OK, I think I'm sort of motivated after getting Day 2 posted. They are here and here, in case you need the links - and don't forget, you can always access ALL of the posts about the Israel trip (including the ones I posted via my Droid while still traveling) by clicking on my "Israel Tour 2010" category, down on the left column.
More awesomeness under the fold...
While we were on the boat, Pastor Jim spoke from Mark 4:35-41 about the storms of life. This passage tells about the way Jesus calmed the storm on the Sea of Galilee, and how His disciples marveled at it. Jim reminded us all that just because Jesus is in the boat - just because we are Christians - it doesn't mean that we will not have storms in our lives.
Sometimes, of course, it seems like Jesus won't do anything while we're in the storm. Don't forget, the disciples had to wake Him up, and the question they asked was, "Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?" Many times when we are in the storm, we think that God has abandoned us, but that is not so! Although God may be silent, He is still there, and there is nothing that comes into our lives that has not already passed through His hands. It's understandable that we are afraid when we are in the middle of the storm, but we need to remember to have faith in the God who loves us and who has called us out of the kingdom of darkness and placed us into the Kingdom of His Son. We need to have faith in His promise that He will never leave us nor forsake us. Faith must cast out - or at least, control - fear.
Jim noted the interesting fact that, even though Jesus did not hear the storm (and it must have been howling, to terrorize experienced fishermen!), He hears us! He came awake right away when His disciples called out to Him. In the same way, Jesus hears our cries in the middle of our trials. Jesus understands what we are going through, because He has endured all that we experience. Hebrews 4:15-16 says it perfectly:
For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Let us remember to call out to Him in the midst of our storms!
Jim concluded by explaining that storms can draw us closer to Jesus; although we can't handle the storm, Jesus certainly can! He is our Rock, our Anchor when life gets tempestuous. Since He often uses these storms to make us rely on Him and then equip us to help others who are going through their own trials, we need to remain patient and faithful as we endure and learn what He has to teach us.
And finally, we need to remember that storms do not last forever. Whether Jesus brings us through them here on earth, or whether He gives us eternal healing in Heaven, He will always calm the storm. The eternal lesson, as Paul says, is to learn this attitude:
For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
After worship, we continued north along the shore of Galilee and disembarked by the "Jesus Boat" Museum. It's quite a find; a boat from 2,000 years ago, and in fairly good shape, considering the place it was found...
We didn't stay there very long, since our day was so busy, but it did make me wonder what kind of archaeological treasures are yet to be found in the world.
The location - and, of course, we're not certain that this is the exact location, but it's close enough - is quite beautiful, and there are several areas on the grounds that have been set aside for outdoor worship. We all sat down and opened our Bibles, and Pastor Jim had one person begin at Matthew 5:1, and then we each read a verse, one after another, from Matthew 5:1-16, and then all of Matthew 7. "My" verse was 7:4, a reminder to me to weed out pride and hypocrisy from my life - and, boy, is that a never-ending struggle, or what!!!
We then had a time for private or group prayer, and I was driven to tears and earnest prayers for my family and my witness to them... And that's all I'm going to say about that...
From the Mount of Beatitudes, we traveled back down the hill towards the Sea of Galilee to the Primacy of Peter, which comemorates the traditional site of the scene from John 21 where Jesus asks Peter three times whether he loves Him, and then restores him to leadership among the Apostles. Fabrizio pointed out that the interesting fact that, the first two times Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him, He uses the Greek verb "agapao," meaning divine, unselfish love. Peter - all three times - replies, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love ("phileo" - brotherly love and affection) You." The third time Jesus asks the question, He too uses "phileo," almost like He's saying, "C'mon, Peter, get with the program!" I'm wondering if Peter, after his triple denial of Jesus prior to the Crucifixion, is far too aware of His human weaknesses and doesn't have the same sense of self-confidence he'd displayed before Jesus died...