This morning was a powerful look at 'fear'. Our scripture was from Matthew 8:23-27 and Mark 4:35-41.
Pastor Dave asked the congregation: What are you afraid of? Why are you afraid of these things? And he mentioned some of the common phobias that people have.
Fear defined: an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, a threat to security; a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger or evil.
Jesus knew the storm was coming and it was going to confront the faith of his closest followers.
Jesus never promised a life free of storms - day after day of perfect temperatures, light breezes, and sunshine. Sometimes we will see the storm approaching and can prepare, and other times, the storm comes unexpected and hits us hard. Jesus makes it clear, this is a reality of this life; but he also makes it clear, he will be in the boat with us.
The disciples were brought to the brink (these were experienced fishermen and the storm was fierce even for them) - the storm was relentless. And before Jesus asks his question, they ask Him, "Teacher don't you care if we drown?" (Mark 5:38b)
God, don't you are that I _________________? (fill in the blank with your particular issue - am sick, am afraid for my kids, am so stressed out, have no purpose, am lonely, have lost my way, worn out, am broke, my marriage is falling apart, am struggling at my job)
When you feel like God doesn't care, take a look at the words of Paul, who was faced with great hardship, but still kept great faith: We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed, perplexed but not in dispair, persecuted but not abandoned, struck down by not destroyed. (2 Corinthians 4:8)
Why does fear have the capacity to overwhelm us?
- I try to do it alone instead of turning to Christ first - Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death... I will fear no evil for YOU are WITH me... Rod and staff comforting (Psalm 23:4)
- We have a tendency to want to fix everything/control issues - I can do all things though Christ who strengthens me. ( Phil 4:13)
- We "what if" everything to death, which keeps us from Jesus - Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
The disciples lack of faith reminds us that even these men who walked with Jesus, heard His teaching, observed the miracles, and had a front row seat to Jesus still found it difficult to live by faith 100% of the time. It was this lack of faith though, that Jesus rebuked - and by the way, he rebukes ours too. He doesn't want us to be ruled by fear every single day, to be a slave to fear.
Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith? You of little faith!
Jesus is in the boat with us.
The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)
The body of Christ is also there to help us through the storms -- as the church family, we can be the answer to prayer, the help during the storm for others, and they can do the same for us.
In today's story, Jesus removed the storm; He made it cease, brought it to an end by His command. However:
- There are times Jesus will bring an end to the storm
- There are times Jesus will not remove the storm and instead give us the power to endure our storm and increase our faith
QUIET!! BE STILL!!
Fear and faith cannot occupy the same space. In our heart or mind there is either fear or faith. Our natural state is fear (comes easily and naturally). But when we receive God's gift of faith, we have a capacity to overcome our natural state.
Pastor Dave then partially filled a vase with oil (representing fear). It occupied the bottom area of the vase. When juice was added (representing Jesus), the two briefly mixed, but then the juice settled to the bottom, displacing the oil. The juice occupied the space the oil had been previously.
Bringing our fears to Jesus -- Pastor Dave encouraged people to write their fears on a note paper they were given - and then if lead to, bring those fears to the fishing nets on the alter area. Quiet, be still.
For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you receive the Spirit of sonship. (Romans 8:15)
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7)