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How to Weather the Storm

Introduction

 

                Sometimes in our life, we find ourselves in the storms of life. Our storms may be a marriage falling apart, losing our home, losing our jobs, are not being able to pay our bills.  You may have found yourself having unprotected sex and wonder if you are pregnant, storm. Your girlfriend cheated on you, storm. You arguing with your parents, storm. Storms come in all shapes, forms and fashion. When the storm enters our lives, it will wreak havoc when we don’t know what to do. When the storm enters our lives, many times we will be ready to abandon ship, walk away and say to hell with it. But what do the Christian do in the midst of our storm? When the storms arise, how do we navigate the storms?  How do we survive or storm. How do we recognize God in the natural things?

                The Apostle Paul finds himself in a storm. After going on several trials, he appealed to Caesar. Paul finds himself on a ship bound to Rome. Shortly after setting sail, Paul and the passengers found themselves in a storm. They did everything they knew what to do to survive but it wasn’t enough. During their storm Paul had to step up and teach to the crew to be still and pray, don’t lose faith, and to give thanks. For fourteen days they did not know if they will live or die. For fourteen days they were beaten, battered and bruised. They faced an uncertain further. While in their storm, Paul still found a chance to witness to the people. In the storm he had the opportunity to teach the passengers how to weather the storm. 

 

Be Still and Pray Acts 27: 28B-29

When we realize the depth of our storm, we need to take time and anchor ourselves in the Lord. When the sailors of the boat sensed they were close to land, they took a measurement to ascertain the depth of their current situation. When they knew they were at a depth where they could cast the anchors, they dropped four anchors from the stern and they prayed for daylight. The passengers on the boat realized that everything in their power to survive was not working, all the tricks of the trade returned void; so they came to their last resort, prayer. They should have known that prayer should have been their first and only choice.

The stern is the rear of the boat, opposite the bow. Sailors would cast the anchors at the stern of the boat so the boat can navigate the waves of the sea without the ship drifting aimlessly. The anchors dig into the floor of the sea causing the boat to drag, keeping it stationary. It was important they lightened the boat so the boat can navigate the waves when anchored. When we find ourselves in the storm of life, we need to lighten our burdens by handing to over to the Lord. We need to stop what we are doing and sit down. No matter how hard the winds blow, we need to be still and get into a position of pray. A word search on the phrase “they cast” comes from the Greek transliteration rhiptō (rhē’p-tō) meaning to throw to the ground, prostrate. After they realized they could not do it on their power they prostate themselves in a position of prayer and prayed for daylight. We have to learn to cast our anchors and being to pray.

 

They prayed for daylight, which signifies they prayed for a new day. They knew that at daylight, the storm is over and they can begin to put their lives back together. They didn’t pray why me, why am I being punished, but they prayed for a new day. A new day means new mercies, and new grace; another chance to submit to the will of God. We have to stop focusing on the right now and pray for a new tomorrow.

The passengers were distracted by the storm. For fourteen days it appeared they will perish. Luke, who was speaking from the point of view of the seafarers, sees the boat is stationary says “The Land was approaching.” Luke writes in V.20b “we finally gave up all hope of being saved”. Even Paul appeared to have wavered in his faith because it took an angel of the Lord to come and encourage him during the storm. This tells me that even when we feel the storm is too big for us, and we waiver in our faith; God will always send provisions, and encouragement. It may not come in the form of an angel but it may be a glimpse of the future, or a flash on an idea. The fact is that we need to be open to hear and receive the Lords intervention. Satan, however, will send extra distractions so that we will not focus on tomorrow. His goal is to keep our mind moving, keep us stressing and crying about right now. Satan knows the plans that God has for us, he knows that no weapon formed against us will not prosper but Satan will give us some since that you are about to be crashed into rock; he needs to distract you.

The premise behind the show Leverage is to help speak for those who can speak for themselves. When the group accepts a job, they infiltrate their mark to find his inner weakness. They executed the con by showing the mark one thing and eventually doing something else. At the end of the show, they show the viewers  how they destroyed him. They reveal to him they, the Leverage team, are the ones that brought them down. One episode they infiltrated the man thoughts. They made him think that he was flying an antique plane and crashed it. They made him think he was being visited by aliens all while making him go crazy in order to destroy him and his company. Satan operates the same way. He will infiltrate our storm to identify your weakness. He will begin to steal our joy, kill our dreams and destroy our present. He will plant thoughts in your heads. He will connect the dots to form a picture that does not exist. But while in our storm we need to focus on our tomorrow and not allow Satan to distract us with the right now because joy comes in the morning. If he is successful in distracting us, he will cause us to lose faith.

Do Not Lose Faith

                Hebrews 11:1 teaches us that faith is the substance of things hoped for and evidence of things not yet seen. The passengers hope and prayed for daylight but the evidence at the time suggested they would die. In v.30 Luke records there were some who tried to escape the ship. They distracted the crew by pretending to go let down the anchor on the bow. They had lost faith and felt they would do better outside the boat. They were choosing to leave God’s protection for their own desires. Paul makes it known to the person in charge, in verse 30, “unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved”.  What a change of faith Paul displayed. He went from having to be encouraged by an angel to standing on the promises of God.

                Why did these men these men feel they could fair better in the storm. A fourteen day hurricane that had almost destroyed the boat they were on and they thought getting into life boat would save them. When in our storm, our rational is nonexistent. We will act out of impulses, guilt and distress that will cause us to be in a worse situation than our presence situation. It is easier to give up the ship, to get into a lifeboat. When in our storm we will give up our protected covering for no protection. That is the goal of the enemy to get us to let our guard down, to give up security for the impulse of blindly hoping in something other than God. If they lost the faith they would not be save. You cannot give up the faith. These men also tried to escape at night. They would not be able to sustain a light during their lifeboat voyage due to the weather. They were willing to float aimlessly through the night, without and sense of direction. Instead of running off and doing their own thing, v32 records they cut away the ropes and let them (the lifeboats) fall away. When we find ourselves in our storms, there are some things that we need to cut loose. It may be drugs, alcohol, or the wrong person that we run to for comfort. These things may appear to get us to the other side, but they only get us deeper in our storm.

                One night a few years ago, a violent storm collided with Atlanta. The weathermen classified the storm as one of the strongest storms they have ever seen. While the wind blew and the lighting flashed, the power went out in the house. The house was completely dark. I could not see where I was going when I had to go and get the flashlight. I was bumping into things, stumping my toe, and tripping over my own feet. It took me what seemed forever to find the flash light. I wondered in the dark for what seemed forever. I left the safety of my bed to venture in the dark for a flash light that I did not need. We will leave what little support that we have for something that we have no idea what will happen to us. Abandoning ship is easier than staying the course. There was a time when I wanted to abandon ship. The storms were raging so hard, that I didn’t know what to do. I thought the world would be better without me and I wanted to get into the lifeboat. I realized that my life wasn’t my life and there are others tied up with me living. I could not give up, you cannot either.

                Paul remembered that God promised him that he will go to Rome. God promised that no one on the boat will perish. Paul remembered that God changed him from a murder to an apostle. If God can change him, then he can change their current situation and he can change ours as well. Since God’s words does not return void, then Paul  understood the passengers blessing is tied up him. In other words, if Paul weathered the storm they will be saved.

                There are some things that God has promised us and we are waiting for those things to come to pass. Our problem is that we have become a microwave, instant coffee society and we want things to happen right now. Sometimes God needs us to go through the process because going through the process means someone else will be saved. Jesus went through the storm so that we can have eternal life. If Jesus didn’t endure the beating where would we be? If he didn’t go to the cross where would we be? If he didn’t get up out of the grave, where would we be? Jesus never lost the faith and so we can’t lose the faith. When the storms beat us to the point where we think about wavering in faith remember the promises of God and don’t give up. Deut. 31:6 the record shows that “I will never leave you nor forsake you”. 1Peter 5:7 say “cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”  Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Give Thanks

                Before dawn, Paul approached the men on the boat and encouraged them to eat. Verse 34 records Paul urging them to eat because they need food to survive. He then reminds them of the promise that was given to him by the angel; “not one of you will lose a single hair from his head”. Here are experienced sailors who probably have become seasick from the storm and depressed because wondering if this day would be the day they die. There was meat and grain on the boat but they refuse to eat. Whatever the case, these experienced soldiers found themselves in a situation. 

                In the middle of the storm, Paul gave thanks to God in their presence. He encouraged, promised, then gave thanks. When the others seen Paul eating, they were encouraged and they ate as well. After the 276 souls on board ate as much as they wanted they threw the remaining grain overboard. A word study on the phrase “they were encourage” tells me the phrase came from the Greek transliteration euthymos (yü’-thü-mos) meaning of good cheer and courage. They became of good cheer and courage after Paul told them of the promise of God. They believed in the promise that no hair on their head would be harmed, they believed that God was with Paul and when they believed, God made his provisions evident to them. Jesus gave thanks, broke bread and fed five thousand. God has scores of promises of His comfort and care for us in desperate times, but they only benefit us if we believe them.

                Paul realized the storm was just a distraction. When he changed his focus from the storm to the real problem of no one eating and they were weak, He gave thanks for the provisions he had in front of them. He showed them the storm was just a distraction and a delay to their final destination. There are so many times that our storm is just a distraction from our current situation. In the middle of the storm, we need to find something that we need to give thanks the Lord. There are so many things that we take for granted, we need to stop and give thanks. They had bread and grain but focusing on the storm, they took the food for granted.

                When I worked in the mental hospital, I learned to watch people. We were taught to watch for signs of a person getting hyped up or if a person is deteriorating mentally and physically. When we received a patient diagnosed with depression, we paid close attention to that person because at times their thinking is irrational. They will not eat or drink anything cause their body to shut down. After a few weeks we begin to document the depressed patient eating, drinking and attending groups. We will begin to document interaction with the staff and other patients. When the patient finds themselves in good spirits, they begin to have a positive outlook on life. The cause of their depression is not gone but they have shifted their focus to living.

                When we find ourselves in our storm we have a tendency to become depressed. We will lay awake all night worrying about our problem. We will become so focus on the storm that we will not eat. Paul teaches us that during the storm we need to give thanks. In the storm we need to find something to give thanks for. Paul also teaches that we need eat during the storm. Our strength is needed for our survival. As we increase our strength, we are able to focus on living and not our distraction. Scientists have told us that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. When we eat breakfast we have more energy, more alert and able to focus versus someone who does not eat breakfast. So in our storm we need to eat.

                Not only do we need to eat physically but we need to eat spiritually. Food feeds our natural body but the Word of God feeds our soul. Just as the angel came and encouraged Paul, we need to turn to the Word of God to encourage our soul. Our natural man and our spirit man needs to be strengthening because our survival depends on it. During our storm, praying is easy. We will pray for protection, we will pray to make it through the storm; it is easy to pray. But giving thanks for another opportunity to read the bible is hard. Giving thanks for what God will reveal is hard. Giving thanks for a blessing we can’t see in the storm is hard. But we need to give God thanks for the things we take for granted.

 Conclusion

                For fourteen days they were in the storm. They didn’t have any hope but God gave them provisions when they didn’t expect it. The ship was held together when it should have been torn to pieces. The crew ate all the bread they wanted. But on the fifteenth day, God gave them daylight. On the fifteenth day the storm was over. There is someone today, who needs to give thanks in the dawn of their storm. Someone needs to be thankful that the fifteenth day is almost here. Even when they came out their storm their boat crashed. Those who could swim swam and those who couldn’t, held on to the planks from the ship. That thing that once provided protection for us, God may destroy it to get you to a place you need to be. God knew that once the storm was over, the crew would have attempted to set sail to Rome. So God had to destroy the boat to get them to where he wanted them. God may need you to be the light of the world, somewhere other than where you think should be. Sometimes God will detour us from his promised destination to be a light in someone else’s life for a little while. When we weather the storm, when we stay in the boat, other people will benefit from it. The storm is a process we must endure in order to make us strong enough to survive. Other people blessings are tired to our survival. We have to endure the storm. When Paul gave thanks to the Lord and broke bread, he was commemorating and celebrating Jesus’ redemptive death. Paul remembered that Jesus suffered, bleed and died for so that we can have eternal life. And if he shall perish, he would sit with Jesus in heaven.

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New Year’s 2014

Today is the start of a New Year. I must say (like every one else), 2013 had its up’s and downs. It started out great, we was given our daughter we adopted later in the summer. I believe that was the highlight of my blessings. As the year came to a close, I learned that father had cancer and would be starting radiation therapy. I left a job for what I thought was a better job, only to be let go after 6 weeks. This happened the day after Thanksgiving. So I entered the Christmas season with no income. I laid awake night after night worried about Christmas, bills and my family. Many days and nights I found it hard to pray. My faith was paper thin. This is a job I prayed for now, I was unemployed. I tried to pray but it seemed that my prayers was going no further than the lips I uttered them from. Day after day I received letter after letter telling me that I was not the candidate for the job. I wanted to give up, I thought about hustling even though this is not in my nature. I thought about doing this and doing that to survive. I became more and more discouraged, especially when people who appear to be allergic to working were working multiple jobs and had jobs to decline. I found myself in a tough season in my life. 

 One day I was just flipping through the bible while having a little talk with the Father when I came upon this scripture in John 12:9-11 (NIV)Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only to see him but also to see Lazarus, who he raised from the dead. So the chief priest made plans to kill Lazarus as well, for on the account of him (Lazarus), many Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in him.

After studying this scripture I begin to remember the miracles that has happened in my life in 2013. I realize the loss of my job was only a conspiracy to kill me, a miracle. I remembered that through me others were blessed so I can’t give up. I remembered that in 2013 I had some dead places in my life that God raised me from. Even if the enemy took me out, I will rise again.. No matter how hard the enemy tries, he can not kill a miracle. A miracle has a purpose, it has potential and it has a plan. I am a miracle.

As I walk out of 2013 into 2014, I walk with my head up because I have a new job, I have my life health and strength. I have my family, friends and haters. I walk with purpose. I bathed in my potential and I embrace God’s plan for my life. Because I am a miracle, others will be drown to Christ. Because I am a miracle I will be a blessing to you and you to someone else. In 2014 I accept  my calling. I will prepare myself to walk in spiritual perfection. I leave death and destruction in yesteryear. I don’t know what 2014 has in store but I can only move forward day by day, learning the lesson as I encounter them. I will say words of encouragement to bless myself and those around me. I will try to avoid negative thoughts, and words. I don’t make resolutions but if I did, I resolve to speak life. 2014 bring it on…..