Devotion: Monday, July 30, 2018

A Biblical, Christ-filled word to bless your lives. 

Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, reflections from His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s verse is from Mark 6, where the Bible says,

And about the fourth watch of the night[a]he (Jesus) 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 and were 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,

When you’re afraid, there’s nothing like the voice of Jesus to calm your fears!

This world is a frightening place. So much so, that even the most seasoned among us can become unhinged at the challenges before us. Just ask a veteran about being in a war or in combat war. Just ask a policeman who must patrol the cities at night. Just ask a person struggling with illness or disease, or the loss of a loved one who meant everything to them. That’s a glimpse of the fear that even the disciples of Jesus felt one dark evening on the sea of Galilee.

St. Augustine reflected on this incident, saying, “He came treading the waves; and so, he puts all the swelling tumults of life under his feet. Christians —— why afraid?” It is the simple fact of life, a fact which has been proven by countless thousands of men and women in every generation, that when Christ is there, the storm becomes a calm, the tumult becomes a peace, the undoable become doable. The unbearable becomes bearable, and persons pass through the breaking point and do not break.”[1]

But even more to the point is the power of His Word in the middle of life’s terrors. Believers in Jesus have known for centuries the promise of Christ’s presence and the power of His Word. He promises, “Lo, I will be with you always even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20) and He means it.  He empowers His people with a Spirit-filled Word that holds us, guides us, directs us and even empowers us. Even when we can’t see why He seems to tarry, or when He comes in a way that doesn’t make sense to us, or even when His methods at the moment leave us in temporary fear…. His Word can calm and sustain us even then.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German Lutheran pastor, who was arrested, imprisoned, and ultimately executed by Hitler’s Gestapo, wrote of Christ’s strength even during Nazi terror. In prison he wrote encouraging letters to those he loved, especially to Eberhard Bethge, his closest friend, who collected them and hid them until the end of the war. In one of those notes later published in Letters from Prison, Bonhoeffer says, “I believe that God will give us all the strength that we need to help resist in times of distress, but he never gives it in advance, lest we should rely on ourselves and not Him alone.” With confidence in God’s providence and comfort in His Word…. we get to live that way today too.

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, what terror the disciples felt that night. There are nights when I feel the same. Give me courageous faith to trust in your Word even then. Give me the peace that only your Word can give. AMEN.

[1]William Barclay, “The Gospel of Mark,” The Daily Bible Study p. 163