How do we respond? What should our reaction be? When our world shakes, when we are in shock – after it happens – after shock has gripped our being – what we do next is absolutely vital.
If you haven’t faced great tragedy yet listen up, because you very likely will. We all feel sympathy when we hear the news about the virus these last few weeks. We all share in the despair with events like 9/11, the Asian Tsunami, Haitian earthquake, or Hurricane Katrina. It seems like it’s always someone else. But what if it were you?
You see, there’s a prophetic message in these events. The Bible says we should take warning at such things as signs of the end times upon us. And then God is specific about disasters, saying that they will increase in frequency and intensity, and…
…and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
America - since we happen to be asking for God’s judgment [throwing morality out the window and God under the bus] we must ask ourselves, what is God trying to do…get our attention maybe? We’re begging for a big plague, financial collapse…I’m not rooting for it, just sensing the signs of the times and realizing that if God doesn’t judge us He won’t be consistent, and may have to apologize to others He has judged in the past. The best solution is for America to repent!
We need to learn how to respond after shock has rattled our lives…
I. HAVE FAITH - NOT FEAR Vs. 26. “...and they cried out for fear.”
Vs. 27, “...Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.”
Vs. 30, “...But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid;”.
Vs. 31, “...O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”
I am not suggesting that we should not express normal emotions of concern and uncertainty when tragedy strikes. I am saying that fear is not the spiritual response.
II Tim. 1:7
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
Fear will not comfort anyone. Fear will only bring more anxiety and distress.
Christians should not be naïve to overlook the fact that the worst is yet to come for this planet. But we are not appointed unto God’s wrath!
So, we must not let fear reign during times of crisis. There are no answers in fear. Only faith will have the answer for us.
Jesus said in Mark 11:22 , “Have faith in God.”
We are commanded to keep the faith, ESPECIALLY when the world caves in, which is precisely when many give up on God and head for the hills.
Jesus told Peter in our text he had little faith because he looked at the storm in fear instead of looking to Him in faith.
Look at what He said from the beginning when they first saw Him approaching, walking on the water:
v. 27 “It is I, be not afraid” Yes, God is here with us, He’s there some sick in the hospital. He’s there with many who have suffered loss of family and possessions, and He is ever present with us, especially in the aftershocks of life. God was there on 9/11, and in New Orleans and the beaches of Thailand and everywhere tragedy strikes.
And though it’s not a popular notion, and definitely politically incorrect to say so, I do believe God uses these things to get our attention. They are labor pains announcing this world is soon to be delivered! So if you are not saved, respond in faith, not fear, and get saved today!
So, Have Faith and not Fear.
II. PRAY - DON’T PANIC
When panic takes over prayer ceases. Peter was looking to the Lord in faith, but when he panicked he began to sink. When he prayed he found rescue. We must resist the urge to respond in panic and in everything by prayer and supplication bring it all to the Lord.
And now we should continue to pray for those in danger of the virus. We should pray for America with what we face today and in the future.
The natural man panics…but the supernatural man prays!
He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
It’s hard to see in the shadows, and it can be scary there, until we realize Whose shadow that is!
III. BELIEVE GOD - DON’T BLAME HIM
This is not God’s fault when bad things happen, though we call natural disasters “acts of God.” He may allow it, but He certainly wants better for us than the things which actually result because of our sin and the curse it brings to the planet.
Some will blame Him. Some will turn against Him.
It’s part of our nature to make ourselves feel better by assigning blame.
If Peter were like many Christians he would have sunk under the water with a look on his face that could kill, saying, “Lord, I can’t believe you’d let it come to this! I can’t believe you’re gonna just stand there and let me go under like this!” But no, Peter didn’t blame Jesus, he looked back up in faith and believed.
And by the end of the story in vv. 32-33 we see the strength of all in the ship was fortified.
I’m happy to say it’s not the President’s fault, or China. Welcome to Earth. Bad things happen. It will be far worse in hell. Make sure heaven is in your future…there will be no curse!
…time and chance happeneth to them all.
It’s a sin-cursed world, and we are the sinners who cursed it, and bad things happen.
It gets old…watching some who profess to be Christians get mad at God when things go wrong. In a twisted way of thinking they imagine that they are punishing God when they turn away from Him or fall out of church in response to tragedy. But they are only punishing themselves.
Whatever has shaken you—God didn’t do it. Sin did it. God allowed it for a higher purpose, and we need to believe that and not blame Him.
We shouldn’t blame God, but believe on Him. God is not responsible for our circumstances…He wants to save us from them, and He will, if only we believe.
We don’t know all the reasons why. We do know that God is in charge, and He controls all. Thus, we must believe and not blame.
IV. RESPOND - DON’T RUN
Don’t try to escape the fire. Stay put and let it purify you!
We must take this as a lesson and a call from God to do that which must be done.
This is an opportunity to learn, and a chance to help. It’s time we do like Peter and get out of the boat and be a water walker! Cowering in the hull of the boat during a storm is cowardly. It's time to step out, for there’s a job to do, people to save, anchors to get set, life preservers to cast, sails to mend, rudders to steer, and opportunities to step out and make a difference! This is when the lost need to see Jesus in us!
V. BE ASSURED - NOT ANGRY
We are assured that God always does the right thing.
We can be assured that God never makes mistakes.
Our anger must be directed toward sin.
Righteous anger must be directed toward the Prince of sin. [and politicians and media who try to capitalize on sensationalism!]
And we must thank God that He’s still on the throne and in full control, and rest in that sweet assurance.
Anger will only enhance confusion and misunderstanding. So we need to focus upward in assurance, not outward in anger.
Peter got into trouble when he looked at the storm, but when he looked at his Lord he rose above the storm. The wind and waves which seem over our head are under His feet!
We have a problem in that we always want to be comfortable and “feel” good. We need to rest in the “fact” that all is well even when we don’t have TP. Bad things happen, but God is good!
If God can be trusted with our souls He can be trusted with our feet and everything that stands above them!
We can be assured of the goodness of God in all things if we have the assurance of salvation…
What do we do now?
We must have faith, not fear.
We must pray, not panic.
We should believe and not blame.
Don’t run from problems…respond to those in need.
This is most timely sermon. More anointing
Thank you for your great insight and for drawing us back to scripture to find our peace...I always appreciate your sermons and your commitment to the word of God.
Thank you for allowing God to use you to speak to the need in our lives today.
Whaoooh, this sermon is timely and appropriate. Your presentation is homiletically sound. More anointing and grace
Very helpful and needed message.
Love it, faith not fear; prayer not panic- thank you Brother, pray our Lord blesses your new ministry!
As always this is an absolutely God-inspired message that is Right On Time. Thank You Pastor for allowing God to work through you and keep the faith. Many prayers for you and the new work.
I was able to share this message with 150 men at one of the prisons I minister in. the faith not fear; prayer not panic, were timely thoughts. god bless your ministry and thank you for being faithful.
Great sermon, right on!
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