are 70 or 80 years old and you look back at your years of following Jesus, what will be of most value to you?

Does Jesus call you to follow Him to make you a better person?

Is that His end game?

Is that why you follow Jesus?

Everyone who I know who follows Jesus has become a better person. I have become a better person. But is that what Jesus had in mind when He calls you to follow?

If so, how do you measure "better"?

Will there ever come a time when you couldn't be "better"?

What if your life ends before you become "better"?

Just those few questions make it obvious the end game for following Jesus is not simply becoming a better person.

Is it about heaven? Is that why Jesus called you to follow?

I know I certainly want to go to heaven and I'm sure you do as well. We just don't want to go anytime soon!

People who faithfully follow Jesus do end up in heaven when they come to the end of the earthly life. 

And there is only one man in history who will end up in heaven without following Jesus. That man is the thief on the cross. Everyone else who makes it to heaven will make it because they followed Christ.

But is that the main reason calls us to follow Him?

That's not what the Gospels indicate.

Is follow Jesus about finding a pain-free and problem-free life?

Even a casual reading of the Gospels will make it clear Jesus never had that in mind when He called you to follow. In fact, when He was preparing to send them out on a ministry assignment He made it clear they would have both pain and problems:

“Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves. But beware! For you will be handed over to the courts and will be flogged with whips in the synagogues. You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell the rulers and other unbelievers about me. When you are arrested, don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time.  For it is not you who will be speaking — it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.  A brother will betray his brother to death, a father will betray his own child, and children will rebel against their parents and cause them to be killed. And all nations will hate you because you are my followers. Matthew 10:16-22

If following Jesus isn't primarily about being a better person, or about going to heaven or about gaining a pain-free or problem-free life, what does Jesus have in mind when He calls someone to follow.

Here's a hint!

The phrase Jesus used more than any other during His earthly ministry was "fear not".

If you will take the challenge to read through the Gospels I believe that will become quite obvious to you.

Would you like to be fearless?

If following Jesus faithfully over time could help you overcome your fears, would that make you want to follow Him?