08-16-2020: In the Midst of Trust and Faith

Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home” – Matthew 14:22 (NLT).

Summary: The pandemic we have today is a great opportunity for us to show our faith and hope of Christian life.

I. Introduction.

The church of Jesus Christ has been here before for us. Covid-19 has changed everything and for us it is new. But throughout the centuries’ churches they have often dealt with plagues.

The plague of Cyprian erupted in North Africa during the 3rd century (250 AD). The plague lasted nearly 20 years and reportedly killed as many as 5,000 people per day in Rome. St. Cyprian (200-258 CD) bishop of Carthage, said that Christians showed and lived differently than others. They had a hope of resurrection, hope of eternity, hope of life forever, and it was their victory. The pagans (gentile) said of them they would carry their dead with a hope of victory.

It is because of that hope that Christians have – the pandemic we have today is a great opportunity for us to show our faith and hope of Christian life.

(ILL) Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and his sister were crossing a treacherous torrent just below the mighty Niagara Falls. The current so rocked and tosses the boat that his sister became terrified. Jackson took her firmly by the arm and turning to one of the two boatmen, said: “How often have you crossed here before?” “Continually, sir, for the past twelve years.”

“Did you ever meet with an accident?” “Never, sir.” “Never capsized and lost a life?” “Nothing of the kind, sir.”

Turning to his sister, Jackson reassuringly replied, “You heard what the boatman said. Unless you think you can row the boat better than he does, just sit still and trust him as I do.”

Trust! Do we trust God and the teachings of His Son, Jesus Christ? Can we take direction from God without hesitation or concern? Soldiers have to trust their leaders to take their direction and fulfill orders. If that trust does not exist then the command structure breaks down and nothing gets done.

Let us meditate on Matthew 14 – and specifically where Jesus was speaking to the disciples at verse 22. He said get into the boat and go to the other side of the lake. Very critically notice that when they were going across to the other side of the lake – they encountered one of the greatest storms they ever encountered in Galilee. As a matter of fact, we might even say they went into this storm deliberately under the hand of God in obedience –  – Jesus ordered – they did! So, if you’re in a storm today – it doesn’t mean that you’re out of God’s will.

II. We Are in God’s Will.

We are in God’s Will – which means that God is going to be with us. The path of Holiness oftentimes is not lined with beautiful flowers on each side. It is not a straight path. That’s no smooth path. This does not mean that we’re out of God’s will. The disciples had listened carefully to the words of Jesus – they could have enjoyed that storm because Jesus actually told them to go to the other side of the lake.

Hebrews 3:14 – “For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end”

We need to be constantly reminded of a few things:

  • GOD is still – on the throne.
  • We are a people of strength and adaptability.
  • We are at our best when we are in unity with God and with each other.

You are not alone in all of this. Share your fears and concerns with others. If you do not do this – then you are alone. It is not a sign of weakness – it is a sign of trust and faith.

II. The Promise of God is With Us.

There is the promise that God is always with us. So, if the creator of the winds and the waves and oceans tells you to go to the other side of the lake – I can assure you that you will get there. And so – in the midst of this they need to heed the promises of God. It is important for us to realize some of the promises of God and hear one from Hebrews 13: 5b where it says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you”. Did you know that in the Greek texts there are actually five negatives in that one verse: I will know – not leave you – nor forsake you – five times. God says never, never, never, never, never. So – he with you there in the nursing home – he is with you there in the in the hospital – he is with you there in your home. He is with you there as you perhaps are filled with fear in your home. He is with you even though you have lost your job. He is with you always.

There’s something else about this story that really interested me. It is the fact that even though the disciples couldn’t see Jesus – Jesus could see them. If you’ve been to Galilee – you can see that there are a number of different mountains. The scripture tells us that Jesus was on a mountain praying.

III. Jesus is Watching You.

Now, in the darkness, there was no possibility that the disciples could see Jesus but even though they could not see Jesus, Jesus could see them – He is always watching each of us. He knew the longitude and latitude of their little boat. He knew the strength of the boat. He knew the depth of the water. He knew the strength of everybody. He knew exactly the speed of the wind. And he didn’t need a GPS. Because as God – he saw exactly where they were and how they were struggling.

I want to speak to you very directly today and help you to understand that God does see you today. The Bible says that his eyes are over the righteous. God does not have eyes like we do – but God looks after his own. 2 Chronicles 16:9 – “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him”.

IV. Jesus Knows You.

After all – Jesus knows you. In Matthew 10:28 Jesus makes a statement. He says do not fear them who kill the body – but they can’t do anything after that. He says do not fear them. No – but fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. And Jesus says this in Matthew 10:29 “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.”

(Ill) One day at our house a large sized duck flew into the air and hit the corner of the wall and dead. I thought to myself, God is here and watching the fallen duck. Guess what, with our Father’s will, this duck would not have came from the lake and hit the wall.

Jesus says very hair of your head is counted. Would you let yourself be encouraged today by the words of Jesus? Fear not – you are so much more valuable than many sparrows. I say to you today – that in the midst of this crisis – which I believe could still get worse before it gets better – in the midst of the fear and in the midst of the unanswered questions – let us always remember that God is with us.

The important fact is the disciples did not recognize Jesus in the storm initially. Just as and you and I might not see Jesus in the virus. We might ask the question: Where is Jesus in this virus and what is happening to our country? But the simple fact is this we must recognize that Jesus is the one who is with us. Storm and the epidemic that is bringing all the pain and even bringing fear and death is the same epidemic that is bringing Jesus to the people. Because we must know is that it’s God’s will and we must accept this trust in Him – and move on. No matter what.

V. Jesus is Coming to You at the Right Time (Matthew 14: 25-26).

Interesting that Jesus Christ came to them at a the very right time and he will do so again for us at the right time. The Bible goes on in Matthew 14 – at four o’ clock in the morning on the fourth watch – Jesus is walking on the sea. They were most desperate when they saw him. The distance over Galilee sea is not that great, perhaps seven or eight miles. The Bible says that the wind was against them. This may be your story today. The wind is actually against you but know that Jesus came to them during their time of desperation. At the right time Jesus Christ comes to us. One of the reasons I believe that God has allowed this terrible plague to come upon this country.

One day – I was talking to a pastor of a church – and I asked does your church have prayer meeting? More specially, during this time of coronavirus? And he said “No we don’t, but we do have some other meetings.” I asked him why you don’t start a prayer meeting this time and he agreed with me. He has called a prayer meeting. Praise the Lord!

Ephesians 4:17-24 tells us about our Christian faithful life. The coronavirus is going to be with us for an indefinite time. We all have a responsibility to ourselves and our families to take it seriously and follow every precaution directed and suggested.

  • You must no longer live as the Gentiles do – Eph.4:17
  • You should not be alienated from the life of God – Eph.4:18
  • You should not live in spiritual ignorance – Eph.4:19
  • You have heard him and have been taught by him as the truth is in Jesus – Eph.4:21
  • Renew a new spirit and put on a new man which was created according to God- Eph4:24

We should not be living in fear because in Matthew 14:27 we are told – “But Jesus immediately said to them: ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’”

VI. What is it Going to Take for Our Nation to Turn Back to God?

What is it going to take for this nation to turn to God? The whole question of whether or not there is such a thing as this is whether or not this is a judgement of God. I’m not going to discuss that in detail except to say that natural disasters are judgements. They do incur the suffering of the righteous as well as the unrighteous when they are National. If you have an economic meltdown – Christians are also affected just as much as non-Christians – and it is the very same way when there’s an earthquake. We must understand that in this particular era – the justice of God and judgement of God falls on both. God may be saying to the church today – it is time for you to get serious about prayer – serious about repentance – and serious about seeking my face. We desperately need God at this moment.

Listen to this – the storm – and wind – brought Jesus. Jesus walking across the lake as if it is a marble floor and the disciples cry out and say it is a ghost. Jesus said do not be afraid and Peter responding saying Lord, “if it is you can I come to you on the water.” And for a few moments both of them were walking on the water.

(ILL) I remember a story; A couple was given a special needs child, and they were very, very, angry because they asked why God allowed this? and what they had done wrong? And now 15 years later – they said at first – they didn’t see God in the birth of this baby – but now in looking back they know that God was there. Jesus comes to join us on our scariest trail along the path of life.  So it’s very difficult at this time in our nation’s history for us to now see Jesus on our big trail – but we need to know that he is there and that he walks with us and he comes to us in the storm. He could have just stayed on the shore said peace be still – and all would be calm, but he doesn’t do that. He comes to us in the storm. So, he comes to you in the storm – he comes to you in your room – He comes to you in your home – He comes to your business – He comes to you when you are laid off from your job – He doesn’t just stay on the shore. Jesus is the one who comes to his people.

A few years ago, when I was asked to visit the daughter of a friend who was in extremely critical condition from a series accident with a broken spine. I went immediately to the hospital. When I stood at her bedside, I saw a very frail young woman barely alive. She was revived four times while in the emergency room.

I leaned close to her and told her, “Diana, may I pray for you?” She was able to nod yes. I then said, “Diana, I do not want to pray for you, may I pray with you?” Again, she nodded. I held her hand and we prayed. I left her with tubes and wires connected to her for monitoring every function. The very next day when I arrived – her color was normal – and she had no tubes or wires attached to her body. Never underestimate God! Diana walks and lives a normal life today.

VII. Conclusion: “Que Sera, Sera!”

“Que Sera, Sera!” Whatever will be, Will be – It is God’s will that will be – and God listens to the prayers of His righteous. 1 Peter 3:12 – “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

I share that to say – Yes, we need to All be able to ask for prayer and to offer prayer. Please don’t sit back and wait until someone asks you to pray – when you see an obvious need – add your prayers to theirs and others.

The Bible says Jesus got into the boat then with them and went to the other side. Today my message is this: Jesus Christ is in the boat with us and he will take us all the way to the other side of the lake. Whether we live or die the simple fact is that we will get there to the other side. And this is a great opportunity for the church of Jesus Christ to be the church and to live differently than a world that is filled with panic and fear – hatred and divisiveness – distrust – suspicion – and arrogance. You are not alone in all of this – we are all in the boat together! Share your fears and concerns with others – that is not a sign of weakness – it is a sign of trust and faith.

“I know not what may soon betide,

But Jesus knows, and He’ll provide;

My life is by His Counsel plann’d

And all my times are in His hand:

I’ll therefore trust, nor yield to fear,

But cast on Jesus all my care” – James Smith.

So, in light of what Stonewall Jackson told his sister – “Unless you think you can do it better than God, just sit still and trust Him – as we should!”

Let us pray: Father, we want to give thank you today for your mercies. We thank you today that you do not leave us nor forsake us. We thank you for you are with us. You have not abandoned us. So, give your children hope, and we pray that this might be a great time in which we demonstrate the difference between those who believe in Christ and those who don’t have that hope. Dear Lord, now we pray that you might help us to know how to encourage your people. We pray in Jesus name. Amen.

Sermon Series (Three Parts): “Where is God in All these Troubles?” ~

 “In the Midst of Trust and Faith” (Part 2)

Matthew 14:22-27 (Hebrews 3:14Ephesians 4:17-24Matthew 10:28-31)

 Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home” – Matthew 14:22 (NLT).

Summary: The pandemic we have today is a great opportunity for us to show our faith and hope of Christian life.

I. Introduction.

II. We Are in God’s Will.

III. The Promise of God is With Us.

IV. Jesus is Watching You.

V. Jesus Knows You.

VI. Jesus is Coming to You at the Right Time (Matthew 14: 25-26).

VII. What is it Going to Take for Our Nation to Turn Back to God?

VIII. Conclusion: “Que Sera, Sera!”