Sunday, July 27, 2014 was "Remembrance Sunday" at Colonial Hills Baptist Church. Pastor Bob Taylor the pastor emeritus at Colonial brought the morning message. The message he brought was from John 6:16-21.
The setting for the message in John 6 is the Sea of Galilee. We notice in John 6 that Jesus had just fed the 5000. The crowds were excited and were ready to make Jesus king but Jesus was not there to become king so he departed into the mountain and he sent his disciples to cross the Sea of Galilee. The disciples are seasoned sailors. Their occupation has been fishing. They were nonetheless unaware that they were sailing towards a big storm and certain death. Suddenly the wind becomes fierce and the waves come over the side of the boat. The men know that barring a miracle they would be dead. On July 27th, 2013 we had such a day. It was a calm day and then the unthinkable happened and everything changed. Our lives became different from that moment. We were planning a nice evening when suddenly everything turned upside down.
The disciples had just experienced a great miracle. They were full of fish and had baskets of it at their feet. Jesus had reached the hight of His popularity and the crowds were ready to make him kind. But for the disciples the sea was about to become their grave. The moon was hidden behind angry clouds. The disciples' backs were aching from rowing to get away from the storm. They were in the middle of the sea and it was too far to turn back. Perhaps you have been there. You didn't know what to do. You cried. You prayed, You quoted Scripture. Yet, there seemed to be nothing you could do to get out of the midst of a storm.
When a storm comes we can find some wonderful principles and truths in this passage. When the storms comes these are truths that you can remember.
1. I am governed by His providence.
This storm did not catch Jesus by surprise. He did not look out form the mountain and say, "Oh my! What have I done! My mistake! My bad!" Jesus didn't say that. He was the one that created the Sea of Galilee and He is the one who created the storm. In a parallel passage in Matthew 14 and in this passage it says that Jesus "constrained them" to go into the boat. Jesus insisted that they go to the Sea of Galilee. Maybe the disciples had a for boding that something was going to happen. Nonetheless, we know for sure that the disciples were win the midst of the storm because they were obeying Christ.
If you are in the midst of the storm and the icy waters are crashing over the sides of the boat remember, there is nothing that comes into your life that He did not permit. Nothing comes into your life that He does not know before hand. This whole scene in John 6 was under divine supervision. Psalm 115 tells us that "Our God is in the heavens; He hath done whatsoever He pleaseth." This is the essence of God's sovereignty. God is absolutely free to do whatsoever He pleases without consulting me.
2. I am growing by His plan.
What is God's plan for you? Romans 8:28 is a wonderful verse but don't forget the next verse. God allows things into your life to conform you to the image of His Son. His plan for you is to conform you to the image of His sin.
Jesus was engineering these events in John 6. He was planning to grow His disciples as a result of this event. Psalm 4:1 says, "Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress." When was the time when you grew most spiritually? I know when it was. It was when your ole pal trouble came to visit you. When your ole pal trouble came you grew the most spiritually.
“I walked a mile with Pleasure;
She chatted all the way;
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say.
I walked a mile with Sorrow;
And ne’er a word said she;
But, oh! The things I learned from her,
When Sorrow walked with me.”
Robert Brandon Hamilton
3. I am graced by His prayers.
Remember the scene. The disciples are down in the Sea of Galilee. The storm is raging about them and they are about to sink and Jesus saw them. He saw them toiling and rowing and what was He doing. What was Jesus doing during that time. Matthew 14:23 tells us that He was in the mountain praying.
How about you? When you are in the midst of your trouble and the storm is coming can you say with the song writer, "His eye is on the sparrow and I know He cares for me"? Did you know that you are on Jesus' prayer list? Up in heaven there is a God who is praying for you and when you go through trouble you are graced by His prayers.
4. I am gladdened by His presence.
It was the fourth watch of the night. The fourth watch of the night on the Jewish calendar was between 3 and 6am. The darkest time of the night. Why didn't Jesus come sooner? Why did He even send them out? Was Jesus being cruel? Did He enjoy watching them struggle? Did He enjoy watching them fear for their lives? Perhaps they were even saying, "Where's Jesus?" But Jesus had not forgotten them. He was exactly on time.
Waiting in the Bible is trusting and knowing that His way is best. Jesus came in time and in the hight of the storm. Do you think they were glad to see Jesus?
"Just when I need Him, Jesus is near,
Just when I falter, just when I fear;
Ready to help me, ready to cheer,
Just when I need Him most."
William C. Poole
5. I am guarded by His power.
Suddenly a regal form comes walking on the water. He is not swimming out and keeping His head above water. That water was as solid as a rock and Jesus comes walking on the water. At first the disciples were filled with terror and then they were filled with joy. Jesus said something very wonderful in John 6:20. He said to them, "It is I. be not afraid." The word "It is I" can also be translated "I Am." "Be not afraid! I Am." All these disciples were Jewish men and they would all know that that is a name for Jehovah. This word is a word that tells us that God always has been, is today, and always will be. When Jesus came to them He was saying "I am the I AM in the midst of your storm!"
Why did Jesus walk on water? Was He doing it for theatrics? Was He just showing off? There was a message in that miracle. The disciples biggest worry was that they were going to drown. They were afraid that they were going to go under. In the midst of their storm Jesus was saying that everything that threatens to be over your head is under my feat. That which threatens to swallow you up that is under my feet. Jesus brought peace to that Sea of Galilee and everything was under control.
July 27, 2013 was a shocking day that threatened to swallow us up but in the midst of that storm Jesus was saying to us, "Everything is under control."
"Trials dark on ev'ry hand,
and we cannot understand
All the ways that God would lead us
to that blessed Promised Land;
But He'll guide us with His eye,
and we'll follow till we die;
We will understand it better by and by."
One of these days Jesus Christ is going to step out from Heaven and this time he will step on clouds not water. He will step on the clouds and He will bring all of our loved ones who were believers with Him. In that moment our little ship will be on the shore. There was another miracle that night in John 4. When Jesus calmed the waters the disciples' boat was immediately on the other side. And so it will be when Jesus comes back and you rise to meet Him you will be immediately on the other side.