The Wind and Waves Get us to Where we Need to be

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I am writing today from the beautiful but sometimes stormy Tampa Bay area.

Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?” When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” Mark 4:38-40 NLT

 

Besides Jesus and Jonah, I don’t know of too many people who take naps on boats during chaotic storms. I think I would be freaking out like the disciples. 18 year old Ellen Harmon found herself in the middle of storm on a steamboat in the north Atlantic. The boat rocked and tossed one lady out of her bed. Another lady screamed in terror, before asking Ellen if she was not terrified as well.

I told her I had made Christ my refuge, and if my work was done, I might as well lie in the bottom of the ocean as in any other place; but if my work was not done, all the waters of the ocean could not drown me. My trust was in God, that he would bring us safe to land if it was for his glory. –Ellen White, Testimonies for the Church,  Volume 1, Page 81.

Young Ellen could have been terrified like the disciples were during their storm, but instead she rested her faith in the love of Jesus. She was not afraid. She had faith that God would be what was best.

One day, while helping out at the church school where I give Bible studies, I was sharing the story of Jesus calming the storm. When I got to the end of the story where the water was all calm and peaceful, a third-grade boy raised his hand and asked, “How is the boat going to get anywhere now?” He was pointing out the obvious, that wind and waves are what carry a sail boat. Without any wind you can’t get anywhere! (We’re talking about boats in Jesus’ day.)

It was persecution that got the church to move and spread out, sharing the gospel around the world. Many people have been “forced” to pursue their dream careers after losing their mundane but “secure” jobs. Once, while riding my bicycle, I got caught in a torrential downpour. I put my cell phone in my pocket, but that was not enough. When I took it to the repair shop, because it quit working, water gushed out when they opened it up. However, they told me I was eligible for a free upgrade. I walked out of the store with a much nicer and newer phone, with nothing out of my pocket, thanks to the storm. A very simple illustration of how a storm got me to a better place, as I don’t have space to tell of bigger blessings from even greater storms.

At the end of the storm Jesus asked the disciples why they were afraid and had no faith. I always assumed He meant why they had no faith He could calm the storm, but fact is, that is exactly what they were asking Him to do. Maybe He was asking them why they needed Him to calm the storm? While some storms are scarier than others is it possible they all get us to where we need to be? Will we really get anywhere in life if Jesus calms every storm that comes our way? Are there times we should let the storm rage, and do like 18 year old Ellen, and rest our faith in Jesus, just like Jesus was resting in His Father’s love during His storm? (Don’t ask me why Jonah was resting during his storm-I have no idea!)  Sometimes it takes more faith to not ask for a miracle. With God’s love we can face the roughest storms and not be afraid. That’s what 18 year old Ellen Harmon did. I firmly believe, if Ellen Harmon had been in the boat during the storm with Jesus and the disciples, she would have been resting with Jesus, unafraid and full of faith in God’s love amidst the tremendous waves, instead of freaking out with the disciples.

Sometimes He calms the storm. Sometimes He calms His child.

You may study this week’s SS lesson here.

1st and 2nd Thessalonians: The Messiah Part 2

I am writing tonight from the dark and stormy Tampa Bay area.

Several years ago, I was showing a set of Christian books to a lady. There were several hardbound books in the set, which also included beautiful art work. The lady loved the books, and asked how much they were. I told her, “Four-twenty-nine.” She was delighted, and exclaimed, “Is that all!” I said, “Yes.” I  went on to explain the payment plans, of cash, credit card, or down payment of 15% and then 12 monthly payments. She looked confused, and then disappointed when she realized, that by four-twenty-nine I meant $429.00 and not $4.29.

The lady was like most all of us. We hear what we want to hear. We read the Old Testament Prophecies that depict Jesus’ sacrifice, like Isaiah 53, and wonder why the Jews did not understand, that the Messiah was coming to die for our sin and not set up an earthly kingdom. The Jews were looking for a Savior from Roman tyranny because they read  prophecies,  such as Isaiah 52:13, “Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high.” And also Isaiah 9:7, “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever.” They thought Jesus would come and set up an earthly kingdom. The prophecy in Daniel 2, and rock carved out without man’s hands, should have made clear to them, what Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” John 18:36

Even the disciples misunderstood and heard only what they wanted to hear as well. Jesus told them in Matthew 16 amongst other places, that He would be crucified, but Peter and the others simply refused to hear of it. The weekend of the crucifixion they were devastated. It was a great disappointment. There was nothing wrong with the prophecies. The prophets were right on. The Jews, the disciples, the lady I was trying to sell  books to were all just like us. We hear what we want to hear. Crucifixion weekend was not the last time God’s church would endure a great disappointment. In 1844 another group of people, misunderstood Daniel. Daniel was right on. Again God’s Church just heard what it wanted to hear, this time regarding the cleansing of the sanctuary in Daniel 8:14. They thought the sanctuary was the world and Jesus was coming back to cleanse the earth with fire and create the New Earth. Nowhere in the Bible does it call the sanctuary the earth. Also we know Jesus said nobody would know the day nor the hour when He returns. Some scoff at them for not knowing better, but are we any better than they are? Do we not make the same mistakes? For example, When asked for a sign from the Jews, Jesus gave them the sign of Jonah. Jesus said, “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Matthew 12:40 For years now, people have been trying to fit Jesus in the tomb for three nights. To do this some have even backed up the crucifixion to Wednesday while others explain that part of a day counts as the whole day, but that still does not put Jesus in the tomb for three nights. The confusion is quite simple. Nowhere in the Bible does it say the tomb is the heart of the earth. When Jesus said, “For God so loved the world,” He wasn’t talking about the dirt. He was talking about the people. When Jesus said the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth, He was not talking about the dirt, He was talking about the people. Take a day for a year in Bible Prophecy and for three days you have Jesus ministering in the heart of the earth, where the population was, not in the dirt. The sign of Jonah, was simply that while Gentiles, publicans, and sinners were believing in Jesus, the Jews who should have believed were not. Just like the story of Jonah where a wicked city like Nineveh believes, but the prophet Jonah who should have believed and obeyed did not want to.

The sign of Jonah is just one example of how today, we may get the time right but the place wrong. In 1844 they had the time right but the place wrong, and in Jesus’ time, many had the time of the Messiah right  from the book of Daniel, but they had the place wrong. Jesus’ kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. We look forward to a New Heaven and a New Earth.

Jeremiah 23:6 promises to save the kingdom of Judah. “In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”  . This led the people to dream of a kingdom prosperous and above all others. However the text also promised righteousness for the people.  It seems the people were not so interested in the righteousness as they were in the prosperity. That is just like us today. In Matthew 6:33 Jesus says,” But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Many today are seeking the kingdom and all those other things that will be added to us, but how many of us are seeking His righteousness? How many of us today are taking up our cross daily and following Him? How many of us just want the prosperity? Even if we are seeking a heavenly kingdom above an earthly kingdom, we are still just being materialistic, unless we are really seeking His righteousness.   Could we today be like the children of Abraham, dreaming only of prosperity, and forgetting that God once asked father Abraham to sacrifice his son and future prosperity?

When Paul was reasoning with the Jews, showing them that Jesus was the Messiah, he had his work cut out for him.

Just a side note before I go. Last year many people were making fun of and ridiculing a famous pastor in the United States for saying that Jesus was coming in April of 2011. I heard many Adventists making fun of him. Seeing how we make mistakes too, in our understanding, and how we have had great disappointments ourselves, should we be making fun of people when they make mistakes? I don’t think so. At the crucifixion the disciples were devastated and hurting. In 1844 God’s people were devastated and hurting. God looked past the mistakes of His people and saw the pain. We should be just as sympathetic. Whether it is towards the Jews 2,000 years ago, or a mistaken preacher today, let’s all take heed lest we fall.

Check out the current Sabbath School study guide here.

Tampa Bay Storm

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I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area. (Yeah right!)

After seeing pictures on the news last night of Bayshore Blvd all flooded, I went down early this morning with my camera to see what I could see. The street was not flooded anymore but you can still see a little flooding.  I take pictures of Tampa Bay all the time in the sunshine, when it looks so beautiful. Today’s picture does not look so beautiful does it? But you know what? All the trash you see, that has washed up on the bay, was around the whole time when I took the other beautiful pictures of the bay. The storm did not make the trash, it only revealed the trash that was already there. I thought about my life. Some times on sunny days, when all is going well, I may think I am a beautiful person. However when the storms of life come I may find some garbage in my heart. The storms of life don’t make the garbage in my heart. The storms only reveal what has been there all along. I think David knew that when he pleaded with God, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties;And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalms 139:23-24 NKJV The storms of life may show us all the garbage in our heart, but God’s love can clean it all up for us and make us beautiful inside and out!

See what great love   the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!   And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends,   now we are children of God,   and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears,  we shall be like him,   for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. 1 John 3:1-3 NIV

Watch the 23 second video I took here.

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