They Could Not Tame Him

Mark 4:36
“When they had left the multitude . . .”

Mark 4 ends with the story of a dangerous journey on which Jesus took His disciples. Knowing all things, He knew they would face a storm on the sea. He knew this storm would be so great that those who had grown up fishing those waters, and experiencing rough conditions, would fear for their very lives. However, it is not until we venture into Mark 5 that we understand the reason for the journey was just one man. Jesus left the multitudes and took twelve men on a death-defying trip across dangerous waters, in order to reach this one man. Multitudes were flocking to Him, but in the country of the Gadarenes, a man was in need. This becomes even more amazing when we understand who this man was. We read of him,

“. . .who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no one could bind him, not even with chains, because he had often been bound with shackles and chains. And the chains had been pulled apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces; neither could anyone tame him.” Mark 5:3-4

As sad as that description is, I am struck by the final phrase, “neither could anyone tame him.” Tame him! What a word. It seems so out-of-place to be used of a man. It is a word I reserve for animals; yet, it is so appropriate for this man. His lifestyle, whatever that was, had ruined his life. The world had done all they could do to help, but to no avail. He was now chained in a graveyard, and people simply avoided him. That is, until Jesus, not only went out of His way to rescue this man, but took His disciples on a trip they would never forget, for the purpose of saving this one lost soul.

When the story ends, we find the man in His right mind, sent out to tell His friends what Jesus had done for Him. No doubt, he would explain how Jesus crossed a turbulent sea to save him. Let’s learn the lesson the disciples were meant to learn: Jesus places the highest value on the human soul, even if he is living like a wild animal.

Pastor Jim.

Throw It All Away

1 Peter 5:7 “. . .casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”

Cares, concerns, worries, and anxiety are all relatively synonymous terms. They speak of the things in life that fill us with fear, rob us of peace, overwhelm us, and stress us out. There are numerous things that create this kind of anxiety; some of them are real and others irrational, but all of them seem to have the same effect upon us. Peter tells us the solution to dealing with the cares of life.

“. . .casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”

The word ‘casting’ is a translation of a compound word in Greek meaning, ‘to throw upon’. It was used in the book of Acts when Paul was traveling by ship to Rome. In the midst of the sea, they experienced a great storm similar to a hurricane. In addition to being tossed around by the large waves and driven off course by the high winds, they had lost all sense of where they were, because for many days they were unable to see the stars to navigate. As the ship was being beat up by the storm and taking on water, the crew began to realize, they may not survive. Suddenly, the precious cargo they were transporting meant little to them, and they began to toss it overboard to lighten the ship, and increase their chances of survival. When the storm continued, they reached the point where they even began throwing the ship’s tackle overboard.

This is an apt illustration of what it means to cast our cares upon Christ. Sometimes, the storms of life cause us to realize that much of what we are living for, or hold dear, matters little in light of eternity. In the storm, we, like those sailors of old, evaluate what is truly precious and we cast all the rest at the feet of Jesus. Maybe now would be a good time to cast some of those cares at His feet. Perhaps there are things you have allowed back into your life that should be left behind, as you press toward the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

As the storm continued they cast the ship’s tackle overboard. Tackle, unlike cargo is necessary to the sailors. They could not hoist the sails without it. When the storm began, they relied upon their own strength and experience to get them through. As the storm raged on, they reached a point where they realized it was too much for them. All they were accustomed to trusting in proved faulty, and as a last resort they threw the tackle overboard and listened to the instructions, not of the captain, but of the Apostle. Sometimes, life’s storms are allowed so we will stop trusting in our own strength, instead turning to the Lord for direction. It may be that the care that you need to cast at His feet is the idea that you can get through this without Heaven’s help.

Whatever you are facing, cast those cares at His feet. Peter promises that Jesus cares for us.

Pastor Jim

 

What Matters Most

2 Chronicles 17:1
“Then Jehoshaphat his son reigned in his place, and strengthened himself against Israel.”

Sometimes, when reading our way through the Bible, we come across phrases that don’t seem to make sense. This is one of those times. In this text we find the king of Judah, a man reigning over the nation God chose to be a light to the whole world, strengthening himself against Israel. He is building defenses, not against the nations around him, but against the northern tribes who had the same call as he did. Instead of reading that the twelve tribes developed a unified front to reach the world with the message of God, we find Judah had to build defenses against the attacks from Israel.

Sadly, this was not a one time occurrence. Paul’s ministry was plagued with attacks from those claiming to follow Christ. They targeted his character, his audience, and his methodology of reaching the lost. They questioned the message he shared and the way he shared it, and brought upon him a constant barrage of personal attacks, that forced him to strengthen his hands against the church. I am also reminded of Peter who saw a vision of a sheet coming down from heaven filled with a wide variety of clean and unclean animals. While pondering its meaning, God spoke to him that he was no longer to make a distinction between the two. Instead of this message having its primary fulfillment in our diet, Peter soon learned that God was making it clear that the Gospel was designed for the whole world. Peter made his way to the home of a Gentile man who was showing interest in the things of God. As Peter shared Christ with him, the Holy Spirit was poured out from heaven upon the man and his family. As Peter witnessed this, he realized God wanted to reach every man, woman and child in the whole world, regardless of their nationality or religious affiliation. When Peter returned with this amazing news, he was immediately confronted by some who questioned him for eating with Gentiles. That may be the ultimate example of majoring on the minors.

I wonder how powerful the church’s message would become if we stopped fighting over things that don’t matter, and instead, spent our energies on what matters most. There is a world filled with people who desperately need Jesus and some of them live right next door. Let’s be about sharing the love of Christ with a dying world.

Pastor Jim

 

Prioritizing 

Psalm 132:4-5
“I will not give sleep to my eyes or slumber to my eyelids, Until I find a place for the Lord, A dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob.”

This psalm is referring to a time when King David took a spiritual inventory of his life. His days of fleeing from Saul and living in caves were no more than a memory; he now dwelt within the palace. The Philistines, who had plagued the nation for so long, had been conquered, and Israel was at peace with the surrounding nations. As David began to muse over his life, he saw an area of inconsistency; while he dwelt in a palace, the ark of God still resided in a tent.

Immediately, David was filled with a desire to give God center stage in his life, and within the nation. The first step in this process, was to bring the Ark of the Covenant out of storage, and into the capital city, so all might see that God was at the center of the nation. David’s first attempt to bring the Ark back was a monstrous failure. He tried to do the things of God with the methods of man.

Later, after careful inquiry into the Word of God, David was able to safely bring the Ark to its resting place in Jerusalem. National revival broke out as a result of the King giving the Lord center stage. One day, as David was residing within the palace, he was struck by how God had blessed him; the forgotten son of Jesse, who was often ridiculed by his older brothers, was now king. As he reflected on the blessings of God, he was reminded that while the Ark resided in the city, it remained within a tent.

To David, the tent seemed a proper habitation for the Ark when the people were nomadic, but now that their borders had been secured, it was time to build a proper Temple. One that would reflect the way the nation honored their God, and would serve as a magnet to draw people to worship. This project would ultimately be completed by Solomon, after the death of David, but it was birthed in his heart, with a desire to always keep God first.

The application is simple. What place does God have in your life today? When is the last time you took spiritual inventory and sought to give more of your time, talents and treasures to the Lord? Today would be a great time to look back at all that God has done for you and elevate His place in your life.

Pastor Jim