Many times in the last few years I have posted messages warning us to prepare for storms that may come in life many took heed by maintaining diciplines of spending time with Abba, praying and reading the word. Many ask why are these things happening to me? Many times there is no answer.
Recently my attention was caught by the next few messages I have posted below by Greg Laurie. These messages are encouragements that no matter what your situation is 'God is with you'. It also shows storms can come to correct, protect or perfect us. As you read may you be blessed, encouraged and able to go on to encourage others.
You know the drill. Things are going well, no crisis, no conflicts to speak of, pretty much smooth sailing. Then seemingly out of nowhere, a storm hits. Maybe it's a crisis, or a hardship. Maybe it's a personal tragedy. So what do you do when a hurricane-force storm hits and water is filling your boat?
Answer: You take heart. Because you are not alone.
When Paul was at sea on his way to Rome and the mighty tempest hit him and the others on board, he was able to courageously encourage others.
God was with him
How was Paul able to be so confident?
He was conscious of the presence of God in the face of danger. He knew that God was there with him.
And God is with us in our storms as well. God will always give us what we need when we need it. You remember that Paul had what he called his "thorn in the flesh," which was presumably some kind of physical disability or illness. He asked the Lord three times to remove it (see 2 Corinthians 12).
God's answer was, "My grace is sufficient for you" (2 Corinthians 12:9), which is another way of saying, "I will be with you, Paul. Instead of a healing, I will personally be there in a special and sufficient way." Now it is the Lord
A. B. Simpson wrote these words:
"Once it was the Blessing, now it is the Lord.
Once it was the Feeling, now it is His Word.
Once His Gifts I wanted, now the Giver alone.
Once I sought Healing, now Himself alone."
God is with you right now, regardless of the storm or even the shipwreck. We may not hear an audible voice, but you may hear that "still small voice" of God's Holy Spirit. Or He will speak to you through His Word.
Then you, like Paul, can reassure others that "the Lord is in control."Time and time again, God reminded Paul of His presence.
1. He was there when Paul was in jail in Jerusalem, as Jesus told him to "be courageous!" (Acts 23:11)
2. It happened in 2 Timothy 4:16-17 when Paul said, "All deserted me . . . but the Lord stood by me."
3. And it happened here in Acts 27, in the midst of the storm.
When the boss calls you in his office . . .
You can take heart in the face of danger or uncertainty because you are aware of God's presence with you.
When your boss says, "I'm really sorry, but I'm going to have to let you go!" Or when the doctor says, "The test results are back and I need you to come in." Or when the telephone rings and someone says, "There's been an accident."
You are not alone. The Lord is standing next to you. He cares. Jesus said, "Lo, I am with you always, to the very end of the age" (Matthew 28:20).
Source: Greg Laurie: Daily Devotion June 5 2010 website: http://www.harvest.org/devotional/
Storms that Correct
And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said, "My child, don't make light of the Lord's discipline, and don't give up when he corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child." — Hebrews 12:5–6
Storms will come in life in the form of a hardship or crisis or even tragedy. There will be times when we can anticipate the storm, when we see the clouds start to darken and hear the thunder in the distance. At other times, a storm will arrive unexpectedly. But there is no getting around the fact that we will go through storms.
We will bring some storms on ourselves as a result of our actions. We will do something wrong, it catches up with us, and we face the consequences. A classic example of this is Jonah. God called him, an Israelite, to go and bring a message of repentance to the great city of Nineveh. But the people of Nineveh were enemies of Israel. So Jonah reasoned that if he preached to the Ninevites, they would probably repent and God would spare them. On the other hand, if he didn't preach to them, they wouldn't repent, and God would destroy them. That would be one less enemy Israel would have to worry about. So Jonah boarded a boat that was traveling in the opposite direction.
A terrible storm arose, which was so severe that even the seasoned sailors began to call upon their various gods, hoping for deliverance. Ultimately it was determined that the storm they were facing was a result of Jonah's disobedience. So Jonah was thrown overboard, and you know the rest of the story.
That is what we would call a correcting storm. Correcting storms are reminders that God loves us. If God didn't love Jonah, He wouldn't have sent a storm. But He wanted to get Jonah's attention and get him back on track. So if you find yourself in the midst of a correcting storm, know that it is because God loves you.
As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? If God doesn't discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all. — Hebrews 12:7–8
When storms come into our lives, some of them can be considered correcting storms. After Jonah disobeyed God and tried to run the other way, a great storm arose, and God took hold of the reluctant prophet and put him back on course. That storm was the result of Jonah's own disobedience to God and the call on his life.
Many times we bring storms on ourselves when we do the wrong things and then experience the repercussions. And sometimes God will allow us to reap what we have sown so that we ultimately will change our ways.
But when we go astray and then face God's discipline, it is a reminder that we are His children. Hebrews 12:7–8 tells us, "As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? If God doesn't discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all."David wrote, "Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me" (Psalm 23:4). The staff is that long, crooked instrument the shepherd used to pull a wayward sheep back into line. But the rod is a club. And sometimes the shepherd would use the rod to break a sheep's legs, if necessary. That may seem drastic, but it is better to have a broken leg than to become a leg of lamb. If that sheep wandered away from the others, he was easy prey. So the shepherd protected that wayward sheep and the others that may have followed it.
In the same way, when we are going the wrong direction, God will discipline us. This is the purpose of correcting storms in our lives.
Storms that Perfect
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. — James 1:2–4
Some storms in our lives are not the result of our disobedience to God; they are the result of our obedience to Him. A good example of this is Job. What was Job doing wrong when all of those calamities befell him? Nothing. In fact, he was doing so well that God was bragging on him in the presence of the angels and Satan: "Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?" (Job 1:8).
Then the attacks on Job began. These were allowed by God to bring about change in his life. So Job went through a perfecting storm. James writes, "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing" (James 1:2–4).
We may think that when a bad thing happens, it will always turn into a good thing, because Romans 8:28 says, "All things work together for good to those who love God. . . . "
God's end game is not to make us happy, but to make us holy. And I believe that if we are holy, we will be happy, ultimately. It is not all about happiness; it is about becoming more like Jesus.
For our present troubles are small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don't look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. — 2 Corinthians 4:17–18
Probably the most common storms we face in life are perfecting storms. These storms come into our lives as a result of following Jesus. But God has a work He wants to do and a desired result that He wants to produce in these storms. As 2 Corinthians 4:17 reminds us, "For our present troubles are small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!"
Storms will come, and in the midst of them, God is doing a work. Sometimes you can see the work, and sometimes you can't. Sometimes that work is simply to conform us into the image of Jesus Christ.
One of the greatest examples of this is found in the life of Joni Eareckson Tada who, as a young girl, dove into a shallow lake and suffered a spinal cord injury that paralyzed her from the neck down. Despite this severe, lifelong disability, Joni has encouraged millions of people. Now she is battling breast cancer. In an interview she said, "I keep thinking God is up to something big. How can I showcase Him to others?" She knows that her life is on display, and others are watching and learning by her response to these storms.
One day, every storm will have an end. And then, in the big picture, we will see God's ultimate plan and purpose.
Storms that Protect
Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. — Matthew 14:22
Sometimes a storm will come into our lives that is protecting us from something worse. This is hard for us to wrap our minds around. Is it possible that a hardship ever could be better than a success? Sometimes it can, because there are things we learn that we would not have learned otherwise.
That is the type of storm the disciples faced when Jesus made them get into a boat and go to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. Trouble was brewing. Jesus had just fed the multitude, and He "perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king" (John 6:15). Effectively the people said, "You are going to be our king whether you like it or not, because you are the kind of king we want. Raising the dead? That's nice. Restoration of sight to the blind? That's good. Free meal? Now we are talking." They essentially were using Jesus.
So He sent the disciples away, because He knew this would destroy them. On more than one occasion, they had argued about who would be greatest in the kingdom. For their own protection, Jesus had to get them out of there as soon as possible. He was basically saying, "Guys, I am delivering you from major success, which only would destroy you at this time in your lives. So get into the boat."
We need to remember that He who stirred up the storm is also the hiding place in it. God will allow calamity in your life to show you His power. Storms will come. There is no getting around them. Jesus knew a storm was coming when He sent the disciple away—but He was with them in that storm. And He will be with you as well.
Immediately after this, 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. . . . Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. — Matthew 14:22, 24
The Gospel of John records the story of the Feeding of the Five Thousand, which was Jesus' most popular miracle. The people loved it so much that afterward, they came by force to make Jesus their king. But Jesus knew their hearts were wrong. He knew they didn't really want Him to be their Lord and Master; they just wanted a free lunch from that point on.
He also knew it would destroy His disciples, who already were having visions of grandeur. On more than one occasion, they argued about who would be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. If the people had taken Jesus and made him king, the disciples suddenly would be elevated to positions of prominence. So Jesus got His boys out of Dodge as quickly as possible. He put them into a boat and sent them to the other side. And as they were crossing, a storm came up.
The disciples were experiencing a protecting storm. And what was it protecting them from? Themselves. Sometimes God will bring difficulty into our lives to keep us from something worse. Be thankful that God doesn't answer all of your prayers in the affirmative: Lord, if You really love me, this person would marry me. . . . Lord, if You really love me, I would have gotten that promotion. . . . Lord, if You really love me, I would win the lottery. God knows what is best. He loves you too much, and therefore is not going to let certain things happen. Maybe God knows that thing you want so bad would actually destroy you if you were to get it.
Are you facing a storm in your life today—a storm that is not of your own making? Just maybe it is a protecting storm.
Through Rough Waters
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. Isaiah 43:2
When the disciples faced a violent storm on the Sea of Galilee, they cried out to Jesus, and He stopped it. But first He rebuked them. He asked, "Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?" (Matthew 8:26). In other words, "Hey, guys, where is your faith? Haven't you learned anything?"
We find a little detail in Mark 4:35 that we don't have in Matthew's account of the story: "On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, 'Let us cross over to the other side.' " Jesus did not promise the disciples smooth sailing. But He did promise a safe arrival. They needed to know it would be rough. But Jesus did say, "Let us cross over to the other side." And that means they would get to the other side.
Jesus promises to be with us as well. God says, "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you" (Isaiah 43:2). In the storm you are in right now, God is with you. He is walking with you through it.
But if you abandon your faith, if you turn against God, you won't make it. God has given you a free will, and you can choose to walk away from Him. However, if you want to make it, then you will. It won't be through your effort, but because God will give you the strength to make it. And He is looking for your cooperation.
Storms will come into every life. The rain will fall and the wind will blow. You might have a rough voyage, but you will get to the other side.
Source: Greg Laurie: Daily Devotion December 16 // 2010 website: http://www.harvest.org/devotional/