Storms of Life Series
The Purpose of Storms
CCCAG June 2nd, 2019
Today we are going to explore the foundational truth behind why God allows different types of Storms to come into our lives.
Scripture- 1 Cor 3: 10-15
In 2002 my family and I traveled to Walla Walla WA to see my sister graduate high school. We took 3 weeks an explored some of the western United States as part of this trip. One of the places we visited was Yellowstone National Park. If you have never been there, I would strongly recommend you put that on your bucket list it's probably one of the most beautiful areas in the United States that I've seen.
To be honest visiting Yellowstone was going to be the highlight of our trip for me. Of course, I want to see my sister and my former stepmother but as far as places to visit Yellowstone was at the top of the list. Tammy and I looked at various pictures on the internet , we mapped out many of the places we wanted to see , and we are so looking forward to seeing the beautiful scenery that Yellowstone has to offer.
We made the trip from Rapid City SD through Wyoming and stopped off and Cody for the night and then left the next morning and drove about 2 hours to get to the eastern border of Yellowstone park. Now Yellowstone is huge- To put the size of Yellowstone National Park in perspective if you were to draw a line for Madison WI eastward to Lake MI and Southward to the Illinois border that entire area is still slightly smaller than Yellowstone National Park. It takes several hours to drive from one end to another.
As we traveled through Yellowstone park on US highway 14, we came upon an area that was completely blackened out. A little over a year before we went through there a forest fire had ravaged a good chunk of the National Park. As I looked up on the miles and miles of burned forest where nothing was living, I had that disappointed feeling that I didn't get to see it when it was in its full beauty and grandeur. That feeling stuck with me during this time of us exploring the park.
The 3rd day we were there we decided to visit Old Faithful geyser. For those of you who don't know Yellowstone National Park is actually one of the world's largest volcanoes and is sitting over the top of a giant pool of lava. Because of that it has several geysers where water is heated by the lava and it erupts through tubes in the earth’s crust. Old Faithful is one of those tubes and the most consistent in its eruptions- about every 90 minutes.
When we got there, it was right after it had erupted so we had an hour and a half to wait for the next one. As i was sitting there I noticed one of the park Rangers giving a presentation about Old Faithful and I stood on the periphery of the crowd and listen to it. After he was done, he asked if there are any questions and I asked him about the fires that had destroyed a lot of the forest in Yellowstone.
He actually surprised me with his answer because he was really excited about those fires. He said part of the challenge of managing an ecosystem like Yellowstone is that these forests gets so old and so compacted with trees and undergrowth and all that stuff that ends up on the floor of the forest that it starts to actually choke out the life that's in the forest. He told me that the forest area that burned had actually been considered to be in decline as far as its overall health. Fire is actually a natural cleansing agent that nature does so that things can start over on a better foundation than that which existed before. He said as destructive as fire is when it’s happening, in the long run it's actually a cleansing agent so that new life can be born out of the Ashes.
As I was preparing this message this morning I thought back to his words and thought wow what an awesome illustration of what God wants us to learn in his word about why we have Storms in our lives, that come as trials tribulations and problems in life.
In 1 Cor 3, Pastor and Apostle Paul is giving some instruction to the church that is very instructive to us this morning about the Storms of Life.
We are going to read what Paul wrote, and then go through it to see how and why God allows these storms to impact us.
1 Cor 3: 10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.
There are three truths I want to look at this morning regarding the purposes of storms in our lives. These storms come through trials and hardships that occur, and they have a purpose, and the first is
I. Test our foundation
The storms of life pose this question to us-
Is our foundation built on Christ, or on our own wisdom, thoughts, and ideas?
The way our foundation is tested is it can identify the problem of
All of you who know me for a while know that my natural personality is that of an introvert. Introverts live inside their own head and are generally not people who like to be in big crowds and huge social events.
However, that doesn't mean it we don't care. I consider myself a keen observer of other people and in particularly people I care about. I have watched people walk with Christ for years and then suddenly go through a period that most would call back sliding.
Backsliding is a church word that means your relationship with Jesus has cooled off some and your focus in some way has switched from living for him exclusively to living for something in this world.
The problem for us as Christians when we decide either through a conscious decision or by simple neglect to start to move our lives away from Christ and his church to the world and its temptations is that we start building on a foundation that can't support that lifestyle.
For example, if I am going to put in a patio I need to dig out in area about 3-4 inches deep. I pour some gravel in there, and then mix and pour concrete into that area. That will serve me well as a patio.
However in a few years let's say I decide to expand my garage and use that foundation of a patio the support that garage and large vehicles- say a 5th wheel camper I might be planning to store in it. All the sudden my floor starts to crack, causing the entire structure to become unstable.
It’s doing that because the foundation for a garage should be 6-8 inches deep, and a patio foundation can’t support the weight of your average vehicle for an extended period of time.
The same thing happens in our lives when we accept Christ. We die to our old way of thinking and the Holy Spirit comes in and begins the process of sanctification. Sanctification simply means to take something that was common and now we're going to set it apart and make it holy. To do that the Holy Spirit has to remake your foundation so that is only designed to handle the things that Jesus wants in your life because he is your foundation.
I've seen this over and over again when people backslide away from Jesus and into the world again their lives just explode into chaos.
Why is that?
Because the foundation that Jesus has built cannot hold up willful rebellion against him.
Jesus is our subject matter expert at what exactly is happening in the Spirit realm, and He described it like this-
Matt 12:43 “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. 45 Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first
We see several steps here-
1. Unclean Spirit comes out- speaking of a person who gets saved. The Holy Spirit takes up residence within a person, and the influence of the world is thrown out. The person’s spirit is swept clean and under new management.
2. A person backslides (turns away from Jesus), and the Holy Spirit grows less and less influential in their lives, shown in this parable by the empty house.
3. The dark spiritual influence of this fallen world comes back in even stronger than it was at first.
The foundation is not designed to deal with that situation, so it crumbles bringing down the whole person.
I’ve seen this time and time again in the church- people that destroy their lives after spending years serving Jesus.
So this is what happens when people backslide all the way out of their salvation. This is one of the primary functions of the church- accountability. Accountability isn’t us sticking our nose in your business, it’s protective to make sure you cross the finish line of life in a condition that is ready to meet your King.
This is also why God will allow storms in your life. It is not because he is angry with you and judging you. It is because he loves you and has mercy on you to expose those things in your life that will lead you away from him
That leads us to our next point of why God allows storms- to get rid of those things that do not help us in our walk with HIM.
The bible calls these things-
II. Wood, Hay, Stubble
One of my favorite worship songs of all time is one by the founder of the Salvation Army named William Booth called Send the Fire
Oh God of burning, cleansing Flame
Send the Fire
Your blood bought gift, today we claim, send the fire today!
In the Old Testament the early Hebrews knew God as a pillar of fire.
God appeared to Moses in a burning bush.
In the New Testament when the Holy Spirit was poured out, he appeared as tongues of fire that came and rested upon the heads of every person in that upper room.
If you want to understand something- you ask questions.
Have you ever asked the question of God Why Fire?
What is God trying to show us by using fire to describe His nature?
Because fire destroys wood, hay, and stubble.
If you want to be free of your struggles, your addictions, your sin- spend time at the altar seeking Jesus. The storms of life are meant to refocus your attention on that which matters, and that is Jesus.
Plead for God to send the fire into your spirit today!
There is a worship song that says it well-
Turn you eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace
If you have surrendered your life to Jesus, then you are a child of the King of Kings. The King doesn’t want His children living in a condition that is beneath the high calling of being His child so He will do whatever it takes to help you live in the fulness of His favor.
If the King sees you building something upon the foundation He provided something that foundation cannot hold, then it’s a mercy for him to quickly send or allow a storm to come into your life to test that which you are building.
That’s why all of us should pray for a short leash. Let me explain-
Most of you have met my dog Candy. Candy is a 105-pound yellow Labrador retriever. We got Candy when she was about 6 months old. When you own a larger dog, one of the most challenging things you need to teach them is how to properly walk on a leash.
This is critically important because if she doesn’t learn to heel she will pull you where she wants to go. That can be dangerous around here with a state highway going right through the middle of town but it was even more dangerous living in a city where there is loads of traffic who really aren't watching for a dog that suddenly sees a squirrel and wants to chase it.
So, the way you initially train the dog is to have it on a very short leash. We had to teach her to walk alongside of us and even slightly behind us and let us lead. In those early days if you were to take her off of her leash she'd be gone and we be searching the neighborhood for hours trying to find her and hoping she didn’t try to cross a busy street.
Now when I walk her, I can have her on a longer leash because she has been trained not to pull or run ahead of me. In fact, she barely even needs a leash when I walk her because she will not run away for me. She trusts me as her master, and for the most part, will obey my commands.
That’s what I mean by a short leash.
It’s my prayer to God that He only gives me a short leash because I admit, I’m pretty stubborn at times and not very trainable. Because of that, I need that short leash because I don’t want to run ahead of Him, or away from Him, or go somewhere He hasn’t prepared for me because I can tell you from experience that when we do that- disaster comes.
That’s what the storms of life are meant to show us- when we are heading in a direction that isn’t one that God has prepared for us, that forms wood, hay and stubble in our spirits, and that can’t survive His Fire.
That last thing I want to focus on concerning the purpose for the Storms of Life is the necessity of forming
III. Gold, Silver, or precious stones
All of these have something in common other than their value. They need special conditions in order to be truly useful.
For gold and silver, you have provide significant heat to melt them to draw out the dross which are impurities within the melted metal so that the finished product shines that much brighter.
Electronics factory- wave solder machine- dross on the top had to be skimmed off.
That’s what the storms of life do for us- provide that heat to expose the impurities in our lives so that the master can remove impurities, so that His finished products shines all the brighter.
However, some things aren’t drawn out by heat only, so you need heat and pressure.
Diamonds are a precious stone that have a humble beginning.
How many people have a charcoal grill?
(Charcoal), ugly, messy, smells funny.
Do you know, that a piece of charcoal is a potential diamond.
Chemically speaking, charcoal is a large chunk of carbon. Put that carbon under tremendous heat, tremendous pressure, and over time it compresses and becomes a diamond. Scientists do this in labs to create industrial diamonds for lasers and other modern applications.
Heat, plus pressure, plus time and this common piece of charcoal becomes one of the most sought-after stones in existence. In the natural word diamond can only be created over centuries of pressure and heat. The key here is time.
Diamonds in scripture represent to us those storms that seem never ending. They are the personality quirks, or seemingly lifelong temptations that are providing the heat, the pressure, and the time to allow that ugly piece of charcoal to transform into a beautiful diamond.
Do you know what a diamond represents to God?
Faith. If you have diamonds in your spirit, they are the proof that you have trusted God through the heat of a storm, the pressures of life, and even persevered over time to let this diamond form inside of you.
It’s my belief, that those diamonds will form the crown that we will wear throughout eternity.
I end today with this-
IV. God’s mercy in the storms of life- destroying that which isn’t of HIM, because heaven is all about HIM.
14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.
Paul makes the point that those who build upon a foundation of Jesus Christ but then try to add the things of the world to it will suffer loss when Jesus evaluates us at the Bema judgment- also called the Judgement Seat of Christ.
2 Cor 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.
Someday we will be having to give an account.
Although our sins are covered by the blood of Christ, our willingness to be used of Jesus will be evaluated and be the basis of the reward He give us.
Will what you have earned throughout your life survive the heat of Christ’s presence, or will your life’s work burst into flames so you have nothing to show for the awesome grace and mercy that God has given you.
Leonard Ravenhill was a great revivalist of the 20th century, and he penned these words-
“When I stand at the judgment sent of Christ and He shows His plan for me. The plan of my life as it might have been had He had His way. And I see how I blocked Him here, and I checked Him there, and I would not yield my will. Will there be grief in my Savior’s eyes, grief though He loves me still?”
“Would He have me rich and I stand there poor, stripped of all but His grace. While memory runs like a hunted thing down the paths I cannot retrace.
The purpose of storms is simply to make us into God diamonds- precious in His sight. These diamonds are a result of perseverance through the various storms of life. They are the natural outworking of faith in our lives, and will be the only thing from this life that follows us into eternity.
Pastor Ravenhill ends this poem with this prayer
Lord, of the years that are left of me I give them to Thy hand. Take me and break me and mold me to the pattern that Thou hast planned.”