16 September 2013

PEACE TO TROUBLED HEARTS


John 6:15-21

There is a story of a dad, who dropping off his daughter a little late to her third-and-fourth grade Sunday School class one morning, walked in just in time to hear one of the nine-year-old students pray, “Dear God, bless our mothers and our fathers, and our sisters and our brothers. And bless the teachers, and the preachers, and the firemen and the rodeo clowns. Oh, and by the way, God, take care of Yourself too. Because if anything happens to You, we’re all sunk! Seriously. Amen.” This morning we’re going to look at seven verses that tell us a story that shows us that Jesus is unsinkable no matter what happens in this life …and that when the storms of life are raging and it seems like Jesus isn’t in sight. Remember this truth! He is always there whether you believe it or not. Isaiah penned these words “fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed [discouraged], for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold [maintain, support] you with my righteous right hand.” Isa 41:10. We see this truth in the life of the disciples as they’re faced with yet another challenge in life. A challenge that could cost them their lives. A challenge that will reveal where your faith truly is! These men were in a boat that was being tossed to and fro on the Sea of Galilee. This isn't the Titanic or Sig Hansen’s Northwestern king crab fishing boat on Discovery Channel. This is a boat that is 26.5 feet long, 7.5 feet wide, 4.5 feet high. A boat that is barely keeping these 12 men, of a 15 person vessel, afloat in a storm that possibly could cause the death of these men………..this is a major problem but not uncommon either! And never mind the fact that we they have at least 4 veteran fishermen aboard this boat who are fearful for their lives.

LET ME ASK YOU A QUESTION? Seriously, what would you do if it was you on that boat? ME PERSONALLY: I would have been absolutely petrified! I’m not a big fan of water or boats. We tell ourselves and hear all the time that God has everything under control, but that truth is much easier to swallow (or handle) when things are going well in our lives. Isn’t it? See, when the first sign of disaster or trouble creeps in, our attitudes unusually changes, which usually means “all bets are off LORD.” As we read in Matthew’s gospel we see that, when we take our eyes of Christ, even for a second, we have a tendency to making a mess out of our present situation.

What’s amazing is that God will always use these times …to refine, polished and mould us into the image of the Son. Why? So we can face the next storm in our lives with confidence in the Great Shepherd who purchased us with that blood. He refines us so that we can say “I fear nothing that is before me, for my strength comes from the Lord”. Listen to what Jesus said to His disciples “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John 14:27. We must keep our eyes upon Jesus at all times! Because He is the only reason we’re able to see or get through today and the next. We are all faced with storms, every single one of us: Some are out of obedience (Abraham, Joseph, Job, Hosea and so on). Some are out of disobedience (Jonah, the nation Israel, the disciples). Some are out of bad choices (David, Solomon, Jacob, Peter). I would like for us to look at some biblical truths that we can learn from this passage of Scripture about our lives…..

WORRY WILL NEVER SOLVE THE PROBLEMS WE FACE IN THIS LIFE.

Think back to this past week, month or year! What has worry accomplished in your life as you face a trial or situation? Nothing, other than doubt which diminishes our faith, which brings about fear that makes your stress level rise.
  • We begin to panic and or blood pressure goes up
  • We lose sleep and rest that we need desperately
  • We become irritable and short tempered with other
  • We find it difficult to concentrate on the simplest of tasks daily
  • We lose control and feel like a helpless child.

Anxiety weighs a person down….“A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Prov 17:22. Sadly though, in our human nature we want to borrow worry! As Jesus said "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” Matt 6:34. This happens because all we see is the impossible again! But With God all things are things are possible as Jesus said Matt 19:26. We take our eyes off of Christ and all we see is the doubt in our lives. We become like Peter in Matthew’s gospel.
  • Peter did you forget that you were walking on water
  • Peter did you forget about the impossible act I did earlier with the 5 loafs and 2 fishes
  • Peter did you forget the miracles I performed during our journey so far
  • Peter did you forget the comfort that you find in my voice
  • Peter did you forget who I AM?
  • Peter did you forget that I sought you out on the shore that day

We’re no different than Peter! We all have times like these! Just replace Peter’s name for your own! The only way to find victory in our storms is to be completely dependent upon the Lord Jesus Christ. Stop worrying and trusting in the Living Saviour who conquered all things on the cross for us. Call out to Jesus for help………..Because He is the one who keeps us and sustains us! Jude wrote “Now to Him (Jesus) who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both now and forever.” Amen. Jude 24-25. Remember what Paul said…….“do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:6-7. As Jesus says here in our text "It is I; do not be afraid." (v20)

IT’S ONLY BY KEEPING OUR EYES FOCUSED ON CHRIST THAT WE’RE ABLE TO WORSHIP HIM IN THE MIDST OF TROUBLE.

At that moment their eyes were opened and their hearts were softened as they realized that Jesus was the Son of God! See according to Marks account when Jesus feed the 5000, the disciples didn’t understand, they were confused......Sort of like a deer in the headlights! “For they had not understood about the loaves, because their heart was hardened.” Mark 6:52
But when the Lord used the storm and then stopped the storm…….they finally understood! In Matthew’s gospel it says…..
  • They never discuss among themselves to what just happened.
  • They didn’t ask Peter to give a testimony or explanation.
  • They didn’t even question Jesus about what He just did.
  • They stood amazed in the presence of God.

With the exception of John’s account the others say they fell down and worshipped Jesus! The word Worship means to: prostrate oneself (reverence and adoration). It also means to fawn or crouch. This is the same meaning to what Paul wrote about to the church at Philippi “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Phil 2:9-11. They worshipped Him for who He was, the Creator of all things and the Saviour who came to save the lost. The only One who has the power to make things calm again “the stormed ceased” The same One who can make settle your heart to handle the storm that is in your life. See, the only way we can find peace in the midst of battle or conflict is to keep our eyes focused on Him. As Peter said “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7. This passage makes me think! Did Peter have this storm in mind when he penned those words to us?

When we can see through the doubt and fear, we will worship Him the way we were created to worship. Why? Because He is more important than any situation I can face, on a day to day basic.
  • Jesus is the reason we can stand strong and press on.
  • Jesus is the reason we can move forward.
  • Jesus is the reason we can forgive one another.
  • Jesus is the reason we can be secure in our relationship with Him.
  • Jesus is the reason we can find peace in the midst of trouble.

We all face storms in our lives. No one in this room or outside this room is exempt from facing doubt or lack of faith as the disciples did in the boat. So let me ask you! How’s your faith this morning? What has the Lord been teaching this week about Him and His relentless pursuit of you? How are you handling your storms? The only way to find victory is KEEPING our eyes fixed upon Him! Sounds so simple! But hard to do! Remember, He will always give us the right amount of strength and the right amount of faith to see us through our present situation. As Solomon said “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Prov 3:5-6. The late great George Mueller said "The only way to learn strong faith is to endure great trials." We must empty ourselves and depend upon Him and only Him to see us through each day
  • Job did it
  • The prophets did it
  • Peter did it
  • The early church did it
  • Missionaries around the world are doing it
  • You and I can do it too

So going back to my original question! What would you have done if you were in that boat that day? Would it be filled with doubt, fear and lack of trust? Or would it be fixed upon Jesus the Great I AM [It’s Me. Do not be afraid]MATTHEW HENRY SAID, “When Christ died He left a will in which He gave His soul to His Father, His body to Joseph of Arimathea, His clothes to the soldiers, and His mother to John. But to His disciples, who had left all to follow Him, He left not silver or gold, but something far better—His PEACE! F B Meyers said “The most conclusive proof that our Lord was no weak fanatic or enthusiast is afforded by the calm temper which refused the eager impulse of the crowds to make Him king. Here the temptation of the wilderness was repeated; and only one who was filled with the unwavering determination to do God’s will, could have refused this short cut to Messianic empire. Notice these withdrawals of our Lord to the calm of nature’s stillness and the bosom of God. If he needed such spaces of undisturbed meditation and communion, surely we do. He knew when he pressed the disciples into the boat, that the night would be full of storm, but He did not hesitate to expose them to its peril; he was conscious of His ability to turn that storm to the highest use by coming to their help. His advent is often delayed, but he always comes. Delays are not denials. He is as near in the storm as though already in the boat. The storm-waves are His pathway. "Be not afraid!”

Church family, if you're in the middle of one of life's storms, open your eyes to see what God’s doing. He believes in you. He knows that if you turn to Him, you’ll be able to make it to the other side of the lake. It could be that the thing that's scaring you the most is the very thing He wants to use to rescue you, and mature you. And so this morning, let Him say to you what He said to His disciples 2,000 years ago “It’s Me. Do not be afraid.” Grab His hand and let Him get into your boat, and see if it doesn't immediately land where you need to go. God’s presence is all that we need, and we should expect it and embrace it … but let’s not only look for it in ways that we’d necessarily expect. Jesus is OMNIPOTENT… and without Him, we’re all sunk. "One night a house caught fire and a young boy was forced to flee to the roof. The father stood on the ground below with outstretched arms, calling to his son, "Jump! I'll catch you." He knew the boy had to jump to save his life. All the boy could see, however, was flame, smoke, and blackness. As can be imagined, he was afraid to leave the roof. His father kept yelling: "Jump! I will catch you." But the boy protested, "Daddy, I can't see you." The father replied, "But I can see you and that's all that matters."..........“It’s Me. Do not be afraid.”

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