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GETTING THE SECOND FEAR FIRST
Intro: Ill. The Context. Jesus and His men are crossing the Sea of Galilee after a long day of teaching the multitudes. Jesus, weary from His work, is asleep in the back of the ship. As the disciples row, they find themselves, suddenly, in the middle of a ferocious storm. The Sea of Galilee, which sits surrounded by high mountains, is subject to sudden and violent storms as hot air rushes in from the deserts and meets the cool air on the surface of the lake. Of course, the phrase Jesus used to calm the storm, “Peace, be still”, v. 39, literally means “Be silent! Be muzzled and remain so!”, and was used to speak to demonic forces. So, this storm may have been an attempt by Satan to destroy the Lord Jesus. At any rate, the disciples and Jesus find themselves caught in the fury of a terrible storm. The waves are so violent that they have filled the boat with water and there is a danger that the boat will be swamped and sink.
The disciples, fearful for their lives, call out to Jesus Who is asleep. He arises and calms the storm, then He turns to His men and rebukes their lack of faith. He tells them that they were “fearful”, v. 40. This word means “Timid, afraid to the point of giving up.” But, when they saw what He did in calming the storm, we are told in v. 41 that they “feared”. This word means “to be stricken with awe and amazement in the presence of one greater than self.”
If these disciples had understood Him and Who He was as they should have, they would have had the second kind of fear first and they could have avoided the first kind of fear altogether! But, wait, instead of criticizing these men for being afraid, maybe we should ask ourselves, “Why do we fear what we face in life, when we can have the second kind of fear first?” Often we, like these men, look at our storm and we tremble with fear. However, when we do what they did and involve the Lord in our storm, we find out that he is in control. Then, we are left with but one conclusion: He is far greater than storm we will ever face in life.
When we come to understand just three simple clear truths, we can have the second fear first. That is, instead of being discouraged to the point of giving up, we can be filled with awe and amazement at the glory and power fo the Lord we serve. There are three simple truths contained in these verses that teach about Getting The Second Fear First!
I. REMEMBER WHO CREATES THE STORM
A. His Power In Creating Storms - Yes, it is a fact that Satan may have been behind this storm. It may also be true that this storm was just the product of nature. But, behind either of these explanations is the truth that God is Sovereign! When the storms of life howl about us, regardless fo the sphere of their activity, behind them all you will find the Lord our God. This is what the Bible says about Him: Psalm 107:23-32; Isa. 45:7. We may not understand it, but when the stormy winds of life blow about us, a close look at the situation will reveal God’s fingerprints all over the storm. If it came, He sent it, Ill. Job 2:3. (Ill. That’s a truth so large my mind won’t wrap around it, but just because I can’t grasp it does not prevent it from still being true!)
B. His Purpose In Creating Storms - For these disciples, they were placed in this storm to teach them more about Jesus. Notice what the Lord asked them in verse 40. The emphasis is this: “Why do you still lack faith in me?” After all they had seen Him do, they should have known Who He was and what He could do. But, they still hadn’t quite grasped it, so the Lord put them in this storm to teach them! In previous chapters, they had seen His power over disease and demons, now t hey will see His power over the deep. This is a learning experience for them. (Ill. That is what purpose the storms serve in your life and mine as well! He puts us in the hard places of life to teach us more about Him! Ill. Rom. 8:28; 2 Cor. 4:17. How would anyone know what God could do, until they found themselves in a place where He had to do it? Ask Moses, Elijah, David, Daniel, 3 Hebrews, Joshua, Paul!)
C. His Peace In Creating Storms - Did you notice that the winds and the waves did not bother the Lord? He wasn’t moved by the storm or by the sea. If we could ever learn to see the storm like He sees it, it would erase our fear! While they toiled, worried and feared, He slept peacefully, knowing everything was well in hand. You see, He knew what they did not: He knew what was ahead! He knew that He would not drown at sea because He was headed to a cross. He knew that the disciples would not die at sea, because they too were destined for greater things. That is why He could sleep while they sweated! (Note: Did you know that He still knows what’s beyond the storm in your life and mine? That’s right, He knows what we face down the road, how He will use us and bless us. He also knows whether or not we will die in the storm. But, regardless of what you may be facing in life today let me remind you that God is not upset about it. He has the matter well in hand and you can rest, because His sleeping days are over forever! He Who never slumbers nor sleeps will keep you safely through the dark, stormy nights of your life, Psalm 121:3-4)
II. REMEMBER WHO CONTROLS THE STORM
A. By His Words - Notice what Jesus said in verse 35, “Let us pass over unto the other side.” What hope that should have sparked in the hearts of the disciples! They had His promise that they were merely passing over, yet they did not believe Him! They had His promise, but His promise did not have them! (Note: How often is that true in your life and mine? We have His Word in a matter, but still we worry and fear. How tragic! When will we ever learn that the storms and trials of life can never pass the boundaries of His Word? He will ever do what He has promised and we need never fear that His Word will fail, Matt. 24:35; Pro. 30:5-6. If He has promised to anything, then that is just what He will do, Heb. 6:18; Rom. 4:21!)
B. By His Works - “He arose, and rebuked the wind”. What the Lord creates, He controls! (Ill. Frankenstein. He was created, but he could not be controlled.) Whatever God puts into motion, He can perfectly control! Even as the storm will never pass the boundary of His Word, it will also never pass the boundary of His power. That which looks hopeless to you and me is mere child’s play to the Lord, Eccl. 8:3; Luke 1:38; Job 42:2; Eph. 3:20! (Ill. He walked on what they feared - Matt. 14:22-33. Whatever you face is also under His feet!)
C. By His Will - v. 35, “He saith unto them...” It was the Lord’s idea to get into the ship and sail into the storm. In Matthew 8:18, a parallel verses, we are told that He “gave commandment”. Often, when we sail into a storm, our first thought is that we must be out of the Lord’s will. Well, it is always good to check up, but these men found themselves in a storm because they were IN God’s will! He sent them there and He will see them through! Just as His Word and His Works set boundaries that the storms of life cannot violate, neither can they pass the boundaries of His will for our lives. If He is Sovereign, and the Bible teaches us that He is, then we must learn the truth that everything in life is under His control! Friends, He controls the storm! He determines the duration, the severity and the results. Learn to place your all in His hands and trust Him to control the storm! (Ill. To see this truth in action, just look at Job. God controlled exactly what happened to Job, how long it lasted and how it ended. God is in control!) (Ill. Some people have a hard time with this truth, but you better be glad the storm is under His control. If it is just “running its own course” then it’s out of control and there is no telling what will happen. No, He is in perfect control!)
III. REMEMBER WHO CALMS THE STORM
A. The Rebuke - The disciples had tried rowing, worrying and crying, but nothing they did had any effect until they called on Jesus. When they did that 3 simple words, “Peace, be still!”, solved the problem instantly! (Ill. You just remember tonight, as your boat is battered and threatened by the storm that howls around you, you serve a God Who is able to speak peace to your storm too. The hour will come when He will rebuke your storm and it too will go away. Maybe you just need to do what they did, stop trying and give it to Him! After all, that is what He told us to do, Matt. 11:28; 1 Pet. 5:7.)
B. The Response - “the wind ceased” - This little phrase describes a situation where one second there is a terrifying storm and the next second, there is absolute calm. Instantly, the storm was gone and the Sea of Galilee became absolutely calm and peaceful! (Ill. Again, this is what He can do in your life! He can speak the word and your storm will cease. However, the Lord will often allow the storm to continue in our lives until it has accomplished all its purpose. But, in the midst of that, He will speak peace to His child, Ill. 2 Cor. 12:7-10. He may not always change your circumstances, but if you will yield to Him, He will change you in your circumstances! If you ask me, Him changing me is worth more than Him changing my situation!)
C. The Relief - When they see this, the disciples are filled with “awe and amazement”. They are thrilled that they are no longer in danger from the storm. They are relieved that the threat is gone. (Ill. There is similar relief when the Lord moves in our storms. When He calms the storm, or when He calms the heart of His child, there is a sense of relief that the worst is over. And, we are left in awe at the power and majesty of the Lord. Perhaps that is one reason why He allows us to weather the difficult storms of life. He wants us to come to the place where we learn first hand, that God is able to do anything and that He is worthy of our praise and worship!) (Ill. It’s one thing to hear about it from others, but it’s another thing altogether when I experience Him and His power for myself!)
Conc: Do you want the second fear first? If so, then learn the lesson of the storms. They exist to teach us dependence upon Him. When we come to the place where we stand in awe of His power, His person and His Plan, the storms will cease to frighten us. We will be so overcome with Who He is that nothing else in life will phase us. Whether it be disease, discouragement, difficulty or death, it will seem as nothing when it compared to Him. Those who have a big God have little problems! Those who have a mighty God weather weak storms!