6-Week Series: Against All Odds


Summary: I have never yet invited anyone to sleep through a sermon, though I have seen some do it on their own, but I do want you to listen and rest in the Lord through this one.


Grace, Grace, God’s Wonderful Grace

Tom Lowe

Text: Psalm 91:1-7; Mark 4:35-41

The first thing I want to share with you is about sleeping in the back of the boat. That is what Jesus did in the well-known passage of Mark 4:25-41. But listen to Psalms 91 first to hear how God invites us to rest in Him.

Psalm 91 (NLT)

1 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High

will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

2 This I declare about the Lord:

He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;

he is my God, and I trust him.

3 For he will rescue you from every trap

and protect you from deadly disease.

4 He will cover you with his feathers.

He will shelter you with his wings.

His faithful promises are your armor and protection.

5 Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,

nor the arrow that flies in the day.

6 Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,

nor the disaster that strikes at midday.

7 Though a thousand fall at your side,

though ten thousand are dying around you,

these evils will not touch you.

I dedicate this message to all weary disciples, all those struggling with depression, all those who are chronic worriers, all those struggling with fears and doubts, and all those who like to say, “If you want something done you have to do it yourself!”

I have never yet invited anyone to sleep through a sermon, though I have seen some do it on their own, but I do want you to listen and rest in the Lord through this one.

Let’s begin by hearing the Word of the Lord—“(Mark 4:35-41; NLT)

35 As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” 36 So they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed). 37 But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water.

38 Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”

39 When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. 40 Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

41 The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!”

I went to college before hand-held computers were popular; you know, the dark ages when everyone could add, subtract, multiply and divide using what was called a pencil. Computers were a wonderful invention, but we have become dependent on them. When they breakdown nothing gets done at the office until they are fixed. Compare that to a pencil; when the lead breaks all you need to fix it is a pencil sharpener.

Then came the “slide rule.” It could do arithmetic much faster. I remember thinking, “If I had a slide rule I could do my homework much faster.” And it was so impressive to carry it in a holster hanging from my belt. I could whip that slide rule out of its holster faster than Marshal Dillon could draw his gun, and with a few manipulations of the slide I had the answer before anyone else.

Then someone invented the desk-top computer. My company bought me one and I just knew that I could get more work done, and during lunch I could play computer games. Now that’s the kind of thinking Hewett-Packard wants you to have, since their goal is to sell computers. And it’s true; you can get more work done with a computer than you can with a slide rule or a pencil. But a Biblical reflection on this might be, “God gave me two hands, 10 fingers, and 24 hours in which to work, but my hands and fingers need to rest occasionally or they will stop working. Bodies need to rest and computers need to be turned off or they will wear out.”

But we don’t say that. We buy into the good old American way of “more, more, more, bigger, bigger, bigger, faster, faster, and faster.” We super size our lives like we do our “fast food.” But like super sizing fast food too often, our spiritual arteries can be weakened by the stress of more and bigger and faster.

Years ago I was very busy with church work and with giving devotions at nursing homes and apartment complexes and filling in for pastors in the area. My own pastor once told the congregation that I preached more than any preacher in the county; I don’t know whether that’s true are not. But I do know that I became exhausted. At the same time I taught a Sunday school class, I was chairman of the deacons, and church treasurer. I was exhausted and I couldn’t see a way out. I needed to rest.

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