Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Storm Truths

Last week our church was blessed with a gifted revival speaker, Ricky Bishop.  Ricky has written a book called Weathering the Storms of Life.  His revival messages came from his book.  The book came from two sources:  storm stories in the Bible (there are quite a few), and experience with God helping him through some severe storms in his own life.  I was encouraged and strengthened as I listened to Ricky’s messages and as I read his book.  I am seeking to pass on some of the blessing I received by sharing some “Storm Truths” with you.  These truths are from Ricky’s messages and books, but I’ve put them into my own words.

Truth #1:  Storms are going to come into your life (Matthew 7:24-27)

By storms, I mean painful and trying situations in your life.  There are different types of storms.  There are health storms, family relationship storms, financial storms, work storms, church storms, and more.  Nobody wants storms, but the storms come anyways.  So it’s best to be ready for them and to understand how God works in and through them.

Truth #2:  The best place to be in a storm is with Jesus

The first Bible storm story Ricky shared comes from Mark 4:35-41.  I’ve read this story many times, but Ricky pointed out a detail I had never paid attention to.  Besides the disciples who were in the same boat with Jesus, there were other people following in other boats.  These “other boaters” would have experienced the same terrible storm that threatened to sink the disciples’ boat.  They also would have experienced the sudden calm when Jesus miraculously calmed the storm.  But they would not have seen or known that it was Jesus who calmed their storm.  Maybe they thought they just got lucky.  Because his disciples were close to Jesus in the boat, the storm became an opportunity for their faith in Jesus to grow.  The best place to be in any storm is close to Jesus!  And since you never know when a storm will hit, it’s best to stay close to Jesus all the time.

Truth #3:  Storms usually last a lot longer than we want them to

In Mark 6 the disciples encounter another storm.  This time Jesus was not initially in the boat with them.  The disciples struggle in the boat all night long (Mark 6:47-48).  Eventually Jesus does come (walking on the water!) and calm their storm.  But it lasted a long time and undoubtedly left them exhausted.  Storms often last a long time.  A lot longer than we want them to, that’s for sure. The disciples tried to row against the storm, but could not make progress.  In similar ways, storms often impede the efforts we are making to get somewhere in this life.  And often we do not know the reason for the storm.  But while we may not always feel His presence in the storm, He has not forgotten us for a single moment.  He will come (often in unexpected ways!) and end the storm in His good timing.

Truth #4:  God uses storms to make us more like Jesus

Although we often don’t understand exactly how this works, we know that God uses storms for His good purpose in our lives (Romans 8:28).  And what is that purpose?  To shape us into people who are just like Jesus:

Romans 8:29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.

Truth #5:  Sometimes Jesus calls us to do risky and awesome things in the middle of a storm

In Matthew 14:27-33, Matthew is writing about the same storm Mark wrote about in Mark 6.  But Matthew shares a part of the story which Mark left out (perhaps because Mark got his material from Peter, who may humbly have left this part out).  Right in the middle of the raging storm, when the disciples see Jesus walking on the water and Jesus identifies himself, Peter makes an incredibly bold and courageous request.  He asks Jesus to call him out to walk on the water.  And Jesus does call Peter out.  And Peter does walk on the water!

Sometimes, right in the middle of your storm, the Holy Spirit will give you courage to try something risky for God.  And God will enable you to do something incredible that will bring glory to Him.

Truth #6:  Calm seas can lead us to make foolish decisions

The longest storm story in the New Testament is found in the book of Acts. Prior to the storm which eventually shipwrecked Paul and his shipmates, the seas were calm and a soft wind was blowing (Acts 27:13).  Despite Paul’s urgent warning, the Centurion and the ship owner foolishly decided to sail on.  Sometimes a “calm” period in our lives accompanied by soft winds can cause us to let our spiritual guard down.  Being eager to make progress in this world, we can make foolish decisions which lead us right into a terrible storm.  Like Paul, we should listen to the Lord and be on guard.

Truth #7 :  Our priorities change during a storm

In the same storm in Acts, the priorities of the sailors are drastically altered by the storm.  Before the storm, their ship’s cargo was extremely important to them as it represented worldly profit.  But when the storm got really bad, they threw the cargo overboard with their own hands (Acts 27:18).  Sometimes we get too focused on the things of this world:  money and security and whatever comfort and entertainments we can find.  It takes a severe storm to remind us what is really important.  But God is very gracious.  He delivered Paul and all of his shipmates from the storm, even though the ship and all the cargo was completely lost.

Truth #8:  Sometimes the storms are our fault (Jonah 1)

Sometimes we experience storms that are not our fault.  But some storms ARE our fault.  Jonah tried to run away from God (which is really silly, since God is everywhere).  God sent a storm which threatened to sink the ship Jonah was on.  Jonah confessed that his own sin was the reason for the storm.  And while it was Jonah’s sin, the other men in the boat were also being affected.  In the same way, sometimes your sin will bring a storm which will hurt you and also hurt other people who are “in your boat”.

Truth #9:  Even when the storm is our fault, it is sent to correct us, not destroy us

God rescued Jonah by sending a fish to swallow him. Jonah prays to God from inside the fish and God gives Jonah another chance.  Even when the storm is our own fault, God does not send it because He hates us, but because He loves us (Hebrews 12:6).  He uses some storms to get us back into His will, which is always best.

Truth #10:  God rebuilds our world after a storm

The biggest storm in the history of the world was Noah’s flood. Everything and everyone Noah and his family knew before the flood was wiped out by the storm.  But God was with Noah and Noah’s family and after the storm passes, God commands them to “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth” (Genesis 9:1).  After a storm, God often brings us into a season of new fruitfulness and growth for His glory.

Just a Taste

The ten “storm truths” briefly shared above are just a small sample of what is in Ricky’s book.  There are more “storm truths”. Ricky makes these truths “come to life” by weaving in stories about a literal storm (Hurricane Isabel) which he and his family went through and also by sharing about some of the painful “health storms” and “family storms” which he has faced.  I recommend his book. (I like Ricky, but that is not why I recommend his book.  Nor did he in any way ask for a recommendation.  I recommend his book because I believe it will encourage and bless you.)

Hebrews 13:16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others . . .

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