Thursday, March 01, 2012
Divine assistance in stormy weather
But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
Matthew 14 : 30 & 31
Dear brethren, we, in the providence of God, face difficult and testing times. There are seasons when we find our hearts overwhelmed, having sorrow within, each and every day. The Psalmist declared in Psalm 13 : 2 “ How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily?” Our Lord said in John 16 : 33 “ In the world ye shall have tribulation:” However, be comforted for the Lord went on to say, “be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” Dear brethren, in difficult times, we need to look up to our God, to our Redeemer, and remember that is He over all, and He is working His purpose out for our good.
As we come to these words this morning, as a title to this devotional sermon, consider, 'Divine assistance in stormy weather.'
Peter here in the midst of a storm, with doubts troubling his heart, cried out the Lord for help, and through divine assistance was supported. Note that little prayer in this verse, “Lord, save me.” Though brief, it was to the point, earnestly uttered, and truly meant. The prayer was offered, and the Lord hearing his prayer, came to his aid. Having brought him safely into the ship, and causing also the winds to cease, he along with the other disciples was brought safely to the other side. Oh dear brethren, when in straits cry earnestly, from the depths of your heart, unto the Lord for help.
In Psalm 107 : 25 - 28 we read, “For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof. They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits’ end. Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses.”
On a certain occasion, after the feeding of the 5000, our Lord “constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away.”
The disciples, having been constrained to do so, entered the ship and made their journey, which, would take them direct into the pathway of a storm. Now, if you go down with me to verse 24, there we read, “But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.” Those experienced fisherman were confronted with a storm, but oh see here this morning there was divine assistance awaiting them.
Now as we view this scene here, consider with me
1stly Sent into the pathway of a storm.
“ And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away.”
Here we are told, He constrained them, that is to necessitate, or compel.
Now, it is very important to recognise that: They must go! My dear friends, there are certain storms we must face. Sometimes, in His providence, the Lord preserves us from some difficulty; we can look back, and consider such times when we were persevered from entering some difficulty. However, at others times, in His providence, He sends us straight into the pathway of some storm.
We see this clearly in Psalm 107 : 25 “For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof.” My dear brethren, we begin here; all things are in His providence, there is nothing outside His most holy and wise providence.; It extends to all. In the Westminster Shorter Catechism we read, “God’s works of providence are, his most holy,wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures, and all their actions.”
Dear brethren, the storms we face are all in His providence. He has willed them, He has ordered them. Joseph recognised that God was over the difficult and trying situations which he faced because of what his brothers had done.
In Genesis 45 : 4 – 8 “And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life. For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.”
Note those words, “God sent me!” Although it can be difficult, recognise God's hand in it.
“For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof.” He is over all. Samuel Rutherford wrote, “There is no cross or misery that befalls the church of God or any of His children, but is related to God” The Puritan, Thomas Watson wrote, “Whoever brings affliction it is God that sends it.” My friends, look to this truth, and submit to God, and to His providence. Now, some providences are dark and mysterious, and only in heaven may we begin to understand, but remember this, He is working His purpose out for our good. In Romans 8 : 28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” All things, not just the good things, all things, and why, because He so loves you, and desires your good.
Now, take comfort here, as God is in control, He will bring you through. as He did likewise for those disciples. In Psalm 107 : 30 we read “He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.” He sent, and so He will calm the storm and bring you through. It may be in this life we are brought to a place of calm, a place where we desire to be, and the trial is now behind us. However, consider further, one day He will bring us through them all. They will all be behind us when we reach the desired haven of heaven. Oh, what a blessing it will be, to be there; there will be no more storms, all will be calm, and most wonderful.
2ndly The Storm
Matthew 14:24 “But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.”
The ship was tossed with the waves, the reason being, the winds were contrary. Down on the south coast of England there is a place of natural outstanding beauty, called Mudeford. At certain times of the day, the river that flows through that place meets the incoming tide of the sea. At that point the water becomes choppy, and a number of boats passing through, can often find themselves in a measure of difficulty. We face times when the going is not easy. May be it is some family difficulty, some personal trial, some difficulty in the church, or in the presbytery, or sometimes it may be a season when the devil is very active against us. Here below we face tribulation. This world is not heaven, here our joys are interrupted by sorrow.
Pain is known within, tears are shed, and even fear. In Psalm 107 : 27 “They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits’ end.” In the midst of a trial one may be at their wits end, knowing fear, even though they have known the Lord for many years. Consider the convoys crossing the Atlantic in the 2nd world war. Many a sailor knew fear in their hearts, not only because of the German U- Boats, but also because of the mountainous seas.
In a time of trial one may not sense the Lord's presence, one feels alone and prayer is difficult. However, take comfort, He is watching you. On this occasion, our Lord was not physically with His disciples to begin with, yet His eye was upon them. In Mark 6: 48 we read “And he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them: .” He saw them, He sees you, oh take comfort, He is watching you, and all your tears are all collected up in His bottle.
Note further here, He came to their aid. And spoke words of comfort when they were so fearful, thinking He was a spirit.
“And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.” He saw them toiling in rowing, struck with fear, in such pity He came to their aid and spoke such comforting words. He will come to your aid! And in His time, will speak, for He takes such pity on you. Are we not dear brethren, so thankful, when the Lord speaks to our soul. In some difficulty, we may be reading the word, when we come across some verse or verses in which the Lord so speaks to us, and we find comfort within. Here He said “Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.”
Now, at this point in the storm, take note of the cautious request of Peter, after our Lord had spoken. Peter said, “Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.” It was a cautious request, however, now his faith was strengthened a little, and with His eye fixed upon the Lord, and through divine assistance, he was found walking on the water. Yet all was about to change; in verse 30 we read “But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.” Having taken His eyes off the Lord, and having them fixed on the storm, he began to sink. You may know what a sinking feeling is, and therefore identify yourselves with Peter. Suddenly, fear may come upon you, the clouds have gathered, and you sink into the depths. Recall that David, recorded for us in Psalm 130, was found crying out of the depths. Dear brethren, we face stormy weather.
3rdly An Earnest Cry to the Lord
“But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.”
When you feel you are sinking, cry out to the Lord, “Lord save me,” “help me, deliver me.”
In Psalm 61 : 2 we read, “From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” In Psalm 107, verses 27 & 28 we read, “They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits’ end. Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses.” Listen to Spurgeon, “Though at their wits end, they had wit enough to pray.”
In Psalm 130 : 1 & 2, we read, “Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O LORD. Lord, hear my voice: let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications.” Dear brethren, Cry out to the Lord. As you do, remember, He delights to hear, and loves to see, His children, doing just this, seeing their total need of Him. No matter how low you feel, or the situation you are in, cry out to the Lord. Octavious Winslow wrote, “Pray, pray, pray! Out of the depths of your difficulty, your need, your sorrow, cry mightily unto God. There is no depth too profound, no darkness so dense, no need so pressing or perplexity so great, but from it you may cry unto God,” He is able to help you in every trial you face, so therefore, earnestly cry out to Him, talk to God, and remember help is so near. It may be just a few words, but oh make sure you utter them!
4thly Divine Assistance.
Now we have already observed the power of Christ, firstly, in coming to them, walking on the sea, and then, secondly, in supporting Peter; so as to walk on the sea, however we are given other instances of His divine power in verses 31 & 32. “And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.” He supported Peter in the storm, and caused the wind to cease.
Are we not thankful for the gracious hand, or hands of the Lord. In the gospel, Christ hands were stretched out to us, and through the grace of God and the work of the Holy Spirit within, we received Him. How blessed we were, and how blessed we still are, for He stretches out His hand to believers when they are in straits, to help and comfort them. Oh my dear brethren, there is Divine assistance awaiting us in stormy weather; there will be support! In Isaiah 41 : 10, we read, “ Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” “I will” saith the Lord, and so there will be help coming your way. There will be supporting grace, and in time, there will delivering grace.
Consider how He is able to support you through His word. The Psalmist gave this wonderful testimony, recorded for us in Psalm 119 : 49 – 50, “ Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope. This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me.” How the Lord can so take and use His word, what comfort we have from this wonderful book.
Dear brethren there is Divine assistance awaiting you, Divine power is ready to help and support you. Oh be comforted, His eye is on you and He will come to your aid. He will help and He will bring you through. Our Lord not only supported Peter, but also made the wind to cease, and so along with those other disciples Peter arrived safe on the other side. He will bring us through!
Now we must draw to a close, as we do so, note on this occasion our Lord's loving rebuke, recorded for us in verse 31. “And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” His faith though it had appeared somewhat strengthened as he walked on the sea towards Jesus, appeared small when he saw the wind boisterous and whilst he was sinking into the sea. Our Lord said to him, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”
My dear brethren, where there is but little exercise of faith, a loving rebuke like this is required. In Revelation 3 : 19 our Lord declares, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” He loves you, and He loves me, so He will rebuke us, however, consider also, because He loves us and takes pity on us, He will come to our aid. Divine assistance is awaiting you in the present storm and in the storms to come, He will not forsake you.
Let us be a be people who look up to the Lord by way of faith; let us rest in Him. The Psalmist said in Psalm 37 : 7, “Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him:” May the Lord help us to rest in Him whilst in stormy weather.
Dear brethren, we have been blessed in the gospel, and we are still blessed; God is a Father to us, Christ is a Shepherd to us, He will lead us to the green pastures and He will be with us in the valleys.