Stepping into the Storm
Stepping into the Storm
There is this nonsense within church people that people think that when we become Christians that pain, distress, trials and calamity will never come our way. However, this thinking is completely contrary to scripture in fact the Bible implicitly states from a biblical point of view that affliction gained entrance into the world through sin. After Adam and Eve sinned God spoke to them:
16 To the woman he said, “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” 17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. 18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”
Part of the curse of sin is the affliction it brings and because of sin unfortunately misery is a common human experience and our short life is full of trouble an trials.
“Man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. 2 He springs up like a flower and withers away; like a fleeting shadow, he does not endure. 3 Do you fix your eye on such a one? Will you bring him before you for judgment? 4 Who can bring what is pure from the impure? No one! 5 Man’s days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed. 6 So look away from him and let him alone, till he has put in his time like a hired man.
The bible acknowledges that it is difficult to understand the many afflictions of the righteous.
19 A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all;
It is no wonder that when God sent his servant to the world to save it he just didn’t send him as an obedient servant or a submissive servant or a compliant servant God sent him as a suffering servant.
2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. 3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. 6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
The suffering servant showed us not only the power we have through him to overcome, but it reminds us that there we would be many trials and sorrows for his followers.
33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
Paul taught that entrance to the kingdom of God comes with many tribulations.
21 They preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, 22 strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,”
The trials that we go through should not shake or Christian faith
1 Thess. 3
So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to be left by ourselves in Athens. 2 We sent Timothy, who is our brother and God’s fellow worker in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, 3 so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. You know quite well that we were destined for them. 4 In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know. 5 For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter might have tempted you and our efforts might have been useless.
In Mpact I have asked you all many times the question What is your call but I think as we can sense by taking a quick look at how sin as brought pain, affliction and suffering in the world that although we are God’s people we aren’t exempt from the suffering of the sinful things in the world. Last week I talked to you guys about being spiritually minded about how those who are saved are carrying a piece of eternity in them. In other words our bodies have become a temple for the Holy Spirit. The joke I told earlier was funny but how many of us have felt like the guy the bear is going to eat. We believe in God we know he is real but our prayers aren’t turning out how we think it should. These things happen and it really throws off our thinking, it shakes or even breaks our Spirit, but worse than that feeling is that it causes doubt in our hearts. I have begun to realize that in my own life when I allow myself to lean toward doubt I become a hypocrite to faith. The Spirit that God has put in us gives a piece of eternity, it unlocks God’s original intention in each one of us, and even more than that it gives us access to God’s thrown. How many times in our lives though we live in the natural, we see our trial in the natural, we feel the effects of the trial in the natural, do we react to it in the natural, rather than looking beyond, looking higher, and rise above our situations by allowing God into them. There is a familiar story in the Bible that we have all read that I want us to take a quick look at it that deals with this very topic.
22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but the boat was already a considerable distance from land and the waves repeatedly struck the boat because the wind was against it.
25 During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. 27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” 28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” 29 “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” 32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
In prayer meeting Wednesday night I was praying and the Holy Spirit began to dig this scripture into me deeply and he showed me some things I have never seen before. As we have been talking about there are times in our lives the Lord testes us. This is one of the passages. From the outset of this passage in verse 22 we see that Jesus sets them up for a test. It says that he told them to “Go ahead of them to the other side.” Often times in our own life we feel God speaking to us and like the disciples we are obedient and we go. However, like Israel in the Old Testament, although we are obedient and are doing God’s will, I believe there are times where God pulls back a little bit in our lives to see how true are faith really is and how much we rely on his word. Jesus sent them ahead of them and so the test begins. Now what is interesting is verse 23 because what I began to realize is that Jesus and the disciples are going to the same destination but what is different is how they get there. It is interesting to note that the disciples, although they were obedient in doing what Christ told them to do, they went about it under their own strength. Jesus’ destination was across the water also, but before he went, in his divine wisdom, he first went to the mountainside and prayed. My guess is that he was thanking God for the miracle he had just done as well as he was refueling for the situation to come. Now as a pastor the saddest thing I see in dealing with people from all different backgrounds and religions is that some people have absolutely no prayer life whatsoever, and even more disturbing is they have no idea how to pray. By allowing this flaw in your theology you become a victim to situations rather than a victor in them. This brings us to the next verse. However, I am going to switch to Marks account of this story for a moment.
48 He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them.
This is awesome! You see the disciples were in Gods will, they were obedient to what they were suppose to do however, they skipped over some important principles and went before Jesus. This left them out to sea, powerless, and straining toward their Goal. The power of prayer is an absolute necessity in our lives. As we see it keeps us in the mindset we need to be in to go before the storms in our lives. Jesus found strength in prayer it was his connection to God through the Holy Spirit. Some scholars believe that Jesus spent 4-6 hours a day praying. Maybe that’s why he needed only to speak a word and people were healed. There is something about the humility of prayer that brings forth the power of God in our lives. In my opinion I believe it is why we see decrees of Christ daily in the world and the up rise of secular progressiveness in America. The facts are we are so natural minded we tend not to see reward in spending time in prayer. 1 Thess 5:17 says to pray continually meaning never ending. Prayer is our power through Christ it is where we are led in the right way and where we receive the strength to reach our destination in his will.
This brings us to verse 48 and 49 in Mark. Seeing there trouble Jesus not only went to see the disciples but he did something I never caught before when reading this passage. It says he was about to pass them by. You see when we do things, even in obedience, ahead of God we leave ourselves out there alone and powerless, striving toward the destination he has for us. I believe Jesus’ desire was to go before them to make straight their path but they decided to go and do his will with their strength. This shows that these disciples were not disciplined enough in their lives to go beyond the natural and seek out God’s power supernaturally in prayer. Another important point here is to understand is that the disciples were not promised smooth sailing. They were promised power to make it to there destination despite the elements around them. In the same way we must not think that we who live in the natural will not be subject to the elements of this falling nature because of sin. In fact becoming a Christian or being saved means we are freed from the laws of this fallen world through the redemption of Christ. His Spirit regenerates our fallen spirit and unites again with the Father. Christ did overcome this world and though we are subject to the laws in the natural we are limitless in the supernatural by the Spirit of Jesus Christ who has overcome this natural world. This is the mindset we need to conform to, the molding of the Father by the power of his word, and through the baptism of the Holy Spirit it is how we align our spiritual rudders.
This is where the disciples fell short you’ll notice in verse 49 it states that when they saw him walking they were scared and thought it was a Ghost! Again their mission and everything fantastic that was happening in their ministry was happening in the supernatural and manifesting itself here in the natural world. They just at this point were not eternal minded or spiritually minded. They were striving even in there walk and relationship with God. There actions are very similar to that of Moses with the Israelites. Exodus 33:16 God tells Moses I will cause my goodness to pass in front of you and I will proclaim my name, The Lord, in your presence” Remember when the Lord also came down the mountain in all his glory into the Israelite camp and it scared the Israelites and they asked Moses to mediate for them. Again another time Moses came down from the mountain and he was so full of God’s glory that when he came down from the mountain and into the presence of his people it scared them and they asked him to put vale over his face. The point I am making God wants his glory to go before each and one of us. However, some of us are scared of his presence. Like the disciples were. Even worse some of don’t even recognize his presence yet are calling ourselves Christians. We haven’t been faithful to God’s will in prayer and knowing the power of his promises with prayer. We don’t truly understand that the power of God in our Lives is his presence and relationship in our lives. Sure we may be walking with Jesus, like the disciples, we listen at church, hang out with others that do the same, but the question we have to ask ourselves are you experiencing Gods God supernatural presence in your life in order so that he may communicate how you are to get to your destination. Or are we striving, by reason in the natural trying to figure it all out. Who is driving your ship?
This brings us back to Matthew 14:28-29. When talking about the storm in our lives, the whirlwind everyone one of us deals with in this world, often in the past the church has told us to separate ourselves from the world. They have told us to not be unequally yoked to the world. I do believe in these passages, but in the past the church itself has used them to completely isolate themselves from the world. I believe God expects us to separate ourselves from the sin that goes on in the world, but if we use these passage improperly then we ourselves end up in closet or behind four walls our whole lives, instead of being useful for the kingdom. Remember we are supposed to be eternal minded, kingdom conscious not isolationists like the Pharisee’s. So why am I bringing this up. How many times have Christians prayed a prayer similar to this, “Lord I’ll do anything you want, I want to serve you, I’ll go anywhere, I’ll do anything, I want your will.” This is exactly Peter’s prayer, “Lord if this is you just tell me to come.” So what did Jesus say? He said, “come”.
What I want you to see here is that Jesus expects us to step out in the middle of the storm. Let me say again, Jesus expects us to step out in faith in the middle of the Storm. Some of us are waiting for clear skies and a nice breeze to sail on to our destination, but Jesus expects us to step out in the middle of the storm. I believe it is because the natural only matters to those who are natural. In other words to those who live by the flesh all they only can see is the storm, but to those who are empowered by Gods presence, his Spirit, they see Jesus, his will and really on his power. Take Stephen in the book of Acts. In the middle of getting stoned by the Israelites he screamed “Father forgive them!” and went on to say, “I see Jesus sitting at the right hand of God!” His mind and heart were kingdom minded, he was aware of the eternity God has placed in his life. In the middle of his storm he stood firm. I believe this passage was a foreshadowing of Peter’s spirit filled life after Pentecost. Jesus commanded him to go into all the world and preach the good news of the gospel. Peter would have to step out of his comfort zone, out of his boat to do that.
Jesus told him that Peter would be a leader of the church and he would have to go and step into the storm. Peter was the only one to get out of the boat! Think about that. How much do you know about the other disciples after Pentecost? However we know that Peters ministry and Paul’s ministry was strong and powerful because they stepped out into the storm by the power and direction of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. You guys, we can’t be so naive as to think that pain, suffering, and elements of the storm will not come our way. It scripturally just is foolish to think that because we believe in Jesus that we will not feel or experience those things. In fact as I have shown you scripturally it is quit the opposite. Some of us in this room have been walking with Jesus like the disciples, but don’t understand what it means to allow God’ presence into your life because you are fearful.
Others in this room have no understanding of faith and the power of prayer and you feel out to sea. Maybe you feel like your just striving and struggling all the time and you played out every situation in your mind and can’t see how God is going to get you to his destination in your life. Still others are in the comfort zone of life. A cushy job, and a cushy church but everything is unfruitful! Maybe God is calling you to step out into the storm and live by faith rather by sight, by focusing on the elements of the natural rather then on Gods supernatural power and will for your life.
I believe all of us including me fit in here somewhere. The question is what are you going to do about it? Will you rely on your own strength? Figure it all out in your mind before taking a step forward. I truly believe that God is calling some of us to step into the storm and live by faith.