Hope In The Storm

And in all we were two hundred and seventy-six persons on the ship … they all escaped safely to land (Acts 27:37, 44). 

Paul knew he would be spared dying at sea because God had already told him that he would testify in Rome (23:11). But no one else on that tempest-tossed ship had that same assurance. Luke (who was on the ship with Paul) even wrote, “All hope that we would be saved was finally given up” (27:20). 

Luke wrote those words only three days into the storm. Little did he know that the storm would rage for another 11 days!! 

On the storm’s fourteenth day, Paul called everyone together with good news: “An angel from God visited me. He assured me that the ship will be wrecked, but all of you will be saved. The only condition is you must stay on the ship with me. Therefore, take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me” (vv. 22-26). 

Just as Paul told them, the ship ran aground and all 276 people on board made it safely to the shores of Malta! 

When God gives a promise, hold fast to it. Don’t let the storms—no matter how many days they may rage on—cause you to give up hope. 

And when God graciously gives you a word for others, be quick to be the message of encouragement to your storm-tossed, hope-lost companions who so desperately need something to cling to. 

God’s word never fails. God’s word is never lost at sea or in any other calamity. Hold on … be encouraged … and give hope and courage to others too. 

Poetry Saturday—When The Winds Are Raging

harriet-beecher-stoweWhen winds are raging o’er the upper ocean,
And billows wild contend with angry roar,
‘Tis said, far down beneath the wild commotion,
That peaceful stillness reigneth evermore.
Far, far beneath, the noise of tempest dieth,
And silver waves chime ever peacefully,
And no rude storm, how fierce soe’er it flieth,
Disturbs the Sabbath of that deeper sea.
So to the heart that knows Thy love, O Purest,
There is a temple sacred evermore,
And all the babble of life’s angry voices
Dies in hushed silence at its peaceful door.
Far, far away, the roar of passion dieth,
And loving thoughts rise calm and peacefully,
And no rude storm, how fierce soe’er it flieth,
Disturbs the soul that dwells, O Lord, in Thee. —Harriet Beecher Stowe

Poetry Saturday—The Eye Of The Storm

IMG_3491Fear not the whirlwind will carry you hence,
Nor wait for its onslaught in breathless suspense,
Nor shrink from the blight of the terrible hail,
But pass through the edge to the heart of the gale,
For there is a shelter, sunlighted and warm,
And Faith sees her God through the eye of the storm.

The passionate tempest with rush and wild roar
And threatenings of evil may beat on the shore,
The waves may be mountains, the fields battle plains,
And the earth be immersed in a deluge of rains,
Yet, the soul, stayed on God, may sing bravely its psalm,
For the heart of the storm is the center of calm.

Let hope be not quenched in the blackness of night,
Though the cyclone a while may have blotted the light,
For behind the great darkness the stars ever shine,
And the light of God’s heavens, His love will make thine,
Let no gloom dim your eyes, but uplift them on high
To the face of your God and the blue of His sky.

The storm is your shelter from danger and sin,
And God Himself takes you for safety within;
The tempest with Him passes into deep calm,
And the roar of the winds is the sounds of a psalm.
Be glad and serene when the tempest clouds form;
God smiles on His child in the eye of the storm. —Anonymous

Don’t Forget The Most Important Thing

Pastor JoshPastor Josh continued the Boating Lessons series yesterday, which Pastor Tom began last week. What a great word Josh brought us! Here are my “raw notes” just as I took them during his message.

Boating Lessons—part 2 (Psalm 103:1-5Matthew 8:23-27)

How many of us have been in a storm where we felt out of control or distant from God? When we are in the midst of that storm, we must remember Who’s in the boat with us.

Jesus challenged the disciples, “Have you forgotten Who I am?” They had seen Him heal leprosy (8:1-4), heal paralysis (8:5-13), raise up the sick and set the demon-possessed free (8:14-17). But now they were more focused on the situation than on the Savior.

One symptom of forgetting Who God is: complaining (the disciples asked Jesus, “Don’t You care about us?!” [Mark 4:38]).

The storm is part of God’s process to change us and to bring glory to God—Be strong, courageous, and firm; fear not nor be in terror before them, for it is the Lord your God Who goes with you; He will not fail you or forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:6).

Don’t forget Who’s in the boat … He never leaves us. The most important thing is not the storm rocking the boat but Who is in the boat with me!

I might feel like I have no control, but I must remember that Jesus is in the boat with me and He has all control!

Storms may come “without warning” to me (Matthew 8:24), but remember God Who is in my boat is All-Knowing and He’s never taken by surprise. 

Pastor Josh closed his message the same way I’d like to close this post: in prayer. If you are in the midst of a storm—or if you feel like God is distant—this is the best time to cry out to Him in prayer. The Holy Spirit can remind you of Who is in the boat with You. He will never leave you nor forsake you!

Please join us next Sunday as Pastor Tom and Pastor Josh continue this series.

Did God Send Me Into This?!?

Stormy seasHave you ever experienced this? You are certain that God has spoken to you. You’ve launched out in obedience, things are sailing along smoothly, and then <wham!> a storm threatens to swamp you. And you begin to second-guess what you thought God said to you. You begin to wonder if perhaps you misunderstood the directions God spoke: “Did God send me into this?!?”

Ever been there?

The disciples of Jesus must have felt that way. Jesus says, “Let’s get into the boat and head over to the other side of the lake.” The disciples obeyed Jesus only to have a huge storm come crashing down on them, to the point that their boat was about to be swamped (see Luke 8:22-25).

What were they thinking then? What would you have been thinking? Perhaps you might have thought, “Did I miss something God said?”

I love this thought from Oswald Chambers—

You say, “If I had not obeyed Jesus I should not have got into this complication.” Exactly. The problems in our walk with God are to be accounted for along this line, and the temptation is to say, “God could have never told me to go there, if He had done so this would not have happened.” We discover then whether we are going to trust God’s integrity or listen to our own expressed skepticism. 

God knows what He’s doing. He knows what He needs to accomplish.

Too many times I get focused on the destination, while God is focusing on the process. I often will learn more about my faith, and about the power and faithfulness and love of my God, during these storms than I will in an incident-free journey.

If you are on a journey on which God sent you and your boat’s rocking, don’t second-guess what God said. Keep your eyes on Jesus, and watch to see what He’s developing in you during your stormy trip.

Here Comes Trouble!

Do you see it on the horizon? Storm clouds building, blowing in fast; wind picking up; something ominous in the air. Here comes trouble!

Jesus certainly did as He talked with His followers just before His arrest and crucifixion. Just before the storm hit, here’s what He said —

I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

I find something reassuring about Jesus telling me that I will have trouble. Not that trouble is enjoyable (at all!). But what is enjoyable is knowing that He knows. Nothing takes Jesus by surprise!

Jesus said that I would find my peace when I remain IN Him. When I see trouble coming, my natural tendency is to start doing things for myself. I start making plans, giving orders, gathering resources, hunkering down in my foxhole. In reality, all this does nothing but increase my level of anxiety!

Jesus has overcome. So when I stay IN Him, I overcome too.

Here’s what I’ve learned about how to stay IN Him

  • Stay in the Word every day, but especially when I see trouble coming.
  • Stay in prayer; in fact, I increase my prayer times.
  • Stay in worship because I don’t want to focus on the storm, but on the Overcomer.
  • Stay in contact with my friends and ask them to join me in prayer.

Check out this prayer David penned when he saw trouble coming. It’s still a great prayer for you and me today —

Keep me safe, O God, for IN You I take refuge. I said to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from You I have no good thing.” Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure. You have made known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy IN your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand. (Psalm 16:1, 2, 9, 11)

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