Sunday Sermon: ‘Jesus and the Storms of Life’

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Mark 4:35 And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side. 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. 37 And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. 38 And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? 39 And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? 41 And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?

I wished that I had a way of telling you this morning that if you do certain things, you will never face a storm. But I can’t. The Bible says:

“In this life you will have trouble…” John 16:33

“Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.” Job 14:1

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial that has come upon you, as though something strange were happening to you.” 1 Peter 4:12 BSB

God does not promise us as His children that we will escape difficulty and trouble. What God does promise us is that He will always be with us while we are in our troubles and that His strength will always be sufficient to carry us through our troubles.

In today’s passage we see Jesus with His disciples during a terrible storm. What lessons can we learn from this story?

I. Sometimes He Calms the Storm

Mark 4:39 And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, “Peace, be still.” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.

Sometimes God allows a storm in order to prove that there is a power that is greater than the storm. That power is His power.

Psalm 93:4 The LORD on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea.

This is not the only storm Christ’s disciples encountered. We know that there was at least one other great storm, and perhaps there were several. Why did Jesus continuously allow His disciples to face a storm? He did so in order to teach them that He was the Master of the Storm. The Bible says that after Jesus calmed the waves the disciples said – “What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

The title ‘disciple’ means – {pupil or learner}. When we accept Jesus as our Savior, we are automatically enrolled in His school of discipleship. Several years ago my brother and I were discussing a comment Paul wrote in the book of Philippians: “…for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” (Philippians 4:11) Literally that verse says – “I have learned the secret of how to live independently of my circumstances.” Here’s the part my brother and I discussed at the time: Paul said “I have learned…” indicating that it was a process. This knowledge wasn’t given to him at the moment of his conversion. It didn’t come overnight. It took time and even more so, it took Paul having to go through trials. James writes –

James 1:2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. NIV

How does the testing of our faith produce perseverance? The songwriter Andre Crouch wrote – “If I’d never had a problem,I wouldn’t know God could solve them; I’d never know what faith in God could do.

Sometimes God allows a storm in order to prove that there is a power that is greater than the storm.

II. Other Times He Calms His Child

As I prepared this message, a song came to my mind. I’ve listened to it several times, and each time I have a tear has come to my eye.

Sometimes He Calms the Storm
All who sail the sea of faith
Find out before too long
How quickly blue skies can grow dark
And gentle winds grow strong

Suddenly fear is like white water
Pounding on the soul
Still we sail on knowing
That our Lord is in control

Sometimes He calms the storm
With a whispered peace be still
He can settle any sea
But it doesn’t mean He will

Sometimes He holds us close
And lets the wind and waves go wild
Sometimes He calms the storm
And other times He calms His child

He has a reason for each trial
That we pass through in life
And though we’re shaken
We cannot be pulled apart from Christ

No matter how the driving rain beats down
On those who hold to faith
A heart of trust will always
Be a quiet peaceful place
(Writers: Benton Stokes, Tony Wood)
(Artist: Scott Krippayne)

A. God Calms His Child by His Presence 

Of all the passages found in scripture that reassures us of God’s presence during our storms, perhaps there is none greater than the twenty-third Psalm.

Psalm 23:1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. 3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. 5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Many have wondered ‘when’ David wrote this psalm. Was it while he was a shepherd boy, out in the fields caring for his father’s sheep; or was it written when David was much older? I don’t know when, but I think I know why. Consider David’s words once again – “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil…” Where was David at? He was in a storm. He was going through a time of trouble. “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies…” In the psalm just before this, David wrote words that applied, not only to himself, but to our Savior as He hung on the cross.

Psalm 22:1 My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?

7 All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, 8 He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.

11 Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help. 12 Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round. 13 They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion. 14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. 15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.

19 But be not thou far from me, O LORD: O my strength, haste thee to help me.

Psalm 22 expresses David’s anguish during his time of trouble. He is suffering and he needs desperately to feel God’s presence in his life. I have often wondered if David’s enemies were not more spiritual than physical. The demons of hell were trying to torment him by filling his mind with thoughts that perhaps God had forsaken him. “Where is this God who promised to deliver you? Either He doesn’t exist, or perhaps He does not love you the way He loves others.”

Like much of David’s writings, this begins with anguish, but ends with worship.

“Where is my God?” you ask.

Psalm 23:1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want…. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. 5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

B. God Calms His Child by His Promises

God does not promise us that we will never encounter a storm. What He does promise us is that He will always be with us in our storms, and that He is able to accomplish something good from our storms.

When we are in a storm, we can see nothing good about it. I once read that – “A trial is not a trial unless it makes you want to quit.” (Paul Freed, founder of Trans World Radio) Storms are hard and difficult. They are painful. As far as we can see, there is nothing good about them. Yet the Bible tells us

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

The Bible doesn’t say that all things are good. The Bible says that God is able to bring something good out of all things.

What is God’s purpose for our storms? I’m sure that I can’t possibly know or tell all the things God is able to accomplish through a storm, but allow me to mention three:

1. God Uses Storms to Produce Spiritual Maturity 

That’s what James tells us.

James 1:2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. NIV

2. God Uses Storms to Produce Christlike Character

God uses storms to produce Christlike character. Paul tells us –

2 Corinthians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. ESV

Normally the people who are the most compassionate towards those who are suffering are those who have suffered in a similar way.

3. God Uses Storms to Produce Faith

The word ‘fear’ is used twice in these verses, but actually it’s two different words. The first word is the kind of fear that often produces worry. “Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?” As we can see from Christ’s words, this kind of fear is due to a lack of faith.

I’ve thought a lot this week about the disciples and their storm. What should they have done? Should they have sat there with a smile on their face while the waves were crashing against their boat? Should they have let Jesus finished His nap? Perhaps. Or perhaps what they should have done was go to Jesus and say, “Master, the storm is trying to destroy us. It wants to cause us to be afraid. But we are not afraid because we know that You are with us and that You are greater than the storm.” How do you think Jesus might have responded to those words? The Bible says that kind of faith caused Jesus to marvel.

The first word used for fear refers to the kind of fear that often produces worry. The second word used for fear refers to the kind of fear that often produces worship.

41 And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?

This is not the same word. “Feared exceedingly” does not mean that they were terrified of Jesus, but rather that they were in awe of Jesus.

That’s God’s purpose for the storm. God wants us to see Him and His power and glory. God wants us to discover what Paul discovered – “I know the secret of how to stay strong and live independently from my circumstances. I can always be strong, regardless of my situation, through the strength Christ gives me.”

By the way, the biblical word for this mysterious strength is the word ‘grace.’ Jesus has promised us that His grace will always be sufficient for our every need.

CONCLUSION

I wished that I had a way of telling you this morning that if you do certain things, you will never face a storm. But I can’t. We will face storms in life. But God will always be with us while we are in our storms and – sometimes He will calm the storm, and other times He will calm His child.

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