Word from Scotland
by Sandy Shaw
This on-going storm appears fiercer in these early days of 2022 – within our own nation – but there are storms in other parts of the world too.
I want to speak about storms – but first turn to Deuteronomy 11verses 8 to 15 – Almighty God is speaking to Israel, through Moses, regarding the land they are about to possess – the phrase that attracted my attention is – “The eyes of the Lord your God are continually upon it from the beginning of the year to its end”. Verse 12 .
If God is going to look after that land – how much more will He look after those who are in Christ Jesus? Luke 11verse 13 .
Do not dread what may lie ahead - we experience God’s mercy, faithfulness, and love – knowing His caring and watchful eye is upon us.
Many years ago, I came across the verse at the centre of the Bible – you will find it at Psalm 118 verse 8 – “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.”
Turn now to Mark Chapter 4at verse 35 . In each section of Mark’s Gospel, Mark reveals a little more about Jesus – His power – His purpose – His self understanding of who He is.
Mark’s Gospel is the developing of a story – but it is more than a story. Mark is an expert storyteller – and a faithful reporter.
The Sea of Galilee is some 800 feet below Sea Level – the lowest place on the face of the earth. Cold air from the mountains falls upon the warm waters and there can arise thunderstorms and squalls - suddenly.
Fishermen would be used to these climatic conditions – but this storm was different – more fierce – more violent – these experienced fishermen from Capernaum thought they were going to die.
Jesus was in the boat, but asleep. The Son of God – the Son of Man – was asleep. “Teacher – don’t you care if we drown?” Verse 38 .
Jesus first words are a command of utter simplicity. “Quiet! Be Still!” Verse 39 .
You could use such words to an unruly child – or to a dog jumping up on you. “Down! Stay down!” There was a complete calm!
When in Tiberias I observed a storm on the lake – it was fierce, noisy and violent.
None of us can control the weather – but Jesus can! Jesus did not call upon some higher authority. He simply spoke a word! Do you see the significance?
Jesus does not just have power – Jesus is power itself.
This is a mighty claim – but have we not found that to be true over the years?
We are in the midst of a violent storm. Do not become overwhelmed by everything that is going on in this stormy world. Be involved – concerned – deeply interested – yes – but not overwhelmed. No matter what shape the world is in – no matter how serious this mess becomes – Jesus is Lord. Remember that.
Before Jesus calms the storm, the disciples are afraid. – after Jesus calms the storm, they become terrified. Verse 41 .
The boat had been nearly swamped – water had endangered the security of that boat – and its contents – the future work of God – Saviour and disciples.
“Don’t you care if we drown?” Verse 38. This picture goes right to our heart.
Have we not been near there – if not exactly there? Everything is going wrong – not just appearing to go wrong! You feel you are sinking – and God seems to be asleep – absent – unaware of what is happening to us – not even caring about us.
For a moment there is the picture of ‘an uncaring Christ’. If You care – why do You let disciples go through such deadly peril?
“Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” Verse 40 .
Jesus does allow people he cares about, and loves, to go through storms. There are times and occasions when we are aware of that – there is no reason to panic.
Nature can be violent – and overwhelming for certain people. Life can be violent. Consider those who have lost their life for the faith In Jesus Christ.
There are things happening which we do not understand. Things happen which are not according to our plans. They do not make sense – to us.
Their premise and assumption was – if Jesus cares for us and loves us he will not let bad things happen to us. Were these disciples angry at Jesus – angry at God? God did not mind – that is how big and caring and understanding God is.
“When we kick God in the teeth – the only thing He is concerned about is if we have hurt our toe.” said George McLeod.
Richard Wurmbrand was 14years in a Romanian prison – a harsh cruel prison.
“Do you still have no faith” – it can be translated – “where is your faith?”
What is Jesus saying? The critical factor in your faith is not its strength but its object. Faith is a gift. Jesus gives us the gift of faith.
Jesus is the source of our faith.
Yes, we can feed it and exercise it and use it – but Jesus gives us the initial gift.
He is the author of faith – the provider of faith – the object of faith.
This is similar to what happened with Jonah. Jesus and Jonah were in boats. Both were overtaken by a storm. Jesus and Jonah were asleep. The sailors, who said we are going to die, woke up the sleepers –– and in both cases there is miraculous divine intervention – and the sea was calmed. The sailors became even more terrified.
Jonah said – there is only one thing to do – and Jonah is saying - if I perish, you survive – if I die, you will live.
One greater than Jonah is here – one day I am going to calm all storms – and still all waves – I am going to destroy destruction – and break brokenness – and kill death.
When Jesus went to the Cross – did life not try to throw him overboard?
If I perish – if I die – you will live.
Jesus faced the ultimate storm – the storm against the source of sin.
At Calvary, Jesus bowed his head while being crucified on that tree and prayed – “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing.”
We can never again say – “Do you not care?”
Jesus was teaching these disciples in the storm so that they could learn and grow – he was stretching their faith.
Serving God does not exempt you from life’s storms, but you can be protected when you experience a storm.
In Mark 6 at verse 45 , there is another scene. This time Jesus is not in the boat. He is watching from the shore, following prayer. When he sees the situation, he goes walking on the water, and the troubled disciples thought it was a ghost.
What we may consider as another problem may be Jesus coming to help.
Notice that before Jesus dealt with what was troubling them on the outside, he calmed them down on the inside.
Jesus changes us – then he may deal with the troublesome situation.
Trust God to take care of you. A good father cares for the children he loves.
Nobody else can make such a promise and fulfil it.
We have a part to play – read again Deuteronomy 11verses 13to 15.
When we play our part, He gives and gives and gives.
Honour God in all you do – and He will come to you – even walking over the troubled and troublesome waters of life.
“Our loving heavenly Father – whatever storms may confront us – may we know that You are a God who is strong and compassionate and caring. Show us how to stand for light and truth and righteousness. Feed us as we read the Scriptures – as we study the Bible – nourish us so that we may loyal and faithful and loving – as we serve in the Church of Jesus Christ. Amen”
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Alexander 'Sandy' Shaw is pastor of Nairn Christian Fellowship in Nairn, Scotland. Nairn is 17 miles east of Inverness - on the Moray Firth Coast - not far from the Loch Ness Monster!
Gifted as a Biblical teacher, Sandy is firmly committed to making sure that his teachings are firmly grounded in the Word.
Sandy has a weekly radio talk which can be heard via the Internet on Saturday at 11:40am, New Orleans time, at wsho.com.
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