SERMON Saint Margaret s Episcopal Church Pentecost 13 Sunday, August 10, 2008 Fr. Benjamin Speare-Hardy II

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1 SERMON Saint Margaret s Episcopal Church Pentecost 13 Sunday, August 10, 2008 Fr. Benjamin Speare-Hardy II YOU OF LITTLE FAITH, WHY DID YOU DOUBT." Matthew 14:22 Did you every have one of those kind of days when nothing seemed to go right? For example, you got up and discovered the alarm didn t go off and your head was pounding as a result of a bad cold. Then you cut yourself shaving, stumbled over your child s toy on the way to the kitchen and broke one of your toes. The coffee-maker was on the fritz, so you started off to the coffee shop only to discover that your car wouldn t start because the battery was dead. So you got it jumped only to realize that the heater didn t work. When you finally got to work an hour late, you remembered it was a holiday and the place was closed! A seven-year-old boy by the name of Steven had one of those days. He went to sleep with gum in his mouth and woke up with it in his hair. When he got out of bed he tripped over his skateboard and cut his lip. Then he dropped his new sweater in the sink while the water was running. In school it was gym day. He hated gym. They chose up sides for a game and he was the last one picked. When he got home for dinner, his mother had cooked lima beans, which he hated. There was lots of kissing on TV and he hated kissing. His bath was too hot. He got soap in his eyes. His favorite marble went down the drain and to add insult to injury, his mom made him wear the pajamas with the little birds on them. He laid in bed and said to himself, I think I ll move to Australia. In our Scripture passage, the disciples were having one of those kind of days. It had been a long, tiring day of ministry and miracles. Tired, they had set out for the other side of the lake. Suddenly, a storm came up and their lives began falling apart. 1

2 What do we do when life deals us tough situations and it seems as if we are coming unraveled? I see five assurances to help us when the bottom drops out. JESUS BROUGHT THEM THERE Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. Jesus knew that the storm was about to strike and He deliberately directed His disciples into it! However, they were safer in the storm within the will of God than on dry ground with the crowd out of His will. But why would Jesus lead them into a storm? The Bible indicates that there are three primary kinds of storms that come to us from our God: (1) Storms of correction to awaken, to discipline, to get our attention. (2) Storms of perfection to build character in us, to deepen our faith and make us more sensitive to the suffering of others. (3) Storms of reproduction to cause others to imitate our response to suffering or to choose our Christ. Illustration: Lesson from Golf Balls When they first manufactured golf balls, they made the covers smooth. Then they discovered that after a ball had been roughed up one could get more distance out of it. So they started manufacturing them with dimpled covers. So it is with life; it takes some rough spots to make us go the farthest. There is no oil without squeezing, No wine without pressing the grapes, No fragrance without crushing the flowers And no real joy without sorrow. So if you re going through a storm and if the bottom seems to be dropping out, consider that the storm may be in God s will for you. 2

3 JESUS PRAYED FOR HIS FOLLOWERS After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Sometimes when things are going bad we are tempted to think that God has deserted us. Where is God when we re rowing against the wind? Why, He s praying for us. He has never lost touch with our situation. What a comfort that is. What a comfort indeed! Jesus knows what it is to suffer. The human side of Him experienced more pain than we ll ever understand. The writer to Hebrews captured the essence of this truth: Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are yet without sin. On the basis of Luke 22:31,32 we can safely assume that His prayer consists of at least the following: (1) that our faith won t fail, (2) that we won t give up, (3) that we won t turn back. This is love on its Knees. The thought that Jesus cares enough to give Himself to prayer on our behalf is humbling, say nothing of inspiring. We dare not stop; we cannot quit! JESUS CAME TO HIS OWN But the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the winds were against it. During the fourth watch of the night, Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. It s a ghost, they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: Take courage! It is I. Don t be afraid. You have to admire these disciples. They could have turned around and headed back to shore. They had been out there for nine hours. They were tired, wet, and cold just trying to hang on. 3

4 Its midnight and still no Jesus. Suddenly they see Him walking, instead of riding. At first they don t recognize Him. Why not? Perhaps they are too busy complaining or fighting the storm in their own strength. Could it be that they are just not looking for Him? This gives rise to a most important truth: THE LORD ALWAYS COMES TO US IN OUR DARKEST HOUR. For example, someone knocks on our door with a meal; an encouraging note or card comes in the mail at just the right time; a friend telephones us saying that he s praying for us; while in a worship service, something in the message or in a song touches us and we feel strengthened. In each case, it is Jesus coming to us. One sat alone beside the highway begging, His eyes were blind, the light he could not see; He clutched his rags and shivered in the shadows, Then Jesus came and bade his darkness flee When Jesus comes the tempter s power is broken; When Jesus comes the tears are wiped away, He takes the gloom and fills the life with glory, For all is changed when Jesus comes to stay. JESUS HELPS US GROW THROUGH TRIALS Come, he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, Lord, save me! This is a picture of divine love and power meeting human need. Anyone can sit in a boat and watch, but it takes a person of real faith to leave the boat and walk on water. Here are four principles for water-walkers: (1) Don t listen to the people in the boat (nay-sayers) (2) Don t look at the waves (circumstances) (3) Don t look down at your feet (self) (4) Keep your eyes on Jesus! 4

5 Illustration: The only survivor of a shipwreck washed up on a small uninhabited island. He cried out to God to save him, and every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming. Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a rough hut and put his few possessions in it. But then one day, after hunting for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky. The worst had happened; he was stung with grief. Early the next day, though, a ship drew near the island and rescued him. How did you know I was here? he asked the crew. We saw your smoke signal, they replied. Though it may not seem so now, your present difficulty may be instrumental to your future happiness. JESUS WILL EVENTUALLY BRING PEACE Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. You of little faith, he said. Why did you doubt? And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshipped him, saying, Truly you are the Son of God. Notice the progression of events here: Jesus caught the sinking Peter- They walked to the boat together- Jesus climbed into their boat and with Him came the calm they were looking for. No wonder that they worshipped Him. Illustration: An army officer was sent to TIBET on a dangerous mission. He carried two things along with him that gave him courage: (1) the knowledge that he had not undertaken the journey on his own but had been sent by a power for a sound reason, (2) if he got into a tight place, his government would use all its resources to see him through safely. These are the same assurances that God gives to all of us. He has placed us here for a good reason and promises to use all of His resources to help us out of any tight spots that may arise. Illustration: I read of a helicopter pilot who flew from an aircraft carrier in the Pacific told this story. 5

6 He said, "I was flying the helicopter back to the ship when a blinding fog rolled in. Flying at a low altitude, I knew that a single mistake would plunge my crew and me into the ocean. Worse yet, I was experiencing a complete loss of balance -- which is common for pilots flying by instruments. This loss of balance was so bad that despite the instrument readings I was certain that I was lying on my side. For 15 minutes I flew the helicopter by its instruments, fighting the urge to turn it according to my feeling. When we finally broke safely through the fog, I was deeply thankful I had been trained to rely upon my instruments rather than on my feelings." That is what people who live by faith do -- they remember that feelings can be misleading, but the truths in God's word are reliable, trustworthy, and consistent. The Christian life, like walking on water, is humanly impossible. It can only be lived by the power of the Holy Spirit. Storms are going to come. When you're in a storm with the wind raging and the waves pounding, and you feel like you're sinking, know this: The same Lord who stills the storm allows the storm. The next time you have on of those days, or weeks, or months, or years when the bottom seems to be dropping out, just remember to turn to this passage in Matthew 14 and it will hold you steady as you see there again these five amazing truths: The Lord brought me here He is praying for me He will come to me He will help me to grow through this He will see me through 6

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