Monday, July 30, 2012

“In the Midst of the Storm, Jesus is with YOU” (Mark 6:47-51)

S-1330 9SAP/3B 7/29/12 Hymns: (O) #7; (S) #649; L.S. #316 #467; #442; (C) #54

Text: Genesis 9:8-17; Ephesians 3:14-21; Mark 6:45-56

Theme: “In the Midst of the Storm, Jesus is with YOU” (Mark 6:47-51)

Question: “Have you been in a storm?” Armour, SD.

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text is from the Gospel lesson: “And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and He was alone on the land. And He saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them, but when they saw Him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out, for they all saw Him and were terrified. But immediately He spoke to them and said, ‘Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.’ And He got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased’” (Mark 6:47-51).

Family of faith it is impossible for us to see and know how much God cares, loves and is committed to us unless we look deeply into the manger bed of Bethlehem, walk with Him on His many journeys, stand by Calvary’s cross and visit the borrowed and empty tomb of Jesus. Only then, do you have a glimpse of the Words of our text that states: Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

Today, as we stand by the Sea of Galilee with the fearful disciples, we will learn and find out that no matter the size of storm which comes upon us, we are saved by the Almighty and merciful Christ. By the Holy Spirit’s power may we believe, that the heavens-sent Savior and Redeemer is in total control of all of our lives even when the storms are brewing with hurricane velocity.

We would like our life to be a smooth sailing, without any kind of troubles or worry at all. But alas, more often rather than having a smooth sailing, it is rough and turbulent waters. Some of these storms come out of nowhere and when you least expect them.

That is precisely, what happened a week ago Friday @ the Century Theater in Aurora, CO, as many came to the midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” they found themselves amid a scene from a horror movie. The evening was supposed to be fun, and ended up with the storm that shook them to the core and claimed the lives of 12 innocent people and 58 injured. This is a storm that they will always remember and never forget for the rest of their lives. And so it was that night of long ago immediately after Jesus had fed a great multitudes with few loaves and fish, He sent the disciples ahead of Him to the other shore while He stayed behind and prayed. While these skilled fishermen are out on the water, a storm brews and billows with might that they can scarcely keep the boat afloat. Their fear of the storm is compounded by their fear of a ghost walking on the water and was about to pass them by.

As they saw the super natural, dark figure, walking on water, they began to cry out and immediately, He spoke very comforting words, “Take heart, it is I. Don’t be afraid!” With these words, Jesus was not only their friend and teacher, but He was claiming to be the O.T. Yahweh God who has power over everything including the wind. PAUSE.

It occurs to me that many of us, maybe most or even all of us, have had times in our lives when we wondered why does God permit these storms to come our way. Why does our life have to be turbulent and rough waters instead of smooth sailing?

Now I don’t know what your particular pain or problem, disaster or difficulty, trials or troubles might be, but you do and you are living in it. Right now, or in the past, or sometime in the future you will find yourself in the midst of some overwhelming personal storm, a storm which may have you wondering if God cares about you at all, or if He is even aware of your needs.

Please know this; I’m not talking about a storm which can be tracked like a hurricane or have the sirens give warning as happens with a tornado. It’s probably not the kind of storm which shows up on TV in the evening news or is told to our closest friends. Even so, practicality and human experience tells us we shall see a storm, a storm so intense our dreams, our hopes, our plans, our tomorrows, our lives will be turned topsy-turvy and the things which once seemed unshakable will crumble and lie shattered at our feet.
Our storm may come in the form of an illness or an accident, a betrayal, a disappointment, a failure, or a tragedy of unexpected and monumental proportions. That’s because a world filled with sin comes with a guarantee that a tempest of devastation, destruction, and death, yes, unavoidable death, our own death or that of a loved one will someday sweep down upon us. And although many will try to tell you how to avoid such a moment, Christianity prefers to answer the question: “What will you do and to whom will you turn on that day?”

I encourage you to do what the disciples did, call to the Author of life, Jesus Christ and hear Him say, “Take heart, it is I. Don’t be afraid!” and with these words He assures you He is right here with you in the midst of your storm. The storm may rage and roar, but Christ holds you in the palm of His pierced hands. Be certain of this: “God hath not promised Sun without rain Joy without sorrow Peace without pain But God hath promised Strength for the day Rest for the labor Light for the way Grace for the trials Help from above Unfailing sympathy Undying Love.”

Dear children of the heavenly Father, you should know God does care about every aspect of your life no matter the size of the storm. Jesus came to reach out to the social outcast. Jesus came so that He might heal those who were hurting in body, mind, and soul. Jesus came to calm the storm of every sinner. Because of His unconditional love, Jesus willingly accepted your sin, my sins, and humanity’s sins when He prayed for strength in the Garden of Gethsemane. It was this same love that allowed Him to accept a friend’s betrayal and the disciples’ desertion. It was His unending love that kept Him silent before lying accusers, illegal trials, and unjust judges. It is His pure, genuine love which put Him on a cross for you and me. It is His caring and commitment to you and me that kept and held Him on the cross to win your salvation and calm your storm. This is the love that opened the gates of heaven for you, so that you may know for certain He is right here and right now in your midst.

Don’t for a moment think that you are all alone out there fighting the storms of life. The devil wants you to think that Jesus has abandoned you. The world teaches you not to trust Him, because if He was trust worthy, you wouldn’t be going through these storms of life. And your own sin, clouds your vision so that you only see a ghost rather than Jesus walking with you.

Here in this place—the Nave, which is the Ship, we hear Him again and again saying words of comfort: “Take heart, it is I. Don’t be afraid!” Here in the midst of our storms we sing Hymns that bring comfort to us, like our sermon hymn “Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me.” And He does. He becomes the captain that takes over life’s tempestuous sea and brings us safely over to the other shore. PAUSE.

This is the same Jesus who is in our midst today, coming to us in His Word of Absolution, Wafer and Wine to assure us of His constant presence in our lives and letting us know that He is bigger than any storm we may face.

Beloved in the Lord, in 2006 there was a movie called The Guardian, starring Kevin Costner and Ashton Kutcher as elite Coast Guard rescue swimmers. They rescue peo­ple from the sea in the most dangerous of circumstances. The movie ends by conveying the legend of the guardian— that some people who are rescued from dire circumstances later tell of a mysterious someone, a “guardian,” who kept them from drowning. The STORY of a Christian’s rescue from death and life’s storms is no legend of a mysterious, shad­owy figure, but it is the true story of a real Savior who came into the midst of life’s storms to rescue us all from them. In the name of the One who calms the storms Jesus Christ—Your Savior. Amen.

Now the peace...


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