Message: Jesus is With Us In the Storm, J. D. Landis, Swartz Creek UMC, June 20, 2020
Message: Jesus is With Us In the Storm, J. D. Landis, Swartz Creek UMC, June 20, 2020
Hello Everyone! It is a blessing for me to be able to share this message with you on Father’s Day Weekend. Thank you Dr. G. for inviting me. Happy Father’s Day to all Dad’s, including those who had no kids but you became like a dad to others.
It has been 9 years since we served with you and it is amazing to me to see all the changes that have occurred at Swartz Cree UMC… you started; Faithville for Kids, The Well worship service, you built a new coffee reception area and you developed the ministry of Grow Groups. These are all wonderful additions to this ministry. Not only have there been changes in the church but new things have taken place in your personal lives. Sons and daughters have been married, grandchildren have been born and loved ones have departed. We have had changes too, Carolyn and I became grandparents in November when, David our son and his wife Jenn had a little girl, Logan. Another new development for us is that just last week Carolyn finished 40 years of teaching special needs children, youth and adults and now she is retired.
The Scripture for this message is taken from Luke 8: 22-25 in the Message Bible. It is about the disciples who are out in a storm with Jesus. I know last week Dr. G. told about the storm with Paul, but it is still appropriate to tell another storm story because they sure fit in with what we are going through don’t they?
22 One day he and his disciples got in a boat. “Let’s cross the lake,” he said. And off they went. 23 It was smooth sailing, and Jesus fell asleep. A terrific storm came up suddenly on the lake. Water poured in, and they were about to capsize. 24 They woke Jesus: “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” Getting to his feet, he told the wind, “Silence!” and the waves, “Quiet down!” They did it. The lake became smooth as glass. 25 Then he said to his disciples, “Why can’t you trust me?” They were in absolute awe, staggered and stammering, “Who is this, anyway? He calls out to the winds and sea, and they do what he tells them!”
To give you a little background, Jesus and the disciples spent a lot of time on and around the Sea of Galilee. Three of the gospels record this storm experience, and they also record another storm where Peter came walking on the water to Jesus. So being in a storm with Jesus had a big impact on the disciple’s life. Now if you are like me storms are fascinating to hear about unless you are in it …right? Let me ask you…
Have you been in a storm on a boat? It happened to me on a number of occasions. The one that seems to fit the story today was when I was out on the Chesapeake Bay with a friend Morgan Frost. We had decided to go out fishing on a small row boat on the edge of the Chesapeake Bay. As we headed out with our fishing equipment the sun was shining, but all of a sudden the wind began to blow, the sky got dark and it began to rain heavily. We decided to head back to the inlet, but as we rowed we could hardly see 10 feet ahead of us and the waves were tossing us around, it seemed like we were going in circles.
Finally I said to Morgan, my friend, we need to stop and pray. We need God’s help. I prayed and asked the Lord to watch over us to help us and to get us safely home. So we continued with a greater peace to row, and all of a sudden the wind died down, the clouds cleared, and the rain stopped. We could see the sun again. We could hardly believe it. Oh were we happy. But you know God used that experience to deepen our faith. Later on Morgan and I worked together in a camp and we shared the gospel with 100’s of kids and we saw many of them believe in Jesus.
One of the things I want you to think about today is that storms in life are inevitable… but the key is what do you do in the storm?…and then after the storm is over what changes must take place in your life? Recently, our nation and world has been through the greatest storm we have ever seen. This Corona virus loomed on the horizon on December 31, 2019 and in 6 months it spread to almost 9 million people and there have been over 450,000 deaths. Like the disciples who faced rain, winds, and waves we have faced, death, despair and economic fallout. Our nation has been shaken like no other time in our history. And then…
In the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic a deluge of rain hit Mid-Michigan with rainfall levels up to 8 inches. This storm experience felt worse than the Coronavirus. People in Midland County really got a taste of what the disciples faced as water came up 8-10 feet or more, with some homes washing away. And then if all this was not enough, the tragic death of George Floyd occurred at the brutal treatment of police officers. There were peaceful protests but riots also erupted all over our cities. Our nation has been shaken… And so….
Like the disciples we feel like saying “Lord we are sinking, don’t you care?” If you are like me I am thinking I don’t ever want to go through a season like this again, and but we are still not sure when it’s over. But here is some hope, like those first disciples God wants to do something incredible through the storm. Do you believe that? We must claim it by faith! I want to share 4 things that I believe God wants to do in my life and in in all our lives through this storm.
- God wants us to Stop Trusting Ourselves and to Call Out to Him for Help.
Now boaters in the storm start doing everything they know to correct the situation. I am sure the disciples at first tried to get their boat under control. Move the sails, change the rudder, use the paddles to control the boat, and navigate the waves better, but none of their efforts could change the fact that the boat was filling with water and beginning to sink. We are the same way, when trouble comes we try everything we know. Change the plans, adjust the finances, get a different doctor, use the power of positive thinking, sometimes it helps but there are some storms we cannot control. So like the disciples the only thing we can do is call out to Jesus and plead with him from the depths of our hearts. Matthew 8 says the disciples cried out…LORD SAVE US.***
When they cried out with total desperation with no other hope than Jesus, He quickly calmed the storm. But you know sometimes the storm continues on for awhile.
The recovery in Mid-Michigan will take years. My heart goes out to them because we went through it 3 years ago in our house there with only 5 inches of water, and this one was so much bigger. 12,000 people were told to evacuate, many had to go by boat or canoe or kayak. The governor called it a 500 year flood. Some people had so much damage that the government is saying they have to rebuild and put their homes up 8 foot higher. With flood costs not covered 100’s of home owners cannot afford the repairs no less the raising of the home 8 feet, so they are walking away from homes, losing hundreds of thousands of dollars, having to start over. Needless to say my heart has been burdened for everyone up there.
But God is at work giving hope!!! Thousands of Christians along with community and national agencies have been coming in to help with the recovery and restoration. I have been up there a few times, one to help deliver an RV from a family in the Swartz Creek UMC, to a family in Midland who was flooded out. And I must tell you that this act of kindness has blessed 100’s of other people there. This is what God is doing to answer their prayers. I hope that this church can participate too. If you are interested you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will get info to you.
So just as the disciples cried out in prayer to Jesus like never before, we have to cry out to Jesus, because…
- Jesus Can Save Us in the Storm.
During this Corona virus we have looked to the decisions of government leaders and of health officials to get us through. I thank God that in Michigan our numbers have dropped, but in other states it has been rising. We are being reminded that we need the power of God in the storm to still the wind and the waves. A verse that spoke to me months ago is in II Chronicles 7:14. It says: if my people who are called by my name shall humble themselves, pray, seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and heal their land. I saw a video clip of some nurses who were in a hospital and they were down on their knees crying out to Jesus for protection over the hospital. I said that is what we need in this time. We need to get down on our knees and tell God that we have no other way to be saved than him, then I believe God will hear.
Friends I want to challenge you to pray like you have never prayed before. Don’t just spend 5 minutes in prayer spend 50 minutes in prayer. Get together with your family and have prayer. You can even do it by zoom.
We had a zoom conversation with extended family a few months ago when the virus was really on the rise… We were catching up on everything, but then I said we need to pray and so for over 20 minutes 10-12 people prayed. I said afterwards we have never had a prayer like that as a family. It took the storm to move us to call out to God. We were believing that only Jesus saves. After we had prayed a month later we learned that my brother Steve had Corona Virus along with all the residents in his home. We were so worried, but we learned that while over 70 residents got it there in Lancaster at Faith Villa, over 80 % of them including my brother had no symptoms. I attribute that to prayer from the Christian people who lift up that home. God answers prayer!!!
And I pray that not only will Jesus save us from Corona Virus, from flood damage and from racism but that Jesus will save us from all our sins, and that He will bring many people to know Him as their Savior and Lord. That is ultimately His plan, through the storm to bring people to Himself to love him and know Him. You see after the disciples trusted God in the storms God used the disciples to reach the whole world for Jesus. God wants to use you and me through all this trouble to reach the world too. He wants us to be His instrument of love, mercy and grace, so that they may see Jesus and that they might know Him. Third I want you to see…
III. It is During the Storm We Realize What is Important in Life.
When the youth pastor of Midland First, was driven from his home in the flood to save their lives, the kids were saying mom and dad we need to get our toys, we need to get this and that, but the parents said we need to get into the car and go. After they got in the car the mom said…everything that is most important to us is in this car right now. And they drove away. During storms we are forced to realize what is most important in our lives. Families are throwing thousands of tons of stuff away. If you drive through there you will see trash from homes, carpet, dry wall, furniture, books, sports equipment, pillows, mementos, shelves the list goes on and on.
Families who have gone through the flood are saying we lost so much, but we have one another, we have our neighbors, we have our church, we have the love and care of thousands of volunteers. That is what is important. Meals, clothes, and necessities are being provided by churches, by community groups and by national agencies like Samaritans purse.
So what is most important in times of trouble is having our Savior Jesus Christ, His Church and our families, neighbors, our and friends. When we lose everything relationships remain. And it is from these relationships that provision, help, support, love, joy, peace come to us Finally it is also in the storm that we realize our purpose…we find out…
- What it is That God Wants To Do in the World.
It was in the storm and after the storm that God showed the disciples what they were to do in the world. He saved them for a purpose. He changed the direction of their lives. After the storms he took them to thousands of people and he fed them, healed them and he told them of His salvation. God also wants to move us in a different direction. He wants us to get outside of ourselves and to daily make a difference in this world for him. God wants us to pray with a deeper passion, he wants us to stop putting so much focus on material things and more on relationships…loving our families, loving our neighbors and our world.
And friends we are seeing as a nation that we must take a different course. There is too much pride, there is too much greed and there is too much hatred. In the last few weeks Covid 19, and the flooding has been overshadowed by injustice that has led to protesting and sadly rioting. Debates have been flying back and forth about what’s right, what’s wrong, who is just, who is not. But almost everyone agrees that we need change…and we do. Hatred has to stop. But I have a dream that you don’t hear about on the media. This dream has been in me since college. My dream is that believers in Jesus Christ during this present trouble would be the example in showing love to others different than ourselves.
My dream is that followers of Christ especially white folks would build real, genuine, and authentic friendships with people of different color. The bible says the world will know we are Christians by our love for one another, but the bible also commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves, to love our enemies and then they will see Jesus. A lot of people believe that but they have not taken the step to put it into action.
Here is the action step. Every single white person, black, Hispanic or person from any cultural or nationality needs to reach out and make someone not of their color their good friend! Folks need to go together for breakfast, to golf together, to have meals together in our homes and to worship God and to pray together. When the world sees this, they will know God is real. You cannot bring change by laws and quotas alone, it has to happen in the heart. I dream of the day when a white person can say of a black person they are my best friend. I want to challenge you with this. You say that can’t happen…but I was in a church in Detroit where it did…and I am still good friends with many black folks I met.
And I believe that Swartz Creek Church has a unique opportunity to build a relationship with our sister churches in Flint. Over the years the Bethel church has sung here, we have gone there for men’s breakfasts, we have hosted Dr. Allie our dear friend as a speaker and prior to that he was on staff. In the book of Acts at Pentecost believers from nations gathered in small groups to come closer to Jesus. We see diverse ministry teams of different races going out to share the gospel. It can be done. So to sum up, (1) In the Storm We Must Call on Jesus Like Never Before, (2) In the Storm We Must Believe That Jesus Alone Can Save, (3) In the Storm We Learn What is Important in Life, and (4) In the Storm We See That Our Purpose Above All Else is to Love and Win the World to Jesus.
Prayer: Lord be our strength and our guide as we seek to do your will and trust you in the storm. Turn us from our sins and our lack of faith and help us to be your instruments to bring healing and hope through Jesus Christ. And may the world come to know you through our loving witness. In Jesus Name, Amen.