Today’s Scrip-Bit 15 September 2020 Mark 4:41.

Mark 4:41.     ​What manner of man is this (who can this be), that even the wind and the sea obey him?

‘I am under the rock…the rock is higher than I, Jahovah hides me! Yes, I am under the rock…the rock is higher than I, Jahovah hides me… I am under the rock!’ Oh mih people, mih people, I sure hope you all are under the rock with me yes, because when the storms of life come howling through, as they most certainly will, and are currently doing, under the rock that’s Jesus, in the shelter of His safe, LOVING and comforting arms, is the only place that true refuge can be found! Why? Because He is the ONLY one who can calm those hungry angry winds of the storm! 

Case in point; the evening Jesus and His disciples were in the boat crossing over the to the other side and a most fearsome storm arose, so that it threatened the lives of those on the water. But where was Jesus eh? Mark says: ‘And he was in the hinder part (the stern) of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake Him, and say unto him, Master, carest not thou that we perish?’ (Mark 4:38) Doesn’t that just make you chuckle? This great storm is happening, the boat is tossing and turning, most likely taking in water, but our wonderful Lord and Saviour is in the back of the boat quietly and serenely snoozing away like nothing is happening. 

But Jesus knew exactly what was happening and knew exactly what He would do. So Mark continues: ‘And he arose and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?’ (Mark 4:39-40) And that’s exactly what He’s saying to us in these trying and very troubled times my people: Where is your faith eh? The faith you talk about so much when things are going well, but seem to lose when times get tough. 

And what was the disciples’ reaction to all that eh? ‘And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this (who can this be), that even the wind and the sea obey him?’ (Mark 4:41) Oh my people, it was the Creator of the wind and the sea, so that’s why they obeyed Him! But unfortunately, although the disciples had seen Jesus do other miracles, their faith in the actual time of storm was not good enough. But that’s how Jesus operates; often questioning us in order to spur us on to deeper trust and faith. 

And the scholars offer an interesting explanation of the scriptures here: ‘4:35-5:43. Jesus takes His disciples from the classroom to the laboratory. Having just taught that God’s power will cause His kingdom to grow to worldwide proportion and influence – the parable of the mustard seed – (4:30-32), Jesus now performs four miracles that demonstrate this divine might. God’s power is seen overcoming (1) the danger of a storm (4:35-41); (2) demons in a victim possessed (5:1-20); (3) disease in a woman physically ravished (5:21-34); and (4) the death of a little girl (5:35-43).’ 

But friends, we can’t be too hard on the disciples nuh, for as the scholars further state: ‘4:41. The fear must have been a mixture of reverential awe and real fright – it would be chillingly eerie to witness the instantaneous dissipation of a violent storm.’ And so it surely would be to all of us, regardless of how much we knew about Jesus’ divine might! But as Sister Joyce (Joyce Meyer says: ‘When God awakens you to His presence, everything becomes a whole lot more meaningful.’ And isn’t that the gospel truth! Once you truly understand what’s happening with Christ in your life, your entire life takes on a whole new perspective. 

And talking about refuge in Christ and being under the rock, causes me to think of two interesting situations, the one of Moses, and the other of Elijah. Both were going through some difficult times in their earthly ministry. Moses prayed for God’s presence to lead him in the exodus of Israel from Egypt. He desired God’s assurance: ‘show me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight; And consider that this nation is thy people.’ (Ex. 33:13). And the Lord agreed. ‘My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.’ (Ex. 33:14) 

But Moses still was not satisfied, and later said: ‘I beseech thee, show me thy glory. And he (the Lord) said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee… (but) Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me and live. And the Lord said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: and it shall come to pass while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift (cleft) of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: and I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.’ (Ex. 33:18-23) 

And I like this explanation that www.frankgantz.com/the-cleft-in-the-rock offers: ‘A cleft is a narrow space or split. This would have put rock under Moses’ feet, behind his back and on either side of him. In a sense he was wedged into this rock which would hold him in place and provide a stable base. From that vantage point he would behold the back of God’s glory.’ That makes sense doesn’t it. 

The same thing with Elijah; after killing the prophets of Baal he got tired and discouraged and ran away into the wilderness hoping to die. But God made him rest by a brook for a couple of days and fed him divinely. Then he went for forty days and nights in the strength of that food to Mt. Horeb and hid in a cave there. But the Lord called and asked what He was doing there and he claimed that he was tired and scared after being very zealous in doing the Lord’s work, but the children of Israel had forsaken the Lord and wanted to kill him. 

‘And he (the Lord) said, Go forth and stand upon the mount before the Lord: (1 Kin. 19:1-11) And an earthquake happened, but the Lord was not in it. Then a fire, but the Lord wasn’t in that either. ‘…and after the fire a still, small voice (delicate whispering voice). And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering (entrance) of the cave.’ And there the Lord spoke with him, strengthened and reassured him, then sent him back to continue his ministry. (1 Kin. 19:11-18) 

Yes friends, when we are weak and discouraged, and think we can’t go on, the most desirous place to be is in the comfort of God’s arms, in that safe cleft of rock on the mountain top that shows His mighty power. He will give us the peace and calm and the reassurance that we all need at times, to continue to be of service to Him here on earth. 

Now let’s go home declaring (yeahhh!) our Tuesday Mantra, letting all and sundry know who and whose we are. In strong voice, with sincere hearts: ‘In God’s eyes, I’m not what I do. I’m not what I have. I’m not what people say about me. I am the beloved of God, that’s who I am. No one can take that from me. I don’t have to worry. I don’t have to hurry. I can trust my friend Jesus and share His LOVE with the world. Amen!’ 

And now it’s time to put those words into godly action! Much LOVE!

…the best place to recuperate…in the LOVING arms of God… 

Today’s Scrip-Bit 6 October 2019 Matthew 14:33.

Matthew 14:33.    ​And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.

 

And then it was Sunday…Oh beautiful Sunday! Time to join fellow believers in praise, worship and thanksgiving at the Lord’s house on His special day. What a wonderful privilege to come into His presence with others of like mind, to hear His Word, exalt His holy name and receive His awesome confidence, LOVE, mercy, grace and strength that enable us to keep on fighting the good fight in His name! So, without further ado, let’s do as we always do nuh, (smile) begin with a song of praise. And today’s song is aptly titled: ‘LOVE LIFTED ME!’ And so it did friends; Christ’s great LOVE for us, lifted us out of the mire of sin, through His sacrificial death on the cross of Calvary that paid the price of sin for all time. 

But we all know that, so let’s check out something that we might not know, namely the story behind today’s hymn. According to the web site GodTube, it was written and published in 1912 by Arthur James Rowe (1865-1933), a copper miner’s son, an immigrant to the U.S from Ireland in 1889. He worked for ten years on the New York railroads, then became an inspector for the Hudson River Humane Society. The hymn was inspired by two biblical stories, both about Jesus and His disciples on the stormy seas of Galilee. (Matt.14:22-33) & (Matt.8:23-27). ‘Rowe masterfully incorporates both stories, using sinking or being swamped into the sea as an illustration for “sinking deep in sin…sinking to rise no more.” Jesus, “Master of the sea,” hears our pleas for help, reaches out to us in LOVE, and lifts us up into the well being of grace.’ Oh what a beautiful description! 

So now that we have some idea of what the hymn is all about, let’s sing it nuh, in strong, soulful voice, with exquisite harmony, and much sincere thanks and gratitude appropriately flowing from our hearts. Altogether now: ‘I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore, Very deeply stained within, sinking to rise no more; But the Master of the sea heard my despairing cry, From the waters lifted me, now safe am I. (Refrain: LOVE lifted me! LOVE lifted me! When nothing else could help, LOVE lifted me. LOVE lifted me! LOVE lifted me! When nothing else could help, LOVE lifted me.) 

All my heart to Him I give, ever to Him I’ll cling, In his blessed presence live, ever his praises sing. LOVE so mighty and so true merits my soul’s best songs; Faithful LOVING service, too, to Him belongs. [Refrain] Souls in danger, look above, Jesus completely saves; He will lift you by His LOVE out of the angry waves; He’s the master of the sea, billows His will obey, He, your Saviour wants to be, be saved today. [Refrain: LOVE lifted me…When nothing could help…LOVE lifted me…’ 

And isn’t that the awesome truth my fellow believers? It’s only something as powerful as LOVE that could have ever lifted us out of the depths of sin! The amazing LOVE of Jesus is the only thing ‘that can lift us out of despair to salvation.’ Now let’s refresh our memories about those two stories on which today’s hymn was based. The first one tells us about Jesus entering a ship with His disciples. ‘And behold there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he (Jesus) was asleep. And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us, we perish. And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?’ (Matt.8:24-27) 

Ah friends, as the hymn says, Jesus is the ‘Master of the sea.’ He was intimately involved in making it, therefore, it must do as He directs it. The second story happens after Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist was beheaded by Herod. When Jesus heard of it, He was saddened, and took a ship to a deserted place to be alone. But the crowds followed Him, and Jesus being Jesus, was filled with compassion and He taught them and healed their sick, then later on He fed them; five thousand men, beside women and children. (Matt.14:1-14) After that, He sent the disciples away in a ship, dispersed the multitude, then went up into a mountain by himself to pray. However, while Jesus was up on the mountain praying, the disciples were having an extremely hard time crossing the sea of Galilee because of a severe storm, brewed up by a contrary wind. 

By the fourth watch (3-6 a.m.) they were obviously tired from rowing all night and not making much progress. Then suddenly this apparition appeared unto them walking on the water. They claimed it was a ghost and cried out in fear. ‘But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer (take courage); it is I, be not afraid. Then Peter with his impulsive self blurted out: ‘Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee  on the water. And he said,  Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous (violent) he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.’ (Matt.14:27-33) 

Ah mih people, please note Jesus response in both situations: ‘O ye of little faith.’ He challenged them on the substance of their faith. They had seen Him do all sorts of miracles, yet still they were scared of their own shadows. When He walked on water to them, a few hours earlier they had seen him feed over five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two small fishes, and still pick up twelve full baskets of left overs. So why should they be so afraid seeing Him walk and water and calm the stormy seas eh? The sad part of the story though is that unfortunately, we are in the same boat as the disciples. We talk a good talk, but when adversity strikes, we forget all the wonderful miracles that Jesus has done in our lives, and we too cry out in faithless fear. 

But the long and short of the story is that we know much more about Jesus and how He works, than the disciples did, so we ought not to be as afraid as so many of us are. Each adversity we undergo, and He brings us through successfully, ought to build our faith and make us stronger. So please, let’s ponder on all that we’ve said today nuh, and promise ourselves to try and do better, faith wise, with God’s help of course. Jesus needs us to show strong faith to the unbelievers, so that they too will want to share His salvation! Much LOVE!

…it should not be as hard for us…as it was for the disciples…to truly believe…that Jesus is the Son of God…