Text: Exodus 14:22-33 (King James Version) THEME: Fireproof your Future -!
Subject: Equipping the Church for the Harvest"
"Father, I am your servant, willing and desiring to be used to bless your people."
Matthew 14:22 And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away.
Matthew 14:23 And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.
Matthew 14:24 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.
Matthew 14:25 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
Matthew 14:26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.
Matthew 14:27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.
Matthew 14:28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
Matthew 14:29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
Matthew 14:30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and eginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
Matthew 14:31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
Matthew 14:32 And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.
Matthew 14:33 Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.
There were 3 elderly women going down the highway. A cop
comes up on them and sees how slow the driver is going. He pulls the car over.
He asks the driver, "Ma"am, do you know that you"re only going 23 miles per
hour?" "Yes", said the driver. The cop asked, "Well why were you going so slow
on the highway?" She says "Well the sign says 23." The cop says "Ma"am that"s
the highway number, not the miles per hour." She says "OHHHH!!!" He looks at the
other 2 ladies in the car and asks her, "Why do the other ladies look so
terrified?" She says, "Well we just got off of Highway 151!"
The driver was in trouble because she misread the signs. That"s the same mistake most of America and modern Churches are making today thinkin it can not happen to us..
Well How do we respond? What should our reaction be?
When our world shakes, when we are in shock - after it happens - after shock has
gripped our being - what we do next is absolutely vital.
The earthquake in Haiti measured 7.0 - the death toll will be measured in the tens of thousands - but character is measured in the response to the tragedy. You see, we all are shaken at times, and sometimes in a powerful way that leaves us quaking and crumbled.
If you haven"t faced great tragedy yet listen up, because you very likely will. We all feel sympathy when we see the graphic pictures from this week. We all share in the despair with events like 9/11, the Asian Tsunami, or Hurricane Katrina. It seems like it"s always someone else. But what if it were you?
You see, there"s a prophetic message in these events. The Bible says we should take warning at such disasters as signs of the end times upon us. And then God is specific about earthquakes, saying that they will increase in frequency and intensity, and..
..and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
Talk about a diverse place. Not on the Pacific Rim or "ring of fire" where you expect major earthquakes. Definitely the most powerful in all of history in Haiti and the only one in the Caribbean in at least 200 years. These are people who are used to hurricanes threatening them, but not earthquakes. They didn"t think it could happen to them.
And America is in the same boat, and since we happen to be asking for God"s judgment [throwing morality out the window and God under the bus] we must ask ourselves, what if it was me? And again, it"s not really a question of "if" as much as "when"? I"m telling you, we should not be surprised if something big happens in America, and maybe to us personally. I"m not hoping for it, just sensing it in many ways, whether it"s a financial collapse, terrorism, natural disaster, or something else we would never expect.
The aftershocks have been intense in Haiti. And we need to learn how to respond after shock has rattled our lives..
I. HAVE FAITH - NOT FEAR Vs. 26. "...and they cried out for fear."
Vs. 27, "...Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid."
Vs. 30, "...But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid;".
Vs. 31, "...O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?"
I am not suggesting that we should not express normal emotions of concern and uncertainty when tragedy strikes. I am saying that fear is not the spiritual response.
II Tim. 1:7
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
Fear will not comfort anyone. Fear will only bring more anxiety and distress.
As we have observed the horror that is present on the faces of Haitians, we each have related with them. And we Christians should not be naïve to overlook the fact that the worst is yet to come for this planet.
Yet, we must not let fear reign during times of crisis. There are no answers in fear. Only faith will have the answer for us.
Jesus said in Mark 11:22 , "Have faith in God."
We are commanded to keep the faith, ESPECIALLY when the world caves in, which is precisely when many give up on God and head for the hills.
Jesus told Peter in our text he had little faith because he looked at the storm in fear instead of looking to Him in faith.
Look at what He said from the beginning when they first saw Him approaching, walking on the water:
v. 27 "It is I, be not afraid" Yes, God is there in Haiti, He"s there in the rubble with some still clinging to life. He"s there with many who have suffered loss of family and possessions, and He is ever present with us, especially in the aftershocks of life. God was there on 9/11, and in New Orleans and the beaches of Thailand and everywhere tragedy strikes.
And though it"s not a popular notion, and definitely politically incorrect to say so, I do believe God uses these things to get our attention. They are labor pains announcing this world is soon to be delivered! So if you are not saved, respond in faith, not fear, and get saved today!
So, Have Faith and not Fear.
II. PRAY - DON"T PANIC
When panic takes over prayer ceases. Peter was looking to the Lord in faith, but when he panicked he began to sink. When he prayed he found rescue. LORD SAVE ME We must resist the urge to respond in panic and in everything by prayer and supplication bring it all to the Lord.
And now we should continue to pray for those in Haiti. We should pray for America with what we face today and in the future.
The natural man panics..but the supernatural man prays!
He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
It"s hard to see in the shadows, and it can be scary there, until we realize Whose shadow that is!
III. BELIEVE GOD - DON"T BLAME HIM
This is not God"s fault, though we call it an "act of God."
Some will blame Him. Some will turn against Him.
Pat Robertson immediately suggested God was punishing Haiti for a pact it made with the devil long ago. Let me just say that if you make a pact with the devil you certainly have punishment coming, but it is far more severe than an earthquake.
It"s part of our nature to make ourselves feel better by assigning blame.
If Peter were like many Christians he would have sunk under the water with a look on his face that could kill, saying, "Lord, I can"t believe you"d let it come to this! I can"t believe you"re gonna just stand there and let me go under like this!" But no, Peter didn"t blame Jesus, he looked back up in faith and believed.
I do not know where you are at today and what you may be going through.. but you have two ways of answering the Lord in Faith or continue in Fear.. Lordship
And by the end of the story in vv. 32-33 we see the strength of all in the ship was fortified.
I"m happy to say it"s not the President"s fault, or FEMA either. I"m waiting for some to connect this to the previous administration somehow!
..time and chance happeneth to them all.
It"s a sin-cursed world, and we are the sinners who cursed it, and bad things happen.
It gets old..watching Christians get mad at God when things go wrong. In a twisted way of thinking they imagine that they are punishing God when they turn away from Him or fall out of church in response to tragedy. But they are only punishing themselves.
Whatever has shaken you—God didn"t do it. Sin did it. God allowed it for a higher purpose, and we need to believe that and not blame Him.
We shouldn"t blame God, but believe on Him. God is not responsible for our circumstances..He wants to save us from them, and He will, if only we believe.
We don"t know all the reasons why. We do know that God is in charge, and He controls all. Thus, we must believe and not blame.
IV. RESPOND - DON"T RUN
Don"t try to escape the fire. Stay put and let it purify you!
We must take this as a lesson and a call from God to do that which must be done.
This is an opportunity to learn, and a chance to help. It"s time we do like Peter and get out of the boat and be a water walker! Cowering in the hull of the boat during a storm is cowardly. It"s time to step out, for there"s a job to do, people to save, anchors to get set, life preservers to cast, sails to mend, rudders to steer, and opportunities to step out and make a difference!
V. BE ASSURED - NOT ANGRY
We are assured that God always does the right thing.
We can be assured that God never makes mistakes.
Our anger must be directed toward sin.
Righteous anger must be directed toward the Prince of sin.
And we must thank God that He"s still on the throne and in full control, and rest in that sweet assurance.
Anger will only enhance confusion and misunderstanding. So we need to focus upward in assurance, not outward in anger.
Peter got into trouble when he looked at the storm, but when he looked at his Lord he rose above the storm. The wind and waves which seem over our head are under His feet!
We have a problem in that we always want to "feel" good. We need to rest in the "fact" that all is well even when we don"t feel it. Bad things happen, but God is good!
If God can be trusted with our souls He can be trusted with our feet and everything that stands above them!
We can be assured of the goodness of God in all things if we have the assurance of salvation..
What will we do when our world trembles?
We must have faith, not fear.
We must pray, not panic.
We should believe and not blame.
Don"t run from problems..respond to those in need.