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“The Lord of the Storm!”

First Presbyterian Church of Elmer

107 Chestnut Street

Elmer, NJ 08318

Sermon Notes (Sunday April 10th, 2016)

Rev. Mouris Yousef, Pastor

 

The Lord of the Storm!”

Psalm 46:1-7; Luke 8:22-25

 

I have to confess that I changed my sermon topic three times this week.  Initially I had a different topic in my mind, but out of sadness, anxiety, fear, and some concern for the future of the ministry here at the Elmer Presbyterian Church during this transition, some of you have contacted me to express those feelings.  As I thought about those mixed feelings, the Lord led me to a couple Scripture passages from Psalm 46 and Luke 8 that clearly speak to us today.  The title I put to my sermon is, “The Lord of the Storm.”

 

The story of Jesus calming the storm is quite simple, but we can draw many lessons from it.  Our Lord, perhaps exhausted from all the teaching and healing activities of the day, withdrew with His disciples and desired to cross over the lake.  As they sailed, Christ slept.  A great storm arose.  The storm was so great that the boat was filing with water.  Luke conveys to us the sense of urgency in that the disciples now felt they were in jeopardy.  This small lake, the Sea of Galilee (also known as the Sea of Tiberias, or Lake Gennesaret) was known for its terrible storms.  Although the disciples, as fisherman, would have been familiar with the storms of this lake, they, perhaps, had never seen a storm as this one.

 

Fear gripped the disciples, and they ran to the Lord and awoke Him.  The Lord does not answer their question or say anything to calm their fears, but instead rebukes the wind and wave so that all became still.  At this, Christ turns to them and asks them, “Where is your faith?”  As we think about our own fears today and as we think about the future of the ministry at Elmer Presbyterian, please allow me to share with you a couple thoughts from Psalm 46 and Luke 8:

 

First: Jesus Will Ask Us to Go Where We Wouldn’t Go

Our natural tendency is NOT to go where Jesus wants us to go.  Because we have a limited perspective, it is not always clear to us why we would ever consider going some of the places that Jesus would have us go.  Jesus will sometimes ask us to do things we do not understand.  Luke 8:22-25 is a great example.

 

Look again at what Jesus said, in Luke 8:22 “One day Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Let’s go over to the other side of the lake.’  So they got into a boat and set out.”  Everyone piled in.  They started rowing or sailing.  “Where are we going, Jesus?”  “Oh, to visit the Gadarenes.”  Why would Jesus want to go there?

 

Well, the good thing is the disciples didn’t argue, they trusted.  They trusted even though they knew what – or more specifically, who – was on the other side of the lake: a bunch of pigloving non-Jews.  If they made any comment, the Bible doesn’t record it.  But I think some of them were thinking: “What is wrong with the beaches on our side of the lake?”  Maybe Jesus is prompting you to walk across a room and start up a conversation.  Maybe Jesus is asking you, “Let’s go over across the street.”  We are very good at excuses.  Yet, as we follow the risen Lord, He will ask us to go where we wouldn’t go ourselves.  On the other side of the lake, someone needed healing as Luke tells in in chapter 8:26-39 ~ a demon-possessed man needed the restoration of the Lord!

 

Second: Jesus Will Save Us in A Way We Would Not Expect

As we face the storms of life, let’s be assured that Jesus will save us in a way we would not expect.  In Luke 8:24-25 we read, “…He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm.  “Where is your faith?”  He asked His disciples.”  What exactly were the disciples expecting Jesus was going to do?  It is strange that these disciples were willing to follow Jesus into the boat, they were willing to trust Him with the destination, they were willing to let Him go to sleep, but they were worried that they would not get across the lake.  Why?  Because they expected that with Jesus asleep in the boat, it was going to be an easy ride, smooth sailing.  They expected that with Jesus in the boat, it was going to be no problems.

 

Instead of an easy ride, what the disciples got was the storm, the wind, the waves, the boat filling with water.  They did not expect the storm to come their way with Jesus in the boat.  They had so much fear and doubt.  They probably thought God had abandoned them.  But Jesus doesn’t do that.  He doesn’t bring us this far to leave us right in the middle of the storm.  In Psalm 46 we are reminded with this great truth, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging … God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.”

 

As fishermen, they expected Jesus to intervene in a certain way at a certain time.  They might have expected Jesus to pray.  They might have expected Him to guide them to land somehow, or help them row back to shore, or for help to appear in the form of another boat.  They might have expected even for Him to walk on water.  He has been there and done that.

 

But Jesus does something amazing.  He stands up and tells the world to shut up.  And it does.  The wind stops.  The waves vanish.  And their journey continues to the other side of the lake, just like Jesus said it should.

 

The same Jesus who started with us is the same Jesus who is with us now and is the same Jesus who will finish it with us.  “Behold I am with you always, even to the end of the age,” Jesus says in Matthew 28:20.  If God lets you into this mess, God will lead you out.  And He will do it in a way that is uniquely God.

 

Friends, it is not about the storms of life.  Rather, it is ALL about who is in your boat!  The problems we face may seem so big, but that is because we forgotten how BIG our God is.  Friends, we are not really alone even when we think we are.  As I have written in the note I sent to all of you this week, please don’t panic!  God is still on the throne and both you as a child of God and the Elmer Presbyterian Church are centered on the Lord Jesus Christ.  In a few weeks a beautiful chapter is closing, but a more beautiful chapter awaits us.  That’s the nature of the Christian grief.  “To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise, honor, glory and power, now and for ever and ever!”   Amen!

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