Going In the Gospel #3 Storm Riding With the Savior
Text: Luke 8:22-25
It is not a secret to tell you that our world is filled with troubles. This is such an universal truth that in 1949 engineers in the Air Force who were trying to see what happened when you strapped a man to a rocket sled mounted on a railroad car and sent it down the tracks at 100s of miles and hour. Maybe you’ve heard about the law called Murphy's Law? Named after Edward A. Murphy Jr. an air force captain and aeronautical engineer. It is usually stated, Whatever can go wrong will go wrong.” Sometimes it is stated, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong, and at the worst possible time." It also has several corollaries, such as, “Nothing is ever easy: and “It will always take longer than you think.”
Then there are other less work centered Murphy’s laws, like, The line you are in always moves slower. The toast always falls with the buttered side down. Inside every large problem is a whole bunch of small problems just waiting to get out. Whatever hits the fan will not be evenly distributed. No matter how long or hard you shop for an item, after you've bought it, it will be on sale somewhere cheaper. Any tool dropped while repairing a car will roll underneath to the exact center. You will remember that you forgot to take out the trash when the garbage truck is two doors away. And of course, the light at the end of the tunnel is probably an oncoming train. There is even a Mrs. Murphy’s law, “Mrs. Murphy's law" which states that "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong while Mr. Murphy is out of town.”
Everyone know things will go wrong in this world, but how you deal with those things, how you understand your place in the middle of everything going wrong, that is the most important thing aspect of troubles, especially for Christians.
Our sermon today is about a time in the life of the disciples when following the Lord seemingly went wrong. Turn to Luke 8.
Weak In the Wind Luke 8:22-23
Now it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with his disciples: and he said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And they launched forth.
Center of His Will, Center of The Storm
The disciples were obeying the Lord’s command. He had told them, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” They obey Him and yet they find themselves in peril. They were doing exactly what Christ had required. They were exactly where Christ had told them to be, but that did not keep them from the danger of the storm.
The Bible says there came a “storm of wind” on the lake and they were filled with water and were in jeopardy, they were in danger of sinking.
In Matthew 8:24 it says, “there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves:”
The wording here describes a squall, or a terrible windstorm that came almost without warning. Just as scripture said it came down, it fell on their little fishing boat, like a blow from an axe and the waves were swamping the ship. They were going down. They were flounder in the waves and they were sinking.
There is fear is in their voices as they call out to Jesus, Luke 8:24 Master, master, we perish. in Matthew 8:25 Lord, save us: we perish.” In Mark 4:38 “Master, carest thou not that we perish?” Lord, don’t you care if we die?
Isn’t that amazing? Isn’t it sober to see that even for the disciple doing exactly what their Lord told them to do, there was no guarantee of calm seas. Even though they were right where Jesus had told them to be, and even though Jesus was in the ship with them, they are caught in a life threating storm. No wonder they cried out, “Lord don’t you care if we die?”
When His Commands Don’t Bring The Calm
We are not apostles, but we are disciples. In Matthew and Mark’s account we are told that it wasn’t just one boat but several. Mark 4:36 And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships.” We are like those other disciples trying to keep up with the Lord and trying to do what He asks of us.
As disciples, we need to be doing what Christ commands, what He asks of us.
Listen carefully, when it comes to walking or in this case sailing with the Lord, there is no unknown will of God. Our commands are as clear for us today as they were for those disciples when Jesus, “Lets go to the other side.”
When it comes to following the Lord, there is no unknown will when it comes to the Lord’s requirements of us as disciples. His will is found and easily understood in His written word. When He says these things I command you, He really means just that.
In all truth, it is not ignorance of God’s will, but fully understanding God’s will that often keeps us from serving Him. His Word and will are painfully clear and shockingly simple to understand.
Painful and shocking because, just as we see in this passage, the center of God’s will is often the center of the storm.
Let me give you some Murphy’s law as modified by a pastor, “Commit to tithe and watch your car's engine fall out.”
“Commit to teach Sunday School and find the only opening is the junior high boys class where the last teacher quit after a lesson on Abraham and Isaac and he wound up being Isaac.”
“Commit to be a witness of the Gospel and find yourself facing the meanest looking, face tattooed, ear ring, nose ring, chest ring wearing, lost neighbor who answers the door wearing nothing but a Speedo, smoking a cigar and guzzling Coors, now go ahead and tell Him about Jesus.”
Why do these things happen? Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Being a disciple, being a real Christian, isn't a game or make believe, it is a battle, a war with terrible casualties, wounds, and sorrows. We fight for eternity and that means the stakes are high on both sides.
The disciples made themselves front line warriors for Jesus when they committed to follow the Lord and if you are a Christian then you are taking your place on that same battle line.
If you have given your heart, your soul, your life to Christ, then you are a soldier in this war and the enemy has you in his sights. (You might as well paint a big target on your chest and say, “Here Satan this will make it easier for you.” (Maybe we should get that on some T-Shirts.)
Being a disciple and following the Lord is not easy as some teach, and their naïve followers expect. Those people are like the Children of Israel when they arrive in the Promised Land and found out they have to fight giants.
Illustration: The Children of Israel
They send the spies into Canaan, their promised land, their land of milk and honey then they find out there are actual giants behind tall wall in cities built like fortresses.
Their dialogue with God is not that of warriors but of slaves looking for an easy life. It might be something like this for them and for us.
Lord, I thought You were going to give us this land.
Yes, the Lord says, but you've got to go into battle and fight for it.
But there are giants in the land behind fortified walls.
Yes, but I am bigger than the giants and stronger than the walled cities.
But Lord, Some of us won't survive the battles.
Yes, some will give their life in My cause and for My people, but I will welcome them home as heroes for eternity.
Listen, some things are worth risking everything for. Eternity and the kingdom of God is more than worth the risk.
The disciples follow Jesus command and wind up in a life threatening storm. What they do next is what we would do, they call out to Christ.
Calling for Christ - Luke 8:24
And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm.
Fear then Faith
The disciples truly believed they were going to die. I don’t blame them. The storms on the sea of Galilee are monsters of terror and dangerously powerful. Sudden violent squalls occur when winds in the mountains funnel down to the Sea of Galilee, 600 feet below sea level. When that cold mountain air hits that warm lake water, terrible, swift storms erupt almost without warning. For those disciples in a small open fishing boat, death was as close as the next wave breaking over the top of the gunnels.
They were very afraid, they were going to be destroyed by the storm and they turn to their master. They awaken the Lord, who was asleep in the ship on a pillow, can you imagine how tired He must have been. Jesus wakes and then He tells the storm to settle down, like an unruly child. He rebukes the storm and is good but then He also rebukes the disciples, not good.
In the parallel account in Mark 4:40 “he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?
His rebuke was not because the storm wasn't really dangerous but because they could see the storm's power but could not see their Savior's promise and protection.
What do you see, The Furious Storm or The Faithful Savior?
When modern sailors are caught in a storm and can't see the way they rely upon the compass, maps, radar and GPS. By having faith in their Global Positioning System they can ride out any storm.
Faith in the Word of God, and in the promises of the Lord, is our GPS in the storms of life. The navigators of this age depend on their GPS, the Global Positioning System, but disciples of the Lord in all ages navigate through life depending on our own GPS. That stands for God’s Promises and Salvation. (GPS) (Now that really should be on a T-shirt. “I find my way by GPS, God’s Promises and Salvation.”)
Through that faith we keep our eyes upon Jesus Christ and in Him and with Him we'll make it through the storms of life.
Understand, faith is not denying the perils of the storm but in trusting the more powerful promises of Christ.
Faith is not in denying sickness but in seeing Jesus as the great physician.
Faith is not in denying poverty but in finding the real riches of God are too great for this world to hold.
The wonderful truth was just this; the boat couldn't sink because Christ was in it. Jesus was not to die by drowning in a sea but on a cross. He had already told the disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” That meant they would go over to the other side. Satan, the Prince and Power of the air, could easily call up a storm to try and sink the Lord and His disciples. But he could not take Jesus Christ the Son of God before it was His time. The boat couldn’t sink in the midst of the storm because Jesus was in the midst of the boat.
If it was true for a fishing boat, how much truer is it for our life, our church, our families and our soul?
Away with the spirit numbing fear of losing your salvation. Isn’t your soul more precious than a boat? Away with anxiety over our problems being too great for God. If He could still the wind and the waves, don’t you think he can still the worries of your heart? Away with any fear of any thing this world and its ruler can threaten us with. Isn’t Jesus’ promise greater, "Lo, I am with you always?"?
Peace be Still.
Master, the tempest is raging!
The billows are tossing high!
The sky is o'ershadowed with blackness,
No shelter or help is nigh;
Carest thou not that we perish?"
How canst thou lie asleep,
When each moment so madly is threat'ning
A grave in the angry deep?
The winds and the waves shall obey thy will.
"Peace, be still!"
Whether the wrath of the storm-tossed sea,
Or struggles or evil, whatever it be,
No water can swallow the ship where lies
the Master of ocean and earth and skies:
They all shall sweetly obey thy will.
"Peace, be still! Peace, be still!"
They all shall sweetly obey thy will.
"Peace, peace, be still!"
The storm is over, the danger is past, but the lesson Jesus teaches the disciples and us is next.
Finding Full Faith - Luke 8:25
And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him.
Where Is Faith Found?
Jesus asks about their faith. His questioning rebuke must have must have seemed as harsh as the storm.
He asks them, “Where is the evidence of your faith? Why did it not show itself in the storm? Where was the evidence of their belief and trust in him? Why did your faith fail?”
After the storm and the rebuke, the disciples fear their Master even more than they feared the storm. Luke 8:25 “What manner of man is this! for he command even the winds and water, and they obey him.” Who is this man who is more powerful than the forces of nature. Their fear is not about the danger of the storm but amazement of the power of the One who has called them to follow Him.
This amazing fear at the power of Jesus shows that at this point in their discipleship, they did not fully know Him. And it was that lack of knowledge, that lack of experience with Him that caused their faith to fail.
If you were asked, "Where is your faith?
If you were asked, where was the evidence of your faith, when you were struggling in the storm? Where can it be seen, how can it be identified? How can we keep it from failing?
Misconceptions of faith.
Many think that faith is willpower but in truth faith is not self-discipline but submission. Faith is not my strength but my surrender.
Neither is endurance, faith. You see endurance doesn’t produce faith; it is faith that produces endurance.
Nor is faith a rare or unique power. Faith may accomplish supernatural deeds but it is not a supernatural ability.
Christ asked, "Where is your faith?" I think the question points to two truths about faith.
First, faith will be seen, especially in the storms of life.
James said, "shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works."
Faith is seen most brightly in the darkest of the storms. It's the lighthouse one the shore that is never noticed until the hurricane strikes then it becomes the only thing that is seen in the deadly dark.
Second, faith can be found and it is found in the person of Jesus Christ.
Faith is seen in direct proportion to the extent of my trust in Jesus as my Savior, and Lord.
Faith is not subjective, dependent upon my feelings, but is objective dependent upon something real and true outside myself, and the object of faith is Jesus, that's where faith is and must be found.
John 6:47-48, Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life
John 10:11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
John 11:25-26 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?
Jesus is telling the disciples and telling us, “Believe in me! Quit looking at the storm, quit looking at the waves, quit looking at the wind. Look to me.”
Faith comes down to this, Simply taking Jesus at His word and look to Him in the midst of the storm.
The Empty Chair
Leslie Weatherhead tells the story of an old Scot who was quite ill, and the family called for their dominie, or minister. As he entered the sick room and sat down, he noticed another chair on the opposite side of the bed, a chair which had also been drawn close. The pastor said, "Well, Donald, I see I'm not your first visitor for the day."
The old man looked up, was puzzled for a moment, then recognized from the nod of the head that the pastor had noticed the empty chair. "Well, Pastor, I'll tell you about that chair. Many years ago I found it quite difficult to pray, so one day I shared this problem with my pastor. He told me not to worry about kneeling or about placing myself in some pious posture. Instead, he said, 'Just sit down, put a chair opposite you, and imagine Jesus sitting in it, then talk with Him as you would a friend."' The aged Scot then added, "I've been doing that ever since."
A short time later the daughter of the Scot called the pastor. When he answered, she informed him that her father had died very suddenly and she was quite shaken for she had no idea death was so near. Then she continued, "I had just gone to lie down for an hour or two, for he seemed to be sleeping so comfortably. When I went back he was dead." Then she added thoughtfully, "Except now his hand was on the empty chair at the side of the bed. Isn't that strange?"
The minister said, "No, it's not so strange. I think I fully understand." - James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988), p. 416.
Transition: The final lesson about the storms of life.
Beginning the Blessing - Luke 8:27-35
Then they went out to see what was done; and came to Jesus, and found the man, out of whom the devils were departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind:
After the storm there was work to be done
When they got to the “other side” where Jesus had commanded them to go, there work to be done. There was a man to be saved, demons to be destroyed and a miracle to be seen.
The blessing of that man being set free, was on the other side of the storm, the other side of the lake. Jesus knew this and sent this disciples through the storm in order to reach that man and destroy the demons in his life.
Are we willing to ride out the storm to find the blessing on the other side?
The storm is the beginning of the journey to God’s blessing. If you hold on through the wind and the waves, if you keep your eyes on Christ, if you’ll trust Him even when you can’t see the other side, then you'll come to the blessing.