(Put up Harvest Series Slide)
As many of you know, for the past month or so, we’ve taken some extended time to talk about our future as a church, and in particular, our future building.
With so many new people (even in the last year), and our hopes to give ourselves a better shot at starting construction in March 2020, we set out to raise $125,000 in pledges over two years.
This was a big goal for us.
When we set this number, in terms of setting a number that was possible for us to hit, this was probably the biggest stretch goal we’ve ever set for something.
We knew it wasn’t going to be easy to hit.
With God, of course, there was always a chance that we could hit $125,000, but we knew going into this, that it was a stretch, and God would really need to move.
So, we’ve calculated the results from all of the new pledges for the next 2 years, and our total is:
Thank you so much for your sacrifice and allowing God to move through you.
God is going to do amazing things through the people of this church!
Here’s what’s REALLY cool about this.
That total comes from 61 different pledges.
It’s not just from a handful people giving $40,000 or something.
IN FACT, the average pledge was around $2,600. Or $1,300 a year
You know what that means?
It means that…we’re ALL doing this…together.
That we, TOGETHER, as Renovation Church, believe in this vision that God can use us to make a great impact on our city and beyond!
In fact, when we put together the pledges from this year with the pledges from last year year…there have now been…
Just about 1 and a half million dollars!
So, with that in mind, we are now going to march forward, with a level of confidence and hope towards breaking ground on our building in just 15 short months…March of 2020
Now, again, anything can happen.
These pledges still need to come in!
If they’re just hypothetical, we aren’t going anywhere!
The economy could change…
On a building project of this magnitude…problems can arise.
And if they do, and the timeline gets changed, we’re trusting in God anyway.
But for now, we’re going to march forward towards this goal of putting the shovel in the ground…in just 15 months!
So pray with us, stay faithful to your pledge, and we’re going to be there before you know it!
(LOST & FOUND SLIDE)
We are continuing in Luke this morning:
Did you ever sit in class in school and wonder, “When am I ever going to use this stuff?”
Like, did you sit in chemistry and think, “I’m totally going to need to know the atomic number of ARGON later in life…thank you teacher!”
My guess is that the disciples probably never thought that with Jesus.
When He taught them something, He often gave them an opportunity for real-life application…right away
They got “on-the-job training.”
Take a look at this:
(Luke 8:19-21) – NIV
19 Now Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him, but they were not able to get near him because of the crowd. 20 Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.”
21 He replied, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.”
What’s the main crux of that last verse?
It’s that you can’t just listen to His teachings …you have to actually put it into practice.
You’ve got to LIVE It out when times are rough.
Now watch this…presumably only a few days later (it’s the very next verse) Jesus is going to test out if the disciples can actually LIVE out what He’s been teaching them and showing them about faith
(Luke 8:22-25) – NIV
22 One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. 23 As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.
24 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”
He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. 25 “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.
In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”
(SECRETS OF THE STORM SLIDE)
This morning, these 4 verses of God’s Word on the storm, will show us 3 things we need to understand about the storms… the difficult seasons of our life.
Three…secrets of the storm if you will.
Now, this is not an exhaustive, Biblical treatment of all the things God does in the storm, but merely 3 things we can learn about storms…from THIS particular passage.
You might even be in a storm right now, and if you are, I pray this is really helpful to you.
If you’re not in a storm, in time, you will be.
That’s just kind of how life works.
And I want you, to be Biblically prepared for it.
And honestly, one of the best times to learn about the storm is when you’re not in one.
It’s often easier to see more clearly outside of the storm.
STORMS ARE HOW JESUS OFTEN GROWS OUR FAITH
Let’s start with the first thing we need to understand about the storms that come in our lives.
3 Things We Need to Understand About Storms:
#1: Storms Grow Your Faith
There’s a lot you can pull out of a Bible text when you study it.
One of the things that hit me as I kept studying this text was this: Jesus KNEW the storm was coming when He said (in verse 22), “Let’s go over to the other side of the Lake”
When he encouraged them to get in the boat and head across the Sea of Galilee, He KNEW the storm was going to come that night.
I mean, do you think, as they woke him up from his sleep that He was thinking, “OH man, I totally forgot this storm was coming! We never should have gotten on the boat tonight!”
He knew it was coming, and yet He was so relaxed, and so calm, that he fell asleep despite knowing what was coming!
And it was a massive storm!
About a third of the disciples were expert fisherman (on that exact lake no less!), and even they were terrified!
The fact that Jesus knew it was coming…and He could fall asleep anyway…ought to encourage us to not be afraid when the storm comes.
When you lose your job…when your marriage starts faltering…when there’s a death in the family…
Jesus knew it was going to happen.
And in our storms, it’s important for us to remember that often times God actually doesn’t want to immediately solve our problems.
Sometimes, He wants to grow your faith first instead.
Think about it, Jesus could have woken up right as the first rain drop hit the boat.
And yet he keeps sleeping and sleeping…
…all the way to the point where the disciples say, “Hey! We’re going to drown here!
Luke points out that by the time Jesus wakes up, it had gotten SO bad that the water was literally swamping the boat.
Sometimes, God lets the storm develop for a while…
The disciples are yelling…in Mark’s version they say:, “Don’t you care about us? Don’t you care if we drown?!”
And you can imagine, Jesus getting up, maybe stretching during the downpour…and saying, “Quiet! Be still!”
But He doesn’t leap to his feet with a gasp!
He doesn’t say, “Why didn’t you wake me up sooner?!?”
If the storm is still raging in your life…please don’t doubt His timing.
He’s always doing something even when it looks like He’s doing nothing.
For a lot of us, one of the things He’s doing is growing our faith through the storm…
You know, it took us almost 2 YEARS to find and secure the deal for our amazing piece of land for Renovation Church.
That was a trying time for me as a leader…but it’s probably the most faith-growing thing that’s happened to me as a leader.
And if God would have just said, on day one, “Here you go…here’s an amazing plot on Lexington & 125th,” I can guarantee you my faith wouldn’t be in the same place it is today.
Because the truth is…most of us don’t really grow our faith when the sea is calm.
I wish we did (no seriously, I do!)…but usually we don’t.
When the sea is calm, we usually just find ways to rely on ourselves.
And know that the storm is always an opportunity for us to see God again.
We so often fall into the sin of self-sufficiency…especially in a wealthy country like this one…
That often storms are the only way God gets our attention.
So when the storm comes: Ask, “God, where do you want to grow my faith here?
“God, what do I need to be talking to you about here?
It reminds me of a true story that happened back in 2004 when Hurricane Charley slammed into Florida.
The over 100-mph winds ripped down almost every major sign in the area, with the exception of one billboard.
The advertisement that was currently on there was peeled back and revealed an earlier advertisement underneath for all the residents to see as they were coming out of their shelters and homes.
Here’s what it looked like:
Storms are always an opportunity for us to get serious about our faith again.
But as a pastor, lots of times, I see storms push a number of people away from God…rather than closer to Him.
One of the things you have to know as a believer is that storms are a normal part of being a Christ-follower.
Jesus’ teaching in John 16 is really instructive here.
(John 16:33) – NIV
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
The storms ARE going to come.
Think about this: The disciples were following Jesus’ will and command (He told them to get in the boat and go to the other side!), and yet they still faced the storm!
Following Jesus doesn’t mean your life will be easier.
Often, it could be harder.
STORMS REVEAL HOW BIG WE THINK GOD IS
But don’t run.
The storm is an opportunity, not only for you to grow your faith, but for you to take an honest, but difficult look at the “measure of your faith”
The storm will always reveal just how BIG you think God is.
And that’s the second thing we need to understand about storms…it’s the second secret
3 Things We Need to Understand About Storms:
#1: Storms Grow Your Faith
#2: Storms Reveal Your Measure of Faith
The disciples are obviously freaking out, and Jesus responds to them in verse 25 and says: “WHERE IS YOUR FAITH?”
He’s not happy that they were freaking out.
Because of what they’ve already seen Him do!
Just go back through what they’ve seen and we’ve talked about in the book of Luke in 2018 so far!
A son raised from the dead!
A dying Centurion’s servant healed from afar
A paralyzed man walk
A leper cleansed.
Jesus is saying, “You’ve seen all of that and you don’t think I can make it stop raining??”
“You should have just calmly nudged me awake and said, “Hey, I know this is “like nothing” for you, but just wondering if you could make this rain go away now. Thanks so much”
And He’s also upset because he knows what’s coming for them in the future.
Persecution, the trials of leadership, martyrdom.
Their FAITH is going to need to GROW!
See, the only reason we panic in a storm is because we don’t see it in proper proportion to our God!
If you could only see your storm right now in its proper proportion to God…
If you could only see that God…if it’s in His will…if it’s in His timing…can just say “Hush,” and it will all be over…
If we could see that…then we wouldn’t panic
So…when I get in those seasons of my own life, am I’m letting “worry” creep back up, or anxiety, or…fear… (and you better believe I do that! I may be talking on this stage, but I’m just like everyone else in the room)
What I’m doing when I let fear and worry and stress creep in…is I’m letting the size of the storm overshadow the size of my God.
But if I would get on my knees, and look past the storm, I’d see that God could squash my storm with his pinky finger if He wanted to.
This is how God describes it to the prophet Jeremiah:
(Jeremiah 32:27) – NIV
“I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?
Applying that verse is one of the best prayer exercises you can do.
Think about your storm…go ahead…whatever it is you’re facing right now…or have faced recently.
And then ask: Is it too hard for…
For God to find you a new job?
For God to fix a relationship?
For God to help you out of this financial crisis?
Is there anything you could face where God is going…I JUST Don’t think I could pull that one off.
No! Nothing is impossible for Him.
So start praying like it’s possible!
The storm may have revealed your measure of faith.
But now is the time to increase it!
And one of the ways you increase it…is the same way he’s inferring His disciples increase it.
Remember what He’s done!
Remember what He’s shown you He’s capable of!
STORMS ARE AN OPPORTUNITY TO PUT YOUR FAITH INTO ACTION
This leads us to the final thing we need to understand about storms.
3 Things We Need to Understand About Storms:
#1: Storms Grow Your Faith
#2: Storms Reveal Your Measure of Faith
#3: Storms Let You Put Your Faith Into Action
I want to go back to Jesus’ question in verse 25:
He says, “WHERE IS YOUR FAITH?”
Now we’ve already talked about the idea that He thinks they should have faith based on what they’ve seen.
But the biggest concept embedded in these 4 words of “WHERE IS YOUR FAITH?” is the idea of “Why aren’t you putting your faith into action?!”
You have it! Get it out! Use it!
Timothy Keller puts it this way:
“Faith, contrary to popular opinion, is not automatic. Faith is not a feeling. It’s not an impulse. It doesn’t just happen. It doesn’t kick on like your air conditioning kicks on. When the heat gets too hot, the air conditioning turns on right away. That’s the way it’s set. People think, ‘Well, if I had faith, it would just come on.’…Faith is applying what you know about Jesus.” – Timothy Keller
In their storm, the disciples were being controlled by their storm…by their situation…by what they could see with their own eyes.
Maybe that’s you right now.
But see…despite the fact that the disciples were obviously believers in Jesus…that they had some measure of faith…they didn’t apply it…they didn’t use it!
It’s like the old phrase: (SLLLLOOOOWWWW) “Don’t doubt in the dark what you’ve heard in the light”
The dark is just your opportunity to turn your faith on.
But you’ve got to turn it on.
Do you believe Him or not?
Well, here’s your chance to prove it!
We have a long way to go in actually living out the faith-life…particularly in our storms.
Christians are really good at having faith in the past and the future… (that Jesus died for us in the past and we have faith that He will take us to heaven in the future)…
But we’re not all that good at having faith in the PRESENT!
And I’m telling you right now your storm is an opportunity for you to finally exercise your FAITH and put it into ACTION!
Do you believe God can do something about this or not?!?
Do you actually believe God’s promises about being with you and having a plan or will you continue to just work on it yourself and you’ll see Him in heaven.
Activate your faith!
Otherwise, we’re just like the disciples…believing in Jesus…but never activating our faith.
Remember, it was the disciples’ choice to not wake Jesus up when the first rain drops fell.
Or even at the first clap of thunder.
It wasn’t until the boat looked like it was going under that they finally wake him up.
Whenever I read this story now, I always think of the illustrated picture in the Jesus Storybook Bible for kids
(Jesus Storybook Bible Calms the Storm)
Like…all the way up until that point…they were going, “I think we got this…just let him sleep”
And don’t we do that??
I do that!
This is one of the “main reasons” we don’t activate our faith and use it!
The water is swamping my boat, and I haven’t bothered to ask Jesus for help yet.
The fact that Jesus used fishermen and a storm is really telling here.
It’s harder for the disciples to ask for Jesus’ help, here, on the Sea of Galilee, than perhaps anywhere else.
Because as the storm rages, they keep telling themselves that they were “professionals”
They’re professional fisherman for goodness sakes. And this is THEIR lake.
They’ve faced storms on this lake all their lives…what is “Jesus the carpenter” going to do about it?
So they just kept struggling with the ropes and adjusting the sails…and they don’t call out to Jesus for help.
And we do the same thing…We’re the most hesitant to call out to Jesus in the situations in which we feel the most proficient.
But friends, I hate to break it to you, there is nothing in your life that you are better than Jesus at.
And, besides, there’s nothing too small for you to bring to Jesus.
Ask for help early and often!
We need to ACTIVATE our faith…to live by it…we can’t let it be dormant any longer.
I was, not all that long ago in my life, describing myself to a friend, and I used the term, “I’m a follower of Christ.”
And later that same day I had an intense conviction from the Holy Spirit
It was this awful feeling: I felt like the Lord said to me, “Right now, “you ain’t following me anywhere… (except his grammar was better)
“The only thing you’re following is a system of moral code…but you aren’t FOLLOWING my Spirit anywhere.
“You’re not actually listening for my specific instructions for your life…and then following & obeying them.”
And boy, that’s totally true of me when I get in dry spots in my faith.
I don’t veer off the moral path…but I’m not following what He’s telling me. I’m not exercising faith.
But that’s what we’re supposed to be. FOLLOWERS of Christ!
And there’s no better opportunity to activate your faith than a storm.
“Call out to Him and give him an opportunity to move!”
CONCLUSION: THE CROSS
And we call out to Him with an incredible amount of trust.
Trusting He can subdue any storm in our lives.
But even if He chooses not to…that’s okay.
Author Wayne Lamb points out that he once saw a bird hanging on a limb of a tree in the midst of a terrible storm.
The bird was seemingly calm and unafraid.
The bird continued to look the storm in the face, as if to say, “If you shake me off…no worries…I have wings”
That’s how we face storms as Christ followers.
We trust that God is always up to something
We know that storms are the place that we grow our faith…that we put our faith into action.
We trust that our God can vanquish ANY storm…that nothing is too hard for Him
But even if the storm should vanquish us…we have wings..
Worst case scenario…we die…and we spend eternity in paradise.
And in every storm, we always remember that if Jesus hung to the cross…
If He stayed true to us…during the most intense storm of all…then we will trust Him and stay true to Him.
Let me pray.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
You may use this material all you like! We only ask that you do not charge a fee and that you quote the source and not say it is your own.