There is an old Indian proverb: “Pray to God, but keep rowing against the rocks.” What does it mean? God helps those who help themselves? Or perhaps as someone has written, “Pray as if everything depends on God; work as if everything depends on you.” I thought of this proverb as I was reading the gospel accounts of Jesus’ walking on the sea. (John 6:15-21; Mark 6:45-48) It was a very pressing time in the ministry of Jesus. He was besieged by crowds of people, some of whom wanted to hear him preach; many others who were drawn by the bread He fed the 5,000. Some things were getting out of hand. Jesus perceived that some wanted to take him by force and make him their king. Jesus needed reprieve…he went to the mountain alone, to spend time in prayer. Before he left, he saw his disciples off as they got into the boat to go before Him to Bethsaida on the other side of the lake. As they reached the middle of the sea, in the night, a storm arose because a great wind was blowing. It was dark and Jesus had not come to them. They had been rowing for hours, a distance of three or four miles. They certainly were wondering where Jesus was (on another occasion they asked ‘Master, do you not care that we perish? (Mark 4:38) But Jesus was well aware of their struggles. Mark says “He saw them straining at rowing, for the wind was against them.” (Mark 6:48) Where was Jesus when they struggled? What was he doing? He was watching. He was praying. Then, about the fourth watch of the night, Jesus came to them, walking on the sea. They were troubled, but Jesus told them, “It is I, do not be afraid.” When they willingly received him into the boat, the storm passed and they were safely on the other side. Surely there are truths here to keep in mind as we are confronted by the storms in our life. It is not too difficult to offer platitudes and prayers to God when the waters of life are still and peaceful, but when the winds blow and the waves begin to toss, we become afraid. We cry out to God; as well we should! What happens when the answer to those prayers is not immediate? Where is Jesus? Does he know about our struggles? Does he care? O yes, he cares! “My Jesus knows when I am lonely, He knows each pain, He sees each tear; He understands each lonely heartache, He understands because He cares.” So then, what is Jesus doing? When his disciples struggled in the boat – he watched, and he prayed. I must assume that is what he is doing when we are struggling. So then, what can we do? What must we do? We must keep on rowing. There is a lot about life that can be described as just keeping on rowing. It is a struggle to raise a family – a difficult economy may make it a struggle to keep a roof over our head and food on the table. The demands of raising children can be great. What can we do? Just keep on rowing. It is challenging to live the Christian life. There are times when other people (our neighbors, friends, fellow-workers, and even our family) may persecute us or give us a hard way to go. What can we do? Keep on rowing. There are times when the normally choppy waters of life turn into a tempestuous storm. A job is lost and a family becomes homeless, a child gets into trouble, we are forced to fight a disease. What can we do? Keep on rowing. All we can do is look for work, deal with the problems, seek doctors and treatments, and keep on rowing – and most importantly keep on praying. The one thing I have taken from the story of Jesus coming to his disciples in the middle of the storm is that he will also come to us. He sees our need. He cares. He prays for us and he will come in the right way, at the right time, with the answer to our prayer. Don’t lose heart, keep on rowing.
The baptism commanded by Jesus was to be administered by man in water for remission of sins. In Acts eight after the evangelist, Philip had preached unto the Ethiopian eunuch about Jesus, the eunuch said, “Behold, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?” (Acts 8:37). Paul informs us that the sinner is baptized into Christ Jesus and his death (Romans 6:3). It was in his death that Jesus shed His blood, thus when the sinner is baptized into the death of Christ he contacts the blood which washes away sin (Hebrews 9:22; Revelations 1:5). In passages where baptism and salvation are used in the same context baptism always precedes salvation. 1. Mark 16:16 “. . . and is baptized shall be saved.” 2. Acts 2:38 “. . . baptized unto remission of sins.” 3. Acts 22:16 “. . . be baptized washing away thy sins.” 4. I Peter 3:21 “. . . baptism doth also now save us.” 5. Romans 6:4 “. . .buried therefore with him through baptism into death: . . . so we might walk in newness of life.” Water is the element in which the penitent believer is baptized, but baptism is the act which brings the sinner into contact with the cleansing blood of a resurrected Savior. The baptism Jesus commands is: 1. In water . . .Acts 8:38. 2. In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit . . .Matthew 28:19. 3. Into Christ. . . Galatians 3:26-27. 4. Into the death of Christ. . . Romans 6:4. 5. For remission of sins. . . Acts 2:38; I Peter 3:21. 6. Those baptized receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit. . . Acts 2:38b. If you have not been baptized according to the teachings of God’s word, it is our prayer that you will be obedient to God’s instructions which will enable you to be cleansed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ. Copied and edited for space