From the desk of Will Spokes, Senior Pastor
Abide With Me
Abide with me;
falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens;
Lord with me abide.
When other helpers,
fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless,
abide with me.
I need Thy presence,
every passing hour.
What but Thy grace,
can foil the tempter's power?
Who, like Thyself,
my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine,
abide with me.
Welcome to the Red Mountain Sunday Recap!
The Sunday Recap is a brief fly-by of what we did during Sunday worship. Did anything land with you from worship on Sunday? What did it make you think? How did it make you feel? What did you find especially sweet or challenging from God's word? What did we sing, read, or pray that left an impression on you?
Food For Thought:
Christ’s cross will finally triumph in believers’ hearts over the devil, the flesh, sin, death and all wickedness, if, at the same time, their eyes are also turned to behold the power of his resurrection. - John Calvin
Baptismal Vows For Parents
Do you acknowledge your child’s need of the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ, and the renewing grace of the Holy Spirit?
Do you claim God’s covenant promises in her/his behalf, and do you look in faith to the Lord Jesus Christ for her/his salvation, as you do for your own?
Do you now unreservedly dedicate your child to God, and promise, in humble reliance upon divine grace, that you will endeavor to set before her/him a godly example, that you will pray with and for her/him, that you will teach her/him the doctrines of our holy religion, and that you will strive, by all the means of God’s appointment, to bring her/him up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord?
Baptismal Vow For Congregation
Do you as a congregation undertake the responsibility of assisting the parents in the Christian nurture of this child?
Perhaps you've sat through a number of baptisms at Red Mountain. If you have been baptized, have you ever wondered what difference it makes for you right now today? Let me give you two things to ponder to help you enjoy your baptism for the rest of your life!
1. See Romans 6:1-14
2. Consider the following question from the Westminster Larger Catechism. It talks about improving your baptism. That doesn't mean it's somehow deficient and we need to add something to our baptism for it to really "take." To improve -make use of- your baptism means looking deeply and regularly into the blessings wrapped up and freely given to us in our baptism through faith in Christ. This question packs a punch. Take it a phrase at a time and let it marinate!
Q. 167. How is our baptism to be improved by us?
A. The needful but much neglected duty of improving our baptism, is to be performed by us all our life long, especially in the time of temptation, and when we are present at the administration of it to others; by serious and thankful consideration of the nature of it, and of the ends for which Christ instituted it, the privileges and benefits conferred and sealed thereby, and our solemn vow made therein; by being humbled for our sinful defilement, our falling short of, and walking contrary to, the grace of baptism, and our engagements; by growing up to assurance of pardon of sin, and of all other blessings sealed to us in that sacrament; by drawing strength from the death and resurrection of Christ, into whom we are baptized, for the mortifying of sin, and quickening of grace; and by endeavoring to live by faith, to have our conversation in holiness and righteousness, as those that have therein given up their names to Christ; and to walk in brotherly love, as being baptized by the same Spirit into one body.
Sermon Text: Mark 6:45-56
45 Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. 46 And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray. 47 And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. 48 And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them, 49 but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out, 50 for they all saw him andwere terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” 51 And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, 52 for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.
53 When they had crossed over, they came to land atGennesaret and moored to the shore. 54 And when they got out of the boat, the people immediately recognized him 55 and ran about the whole region and began to bringthe sick peopleon their beds to wherever they heard he was. 56 And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.
- Be honest about your heart (v. 51b-52)
- Begin with prayer (v. 46; re: 1:35; 14:36)
- Look for how Jesus is already moving toward you (v. 48, 50, 51)
While similar to the miracle of calming the storm in 4:35-41, the story of Jesus walking on water strikes a different note especially as it speaks to our experience. In verse 48 Mark tells us, "[the disciples] were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them." The word translated “making headway painfully” literally means “to torment”. Therefore, it’s not so much that the disciples were in danger, like in chapter 4 (fearing for their lives v. 38). Instead they were miserable, rowing hour after hour, against a strong head wind, making little if any progress toward their destination.
Can you relate to this experience? Does this sound like a relationship you are in that isn't going well? Does this sound like a situation you are in at work? Does this describe what it's like for you to be a parent or to long to be a parent? Does this describe your struggle against sin?
How do you handle experiences like this? Where do you look for comfort, for relief?
This story teaches us that it is in the midst of our struggle and misery that Jesus most clearly reveals himself to us as our only hope and rescue! In other words, it teaches us how to find comfort from Jesus in the midst of our struggles and misery.
Not only can we relate to the experience of the disciples in their misery, we can also relate to their response to Jesus at the end of the story. "They were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened." (v. 51-52) Surprisingly, Mark tells us it wasn't because Jesus WALKED ON WATER that the disciples didn't understand. It was because they didn't understand...the loaves. (v. 52) In other words, they didn't understand Jesus' compassion towards lost, desperate, helpless people. (6:34)
Now it's not hard to feel sympathy for the disciples. They've had no rest (6:31). The rest they were promised got hijacked (6:33). They were asked to do something they couldn't do (6:37). And finally, they've been rowing for hours in the middle of the night making no progress and getting blown off course. What are they supposed to do? Mark's description of them in vs. 52 is a veiled directive for us to follow in similar situations. We need to be honest about our hearts! Why? Because few things reveal what we believe about God in the depths of our being like sustained suffering and struggle. Therefore the first step to find comfort from Jesus is to be honest about your heart. How? Ask yourself this question. "What do you feel and believe about God, especially when things are hard...really hard?" Try to filter out the Sunday School answers. It may feel scary or irrelevant at first. But in reality it is an opportunity to discover, in ways you never dreamed or thought possible, the compassion of Jesus!
Once you ask this question where should you go with the answers you find? We need to begin with prayer...the prayers of Jesus (v. 46). Only three times does Mark record Jesus praying in his gospel. The first two don't record what Jesus prayed (1:35; 6:46). However, the third time, Mark does record what Jesus prayed. "Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will." (14:36) Can you hear your own voice in this prayer? You see Jesus needed the same help and comfort we need. Jesus shows us how to take our feelings and beliefs about God to God especially in the face of trial.
Let's face it, it's not easy to be honest; it's not easy to pray, especially in seemingly endless, really hard circumstances. If we are honest and we do begin with prayer, what kind of God can you expect to find?
Jesus reveals himself to us in how he moves toward us! He sees, comes, speaks and sits!
He sees our struggle and misery. (he saw that they were making headway painfully, v. 48) "You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways...even the darkness is not dark to you...." (Psalm 139:3,12) Though Jesus sent his disciples off to cross the Sea of Galilee, he sees them and knows their misery.
However, Jesus doesn't just take notice, he acts on what he sees! He comes to us in our struggle and hardship. (he came to them, walking on the sea...to pass by them, v. 48) While perhaps harder for us to hear, these words are dripping with the Old Testament. Only God walks on water in the Old Testament (Psalm 77). To "pass by" echoes God's passing by in places like Exodus 33:18 in which, "Moses said, 'Please show me your glory.' And [God] said, 'I will make all my goodness pass before you....'" Bringing both ideas together we read in Job 9:8,11 "[God] alone stretched out the heavens and trampled the waves of the sea; Behold, he passes by me, and I see him not; he moves on, but I do not perceive him." Why mention all this? Because here Jesus walks where only God can walk in order to come to us in our misery and struggle. In other words, nothing will keep Jesus from meeting you where you are most vulnerable, hopeless and struggling.
Not only does Jesus see and act, he also speaks words of comfort. (Immediately he spoke to them, 'Take heart, It is I. Do not be afraid.' v. 50) Not only does Jesus walk where only God walks, he also bears God's name. The phrase "it is I" is the same name God uses to reveal himself to Moses in Exodus 3 as the God of rescue!
As if this wasn't enough, Jesus reveals something new about God. He doesn't "pass by." He gets in the boat! (And he got into he boat with them, and the wind ceased. v. 51) This is the Gospel! This is what Jesus came to do...to make the invisible God visible by getting into our "vessel of misery!" But notice for whom he does this...hard hearted disciples; people who don't want to be honest about their hearts; people who don't want to begin with prayer; people who aren't looking for him. Why is this good news for us? Because when Jesus gets in the boat with his disciples he shows us a preview of what we see fully on the cross. Heaven and earth overlap in suffering, trial, hardship and misery. The cross is where all the sin and brokenness in our hearts and our world meet their just end. The cross is where the infinite cost of God's love is freely given. You see because of the cross you can be sure there is no "storm," no "suffering," no "misery" that will keep Jesus from bringing you his calm by seeing you, coming to you, speaking to you, and sitting right down next to you.
- What was new or compelling to you? What stood out to you from this passage?
- What questions does this passage raise for you?
- Was there anything that bothered you?
- In what ways can you relate to the disciples?
- What do you think the disciples didn't understand about the loaves? (v. 52; 5:30-45)
- How have you experienced Jesus moving toward you in the ways we see in this passage?
- Which place would be best for you to begin applying this passage: being honest about your heart; beginning with prayer; or looking for how Jesus is moving toward you already?
Suggested Resources & The Week Ahead
Last week I mentioned one of my favorite go to books that I read at least once every year. I thought I would share another one with you this week. It is called Towards Spiritual Maturity by William Still.
Songs for this week:
Alleluia! Sing To Jesus!
God Of My Life To Thee I Call
King Of Saints
Jesus, The Lord My Savior Is
Until next time,
Abide With Me
Hold Thou Thy cross,
before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom,
and point me to the skies.
Heaven's morning breaks,
and earth's vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, Lord,
abide with me.