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The Blessing of the Storm

Alistair Huong
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As the world collectively passes through a storm, what lessons can Jesus' disciples' night on the stormy lake teach us? Can there be a blessing within the turmoil?

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Alistair Huong

Executive Director of AudioVerse

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  • April 4, 2020
    11:00 AM
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Good morning and happy Sabbath truly what in unusual time we are living in today just a few weeks ago who would have guessed that we would be worshipping in this type of venue in this type of format online but the last few months everything in the world has changed and really we are passing through a great storm together collectively as humanity as a world as a nation as a society and really I can't remember a time in my lifetime really that we have as people all together been able to say that we are passing through an experience all in the same boat the whole world quite like what we're going through right now mind it reminds me of the world wars that I'm sure our ancestors or maybe some of our parents and grandparents remember some of those types of experiences but really this is a unique time that we're going through and in this storm together I know a lot of us probably are wondering just what is God's purpose in all of this why would God permit such calamities such catastrophic events to happen in the world and what good can come out of this and that's really the focus of our study together today I want to look in the Bible to see if God has revealed something to us to see if we can find the blessing that is hidden in the storm so I invite you just a value heads with me right where you are as we are prepared to open God's word together let's pray. Father in heaven we come before you today with anxious hearts you know the ordeal that the world collectively is passing through. And Lord we do not look to our human leaders right now we don't seek guidance from. Human sources of wisdom but we look to you and so as we are about to open your word I pray that your Holy Spirit will speak to us give us some word from on high some encouragement and help us to see as heaven sees perhaps even seeing the blessing in the storm guide us in our worship in our study now we ask in Jesus name Amen so I want to take our minds back to begin this message to a hillside on a peaceful day in Galilee Jesus had been teaching the multitude for the whole day and they've been listening with rapt attention to every word that has proceeded from his mouth and as the day grew long the disciples urged Jesus to send the people home they haven't eaten all day at least go buy some food from the villages around and you know the story there were 5000 men besides the women and children who certainly were there and Jesus said to the disciples you give them something to eat well the little lad came forward with his loaves and fishes Jesus multiplied the food and fed everybody in that massive crowd but it's interesting because during that time when people were sitting around and talking over the food that they were sharing together there was a little bit of a. A buzz some electricity that started to permeate through that crowd and was started as a whisper in one corner and began to gain steam and the people were talking to each other saying Jesus. Must be the Messiah and if Jesus is the messiah he's a son of David and he's the son of David surely he is the one who will restore Israel to its former glory to the golden age that we had under the rule of King David and King Solomon and so the people began to have a collective movement they formed a coalition if you will to try to crown Jesus as King we're actually told exactly how this happened in the book desire of ages in Page 377378. The hopes of the people rise higher and higher this is he who will make Judea an earthly paradise and the land flowing with milk and honey he can satisfy every desire he can break the power of the hated Romans he can deliver Judah and Jerusalem he can heal the soldiers who are wounded in battle he can supply whole armies with food he can conquer the nations and give to Israel the long sought dominion in their enthusiasm the people are ready at once to crown him King can you imagine what must have been going through that crowd that was a large group of people and they were very excited they thought this was our chance to finally get rid of those pesky Romans Well how did Jesus respond Jesus certainly saw the movement that was afoot and Jesus must have had some thought and some opinion about what was going on well let's take a look we can read this in the Bible in Matthew Chapter 14 verse 22 and 23. And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship and to go before him and to the other side of the other side of the lake that is while he sent the multitude away and when he sent the multitudes away he went up into a mountain apart to pray and when the evening was calm he was there alone so that's an interesting response by Jesus was and here's a group of people who loved him they were on his side they were finally you know ready to accept him as with their whole hearts at least and seemed that way and they were about to crown him king but Jesus immediately stopped the people in their tracks and apparently the disciples were part of this crowd and Jesus immediately dispersed the crowd sent them home sent the disciples into their boat to set sail across the lake in short Jesus told everyone Ok in a nice way it's time for you to get lost Jesus knew. That nothing good would come out of this movement that the people wanted they wanted to crown him of the king to overthe overthrow the Romans but Jesus knew that his mission on earth was not a political one he was not here to foment political revolutions but he had a spiritual kingdom to set up and he knew that if these people got what they wanted the Roman armies would come in and and squash this rebellion and there would be untold devastation and bloodshed and his mission would really be retarded in a real way and so he realized he had to stop this movement he dispersed the crowd sent them home sent the disciples down into their boat and then Jesus did something very interesting Jesus needed something what did he need Jesus needed some social distancing Now of course that's not what they called it back then and Jesus didn't use those words but in essence Jesus needed to isolate himself from humanity for a period you see Jesus understood that in order for him to be able to carry forward the mission that God had given him to accomplish he needed to be in tune with God He needed to be to have communion with the Almighty and the only way that can happen is if he isolated himself from the affairs of men so that he could receive lock himself so to say in the audience chamber with God If Jesus needed some time of social isolation some social distancing What do you think about you and me do you think that's something that would be important for us to to find time quietly on our knees in the audience chamber with God In fact that's actually one of the prime lessons that Jesus teaches us in this story. Why did he send the disciples down into the ship why did he send them down on to the boat the set sail across the lake is because Jesus understood that these disciples needed some quiet time too they needed some time away from the crowds away from the hustle and the bustle the business in the stress of ministry and they needed some time to think and the reason why I G.'s This realized that he needed time to think is because Jesus could read their hearts and he knew that the disciples were distressed they had distractions upon their minds and they were burdened with a great many things and really this is the emphasis of our study today what was happening in the hearts in the minds of the disciples and how was God trying to reach them. You see Jesus understood that the cycles were part of the crowd and there were some things that they weren't too pleased with about how things ended that day so let's take a quick look at what were some of the things that were going on through the disciples minds let's turn our attention back to the book desire of ages now and this is on page 379 and 380 they had left Jesus with dissatisfied hearts speaking about the cycles now of course more impatient with him than ever excuse me more impatient with him than ever before since acknowledging him as their Lord they murmured because they had not been permitted to proclaim him again they blame themselves for yielding so readily to his command they reasoned that if they had been more persistent they might have accomplished their purpose. Unbelief was taking possession of their hearts and minds or their minds and hearts love of honor had blinded them they knew that Jesus was hated by the Farriss and they were eager to see him exulted as they thought he should be. To be united with a teacher who could work a mighty miracles and yet to be reviled as deceivers was a trial they could ill endure Were they always to be accounted followers of a false prophet would Christ never assert his authority as King Why did not he who possess such power reveal himself in his true character and make their way less painful Why had he not saved John the Baptist from a violent death thus the disciples reasoned until they brought upon themselves great spiritual darkness they questioned could Jesus be in and posture as the fair seas asserted Can you imagine these thoughts that were passing through the disciples head their minds just a few hours previous They were ready to crown him king and when Jesus didn't go along with what they wanted they'd talk themselves into a very dark place of questioning whether Jesus was an impostor maybe the ferrous These were right they thought wow what a precarious and spiritually dangerous position the disciples found themselves in this is why Jesus sent them out on the lake alone hoping that they would use this time wisely to reconstitute themselves to God to be in prayer to search their hearts and afflict their souls and come back into communion with the will of the Father but is out what the. That was it was it but I want to dig a little bit deeper and to think. Through what were some of these distractions that were plaguing the minds of the disciples what caused them to so quickly lose their faith in Jesus and as we read to harbor a spirit of unbelief there are probably many different ways to break down what was going on in their minds but I want to just focus on 3 distractions that were on the minds of the cycles the 1st destruction was the prospect of prosperity the prospect of prosperity you see the disciples had just had one of those experiences that made their tummies full in their hearts full of the same time they saw just like all the crowds around them that Jesus would had the power to make sure no one would ever be hungry in the nation of Israel imagine having someone like that as our leader of course the armies would never fail the markets would never crash the harvests would always be sure this was what was going on through the disciples heads Jesus could usher in an unending period of prosperity for the nation of Israel and who doesn't like prosperity but you know it is far more dangerous for the Christian during a time of peaceful prosperity than during a time of trouble isn't that true in your own experience I know I've been there we pass through a period of relative tranquility and we think everything is just fine and it's easy for us to slack off in our personal devotions in our prayer in our consecration to God. But Jesus looked at the situation and realized oh boy this is not good these disciples need to reflect on this and to think things through prosperity is dangerous for many people frequently and how is it today it's interesting that the world has been going through a period of relative prosperity recently with the markets rising ever higher and higher and unemployment rates at the lowest point in so long and it seemed as though the good times would roll on forever and sometimes we mistake we just assume rather that it surely must be God's will for us to have an an ending perpetual period of prosperity isn't that right well we know that we live in a sinful world and until we are in the earth made new God's will is not necessarily for us to have 0 problems in our lives and just have an ending prosperity because he knows that prosperity can be dangerous and how often we come to God with our prayers for something we desire some achievement we want to achieve some attainment we want to obtain and we already in our minds have made up what we want the answer to be but we simply come to God asking Him to rubberstamp our decisions that's not how this works and the disciples were distracted with that unfortunate misunderstanding that prosperity must surely be God's plan for them in perpetuity of course the Bible does tell us in 3rd John 2 beloved I wish above all things that are prosperous prosperous and be in hell just as your soul prospers but just as that verse says God cares ultimately most importantly for the prosperity of our spiritual experience and that's what he cared about for the disciples. And here I want to look at the 2nd distraction that was on the minds of the disciples the 2nd distraction on their minds was the distraction of politics politics well when I say politics in this particular situation I mean literal politics the disciples were ready to crown Jesus King In fact let's take a look at the passage in the desire of ages page 378 once more consulting together the people agreed to take him by force and proclaim him the king of Israel the disciples unite with the multitude in declaring the throne of David the rightful inheritance of their master interesting it is the modesty of Christ they say that causes him to refuse such honor let the people exalt their deliverer let the arrogant priests and rulers be forced to honor him who comes clothed with the off 40 of God You see the disciples had a conflated notion of the spiritual kingdom of God and the physical nation of Israel. And really it is hard to blame them the Nation of Israel for a long time since their founding had their religious faith and their national I dentity closely intertwined you remember the Mosaic laws in the Old Testament Moses gave laws that ran from the civil to the religious to the health and sanitation and all in between the religion of the Jews and the Israelites and their state were closely intertwined and so it's easy and we really do need to cut them some slack the disciples to think that the nation that Christ was coming to establish the kingdom that Christ was to establish must be part and parcel integrated with the physical nation of Israel that's not the case here today of course in a nation particularly in America where there is a wall of separation between church and state we live in a very different world in the different governance structure however I believe the lesson is still relevant to us today and that is human nature really has not changed much in the past 2000 years and we know this to be true I'm sure that the disciples back in their day when they were sitting and relaxing probably talked about the political affairs of the more the recent changes in leadership of their province or of the town or the Roman politics I was going on probably. And how often for us today or how easy rather is it for us today likewise to conflate the values of. Of our politics with the values of our faith and intertwined them in a way that perhaps it becomes a distraction it's easy for us sometimes to mistake our political or nationalistic or patriotic zeal for religious fervor it's easy to conflate those 2 things and that can lead to a distraction for the from the true mission that God intends for us today to accomplish just like back then Jesus knew that unless the disciples would stop looking to the earthly secular government and the political revolution as the solution they would never truly be able to accomplish the mission of God of Christ spiritual Kingdom particularly them as the apostles to be the founders of the Christian movement they would be able to fully articulate and encapsulate the mission that God had intended them to accomplish and so Jesus recognized this distraction in their minds and that's why he gave them some quiet time some social distancing to think things through and so this leads us to the 3rd distraction that was on the minds of the cycles and this 3rd distraction is popular opinion popular opinion you know how it is when you're in a crowd and a large group well thousands of people particularly like what the disciples found themselves in that day. How easy it is to get swept up in the energy and and the herd like movements and mentality that sweep through a crowd like that and the disciples I'm sure they were right along with it and they were thinking Finally after all this time people are finally seeing the light they're coming around to our ministry they're finally recognizing Jesus for who he really is wow this is wonderful and so they went along with the crowd they thought the crowd the people want Jesus to became why not give the people what they want and they were influenced by the group think mentality that was happening on that day and you know back in those days they didn't have social media but nowadays with the Internet and social media and our smart devices we don't even have to be physically in the crowd of thousands of people we carry our crowd with us all day long and it's so easy for us to be influenced even nowadays by what everyone else is thinking and what everyone else wants and the disciples neglected to think well what would Jesus really want what does Jesus really think about this they never consulted him before he they went along with the crowd to crown him king and that's why Jesus needed them to have some time alone but you know there's something fascinating about the these 3 things that we just talked about and that is that prophetically speaking we are told that the Final Crisis will be initiated by a popular movement that compels the political arm to enforce religious decrees presumably for the prosperity of society isn't that fascinating that. Prophetically speaking at the end of time the very distractions that we see occurring in the disciples experience will play a part in ushering in the Final Crisis Now I'm not saying that what we're going through right now is the final crisis but what I am saying is that we are if we're not careful if we don't take Jesus' advice to heart to come apart rest awhile contemplate think on these things have some quiet time meditating with with our Heavenly Father it's easy for us to also be swept up in the delusion that will come upon the world at the end of time and so with these distractions on their minds did the disciples seize the quiet moment peaceful time Jesus gave to them to think things through well we know that they did it the disciples were murmuring they continue to foment this the satisfaction that was breeding in their hearts and they continued on in their distrust of Jesus now what happens next the Jesus merely leave them to their own devices to their own delusions or was there something more that Jesus wanted to do to help them well let's take a look at the Bible now in Matthew Chapter 14 and verse $24.00 we see that something happens after the disciples started off from land but the boat was already a long distance from the land battered by the waves for the wind was contrary So the disciples were on the boat they had a time to think but after a while troubles came a storm started to brew. Is there something special about the storm is there something significance behind why this storm what was permitted to come upon the disciples at this precise time what we are actually told some inside information again in the book desire of ages on page $380.00 Those were hours of large blessing to the disciples but they had forgotten it all they were in the midst of troubled waters their thoughts were stormy and unreasonable and the Lord gave them something else to afflict their souls and occupy their minds God often does this when men create burdens and troubles for themselves the disciples had no need to make trouble already danger was fast approaching. A violent tempest had been stealing upon them and they were unprepared for it it was a sudden contrast for the day had been perfect and when the gale struck them they were afraid they forgot their disaffection their unbelief their impatience everyone worked to keep the boat from sinking in storm and darkness the sea had taught them their own helplessness and they longed for the presence of their master notice carefully at the end of that statement finally the cycles wanted Jesus around again you remember they were so dissatisfied they thought maybe Jesus was an impostor after all but something snapped them out of it and said we need our master or what was it it was the storm and notice carefully the statement we just read tells us clearly that God permitted the storm to come to shake them out of the dangerous position that they were in can storms sometimes be a blessing. Absolutely God often does this he permits troubles to come into our lives to shake us up from our complacency to shake us out of our doubts to crystallize the priorities that we ought to have in our lives and to finally look back to Jesus you see the storm gives focus the storm gives us focus on what is most important and what is not important imagine you are flying on an airplane and you look out the window and dark storm clouds are gathering around you feel the turbulence the bumps in the rocking of the airplane and then the captain comes on the intercom and he says Ladies and gentlemen the storm is real bad we have lost our engines and the plane is going down Prepare for impact what would be going through your mind right then would you be concerned about the latest movements of the stock market or the next business venture that might come your way or would you really be preoccupied at that moment with the next presidential election perhaps Or what about our social media likes and shares and comments that might be happening on our Facebook or Twitter accounts what any of those things matter at a time like that ultimately what really matters will come into clearer relief and usually for most people the things that come to mind are things like faith and family and there it is the disciples in the middle of the storm tossed sea. Had clarity in an instantaneous moment all the things that they cared about all the things that they thought the people cared about faded from view and they realized they just desired to have the presence of their master there as a Says the famous saying there are no atheists in foxholes and isn't that the truth the disciples were shaken out of their doubt their despair and their distress and all of a sudden they realized I need Jesus and as Jesus leave them alone did Jesus ever stop watching them you know it's easy some times perhaps that the disciples thought this perhaps they thought I was so dissatisfied and disgruntled with Jesus maybe I'm not worth saving maybe the Savior is disappointed enough in me that he's just going to cast me aside and leave me to my own devices to my own destruction maybe the disciples who were regretful and worried and thinking in that same manner and how often we might find ourselves in such distress maybe we committed some sin we've made some mistake we've said some unkind thing we've made some decisions that we regret then we think and then a storm comes or some terrible calamity and we wonder have we walked away too far from God to be saved well the rest of the story of that cycle in the storm gives us hope let's turn to our Bibles now once again this is in Mark chapter 6 verse $48.00 and he Jesus saw them toiling in rowing for the wind was contrary unto them and about the 4th watch of the night he comes to them walking upon the sea. So of course we know the rest of the story Jesus walks on the water out to the disciples and then Peter comes out on the water and you know that story but I want to focus and see a little bit more detail to see what the desire of ages has to say about this this is on page 381 of the book desire of ages Jesus had not forgotten them the watcher on the shore saw those fears stricken men battling with the tempest not to for a moment did he lose sight of his disciples with deepest solicitude his eyes followed the storm tossed boat with his precious burden for these men were to be the light of the world as a mother in tender love watches a child so the compassionate master watched his disciples when their hearts were subdued their unholy ambition quelled and in humility they prayed for help it was given them what a promise Jesus walked out on the storm tossed sea to save his disciples and notice these were not disciples who were living up to all the life that they had at that moment they were dissatisfied disgruntled doubtful of Jesus and His mission Jesus went on the water to save them the condition merely was they had to humble themselves there they had to ask for help they had to be willing to be helped is your heart subdued is your ambition quelled have you been humbled those are some of the conditions that Jesus needs before he can help us and how does he get us to that state he permits the storm to come there is a blessing in the storm it gives us focus it turns our hearts and our minds back to Jesus so that. We will permit him to help us and lest you think that you have gone too far for Jesus to reach you just think the disciples were out on the storm tossed see and to what degree to what lengths the Jesus go to save them Jesus walked on water Jesus walked out on a storm tossed sea to save his doubting disciples Is there any question as to whether Jesus wants to save you Jesus will walk through a storm tossed sea to save you too and the disciples teaches us the lesson that we do not have to fear we only need to have Jesus and the lesson of the story also teaches us that sometimes God permits us to pass through storms so that it grows our faith in order for us to pass through greater storms that are still yet to come the disciples were on a storm tossed see once before with Jesus you remember he was sleeping in the boat they wake him up and he calms the storm with his hand except this time Jesus was not in the boat the disciples though should have remembered who it was that sent them out in the boat to the middle of the lake to begin with Jesus commanded them to set sail to the other side you remember we read that would Jesus send his disciples out to their death no Jesus would not do that. And so may we also learn the same lesson that as long as we are residing in the will of God and we are precisely where he called us to be even if it's in the midst of the storm Jesus will never leave us nor forsake us he is right there with us and if needed he will walk across the storm the white foam the billows to reach you to save you if need be just like he did for the disciples and you know I during this difficult time that we are passing through there are have been a couple promises that have gone through my mind related to what we've been just talking about that I want to share with you now so the 1st one is found in a z a chapter $43.00 verses $1.00 and $2.00 it says but now those say that the Lord that created the o.j. Cobe and he that formed the over Israel fear not for I have redeemed the I have called the by the name that are to mine when that passes through the waters I will be with the and through the rivers they shall not overflow the when the walk is through the fire the hour shall not be burned neither shall the flame Kindle upon the the disciples surely were passing through the waters worth a was Jesus with them he sure was and I also think the 2nd half of this verse talking about walking through the flames surely the 3 Hebrew boys who were tossed into the fiery furnace were thankful for this promise of God to be with them through the flames and of course we're going through a metaphorical storm right now as a world we're not necessarily in the fire or in the waves but we are going through a storm nonetheless and here's a promise I'm sure you've heard a lot recently that is a little bit more specific to our particular situation found in Psalm 91. He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty I will say of the Lord He is my refuge and my fortress my God in him will I trust Surely he shall deliver the from the snare of the fowler and from the noise some pestilence he shall cover the with his feathers and under his wings shall trust his truth shall be the shield and buckler Thou shall not be afraid for the terror by night nor for the arrow that fly by day nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness nor for the destruction that wasted at noonday a 1000 shall fall at the side and 10000 at the right hand but it shall not come nigh the precious promises precious promises when we pass through times of store but the question today is is there something that's distracting you from Jesus is there something that Jesus has permitted the storm to shake us out of some burden that we are carrying that is preventing us from going to him is there something on our hearts and minds that is preventing us from having a full hearted consecration to warlord Perhaps this is the reason why he has given us this time of social isolation social distancing Perhaps this is why he has sent a storm to shake us up out of our complacent lethargy to help us to come to repentance to come to a point of recognizing our need of our Savior maybe it's something like that the cycles of distraction politics or popular opinion what people think maybe it's one of those things or maybe it's something else I don't know your particular situation but I do know this. There is very few excuses left for us not to come to Jesus in the quietness of our quiet time the movie theaters are shut down all the sporting events have been cancelled restaurants we can't go out to eat anymore the vacation hot spots also are not available travel is restricted the list goes on and on all we need to do is shut off the news step away from the social media turn off the Netflix whatever it is that we're distracting ourselves with and look to Jesus with humble hearts with our hearts open for the honor of the Lord to search us and to show us what is in ourselves and perhaps this is the time the God is saying there is yet a greater storm ahead and we know prophetically speaking there will be worse times in the future and Jesus says I'm permitting this storm to come now as a blessing for you to come to me in humble contrition humble contrition and full consecration and so is that your desire today do you want to come to Jesus I know that's my desire and in conclusion I just want to share one last passage with you that recently has spoken to my heart for those of us who are concerned scared anxious unnerved about the situation I think it ties in very nicely with everything that we are talking about today and it is found in the book patriarchs and prophets page 687 there are many who become restless when they cannot know the definite outcome of affairs they cannot endure uncertainty and in their impatience they refuse to wait to see the salvation of God apprehended evils drive them nearly distracted. They give way to the rebellious feelings and run hither and thither in passionate grief seeking intelligence concerning that which has not been revealed if they would but trust in God and watch unto prayer they should find divine consolation their spirit would be Cong by communion with God The weary and the heavy laden would find rest unto their souls if they would only go to Jesus go to Jesus spend time in communion with God and in prayer and perhaps this is the blessing that God had in store for us in the store let's pray Father in heaven we thank you for the storms that come our way not because we enjoy pain or suffering and not because we wish ill or catastrophe on anyone but because we know that even in this good can be accomplished you can wake us from our distraction you can enable us to come to Jesus with an open heart humble and emptied of self and so as we go through this collective storm together we know your eye is still upon us you are always watching you will never leave us nor forsake us you will even walk on the storm tossed seed to save us if need be but you are trying to save us spiritually save us by turning our hearts away from self away from the things of the world and to the only true solution to all of life's problems and so today of all we commit ourselves to you and you speak to our hearts help us to seize this unique time that we have to find one miss with you. And ultimately may we be prepared and ready for your return really believe some day very soon and we thank you for these things we crave all of these things in. This media was brought to you by audio verse a website dedicated to spreading God's word through free sermon audio and much more if you would like to know more about audio verse if you would like to listen to more sermons lead to visit w w w audio verse or.

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