Friday, August 14, 2009

A Different Sermon On Another 'Mount'

This is an article very much in the spirit of exhortation of a previous one entitled Faith Over Fear; I hope and pray that this will exhort and encourage you as it has me.

[UPDATE (June 18, '12): Please be sure to listen to this inspirational, encouraging rendition of "He'll Raise Me Up" by an astounding Lithuanian 14 yr old boy; I can guarantee you have never heard it sung like this before! Link to this song can be found at the bottom of this article; you can also watch this under "LINKS to LIVE By" Side bar column: look for "He'll Raise Me Up"]

We all know the Sermon on the Mount; we've heard teachings on it ever since we became Christians and even before then.

Here we have a different sermon on the 'mount' and very few words were actually spoken by our LORD in this particular teaching. Am I referring to some 'lost gospel' of Jesus, and of writings only recently discovered by biblical archaeologists?

Rest assured, I am not. We have all read this account before, and as you can guess by the picture I chose for this article, we will be looking at the crossings of the Sea of Galilee.

First of all, let's get a reading of this incredible event:
LUKE 8:22-35
Now it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with his disciples: and he said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And they launched forth

"on a certain day . . ." It was on a day appointed: immediately after this event which is about to occur, we find the demoniac at Gadara is delivered by the LORD Jesus. Likewise the time of our deliverance from this world, and its god, the king of darkness (2 COR 4:4) is on a day appointed.
On that blessed day, nothing in heaven or earth, or hell for that matter will be able to interfere or prevent God from physically delivering His people from both of these. This time saints is at hand, so be encouraged by this truth!

The LORD Jesus said: "Let us go over to the other side of the lake." The disciples (four of which were accomplished fishermen, intimately acquainted with the fits of temperament and weather patterns of the sea of Galilee) mentioned nothing of any noticeably approaching storm.
Had they detected any such impending storm, surely they would have mentioned it. Life is like this; we often are unaware of what's about to blindside us, but its best to remember that while we are often taken by surprise, our LORD never is, and He has made every necessary provision for such inevitable eventualities.

"And they launched forth." MARK 4:36 mentions that other little boats accompanied the disciples and the LORD on this venture. We often picture the disciples with their singular boat struggling on Galilee, but there was in fact an entire fleet out there!

Life is about launchings; like that motivational poster we've all seen on corporate walls: "Life is a journey, not a destination." The boat does no good resting at the shore, or as Elizabeth Elliot was always fond of saying, "a parked car is hard to steer." Likewise we must also be about our Father's business, we are His vessels to be directed as He wills, where ever that may lead us - either to a sea of tranquility or tumult.

vs. 23 - But as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy.

Jesus falls asleep, and then the storm hits! With the disciples in apparent danger, the LORD is asleep?! Have you ever felt like the LORD was asleep during your most crucial time of needed help in severe trial? Is God 'asleep on the job'?

We may be in distress and doubt, not knowing what's to become of us, but God is not dismayed, because all things are under His control, either directly or indirectly. Even Satan at his worst and most ruinous self, is under God's watchful eye, and as with Job, He allows the adversary certain liberties, but He also draws a forbidding line that he can't cross! In the midst of the storm, there is our LORD, asleep, at peace, unperturbed. He is LORD of all, as familiar with the future as He is with the present and the past. We are not omniscient however, we don't know "all things" and we don't know what the future holds, but we do know who holds the future!

It reminds me of Shakespeare's play, Hamlet when his uncle, the treacherous brother of the now dead King, who stole the crown through subterfuge and murder, and busily plots his own nephew's demise, cryptically asks him, "Do you see my purpose, cousin?"
To which Hamlet replies cheerfully, "I see it not; but I see the cherub that sees it!"

The LORD sees every aspect of our lives, He sees it all, and knows every turn and unforeseeable road we will travel. We can rest peacefully in the Everlasting arms, if we will only keep our eyes upon and trust the Trustworthy Shepherd with Whom we have to do.

vs. 24 - And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, "Master, master, we perish". Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm.

The disciples are firmly convinced in their belief: "we perish!" Yet at the least they had enough presence of mind to approach the One Person who could affect any change. I myself am guilty of approaching other sources when trouble and trial pounce on me: a bank account, a doctors visit, a pharmacy, a phone call to a friend, my own resolve and determination to roll up my sleeves and 'fix it' myself.

I sometimes wonder if we deprive our precious LORD of some awesome opportunities when we resort to fixing problems in the natural, instead of first praying and seeking God for a solution. This is not to say that other resources are invalid or inappropriate, not at all; what is inappropriate I think, is when we look to these other sources of help without first 'checking in with Headquarters' to see what our Captain would have us do.

God isn't against doctors for example, He uses them often. They should by no means however be depended on rather than the LORD Himself. Such is the case with all other resources at our disposal.

In the midst of our trials, are we hasty in our assessment of the situation? We may believe we are perishing, and the enormity of the trial may be such that we are fully persuaded of this belief. The assessment of those four (possibly more) fisherman on that boat, for all their education, training, experience, and abilities was "we perish!".

The vessel was full of water! They reached the point of no return. The situation was unsolvable. Have you ever experienced this? I have. I know that I will experience this again, and again in this life; we mortal creatures in this world of sin are prone to the painful experience of loss in all it's distasteful varieties.

Yet in these times, we may taste and see that the LORD is good (PSALM 34:8); so good that the bitter experience can be turned sweet in Him (just as Moses by the word of GOD cast a branch in the bitter waters of the river at Marah and miraculously they became sweet; EXOD 15:22-26), and in the wondrous work of the cross in our lives. Here is what's known as "the fellowship of His sufferings (PHIL 3:10)."

vs. 24 con't. - "Then He arose . . ." Once God arises to the occasion, all other considerations, no matter how daunting, no matter how dire, can be confidently disregarded! No matter how hopelessness and failure may assail our senses and attempt to persuade us of our imminent perdition; no matter how many enemies, that would overtake our souls, are gathered against us, when weighed in the balances against God rising up to deal with them, they're utterly insignificant and carry no weight.

Indeed . . .

PSALM 68:1-4
Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered: let them also that hate him flee before him. As smoke is driven away, so drive them away: as wax melteth before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God. But let the righteous be glad; let them rejoice before God: yea, let them exceedingly rejoice. Sing unto God, sing praises to his name: extol him that rideth upon the heavens by his name JAH, and rejoice before him

Note - The LORD rebukes the storm; He doesn't merely command it to cease, He rebukes it. The word in the Greek is used for a wide variety of applications of rebuke: demons, winds, fevers, disciples, etc. In this instance, is it possible that the storm had satanic inspiration? Perhaps the great enemy realized where the LORD was heading (into Gadarea) where one he had possessed resided, and as he is loathe to lose any soul, he vainly attempted to stifle any such salvation.

LUKE 8:25
And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him

"Where is your faith?" the LORD Jesus asks them. In considering the situation, had the disciples exercised their faith, could they have stilled the storm? If that had been the case, it would have revealed an intimate knowledge and implicit trust in the LORD, and the realization that by faith such storms could be silenced. Yet they don't possess such depth of knowledge or trust of this Man, not yet; for they say themselves "what manner of man is this!"

At the very least, if they couldn't have faith enough to still the storm themselves in Christ's Name (as some would find fault in the disciples for such a thing), they might have exhibited faith in Him for who He is. And what manner of Man is this?

This is the God-man! Of whom it is said:

JOB 9:4-10
He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength: who hath hardened himself against him, and hath prospered? Which removeth the mountains, and they know not: which overturneth them in his anger. Which shaketh the earth out of her place, and the pillars thereof tremble. Which commandeth the sun, and it riseth not; and sealeth up the stars. Which alone spreadeth out the heavens, and treadeth upon the waves of the sea. Which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the chambers of the south. Which doeth great things past finding out; yea, and wonders without number

And . . .

PSALM 29:1-4
Give unto the LORD, O ye mighty, give unto the LORD glory and strength. Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness. The voice of the LORD is upon the waters: the God of glory thundereth: the LORD is upon many waters. The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty

The lesson here learned was necessary for the disciples, and prepared them for a deeper lesson and teaching from a different sermon, a sermon of few words, on the mount of cresting, mountainous waves of another tumultuous storm!

MATTHEW 14:22-33
And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away

vs. 22 - This time the LORD sends His disciples on ahead while he disperses the multitude that He had just miraculously fed; He is not with them now, but sent them by command to "go to the other side."

vs. 23 - The LORD goes up to a mountain to pray. We aren't told what He prayed about, but as our faithful Intercessor, it wouldn't be unreasonable to assume that they, His disciples, were the subjects of His prayers.

Likewise, the LORD is no longer with us, physically, yet He declared that: 

I will never leave nor forsake you.
Of His High priestly ministry it is said:

    HEBREWS 7:25
    He ever liveth to make intercession for us

The LORD doesn't resort to a valley or a grove, nor to a river bank or the shore of Galilee to pray; nor does He climb a mere hill, but a mountain. In this exalted position our humble King deigns to pray for His disciples who He can see, but He himself is not seen by them. So it is with us today; no storm can obscure His view of us!

vs. 24 - The disciples came to the midst of the sea and found themselves in turmoil once again, fighting a raging storm. John's Gospel states that they had up to this point rowed tenaciously for 25 - 30 furlongs! 
They persevered doggedly and were encouraged by past experiences that taught them not to despair, but to maintain their hope in the faithfulness of God. Such are the benefits of our tutors: the trials our Father lovingly administers to us.

1 PETER 1:6-8
Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory
: See also: 1 PET 4:12-13

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed
(does not disappoint); because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

Paul knew what he was talking about: he suffered storms and ship wrecks himself!

In all our trials and tribulations, our problems are opportunities to answer God's question of us: "Do you trust Me?" How far does our trust go? He desires us to trust Him with absolute abandon and loves us enough to walk us through to that place of peace and joy. So, step by loving step, He draws us into ever deepening water, just as He did with these disciples. Let's us proceed . . .

Often in scripture "the seas" are a type of the world, that is, the gentile nations, as opposed to Israel, which is typified as "the land". While Galilee is actually a lake, rather than a sea, the principle still applies here in this illustration.

Isaiah himself speaks of the nations as the seas:

ISAIAH 17:12-13
Woe to the multitude of many people, which make a noise like the noise of the seas; and to the rushing of nations, that make a rushing like the rushing of mighty waters! The nations shall rush like the rushing of many waters: but God shall rebuke them, and they shall flee far off, and shall be chased as the chaff of the mountains before the wind, and like a rolling thing before the whirlwind

Interesting that God here is presented as One who rebukes the nations "which make a noise like the seas" and "they flee off."

Also -

ISAIAH 57:20-21
But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked

The sea is a perfect picture of the nature of humanity; both are fickle, unstable, lacking in solidity (one physically, the other morally). From a placid surface that can appear eternally blissful, a chaotic storm can erupt that creates an ever changing topography of terror. Nothing is so terrifying as what meteorologists call 'the perfect storm' that is, conditions created when two or more storm systems collide and cause a such a frenzy that, for those caught in it, would seem to emulate the fury of hell itself, but in the element of water rather than fire.

As we look over the world scene today, we see the storms rising, building, and approaching; even now, we feel the precipitous winds of adversity picking up with force: harbingers of disaster.

These 'systems' are nearing the point of collision, with the inhabitants of the world caught in the middle! Storms of erratic economic uncertainty, political turmoil, upheavals in wars and rumors of such, mounting waves the size of looming mountains seem poised to crash all around us; much of this 'weather' appears to be contrived by the power elite, forces of fallen men (and fallen angels) in this world-system, this new world order as it were, governed by Satan.

Then there are the storms of a more personal nature: storms of financial pressures, and debt, even bankruptcy; dreaded hurricanes that assail our health with threat of life and limb; cyclones of besetting sins and addictions, strong holds all; gales of gloomy forecasts and of a foreboding future!

vs. 25 - And yet, here is our precious Savior! How glorious is a Savior when one finds oneself in the midst of such calamities! Behold Him, as He walks victoriously, as the Overcomer of the world, marching in a wordless walk that speaks volumes to us! And as He does speak, those few words carry incredible weight:
"Be not afraid, it is I, be of good cheer!" And He says again:

JOHN 16:33
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world

He has trod upon the raging seas, and is LORD over it; He it is that steers the events of our lives as certainly as He does the affairs of this stormy world!

In DANIEL 7, in the first three verses, the prophet witnesses a storm himself - the winds and the sea in turmoil and then he observes four beasts rising up out of it. We learn that these are four world empires, rising up out of the world system of the gentile nations, who regard gods of their own making, made after their own image and do not acknowledge the God of heaven.

These four world empires speak of power, and domination, oppression and tyranny, rather than of liberty and love, peace and justice, these latter attributes characterize a FIFTH world empire under the leadership of the KING of Kings, and LORD of Lords, Jesus Christ, the Word Incarnate!

On a side note: It's interesting to observe that when man rejects God in order to enthrone himself as an autonomous deity, he actually becomes less than what God intended in His creation of our once noble father, Adam, endowed with goodness and virtue.

Yet in the mind of fallen man, he is a god: self-interested, self-invested, self-esteemed, self-glorified; truly a selfish being with little or no compassion and empathy towards his fellow man. He disdains those whom he deems as lower than himself intellectually, financially, socially, etc. Friendship is based on those whom he can benefit by resulting in self advancement.

Indeed a devolution from man to self-appointed god, inevitably to a selfish, ego-enthroned monster who devours all, and yet is never full!

Such are the characteristics of these world empires from God's point of view, these brute beasts of power, and none more so than the fourth beast, a great and terrible beast, which prophetically speaking is coalescing all about us, even as you read this article.
The proponents of this empire, these monsters or 'goblins' as I call them (read that, global socialists) are all jockeying into position to obtain supreme leadership in the very empire they are striving to build, with the same zeal as the builders of the Tower of Babel!

These double and triple digit billionaires, and these trillionaires are truly a pathetic, pitiable lot, who strive and contend and pour their lives out in order to obtain their own fiefdoms of power. However, what shall a man give in exchange for his own soul, and what will it profit him if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul (MATT 16:26)?

Little do they know that at the height of power, in the midst of these various tumults and storms, this world empire will have a life expectancy of a mere seven years!

Yet over all of this, our LORD rides the crests of catastrophic, apocalyptic reign of ruin; He is above it all. Yet He cares for the lowly, the orphan, the widow, the weak. Read throughout the Psalms and you witness how mightily God stands against the proud, and uplifts the humble.

The dual delusions of deicide (the killing of God) and of self-deification will come to a climatic, shattering, and abrupt ending when the LORD appears to take back this world which He purchased with His own blood. While goblins seek sacrifice from others whose blood they will freely spill for their own benefit, our LORD and KING willingly sacrificed Himself and shed His own blood for our good!

For your edification, may I encourage you to read:

PSALM 2:1-12 and PSALM 9:1-20
On that day He will be glorified, He shall reign overtly that which He has presided over from heaven since the dawn of creation; He shall establish His reign on the Earth, removing every trace of rebellion from His grand eternal Kingdom!

Until that blessed day, whatever we are suffering in our personal or national storms, whatever instability and darkness we may be enduring and may yet endure, let us turn, and keep our eyes on JESUS the LORD, just as Peter did when he began to walk on the water.

The LORD identified Himself when the disciples thought He was a ghost. It must have been some storm to have obscurred Him so from their clear view of Him! Yet His voice would be unmistakeable!

So when Peter asks "IF it is You, then bid me to come to you." In the Greek there is no mistaking Peter's title of this man when he says 'Lord'; also in the Greek there are four possible tenses to that word 'if':

1) IF, and it is not so; (2) IF and it probably/possibly is not so; (3) IF and it probably/possibly is so; (4) and IF and it is so!

I believe the last is the tense that Peter used. What then was the LORD's answer to Peter? "Come."
Have you ever wondered why the LORD allowed Peter to step out of that boat, when He knew he would fail? To teach Peter a lesson? Yes, indeed! Also to teach us, that in overwhelming situations, we need not be overwhelmed; if we only keep our eyes, hearts, and minds focused on Him and not on the prevailing storms.

Yet even if we should fail and consider too long the imminent storms that approach our nation, and the world, and as a result sink into despair: He is still with us! His love for us hasn't diminished in the least! He is ever faithful, loving, full of tender mercies for us! We may indeed fail Him, but He won't fail us! More than this, He is able to work in us, by His Spirit, such grace and power that we can righteously stand in faithfulness of no artificial origin, but rather heavenly!

Do you want to be faithful to your LORD Jesus? Even in the midst of such things that we see heading our way? He has the power to grant you this desire. Only reach out to Him, allow Him to clasp His Hand around your own, yield to His Almighty touch and let Him raise you up out of the mire and storming seas!
Like Peter, no fancy prayer or oratory is required; a simple heart-felt prayer is all that's required: "Lord, help!"
Like Peter, we will stand victoriously along side our LORD Who will faithfully stand by our side, on the churning waters of sin, violence, and destruction that this world is prone to!

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God

may the LORD Jesus bless you saints, WAY TOO MUCH!!

He'll Raise Me Up

Yours in Victory, through the LORD of Glory,

Nikao Aionios A.V.R.A.S.!

brother James Fire

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