The Sunday School lesson today from Ray Vanderlan took place on the Sea of Galilee on a ship! Very cool. The theme being that God allows struggles in our life. Many people cannot understand that but even the Bible says that struggling produces perseverance, character and hope. (Romans 5:3-5)
There are lessons to be learned in struggles. One of those being remember to call out to God in our struggles. In this story, Jesus was about to pass the disciples by. He was going to leave them fighting against the storm. (He’d already let them battle it for 6-8 hours.) Mark says he was about to pass them by when they called out to him. Okay, wait, I just read that passage again and the NIV says they cried out because they thought he was a ghost-that totally changes the point here….but continuing on…
Are you like me? Sometimes you get so involved in solving the problem, figuring out the solution, that we forget to stop and pray? Invite God into the problem? Ask him for his help and providence? When we invite God in, he is with us. Doesn’t mean that the problem is immediately solved like in this story. It might just mean he gets in the boat with us and calms the storms within us.
Our sermon today was from our son’s church where we attended. We left Sunday School a little early and thanks to the service times being a little later than ours we made it in time and were able to attend with our son, Aaron, and our niece, Sarah. They are in the book of Jonah.
Have you ever thought about the sailors on the ship with Jonah as he was running from God’s assignment? I hadn’t. I love when pastors can take a story you’ve heard probably a hundred times and pull something new from it.
The sailors came to a belief in God through Jonah’s rebellion. They recognized Him as the true God because He was the one who showed Himself. After throwing Jonah over into the sea, they worshipped God. There were several points the pastor made here and I didn’t get them all but I’m sure you can check out Hillcrest E Free in Seward and find a recording.
Jonah missed out on an opportunity to share the gospel with the sailors because he was in rebellion. Jonah was in rebellion because he did not see people as God did. God extends mercy to who he wants to. Obedient acts of faith lead to God’s salvation. We as God’s people are here to declare God’s mercy to the people – we are all rebels in need of God’s mercy.
We were challenged at the end to check our own perspective on lost people. Seek to be a positive part of God’s plan, not an obstacle He has to clear out of the way. Do not attempt to come up with a better plan than God’s and decide to fear the Lord and worship him and follow in faith filled obedience no matter if the plan makes sense to us or not.
I found it interesting today that both lessons were in the sea, on boats and in some way referenced God being the calm in the storm. After the first full week of January in the United States I think we needed that reminder. No matter what is happening around us-God can calm our hearts and he can calm the storm.