Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Fire
Before we begin, I would like to explain today's service. Maybe life is going well for you right now. Smooth sailing-open waters and sunny skies. That's great!
Or maybe life is a struggle right now, and storm clouds are on the horizon; things are not looking good. Or perhaps, you are right in the middle of a big storm, and you cannot see any break in the clouds.
No matter where you are, we all experience storms of all types, whether it is health-related, or relational, or financial.
In the middle of the storm, we may experience fear, worry, and anxiety along with physical and emotional pain. And we may wonder all kinds of things from what did I do to deserve this to will I make it out.
But know this--We are not just left to fend for ourselves in this world trying to scrape by and survive with fingers crossed and hoping Karma doesn't catch up with us.
This week vast portions of our country suffered a terrible winter storm. Thousands of lives were tragically affected as people had to face their storms of lost power, broken water pipes freezing temperature.
As people struggle in the storm, it may appear to them that God is far off, unconcerned or is asleep at the switch, leaving us to fend for ourselves.
But quite the opposite is true.
God is in control. The Lord Jesus Christ is on His throne. And He is intimately involved in each of our lives and loves us and cares about us.
That is what this service is all about this morning from beginning to end.
So bring your storms, your anxieties, and your pain and cast them all the feet of Jesus. Invite the Holy Spirit to bend you and shape you by His will.
Let us stand for our call to worship. Our call to worship is from Psalm 65, I will read the first four verses, and the congregation will respond with the next four verses.
Last week, we looked at Matthew 8:18-22, remember that? We noticed that up to this point, people, (the crowd) was being drawn to Jesus for Him to sort of solve their needs. The poor in spirit, the hungry the sick the demon possessed, are all flocking to Jesus, looking for help, and rightly so. We mentioned that God sometimes put these needs in our lives to draw us to Him. He knows there is trouble in the world. Right? John 16:33-In this world you will have trouble, but take heart I have over come the world.
Often it is through those tough times that we are first drawn to God, to “fix” things. ANd it is likely that was the reason that most of the crowd was attracted to Him.
So let’s reread last week’s passage from Matthew chapter 8 verse 18
18 When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. 19 Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” 20 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” 21 Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 22 But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”
Are you all in? (slide)
Are you all in? (slide)
The crowd is on the shore and Jesus decides he going to go over to the other side of the lake, and he confronts 2 people, a disciple and a teacher of the law, and essentially tells them, that a commitment to follow Jesus, means “all in”. They are unable to give up their lives.
I then invited you consider if you are all in, and invited you to start to try toward this commitment with some spiritual steps.
Here in this passage, we only have 3 groups of characters. First, of course is Jesus. Generally speaking, as far as the crowd is concerned. Jesus is the teacher, the healer, the provider the comforter, the one they searching for.
Then we have the crowd, and it’s representative 2 people that chose to remain on the shore, to tend to their way of life. .They are safe, they have their lives as they want them, and apparently they do not want Jesus more than their lives, and here is where they will remain.
Then , we have those who are committed to a life of following Jesus. They are the disciples, that will getting into the boat with Jesus the ones that are all in. Now, let’s see what happens to that group, the all in group.
23 Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24 Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” 26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. 27 The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”
23 Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24 Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping.
One the screen is a typical first century fishing boat. Based on Archeological evidence it could have been roughly, 26 feet long possibly 7 .5 feet wide, and 4.5 feet deep. The capacity may have been around 15 people.
(Slide Boat 2)
Nothing is too unusual about this scene, this would have been a fishing boat, Galilee is a fishing village, the men with Jesus were fishermen, so this is an everyday sort of thing.
Then suddenly Matthew says, a storm comes on them. Again nothing unusual, you could have sudden storms on the sea of Galilee.
The waves are coming up on this little boat, and they are sweeping over the boat, Matthew says. Now this is a concerning situation, actually frightening. Imagine on a little boat like that, wood, most likely not super sturdy to begin with and these waves are sweeping over the boat.
One would have to assume your feet are getting wet your clothes are wet, the wind is blowing-stinging rain. How could anyone sleep in that?
Now, I’ve been tired. I’ve been real tired. I have been real tired and woken up in my house in a storm. I’ve slept in a tent, and I’ve slept in a boat. I don’t think I could ever be tired enough to sleep outside in a boat during a storm.
I honestly can’t think of anyone who could sleep outside in a storm in a boat. Unless, Jesus did it on purpose.
Right? Are you following me on this? See, throughout chapter 8, as Jesus is doing these healings the crowd is following around Jesus. They have these needs and they want to healed and rightly so, so they are pressing in on Jesus. God uses the needs in their life to draw them to Him.
Then, Jesus asks them to go all in. You have heard the teaching, you have seen the miracles, now take a step of faith and go all in. Go with me, follow me into the unknown, to the other side.
Now, I’m not saying that it happens this way for everyone. We do not necessarily have evidence, that the disciples were drawn to Christ in this manner, but it can happen this way for a great many of us. We come to Christ wanting a better life. I’m not faulting you for that, or saying it is bad, but look what happens.
Jesus leads them into what? A great easy life? A nice boat ride on a Sunday afternoon on a calm lake? No, Jesus asks people to follow him, and then He leads them right into a storm. Jesus knew it was going to storm. And then He purposefully checks out. He goes to sleep.
Why? For what purpose? Well it must be to teach us something.
25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”
Last Sunday night Jayne and I watched a movie called “Tulsa”. In the movie, the lead character had a lot of problems in his life. His life seemed to go from storm to storm. He was worn out and these storms led to a lot of problems in his life.
In one scene a Pastor comes to Him and tells him this story. He said there was once a man that was on a boat in a violent storm. And the man cried out to the Lord to save Him. Instead of saving Him the boat caught fire. The man jumped into the water and had to cling to a remaining piece of wood.
Then over the horizon he spotted a large ship. The ship heads directly over to him and pulls him aboard. The captain of the ship tells the man, you know it really lucky for that your ship was on fire, otherwise we never would have seen you.
Sometimes, God has to burn our ship to rescue us.
You know, this message of following Christ is not easy. The Bible constantly talks about how difficult it is. The Jews wandered in the wilderness, the apostles faced death, as did the early church.
Strong language is always used when the Bible talks about following Christ. Give all you posses to the poor, surrender your body to the flames, or as Paul writes here.
24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
Yet in our minds we sort of have this rosy idea of the faith. Like ok, things are tough right now, I’ll come to Jesus and maybe He will fix everything, and my life will be smooth sailing. The truth is often times it is not, often times it only gets harder, the struggle is real people.
And when it seems like we really need help, we are left in the desert place, it appears the Lord is sleeping, and we are left to tend to the ropes and steer the ship on our own.
It is in that moment that our faith is refined, like silver in a fire. It is at that moment when we are tested and tried, when we are wondering if God cares, if God sees us, if we made the right decision to get in the boat. It is at that moment that by the grace of God we realize something.
It is not the severity of the storm that matters, but who is in the boat.
Notice this- In the middle of the storm-Jesus is in the boat. No matter what storm you are going through-Jesus in the boat.
He is the CT tube, and He is in Dr.’s office. He is with you in the middle of the night when anxiety, worry and fear threatens to overtake you. He is with you at the kitchen table when you are wondering where the money for the bills will come from. He is at the bedside and the graveside.
26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
When Jesus was ready, he said to the disciples- You of little faith-Why are you so afraid? Why?
Don’t you know who is in the boat with you? Don’t you know that He is the one who in all things hold together? He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end the ancient of Days- Your storms are no match for Him
So he gets up and Rebukes the wind and waves- Be still-Be Calm- Hush- The wind quit, the waves bow to His authority Nature succumbs to the Authority of the Lord God Almighty! Peace-Stillness.
Who does this? Who can stop the storm, and calm the seas....
27 The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”
And everything in Matthew from 4 onward is validated. A great philosopher can preach a great sermon, like the sermon on the mount. But only God can still the storm.
Our lives are full of storms, and difficulties, some storms beckon us to come to Jesus and follow Him. When we follow Jesus, we are sometimes led right into the eye of storm. But remember, it is not the severity of the storm, but who is in the boat.
When you follow Jesus, with your whole life and your whole heart, you are all in and He is all in.
He may appear distant or asleep while the storm rages around you but be assured, He is with you. There are no storms that the Lord Jesus cannot still with a word.
The people on the shore, probably experienced the same storm. But rather than face the storm with Jesus, they were left on the shore without Him.
If the storm is raging around you today, and your sins, and your attachment to your life is keeping you on the shore, give it to Jesus and get in the boat.
25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.
Lose your life, cast your life, and your sins upon Jesus ], turn from your life, toward life with Jesus.
For it was at the cross that Jesus was crucified, putting to death all our sins, paying the price for our redemption, and calling us into a relationship with Him.
As the storm of death raged on for three days, God the father said Peace be still, and Jesus walked out of the grave, so that all who place their faith in Him, will be with Him no matter what storm you are led into.
There is no storm too severe. No problem too great, and no darkness too much. Through it all Jesus is with you.
As Paul rites in the book of Romans...
31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
What storm can separate you from Jesus? Nothing
In Jesus name.