Hope in the Dark

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Keith Chandler
Pastor, Journey Christian Church

Scripture

Mark 4:35-41 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and waves obey him!”

2 Timothy 1:7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a Spirit of power, love, and self-discipline.

Galatians 5:22-23a But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Galatians 5:25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

Acts 2:44-45 All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.

2 Corinthians 4:7-9 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

Psalm 46:10 Be still and know that I am God.

Observation

Jesus had been teaching the crowds and was weary. Just a day like every other day.

In order to self-isolate, He and His disciples boarded a boat and headed toward the other side of the lake. He was resting in the stern when suddenly something unexpected happened: a violent storm erupted around them, swamping the boat.

Isn’t that exactly what is happening to us today. Our storm is a pandemic, but the resulting emotions and fears are the same.

They feared almost immediate death, while we fear major illness, possible death, a collapse of our economy, a loss of income, etc. So, where did they turn?

Well, Jesus was in the boat with them, wasn’t He? They turned to Him! He calmed the wind and waves and restored peace. Yet these very actions caused even greater fear among the disciples! What power He demonstrated! Even nature obeyed Him!

• When have you said to God, “Why don’t You care?” How did He answer? When have you feared God and His power? How did He respond to that fear?

Application

As we walk through today’s crisis, we can empathize with the disciples who were so fearful. In our current crisis, this time of total abnormality in our society, we can look at the Scripture and say, “Jesus saved them from the storm, and He will do the same for us 2000 years later because He is the same yesterday, today, and forever!” The great lesson here is dependent upon how we respond to fear. When the disciples were helpless on their own – they knew where to turn for help.

So what is the way forward for us? Not fear. As followers of Jesus, we have the Holy Spirit within us, who gives us the ability to respond differently.
We are not going to be in fear, but be led by the Spirit. Have you ever wished you could have been part of the crowds of thousands that sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to Him speak directly to you?

Well, we have a much greater, more intimate experience with Him today because He lives inside of each of us through His Holy Spirit. His heart beats in tandem with ours.

• What do you fear most about our current crisis?
• Where are you turning for help today? What does that tell you about your trust in God?

Paul writes to Timothy during times in the early church when new Christians were in fear of losing their jobs, finances, homes, families, and even their lives. He encouraged them to not be timid, but to follow the Holy Spirit who gives them power, love, and self-discipline.

1) Power: This same power that raised Jesus from the dead is in us. God has given us all we need to make it through this storm. When our behavior looks to others like the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control — Jesus wins.

2) Love: The early church did everything needed to reach out in love to each other. They didn’t hoard or forget the needs of others, but forged ahead together to do what love required of them. This is required of us today.

• What does love require of you today?

3) Self-discipline: This means to have soundness of mind and “control of oneself in the face of panic or of passion.”
• What changes can you make today that will help you cope with the unknown before us?
• What can you do at home with your family to help them through this difficult time?

These are unprecedented times, but we are in this together.

We can spend time in prayer and worship and the Word of God. We can grow in our relationship with our spouses and children.

We can think outside of the box and create a whole new life with family and friends. God has promised not to abandon us – we move forward, not in fear, but in power, love and self-discipline always trusting God with the outcomes.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, our world has been turned upside down because of this pandemic, and people are making decisions about how they are going to handle life going forward.

We fall on our knees before You in gratitude for Your trustworthiness, protection, love, and mercy. We pray for our friends, our families, the grieving, and those who are ill and have passed on to death and ask Your mercy on them.

In Jesus’ name, Amen

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