2/17/19

Our minds cannot be full of God at the same time they are full of fear! Don’t get lost in your troubles. Lift up your eyes!  Faith drives out fear! “He will keep in perfect peace all those who trust in him, whose thoughts turn often to the Lord! (Isaiah 26:3)

William M. Batten was quoted in Fortune magazine as saying, “When I hear my friends say they hope their children don’t have to experience the hardships they went through I don’t agree. Those hardships made us what we are. We can be disadvantaged in many ways, and one may be never having had to struggle.” Let’s ponder two questions.  1) What sort of struggles or storms are you facing these days?  Do they seem at times to be too much for you to handle?

If this question brings a quick response in your mind and to your life’s setting – there is good news…the presence of Jesus Christ in the storms and struggles of our life provide us with a peace or calmness that no storm can ever take away!  My second question is this: 2) Do you believe it?

Having the heart of Jesus in us is the basis of our series of messages for the next few weeks as we prepare for Lent and ponder just how would Jesus love and how does he empower and expect us to love like he does?  Mylicia first reminded us that Jesus loves us by forgiving the sinner.  How well do we forgive those who “sin” against us?  Then, we considered that Jesus loves us by compassionately breaking bread with us. Last week we saw how Jesus loved his disciples enough to wash their feet.  Today, let’s look at how Jesus’ love can calm our storms

Jesus and the 12 get into a boat and set out on the Sea of Galilee.  Then, the storm broke out.  Sudden storms are very common there as cool winds blowing down intersect with warm water temperatures causing a severe storm to break out quickly.  As fishermen, the disciples knew the severity of the storm and they reacted that moment as they had every other time they had been caught in a storm – with fear!

They reacted in instinct and with what years of training had taught them to do many times before: bring down the sails, batten the hatches (wrapping ropes around the boat to hold it together), secure any loose articles and just hold on tightly.  What do you do when storms of life crash down on you? Do you do the same thing every time a “storm” surprises us?

But I wonder two things about the order of their reaction when that storm began: 1) how long did it take them to remember Jesus and wake him up?  How long does it take for us to remember – and turn to Jesus in our storms?  2) What did they expect him to do when they woke him up?  I would like to think they thought he would calm the storm, but there is a part of me that thinks that all they wanted was to have him awake – and scared too!

Can you relate to these disciples?  How long do we fight the storms of life in fear and with our own power and our own knowledge and our own experiences before turning to Jesus for help?

1) Jesus being asleep in the boat may mean that there are times when he waits for us to invite him into our struggles – into our desperate situation – our storm.  Whatever season of life we find our self in may puzzle us, but it does not bewilder God. Because of his agape love for us, he can and will use it for His purpose. God is not sometimes sovereign. He is not occasionally victorious. God is always stronger than anything we will ever face – always! Jeremiah 30:24 reminds us, “The Lord shall not turn back until He has executed and accomplished the thoughts and intents of His mind.”

By forgetting Jesus first and focusing on the storm instead, the disciples lost their faith to fear.  The same is true for us when we do the same thing.  Have you invited the all-powerful, all-sovereign Jesus into your storm?

2) Jesus gets up rebukes the storm first and then the disciples.  By that time, the disciples had been witnesses to Jesus’ power in several circumstances, yet when the storm hit and began to rage, the disciples forgot all they had seen Jesus do in the past and didn’t even consider the power of Jesus in that storm – they just forgot!  Remember that there is no storm that Jesus cannot handle.  No storm that Jesus cannot calm, no storm that Jesus cannot conquer.

Jesus’ love is never about whether he can handle the storms – he always can; Jesus’ agape life is always about whether we will look to Jesus first and not as a last resort – or, for some, whether we will look to Jesus at all?

Let us always be willing to proclaim daily that storms of life are not necessarily things that we bring upon ourselves (some are).  If we see our troubles as nothing more than isolated hassles and hurts, we’ll grow bitter and angry. But if we see those times as tests used by God for His glory and our maturity—then even the smallest storms take on significance!  Sometimes Jesus calms the storm.  Sometimes Jesus calms us in the midst of, and throughout the storms.

As disciples of Jesus, we are called to help calm storms of life by reminding those who are suffering that Jesus is there with them in the storms of nature or the storms of our heart.  Jesus is sovereign in both – if we will allow him into them! Jesus does not walk our walk for us – Jesus walks our walk with us!  Final question:  are you aware of his presence in your life – your celebrations, victories, struggles and even the storms in your life?