Posts Tagged ‘Missionary’

16
Apr

The Storm Will Not Overtake You!

   Posted by: Ron & Stephanie Kenaston    in Our Mission

I love the story of Jesus walking on water found in Matthew 14. Jesus’ disciples headed out in a boat while Jesus dismissed the crowds He had just been teaching. After spending time alone to pray, Jesus headed out during the fourth watch of the night to the boat full of disciples which was being beaten about by the waves far offshore. When the disciples saw him, they freaked thinking it was ghost. Jesus reassured them by saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

Peter responded by saying, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” Jesus commanded Peter to come, and Peter stopped out of the boat and headed toward Jesus. Of course, we all know that when Peter saw the wind and waves he began to doubt and sink, but Jesus immediately reached out His hand and took hold of Peter saying, “Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
 
So many aspects of this situation intrigue me.  I have started analyzing the wording of passages.  I have found many different lectionary and commentary sources to help me with that.  Also looking at the wording as it was originally.  I hope that you get something out of this too. The story of Jesus walking on the water follows the story of the Feeding of the Five Thousand. It is interesting to note how Jesus reacts after this and the reactions of the disciples.

VERSES 22-23:  HE WENT UP THE MOUNTAIN BY HIMSELF TO PRAY

22Immediately Jesus made (Greek:  enankasen –– compels) the disciples get into the boat, and to go ahead of him to the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. 23After he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into the mountain by himself to pray. When evening had come, he was there alone.

 “Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat”  The disciples obey Jesus, trusting him and willing to follow his guidance.  They had just seen Jesus feed 5 thousand people with hardly anything! 

“After he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into the mountain by himself to pray”   He tried to find a quiet place earlier, but the crowds interrupted him (14:13).  Now he finds the opportunity to pray. He could have taken his friends and students with him, but he knew, as  we sometimes do, that we need to get alone with God.  What we have to say, reflect on, thank him for, is between God and you.  Jesus set the example.  Sometimes we are so frantic about a situation that we try to call anyone and everyone, or visit someone, or wait to go to bible study, but what we need to do is just get alone and lay it all out to God.  We find too much worth in other people helping us rather than first relying on God and then petitioning others to pray with and for us. 

VERSES 24-27:  TAKE HEART, IT IS I; DO NOT BE AFRAID

 24But the boat was now in the middle of the sea (Greek: stadious pollous apo tes ges –– many stadia from the land), distressed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. 25In the fourth watch of the night (Greek:  tetarte de phulake tes nuktos –– in the fourth watch of the night) Jesus came to them, walking on the sea. 26When the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It’s a ghost!” and they cried out for fear.  27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying “Cheer up! It is I! Don’t be afraid.”

 “But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, distressed by the waves, for the wind was contrary” (v. 24).  The boat is studious pollous–– many stadia –– from land.  A stadion is about 600 feet, and John tells us that the disciples had gone about twenty-five to thirty stadia –– about three miles (John 6:19), which would put them near the middle of the sea. 

 “In the fourth watch of the night” (tetarte de phulake tes nuktos –– in the fourth watch of the night) (v. 25a).  The fourth watch is 3:00 to 6:00 a.m., and the disciples have had an amazing day.  I cannot imagine how tired they are.

 “Jesus came to them, walking on the sea”(v. 25b).  “In Biblical literature, the sea is often represented as the abode of demonic forces hostile to God” (Craddock, 400).  To have command over the sea is God’s exclusive right. 

 Matthew has identified Jesus as Emmanuel –– God with us (1:23) –– and this story reinforces that role.  The story of the disciples on the sea  holds a promise that Jesus comes to Christians in the midst of the storm –– that the storm does not hold the upper hand –– that Christ is present with us in the storm and redeems us from the storm.

When the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying,

“It’s a ghost!” and they cried out for fear” (v. 26.)  The storm, while dangerous, is familiar.  It is not until they see Jesus that they are afraid.  They fear that they are seeing a ghost. 

Jesus responds with a threefold statement:  Cheer up! It is I! Don’t be afraid” (v. 27). “Don’t be afraid!” is not a rebuke but an encouragement.  “I AM WHO I AM” (Greek:  ego eimi –– literally “I am”) is God’s name (Exodus 3:14).  “Don’t be afraid” is also an encouragement rather than a rebuke.

VERSES 28-31:  YOU OF LITTLE FAITH, WHY DID YOU DOUBT?

28Peter answered him and said, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the waters.” 29He said, “Come!” Peter stepped down from the boat, and walked on the waters to come to Jesus. 30But when he saw that the wind was strong, he was afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” 31Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand, took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”

“Peter answered him and said, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the waters'” (v. 28).  It is the story of every Christian –– our story too –– as we move back and forth between doubt and faith –– sometimes focused on the storm and sometimes focused on Jesus. 

“He said, ‘Come!’ Peter stepped down from the boat, and walked on the waters to come to Jesus” (v. 29).  For Peter, this is a moment both of weakness and strength.  He doubts, but wants to believe.  He fears, but steps out of a perfectly good boat into the storm. 

“But when he saw that the wind was strong, he was afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried out saying, ‘Lord, save me!'” (v. 30).  Peter calls out, “Lord, save me!” –– expressing faith even through his fear.

Jesus says, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” (v. 31b).  Jesus first saves Peter, then rebukes him. 

I hope you have made it this far through this.  I know it is long and full.  But the best is at the end.  Why?  Because is speaks of us who are following Jesus on the hard road.  In unknown conditions.  In the face of things we have not seen before.  As missionaries we have made a choice very similar to the disciples of Jesus’ time.  He said follow me and we are.  But there are no promises of calm seas and easy living.  What he does promise is to always be there and never forsake us (Hebrews 13:5) and this passage above is an extreme example, but a very good one for us and those who are going out in uncharted territory in their lives to serve God.

So, OUR HOPE.  It is in that God knows our journey and invites us anyway.  He knows we will have weak moments, times that we are afraid, and difficult times.  But when during all those times he is right there.  And when we start to sink and cry out to Him he will reach down and save us.  This part makes me reflect on the vision that brought me to my Lord Jesus in the first place.  Never having read this before, yet my words were, “Jesus, save me!”  How amazing and reaffirming is that?  And I know that my Lord is there as we feel like we are struggling in raising finances.  As we look at the waves that seem to be tossing us.  As we feel like we are sinking.  But do not lose heart!  Remember what Peter did and cry out to your Savior for he is already reaching out His hand to you.  Amen.

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3
Apr

Long, but worth reading…

   Posted by: Ron & Stephanie Kenaston    in Our Mission

This Easter I have many things on my heart.  But the most prevalent is the Sacrifice and Rising of Jesus.  The most important fact in Life. 

I want to share scriptures today.  Why?  Because it points out something important about God that people forget.  I have repeatedly been warned by others that speaking out is not becoming of a missionary.  Yet, is it not what the Lord has asked of those he calls to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.  We are speaking out against a world that wants what it wants, when it wants it.  People do not know the truth and we are called to tell them.  We are pointing the way to God and that means making a commitment that requires the uncomfortable role of speaking out, stepping out, and going where the Lord calls us no matter how uncomfortable it may seem or be.  I do not expect to be popular by any means, and if I am then I must ask myself if I am really doing the Lord’s will.  For Jesus himself said that for following him, and doing what he has asked, people will hate us. (Mark 13:13 7 & Matthew 10:22, Luke 6:22, Luke 21:17, John 15:18-19)

We have experienced people having doubts as to the call of our mission.  We have had people who have given us words of discouragement or warning.  Churches and Pastors telling us their reasons for not being able to even hear about this mission God has us on.  Often it has been because of a fear that there is not enough money.  Or because they just don’t do that anymore.  And it has been discouraging on a very human level.  On a spiritual level it is just disconcerning how people think that in this “modern time” that we are no longer under the same call that Jesus originally gave.  People may have changed, times may have changed, but the call of the Lord has not, nor has the Lord himself.  Mathew 18:19-20  “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. (Hebrews 13:8)  God is not saying go to all the nations and share me.  He is saying go and make disciples.  That means that he wants us to go, show, and teach.  Just as he did 2000 years ago.  And he reiterates that he is with us to the end of the age.  That would speak the end of this world to me. And we are not there yet.

We are stepping out to do exactly what the Lord has asked us to do.  We are praying for his encouragement, but also the encouragement of those who have been called by Christ to walk along side us in prayer, to stand up for us, and financially support us.  Many times in history people have decided the work of God was done.  Many times people have fallen away from following God.  Many times people get comfortable in their lives and decide that if it is to be done, well, then there is someone else to do it.  But maybe God wants you to do it.  Don’t be afraid to ask and lay fear aside so that you can actually hear the answer.  God is not through speaking to us and our work is not done until the Lord Jesus Christ returns again and says “It is finished”!  We need your help and we need you to hear God when he tells you that this is His will.

I love this scripture from a little read book of Haggai, in the bible.  It tells of another time when God’s people grew comfortable and got lost in themselves.  I fear that at times we do this too.  And I want to learn from the mistakes that people made prior to me so that I do not have to learn things the hard way.  Some day each of us will stand before our Lord.  What will your testimony be?  I pray that the Lord will speak to you and be with you and point you in the way that is often not easy, but His way.  Much Love, Stephanie.

Haggai 1

A Call to Build the House of the LORD

 1In the second year of King Darius, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua [a]son of Jehozadak, the high priest:

 2This is what the LORD Almighty says: “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come for the LORD’s house to be built.’ ”

 3 Then the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai: 4 “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?”

 5 Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 6 You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”

 7 This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 8 Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the LORD. 9 “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the LORD Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house. 10 Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. 11 I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the oil and whatever the ground produces, on men and cattle, and on the labor of your hands.”

 12Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the whole remnant of the people obeyed the voice of the LORD their God and the message of the prophet Haggai, because the LORD their God had sent him. And the people feared the LORD.

 13Then Haggai, the LORD’s messenger, gave this message of the LORD to the people: “I am with you,” declares the LORD. 14So the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of the whole remnant of the people. They came and began to work on the house of the LORD Almighty, their God, 15 on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month in the second year of King Darius.

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23
Dec

I’ll be Home for Christmas?

   Posted by: Ron & Stephanie Kenaston    in Our Mission

 

Missionaries get to ponder all kinds of things we don’t even think about until we realize that the reality of what we’re doing is going to effect every part of our lives.  Then little by little, like the skin of an onion (love Shrek) you start peeling at the meaning of life as a missionary.  Our oldest daughter is reading the book From “Jerusalem to Irian Jaya”, a biographical history of Christian missions.  We did not pick it, but it is part of her curriculum, and we believe God’s choice for her because of what he has in store.  She has not gotten to the story that is mentioned below yet, but I ran across it while looking for a graphic for the blog.  It touched me because there may be a time when Ron is up river, on a boat, and cannot make it home.  Looking at things from a Christ-eyed prospective changes a lot and keeps us from taking it personally.  At least in an offended way.  So I would like to share this story from one missionary’s Christmas. 

 It was only a few days before Christmas as Bernie May, a pilot for Wycliffe Bible Translators successfully delivered emergency medical supplies to the isolated Amazon village. Now he eagerly anticipated being back with his wife and children in their South American home-away-from-home. Yet as the evening grew dark, he knew he would not be able to fly out until the morning.

With his pontoon plane waiting on the river, Bernie arranged for temporary protection for the night. But then . . . it began to rain. The rain continued, even up until Christmas Eve, the missionary felt increasingly depressed by his misfortune. His wife, Nancy, and their boys were six hours away; and by this time, they would have received his radio message: he would not be home for Christmas.

As a family, they had prepared their hearts to be separated from their loved ones and friends, but it was Christmas Eve . . . and they were now separated even from each other.

Back in Pennsylvania, everyone would be coming home from church-to the sounds of caroling, the smell of roasting turkey, and the sight of falling snow. But where was God’s missionary? Here he was . . . stuck in a remote jungle . . . in a makeshift shelter . . . in the pouring rain . . . alone.

In Ruth Tucker’s book From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya, Bernie May tells of his experience:

“Oh God,” I moaned, “I’m in the wrong place.” . . . But that night, under my mosquito net, I had a visitation from God-something like those shepherds must have had on the hills of Bethlehem.

There were no angels, and no bright lights. But as I lay there in my hammock, desperately homesick, I felt I heard God say, “My son, this is what Christmas is all about. Jesus left heaven and on Christmas morning He woke up in the ‘wrong place’-a stable in Bethlehem. Christmas means leaving home, not going home. My only begotten Son did not come home for Christmas-He left home to be with you.”

(Excerpted from The Mission-Minded Family – Releasing Your Family to God’s Destiny, by Ann Dunagan – Published by Biblica/Authentic – Click here for a FREE Sample)

 

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