“How can we tell the story of Jesus in a simple way, when so many elemental forces came rushing together at that point in space and time? So much history, so many bad memories, such high expectations and aspirations, such a tangled web of faith and fear and hatred and hope.
And so many memorable characters crowding onto the stage, catching our eye and firing our imagination: Mary Magdalene, Peter, Pontius Pilate, Judas… the list goes on. And then we catch a glimpse – or was it just our imagination – of Jesus himself, towering over them but without ever appearing aloof. Who was he? What was he about? What was he trying to do? Why should we care, two thousand years later?
These were, of course, the questions his closest friends wanted to ask as they woke him up in the middle of an actual storm on the Sea of Galilee. It’s still a dangerous place today. There are signs in the parking lots on the western side of the sea warning that high waves can sweep giant waves right over parked vehicles. But Jesus wasn’t fazed. According to the story, He got up and told the storm to be quiet (Matthew 8: 23 – 27; Mark 4:35 – 41; Luke 8: 22 – 25). And it obeyed him.
I think his friends told that story not only because it was striking and dramatic in itself, but because they saw in it something of the larger story they were struggling to tell: the story of a man in the eye of the storm, the storm of history and culture, of politics and piety, a man who seemed to be asleep in the middle of it all, but who then stood up and told the wind and the waves to stop.” -“Simply Jesus” by N.T. Wright
As a teenager I became somewhat familiar with the Amplified Version of the Bible because Mom had it around and used it in her daily personal Bible study and prayer time each morning.
Nowadays, there are so many newer versions out that Christians don’t see or hear mention of the Amplified Version often.
During the ten years our young and growing family lived in Sucre, Bolivia, a large, old, beautiful and intensely historic town in the southern highlands , we belonged to a wonderful outreach to crosscultural workers that was called “Reader’s Service”. “Reader’s Service” would send us big mailbags full of used books for a nominal fee. These used books – some very well-used! – were donated to a large warehouse, by people in U.S. and Canada who no longer had a use for them yet still wanted to make them available to others, especially families serving overseas where access to public libraries and/or access to books in general in the person’s heart language might be limited or completely nonexistent. This was our situation during those ten years.
We LOVED Reader’s Service and, a couple times a year when the books arrived, it was like Family Christmas!
Early in our family’s Reader’s Service Sucre years, they sent us a battered, tiny, tatter-jacketed Amplified Version New Testament, which, following in my life mentor-mother’s footsteps, I used in my morning “quiet time” with God for at least a couple of years. After that we moved, and, a few years after that we had a major yard sale when our daughter graduated from high school in Bolivia. We lost the book.
Recently, on my beloved Kindle device, I downloaded an electronic version of the Amplified and this morning, traveling, was using the Amplified Version of the Psalms in my daily quiet time with God. This verse stood out for me and gave me strength and comfort: Psalms 9:10 “And they who know Your Name (who have experience and acquaintance with Your mercy) will lean on and confidently put their trust in You, for You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek (inquire of and for) You (on the authority of God’s Word and the right of their necessity). (Ps. 42:1).”
Psalm 111: 2 – 3: Great are the works of the Lord, they are pondered by all who delight in them. Glorious and majestic are God’s deeds, and his righteousness endures forever.
” Kings who reign on earth tend to make themselves inaccessible; ordinary people almost never gain an audience with them. Though (Jesus) is King of the universe, (He) is totally accessible to you.” – Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, p. 281
Isaiah 50:4 (This is one of my favorite Bible verses!)
“The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught.”
“And they (the seraphim) were calling to one another, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty. The whole earth is full of His glory!”. Isaiah 6:3
….found this little poppy in early morning light, bravely sticking its head up amidst a cluster of crabgrass, weeds and trash, at the base of a light pole in the center of an old road, while i was walking and meditating of some passages of the Bible and praying.
“Nothing will enhance abundant life more than beginning our day expecting God and ending our day remembering God.” – Beth Moore, in her Bible study entitled “Believing God”.
Psalm 5:3 “In the morning, O Lord, You hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before You and wait in expectation.”
Psalm 3: 5-6 “I lie down and sleep. I wake again, because the Lord sustains me. I will not fear the tens of thousands drawn up against me on every side.” Psalm 63:6 “On my bed I remember You.”
I love the city of a million and a half people that I live in. I know it well by now, and I like to explore it on foot. One of the things I appreciate about living here is the way everybody walks places, every day. I love the people part of things. Every now and then I feel sad because the growth of my city seems to be coming at the expense of , in some neighborhoods at least, most every blade of green grass, every night moth or jumping toad or highland snake, every irridescent, multi-colored butterfly and songbird. I still get to enjoy nature in the city, since many parts of it have abundant flowering shrubs and trees and the mountains have eucalyptus woods all through them.
I liked the earthy green jungles of southern Cameroun, where I was raised, where wildlife and flora were abundant. I liked the misty, soft growing farmland of western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio, U.S.A. And, oh the PETS our parents let us have in Africa! I remember Dad helping my brother and sister and me build a large wooden warming box with a real light bulb in the roof to help us keep alive seven rare wild jungle woods ducklings we’d bought from a hunter who had shot the mother and was going door to door to the foreigners, trying to make some money. Those wild ducklings were gorgeous with their soft brown and yellow markings,tawny eiderdown babyfuzz, and delicate-veined webbed feet.
When I think of Gerard Manley Hopkin’s poem, “God’s Grandeur”, I revel in the way he manages to describe some of the sensory beauty and interest God gives each of us, wherever we are in the world, and I also think of the variety God allows us to enjoy in PERSONS, each person beautiful and (perhaps) intriguing, in her or his own way. I think of the “people” aspect of the variety God gives us in relation to the fact that so many of us are called by God to be working with PEOPLE. All these varieties of people, full of their idiosyncrasies, are all a part of God’s grandeur, also. How privileged we are, by God Himself, to be allowed to work with people! If we feel like we’re lacking love, and interest, in people (or in a particular group of people, or a person!) we can ask God to change that, in us.
In my quiet time with God each morning, I feel that the Holy Spirit often encourages me in this area, through various thoughts and readings.
I share two of them with you this morning.
1. Habakuk 3:18 – “I will take joy.”
2. A poem, “God’s Grandeur” by Gerard Manley Hopkins:
God’s Grandeur by Gerard Manley Hopkins
The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell; the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness, deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs-
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue and if there by any praise, think on these things.”