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The Storms of Life – Always Prepared


 The Reading: Mark 4:35-41 

“… just as he was …” (v.36) RSV

Mark gives us by far the best description of this event on the Sea of Galilee. No doubt he got it straight from the mouth of Peter. That fisherman would have provided those telling insights that only an eye witness could give. Over the coming weeks we will note at least four phrases that Mark has which neither Matthew nor Luke mention in their accounts (Matthew 8:18, 23-27, Luke 8:22-25).

“Just as he was” is so significant. We have read that a great wonder and work of power had taken place, and we would naturally think that Jesus must have spent hours in prayer ‘psyching’ himself up for the ‘miracle’. However we read that he was totally unprepared. In fact he was dog tired. All day long (“on that day” v.35) he had been teaching the people with parables, and then he had explained the parables to his disciples. He now suggested that they take him across to the other side of the Lake in order to get away and get some rest.

If we read on (Mark 5:1-12) we see that when they do reach the other side there is no rest even then; they are met by the Gadarene demoniac – more work, more deeds of power.

When we are totally exhausted and are looking forward to escaping to a rest we are not usually at our best if things then start to go wrong! Unlike a tube of toothpaste when squeezed we do not exude smooth ‘toothpaste’, but something far less pleasant. Yet Jesus was always at rest, always in the Spirit, and always ready to respond positively to any circumstances. He was like those batteries we used to have called ‘Eveready’.

Even in his physical weakness Jesus found that God’s strength was perfect. We too need to claim the ever ready presence of God by his Holy Spirit in our lives. “Jesus, Jesus” we need to pray when aroused. We too will then be ready.

Lord, forgive us when we are not resting and being revived in the Spirit. Teach us afresh that you never leave us nor forsake us. Lord, be thou my strength. Amen 

Explore More

1 How did Jonah react after his ministry in Nineveh?

Jonah 4:4-11

2 How did Elijah recover/react from his defeat of the prophets of Baal?

1 Kings 19:3-10

3 How did David respond to the challenge of Goliath?

1 Samuel 17:38-46

Money – Topical


 The Reading: Luke 12:15-21

“I will pull down my barns, and build larger ones” (v.18) RSV

Sometimes the theme of money is thought to be slightly unspiritual. And yet it is a frequent subject in the New Testament. Our use of our money and possessions is one of the clearest thermometers of our spiritual temperature. Unless our pocket or purse is converted, then we are keeping our love of money away from God’s influence. And as we know, “the love of money is the root of all evils”

(1 Tim. 6:10). Note that money is not the problem, but “the love of money”!

Jesus taught about paying taxes (Matthew 22:15-22), he told a parable about using talents (the currency at the time) (Matthew 25: 14-30), and finally he was betrayed for money (Luke 22:5-6). Ananias and Sapphira died for lying about their giving (Acts 5:1-11). Simon the magician was castigated for trying to buy the power of the Spirit (Acts 8:13-24).

The world’s bankers have shown that short term targets and greed are a toxic mix. Just like the man in our parable today, they are not satisfied with their wealth, but must always expand. In our story the result was different, he died and in that way lost his wealth. With bankers and others who try to amass colossal fortunes the result may be a catastrophic loss of capital not only for themselves but for others as well. Either way the lesson is the same. We cannot, or rather must not, live for money and ever more money. If we do, it becomes mammon and it will gobble us up.

The bible speaks much of money, its blessing and its curse, but the message is always the same, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness …” (Matt. 6:33). If we do not then whether we die prematurely or whether we lose our fortune we shall be called a “Fool!” (v.20). We are to lay up treasures for ourselves with God. This means investing time and energy in worship, prayer and acts of kindness. This way we will become a conduit for wealth and not a hoarder.

Deliver me O Lord from the love of money. May I love you first, seek you first and serve you first. Amen. 

Explore More

1 What is our attitude to be, whether rich or poor?

Philippians 4:11, Hebrews 13:5

2 Did Jesus tithe his life?

Philippians 2:5-8