‘storms of faith and fury’

This image provided by NOAA shows Hurricane Gustav taken at ...

August 30.2008

Déjà vu… those living along the Gulf Coast are watching very closely a formidable storm that is positioned just south of Cuba. Hurricane Gustav a category 4 storm with wind in excess of 150 mph will make landfall somewhere along the Gulf of Mexico within 48-60 hours. Just yesterday was the 3rd year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina that made landfall along the Mississippi / Louisiana gulf coast on August 29, 2005 leaving in its wake a path of death and destruction. To not make preparation for such an event could leave one seriously lacking if not consumed.

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Living along the gulf coast of Alabama, during the months of June through November bring the high probability of experiencing a hurricane at some time or another. Atmore is positioned approximately 45 miles inland. This has always been somewhat of a reprieve when the storms do move inland, but on September 16th, 2004, Hurricane Ivan, a category 3 storm (130 mph + winds) made landfall just west of Gulf Shores Alabama just after midnight. There’s an ominous spirit about these storms, especially when they make their way inland in the black of night.

During the course of the night the storm trekked due northward placing Atmore on the Northeast quadrant of the storm. For those readers unfamiliar with Hurricanes, the Northeast section of the storm eye wall is the most powerful; hence the saying “the northeast is the beast” All the towns in this track of the storm experienced winds of 120 – 130 mph for in excess of 3 hours. Needless to say, the morning’s light brought to revelation the utter devastation that was not such seen for over 100-year. Yet in the midst of catastrophic property loss, we can thank the Lord that there was no loss of life. Praise The Lord!

The forces associated with the storms of nature pale in comparison to the awesome power that is possessed by God. The seven hours spent in the darkest of night, listening to the wind howl with the ferocity of a train and hearing the trees fall with the thud of certain devastation, makes one consider, if it were not for The Lord’s mercy and grace, the frailty of man would be consumed amidst the storms adversity. It gives one ample opportunity to consider, what and why is this happening and what can be taken away from this experience?

Nahum, chapter 1:3-6 says “the Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and will not acquit the wicked; The Lord hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet. He rebuketh the sea, and maketh it dry, and drieth up all the rivers: Bashan languisheth, and Carmel, and the flower of Lebanon languisheth. The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein, who can stand before his indignation? And who can abide in the fierceness of his anger? His fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by him”. So from God’s word we can surmise that God has a plan and purpose in the storms of life.

For the sake of application I want us to consider two storms that are recorded in the scriptures. The first is found in the gospels of Matthew 8:23-27, Mark 4:35-41 and Luke 8:22-25 We will see the Lord used this storm to shore up His disciples faith, hence this was a Storm of Faith.

STORM of FAITH

In this story we find the disciples with our Lord in a boat crossing the Sea of Galilee. In the midst of the sea, there arose a great storm of wind, insomuch that the waves beat into the ship. The gospel of Luke states the storm was so treacherous that “the ship was filled with water and they were in jeopardy”.

The disciples were afraid and came and found their Lord asleep in the hinder part of the ship. Their question was “Master, carest thou not that we perish?” I must admit, I can understand their fear, especially in the midst of the storm. At three o’clock in the morning when the winds are beating vehemently upon your home and trees are falling in through the roof on your house, it’s easy to wonder, does the Lord realize what is going on, or does He even care?

He Cares

Even though Christ was asleep in the hinder part of the ship He was fully aware of the raging storm, and yes, He cares! The Lord had Moses to tell His people as they were about to cross over Jordan and would most certainly meet the obstacles of the inhabitants of the land, that they “were to be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee” cf: Deuteronomy 31:6 The same encouragement was given to the believers in the letter to the Hebrews 13:5

We can rest assured no matter what road we traverse or what storm encompasses our lives, the Lord is aware of every obstacle and He is there! He cares. In the seventh verse of the first chapter of Nahum; while the storms will come the Spirit states “The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble, and he knoweth them that trust in him. This means that Christ is with us, yes, even in the midst of the storm. Cast your care upon Him for HE CARES FOR YOU. 1 Peter 5:7

He Calms

In the case of the storm on the Sea of Galilee, He calmed the sea; “Peace Be Still” and the sea ceased its raging, but some times He allow the storms to rage on that we might find Him faithful. Rest assured, if He does not calm our storm He carries us through it HE IS FAITHFUL.

His Word

His faithfulness is found in His Word. In Mark and Luke’s account, we see that Christ said to His disciples “let us pass over to the other side of the lake”. The Word of God had already determined that they were to arrive on the other side. Nothing was capable of keeping God’s Word from coming to pass. So it is with the Will of God for our lives. God will faithfully carry us through the storms of life that we might be about His purpose in us. cf: Hebrews 13:20-21. HIS WORD IS TRUE.

The second storm I would like for us to consider is found in the Old Testament Book of Jonah. The story is found in Jonah 1:3-15. In this storm God’s fury is meeted out on a prophet who was disobedient to the simple command to go and “preach unto Nineveh the preaching that I bid thee”. Oft times in God’s word we see willful disobedience and rejection to God whether it is by an individual or a nation results in that individual or nation is subjected to a Storm of Fury.

STORM of FURY

In this storm, God uses it to get Jonah’s attention. God’s instruction to Jonah was simple- “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me”, but Jonah rose up to flee from the presence of the Lord. Because of Jonah’s disobedience, not only was he affected by the storm, but all those that were with him. While the storm is raging we find the mariners afraid and working fervently to relive the ship of it’s wares, lest they sink and die, but we find Jonah was fast asleep in the hinder part of the ship. It is a scary picture of a disobedient individual (nation) content and satisfied in their sin. Absolutely no conviction!

It is hard to ignore the numerous storms of this hurricane season; is God having His way in the whirlwind and the storm? One cannot deny that we are a nation that has forsaken the True & Living God and are in essence fleeing from the presence of the Lord. It may be that God is attempting to get our attention.

In 1 Timothy 4:1-2, “the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrine of devils”. We believe this is a reference to some in the church. If the church is fleeing from the presence of the Lord and giving heed to doctrines of devils, we can only imagine what the world will tolerate. What will it take for God to get our attention? It says in verse two that their conscience is though it has been seared with a hot iron; a desensitized conscience, which means there is no conviction about their condition. They lay fast asleep in the hinder part of the ship. God has no choice but to send the Storm of Fury.

We like Jonah, must repent, and sacrifice unto the Lord the voice of Thanksgiving; and pay that we have vowed (be obedient) unto Him. Salvation belongeth unto the Lord. There is always hope for the individual or even the nation that has fled from the presence of the Lord: “if my people which are called by my name, shall humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land”. 2 Chronicles 7:14

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My friend, I would like to leave you with one thought. If you were facing a storm that could devastate not only your well being but that of all of your family, wouldn’t you make the necessary preparation to have everything that would hopefully sustain you through this trying event?

In the case of a hurricane, we insure we have ample non-perishable foods, water, batteries, candles, that our generators are functional and enough gas to last a week, and most importantly that our insurance policies are current, yet many a folk give no consideration to making preparation in the event the storm takes their life.

One must make preparation for eternity and that sustenance is found in none other than Jesus Christ. Please don’t allow the storm of eternity make landfall without having given serious consideration to God’s Messiah…. Yeshua ha Massiach. Please consider.

malachi

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