Summary: A sermon focused on Matthew 14:22-32, emphasizng how God works through the midst of storms in our life.
SENSING GOD DURING THE STORM, I
Towards the end of August, I thought I ought to preach a couple of messages entitled "Sensing God During The Storm." So I’ll begin this morning and walk you through a beautiful story, when the disciples were out on the lake during the storm, and Jesus came to them. And then next week I’ll pick up where I leave off today and talk to you about how we personally grow and develop through the storms. I love this story -- I’m going to read it. I think it best describes some of us at times in our own life when things are not going like we really want them to. It’s entitled, "Enough is Enough." You’ve been there before haven’t you?
The central figure of the story is a person who accepts everything that happens as manifestations of divine power. And he said, "It is not for me to question the workings of divine providence." All his life, misfortune had been his. Yet never once did he complain. He got married and his wife ran away with the hired man. His daughter was deceived by a villain. His son was lynched. A fire burned down his barn. A cyclone blew away his home. A hail storm destroyed his crops, and the banker foreclosed on his mortgage, taking his farm. Yet at each stroke of misfortune, he knelt and gave thanks to God Almighty for his unchangeable mercy. After a time, penniless but still submissive to God, he landed in the county poorhouse. One day the overseer sent him out to plow a potato field. A thunderstorm was passing over, when without warning a bolt of lightning descended from the sky. It melted the plowshare, stripped most of his clothing from him, singed off his beard, branded his naked back with the initials of a neighboring cattleman, and hurled him through a barbed wire fence. When he recovered consciousness, he got up slowly on his knees, clasped his hands, raised his eye toward heaven and, then, for the first time in his life, asserted himself and said, "Lord, this is getting plumb ridiculous." Have you been there? Haven’t we all, at one time or another, felt that we had more than our fair share?
Charlie Brown builds a beautiful sandcastle, works on it for hours. Finally he stands back, looks at it. It’s wonderful. Just as he’s admiring it, a storm comes up and blows over all of his sandcastle. Now, he’s standing where his beautiful masterpiece was, on level sand, saying to himself, "I know there’s a lesson in this, but I’m not sure what it is."
Every one of us has our sandcastles blown away. Every once in awhile we back up and say, "Why am I being hit with this storm of life?" Now, sometimes these storms are caused by the devil, sometimes by other people, sometimes by us. Sometimes they’re allowed by the Lord. They come from different sources, but they do have a purpose in our life.
Storms of life reveal the following things about us:
1. The nature of my faith.
2. The strength of my commitment.
3. The level of my maturity.
4. The healthiness of my attitude.
5. The measure of my teachability.
Perhaps it’s the last one that I want to dwell on. What do I learn and receive from the storms of life? Now, the setting of the story today is Matthew 14. It’s the story of the disciples being out on the water and Jesus coming to them in the midst of the storm. Matthew 14, beginning with verse 22, are you ready? "Right away Jesus made his disciples get into a boat and start back across the lake, but he stayed until he had sent the crowds away. Then he went up on a mountain where he could be alone and pray. Later that evening he was still there. By this time the boat was a long way from the shore. It was going against the wind and was being tossed around by the waves. A little while before morning, Jesus came walking on the water toward his disciples and when they saw him, they thought he was a ghost and they were terrified and started screaming. At once Jesus said to them, ’Don’t worry, I am Jesus. Don’t be afraid.’ Peter replied, `Lord, if it is really you, tell me to come to you on the water.’ ’Come on,’ Jesus said.
Peter then got out of the boat and started walking on the water toward him. But when Peter saw how strong the wind was, he was afraid and started sinking. `Lord, save m!,’ he shouted. And right away Jesus reached out his hand. He helped Peter up and said, ’You surely don’t have much faith. Why do you doubt?’ When Jesus and Peter got into the boat, the wind died down. The men in the boat worshiped Jesus and said, ’You really are the Son of God.’"