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Sermon 3/13/05 – The Storm
Matthew 8:25-26

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The Storm

His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, ‘Lord, save us! We are perishing!’ But He said to them, ‘Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?’ Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea. And there was a great calm” (Matthew 8:25-26)

Years ago, while living in Tucson, Arizona, USA, we experienced thunderstorms that were massive compared to anything I had ever seen.  You can tell how far away the lightning has struck by the time difference between the “flash” of the lightning and the “bang” of the thunder.  During one such storm, there was an extremely bright “Flash,” followed almost immediately by the “Bang.”  The one came after the other, much like a left jab and then a quick right punch in a boxing match.  That strike was VERY close!  And it was LOUD!

The telephone rang.  It was a call from my son, Christopher, who was across the street visiting with his friend, Christian.  He was anxious about the storm (me, too) and I encouraged him to come home – he would feel better.  But he was nervous and wouldn’t leave Christian’s house.  We continued to talk about the loudness of the thunder and I was just reassuring him that all was OK, when there was another “Flash”–“Bang!”  An electrical jolt stung my ear where it was touching the phone and I involuntarily dropped the receiver.  I was startled, but reached for the phone and put it back to my ear.  I said “Hello, Chris…” just as the door burst open and there was my Christopher, dripping-wet and staring into the room with wide, troubled eyes.

“Storms” in life can be literal, but the word can also refer to the various troubles that come our way.  Our friend, Howard, in Phoenix, Arizona, has been going through a “storm” in life for quite some time.  We’ve not yet met him in person, but he previously had us on his radio show (by telephone) in Phoenix, introducing our Church On The Net through his “New Vision Ministries” outreach.  Part of what Howard does is maintain a “medical lending closet,” providing canes, crutches and other equipment for those in need of them.  He has a convalescent home ministry in which he provides weekly church services for the elderly, along with a clown ministry, where he dresses up as a clown and cheers up the patients.  He’s a busy man who reaches out to others – a lot!

He also a legally blind man and his “New Vision Ministries” is a great way of looking at life for us all.  Howard’s seeing-eye dog is no longer with him as of some months ago and he hasn’t been able to get a new one.  His key problem right now is a broken arm – two functional arms are needed for a seeing-eye dog.  One thing leads to another – he was recently walking on the property of a church in Phoenix and fell off the loading dock because he could not see where he was and had no dog to guide him.  He broke his arm, his wrist, his elbow in four places, and the radial nerve was damaged.  He can’t bend his arm back fully and is unable to bend his wrist, rendering him ineligible for another dog. 

Howard needs additional surgery on the arm, which is scheduled for the middle of this month, and financially, things are not going well at all.  There are many hospital bills and he has no way to pay them.  His wife is gone from his life, he cannot work at this time and he is having trouble with transportation.  Right now, he needs to buy another unlimited bus pass and pay his bill at the transportation service.  You’ll be interested in Howard’s response to his circumstances: “God is teaching me through this.”  He loves the Lord and even though the “storm” in his life is difficult and is very real at this time, He knows that God will bring him through.  Additionally he is convinced that God His Father has a good purpose in all that is occurring.

We have been meeting a lot of people who are in very bad situations, and most are in difficulties that hit them out of nowhere.  Life just “happened” to them.  The need is very real, whether caused by imprisonment, the loss of a loved one, cancer and other illnesses, the limitations that come through old age, financial distress or whatever.

Why can Howard smile at His troubles and reach out to help others in the midst of his difficulties? – It’s because He knows that the Lord is with Him in the storms of life.  He is aware that His Savior is “in the boat” with him in the “seas” of his troubles and He has Howard’s ultimate deliverance in mind.  He understands that Jesus Christ is headed for the “boat” Howard is in, and the Lord intends to eventually rebuke “the winds and the sea,” bringing “a great calm,” with Him.  Howard’s physical deliverance may or may not be here on earth, but it certainly will happen for him in eternity.

Not unlike your situation.  The human tendency we all have is to crave deliverance from whatever is wrong – RIGHT NOW!  We want to be RELEASED from prison!  We want our loved one to be RESTORED to us!  To be HEALED!  To be YOUNG AGAIN!  To be able to PAY OUR BILLS once more!  Jesus wants it also, just as much as you want it.  Probably even more than you do, but He realizes that the problem is much deeper than you and I typically see.  Trouble makes us AFRAID and He intends to deliver us from fear.  The “storm” is allowed so we will call out to our Lord.

Yes, there is much to be concerned about in this world.  All you have to do is look at those who were close to Jesus to discover that this not world of happy endings.  John the Baptist was beheaded by Herod (Matthew 14:1-12).  Stephen was the first martyr of the church (Acts 6-7).  Others suffered at that time (Acts 8:1).  James, John’s brother was “put to death with the sword” (Acts 12:2).  Philip was martyred in Phrygia.  Matthew was killed in Nadabah.  James, the leader of the church, was clubbed to death in Jerusalem.  Matthias was beheaded at Jerusalem.  Andrew, the brother of Peter, was crucified.  Mark was killed by a mob in Alexandria.  Peter and Paul were murdered in Rome.  Jude (Thaddeus) was crucified at Edessa.  Bartholomew and Thomas were killed in India.  Luke was hanged in Greece.  Simon the Zealot was crucified in Britain.  Barnabas was killed.  Only John died of old age.  But at the Last Supper, Jesus had promised His followers a “kingdom” in which they would be alive forevermore (Luke 22:29) – and his followers had learned that God keeps His promises.  All of us will leave earth – the real question is: do you trust in Him?

Jesus’ original followers are safe with the Lord. Howard is secure right now, though in difficult circumstances.  My son, Christopher, is safe and does not need to fear.  You are being protected also and don’t need to be afraid when you trust in the Lord.  He will bring “a great calm” to you; now and for all eternity.  Do you have faith in Him?  Let’s pray:

Lord, I trust in You. Heal my fear & then “rebuke” my “storm.” In Jesus Name. Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries
The First Church On The Net
www.FridayStudy.org
Ron@FridayStudy.org
PO Box 92131
Long Beach, CA 90809-2131
"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)


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