God in the Stern

Jimitri and Ruby Green’s two-year-old son Deuce was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia.

In his email below which arrived yesterday, Jimitri refers to the incident recorded in the Gospel of Mark where Jesus and the disciples were in a severe storm on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus was asleep in the stern of the boat.

Panicking, the disciples woke Him and said, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”

“And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Hush, be still.’ And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm.

“And He said to them, ‘Why are you fearful? Do you still have no faith?’

“They became very much afraid and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?'” (Mark 4:35-41).

Now here’s Jimitri’s email:

After the first round of chemo, hearing the news that Deuce was not in remission really crushed my spirit (at least I thought). I had so many questions for God running through my mind.

Questions like:

How could God not honor our prayer?

Why isn’t God listening?

Are we not doing something right?

And many other things.

But I was brought to one of my favorite stories in the Bible—Jesus calming the storm. It wasn’t until the disciples started to get a little wet they started to question God’s care for them.

But a miracle is performed in such a fearful circumstance.

Here’s what I’ve learned from this month, even when the water rises or things don’t go how we plan them to.

God is still in the stern.

Even when things seem to be going completely wrong, God is still in the stern.

In our situation

Deuce did not go into remission, but God is still in the stern. Therefore He is still in ultimate control.

We received amazing news today after allowing Jaleah [their daughter] to be tested [to be a possible bone-marrow donor]. She’s a 10/10 perfect match for him. This is rare because there was only a 25% chance that she’d be a perfect match. So this means his donor will be his baby sister.

Praise God!

Please share this news with our church family. We are happily rejoicing and we know that the next few months may have more bumps in the road, but we’re continuously trusting that God is in the stern, and we have nothing to fear.

Also that in the end of all of this we’ll be just as amazed as the disciples were after the storm obeyed Jesus Christ.

Love you all so much. Please continue to pray with and for us.

calm sea-tagged

Please see the related post of February 19, “Suffering Viewed Through the Lens of Faith” https://fulfillingourpurpose.org/2018/02/19/suffering-viewed-through-the-lens-of-faith

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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“Many Convincing Proofs”

Is it just wishful thinking—the belief that Jesus did indeed rise bodily from the dead?

Or is there good, solid evidence for it?

Luke says of the apostles, “To these He presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days . . .” (Acts 1:3).

Among the proofs were these:

  1. He suddenly appeared to them behind closed doors (John 20:19).
  2. His showed them the scars of His crucifixion (Luke 24:36-40; John 20:20).
  3. He invited them to touch Him (Luke 24:39; John 20:24-29).
  4. He ate in their presence to prove He was no apparition (Luke 24:36-38, 41-43).
  5. He enabled Peter and his companions to net a huge catch of fish, which no doubt reminded them of a similar miracle during His ministry (John 21:1-11; Luke 5:4-11).
  6. He predicted they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit in a few days, which happened just as He said (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8).
  7. Finally, they watched in awe as He ascended out of their sight into heaven (Luke 24:50-51; Acts 1:9-11).

What changed their minds

Jesus made these appearances not only in Jerusalem but also in Galilee where He had told them to meet Him (Matthew 28:10, 16-17).

One more thing: The apostles were not expecting Jesus to rise from the dead. When others told them they had seen the risen Lord, they didn’t believe it (Mark 16:9-14; John 20:24-25).

It was the “many convincing proofs” that made true believers of them.

Seeing Him changed everything.

earth 2-tagged

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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How Would You Answer?

Yesterday a friend asked how I would respond if someone said he did not believe that the Bible is inspired.

This is what I told him:

If the person is open to the truth, I would first prove that Jesus rose from the dead.

“Nothing is more crucial in the field of Christian evidences than the question of the divinity of Christ. Nothing is more crucial in establishing the divinity of Christ than His resurrection from the dead” (Batsell Barrett Baxter, I Believe Because . . ., p. 223).

“If our Lord said frequently . . . that after He went up to Jerusalem He would be put to death, but on the third day He would rise again from the grave, and this prediction came to pass, then . . . everything else our Lord ever said must also be true” (Wilbur M. Smith, Therefore, Stand, p. 419).

His resurrection validates all He claimed to be. It also validates all He said.

Jesus taught that the Scriptures are indeed God’s word and therefore authoritative, including the message of the apostles (Matthew 4:1-11; 10:1-4, 18-20; 15:3-9; John 10:35; 14-25-26; 16:12-23; 17:17).

H. C. G. Moule said it well: “Jesus Christ absolutely trusted the Bible, and though there are in it things inexplicable and intricate that have puzzled me much, I am going to trust the Book, not in a blind sense, but reverently, because of him” (quoted in Handley Carr Glynn Moule, Bishop of Durham: A Biography by J. B. Harford and F. C. MacDonald, p. 138).

It’s only logical.

Everything hinges on His resurrection.

If He did not rise, then we can dismiss Him as a deluded religious fanatic at best, or at worst a deliberate fraud.

In either case, we could not say, as so many do, that He was a good man or a great teacher, but not the Son of God.

But if He did rise, then our only logical recourse is to admit He truly is God’s Son (Romans 1:4).

And then take the next step: submitting to Him as our Savior and Lord.

It only makes sense.

humility-tagged

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What if Jesus Were Not Raised?

The big claim of Christianity is that Jesus rose from the dead on the third day following His crucifixion.

That’s a pretty tall claim! Can it be supported? Disproved?

First Corinthians 15 is called the Resurrection Chapter. Paul wrote it to counter the teaching of some who asserted there is no such thing as resurrection (v. 12).

How does Paul prove his case?

He cites a half dozen instances of Jesus’ appearances following His resurrection, including one to more than 500 eyewitnesses at one time!

Paul’s list can be supplemented with additional resurrection appearances recorded by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John at the end of their respective Gospel accounts.

Then Paul does something very interesting. He says, “What if . . .?”

If Jesus had not been raised . . . .

  • The apostles’ preaching would be in vain (v. 14).
  • That would make the apostles false witnesses (v. 15).
  • The faith of Christians would be of no benefit to them (vv. 14, 17).
  • Christians are not forgiven of their sins as they thought they were (v. 17).
  • Christians who have died are lost (v. 18).
  • Christians would be objects of pity, since their hope is groundless (v. 19).

And so . . . .

If Jesus’ resurrection is removed from the Christian faith, the whole thing collapses in a heap!

But if Jesus did indeed emerge alive from the tomb, His resurrection supports and validates the entire Christian faith.

Believe it!

making decision-tagged

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In Spite of Their Best Efforts

“The best-laid schemes . . . .”

Soon after Jesus died, the Jewish leaders asked Pilate to secure the tomb so His disciples could not steal His body and then proclaim He had risen from the dead.

“You have a guard;” Pilate said, “make it as secure as you know how” (Matthew 27:65).

So they did.

Even so, on Sunday morning the stone covering the entrance was rolled back, and the tomb was empty.

The authorities then bribed the soldiers to say the disciples had stolen the body while they slept. Really?!

What really happened

Early Sunday morning there was a major earthquake. An angel whose “appearance was like lightning and his clothing as white as snow” rolled back the stone.

“The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men” (Matthew 28:3-4).

So what are we to make of all this?

Human efforts are no match for God. That Jesus would rise had been prophesied a thousand years before (Psalm 16:8-11; Acts 2:24-31; 13:35-37).

Jesus Himself had repeatedly said He would rise (Matthew 16:21; 17:9; 20:18-19; 26:32; John 2:19).

Nothing could prevent it. Nothing!

Aren’t you glad?

He is risen-tagged

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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The Roots of Violence

Fulfilling Our Purpose

One day as I was taking my morning walk near the lake on campus I was witness to a fight. I stood and watched but made no attempt to break it up. Was I wrong?

The two contenders, by the way, were ducks. I don’t know much about bird behavior, but probably this little fracas was normal, perhaps even necessary. In fact, I’m not even sure it was a fight, although with all the wing-flapping and shoving, it certainly looked like one.

Such things in the natural world may be perfectly normal, but what about conflicts between those who have been made in the image of God?

Downward spiral

The world God destroyed in Noah’s day was “filled with violence” (Genesis 6:5, 11-13). Our own world is growing increasingly volatile.

Domestic violence, school fights, bombings, gang warfare, mass shootings—on and on it goes. These continue to rip and tear at…

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Four Biblical Purposes of Marriage

If the Lord permits, Sara and I will celebrate our 49th wedding anniversary this July. It’s been good—very good!

I’m so blessed to have had Sara in my life all these years. “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD” (Proverbs 18:22).

Why marry?

The Bible offers two options: 1) being married or 2) remaining single. Each has its own advantages (1 Corinthians 7). Whether to marry is an individual decision.

Peter, for example, was married; Paul was not. There’s a place for both in God’s kingdom.

But if we choose to marry, we need to understand God’s purposes for the marriage relationship. The following purposes are not necessarily in order of importance.

Purpose #1: Procreation

“Behold, children are a gift of the LORD . . .” (Psalm 127:3).

The sexual union as God made it is good (Genesis 1:27-28, 31). He created sex to be enjoyed by a husband and wife within the covenant of marriage.

No other sexual relationship has His blessing: neither premarital sex, nor adultery, nor homosexuality, nor intercourse of any other kind (Hebrews 13:4).

Purpose #2: Companionship

Before God formed Eve, He said of Adam, “It is not good for man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18). And He did!

God made male and female different from one another biologically, emotionally, etc. Each brings something unique to the relationship.

Purpose #3: Nurturing Children

Just as each contributes something distinctive to the marital relationship, so they also do for their children. Boys and girls need both a male role model and a female role model.

Although many single moms and dads are wonderful parents, children thrive best when they have two parents who both model and teach God’s word to their children (Proverbs 6:20).

Purpose #4: Avoiding Temptation

In his long discussion of marriage (1 Corinthians 7), Paul distinguishes between those who have a gift for remaining single and those who would do better to marry (vv. 8-9).

“. . . because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband” (v. 2).

A couple should not deprive one another of intercourse, “except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control” (vv 3-5).

Since God designed intercourse exclusively for marriage, it serves as the only legitimate means of satisfying sexual desires. Therefore frequency of intercourse helps prevent immorality.

God’s Plan

As with every other area of life, when we honor and observe God’s will for marriage, we will be blessed.

God truly wants us to enjoy happy, lasting marriages. And we can.

He’s told us how.

happy family-tagged

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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