In the last few weeks, the LORD has been putting on my heart the idea of ‘Jesus in the boat.’
The Bible reference which describes this is quite profound:
On the same day, WHEN EVENING HAD COME, (Jesus) said to them, “LET US CROSS OVER TO THE OTHER SIDE.” Now WHEN THEY HAD LEFT THE MULTITUDE, THEY TOOK HIM ALONG in the boat AS HE WAS. And OTHER LITTLE BOATS WERE ALSO WITH HIM. And A GREAT WINDSTORM AROSE, and THE WAVES BEAT INTO THE BOAT, SO THAT IT WAS ALREADY FILLING. But He was IN THE STERN, ASLEEP on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “PEACE, BE STILL!” And THE WIND CEASED and THERE WAS A GREAT CALM. But He said to them, “WHY are you so fearful? HOW IS IT that you have NO FAITH?” And they FEARED EXCEEDINGLY, and SAID TO ONE ANOTHER, “Who can this be, that EVEN THE WIND AND SEA OBEY HIM!” (Mark 4:35-41)
I hadn’t noticed the prophetic aspect of this passage, but as I’m writing now, the LORD is speaking more things to me. As we look around and observe what’s going on in society right now, it surely seems as if “evening has come.” Instead of staying and siding with the chaos that’s abounding, we must “leave the multitude” and “cross over to the other side,” where we “take Jesus along” – where He is “in the boat” with us “as He is.” If we are not willing to separate from this world’s agenda and ways, Jesus will not walk with us. We must take Him as HE IS, as His Word explains, SEEKING and SURRENDERING to HIM and HIS agenda – WILLING to part with all else to HAVE HIM “in the boat with us.” Notice in this passage, Jesus was “in the stern, asleep.” We often go forward with our own plans without even giving Him a second thought…. until we need Him. Then when trouble arises, we “wake Him” with, “Don’t You care about what’s going on?” Still, with long-suffering and mercy, He calms the storm (sometimes circumstantially, and sometimes simply in our heart regardless of circumstance), and He asks us once again, “Why” do you fear? “How is it” you “have no faith?” After all He’s done for us over and over, we once again remember and acknowledge Who GOD IS and that “even the wind and sea obey Him!” FATHER GOD, YOU ARE SO GOOD TO US – SO PATIENT AND KIND!
The original thought the LORD had given me about this passage, is that even in such a dire situation, Jesus had COMPLETE PEACE. He was able to sleep through a dangerous storm. This truth strikes deep, as He’s been wrestling me out of “storms” of old condemnation and the harsh words and anxiety of those around me.
Shortly after thinking on this passage in Mark, I was led to Psalm 91. For the first time, I saw verse one in a new light:
HE WHO DWELLS IN THE SECRET PLACE OF THE MOST HIGH shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. (Psalm 91:1)
THIS is how and why Jesus illustrated this complete peace to us! He was constantly getting away from the crowd to spend time with His Father God. He was our example of “dwelling in the secret place of the Most High,” and “abiding under the shadow of the Almighty!” There is perfect peace and rest through dwelling in and functioning from that place!
When Jesus heard it, He departed from there by boat to a deserted place. (Matthew 14:13)
And when He had sent them away, He departed to the mountain to pray. (Mark 6:46)
Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone. (John 6:15)
One time, Jesus departed from where He was and went to “His own country.” What happened there is eye-opening as well:
Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished these parables, that He departed from there. When He had come to His own country, He taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished and said, “Where did this Man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things? So THEY WERE OFFENDED AT HIM. But Jesus said to them, “A PROPHET IS NOT WITHOUT HONOR EXCEPT IN HIS OWN COUNTRY AND IN HIS OWN HOUSE.” Now HE DID NOT DO MANY MIGHTY WORKS THERE BECAUSE OF THEIR UNBELIEF. (Matthew 13:53-58)
What we are seeing in the Body of Christ today is that many are being SEPARATED and CALLED OUT to find the LORD – to “take Him in the boat AS HE IS,” not as whom people have tried to fashion Him to be. By those who are seeking the LORD to find Him for Who HE REALLY IS, and counting all else as LOSS in order to do so, He is being found. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with ALL your heart. (Jeremiah 29:13) The LORD GOD is calling out HIS OWN for such a time as THIS!
We notice when Jesus was in the boat, those who were with him FIRST FEARED THE STORM…. Then, when Jesus once again showed them WHO HE WAS, they FEARED HIM. GOD ALONE IS WORTHY TO BE FEARED AND REVERENCED! GOD ALONE HAS ULTIMATE AUTHORITY OVER ALL THINGS! WE CAN TRUST HIM! When we TRUST HIM, we are able to LAY ALL OTHER FEARS DOWN AT HIS FEET BY FAITH, SURRENDER COMPLETELY, and FOLLOW HIM in FAITH and OBEDIENCE!
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7)
Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say: “Return, backsliding Israel,” says the LORD; “I will not cause My anger to fall on you. For I am merciful,” says the LORD; “I will not remain angry forever. Only acknowledge your iniquity, that you have transgressed against the LORD your God, and have scattered your charms to alien deities under every green tree, and you have not obeyed My voice,” says the LORD. “Return, O backsliding children,” says the LORD; “for I am married to you. I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion. And I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding. (Jeremiah 3:12-15)
I am blessed and privileged to be working with a team who have each given up everything to follow Jesus Christ. The LORD in His grace and mercy turned each one from a HEARER to a DOER of His Word. Each individual journey leading here have all been different, but God saw fit to draw each one to lay every bit of this earthly kingdom down in order to live and breathe and perpetuate His Kingdom – the Kingdom of God.
Last weekend we were in Ava, Missouri. It didn’t take long to discern the area was rife with strongholds of Hebrew roots, witchcraft and fear of man surrounding particular individuals. I had a strong sense of the LORD’s heart for this group of people He gathered for the event, and even the first night, He confirmed it.
As voices in worship were billowing out from under the pavilion, crying out to the one true living God (on account of His Son Jesus Christ), the rain started coming down harder and harder… (Oh, that the Creator of the universe wants to pour out on His people!… Are we thirsty enough? Hungry enough for God alone?) I was standing in the back facing out, praying against opposition and thanking the LORD for His protection. All of a sudden I started noticing areas of light through the clouds over the neighboring building… Then the clouds started flowing slowly and steadily up over the building… At some point, I realized they were barely clearing the roof! The clouds had “COME DOWN” to where we were! I’d never seen anything like it… It was beautiful watching this steady stream of cloud flow up and over the building and over the pavilion, as worship rang out to the heavens! I just thought, God, You’re so awesome!… Then He reminded me of these verses…..
The LORD CAME DOWN in a pillar of cloud… (Numbers 12:5a)
The LORD WENT BEFORE THEM by day in a pillar of cloud TO LEAD THEM ALONG THE WAY and by night in a pillar of fire TO GIVE THEM LIGHT, THAT THEY MIGHT TRAVEL by day and by night. The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people. (Exodus 13:21-22)
And on the day that the tabernacle was erected, THE CLOUD [OF GOD’S PRESENCE] COVERED THE TABERNACLE, that is, the Tent of the Testimony; and AT EVENING IT WAS OVER THE TABERNACLE, having the appearance of [a pillar of] fire until the morning. SO IT WAS CONSTANTLY; the cloud covered it by day, and the appearance of fire by night. Whenever the cloud was taken up from over the Tent, after that the Israelites journeyed; and in the place where the cloud rested, there the Israelites encamped. AT THE LORD’s COMMAND the Israelites JOURNEYED, and at [His] command they ENCAMPED. As long as the cloud rested upon the tabernacle they remained encamped. Even when the cloud tarried upon the tabernacle many days, the Israelites KEPT THE LORD’s CHARGE and did not set out. And sometimes the cloud was only a few days upon the tabernacle, but ACCORDING TO THE COMMAND OF THE LORD they remained encamped, and AT HIS COMMAND they journeyed. And sometimes the cloud remained [over the tabernacle] from evening only until morning, but when the cloud was taken up, they journeyed; whether it was taken up by day or by night, they journeyed. Whether it was two days or a month or a longer time that the cloud tarried upon the tabernacle, dwelling on it, the Israelites remained encamped; but when it was taken up, they journeyed. AT THE COMMAND OF THE LORD they REMAINED ENCAMPED, and AT [HIS] COMMAND they JOURNEYED; they KEPT THE CHARGE OF THE LORD, AT THE COMMAND OF THE LORD…. (Numbers 9:15-23)
Oh, that God wants to live and breathe and walk among His people, even today!
The next day, strong testimonies of God’s holiness and goodness touched hearts. Again, I was struck by God’s heart for those hungry for Him above all else. The sky again reflected to me His desire to walk and move among His people….
Then Moses went up into the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. The glory of the LORD rested on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it…. (Exodus 24:15)
One by one, sensing God’s presence and call, people responded throughout the weekend. Several surrendered completely to Christ, repented thoroughly, and were baptized in water and filled with the Holy Spirit.
The third night was amazing! God was working powerfully in our midst not only individually, but also corporately from the very beginning of the evening. The first song was, “Blow The Trumpet In Zion”…. A young man had brought his shofar and was “blowing the trumpet” along with the song. The preacher for the evening had also brought his shofar. He called the young man forward and they blew their trumpets together. At one point I sensed the LORD saying, “Rend your heart, not your garments,” so I looked up the Bible passage and left it open on the chair in front of me.
Strong truth was shared by the preacher, much of it from Joel chapter 2. At one point, the team could tangibly feel a wall of resistance…. The strongholds of the area were hindering people from fully responding to the hand of the LORD reaching for them to surrender…. We found out later that at this time, we were all praying separately for those walls to be torn down…. Slowly, people came to the front and prostrated themselves before the LORD weeping in repentance, reverencing the LORD GOD of heaven and earth. This lasted for hours. I realized later that “Blow the trumpet in Zion…., Rend your heart and not your garments….,” and the message God had the preacher relay to His people that night, were ALL from Joel chapter 2!
Blow the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble; for the day of the LORD is coming, for it is at hand: a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, like the morning clouds spread over the mountains. A people come, great and strong, the like of whom has never been; nor will there ever be any such after them, even for many successive generations. A fire devours before them, and behind them a flame burns; the land is like the Garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; surely nothing shall escape them. Their appearance is like the appearance of horses; and like swift steeds, so they run. With a noise like chariots over mountaintops they leap, like the noise of a flaming fire that devours the stubble, like a strong people set in battle array. Before them the people writhe in pain; all faces are drained of color. They run like mighty men, they climb the wall like men of war; every one marches in formation, and they do not break ranks. They do not push one another; every one marches in his own column. Though they lunge between the weapons, they are not cut down. They run to and fro in the city, they run on the wall; they climb into the houses, they enter at the windows like a thief. The earth quakes before them, the heavens tremble; the sun and moon grow dark, and the stars diminish their brightness. The LORD gives voice before His army, for His camp is very great; for strong is the One who executes His Word. For the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; who can endure it? “Now, therefore,” says the LORD, “Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.” So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm. Who knows if He will turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind Him— a grain offering and a drink offering for the LORD your God? Blow the trumpet in Zion, consecrate a fast, call a sacred assembly; gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children and nursing babes; let the bridegroom go out from his chamber, and the bride from her dressing room. Let the priests, who minister to the LORD, weep between the porch and the altar; let them say, “Spare Your people, O LORD, and do not give Your heritage to reproach, that the nations should rule over them. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’ ” Then the LORD will be zealous for His land, and pity His people. The LORD will answer and say to His people, “Behold, I will send you grain and new wine and oil, and you will be satisfied by them; I will no longer make you a reproach among the nations. “But I will remove far from you the northern army, and will drive him away into a barren and desolate land, with his face toward the eastern sea and his back toward the western sea; his stench will come up, and his foul odor will rise, because he has done monstrous things.” Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice, for the LORD has done marvelous things! Do not be afraid, you beasts of the field; for the open pastures are springing up, and the tree bears its fruit; the fig tree and the vine yield their strength. Be glad then, you children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God; for He has given you the former rain faithfully, and He will cause the rain to come down for you— the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month. The threshing floors shall be full of wheat, and the vats shall overflow with new wine and oil. “So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the crawling locust, the consuming locust, and the chewing locust, My great army which I sent among you. You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you; and My people shall never be put to shame. Then you shall know that I am in the midst of Israel: I am the LORD your God and there is no other. My people shall never be put to shame. (Joel 2:1-27)
After hours in brokenness before the LORD, the evening ended in joyful worship with young and old alike dancing together like little children!
When the LORD brought back the captivity of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing. Then they said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.” The LORD has done great things for us, and we are glad. Bring back our captivity, O LORD, as the streams in the South. THOSE WHO SOW IN TEARS SHALL REAP IN JOY. He who CONTINUALLY GOES FORTH WEEPING, BEARING SEED FOR SOWING, shall doubtless come again with REJOICING, bringing his sheaves with him. (Psalm 126:1-6)
This earth makes us dull, but God says, “a broken and a contrite heart I will not despise.” He is “seeking such people as will worship Him in Spirit and in truth.”
It’s time to lay it all down and seek the LORD with everything in us.
He is worthy of our full attention!
He is alive!
He wants to dwell among His people in fullness and in power!
O come; let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker [in reverent praise and supplication]. For He is our God and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. Today, if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts….. (Psalm 95:6-8a)