Monday, May 5, 2008

Moving from the KNOWN to the UNKNOWN

I would like to share some thoughts that I read from Pastor Calvin Bodeutsch. It really spoke into my heart today. I believe it will yours as well.

In Mark 3, things are going well for Jesus. He is rapidly becoming a huge "success." "When they heard all he was doing, many people came to him from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, and the regions across the Jordan and around Tyre and Sidon. Because of the crowd he told his disciples to have a small boat ready for him, to keep the people from crowding him" (Mark 3:8-9 NIV). Some people came from as far away as over by the Mediterranean Sea.

Jesus has also just selected the 12 disciples. "And He went up to the mountain and summoned those whom He Himself wanted, and they came to Him. And He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him, and that He might send them out to preach" (Mark 3:13-14 NAS). This is early in Christ's earthly ministry and the twelve disciples did not yet know Him very well. But all twelve of them were willing to leave their occupations to follow this man who seemed to be going places.

Jesus was preaching from a boat because of the size of the crowd.
"And He began to teach again by the sea. And such a very great multitude gathered to Him that He got into a boat in the sea and sat down; and the whole multitude was by the sea on the land" (Mark 4:1 NAS). There Jesus teaches the three parables found in chapter four. Again note the size of the crowd. Jesus has a large following. I am sure the disciples were excited about how things were going. Now it was just a matter of building on their success. They were on Jesus' team. They thought they knew what to expect.

But Jesus does something unexpected.
"And on that day, when evening had come, He said to them, 'Let us go over to the other side'" (Mark 4:35 NAS). He wanted them to get in a boat and go to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. They were to leave the crowd behind.
That meant they were to leave the success and the known behind. On the other side was the country of the Gerasenes. They were Gentiles and raised pigs. They were not a part of the covenants and promises to Israel.

Jesus and the disciples were moving from the known to the unknown. They were leaving the momentum behind. They would have to start new all over again. I think Peter scratched his head. This made no sense. Maybe he ought to try to show Jesus the folly of his actions. Things were going well in Galilee, why rock the boat?

Has God ever asked you to get in the boat and go to the other side with Him? Maybe things in your life were going very well and smoothly. Your life mirrored success, as the world looks at success. Maybe you were involved in a successful ministry. Conventional wisdom said, "Stay where you are, doing what you are doing." But God said, "I've got something more for you. Come on; let's go to the other side."

The disciples followed Jesus and right away they were severely tried. "
And leaving the multitude, they took Him along with them, just as He was, in the boat; and other boats were with Him. And there arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up" (Mark 4:36-37 NAS). They never would have gone through the trial of the storm if they had just stayed where they were.

You may have recently made a decision to follow Christ and right away a major trial came your way. It may have left you confused or even angry. But remember, Jesus knew there would be a storm. He also knew that the storm would give them the opportunity to grow significantly in their relationship with Him. If our goal is to avoid the storms of life then we will want to play it safe. But if we want to be obedient to God we have to get in the boat and go to other side with Him. Now there is the potential for storms but the storms are ways God teaches us and molds us into the people he has called us to be.

Where is Jesus? He is sleeping in the stern of the ship.
"But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow" (Mark 4:38a NKJ). He is not just dozing off, he is sound asleep. I think he went to sleep on purpose. He is going to give the disciples time to experience the storm. Why? Because he wants to give them the opportunity to process in their minds what they know about Him (God), with what the circumstances tell them. He wants to put their theology to the test. He wants to make their faith practical.

If there is a storm in your life today, it is there to make your faith practical.
Maybe there is a storm in your life because of your service to God. You may be saying, "God, why did you let this happen when all I was trying to do was serve you?" Again we must remember there is something more important than successful ministry. It is "going to the other side with Jesus." It is following him in our day-by-day walk. People worship success today. God wants us to be full of faith. If it seems like God is asleep and not noticing your problem it is because God is wanting you to "flesh out" your faith.

In the rest of the story we have unanswered questions. The first is, "Don't you care?" "
And they awoke Him and said to Him, "Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?" (Mark 4:38b NAS). Have you ever been there? I have! "Don't you care about me?" "Why don't you do something?" "I thought you loved me." When we question if God cares, what we are really questioning is God's love. "God if you really loved me you would do something." "If you loved me you wouldn't have allowed this to happen." "If you loved me I wouldn't have any problems."

What the disciples didn't understand was that it was God's love that allowed them to be in this trial.
In love God wanted them to see His power. In love God wanted them to increase their faith. In love God wanted them to his faithfulness to them. So, does God care about you? We know He does!
"Casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you" (1 Peter 5:7 NAS). God wants us to know that He cares. Now we can answer the first unanswered question. Does God care about me? Yes, He cares for me because He loves me!

The second unanswered questions is,
"Why are you afraid?" This time it is Jesus asking the question. "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?'" (Mark 4:39-40a NIV). The disciples asked Jesus a question and now he asks them a question. Jesus often answers questions with questions. Let's ask ourselves this question. Why are we afraid?

There are three basic fear reactions.

1.Anxiety over our helplessness
The disciples weren't able to do anything about the storm. I'm sure they tried bailing out the boat before waking Jesus. They were helpless to do anything. When we are helpless to do any thing (not in control) then we become anxious and that produces fear.

2. Anxiety over failure
We have failed before and therefore we fearful of failing again. The next failure might be terminal. When we fail we think of ourselves as failures. We don't understand that God's plan for our lives involves some failures. We have to come to the end of ourselves before we can begin to trust him. For the Christian failure doesn't have to be terminal.

2. Anxiety over the future
This is the fear of the unknown. Like, fearful of getting older. Fearful of leaving the predictable life behind for the unpredictability of following God. These things bring us fear. But most of all we are fearful because we forget God. God tells us,
"Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand" (Isaiah 41:10 NAS).

There are five promises found in this verse.
I am with you.
I am your God.
I will strengthen you.
I will help you.
I will uphold you.

"Many are the woes of the wicked, but the LORD's unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in him" (Psalm 32:10 NIV).

"The LORD loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love"
(Psalm 33:5 NIV).

"But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love" (Psalm 33:18 NIV).

"May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you" (Psalm 33:22 NIV).

A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all" (Psalm 34:19)

I pray that you will mediate on this Word from God today. Blessings!

Pastor Rusty

Today's "THROUGH THE BIBLE IN A YEAR" Bible Reading: Monday, May 5, 2008-Psalm 33:1 – Psalm 36:12


Anonymous said...

God bless you in your ministry.
Cal Bodeutsch