Calming the Storm – Resources

It is crazy that it’s already over but I have been personally challenged throughout the course of writing each post. I have learned so much about the Lord and about myself through looking at this story in Scripture. In this post, I am going to share with y’all the different resources I used as assistance for this series. I will be the first to admit that I didn’t use a ton of resources to help me with this study but the ones that I used were definitely effective.

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First of all, I obviously used my Bible. Not just one, though… I used four different Bibles to help me in the breaking down of this passage of Scripture.

The main Bible I used was my ESV. I used this translation at the beginning of each of the posts because it is really popular in Christian circles now. I do not normally read the ESV translation (I typically stick with the HCSB or CSB) so reading this passage in a translation that I am not used to helped me more effectively interpret the message.

The next Bible I used throughout this study was the HCSB Apologetics Study Bible. This is the Bible that I have always used to study so I have a lot of extra notes from previous sermons about this particular passage in the margins of this Bible. It was easy for me to just flip to the passage and see a bunch of previously recorded notes about Jesus calming the storm.

In addition to the two Bibles mentioned above, I used the She Reads Truth study bible as well as the HCSB Study Bible. I didn’t end up using these two Bibles a whole lot for this study because I used other resources that I will get to later in this post but I did use a bit of information from each of these Bibles which helped me in constructing my posts.

IMG_2109The only commentary that I used for this study was called “Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in Matthew”. The Christ-Centered Expostion series of commentaries has been one of my favorites for a while – I am currently studying through their Hebrews commentary – so I knew that this would be a good resource for me to use as I did the “Calming the Storm” series.

The last but probably most effective resource that I used for this study was the WordSearch Bible by Lifeway. I was gifted a subscription to the WordSearch Bible and have used it more throughout the course of this study than any other time. I have learned to love it and all of its’ features. The main thing that I have used it for is the “word study tool”. Knowing what each word of each of the verses that I went through actually meant made a huge difference for me in my interpretation of the passage. I would highly recommend the WordSeach Bible by Lifeway to anyone who wants access to countless resources at the touch of a button.Screen Shot 2018-08-07 at 12.08.19 PM

I hope that y’all find encouragement to seek out additional resources when you are studying different parts of the Bible but be sure that the resources you use are reputable and based on truth.

Thanks for reading!

– Bet

Calming the Storm – Part IV: Matthew 8:26b-27

“And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, ‘Save us, Lord; we are perishing.’ And he said to them, ‘Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?’ Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, ‘What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?’” – Matthew 8:23-27

This is the last part of the series! (*tear*) I hope everyone has enjoyed this series and been challenged by it just as I have. In the next few days I will post some closing remarks and include a few different resourses that I’ve used throughout the course of the series.

If you’ve been keeping up with the series, you know that I have been using questions for each of the previous three parts of the series but we’re going to drop them for this post. Hopefully this decision will make sense as you read it…But let’s go ahead and jump into the last part. This is where everything comes together, where it all makes sense.

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Click the picture to see more of Alison’s art!

Let’s do a quick recap before getting into the last part of verse 26 and verse 27.
1) Jesus had been preaching all day and wanted to cross the sea so He could preach to a different crowd. He calls the disciples onto the boat after telling them the importance of following Him. (Part I)
2) While they are at sea, there comes a storm that starts constantly swamping the boat with waves causing it to start sinking. During this time, Jesus is asleep. (Part II)
3) The disciples wake Jesus up because they need His help. He questions their lack of faith in Him. (Part III)

After Jesus is rudely woken up from His nap and then questions the disciples faith, some pretty crazy stuff happens:

Jesus stands up after exploiting the lack of faith in the disciples and shuts up a storm that is threatening the lives of the people with Him: “Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm,” (v. 26b). The guy SPEAKS to the storm and it LISTENS! I love the word “rebuked” here because it is translated to “correct” or “warn”. Only someone who has control over something is able to effectively correct or warn it. Jesus was in control of the storm from the beginning. With just three words – “Peace! Be still!” – the storm is put in its rightful place under the authority of Jesus Christ.

How amazing would this have been to witness first-hand?! You’re standing in the boat shoveling water out when Jesus stands up, says three simple words and the waves are stilled, the thunder is hushed, and the clouds are rolled away. I don’t know exactly what I would have done in that moment, but something tells me that my reaction would look something like: “I’m with that guy! I don’t care where He goes or what He does but He has authority and I’m going wherever He wants me to go and doing whatever He wants me to do.”

In verse 27 we see how the disciples react to Jesus’ authority. As Jewish men, they were very familiar with passages like Psalm 89:9 which says, “You rule the raging of the sea; when its waves rise, you still them,” and Psalm 107:29: “He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.” These were verses that the disciples had known about (and possibly memorized) from a very early age. They were aware that God was able to calm storms and settle waves and now that Jesus had demonstrated that same power in front of them, they were amazed at the possibility that Jesus could in fact be the God of the universe.

And now we come to the main point in the entire story: Jesus is God! The authority that belongs to Yahweh of the Old Testament is the same authority that belongs to Jesus the Messiah. Jesus is Creator and Ruler of the ENTIRE UNIVERSE. He is powerful, He is holy, He is perfection. He quiets the storms, He heals the lame, He raises the dead. Jesus is the God-Man who holds authority over all of nature. Jesus demonstrates this authority by correcting the actions of the storm. And He wants us to submit to His authority over our lives. He wants to bring us into the boat with Him so that He can demonstrate His power over the storms that often wreak havoc in our lives. He alone has the authority to settle them. No effort we could give will ever be enough to calm the storms. We can try our best to get the water out of the boat but as waves keep crashing in and our physical ability starts to decline, Jesus is the only one who can effectively say “Peace! Be still!” over the storms in our lives.

What a gracious God we have the opportunity to serve! Jesus continues to demonstrate His authority over the storms in my life and I pray that He is doing the same for you!

– Bet

Calming the Storm – Part II: The Storm – Matthew 8:24

“And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, ‘Save us, Lord; we are perishing.’ And he said to them, ‘Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?’ Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, ‘What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?’” – Matthew 8:23-27

Before getting into Part II of the “Calming the Storm” series, I need to apologize – 1) for not posting this on the date that I said I would and 2) for putting things into the passage in Part I of the series.

As for the first apology, I’ve been so busy but that is no excuse. I said it’d be up by Sunday 7/8/18 and it wasn’t so I’m sorry. I will try to do better about getting these posts up when I said I would.

For the second apology, I want to take this time to talk about the value and danger of interpreting Scripture. In Part I (which you can read here), I tried to over-apply it to my life and your life. While the things that I said in the post were true, this is not a passage that we can just put our life circumstances into and use for our benefit. The particular message of this passage is more beautiful if we take it as it is and do not add more meaning to it. This is not a parable that Jesus is telling to crowds, this is real life. This story actually happened. There were actual boats with actual people and an actual storm. This is not a hyperbole that we can apply to our lives, this story ACTUALLY HAPPENED. I think when we try to add to Scripture we can start to have a “fairytale” mindset about what we’re reading but that is very misleading. We have to understand that many of the things we read about in the Bible (unless they are parables) are real-life stories.

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Let’s look at verse 24 of Matthew 8:

“And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep.”

Now, for the questions that I am going to answer:

 

1) What is happening in this verse?

2) What does this verse mean to me?

3) What does this verse teach me about Jesus?

1) What is happening in this verse?

This verse is pretty straightforward for the most part. In Part I, we looked at what was going on right before the disciples got onto the boat (Jesus told them about the importance of following Him), and now they are on the boat at sea in the middle of a big storm.

For context in verse 24, we have to consider who all is on this boat (there are multiple boats on this trek across the Sea of Galilee as told in the book of Mark 4:35-41, but we’ll just focus on the boat that Jesus is in). From looking at verse 23, we know that this boat has some of Jesus’ disciples in it. We know that many of Jesus’ disciples were fishermen by trade. This is significant because many of the men on this boat have probably had experience dealing with storms at sea. Why is this significant? Well, we’ll get into that in the next part of the series. But for now, we just need to know that there are men who used to work as fishermen on the boat with Jesus and that they have more than likely been through storms at sea before.

I also want to take a second to look at the word “swamped” in the middle of this verse. It says that the boat was being “swamped” by the waves. What does this mean? Is it just a simple rocking of the boat? No. This word “swamped” also translates to “covered” or “veiled”. The waves are crashing over the side of the boat and covering it with waves. These guys are not on a yacht or a cruise ship going across the ocean. They are in a little wooden boat trying to get across the Sea of Galilee. Let me just say that this is not the type of boat I want to be in when a big storm comes. Knowing that the waves were “swamping” the sides of the boat makes me scared for these men because there was not a lot of room to hide from the storm.

Now, this seems like a bad deal and all but check out what Jesus is doing. THIS GUY IS SLEEPING. We know that He just got finished preaching a possibly day-long message to a crowd of people and he is currently on His way across the sea to do the same thing. So, I understand that He is tired, but what in the world?! These waves are crashing over the sides of this small fishing boat and Jesus is ASLEEP in the middle of it.

2) What does this verse mean to me?

Since I kind of got onto myself for reading into the passage in part I, there is not a lot to say here. Yes, Jesus is with you always but that is not the point of this passage. Yes, Jesus can calm the storms in your life but that is not the point of this passage. Yes, there are going to be times when you feel like Jesus is “asleep” in your life but that is not the point of this passage.

For now, what this verse should mean to you is that Jesus and his disciples were in a boat on the Sea of Galilee when a crazy-bad storm came up and Jesus was sleeping through it. That’s all for now. It would be dangerous for us to lose sight of the actual meaning of this passage by putting our own story in it and making it a story that it was never intended to be.

3) What does this verse teach me about Jesus?

While it blows my mind that Jesus is asleep in the boat, one of the biggest things I have gathered from this is that Jesus feels so secure in the hands of God the Father that he can peacefully sleep, no matter what is going on around Him. And, though we’ll get into this later in the series, this proves to me that Jesus is not just a human. He is also a divine being who can literally sleep through anything.

In Part III – Fear vs. Faith, we’ll be taking a look at the disciples’ reaction to the storm and their reaction to Jesus being asleep. I hope you all have enjoyed reading through this study so far and, as always, if you have any questions for me, please ask them!

– Bet

Calming the Storm – Part I: Follow Him – Matthew 8:23

And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, ‘Save us, Lord; we are perishing.’ And he said to them, ‘Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?’ Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, ‘What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?’” – Matthew 8:23-27

 

Throughout the course of the “Calming the Storm” series on the blog, I want to answer three questions for each part of the series:

1) What is happening in this verse?

2) What does this verse mean for me?

3) What does this verse teach me about Jesus?

I also want to encourage you to ask me questions in the comments or just email them to me if there is something that you are confused by or if you just have a question about the passage as a whole. My goal in this study is to encourage a deeper understanding of God’s Word and a longing to know Him better so that we may fall more in love our Creator each day.

Now, let’s get started…

 

1) What is happening in this verse?

Matthew 8:23 is a very simple sentence when you first read over it. It is pretty clear what is happening here: Jesus is leading His disciples onto a boat.

He had just finished preaching about parables and had healed quite a few people which resulted in a large following. As with most cases when Jesus started to inherit a large crowd, He wanted to leave, so they got into the boat to cross the Sea of Galilee.

But I want you to take a look at the previous two verses (21-22):

Another of the disciples said to him, ‘Lord, let me first go and bury my father.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.’”

This makes verse 23 that much more important:

And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him.

Jesus had just finished talking about the importance of following Him; how it should be the most important thing in our entire lives. We know this from other instances in Scripture (Matthew 4:19, Matthew 16:24, Luke 9:23) but I wanted to point out the hidden message in this passage and how each part of this story can apply to our lives.

 

2) What does this verse mean for me?

The correct response to Jesus’ leading us is to follow Him. We may not know where we are going or the condition of the boat we may be getting into but the application for us from verse 23 is to have enough faith to follow Jesus onto the boat. We will see later in this passage that having faith to follow Him onto the boat is not going to be enough. But it is the initial step of faith that the disciples demonstrate in this verse that we must also display in our own lives.

This could look a lot different for each one of us. For me, having enough faith to step onto the boat could mean that I take a job as a volunteer middle school girls youth leader. I could have made up excuses for reasons that I couldn’t be their youth leader or I could have just flat-out said “no” but I decided to follow Jesus into the boat that He has led me on to. It took a lot of faith in who He is for me to be able to say “yes” to that position but I know that I have a great opportunity to pour into the lives of these middle school girls and that Jesus is with me always.

For other people, stepping into the boat may be moving away from home for the first time. Freshmen in college will be moving into their dorms in about a month from now and I know that it is scary to move away from home for the first time. But if you have prayed about your college decision and have found a ministry to get plugged into while you are away from home, you have displayed enough faith to follow Jesus onto the boat.

For many of us, the biggest step of faith we ever had to take was confessing Jesus as our Lord and Savior. It may not seem like it for all of us but stepping onto that boat was the hardest decision in our entire life. Some people had to give up hobbies and interests, some people had to give up friends, and some people even had to give up family members and careers as a result of following Jesus onto the boat. It took a lot of faith to give up those things and follow Him.

The biggest point of this verse as far as what it means for us is that Jesus is worth following. It is the most important decision we will ever make this side of heaven and it is indeed one that we will regret if we decide not to follow Him.

I also want to point out that we should never stop following Jesus. Following Him onto the boat is one thing, and it is indeed a great thing. But once we get to the other shore, we can’t just say, “Okay, I followed Him onto the boat once so I’m done following Him.” Jesus tells us in Matthew 16:24 to take up our cross DAILY and follow Him. It isn’t something we do once and then forget about. Following Jesus is like a job: if we don’t show up, we don’t get rewarded. We either have faith to follow Him onto the boat and recognize the importance of that, or we don’t. There is no in between.

 

3) What does this verse teach me about Jesus?

Here is where I will park the “boat”, so to speak. This verse is very simple, as I said before, but there is SO MUCH to say about who Jesus is from these 11 words.

The first thing that I want to point out about Jesus in this verse is that He gets into the boat with the disciples. Now, this may be a very minor point if we didn’t know one other thing about Jesus. But in Matthew 14:22-34, we know that He possessed the ability to walk on water. Could he have walked on the water beside the boat in this passage in Matthew 8 too? I believe He could have if He had wanted to. But He opted to get into the boat with the disciples. Why?

I think it is no simpler than the fact that He knew the limitations of the disciples and that they were tired from walking around with Him all day. He met them where they were at and stooped down to their level. He knew that they didn’t have the ability to walk on the water like He did so He led them onto the boat. Now, Do I believe that Jesus could have helped them out onto the water as He did with Peter in Matthew 14:22-34? Absolutely. But we have to remember that the disciples had just started following Jesus only a few chapters earlier and maybe didn’t have that much faith in Him yet. Heck, they barely had enough faith to get into the boat with Him. I’m sure they would have thought He was crazy and dipped out if He had told them to walk on the water with Him.

I think that this story really demonstrates Jesus’ ability to relate to us as humans. I know that I often think of Jesus as much higher than us, reaching down to pull us up when we don’t have enough faith but that is not always the case. We need to understand that Jesus constantly reaches out to help us where we are. He relates to us so impeccably that He was able to take our place on the cross and bear God’s wrath for us. He does not reach down to help us, He reaches out to save us. He is standing in front of us, leading us onto the boat knowing that He is all we need to get through whatever comes next.

Like I said at the beginning of the post, please do not hesitate to ask me a question via comment or email. I will be glad to answer any question that comes my way!

I hope y’all enjoyed reading this first of four “main point” posts from the “Calming the Storm” series. I really enjoy writing about the Bible and showing people more of who Jesus is. If there is a topic that you would like for me to write about, let me know! I have ideas for upcoming series’ but I want to know what you guys want me to write about. Let me know in the comments!

Peace and Blessings,

Bet

Matthew 8:23-27 Introduction: Calming the Storm

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Check out this painting and others like it here

Whew, the last few months have been busy for me and my family. If you have been praying for us after the loss of my Papa, please know that we are so grateful for the prayers and the support that we have received! I know we still have a long time before things feel normal again but having such a large support system behind us, lifting us up in prayer and sending flowers and food, makes it slightly bearable. Papa was a very loved man and he will be dearly missed.

However, during this time of suffering and loss in my family, the Lord has been so good to me. In a time that I thought would be so hard for me to hold on to my faith and I would let my stress get the best of me, God has held me closer to Himself than I could’ve ever gotten on my own. Papa’s passing has allowed a greater opportunity for my family to talk about what we believe. About death, about God, about suffering, about medical advancements. We have suffered a great loss but we have also been provided with a wonderful presence of peace that only comes from the Prince of Peace.

DEDICATION:

I can remember during one of my years in school having to write a one-page essay that I did not want to write. I came home from school that day and walked next door to my grandparents’ house and was telling Papa how much I hate writing. I went on and on about how “dumb” it is to write about things that no one cares about because it just takes up everyone’s time. Papa just sat there and listened like he always did. Then he said, “You’re going to write this paper. But when you finish, I want to be the first to read it.” So I went home to start writing. I don’t remember what it was about or how old I was at the time, I just remember getting finished, taking it to Papa, and him saying, “Wow, you can really write! Keep writing so that you will be able to tell your story and point people to greater things.” At the time, I thought he was just being nice and giving me grandfatherly wisdom. But after hearing that, I began to enjoy writing. I began to see what Papa was saying about telling my story and pointing people to great things.

This is why I want to dedicate this study to my Papa Ernie: the man who stirred up a passion for writing in my heart. He wanted me to use writing to paint the bigger picture for people. The bigger picture of life, the bigger picture of my story, the bigger picture of the world, the bigger picture of the Gospel. I hope to one day become the writer he always knew I could be.

THE STUDY:

I often lose sight of the fact that our God is a miracle-working God. I can easily think of Him as a King or higher power who receives glory and praise but I don’t really understand why He deserves them. Then I am reminded of stories like Matthew 8:23-27 and think, “Oh…that’s why.” He is Creator and Controller of the universe. Every human’s breath, every bird’s chirp, every dog’s bark is under His control. He makes the sun rise and set, He makes the wind blow, He puts the stars in the sky, and He makes trees and flowers grow.

God doesn’t just want a relationship with me because He knows what’s best for me. God wants a relationship with me because He IS what’s best for me. Any storm in my life, He alone can settle. If I have faith enough to submit the storms in my life to Him, He tells them, “Peace, be still!”

As I have studied this passage, I have learned a lot about the character of Jesus, the character of the disciples, and the character of nature. I wanted to share some of my thoughts about it with y’all and decided that just doing one blog post would be WAY too long so I have split the study up over 4 main points. Each point will get its own week on the blog and you can see a schedule below. I’m so excited to get started on this and I hope you are too!

SCHEDULE:

June 30 – Follow Him (Main Point #1)

July 9 – The Storm (Main Point #2)

July 16 – Fear vs. Faith (Main Point #3)

July 23 – Creator and Ruler (Main Point #4)

July 30 – Closing Remarks (pretty self-explanatory)