Sunday, January 26, 2014

Master of the Wind

It was a dark and stormy night.  I’ve always wanted to start a story like that. 

The wind howled blowing the top off the breakers before they crashed back into the troughs below. The darkness was broken by momentary streaks of light as the clouds raced across the face of the full moon. Could it be? Yes it was hard to believe but there was a boat there. In the middle of this tremendous storm was a little open boat, barely afloat. Hard to believe but there it was. And if we were able to zoom in on that hardy little fishing boat we would discover that it was occupied by thirteen men, twelve fighting for their lives and one sound asleep. And you’d have to ask yourself, how in the world did experienced fisherman who had fished this area all their lives get themselves into this mess?

Well the story is found in Mark chapter 4. It had been a long day for Jesus and the disciples. Christ had just finished preaching the Sermon on the Mount, had cleansed a leper, and healed the centurion’s servant.

Peter’s mother in law had been healed and Christ had touched and healed many others. The multitudes had gathered around and evening was coming so he decided it was time to have a break and so the thirteen of them got into a boat which was probably either Peter’s or James’ and headed across the sea of Galilee. And then we read in Mark 4:36-37 So they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed). But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water.
In the Sea of Galilee it could happen just that quickly, because of the funnel shape of the valley and the shallow depth of Galilee a relatively calm sea could be swept into a deadly cauldron which would explain Matthew's words “a terrible storm suddenly struck”.   Listen to how Luke describes the scene in Luke 8:23 As they sailed across, Jesus settled down for a nap. But soon a fierce storm came down on the lake. The boat was filling with water, and they were in real danger.
Sometimes I find myself identifying more and more with the apostles. I spent three years at sea and saw some dozy storms during that time. The smallest vessel I served on was a a hundred and twenty foot tug? and the largest was a six hundred and thirty foot oil tanker.

And during that time there were two or three times that although I wouldn’t say I was afraid I was a mite concerned.

So there they were, thirteen men in an open boat, twelve terrified and one is asleep. Now he’s not just resting, not just dozing, not just taking a nap, this dude is sound asleep. Now if you’ve never tried to sleep on a boat in a storm you don’t know what you’re missing.

You can pick one of two position to sleep in, either your bunk will be fore and aft that is your head will point toward the bow, that’s the pointy end. And if your bunk is like that your entire night is spent with your head pushed up against the wall and then your feet, you wake up six inches shorter then when you went to bed.

The other way you can sleep is thwart ships that is sideways and if that is the way your bunk is situated then you spend the entire night trying not to roll out on the deck.
Whichever way you sleep you are like a coiled spring and you wake up in the morning with sore elbows and knees from bracing yourself. And so that is the situation that Christ was sleeping in compounded by the fact that it was an open boat and so Christ must have been wet as well as uncomfortable. And so we read in Mark 4:38 Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”
Now I don’t know why they woke him up. But it reminds me of a story about a fellow who was being interviewed for a job as a truck driver and the boss asked him, “what if you had to drive from here to Toronto, pick up a load and drive back?” “Well that’s easy” came the reply “my brother’s a truck driver too so I’d take him, one of us could drive and the other one could sleep.” “Ok, then” said the boss “what would happen if you were coming down a long steep grade in your truck, and your brakes suddenly failed?” “Well I’d wake up my brother” “why in the world would you wake up your brother?” “Because he’s never seen a real good accident before.” Maybe they woke Christ up because he had never seen a sea disaster before.

Well,  Jesus woke up rubbed the sleep from his eyes and said Mark 4:40 Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
Now it doesn’t tell us what the answer was but knowing Peter the way we do I would suspect that his reply was something like “Oh no particular reason, but while you were getting your beauty sleep we were in the process of sinking. You think maybe we’ve put all this water in here to wash the hull down. Boy sometimes carpenters ask some really dumb questions”

And in Mark 4:39 When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the water, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm.
Now some people would have adopted a prayer voice, that’s an octave lower than a regular voice, and used all kinds of fancy and pious words, kind of sounding like “In the name and power of God the everlasting father, eternal creator, master of the universe I rebuke thee and charge thee to cease and detest your loud and boisterous blowing.”

But he Bible tells us that Jesus just said “Silence, be still”.  And it worked and Mark wrote that the sea became completely calm.

The bible doesn’t say that the wind died down gradually, or the storm slowly went away it says that the sea was completely calm. But under natural laws it doesn’t work that way, because even if the wind stopped blowing it would take a while for the sea to calm down. Unless of course you are able to step outside of natural laws.

At this point the apostles still didn’t have a complete grasp on who Jesus was. I mean healing the sick is one thing but this is a horse of a completely different colour, this is a whole new ball game. This guy can control nature, wow. He truly is master of the wind.

Now the story ends here but I think I know what happened, I think Jesus went back to bed and the fellas stayed up for the rest of the trip and talked about what they had seen happen. But listen up, Jesus is more than simply master of the wind, he isn’t just master of the universe he can be master of your soul.

1) He Is Master of Our Yesterdays. You realize of course that everything that has happened in your life up to this moment on January 26th is gone. You can’t redo it, you can’t undo it, and if it hasn’t been done you can’t do it yesterday. You have absolutely no control over the events that have already happened, none.

You may regret it, you may wish to change it or do it differently but you are out of luck. Now the worst part is that for each of us the past is occupied by our youth, and I have become convinced that if you are going to do anything really dumb you are going to do it well you are young.

The vast majority of abortions are performed on woman between the ages of 18 and 24. Most impaired driving charges are laid against those under 25; the majority of traffic accidents involve at least one driver under the age of twenty five. Those who move into a life of crime usually start in their late teens. You ever wonder why that is? I think I have the answer, you see if everybody is like me your mind doesn’t fully engage until you are somewhere in your twenties, as a matter of fact even now mine keeps kicking in and out.

It would seem that those in the public eye are discovering more and more that the past can come back and haunt them, and I’m sure that most of us have things in our past that we regret. And nobody should be judged based on their worst moment.  We may not be able to control the past but Jesus Christ can.

Yesterday is gone, and what’s happened yesterday is done.  The sins you have committed in the past, will never, ever, never be held against you by Jesus Christ because if you have asked him to forgive you he has promised that he will in Acts 3:19 Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away. 
Now if'n a Holy and righteous God can wipe away your sins the least you can do is to allow them to be wiped away.   Your sins have been forgiven, they are gone.  God has forgiven you now you need to forgive you. 
If God has forgiven you and wiped out your sins that means that you need to leave the mistakes of the past behind as well Les Brown wrote If you are carrying strong feelings about something that happened in your past, they may hinder your ability to live in the present.”  
The Master of the Wind is also the Master of our yesterdays and only he has the power to erase the mistakes of the past and eliminate the guilt for past mistakes.
But more then simply the Master of the Past Jesus is also 2) He is The Master of Our Todays. The biggest single barrier to Denn Guptill becoming a Christian was that life style that was expected of me. I was brought up a Baptist, not a good Baptist but that’s a different story.  I knew all the don’ts and won’ts and can’ts and musts that went along with professing Christ as Saviour.

I knew that I couldn’t live the life that I ought to live, and I still can’t, but the thing is I don’t have to. Denn Guptill hasn’t got what it takes to lead the “Christian life”.  But Jesus Christ has bucketfuls of what it takes, and he’s giving it away.

How often as pastor have I heard people say “I can’t” “I can’t do that” or “I can’t stop doing this”.  Of course you can’t but have you every stopped to ask the master of today to help you? Have you laid your pride at the feet of Jesus and said “Lord I don’t have the strength to accomplish what you have set before me, help me please”

But that isn’t the only part of today which he is master of. Jesus is adequate for whatever befalls you. Whatever you come up against, all your suffering, all your grief, all your disappointments. There isn’t one area in your life that Jesus can’t touch us and guide us and help us. 

But we are taught to be self-sufficient, and we become convinced that we have to do it all by ourselves.

Robert Louis Stevenson said “anyone can carry his burden, however hard, until nightfall. Anyone can do his work, however hard, for one day. Anyone can live sweetly, patiently, lovingly, purely, until the sun goes down. And this is all that life really means.” 

And if that was true, we would all be skinny, sober and pleasant.  It’s not that I don’t believe we can do it, I just don’t believe we can do it by ourselves.  And we want to, it’s like when kids hit about two years of age they are adamant, “I do it myself” they want to get dressed by themselves and brush their hair, and clean their teeth and shampoo their hair all by themselves. Of course that phase usually passes very quickly, and then it’s back to parents doing it all.

But we can’t always get through that day, because the burden is too heavy

I wonder though if we are trying to prove to God that we are all grown up and he doesn’t have to help? I wonder if we are trying to demonstrate our independence? The only problem being is that Christians aren’t supposed to be independent, they are supposed to lean on Jesus. I remember when Stephen was about three years old and he was really sick with the flu and we were praying with him at bedtime and he looked up and said “Can Jesus take my sick away?”

Well the truth is this, Jesus can take the sick away, no matter where the sick is, no matter how bad the sick is, or what the sick is because Jesus is in the taking away sick business.  And if he doesn’t take away our sick he promises to be there with us through it. 

Maybe it’s financial problems, or spiritual problems, or emotional problems or personal problems, or physical problems. Jesus is adequate.  That doesn't mean that when we pray that Jesus will take the sick away that we don't take our medicine, sometimes that's how he takes the sick away.  And when we pray that our finances will get straightened out, sometimes he gives us a second job.  And just because you pray that you will have a good marriage doesn't mean that you don't have to work at making your marriage good.

Contrary to popular opinion "God helps those who help themselves is not in the bible."  But the reality is that God helps those who help themselves.  He gives us the ability, the wisdom and the strength, and he also helps when we need a little extra help.

“Yes, but, pastor”, uh-huh, no yes buts, and no yeah buts, and no no buts, and no but buts. Jesus Christ is adequate because Jesus Christ is the master of the present he is the master of today.

3) He Is The Master Of Our Tomorrows

I am a dreamer.  I love looking ahead to the future and sometimes spend way too much time there.  But the reality is that none of us know what tomorrow will bring, as Yogi Berra saidIt’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

Jesus Christ does two things with the future, first he relieves the worries of tomorrow and secondly he retrieves the dreams of tomorrow.  

People tell me all the time that they don't want to worry.  None of us want to worry, do we? Sure we do, I mean it’s like people who smoke and say, “I’d really like to quit” no you don’t if you wanted to quit you’d quit. You might want to quit so people will stop annoying you, or you might want to quit because of the expense but until you want to quit for you, you won’t. If the truth was known those of us who worry do it because we enjoy it.   Clive James said “stop worrying -- nobody gets out of this world alive.”  And not only that but it is in direct contradiction to what Jesus said in

Matthew 6:34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
Jesus has everything under control, everything. Our work, our families, our finances. Jesus is just as adequate for tomorrow as he is for today. I have to give him Cornerstone every once and a while and say “Hey it’s your church you worry about it.”

But Jesus owning the future doesn't just mean giving him the negative things.  "Here Jesus, here is my tomorrow bag, it's full of worry and concerns."  Not it’s also Jesus who gives us our dreams for tomorrow and he wants to be part of them. We need to concentrate on today but it’s gonna end at midnight and what then? What are your plans for tomorrow, for next week, for next month for next year, for five years from now? Where will your career be? Where will your spiritual life be? Belva Davis made this statement “Don’t be afraid of the space between your dreams and reality. If you can dream it, you can make it so.”

I don't meant unrealistic dreams, "Someday I'm going to win the lottery and never have to work again dreams."  And I wish I had a unicorn I could keep in my backyard, that's not even realistic, you're not allowed to keep unicorns in Kingswood.

There were times when Cornerstone was struggling along in rented facilities with fifty people that I would dream of some unknown mysterious benefactor coming along and giving us a million dollars to build a church, but that wasn't a dream that was wishful thinking.  Funny story though, back in the day a gentlemen who was attending the Church, he doesn't attend now so don't try to figure it out, discovered that his company was meeting in Las Vegas.  Before he left he came and told me about a slot machine that had a 2 million dollar payout in the hotel he was staying in.  And he pulled out an American quarter and said "This is going to build our church".  He went to Vegas and I started building churches in my head.  I know, it would have been the devil's money, sure but I figure the devil has had it long enough, and no I don't condone gambling in any way shape or form.  After he had been gone for a couple of days his wife called me and said, "John just called from Vegas, he said not to order the carpet he's already down fifty bucks."

But one day God did give me a dream, a dream not only of the building that we would have but how we would be able to  make the dream a reality.

If you have no dreams, if you don’t care about tomorrow why do you get up in the morning?  If your only goal is to get from here to bedtime and then do the same tomorrow, you’re not living you’re already dead and just haven’t got enough sense to lie down. That isn’t what Jesus promised in John 10:10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.
Is he the master of your yesterdays? Is he the master of  today? Is he the master of your tomorrows? He can be all you have to do is to ask.

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