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Suddenly, a flash of lightning cut through the darkness, and to their astonishment, there was Jesus, still sleeping, undisturbed by the storm.  “Master, they cried, “don’t You care that we’re all going to drown?”  This time Jesus heard them and opened His eyes.  In the glare of the lightning, they saw peace on His face and love for them in His eyes.  

They shouted again, “Lord, save us!!  We are going to die!!”  

No one has ever cried out those words without being heard.  While the disciples grabbed their oars for one last attempt to pull the boat out of the storm, Jesus rose to His feet.  As the wind and waves tore at His robes, Jesus lifted His hands.  

“Quiet!!”  He said to the wind.  “Be still!!”  He said to the waves.

Instantly, the wind stopped, the waves sank, and the clouds dissipated.  The boat bobbed on quiet waters under a sky full of stars.  As the disciples stared, Jesus asked.  “Why were you afraid?  Don’t you have faith?”  The disciples were speechless.  But the storm had brought the other boats near, and everyone witnessed the miracle.  On those boats, people whispered, “What kind of man is this?  Even the wind and the waves obey Him!!”  

When Jesus woke up to the fierce storm, He was not afraid.  It was not because of His own power over nature ~ He had given up that power to come to earth.  It was because He trusted His Father.  Jesus had faith in His Father’s love and it was His Father’s power that quieted the storm.  The disciples could have had the same trust and the same peace in the face of the storm.  But they forgot about Jesus and tried to handle the storm on their own.  Only when they cried out to Him could He help.  

Often we do the same thing when we face the storms of life.  We try to handle our battles alone, in our own strength.  Because of the evil of sin, our human heart is filled with passions that we cannot control.  We are helpless here, just as the disciples were out on the Sea of Galilee.  But no matter the evil of sin in this world.  Those who cry out, “Lord, save me!!”  will be rescued.  

His infinite grace will give us peace; His everlasting love will give us hope.

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It was the end of a long day of teaching and healing by the Sea of Galilee.  Evening had come, but still the crowds did not want to leave.  Jesus was exhausted.  After dismissing the people, He asked His disciples to take Him to a quiet, hidden place on the other side of the lake.  Quickly they pushed their boats away from the shore and headed out.  Already people were filling other boats to follow them.  

As soon as the boat sailed, Jesus lay down in the back of the boat and fell asleep.  What began as a calm, pleasant evening quickly turned into a stormy night.  The wind suddenly began to howl, driving the little boat into wild waves that grew larger and stronger by the minute.  The other boats that had followed were caught in the same storm.  

The disciples were experienced fishermen.  They had guided their boats through many rough storms.  But all their strength and experience made no difference in the face of this angry storm.  Their boat seemed about to sink and they were helpless to stop it.  Working so hard to save the boat and their own lives, the disciples forgot that Jesus was on board.  

Now, certain that they were going to die, they remembered.  Jesus was their only hope.  “Master, Master,” they shouted from where they held on for dear life.  But the wind drowned out their voices and there was no response.  Now their doubts and fears got stronger.  Was Jesus unable to help them?  Did He not care enough to bother saving them?  Again they called out to Him, but the only answer was the shrieking wind.  With no hope, they stared into the black water that would soon be their grave.

              When we are born again, our minds become like His.  We will stop striving for glory or honor.  We will only want to learn from Jesus, at His feet.  We will understand that the value of our efforts depends on the blessings of the Holy Spirit, not on us.  When we surrender our will to Jesus, He shares our burdens ~ He takes our stresses and worries.  Then we will have His peace.  

Nothing in this world can hold us down in depression when Jesus is in our hearts.  

               Our lives may seem like a tangled mess at times, but when we surrender them to Jesus, He will weave the strands of experience into a pattern that shows His glory.  Lives that reflect the glory and the character of Jesus will be at home in heaven.  

              In fact, heaven begins here on earth when we accept Jesus as our Savior.  As we learn to follow Him, to be like Him, we begin to experience the joy of eternal life.  The more we know about God, the happier our lives will be.  As we walk with Jesus here, we can feel His love.  

Heaven begins as we feel His presence here.

             Jesus asks only that we ~ follow His way.  He said, ” ‘ The teaching that I ask you to accept is easy, the load I give you to carry is light’ ” (Matthew 11:30;).  

             He wants us to live by the law that He offers to write on our hearts.  When we follow His way, we follow His will ~ that is we live by what Jesus would do, rather than the sinful way we would choose for ourselves.  This is the way Jesus lived while He was n earth.  He said, “I came from heaven to follow My Father’s plan, not My own.”  

            In the same way, we can follow Jesus’ way instead of our own.  We create much of our own stress and unhappiness when we try to live by the rules and customs of the world around us.  Pursuing possessions and power, we wound our own hearts and add regrets to the burdens we already carry.  But God wants us to give up our worries and burdens and to trust Him.  

           If we put honoring and serving God first in our lives, we will find that our heavenly Father has a thousand ways in which to care for us, that we know nothing about.  His teachings will free us from the wrong ideas, bad habits, poor behavior ~ and will train in preparation for heaven.  Jesus’ heart was always at peace.  He was not excited by praise or depressed by criticism.  He kept His courage even in the face of danger or rejection.  But many who follow Him are worried and anxious because they are afraid to trust God.  

God’s peace can come only with complete surrender.  The troubles of this world cannot destroy us when Jesus is with us.  

              Jesus longs to take away our pain and worry.  He sees that we are wore out by the cares of life.  We try to fill our hopeless hearts with the pleasures and promises of everyday life.  Jesus offers us something better ~ “accept my teachings and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit, and you will find rest for your lives.”  (Matthew 11:29).  

             What is missing from our hearts is God ~ an understanding of His love and His plan for our lives.  Jesus spoke these words for all human beings.  Whether we admit it or not, all humans carry heavy burdens that only Jesus can take from them.  The heaviest burden is the weight ~ the guilt ~ of sin.  This weight alone would crush us if we were left to carry it.  

But Jesus ~ the Sinless One ~ came to carry the guilt of our sins and the burden of our worries and sorrows.  

           Jesus stands now by the throne of the universe, but He still identifies with humans.  He knows by experience our weaknesses, our desires, and the power of the temptations we face.  He faced all the same temptations we do ~ but He overcame each one.  He never sinned.  Today He offers His victory to us.  Whatever human weakness we find in ourselves, we can turn to Jesus for help.  Whatever trial or problem we face, we can turn to Him and He will give us the strength to face it, the wisdom to accept it, and the endurance to get through it.

While Jesus was teaching, His disciples brought HIM a message ~ HIS mother and brothers were outside and they wanted to see HIM.  But Jesus did not go out to see them.  Instead He asked, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?”  

He pointed to His disciples.  “Here is My family.  Whoever does as My Father wishes is a brother, a sister, and a mother to Me.”  When people accept Jesus by faith, that relationship is closer than if they were related to Him by family ties.  Mary was more closely related to Jesus by her faith in His mission than she was by being His mother.  

Of all the rejection Jesus felt from humans, the most painful was the rejection in His own childhood home.  His brothers did not understand Him or His mission, and thought they could teach Jesus about God ~ not realizing that Jesus WAS God.  It also bothered them that Jesus seemed to be in disagreement with the Pharisees, they also wanted Him to stop claiming that God had given Him the right to do and say what He did.  It sounded crazy, besides they knew that the Pharisees were looking for reasons to have Jesus arrested and killed ~ and it did not surprise them.  

Instead of a supportive family, Jesus had a family that constantly criticized and hurt HIM.  It was so painful at times, that often He was glad to be somewhere else.  He loved visiting the home of Lazarus, Mary, and Martha.  The atmosphere there of faith and love, made it a place where He felt comfortable.  

But many times He could find true rest only when He was alone communicating with His father.  

If we find ourselves suffering through criticism and anger at home because of our faith, we can find comfort in knowing that Jesus faced the same at home.  Knowing that we do not face our pain alone; we are not orphans.  Jesus invites them to call His Father their Father.  He loves them more than any human parent could love their very own child.  

In the Jewish society, if a person had to sell himself or herself as a servant to pay his debts, his closest relative could save him by buying back his freedom.  To save us, Jesus became our closest Relative ~ closer than any father, mother, brother, sister, or lover.  We cannot understand His kind of love ~ but we can know that it is real, and we can reveal it by ~ loving others. 

Jesus’ family and friends were worried about HIM ~ they knew that He would stay up all night praying.  And that He would spend all day in the crowds, teaching and healing without even taking time to eat.  Bottom line, Jesus’ brothers ~ the sons of Joseph, did not support HIS mission~ and had never taken the time in trying to understand HIM.  Now they were upset, because they were being blamed for some of the things He said against the Pharisees.  

Every sin can be forgiven, but it is the Holy Spirit that touches our hearts and leads us to want forgiveness.  When the Pharisees rejected the Holy Spirit’s work they were cutting off the channel that God could use to touch their hearts.  Each time a human rejects His light, the human is blinded just a little more, and the next ray of His light is easier to reject.  It is the slippery slope that leads a person away from God.  The Jewish leaders were becoming more and more controlled by Satan.  

Jesus’ also warned against using careless and evil words.  Sometimes ~ with Satan’s influence ~ we can say things we don’t really believe.  Yet, when we hear them, they seem more reasonable, more believable.  Like the Jewish leaders, we may be too proud to admit that we are wrong and find ourselves trapped in SIN.  It is so dangerous to carelessly criticize the truth of God.  From there it can be a short path to criticizing and rejecting the Holy Spirit, the power that draws us to God.  

Jesus added a warning to those who had been freed from a demon.  If they did not fill their hearts with God’s love, that demon and others might return to possess them again.  The same thing can happen to us today.  If we find freedom from Satan by accepting God’s love, but do not surrender ourselves to HIS will, we may find ourselves controlled by Satan again.  

Our only defense against evil is Jesus living in our hearts.  We might have the will power to stop bad habits for a short time, but without a real connection to God, we cannot resist selfishness and temptation.  In the end, Satan will claim us as his own.  By rejecting Jesus, the Jewish people committed an unforgivable sin.  By refusing to accept Jesus and His truth, we could be making the same mistake.  We dishonor Jesus before the whole universe when we refuse to listen to His messengers and listen to Satan’s agents instead.  If we keep doing this, we can not hope to be forgiven.  Eventually, we will completely lose interest in God.  

The weeping mother staggered blindly behind, a widow who was burying her only son, her sole source of support, her last hope.  When Jesus saw the woman, He felt compassion for her.  He walked up next to her and gently said, “Don’t cry.”  Then

He reached over and touched the pallet where the dead man was lying.  In a quiet voice that rang with power, a voice that even dead ears could hear, Jesus said, “Young man, I tell you, get up!”  The young man opened his eyes and blinked.  Jesus took his hand and lifted him up ~ and into the embrace of his mother.  The funeral procession turned into a parade of joy.  

The same Jesus who stood beside that grieving mother feels our pain when we lose a loved one.  His words today have just as much power as they did when He spoke to the young man.  His power will someday raise the ones we have lost to death and lead them back to our arms and hearts.  In the same way, His words will save us from spiritual death, Satan cannot hold us as prisoners in sin if we have faith in Jesus’ words of life.  When He tells us to get up and leave our sinful lives, He gives us the power to do it.  

He will raise us all again in the resurrection, it will be a joy-filled life with HIM and a love that never ends.

Finally, the officer came out and met Jesus on the street.  “You only have to command it, and my servant will be healed,” he told Jesus.  “I represent the power of Rome and my soldiers know it.  When I tell them to do something, they do it.  You represent the power of God.  All created things know it and obey You.  

You can command the sickness to leave and it will oby.  Just say the words, and I know my servant will be healed.”

Jesus was amazed.  “I have not seen this much faith anywhere ~ even in Israel,” He exclaimed to the crowd, as HE turned to the officer and said, “Go home.  Your servant is healed, just as you believed he would be.”

The self-righteous Jews thought the officer deserved a favor for what he had done for them.  The officer did not even feel worthy to even ask for a favor.  He did not feel that he had earned this miracle ~ by faith, he trusted in Jesus.

When the enemy, Satan, tells you that you are a sinner and deserve nothing, tell him that Jesus came to the world to save sinners.  We cannot save ourselves so our helpless situation means that we must trust Him to save us.

The Jewish leader thought nothing about Jesus.  But this army officer, who only knew about worshiping idols in Rome.  He also was surrounded by hateful Jews ~ still he was able to see the truth about Jesus, what HE taught & lived.

To Jesus, this Roman army officer was among the first of many from other nations whose hearts were touched by God.  Who would recognize the truth and follow the Savior.

Although the Roman army officer had never met Jesus, when he heard of HIS teachings, his whole heart responded.  He had been searching for the truth about God, he truly believed that Jesus was the Messiah.  He had a desperate, personal request to make of Jesus, and he really believed that Jesus had the power to answer it.  But, he was such in awe of Jesus that he did not feel he should speak to HIM in person.

The Roman army officer had a servant who was sick ~ in fact, nearly dead.  The officer had grown to love his servant, and could not bear to think of him dying.  He was convinced by the stories he had heard that Jesus could heal his servant.  The officer had begged the Jewish elders to ask Jesus for this miracle.  He thought that since they knew this great Teacher, they would know best how to ask HIM.

So as Jesus walked into Capernaum that day, the elders met HIM.  “Heal this man’s servant,” they asked.  “He loves the Jewish people, so much so that he has even donated enough money to build our synagogue.  He deserves this favor.”  Jesus began walking toward the officer’s house, but with the crowd surrounding HIM, He moved very slowly.  When the officer heard what was happening, he sent a message:  “LORD, I am not worthy for YOU to enter my house.”  But Jesus kept going.

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