Charles Stanley - In The Midst Of The Storm
I've been on a lot of In Touch cruises, and one of those that I remember most of all is when I took my mother. And so, we took her on the cruise to the Bahamas, I believe, at that time. And we had a terrible storm! The storm was so bad, you could hardly stand up, you couldn't walk around. It was very, very, difficult and very frightening. So, the next year, I said to her, I said, "Mom, would you like to go on a cruise"? And she said, "I don't think so". I said, "Ah, come on". So, I talked her into it.
So, we were on the ship in the afternoon, still docked. And so, and she called my uncle Jack, who was taking care of her. Said, "Jack, come over here, I'm not feeling good. I'm really feeling bad". So, he went to her cabin and she said, "I'm seasick again". I don't think I'm going to be able to handle this. He said, "Okay, Becca. Maybe it would do you well if you just walked over and looked at"... "No, I don't think" "Well, come on, we're going to try anyway. Let's look outside. Maybe that'll help". Looked outside, we'd never left port. And so here was the awesome impact of a remembrance that she'd never forgotten. But she was in the same atmosphere that made her think, "Now I'm going through this terrible cruise again".
Well, when I think about where we are today, we are in something worse than a cruise at sea. We're in the midst of a killer. People are dying every day. About time we think we've got this thing licked, it gets worse. And so, nobody can predict where we are, where we're going to be. We just have to stop, to think about where we are, what's happening. And you know, the more I've thought about that, the more I thought about this. How many times have you said to somebody, "I just wish I had more time to read the Bible. I wish I had more time to pray".
So, let me ask you a question. For the last at least almost six months, you've had time to pray. And you've had time to read the Bible. You've had time to listen to the Word of God on radio, or watch on television. You've had lots of time for you and God. What have you done with all these hours that you used to didn't have, but now you do? Have you thought about how much of the Word of God you could have absorbed in your mind and heart if you'd taken the time?
If you'd thought about, "Well, I've got time to pray. Now I have time to open the Word of God. And I can pray and I can read the Scripture and I can sort of catch up with myself". But, have you rather turned on the television and watched some program that didn't do you one bit of good spiritually or any other way? In other words, have you wasted some wonderful, wonderful God-given time? I'm not saying He caused the virus so that you'd have more time, but it has happened that way. And we've all had more time for the Word of God. We've had more time to talk to Him, to listen to Him.
So how have you spent these days and now these months and it could be over a year? It's a time to stop and think, where is Jesus in your life? How much time have you spent with Him? Have you laid your Bible down and complained and moaned and groaned about how bad things are, and wondering where God is? God's where He's always been. He's waiting for you to be wise enough to recognize that though He did not send this in order to give you Bible time study, He sent this for some reason we have to leave to His wisdom. And therefore, the issue is how do I respond to a wonderful opportunity time-wise, not disease-wise, wonderful opportunity to catch up with my relationship to Him? To build my relationship to Him. To build an intimate relationship with Him, so that God can do what He desires to do in my life. I think all of us have to stop and ask the question: Lord, have I spent my time wisely?
So, when I think about that and think about where we are, think about this passage of Scripture that I want to read. It is one that most of us know sort of casually. And the Scripture says, "Immediately, Jesus made the disciples get into the boat, go ahead of Him and, other side, while He sent His disciples away". And so, you'll remember the story. He'd been healing people. People being saved and people's lives being changed in lots of different ways, so He needed some time alone.
And so, Jesus sent them away. He went back up in the mountains to pray. And it happened that while He was up there praying and they were out on the Sea of Galilee, a storm came up. And this storm challenged them. They were frightened, they were scared to death. And what did they do? They cried out to Almighty God and asked Him, I'm sure, to help them and to save them. And as Peter especially thought about all of that, the last thing you would think that he would do would be to challenge Jesus to let him jump out in the water and see what Jesus can do. We don't need to challenge Jesus to do anything. He can do anything and everything and all things.
And when I look at this passage of Scripture and think about when the storms come into our life, and this virus is a storm. It is a deadly storm. And as we said, people are dying every day. People are coming down with it every day. And so, this is a challenge, but it's also a spiritual challenge. Will I take advantage of the time God has given me? Will I take the time to examine my life, my heart? Will I take time to examine my whole situation in life about time, money, relationships, whatever it might be?
It's an awesome, awesome time to think. Yes, I have. Because it is so very important. Because we could have months, we could have another year. We don't know how much time we have. But the wisest time you can spend in your life is in this Book, the Word of God, asking God to show you His will for your life. Not just Lord, save me from this. Show me Your will for my life. What are You saying to me during this time?
You say, "Well, I don't know exactly what to read". I'll tell you what you do. You take your Bible and you start in the book of Psalms or the book of Proverbs and just start reading. And telling God, first of all, forgive me for my complaining. Help me to understand, dear Lord, that You've given me time to spend alone with you, which I used to beg for it; now I do have, but I've unwisely spent it. Forgive me, Lord, and show me where to start reading. And I can help you. Start in Psalm one. Go all the way through Psalms to the Proverbs. If you just stay with those two books, God will do an awesome work in your heart.
We don't have any reason to say we just don't have time for the Lord and all of this. Yes, you do. We all do. We could all take time if we chose to, to say, "God, I need to hear from You. I need to have a personal relationship with You. I need for You to clean up my life. I need for You to change the things that need to be changed. Lord, just let me bare my soul openly so You can show me exactly what I need to do". God will change your life.
And I think what will happen for many people is this. You look back from now, years and years back, and you'll say, "That virus was terrible, but something happened to me. In the midst of it all, God changed my life. He taught me to pray. He taught me to read the Word of God. He taught me to stop complaining, and taught me how wonderful He is and how wonderful it was to have time to ponder the truths of God's Word and to ponder the truths that have changed my life. And He's given me time to pray for other people, not just myself. And helped me to understand there are people dying all around me, but I still have the good mind to be able to read the Word of God, to understand it and to grow in my Christian life".
So, when these storms come in your life, what do you think about? So, one thing we should think about is this: we should think about how God has worked in our life in times past. And with those disciples, they knew that the Lord Jesus Christ had performed miracle after miracle in their life. When you go through difficult times, do you stop to think about not how bad it is, but, Lord, what have You done in the past? For example, how many times has God healed you in the past, answered your prayer for things that you needed, whatever it might be?
It's a time to stop and ponder and wonder and ask and seek and yield and listen and be quiet. God, what are You saying to me through all of these things? And so, when I look at this passage of Scripture, I think about it from Jesus's perspective. From Jesus's perspective, He's up in the mountain praying, catching up with Himself, resting. And then He knew there was a time that He needed to leave the mountain, come down to check out His disciples. Because He knew the storm had already begun, and He knew they were frightened to death and they desperately needed Him.
What do you do when you know a storm's coming in your life? Do you complain? You call your friends? You pray, you made God promises, or you ponder why, and complain and moan and groan. How much time do you spend intimately with Jesus Christ, the Son of God? And when I look at this passage of Scripture and I see what was going on in their life, I see also not only that there are going to be storms, and there are going to be more storms. But when I look at this passage of Scripture, here's what I notice. Watch this carefully. When Jesus saw and knew that they were facing a storm, what did Jesus do? Don't forget this. He went to meet them. Not only did He do that, He met them in a way they would never, never forget.
When I think about that, Lord, hallelujah, praise God! You did an awesome thing walking on the water. You scared them to death, but then You performed a miracle. Have you ever had an experience with the Lord where He was so real to you? When they first saw Jesus walking on the water, He looked like a phantom. They couldn't possibly believe this is who He was. But listen to me carefully, whenever you are in a storm, Jesus knows about it, He's close by, and He's waiting for you to ask for help. I'll never leave you nor forsake you is His promise.
Think about that. Jesus has said to every one of us who are His children, "I will never leave you nor forsake you". So, when you go through these storms, and I think about so many millions of people who are in nursing homes, are confined in so many different ways. Have you been calling on Jesus? Jesus is in every nursing home. Jesus is in every household. He is in every place He has been invited; into your heart, into your soul, into your spirit.
So, ask yourself the question: how much time have you spent talking to Him, asking Him to save you? And I want to say to you who are in the nursing homes, you are probably in the most difficult position you have ever been in your life. But I want to assure you of something. No weapon formed against you will prosper. That's the promise of Almighty God. And I want to encourage you to pray. I want to encourage you not to give up. I want to encourage you not to listen to negative stuff. I want to encourage you not to turn on the television and listen to bad news and all the things that are happening. Open the Word of God.
You say, "Well, I can't pray". Then you find somebody who you can pray with. Find somebody who will read the Scriptures to you or give you a tape or whatever it might be. You don't turn to the world to encourage you when you're facing death. I want to tell you. Now, God may call you home, and if He does, look how much better it's going to be. But don't give up. And don't quit. And don't say, "Well, God this, God that, God the other". I'll tell you what God is. He's an awesome, loving heavenly Father who knows exactly where you are. And listen to me carefully, He will change that when He chooses. He will change that on His time schedule. Don't give up on God.
So, when I look at what happened to these disciples, right in the midst of the storm, here comes Jesus. And, watch this carefully, you may have the same sense of the awareness of God in your life, wherever you are, privately in your home or in a nursing home or some other place. If you've ever trusted Jesus as your Savior, listen carefully, He's there waiting for you. I'll never leave you nor forsake you. No weapon formed against you is going to prosper. And oftentimes, we listen to the television and hear all the bad things that are happening. You should switch from the television to the Word of God.
And here's what happened. When they looked and saw Jesus, there was hope. As long as they were out there by themselves, they were feeling hopeless. When they saw Him, they knew there was hope. And if you will open the Word of God, or if you will ask someone to read the Word of God to you, or if you will turn on your television and watch "In Touch", if you will listen, if you will watch, if you will say, "God, I want You to speak to my heart, I need You to speak to my heart, Lord. I need You to encourage me".
Then here's what you're going to hear. You're going to hear a message from the Word of God. And listen to me carefully, God's not prejudiced. It doesn't make any difference who you are, what your language, where you live, what your color. None of that makes any difference. He's a sovereign Almighty God who loves you, cares for you. And for some reason only known to Him, He has allowed you in this place; but one thing I know for sure, He intends to strengthen you, help you; watch carefully; either heal you and take you home to awesome Heaven, or He may heal you and change your life in an awesome way.
God loves you. He cares for you. And when they saw Him, the Scripture says, of course, first, they were scared to death. And then as Jesus came along, the storm began to quiet down. And then there was Peter, who decides to say, "Lord, if that's really You, You call me. Let's prove it. Prove it, Lord. Call me, let me walk on the water". You know how far he got. When he saw the waves, watch what happened to him. When his focus went from the waves and the sea to Jesus, back and forth, what he saw of the waves and his focus on them, he began to sink.
There's a message in this. When you're praying and crying out to God, don't allow your focus to drift from Almighty God, the Sovereign God of the universe, who loves you eternally. Don't let your focus drift from Him to the virus, to this, to that, to people who are dying, don't let your focus drift to those things. Keep your focus on Jesus.
You say, "Well, I don't feel like it. I don't think I'm going to make it". Watch this carefully, you're going to make this. If you ever trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior, He's going to get you through this. Back to your home or to your Heavenly Home. Either way, you're in great condition. I know you're hurting. I know it's easier for me to say that than for you to feel it. But listen to me carefully, the most important thing you can understand at this point in your life, at this moment in your life, is that God loves you. God cares for you. If you've ever trusted Him as your personal Savior, your name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life, and He's going to take you home to Heaven.
If you've never been saved, this is the time for you to stop and think, "Lord, how have I spent my life? And here I am now facing death, I'm asking You, Lord Jesus, to forgive me of my sins. I believe in the truth of the Word of God. I'm asking You to forgive me of my sin and cleanse me and save me and wash me clean and write my name in the Lamb's Book of Life. Lord, I'm giving myself to You, absolutely unquestionably as my Savior".
What will happen? He'll answer your prayer. That's who He is. He's a God who answers prayer. In the midst of the storm, He came to their rescue. In the midst of your storm, He's coming to your rescue. In fact, He's there today. He's right here in this program, saying to you, "Don't give up, don't quit". Trust the Lord Jesus Christ. It's two ways. He's going to take you home to Heaven, which is far better than this. Or, He's going to leave you here, heal you, work in your life in an awesome way. Heaven or your household. Which will it be? Only God knows that. But what I want you to see is this: when these disciples were desperate, scared to death, Jesus showed up.
Listen to me carefully, Jesus is showing up wherever you are right now: in your house, in a hospital, in a nursing home, on your job; wherever you are, He's showing up. He's inviting you to receive Him as your Savior. He's inviting you to turn your eyes from the world and to Christ. He's inviting you to stop complaining and start praying and start trusting Him and believing Him that you are in the hands of Almighty God. Your name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life. No doctor, no nursing home, no... you name it! You're in the hands of Almighty God.
And I want to pray with you in just a few moments so we make sure that you've made a commitment to Jesus Christ. There's not telling what God may do in your life if you'll trust Him. A God who can calm the waves of the sea is a God who is in the process of healing people everywhere. So, we're not trusting what the doctors can do, though we're grateful for them. We're trusting what Jesus is going to do. So, if you've never trusted Him as your Savior, I want to go through this again on purpose. Would you pray this prayer?
Lord Jesus, I've sinned against You. I've neglected You. I've not been on Your side. I've done things I'm ashamed of. I know I may be facing death, but I do believe the Word of God's true. You said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved". Which means by surrendering your life to Him, asking for the forgiveness of your sins, He forgives you. When you ask Him to forgive you, it's a settled issue, your name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life, and you have become a child of God. Yeah, I repeated it on purpose. Because when this program's over, I want you to remember things can never be the same.
If you were unsaved, you are now saved. If you were troubled, you ought to have hope and assurance and confidence that the God of the Bible, the Jesus of the Word, who walked on water and saved those disciples, is the same Jesus who saved me. And when you think about all that He's done through, your friends, for example. People that you know who have been saved, and today you've asked Him to save you. Your name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life. Trust Him; and when we shut this program down, thank God your name is in the Lamb's Book of Life and you are forever a child of God. Nobody can change that. So, let's pray together.
Father, how very, very grateful we are that we're not desperate. We may feel it at times. We may feel like maybe that nobody cares. But Lord, I pray that Your love will fill the rooms wherever people are all over the world who are listening to this program. I pray that Your Spirit will bring calmness and quietness and assurance and blessing to every person who listens and who shares this. We want to say thank You, Lord, for loving us; not on the basis of how good we are, but on the basis that You are an eternal, loving God who keeps His Word. And You said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved". And today we're believing, Lord, and we're trusting You in Jesus's name, amen. And amen, amen, amen.