Pastor Ron Swanson
May 14, 2018
Jesus never promised that following Him would guarantee a trouble-free life. Actually, just the opposite is true. When you got saved, you not only gained a Saviour, you also inherited an enemy who has devoted himself to making your time on earth as miserable as possible.
In John 16:33 Jesus said, “In this world you shall have tribulation”. That’s a promise no one wants to claim, but it’s true, nonetheless. The Greek word for “tribulation” literally means to be “squeezed” or “pressured”. As Christians, we’re not exempt from the pressures of life.
Have you ever been in one of those “hard spots”, where it felt like the Lord was a million miles away? Did you ever wonder what God was doing while you were in that hard spot? When you’re under pressure, it’s easy to lose touch with reality and feel like God has abandoned you. But, the truth is, He’s not only aware of your troubles. He’s there for you, whether you can feel His presence or not. The following passage from the Gospel of Mark gives us insight into what’s happening behind the scenes while we’re “in the storm”.
Where Is God in the Storm?
Mark 6:45-51 (NKJV) – “Immediately He made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while He sent the multitude away. And when He had sent them away, He departed to the mountain to pray. Now when evening came, the boat was in the middle of the sea; and He was alone on the land. Then He saw them straining at rowing, for the wind was against them. Now about the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea, and would have passed them by. And when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed it was a ghost, and cried out; for they all saw Him and were troubled. But immediately He talked with them and said to them, ‘Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.’ Then He went up into the boat to them, and the wind ceased. And they were greatly amazed in themselves beyond measure, and marvelled.”
Next week we’ll begin looking at what Jesus was doing behind the scenes as His disciples were struggling.
Pastor Ron Swanson
May 21, 2018
I think one of the best methods of Bible reading is to imagine that you’re one of the individuals in the story. Mentally join the surroundings! Imagine what they’d be thinking. Feel what they’d feel! “Hear” the words of Christ and watch Him minister in that situation. From that vantage point, the story not only becomes more real; you can also glean tremendous insight and revelation.
For the next few moments, I want you to “become” the disciples. Jesus has commanded you to get into your boat and go to the other side. Halfway across the lake, a tremendous storm hits. Everything you know to do (based on a lifetime at sea) isn’t working. You’re doing your best to stay afloat, but you’re fighting a losing battle. Hope is fading. Death seems imminent. Your mind races: “If only Jesus were here! But, He’s not. He’s on the other shore, and He doesn’t even know what we’re going through ...” From their vantage point in the storm, the disciples felt alone and forsaken. But, Jesus was aware of their plight and began to act on their behalf. What did Jesus do?
1. He Saw Them – (v. 48a).
When you’re in trouble, it’s easy to feel like God doesn’t know what you’re going through. The first thing you need to realize (by faith) is that God is aware of your situation! He hasn’t left you! He sees you, just like Jesus saw the disciples in the story! They couldn’t see Him, but He saw them. He was intimately acquainted with their situation.
2. He Made Himself Available – (v. 48b)
Not only did Jesus see them … He walked out into the middle of their problem and made Himself available! Isn’t that wonderful? But, here’s something that a lot of people haven’t noticed! (Look at the next phrase.) “… and He would have passed by them”.
Isn’t that interesting? Jesus was aware of their problem. He came close enough to be recognized by the disciples, but He wasn’t automatically going to fix the problem! “He would have passed by them”.
You see, Jesus is a perfect Gentleman! He won’t force Himself on you, even when you’re in dire circumstances! He’ll stand by your side, waiting for you to call on Him! When you call, He’ll take the next step to help you.
Pastor Ron Swanson
May 28, 2018
We’ve been looking at Mark 6 and asking ourselves the question, “Where is God in the Storm?” So far, we’ve discovered that Jesus saw them in their plight and walked out on the water to make Himself available. When the disciples cried out to Him …
3. He Talked With Them – (v. 50)
Someone once said: God has a way “out”, if God has a way “in”! Isn’t that good? You can’t find yourself in a situation that’s too hard for God! He’s always got a way out! The key is to let Jesus “in” to your situation and let Him speak to you!
We’re not told, in this passage, exactly what was said. But, I think it’s safe to assume that the disciples didn’t do the majority of the speaking. (It said He talked with them.) They didn’t have a lot of time left! Hearing from Him was the priority!
When we pray in a crisis, our instinct is to tell the Lord about our problem. But, did you know “your Father knows what you have need of before you ask Him” (Matt. 6:8)? He doesn’t need to hear from you, as much as you need to hear from Him. As you pray and seek Him in the Word, trust God to show you what to do.
4. He Got Into Their Boat, And Calmed The Storm – (v. 51)
Don’t you love when Jesus does that? The disciples were amazed that Christ was in control of the forces of nature. But, He was the One Who created the forces of nature in the first place! He’s the One with Whom nothing is impossible!
No matter what problem you’re facing today, God has the answer. The God Who spoke the Universe into existence is the same One Who will deal with your problem if you’ll turn it over to Him! Cry out to Him! Not in doubt, but in faith! Obey what He says in His Word, and He’ll come to your aid, just as He did with the disciples.
We’ve seen where Jesus was when His first-Century disciples were in a storm. Next week, we’ll begin looking at where the Holy Spirit is, as we go through problems today.
Pastor Ron Swanson
Jun 4, 2018
We’ve been looking at what Jesus did for His disciples when they were in a storm. (He saw them, He made Himself available, He spoke to them, and He calmed their storm.) That’s a great story, but some might wonder how it applies to us today, since Jesus is no longer physically present on earth. How does the Holy Spirit help us when we’re in a storm? Not surprisingly, it’s very similar to what Jesus did.
To answer this question, I’m going to be drawing on John 16:14 from the Amplified Bible. It reads, “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby), to be with you forever.”
In this verse, Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit by seven “names”.
1. The Holy Spirit is our “Standby”
According to the Greek Lexicon, this word has two meanings. It refers to “one who stays ready” and “one who can be relied on in an emergency”. Psalm 121:4 tells us that the One Who watches over us “neither slumbers or sleeps”. Just like Jesus, the Holy Spirit always has His watchful eye on you. He sees what you’re going through, and He can be relied on in an emergency.
2. The Holy Spirit is our “Comforter”
In English, the word “comfort” carries the idea of making someone feel better. But in Greek it refers to “someone who has been called alongside to help”. The Holy Spirit doesn’t live in you, just to make you feel better! He’s IN you to HELP you.”
3. The Holy Spirit is our “Counselor”
The word “counselor” refers to “a strategist” or “One Who gives godly advice”. Whatever the devil throws at you, the Holy Spirit has an answer! Can you see how similar this is to what Jesus did for the disciples? The Holy Spirit is watching over us, making Himself available to help us, while offering us godly counsel from the Word. So far, this is exactly how Jesus dealt with His disciples, when they were in the storm.
4. The Holy Spirit is our “Advocate”
This word refers to “one who pleads another’s case in a court of law”.
This ministry of the Holy Spirit goes into effect when the problem you’re facing is the result of your own sin. We’ll examine that closer next week.
Pastor Ron Swanson
Jun 11, 2018
Last week we looked at the Holy Spirit’s ministry to us when we’re in the storm. Not surprisingly, it’s very similar to Jesus’ ministry to His disciples. The Holy Spirit is always on standby (ready to help us when we need Him), and when we do get into trouble He makes Himself available with godly counsel, sharing the principles of the Word. When we ended our discussion last time, we were starting to look at the fact that He’s our advocate – (one who pleads our case in a court of law).
The advocate ministry of the Holy Spirit goes into effect when your problem is the result of your own sin. When you sin, the devil accuses you before the Father. He may be your prosecuting attorney (Rev. 12:10), but you have two Heavenly defense attorneys. (Jesus called the Holy Spirit “another” attorney. That must mean you already had one. You did! It was Jesus. 1 John 2:1 says, “These things I write unto you that you sin not. But, if any man does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”) So, when you sin, you actually have two defense attorneys – Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Talk about a “dream team”!
When you confess your sin, the Lord is “faithful and just to forgive your sin, and cleanse you from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). At that point, the case is thrown out of court – prosecuting attorney and all! (From that point, there’s nothing hindering the Holy Spirit from helping you.)
5. The Holy Spirit is our “Intercessor”
This interesting word has a few meanings. First, it refers to someone who “falls into a pit” with another person. (When you’re in the pit, you don't have to face your problem alone. The Holy Spirit joins you, right in the middle of your problem!)
Secondly, it means “to feel what another person feels”. Jesus said that He’s easily “touched with the feeling” of our infirmities (Heb. 4:15)
Finally, it refers to “someone who initiates a rescue plan”. (As I said before, God always has a way “out”, if He has a way “in”.)
Let’s quickly review. The Holy Spirit is on standby for us. He can be relied on in an emergency. He gives us comfort in our hard place, and He's in us to help us. He’s our Heavenly strategist – giving us godly counsel from the Word. And, when our troubles are the result of our own sin, He pleads our case with the Father and leads us in repentance. He feels what we feel and initiates a rescue plan.
Pastor Ron Swanson
June 18, 2018
Over the last several weeks, we’ve been comparing the ministries of Jesus and the Holy Spirit – (and seeing how they minister to believers as they go through the storms of life). So far, it’s been remarkably similar.
6. The Holy Spirit is our “Helper”
Romans 8:26 tells us that the Holy Spirit “helps” our weaknesses. In the Greek, it’s a very interesting (and long) word. The word is “sunantilambanomai”, and it’s actually made up of three smaller words.
The first word is “sun”. It speaks of “partnership”, and it reveals the position of the Holy Spirit. As we face the struggles of life, He locks arms with us and partners with us in the fight.
“Anti” is a strong word which actually means “to oppose” or “to be against”. Usually, we think of the Holy Spirit as being kind and gentle. And, He is – toward us. But, when it comes to the enemy’s attacks in our lives, the Holy Spirit is more than capable of defending us when necessary. This reveals the role of the Holy Spirit. He’s our strong Defender.
Finally, we have the word “lambano”. It means “to take hold of”. This shows us the desire of the Spirit. (He desires to take back what the devil has stolen.)
7. The Holy Spirit is our “Strengthener”
I think Paul said it best: “I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me”. (Phil. 4:13 Amplified Bible)
He infuses inner strength into you, so you’re “ready for anything” and “equal to anything”. That reminds me of Isaiah 40:31, “… they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.”
There are two key thoughts in this verse. First, we need to wait upon the Lord. (That doesn’t mean to “wait” like we’d wait at a doctor’s office. It means to “intertwine” ourselves with Him. So first, we spend time in His presence and commune with Him.) Then there’s the word “renew”. It actually means “to exchange”. “They that wait upon the Lord shall exchange their strength.” We give Him our puny strength and He pours His mighty strength into us.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen that the Spirit of God is a wonderful helper! He does for us today, exactly what Jesus did for the disciples of old. Trust Him in your storm today.