Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:
‘Blessed Quietness in the Storms of the Soul’
© April 10, 2016 by Steve Mickelson
Announcements & Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #650 (Trials and Temptations – from James 1 and 1 Peter 1); Prayer
Opening Hymn #248: And Can It Be That I Should Gain; Choruses
Tithing and Prayer Requests: Hymn #572: Praise God; Prayers
Scriptures: Leviticus 11:4-8; Mark 4:35-41; Mark 5:1-20; Mark 7:14-30
Let us pray…
Welcome to BLCF Church’s Sunday Praise and worship Service. This morning’s lesson, Blessed Quietness in the Storms of the Soul, will examine the two types of storms or challenges to our faith and salvation, often encountered by followers of Christ. These challenges may be thought of as being either internal or external in nature, or more precisely viewed as having characteristics that are mostly of a mental/emotional nature or existing in the physical environment.
We have a good example of the physical/external threat in the Scripture passage found in Mark 4:35-41(ESV), entitled:
Jesus Calms a Storm
35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
Jesus and the disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee, sailing from Capernaum south and east to the Region Gerasenes. The Sea of Galilee, also described as a large long lake, similar to Ontario’s Lake Nipissing, being subject to the effects of the prevailing winds which generate large rolling waves. These storms can be sudden and unpredictable, posing a threat to even moderately size vessels.
The storm described in Mark 4 was so severe, that they threatened to swamp and sink the vessel. Fearing for their lives, the disciples woke Jesus, who was sleeping upon a cushion located at the bow of the boat.
Jesus rebuked the wind and commanded the sea to be at “peace” and to “be still”.
Jesus then turned to his disciples asking them why they were so fearful and questioning why they were still lacking in faith’
It was almost as if part of the reason for the cruise was to test the faith of the disciples in the face of the threat of a great storm and affording the Lord with an opportunity to demonstrate that he was in fact the Son of God. Jesus brought peace and calm by giving commands to these elements of nature to become calm, Mark 5:1-20 (ESV):
Jesus Heals a Man with a Demon
5 They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes.[a] 2 And when Jesus[b] had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. 3 He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, 4 for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. 5 Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones. 6 And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. 7 And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” 8 For he was saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” 9 And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” 10 And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. 11 Now a great herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, 12 and they begged him, saying, “Send us to the pigs; let us enter them.” 13 So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the sea.
14 The herdsmen fled and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened. 15 And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed[c] man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. 16 And those who had seen it described to them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and to the pigs. 17 And they began to beg Jesus[d] to depart from their region. 18 As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. 19 And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” 20 And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.
Footnotes: a. Mark 5:1 Some manuscripts Gergesenes; some Gadarenes b. Mark 5:2 Greek he; also verse 9 c. Mark 5:15 Greek daimonizomai; also verses 16, 18; elsewhere rendered oppressed by demons d. Mark 5:17 Greek him
Leviticus 11:4-8 (ESV)
4 Nevertheless, among those that chew the cud or part the hoof, you shall not eat these: The camel, because it chews the cud but does not part the hoof, is unclean to you. 5 And the rock badger, because it chews the cud but does not part the hoof, is unclean to you. 6 And the hare, because it chews the cud but does not part the hoof, is unclean to you. 7 And the pig, because it parts the hoof and is cloven-footed but does not chew the cud, is unclean to you. 8 You shall not eat any of their flesh, and you shall not touch their carcasses; they are unclean to you.
Mark 7:14-30 (ESV) What Defiles a Person
14 And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: 15 There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.”[a] 17 And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. 18 And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, 19 since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?”[b] (Thus he declared all foods clean.) 20 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
Jesus is neither telling anybody that what you eat or drink. is unimportant. nor whether or not you should wash your hands. He is challenging the legalism of behavior professed by the Scribes and Pharisees, which they used as a criteria of judging “the faith” of others.
What really matters is our faith for God, not whether we observe a set of rules disguised as expectations from on high.
The Syrophoenician Woman’s Faith
24 And from there he arose and went away to the region of Tyre and Sidon.[c] And he entered a house and did not want anyone to know, yet he could not be hidden. 25 But immediately a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit heard of him and came and fell down at his feet. 26 Now the woman was a Gentile, a Syrophoenician by birth. And she begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27 And he said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 28 But she answered him, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” 29 And he said to her, “For this statement you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.” 30 And she went home and found the child lying in bed and the demon gone.
Footnotes: a. Mark 7:15 Some manuscripts add verse 16: If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear b. Mark 7:19 Greek goes out into the latrine c. Mark 7:24 Some manuscripts omit and Sidon
As born-again believers in the resurrected Christ we must turn away from old beliefs and habits that do not glorify God or edify the body of believers. If we do find some aspects of our Christian walk that is not in line with Christ’s Commandments, like the son who said that he would not work for his father and then changed his mind, we too can change by the grace of our heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ and with the help of the Holy Spirit.
Let us pray…
Closing Hymn #192: Joys Are Flowing Like a River (Blessed Quietness)
Benediction – (1 Peter 5:10-11): And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.