Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Are you in the storms of your Life

Jesus is with you He desires to Lift you up, when you are thinking you are all alone

We have all had that “sinking feeling,” haven’t we? There are various types of storms in our life. 1. Situational storms. This is when circumstances seem to plot against us and everything seems to go wrong. Everything seems to go wrong at once. These are situational storms. 2. Relational storms. This is when there is tension between people. When a relationship has been strained to the breaking point - parent and child, husband and wife, friends - your life will be stormy.

3. Emotional storms. These are often hidden on the surface. We have a nice smile, but inside we’re seething and boiling in distress. Many times there’s a storm going on inside of us that doesn’t even show. Paralyzed by fear. Overcome by guilt. Raging with anger. Consumed with worry or jealousy. Those are the emotional storms of life.

The Bible says three things about the storms of life
1.    Storms in life are inevitable. They will happen. You will experience them. If you’re not in a storm right now, just wait. You will be in a storm. They are a part of life. In James 1:2 it says "When you face trials..." It does not say “If you face trials.”. Nobody goes through life easily from childhood till the  grave. 

2. Storms are unpredictable. They come suddenly. They come unexpectedly. They are unpredictable. In this story the Bible says that, "Without warning a furious storm came up". Try as we may, we cannot predict the things that will happen to us. People try anything to see if today’s going to be a good day or a bad day. But we can’t predict storms. They are unpredictable. None of us had any idea how the tragedy of the  Tsunami, World Trade Center attack would effect us, because storms come without warning. They are unpredictable.

3. Storms are impartial. They happen to good people, they happen to bad people. They happen to believers, they happen to unbelievers. They happen to all. Matthew 5:45 says, "He sends the rain on the just and the unjust." Being a Christian does not exempt us from being in storms. *There is a misconception that people have, that the only time they have tough times is when they’re disobeying God. That’s not true. The disciples got into a storm because they obeyed God. Jesus said, “Get in the boat.” They got in the boat and they sailed right into a storm. They were obeying God. They were in the center of His will. And they were right in the middle of a storm. 
When you’re going through a tough time, don’t automatically assume, “I must be out of the will of God.” You may be exactly where God wants you to be.
The fact is, God has not promised us a storm-free life. This is not heaven where everything is perfect and where God’s will is perfectly done. We have choices, and people make mistakes, and people get hurt. That’s why we’re to pray, "Thy will be done on earth like it is in heaven" because it’s done perfectly in heaven. God has not guaranteed us a storm-free life. *So, if storms are inevitable, and unpredictable, and impartial, then the issue really becomes what is my response going to be to the storms that are inevitably, unpredictably, and impartially going to happen in my life? There are two ways we can respond to storms. The way the disciples responded and in the way that Jesus responded. One responded in fear, one responded in faith. One trembled, the other trusted. 

When I face a storm, 1. I CAN BE FILLED WITH PANIC. It says, "The disciples went and woke Him saying, `Lord, save us. We’re going to drown." They’d been out on this sea lots of times. They’d been through many storms, but evidently this one was life threatening and had them scared. “We are goners! We’re gonna die!” That shows the intensity, what is your intensity of problem, situation? This was a major, major storm. 

It says they panicked. They got uptight. They got afraid. That is our typical reaction when a storm comes. But there is an alternative to being filled with panic. When I face a storm 2. I CAN BE FILLED WITH PEACE. Look at the contrasting reaction of Jesus in Mark 4:38 "But Jesus was asleep on a pillow." Sleeping in a storm? You talk about peace! It shows that He got tired. After a full day of ministering, teaching and preaching, He was exhausted. He lays down and He takes a nap. If you’ve ever wondered if Jesus can identify with your fatigue, this answers the question. 

This shows complete trust in God. Jesus was not worried at all by the storm. He was setting an example by the very fact of His sleep, teaching a lesson to His disciples. Did Jesus know there was going to be a storm before He even got into the boat? Without a doubt! Of course He knew. He knew they were sailing right into a storm. But He says, “I’m going to take a nap.” He knows exactly what’s going to happen yet He says, “Let us cross over to the other side.” It’s part of His plan to teach a lesson about faith. 

Nothing ever surprises God. “God, I’m going bankrupt!” He knows. “God, I’m having problems!” He saw them coming. Nothing ever surprises Him. Jesus is sleeping in the storm because when we know we are in a storm is we start losing sleep. That’s how we know when we are in a storm. When we’re in storms, we lay awake at night, tossing and turning, going over it in our mind, trying to figure it out, worrying, “What if…”  Yet Jesus can go to sleep anywhere. That’s what I call peace of mind.

I can be in panic or I can be at peace when I face a storm. The fact is, sometimes sleeping can be a statement of faith. You say, “God, it’s too big of a problem. I can’t handle it. It’s Your problem now. I’m not going to worry about it. I’m going to bed.” That’s a statement of faith. “God, I don’t know how You’re going to work this out, but I’m going to go to bed. I leave it in Your hands.” It’s a statement of faith instead of worrying. Where in the world do you get that kind of peace in a storm? You get that kind of peace when you apply the principles taught in this scriptures Mark 4: 35-40. How do you make it through a storm? When it seems like your ship is sinking, what do you do? They are simple but they are profound. 

1. REMEMBER GOD’S PRESENCE. That He is near you, that He is with you, that you are not by yourself, “He said I will never leave you nor forsake you”. They had nothing to fear. Jesus was in the boat. Do you think God was going to let the boat sink with Jesus in it? That in itself should have calmed them. Jesus Christ was there with them, experiencing the storm with them. If you’re going to make it through a storm, the first lesson you’ve got to learn is this: God is always with me. Say aloud- GOD IS WITH ME

There will be nothing I will face the rest of my life that I face alone. God is with me. Jesus is in my boat. We tend to forget that in storms. We think we’re all alone. We think that God is far away. God has promised every believer, "Lo, I am with you always." God has promised, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." Isaiah 43:1-2 "Fear not…When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you!" What a promise! You don’t need to worry if Jesus is in your rocking boat.

2. REST IN GOD’S PRECISION (CARE). This is the second great lesson that we must learn if we’re going to make it through storms: God cares about what we go through. Repeat this over and over until you get it in your mind: 
God cares about what I’m going through! How much does He care? Read the Bible. Read the promises in this book, then tell whether God cares or not. He does. 1 Peter 5:7 - "Cast all your care on Him because He cares for you." The one thing that the disciples did right, when they got afraid, they took their fear to Jesus. They didn’t start praying to Mary. They didn’t start chanting. They didn’t call on some dead saint. They took their fear to Jesus. Why? Because He’s the only one who can do anything about it. 

3. RELY ON GOD’S PROVIDENCE. Let His power see you through. Mark 4:39 "Jesus got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still.’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm." Jesus stood up in the boat in the middle of the storm and said, “Quiet! Be still!” or “Sit down and shut up!” That’s literally what He said. Instantly, it was quiet. *There was actually two parts to the miracle in this story. First, there was the wind stopping. You might be having idea that even after the wind stops, waves will continue for some time. But the sea became quite. So He talked to both of them and they became quiet.

The disciples had seen Jesus do one miracle after another. They, of all people, should have known He was competent and capable to handle this situation too. There was no need to be afraid. If you’re going to make it through the storms in life: Know that God is in control. God is with me, God cares about what I’m going through, and God is in control. There is nothing beyond the control of God. We don’t understand the storms. Many things we’re not going to understand until we get to heaven. But God is in control.

Fear comes when we experience things in life that are beyond our control. When things are beyond our control it frightens us, and the truth is there are many things in life that we can’t control. So there are lots of things to be frightened by. But the good news that the Bible tells us is that 
the things that are beyond my control are not beyond God’s control. And that’s good news. I can’t control everything that happens to myself, to my family, to my friends, to my business, to my church. But God is in control! That’s a storm reliever.

Jeremiah 32:17 - “Sovereign Lord, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too difficult for You.” Before they got into the boat, Jesus said to the disciples, “We’re going to the other side.” He said we’re going to the other side, means it was inevitable that they were going to the other side. He didn’t say it would be an easy trip. He didn’t say they wouldn’t get wet. He didn’t say they wouldn’t have a scare, a problem in the middle. He just said, “We’re going to the other side.” And if He said it, they were going to make it. 

Notice that Jesus said to the disciples, Verse 40 “You of little faith. Why are you so afraid?” Jesus told the disciples two things: 
One, the root of your problem is fear. Two, the solution to your problem is faith. The greatest threat to the lives of the disciples was not the storm. It was their unbelief and fear of the storm.

The secret of their survival was faith. And it’s not the amount of faith that you have. It’s what you put your faith in that makes a difference. Everyone has faith. You have faith every time you get on the freeway. You had faith when you ate breakfast this morning that it wasn’t poisoned. Everybody has faith. It’s just what you put it in that makes the difference. You don’t need a lot of faith. Just a little faith will do. 
You put a little faith in a big God and you get big results. So, Jesus rebuked the storm, then rebuked the disciples - “You of little faith.”

It’s interesting that never in the Bible we ever find Jesus rebuking somebody for having too much faith. Can you believe God for too much? Can you have too much faith? Never in the Bible do you find Jesus ever rebuking anybody for too much faith. The problem was always 
a lack of faith. I think God is pleased when we go to our limit, and then we know it’s going to be impossible, because then He gets the opportunity to show His power. You’ve never believed God until you’ve done something that can’t be accomplished in the power of the flesh. Many Christians live lives that require no faith at all. The Bible says, “Without faith, it is impossible to please God.” 

If God knew in advance that the storm was going to be out there, why did He let them go through it? Why didn’t He just wait? Stay on that side of the lake? If Jesus knew, which obviously He did, why did He let them go right into it? Because He wanted them to learn a lesson. It’s the same lesson that all of us must learn, and the only way we learn it is by experience. You never learn this lesson from a preacher or from a Bible study or from a tape or book. You only learn this lesson by experience. The lesson is this: 
Jesus can be trusted in the storms of life. The only way you’re going to learn that is to go through them. 

, “If I never had a problem, I’d never know that God could solve them. I’d never know what faith in God could do.” It is when we respond to the storms in life with faith that we see God’s power most visibly, and we sense His presence most intensely. The disciples really had no reason to fear. They had what every one of us have. They had the presence of Christ, the power of Christ, and the promise of Christ. You have to have those to make it through your storms. 

What’s rocking your boat? What’s flooding your ship? What kind of storm are you going through? Is it a strained relationship? Is it a financial difficulty? Is it a painful memory that’s got you so tied up that you can’t see anything else? Is it a health problem? Is it a secret storm? Something on the inside? An emotion that’s overwhelming you? Guilt? Or grief? Or anger? Or bitterness? Or jealousy? Or worry? Or fear? *Maybe you feel like the circumstances of life are tossing you back and forth and you feel like you’re just a little toy boat out there in a big ocean and you’re getting bashed back and forth every day. And you’re thinking, “I’m going under! I’m not going to make it!” 

If that’s the way you feel, then God wants to say to you today, “No matter how big the wave is, Jesus can rebuke it.” And He wants to calm the storm in your life. He wants to say, "Peace! Be still!" Only Jesus Christ can calm the restlessness in your life right now. Quit looking for somebody else, to be your solution. Quit looking to some experience to be your solution. There’s only One Person that can calm storms - Jesus Christ. 

The very last verse Mark 4:41: “Then the men were amazed and asked, ‘What kind of man is this? Even the winds and waves obey Him.’” Good question! What kind of man is this? The answer is He isn’t just a man. He was the Son of God! He was God who came to earth in the form of a human being so we could know what God is like. Jesus said if you’ve seen Me, you’ve seen God. I can’t relate to some big unearthly thing in the sky. But I can relate when I see God in flesh. I could see how He loved, and see how He cared, and see what He did. And He will help you in your storm, but you’ve got to get Him in your boat. He’s no good if He’s back over on the shore. You’ve got to have Christ in your life to make it through the storms.

One last word: The Bible teaches that storms are inevitable. They’re going to come. Storms are unpredictable. They come without warning. Storms are impartial. It doesn’t matter how good or bad you are, you’re going to experience them. But the other thing that the Bible teaches is that storms are temporal. They’re temporary. They don’t last. 

Mark Twain (A famous writer) and a friend walked outside one day in the rain. The friend said, “You think it will stop?” Mark Twain said, “It always does.”
That’s true with any storm. You’ve got to go through it, but it’s not going to last forever. Some of us feel like we are in a major storm right now and God’s word to you is, “Hang in there!” Keep on living. Don’t be afraid. The sun will shine again. There is hope. God is with you. He’ll get you through. You’ll make it to the other side - just like Jesus said.