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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Is Jesus in Your Boat?

Well, I turned thirty five this week. I am officially middle aged. The following is a study I did awhile ago, but I believe it's time I posted it given everything that is happening in the world today. Thank you all for reading, and commenting.

Mark 4:35-41, “On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side. Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, ‘Teacher do You not care that we are perishing?’


Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace, be still!’ and the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, ‘Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?’ And they feared exceedingly and said to one another, ‘Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him.’

Jesus had spent the day ministering and preaching the Word. Evening had come, and as Jesus looked to His disciples, He said to them, ‘Let us cross over to the other side.’

We can look at this passage as merely a beautiful recollection of an event that took place, which accentuated the power and majesty of Jesus, but we can also dig deeper, and see the spiritual applications that we can attribute to this text.

The Word of God is a treasure trove of wisdom, if only we are willing to put in the effort, and seek it out diligently. When we look at this text from a spiritual perspective we see the Word open up before us, and nourish our spirits with wisdom and understanding. Yes, there is much we can glean from this passage in God’s holy Word, and today I just want to share a few things that God spoke to my spirit as I was meditating on this passage in prayer.

The first thing that stood out as I was reading this text is the fact that beside the boat that Jesus was in with His disciples, there were also other little boats floating along the body of water trying to cross over to the other side. Even though all the boats had the same destination in mind, only one carried Jesus the Son of God, and was therefore ensured that it would make it to the opposite shore; only one was assured that it would make it to the other side.

Today there are many little boats that want to carry humanity to the other side. If we look at the sea that is this world, we can see the other little boats trying to get people to the other side in a multitude of places. Every boat captain and every other little boat promises to get you to the other side. Every religion in this world has eternity and immortality as its final port, as its final destination, ensuring those that would get in, that they will make it to the other side. Yes, there were many other little boats that were on the sea other than the one that Jesus was in, all trying to get to the other side.

If one would have looked at all the boats in the middle of the sea from afar, they would all look very similar. It was not like it is today with sail boats, and speed boats, with cruise ships and private yachts, all the boats of that time would have been fishing vessels, all looking similar, but the one thing that was different is who was in one of those boats. Jesus was in one of the boats.

Another thing that leaped out from the pages of Scripture was the fact that all of the boats went through the windstorm that arose. It wasn’t just the boat that Jesus was in, but all the boats were going through the same storm. Everyone goes through storms in this life, and everyone needs someone to speak to the storm and still the winds and calm the seas. This is why the Christian testimony is so important and powerful. When we see others in the same boat as we once were, alone and without Jesus, and see the storms of life battering them about, we see them sinking into desperation and hopelessness, we can say, ‘I was once like you! I was alone in the storms of this life, and I found Jesus, yes, I found Jesus and he spoke to the wind and stilled it, and He spoke to the seas and calmed them, and my boat did not capsize, and my faith was not shipwrecked, and we continue our journey over to the other side.’

Yes, those in other boats lose loved ones, those in other boats lose their jobs, those in other boats have heartaches, those in other boats see the harbingers of war and rumors of war all around them, and we need to be bold enough to cry out to those in the other boats, ‘You need Jesus! You need Jesus now, before you capsize, before you drown, before the storm overtakes you. You need Jesus in your boat!’

How lonely it must be in a boat, in the middle of a storm without Jesus.

We are all navigators, we are all headed toward a distant shore, one hundred years from now, none of us are going to be here, we will have reached our destination, but the question, the utmost question, the paramount question is, is Jesus in your boat? Is Jesus in my boat?

Even though Jesus was sleeping in the stern, He was still in the boat. Sometimes we see the storms coming, and we don’t see Jesus doing anything to stay the storm, just remember He is in your boat, He knows when it is time to speak to the storms in your life and still them; He knows when it is time to calm the winds.

Storms are a given, they are guaranteed. Whenever we sail toward the other side, it is inevitable that we will run across windstorms, and crashing waves, it is inevitable that we will see the gathering dark clouds on the horizon and watch from the corner of our eye as they approach.

The storm that the disciples found themselves in was no light storm; it was not a mere ruffling of the leaves, a mere breeze, or a mere swelling of the waves. Consider the fact that the men in the boat with Jesus were experienced fishermen. They knew a bad storm from an average storm, and if Peter, John, James and Andrew, all professional fishermen thought that they were about to perish, then they were really about to perish.

My grandfather was a fisherman, he loved to fish, and he would go out in the most horrid weather because in his estimation that was when the fish were biting. I wouldn’t even dare poke my head out the door in weather so foul, yet there he was, smiling broadly and ruffling my hair, saying he was going fishing for awhile. Fishermen are a special lot! They are not easily spooked, they don’t overreact, and they contend just fine with bad weather.

This storm on the Sea of Galilee was a memorable one. It is certain that men such as Peter who had spent his entire life on the sea had been in storms before, as had John, and James, and Andrew. They had experienced heavy winds, they had experienced high seas, but here they were, scared, saying to Jesus “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”

There will always be storms of varying size and length that will buffer our boats and the enemy’s singular desire is to see our boats capsize. If he could he would drill a hole in the bottom of our boat just to make us sink faster, because he doesn’t want to see us cross over to the other side, safely with Jesus in our boats.

I realize this teaching might seem odd and out of place, because in most churches, regardless of denomination, we have a tendency to leave out the part about the storms in life.

‘Come to Jesus, and it’s all rose petals and butterflies. Come to Jesus, and he’ll make your teeth straight and your acne go away.’

We accentuate all the things that God can do for us, we accentuate all the blessings we should be expecting as soon as we sign on the dotted line, but we omit the fact that in every life there will be storms, and in some instances the storms will get so bad that we will cry out as the disciples, “Teacher do you not care that we are perishing?”

My desire, and my calling in this life as pertains to ministry, is to present the truth of the gospel to you. That’s it! My singular purpose is the truth of God’s Word, and sharing it with all who would heed it. I have no dreams of Christian stardom; I have no desire to be anything more than I am at this moment in time.

When I speak of the truth of God’s word, I do mean the entirety of His Word. I want to share the entire gospel with you. Not just a partial fragmented Gospel, but the entire gospel that you might count the cost that you might know what it is to be in a boat with Jesus.

We want to believe men when they tell us everything’s going to be alright. That we will only experience smooth sailing with not a cloud in the sky, but then the storms come, and we are left wondering, what about what the man with the nice suit told me? Am I not supposed to sail only in sunny days? What’s with this storm? What’s with this heartache, what’s with this sadness?

It would be disingenuous of me, in fact it would be an outright lie to tell you that you will never again see a storm cloud, that you will never again be caught in the midst of a maelstrom, but what I can promise you, because the Word of God promises it, is that if Jesus is in the boat with you, He will calm the winds and He will rebuke the storm.

We have adopted this mentality in recent years, especially in this country that if we present a complimentary gospel, or a different gospel to those who hear us, if we smooth out the rough parts, and omit the passages about the trials of this present life, they will be more likely to stay in church. We need to be honest and forthright, no matter the consequence. We need to preach the truth of God’s Word and tell people the truth, that once you step in the boat with Jesus the storms become your constant enemy.

Even Jesus admonished us to count the cost of discipleship, to count the cost of following after Him, so that we would not grow discouraged, so that we would not be overcome by the storms of this life, but to expect them, and stand firm in the promises of God.

Some of you might hate me right now, but I would be doing you a disservice if I were to tell you, you will never see a storm again. Would you not think me a liar when you were in the midst of the storm a week from now or a month from now?

Storms are a given, but as long as we keep our eyes firmly fixed on the other side, as long as we remember the home that is waiting for us, we will weather the storms, and come through stronger for them.

Storms come in various disguises, whether a physical ailment, a rebellious child, a disagreeable spouse, a need, a loss, yes there are many storms that come along attempting to capsize our boats. Each time we just want the storm to pass, we want to see the sun again, but in many instances, the storm lasts longer than we anticipated, sometimes it seems that it will never end.

So why is it that sometimes storms last so long?

One of the primary reasons that some storms last so long, is that we try to steer our own way out of them; we row and row, trying to avoid the clouds, trying to avoid the winds on our own, in our own strength, by our own intelligence, and through our own aptitudes. We try to fix it ourselves before we run to God, we try to figure things out out ourselves before we ask for His guidance.

The winds cannot be calmed, and the sea cannot be stilled by human ability, but by sovereign providence.

The second reason I believe this storm lasted as long as it did, was because Jesus was sleeping in the stern on a pillow. This may hurt, but it’s the truth, some of us have not allowed Jesus to be alive, some of us have not allowed Jesus to manifest whether in our churches or in our families for so long that there is no room for Him anymore. Our sermons, our programs, our service time is so meticulously planned, that we leave no room for Jesus, we leave no room for the flow of the Holy Spirit.

Revelation 3:20, “Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him and him with Me.”

Now let me put this verse into context for just a second. This verse is part of a message written to the church of Laodicea by none other than Jesus. What door was He standing at? He was standing at the door of the church. While everyone was inside following their program, while everyone was inside just going through the motions, Jesus stood outside; He stood at the door and knocked. Jesus wasn’t in the church; He was outside the church waiting for someone to let Him in!

There was no room for Jesus in the church because of men and their agendas, and their programs, and their desire to lead rather than to submit to God, so He stood at the door and knocked hoping that someone would open the door, and desire not merely to use Him as a prop, or as a means to get people to open their checkbooks, but rather to dine with Him, to fellowship with Him, and to be in His presence.

The presence of Jesus in our boat does not spare the boat from the storm. This is a truth that we need to understand, because too many souls today are brokenhearted due to the fact that they are going through a storm, and someone told them that it’s because they didn’t have enough faith. Please understand, please open your heart and understand, if Jesus is in your boat, it does not mean that you will not go through the storms of this life. If you have hardships, if you have heartache, if you have disappointments, it is not because you have no faith, these are the storms, they come over everyone, but if Jesus is in your boat, your storm will be the means by which He will show you His power. Jesus will calm the storm. Jesus will quiet the winds.

By the same token if someone has everything and they are never hurting, and you never see them shed a tear, it does not mean that they have God, or that they have reached the pinnacle of faith. Jesus spoke of an entire congregation in the book of Revelation and said, ‘you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.’

We get so caught up on judging the outward circumstances of individuals and allowing their circumstances to dictate our opinions of whether or not these individuals have a strong and abiding faith.

‘Well, if you’re suffering you have no faith. If you’re not suffering, you have faith.’

That is so simplistic, and foolish and destructive, because you can be suffering, and feel Jesus comforting you, you can be hurting and feel Jesus encouraging you, because He is with you in your suffering, He is with you in your hurt.

Sometimes the storms of life are the greatest teachers we will ever have. You learn things in the midst of your storm that you never would have learned on a calm and sunny day. Just consider what the disciples learned in the midst of this storm. It was in the storm that they discovered the power of Jesus.

They had walked with Jesus, they had heard Jesus preach, they had listened to his parables, but only in the storm did they say, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?”

If you read the gospel according to Mark past this point, you begin to realize that from the time of the storm, and from the time that Jesus rebuked the wind, his disciples saw Him as Lord. They viewed Him differently, because they saw His power over the wind and the sea.

They were not as amazed at seeing the fishes and loaves being multiplied, as they were upon seeing nature itself bow down before the Son of God and obey Him.

The disciples not only discovered who Jesus was, but they also discovered who they were. Up until this time it is likely that they had a good opinion of themselves. They were after all professional fishermen, good mariners, men of the sea, faithful disciples of Jesus, and full of faith. Yet Jesus says to them:

“Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?”

How could Jesus say this to his disciples? Well, quite simply because they had proven their lack of faith. They knew the promises of Jesus, they knew that He had said He would be with them always, even to the end of the age, yet here they were, thinking they were about to perish.

Sometimes we ourselves forget the promises of Jesus, and we get fearful. We see the chaos that is taking place all around the world, and we begin to wonder to ourselves, and be concerned in our heart.

If you got in the boat with Jesus, and Jesus is in the boat with you, than trust Him, believe Him, He will take you to the other side safely. He ensures our safety, yet we are still afraid. He made a promise, oh, that we would believe His promise.

He is with us, in good days and evil days, in bright days and dark days, in days of plenty and days of lack. Jesus is with us, He is in our boat, and He is the one that crosses over to the other side. Trust Jesus, He will never fail you!

Psalm 4:8, “I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”

If the Lord promised that He is with you, what have you to fear? In the twelfth chapter of Acts, Peter gets apprehended by Herod, after he saw that the killing of James the brother of John had pleased the Jews. Herod planned to behead Peter the next morning and sent sixteen men, or as the Word describes it, four squads of soldiers, to keep him until that time.

Rather than write out his last will and testament, or a moving letter of farewell to the brethren, Peter slept between two soldiers, as the hours ticked by. He was unconcerned with the threats of Herod, because he knew that his King Jesus was greater still.

Peter was sleeping so soundly, that an angel had to strike him on the side to wake him, and said to him, ‘arise quickly’ and the chains fell off his hands. If you haven’t read the passage yet, well, spoiler alert, the angel leads Peter out of prison.

Peter had learned to trust Jesus, Peter had learned how not to be afraid.

What saddens me is the fact that men like Paul and Silas, two more men of God who found themselves with their feet in stocks, were able to sing songs of praise to God in prison, while we murmur in freedom in liberty.

If Jesus is in the boat with you, then be sure of your destination. Do not be concerned with the storm, it will pass, and if the storm gets too violent, cry out to Jesus, because He will hear your cry. It worked for His disciples, when they cried out to Him; He awoke and calmed the storms. Call Him in the day of trouble, and He will be there. Cry out to Him, and He will rebuke the storm. Make Him first! Go to Jesus first! Do not make him your last resort, make Him your first option, and He will always be there.

If Jesus is not in your boat, then with all the love I have in my heart I urge you to invite Jesus to journey with you through the storms of this life. If He is not in your boat, if Jesus does not walk with you, then sooner or later you will capsize regardless of how wise, capable or self sufficient you might think yourself to be.

Yes, storms will come, but we serve a good God whom the wind and the sea must obey.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for a great post, Michael. I have used this same passage in teaching before. What I've taught is that the enemy only has one power over you: to convince you it is safer outside the boat than in it. The real battle is this: STAY IN THE BOAT. No matter what you see around you, the storms, the anger, the hatred, the doubts, the attacks--STAY IN THE BOAT with Jesus. Hang on tight, because it will be a wild ride, but He is always in control.

I say this by the Spirit of God. Difficult times are ahead, and we will be tempted to abandon the boat in the storm for something that looks safer, less dangerous. But the answer that is so difficult, so very difficult at times, is so simple: STAY IN THE BOAT. Don't jump ship. He will see us through. Look to Him, not the storm around you. We will all be tested by events in the days ahead. STAY IN THE BOAT, cling to the Savior!

Duck and Daisy said...

What amazing words of hope and love! I am so thankful I am in Jesus' boat. You speak with wisdom well beyond your age Michael, all glory to Jesus! Congratulations on your birthday. While reading both this site and the Hand of Help website I have always imagined you to be older because of the great gifts God has given you. You are only 5 years my senior. You are right about the storms still coming, I believe worshiping Jesus even in these storms is the key to staying in His boat.
In God's love
Nicole

Sam said...

Yes

Anonymous said...

Michael,
Happy birthday!!!!!! Thank you for all your wonderful writings. Your blogs always make me think about my walk with God. I feel that they have helped me grow in my faith!

Keep up the good work.

Thanks again!
Sue