couple of decades there has been an unparalleled interest in the occult ... and astrology ... and Satanism, and witchcraft ... and ... society at large, on the one hand ... it worships at the shrine of science and technology ... and then it turns and ... pays its cash, and it does [laughing] pay its cash  , and its homage at the signs of the zodiac, and at the other various things dealing wi or ... are a part of the occult.
 Almost every newspaper, national newspaper and local free papers, will have er ... their horoscopes, television and radio chat shows, again, will have their ... their resident astrologers ... telephone call lines to find out what the stars have in store for you, an unprecedented interest in the, in the various branches of the occult.
 Some, few years ago, we were told that we were entering the age of Aquarius.
 Now this was, really, rather a low-key introduction to a whole new way of life that at the moment is sweeping through the United States and is on our doorstep.
 Not just a religious movement, but something that ... involves and enmeshes every area of life, from high national, and international politics, right the way down to the very colour of the, of the latest fashions, the new age movement and sometime in the future we're gonna ... lo , talk a little bit about that.
 But there's this, this involvement wi with with occult.
 Now, it's not then that society doesn't believe in the supernatural, we believe in the supernatural, society at large believes in the supernatural, the tragedy is that the natural man, the natural person however, as always is more willing to believe Satan's mysteries ... than he is to believe God's mysteries.
 Our priorities get turned inside out, they get inverted.
 Scientists contend that the principles of natural law that govern our universe cannot be turned aside, you cannot ignore them, they are fixed, they are great things that, that you cannot alter ... God cannot do anything about them.
 And so, when you come to the bible and you read the account of Jesus here on the earth, turning the water into wine, of Jesus stilling the storm, when you into the old testament and you read accounts there of the children of Israel, of the me , of the tremendous miracles that were performed by Jehovah, God for them ... well of course, there's a natural explanation to it, because you can't do these things, there are natural laws that stop you doing them ... you cannot take a glass of water, even if you're God, you cannot take it and make it into a glass of wine instantly, it's got natural processes to go through.
 And of course, when Jesus came and he healed the people and he spoke words of, of deliverance to those who are demon oppressed ... and he spoke words of that brought help to those who are blind and so on , there is of course , er, to the natural mind, a very natural explanation, it can all be explained away ... because you cannot do these things!
 And yet, the same science and the same technology that contends of the inviability of the natural laws, the same time ... is able to set it, one law against it, another itself, and he can do what he wants.
 These same men ... use one set of laws to cancel the effects of another, for example, the application of the law of aerodynamics, enables them to cancel the effect of the law of gravity, that's why you can go up in an aeroplane.
 Man can do it, but God is not allowed to do it, he can't do it!
 Well, let's look for a few moments this morning at one such incident when Jesus did do it ... and it's in er, Mark chapter four, I want to read a few verses from there, Mark chapter four.
 I'm gonna read from verse thirty five, just the paragraph there, the last paragraph in that chapter ... [reading] it says on that day when evening had come Jesus said to them let us go over to the other side ... and leaving the multitude they took him along with them just as he was in the boat ... and other boats were with them.
 And there arose a fierce gale of wind ... and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up ... and he himself was in the stern asleep on the cushion.
 And they awoke him and said to him, teacher ... do you not care that we are perishing?
 And being aroused, he rebuked the wind and said to the sea ... hush!
 Be still.
 The wind died down and it became perfectly calm.
 And he said to them ... why are you so timid?
 How is it that you have no faith?
 And they became very much afraid and said to one another who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him  ?
 Jesus had been, with his disciples and he had spent the whole day in teaching and preaching to the people, he'd been explaining to them what the kingdom of God was like, he'd been telling them some of the parables that perhaps we're familiar with, he'd been telling them about the parable of the sewer and the seed, the man who went out and he sewed his seed and different things went wrong ... birds came and picked up the stuff that fell by the wayside, some fell on stony ground and ... it couldn't put down any roots, some fell amongst thorns and they were quickly choked, but some did fall in good prepared soil and that grew.
 And so Jesus had been teaching the people.
 And at the end of the day he's tired, he's physically weary, and he says ... let's get away for a while ... let's go over to the other side.
 Now, it's im , that's an important little phrase there what Jesus says, let's go to the other side.
 He wasn't going for a joy trip, he wasn't going out in the boat just to se to while away an hour or so to relax and to unwind, he wasn't going there to, just to get away from the crowd of people that had been following him and had been listening to him, he had a purpose in going in into the boat, to go to the other side.
 We're not gonna be looking at it this morning, but it's quite simple if you were to read on down, the reason why is because on the other side there is a man there who is possessed of a whole legion of demons who desperately needs deliverance ... and Jesus is going over there to bring healing, to bring deliverance to this man.
 But it's important, for what we're going to be thinking of this morning to re , keep that little phrase in mind that Jesus said to them let us go over to the other side, there was purpose in going into that boat.
 And we see in this account, this incident in the life of Jesus, that Jesus is able to bring peace.
 There in the midst of turmoil, in the midst of, of unrest, in the midst of anxiety and fear, in the, in the midst of perplexity these disciples not knowing what to do, where to turn, Jesus Christ is able to bring peace.
 And the good news, the message of the gospel is that Jesus Christ is still able to do that.
 Into your life, into my life, he is able to bring peace.
 Whether we know him or not ... whether we've never had any dealings with him in the past or not, he is able to bring peace once we allow him to come in and to take control of the situation.
 But even if we've known him for many years, if we're committed Christians, if we've been followers of Jesus, there are occasions, there are times in our life when there is turmoil and there is unrest ... and if we allow him to se , to take control he is able to bring peace.
 So th let's look then back at this illustration for a moment, this incident, Jesus then gets er a few of his disciples and they go out, in the boat, and there are others who follow him, they get into their boats ... quite likely, quite possibly that many of the others would have been followers of Jesus, some of his other disciples, it's unlikely in these very small little er lakeside fishing boats that many of disciples would have got in, there might have been four or five of them that would have been about the lot ... and so the others would have got into some of the other boats which were nearby and, and others are the people that had been listening to Jesus, they too get into boats, and they pull out following him, wanting to hear if he's got anything more to say, wanting to witness anything else that he's gonna do, they wanna be there to see and to hear what Jesus has to say and is going to do.
 And whilst they're sailing across this little lake ... there in the evening a sudden storm blows up, now in the version of the bible that I'm reading from it says there that, er ... [reading] that is was a fierce storm  , other versions will er, give different e , different expressions, it was a fierce, sorry, a fierce gale of wind.
 Er, some some ... translations will put it tha that, that a, that a great storm blew up, but he word that is originally used there is the wi i , conveys the idea that this is no ordinary storm, this is just a, a sudden squall that has blown and in a, in a short while will blow itself out again, but it's a strong word that's used here, a word that would, that would denote a whirlwind or a tempest, something above and beyond the ordinary course of events that these disciples, many of them experience fisherman, would have known and been able to cope without any problem.
 So whilst they're sailing across, everything is calm, everything is peaceful, and suddenly there arose this fierce gale, this this tempest!
 So much so that the waves were crashing over the boat, and the boat was filling up with water.
 And these disciples and Jesus, some of them seasoned, experienced fishermen, they'd been fishermen all their lives, their fathers had been fishermen before them ... and they were frightened!
 They had never experienced anything like this before.
 And we find that life is not all plain sailing.
 Life is not just sailing through on a mill pond with sort of red sails in the sunset and that idyllic picture, life is not like that.
 But life has its storms, it has its tempests, and some of them are a lot fiercer than others.
 Fearful storms sometimes come along our way and ... we we wonder what is happening to us and we feel that we're being thrown around and tossed about from side to side, there seems no way out!
 There's seems to be no possible escape.
 And you have to start questioning.
 And that's just what these disciples did, they started questioning, what's he doing there?
 We're working here.
 We're gonna die!
 And there is Jesus asleep.
 Well we don't perhaps quite use that sort of language, but we start saying, well where is God in all this?
 If there is a God of love why doesn't he see my situation?
 If there is a God of love, a God who cares then why doesn't he do something about it?
 Why doesn't help me?
 Why doesn't make a way of escape for me?
 Where is this God of love ... when I'm going through this situation?
 Now that's a question that we can all come up with at times, whether we're Christians or non-Christians, we come up and we question, where is God in this situation?
 Why doesn't he do something about it?
 If he is there, if there is a God, can he not do something?
 Why can't he help me?
 ... As I said, life is not all plain sailing, there are troubles, there are storms ... and some of them are very fierce ... and some of them would cause us to, to wonder if there is an escape.
 Now that doesn't matter whether we're Christians or not Christians, that is the course of life, that happens to every one of us.
 Becoming a Christian is not the solution and the answer and the ... th the grand elixir , it solves all of life's problems, it takes away all the difficulties.
 Jesus Christ never ever made that claim, in fact he said, before you follow me, count the cost.
 Weigh up what it will cost you to commit your life to me.
 It's not an escape route from all your troubles and all your problems, it's not an escape route from all the difficulties and all the unpleasant things in life, it's not a pathway of ease and of, of in , of un ... paralleled bliss and enjoyment day after day.
 The sun will not always shine on you.
 Jesus said before you follow me, count the cost.
 Weigh it all up.
 But don't be a fair weather man.
 Don't be a fair weather follower [...] .
 And when the difficulty gets going, gets hard you turn back, he says don't do that.
 But before you start, count the cost.
 He said that a man who's gonna build a, build something, let's put it in a modern setting, the man who's gonna, a man and woman, a couple are gonna put an extension on their house, they don't just go down and buy a few dozen bricks, er, and a bag cement and start, they work out how much it's gonna cost them first of all.
 You see, they might have enough for that first barrel load of bricks, and the first bag of cement and sand ... but perhaps the money will run out shortly after that?
 And they've got is just a, perhaps a a, a few courses of brickwork.
 They might even get half the wall up, but that's as far as their capital goes.
 He says no, he says any man wanting to build an extension on his house, he's gonna sit down and gonna count the cost of it.
 He's gonna see how much it's gonna cost him in pounds and pence.
 He's then gonna look at his bank account and see if he can afford it or not.
 And he'll only start the job if he can afford it, that's if he's a wise man.
 And Jesus says so ... count the cost of following me.
 Now Jesus wasn't saying this to stop people following him.
 Not at all!
 He wanted them to follow him.
 But he did not want them to follow him under any false delusion.
 He didn't want them to follow him thinking that he was just a free ride, a free ticket for all their problems a and difficulties.
 As the bible says, in the world you have you will have persecution, you will have difficulties, you will have problems.
 There are the problems of life which are common to every one of us, whether they're Christian or not Christian, whether we believe in God or not, there are problems and difficulties and, and situations that are, they're the common lot of humanity.
 We all know suffering, we all know grief, we all know bereavement.
 But Jesus says, weigh up the costs, balance the account.
 And so we've said life is ... it's gonna bring us problems, it's gonna bring us storms, it's tempests, and some of them are gonna be very, very fierce!
 ... But you know, for the person who does not know Jesus Christ as their saviour, for the person who has never committed their life to God ... listen to what God says for that person.
 He says, the wicked are like the tossing sea, and you know, as far the bible is concerned, the wicked is not necessarily the man or the woman who does terrible deeds, the wicked is not necessarily who is, who is a murderer, or a child molesterer , or a thief or or or a wife beater or something like that, the wicked is the person who rejects God, who turns their back on God, who says thank you, I can go through my life without, I don't need you, I don't even believe you exist, and even if I do believe you exist I'm gonna do things my way, I'm gonna go through life as I choose.
 And God says the wicked are like the tossing sea, for it cannot be quiet, and it's waters toss up refuse and mud.
 There is no peace says my God for the wicked.
 That's the word of God through Isaiah the prophet.
 There is no peace for the wicked.
 For the person who rejects and spurns God.
 Who, wants to go through life by themself. ... [...] , doesn't mean to say that all the kind of life is one big storm, not at all!
 David the psalmist, he could see the wicked, and he said why do they prosper?
 Why do I have a hard time, and there's the Godless person prospering?
 He said but David only saw the surface.
 And you know, the surface is not all i , you look out on the sea, and it looks like the proverbial mill pond, it's calm, it's ... barely a ripple of water but it's not still.
 I remember many years ago, we had friends who had a fishing boat, er herring drifter, and in Fraserburgh the there's a young lad going out with them for a night's fishing ... and it was a beautiful summer's night!
 And the sea was, it was as calm as the mill pond.
 I've never been as sea sick in all my life!
 Because you see that surface water, [laughing] it was only surface water  , because when that boat was drifting there was an awful lot of movement.
 It was, it was going from side to side.
 It was going up and down.
 There was a lot of movement under those first few inches of surface water.
 And that's the picture that, God through Isaiah uses.
 And this particular ... it, it maybe ... all nice and calm on the surface, but underneath there is a whole maelstrom of, of of agitation.
 That's what it says, it brings up the mud and the refuse.
 That comes from the se , the seabed ... churning it up ... but the sea is never still, it's tossing and in, as the movement there underneath, although it may appear calm on the surface, but there are times when it's not calm on the surface, it's as rough on top as it is underneath.
 Most of you won't remember the time, and I certainly don't, some of you will, you'll be familiar with the er, healing accounts, seeing pictures on, er either in magazines or on the television news, in in old news reels, of that time when Neville Chamberlain stepped out of an aeroplane, and he's just been to Germany and, and had a meeting with Hitler.
 He comes back with a little piece of paper in his hand waving it, peace in our time.
 The scrap of paper, and you know the,th the result of that, and you know the ... conclusion of it all.
 The whole world in, in a matter of months is engulfed in the, in the horrors of the second world war!
 Oh it looked good on the surface ... but underneath it was dark and peaceful.
 And your life can be like that.
 It looks alright on the surface, you're not going through a hassle at the moment, and our memories are short, fortunately ... and once we come into a calm patch ... the hassles of yesterday are quickly forgotten.
 We were just enjoying the calm and the peace of today.
 But underneath there are those hassles, and those, those agitations.
 And Jesus, he meant to come and bring peace.
 They say peace, it doesn't just go on the top two inches of the surface water, it goes right to the very depths of your life ... and keeps [...] .
 One occasion Jesus said, my peace, to his disciples shortly before he left, my peace I leave with you.
 I don't give, what the world gives, I do it [...] .
 I don't give something I haven't got, I don't give something I've no right to give, I'm not giving you something just for ... [...] , I'm giving you my peace.
 And there was never a time when ... the life of Jesus is not shaping us.
 You go through all sorts of situations and circumstances ... but there is a peace and an equilibrium ... it wasn't just on the surface, it was right to the very depths of his being ... the whole being.
 But you say, but I am a Christian, I've experienced God's peace, I've accepted Jesus Christ as my saviour.
 I love the Lord!
 I seek to serve him!
 But there are still those raging storms that come.
 There are still those tempests that hit my life and would not be around, and would almost swamp me!
 Well there is a difference you see, there is a difference.
 And the big difference for these disciples, was that they were not alone.
 Though you're going through the storm ... but Jesus is in the boat with you.
 There is the difference for the person who has put their trust in God ... who has committed their life to Christ ... and they will go and you and I will go through those storms, and through those tempests, and be knocked around and be, almost swamped by them ... but the thing is we are not alone Jesus Christ, he is in the boat of your life with you.
 He says, I will never leave you.
 I will never forsake you.
 Let me come into the book of Hebrews and those words he uses are actually, to be underlined and emphasized.
 Cos in the literary, I will never, never leave you!
 I will never, never forsake you!
 He promises that which is [...] I will lead you till the end of the age.
 ... And Jesus was there with them.
 And that made all the difference for them.
 And they turn to him, and he speaks a word that brings deliverance.
 And he gets up and sees the situation ... and remember, he said, Jesus wasn't out for joy ride, he wasn't just passing an evening relaxing and unwinding and resting away from the crowd, he had gone into the boat for a purpose, he was going to the other side, and no storm was gonna stop him getting there!
 There was a man there who desperately needed deliverance!
 He was possessed with a whole legion of demons!
 He was, he was,th they they took him, they chained him up, and they let him loose in the local cemetery, and left him there.
 You can imagine the population of th , of a nearby town, every now and again they would come down and perhaps throw some food over in this man's direction ... a loaf of bread, a, a a a a a a, a hunk of meat or, some other food every now and again so he would keep alive.
 But he ranted and raged and rampaged through the local cemetery.
 So they tied him with chains but the demonic powers were so great in his life that he snapped them like new cords.
 Here was a man who desperately needed Jesus!
 And Jesus was going across to the other side to look for this man.
 And no storm was gonna stop him.
 And the disciples didn't know that of course.
 They were just concerned for themselves.
 We're gonna per perish!
 We're gonna die!
 So Jesus when he sees their situation, he's not concerned by the storm by the way, he's not put out by that because he knows he's going to the other side, but for the sake of them ... he gets up and he speaks the word, Jesus he said, peace.
 Be still.
 [...] be muzzled!
 [shouting] Silence  !
 He speaks that word of command and the wind ceases, it really is howling.
 The seas calm.
 And the disciples are happy once again.
 And Jesus asked them a question, he says to them, why are you so timid?
 How is it that you have no faith?
 And J B Phillips in his paraphrase he puts that last question like this, what has happened to your faith?
 You see, it wasn't that they had no faith, they had faith ... we were saying the other week when we were dealing with this, we all have faith ... it's what we do with it.
 They had faith, their faith was in themselves and in bailing out, and they couldn't bail quick enough, and so their faith was not realizing anything ... it wasn't producing the goods.
 They had had faith, they had seen Jesus perform miracles, they had seen him heal the sick, they had seen him give sight to the blind, they had seen some of the tremendous things that Jesus had done.
 They'd been there at the wedding, when the wine, that water had been turned into wine.
 They had, they had witnessed him casting out demons, they had heard his teaching, they were familiar with Jesus, they had every reason to be, to have faith in him, he says, what has happened to your faith?
 And very soon they were [...] , he said a moment ago they had taken it from Jesus, they were no longer trusting in him, and they started to trust in themselves in their own ability.
 You see, as long as things were happening their faith was riding high.
 As long as the miracles were flowing, as long as the sight er er was given to the blind people, as long as the lame were walking, as long as th the lepers were being cleansed, they had faith ten feet tall!
 Well when you see things like that happening you can afford to have faith ten feet tall!
 It's not difficult to believe!
 ... And yes certainly, you and I can be like that.
 When everything is going fine for us, and God is in quote, blessing us, when our life is flowing smoothly, it's easy then to have faith, it's easy then to trust, but do you know, those disciples in that boat, they were no safer ... after Jesus stilled the storm ... than beforehand.
 Their safety had not increased one little bit ... granted, they were more comfortable ... and granted, they were enjoying themselves more, they felt better, but they were no safer.
 ... During the past two or three generations ... there have been, there has been this, this idea of God's favour being expressed in blessing.
 Very often, we'd link that blessing with ... material things, the physical things, the healing, the prosperity ... you know God's blesses us just because I'm sick, he heals me.
 ... I can't find that in God's word.
 It's not there.
 That is not an evidence of his blessing.
 You see ... if that's how we're to judge blessing ... then what are we to say ... to people, to men like ... C T Stard who ... sacrificed ... an inheritance that in today's value, just in the early part of this century, but in today's value be worth millions of pounds ... to go to the Congo, and to China, and to India?
 In later le li years leaving his wife behind him cos she was unable to go, and going to serve his God therein, where is the blessing in that if this is how we take God's blessing?
 Or ... what are we gonna say to men like Hudson Taylor there in China buried his wife, and buried his daughter, and son.
 And Judson in Burma burying his whole family within a few short years of getting there.
 Men like Jim Elliott who in seek of the taking of good news of the gospel to the [...] Indians becomes, as a young man, a martyr.
 To men like Teddy Hobson who ... in his whole life serving the ... the [...] of the Congolese ... ends up as a martyr.
 He was cannibalized.
 Where is God's blessing in that?
 If we equate God's blessing with the nice things that happen to us ... then they were not blessed!
 And they've given far more than but you or I will ever contemplate doing for God!
 And yet, is that blessing?
 Is that what it really means?
 Is that what the bible means by being blessed by God?
 Let me read you two or three verses ... the bible has to say about blessing, first of all, the verse in the book of Proverbs ... Proverbs chapter ten, verse twenty two.
 It sets the scene perhaps ... for it said [reading] it is the blessing of the Lord that makes rich ... and he adds no sorrow to it  .
 And we read that and we start thinking of richness in the terms of pounds and pence and material possessions.
 Of course, it's nothing to do with that.
 But as Jesus said, a man's life [clears throat] does not consist in the, in the abundance of the things he possesses, that's not how you gauge your person's richness.
 It's not how many stocks and shares they've got, it's not what the size of their balance is, how much they've got on deposit account, how much credit, how credit worthy they are, that is not the richness of a man or a woman.
 Here the wise man says, the blessing of God, it makes a person rich ... and it does not bring sorrow with it.
 It's a strange verse.
 Put it to the back of your mind a moment please.
 As I turn in to the book of Genesis I read there of God coming to Abraham, and saying to Abraham, [reading] that Abraham in your family all the nations of the world are gonna be blessed  !
 How is that blessing gonna come?
 It comes through the Messiah.
 It blessed the [...] for Abraham, the Messiah.
 [...] Jesus.
 Because we become ... middle class?
 Because we've become better off?
 Of course not!
 We are blessed in him because he gave his life for us.
 That is the source of God's blessing.
 Not in getting, but rather in giving.
 ... The apostle Paul when he's writing to the Corinthians in his first letter to them, one Corinthians ... [...] .
 Well what is this?
 What's the definition?
 I suppose if I come around and ask each one of us this morning, can you give a definition?
 I'm writing a dictionary and I'm stuck on a word, I want the definition of blessing.
 And I suppose for every person here, there would be a ... I would say a similar, but a different er definition.
 There'd be a lot of similarity to it, and I think if we're honest ... a lot of it would come back to things.
 Well let's see what God himself has to say cos he gives us a definition of blessing.
 Gives it to us in psalm a hundred and thirty three ... and it's in the last verse.
 He is talking about God people being in unity.
 And he says, as a result of them being in unity, dwelling together in unity, he says it is there that the Lord commanded the blessing.
 Whatever that is!
 And it gives the blessing for what it is.
 Life forever.
 That is God's blessing!
 That is God's blessing to you.
 That is God's blessing on me.
 It's not, how I prosper financially.
 It's not, whether I'm in good health.
 It's not whether,a , whether I've all my little ... itty-bitty prayers answered.
 God's blessing to me ... is life forever.
 That's his blessing to you.
 It's not making a list.
 It's not giving you ... total health, and free you from all sickness and diseases.
 It's not answering all your prayers.
 It's not making your life easy.
 It is giving you life forever!
 That is the blessing!
 That is his big parcel he's given to you.
 It's wrapped up in a [...] .
 [...] , thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift!
 The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
 ... Those disciples, they had the storm stilled for them ... and it got ... easier sailing.
 It was plain sailing then to the other side.
 They were more comfortable, it was a, it was a more enjoyable journey, and let's be honest ... if I can go through life without hassles and without problems my life will be more enjoyable, of course it and these difficulties, and these storms coming away, coming your way your life will be more enjoyable.
 But like the disciples, it will not be any better, or any safer.
 Their safety did not depend on the storm being still.
 Their security and safety depended on Jesus being with them.
 That was it!
 Your safety, and your security and my safety and security in life ... does not depend on how pleasant my ways are and how pleasant my paths are ... how much I manage to amass, and how I can overcome all the little difficulties and problems and ... steer clear of the big ones ... the security and safety of my life, now and in eternity, [...] security is there in the boat ... and lying with him.
 See, the real peace ... is not the stilling of the storm ... the real peace is that the assurance of who is going to stop it.
 That's the promise to your eternal life.
 I will never leave you.
 You don't understand the circumstances, you don't understand the storm ... [...] ... I might [...] , I might not ... leave that to me he says ... I will be with you.
 I will never leave you.
 I will never forsake you ... even to the end of the [...] .
 Well let's see