Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Sermon - Calming the Storms of Life & The Call Out of Normal - Mark 35-41

Calming the Storms of Life—Mark 4:35-41

There has been a lot of storms in the last few weeks—not everyone has recovered from them. Many people went to work one morning and didn’t have a home to go to at the end of the day.

It reminded me of the theme song to Gilligan’s Island talks about a group of people taking a Three Hour Tour—a short boat ride around Hawaii, when the weather started getting rough. They ended up stranded for several seasons.

We can be sailing along with everything going great, and all of a sudden, a storm hits that can shipwreck our life, or at least throw us off course.

Have you ever experienced storms in your life? Those times where things just didn’t make sense. Times where your problems seemed so big and your faith seemed so small. Times where you felt so swamped and so afraid that you were going to be taken over by the storm.

Turn to Mark 4:35

After a long day of teaching crowds on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus asks to be taken to the other side of the lake. The disciples obey his directions, as do several other boats.

Did Jesus know the storm was coming? And He asked them to get out on the lake anyway? He must be doing it on purpose.

Along the way, He decides to rest and sleep, yes He’s physically tired, but I believe He also wants to see how they will respond.

During this time, when the Disciples have a few moments “to themselves” a storm erupts which they cannot control. It is beyond their power to do anything about it despite the fact that they are experienced boatmen. Nothing in their experience could save them from the power of the storm.

It seems as if they tried to do everything they could before going to Jesus. We’ll let Jesus sleep and try to take care of this ourselves. “Let’s not bother Him. It’s not that big of a deal. I/We can handle this.”

Too often, when the storms of life come, the last place we turn for help is Jesus. We only go to Him after we’ve tried all we can. “We’re all going to die!!” Jesus, if you just get us out of this I’ll do anything you want.

1. The Normal Life

a. The disciples weren’t really all that different from us. They had lives, families, jobs. They had friends, hardships and joys. And then the met Jesus and He began changing their life.

b. Understand, up to this point, it had been fairly easy for the disciples to follow Jesus. He called, they followed—Jesus was still growing in popularity—people liked Him.

c. They listened to what Jesus said as He spoke and taught. They had watched Jesus heal people. They had witnessed Him raising the dead. They had seen Him cast out demons, and do other mighty works in the context of that preaching and teaching.

d. But all this activity never really required anything of them until Jesus said, "Let us cross over to the other side." Those men had no idea what was coming next. Their faith had to move up to the next level. These men had to cross over in their hearts from having control over their own lives to placing their lives into the hands of Almighty God.

e. Being a disciple was going to get harder to the point that their lives were in danger. And Jesus was leading them to that point. Following God’s directions, His will for your life is not a guarantee of Safety & or Prosperity.

f. Our walk with Jesus is NOT going to be all sunshine and rainbows. And there are times for that—necessary times of green pastures and still waters—so your soul can be refreshed.

g. But so many times when our lives are going along good and easy, we rely more on ourselves than we do God. We pretend that life is going to continue on like this—we become content, comfortable and complacent.

h. The Normal Life is often a great danger to the life of Faith.

i. If you were here one Sunday night last month, we went over Psalm 23. According to that Psalm, we are not designed to stay in the green pastures and by the still waters—those moments are Pit Stops on the Paths of Righteousness that our Shepherd wants to take us on. And in many cases, those paths of righteousness lead us directly into the Valley of the Shadow of Death—where our very lives are on the line.

j. God upsets our Normal Life so we can Live the Life of Faith.

2. Storms Hit us Unexpectedly & Shake our Complacency

a. This passage talks about a “furious squall” hitting them. That was life on the Sea of Galilee, the mountains all around, the cool Mediterranean Sea, with the hot deserts caused storms to hit hard and fast. They are unexpected and even the experts can get caught in them.

b. Life throws a lot of curves. Many of which are beyond our control or ability. Despite all our skills, and experience, we are often unable to deal with the problems of life.

c. And God wants you to know that. He doesn’t want you to forget that you need Him. Wants you to look to Him—wants you to Walk by Faith & Not by Sight--

There are various types of storms in life.

• Literal Storms – we’ve seen this recently—the power is knocked out, the house is damaged, the house and property is destroyed. Your normal life is suddenly altered.

• Situational storms. This is when circumstances seem to plot against you and everything seems to go wrong at once. Murphy’s law is in full force.

Financial Storms Health Storms

• Relational storms. These are when you have tension between people. When a relationship is strained to the breaking point - parent and child, husband and wife, friends. These are the cause of many storms in life.

• Emotional storms. These are often hidden under the surface. We have a nice smile, but inside we’re seething and boiling in distress. People pass us by without realizing that a storm is raging within. You might become Paralyzed by fear. Overcome by guilt. Raging with anger. Consumed with worry or jealousy.

One or more of these storms might describe you this morning. The Bible says three things about the storms of life that I want to discuss before we continue.

• Storms in life are inevitable. Everyone 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.” So you can Count on it!

• Storms are unpredictable. They come suddenly. They come unexpectedly. They are unpredictable. Matthew’s account uses the word “suddenly” that, "Without warning a furious storm came up". Try as we may, we cannot predict the things that will happen to us. None of us can predict when a simple test at the doctor’s office can bring life-changing news. We experience storms that are very short and ones that last for weeks, months, even years. They are unpredictable.

• 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 of us. 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.

• In many cases, Storms are Intentional

There is a misconception that people have, that the only time they have tough times is when they’re disobeying God. Sometimes that’s true… bad choices have consequences.

But it’s not always true.

In the passage we’re looking at today, Did the disciples get into a storm because Obeyed or Disobeyed Jesus? 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

3. Jesus challenged the Disciples in an area of strength. How many of these disciples were fishermen used to working the Sea of Galilee? Many of them were skilled boatmen.

4. Unfortunately, just like the disciples, we often try to fix everything ourselves first, we try everything we can think of to solve the problem. We rely on our own abilities. Most of the time such efforts only bring anxiety and worry.

a. The message that Jesus presents to us in this Gospel account today is borne out in a recent stress management survey. Experts say that only 2 % of our "worrying time" is spent on things that might actually be helped by worrying. The other

98% of our "worrying time" is spent as follows:

40% is spent worrying about things that never happen

35% is spent worrying about things that can not be changed

15% is spent worrying about things that turn out better than expected

8% is spent worrying about things that are so petty that they don’t matter at all.

b. While we are trying to solve all the problems ourselves we like to carry Jesus with us without making Him an active part. We let Him sleep while we do all the work ourselves. We know Jesus is there “sleeping” waiting to be called upon but we do not until we know we can’t handle the storm.

c. As a last resort we go to God and we ask Him to help us. Sadly however, we often come with an attitude that the Disciples had… “Don’t you care if we drown?” “Aren’t you paying attention God, don’t you care what happens to me? Why haven’t you taken care of this already?” We act surprised and hurt by the fact that God hasn’t fixed everything for us already. We cry out and blame God for all that is going wrong. “Do something, ANYTHING” we complain.

This attitude is wrong. This is the Normalcy Jesus wants to Shake us from! God is waiting for the opportunity, waiting for us to do things His way and in ways that will glorify His name.

5. Step out of the Normal Life into the Life of Power

a. When we go to Jesus, we can witness Amazing things!

b. He had the authority to rebuke the storm and tell it to be quiet. Lot’s of people have tried to pit their wills against the forces of nature and we’ve considered them foolish. Not this time.

c. The storm obeyed Him. As the words came out of Jesus’ mouth, the “winds died down and it was completely calm”.

d. Storms may be short term or long lived, but they respond to the command of God. This demonstrates that…

e. All situations are under His control. Nothing takes Him by surprise. Even the created world was under His authority. He restores peace and calmness. This is the hard thing for us to understand…

f. Sometimes we cry out to God and the storms do not disappear. God, we know You can do it, so why aren’t you?

But let me tell you with absolute truth….

g. Whether or not the storms disappear, He is still in control. He is more than enough of what you need.

h. In all these things that He does and allows—the intent of all of it is to draw you closer to Him and grow your Trust & Reliance on Him.

i. Perseverance means nothing if it has never been put through a trial. People endure and persevere through hardship—when someone says, “I persevered when I was captured in Vietnam and made it through my time as a Prisoner of War”—we know that means something.

When they say, “I persevered my trip to Disneyland”—we know that—for the most part—that’s a joke.

The normal life is not always the Friend of the Life of Faith.

j. It’s the unexpected, the disruptions, the storms that reveal our faith and our character.

k. Why does it take a crisis to get us to keep our faith in the forefront?

l. Why do we repeatedly exhaust ourselves, thinking we have the power to Control our Lives? To overcome the Storms of Life? That if we can just work harder, we can do it ourselves?

m. He Promises to be Faithful in our hardships—gives peace to each of us in spite of our troubles. Do not let your hearts be troubled… cast all your cares upon Him… take my yoke upon you…

n. The peace of God can transcend all understanding, all circumstances, all storms. The winds may be blowing around you, the rain may be falling, the floodwaters rising. You may feel that you are in the deepest, darkest valley away from God. But in reality, that is when He is closest—it may not always feel that way, but it is true.

But you cannot escape Him. LYRICS—Valleys Fill First

This is the valley that i'm walking through

And if fells like forever since

I've been close to you

My friends up above me don't

understand why i struggle like i do

My shadow's my only,only companion

and at night he leaves too

Down in the valley, dying of thirst

Down in the valley, it seems that i'm at my worst

My consolation is that you baptize this earth

When I'm down in the valley, valleys fill first

6. Questioning the Disciples

a. When Jesus comes and brings peace, He usually has some questions for us. As I said earlier, the disciples needed to be taken to the other side, they needed to move their understanding of Christ to the next level—to get their life out of the Normal and into the Supernatural. Changing how they know Jesus and Who they think He is

b. Their understanding of Jesus had to get bigger than the storm. Our understanding needs to Grow!

We need to change From seeing Him as a powerful teacher and healer, to one who is truly God Incarnate, One into whose hands we can trust our everyday, normal life and our Storms.

c. Jesus asks you and me the same questions that He asks them. Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith? Do you not really trust me? Do you not really know who I AM?

d. After all that you have seen in me, all that we have been through, do you still not believe that I AM the one in control?

e. When we go through storms, do you know what He so often asks us?

What took you so long to come to me? Why am I your last resort?

f. Come to me first, and let me give you rest, then, though the storm is raging, the winds will be calm and still in your heart and mind.

g. Peace in the Storm , Strength to endure it…is just as big a miracle as Calming the Storm.

h. In each case… we are often surprised. We respond with awe to who Jesus really is—Terrified—Who is this? We always seem to be amazed when God does something. Each time, we come back and say, “I don’t believe what just happened”. The “Mountains often look so big, but [our] faith just seems so small”. If you truly have faith in an awesome God, we can rejoice at His miracles without being surprised by them.

7. He wants us to come to Him, He wants to calm the storms in our lives. He may do it on the outside—changing the situation, He may only do it on the inside—calming your heart while the wind continues blowing.

• Both are miracles.

8. Jesus wants to move you out of Normal—it causes you to seek Him, to rely on Him and makes opportunities to See & Experience His Mighty Hand.

9. Are you ready to go Sailing in the Storm with Him?

Psalm 107:28 Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress.

107:29 He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed.

107:30 They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven.

107:31 Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This an excellent, possibly even exhausitive exposition of this passage! Thanks so much