From the Desk of the Pastor
We are still in the midst of this storm in our life.
We are still in the midst of this storm in our life. Just to follow up, our worship services are temporarily cancelled as we abide by the policies of the State and local authorities Stay at Home Order to not congregate with more than 10 people through April 19th.
I am working on doing a service that will be taped at the church and perhaps be placed on the website before next Sunday. I will have to work out the logistics of making this possible with limited people in the sanctuary.
There are also Sunday Live Stream services at Atherton Baptist Church 8am & Christ Second Baptist Long Beach at 9:30am. This an opportunity to view local services on the computer. I have placed a Christ Second Baptist service on our website.
We are also considering a “drive through communion” on Easter Sunday April 12th. Also based on the crisis we will be switching to the prefilled communion cups and bread. Yes we will have to survive the foam bread but for health purposes it is clearly the way to move at this time. I will provide details on how this will work.
Here is a link to a youtube video that shows how we should handle groceries that have been purchased. www.youtube.com/watch?v=sjDuwc9KBps
Finally what can we do as a body of Christ during this time that we are experiencing this physical distancing from each other.
· Continue Reaching Out to One Another – Calls, Emails, texting messages
· Continue praying for one another
· Certainly an Opportune Time to Read Scripture and Christian literature
Feel free to reach out to me: (323) 493-2066 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
MAY GOD CONTINUE TO BLESS YOU!! BE SAFE! BE WELL
Please see below a text and message (Lessons from Storms in Your Life) that will be of some comfort in this time.
Matthew 8:23-27 King James Version (KJV) 23 And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him. 24 And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep. 25 And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. 26 And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. 27 But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!
"Lessons from Storms in your Life"
Matthew 8:23-27 Theme: This passage teaches seven principles about trusting our sovereign Lord while we're in the midst of the storms of life.
Have you ever noticed how the stories of God's great acts mercy in the Bible often involved His people being in a boat that was caught in a storm at sea?
There's a good reason for this. There is nothing more out-of-human-control than a storm at sea; and likewise, there is nothing more helpless than a boat being tossed by the waves in a storm. It's a vivid picture of being completely subject to grave circumstances that are utterly outside our control. And so, it's a perfect illustration of being suddenly caught at the mercy of trying, or difficult, or even dangerous circumstances - circumstances in which we are helpless to do anything but cry out to God.
There are storm incidents in the Bible that draw are attention. There is incident of Jonah in the Old Testament. There is another storm incident in Acts 27 when Paul was being transported to Rome and they were caught in a storm at sea. Paul had given them warning and they wouldn’t listen. It ended with the prayers of Paul and all on board being spared. God gets our attention when storms enter our life!
All the usual elements of a storm are encountered in this text in Matthew, the sudden and unexpected storm; the boat helplessly being tossed; and the passengers who were terrified and who feared for their lives. The good news is that Jesus was on the ship and as usual he makes all the difference.
Well of course, if you take the context of this morning's story seriously, you already know that it wasn't just a matter of good timing. And that highlights the basic point this story is seeking to make. The Man who ordered the wind and the waves to cease - and who brought about a great calm in its place - is none other than the Son of God, and who therefore had them under His sovereign control. He has authority over everything on this earth - including the most unpredictable and uncontrollable things, such as storms at sea and the Corona virus.
And that basic point leads us to the practical importance of this morning's story. This same Jesus who exercised complete authority over that storm on the Sea of Galilee also has authority over the storms of life that strike us. He may, in His wisdom and love, allow us to experience them; but they are never outside of His control. With nothing more than a word, He is able to bring the storm to an end, and replace it with a great calm. I believe that Jesus can do the same today that he was yesterday.
There are some principles of storms Christians should always keep in mind
PRINCIPLE #1: EVEN WHEN WE FOLLOW JESUS FAITHFULLY, 'UNEXPECTED' STORMS WILL COME (vv. 23-24).
Matthew begins by telling us; "Now when He got into a boat, His disciples followed Him" (v. 23). That word "follow" connects this passage with the one that just preceded it. In that previous passage, two men had sought to follow Jesus; but they were made to stop first and count the cost of following. You will see from those verses there is a cost to following Jesus.
One man had said, "Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go"; but Jesus let the man know that He didn't even have a place to lay His own head (vv. 19-20). The other man offered to follow; and asked to be excused first, saying, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father." But Jesus let the man know that He demanded to have an even greater priority in the man's life than his own father (vv. 21-22). Both men had to confront the difficult challenges that come with "following" Jesus.
To be a "disciple" of Jesus means to be a "follower" of Him. It means to go where He says to go, do what He says to do, and believe as He says to believe. Not everyone, after they count the cost, is willing to accept the challenge of following Jesus. But the men who entered the boat with Jesus apparently did. When He got into the boat to cross over to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, they "followed" Him. And that's what identified them as "disciples". Disciples "follow" Jesus wherever He goes!
But then, look what happened to these men who followed Jesus. The storm strikes! "And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves" (v. 24).
And here's perhaps the most remarkable thing about this storm: it came when they were in the course of simply following Jesus! They were doing the right thing. They were obeying the Son of God! And yet, this violent and life-threatening storm fell upon them anyway.
There's a great spiritual lesson for us in this. We shouldn't ever think that, just because we're following Jesus, we have a right to expect to be exempt from the storms of life. Those storms may come - even though we are following Jesus very faithfully. Jesus could have prevented the storm from coming at all, if He had seen fit to do so. But His disciples were following Him; and He led them right into a storm!
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing (James 1:2-4).
PRINCIPLE #2: THE LORD IS CALM' DURING THE STORM, HE STILL IS IN CONTROL (v. 24).
How can Jesus sleep at a time like that? Well; for one very obvious reason, it was because He was tired! But for another, much more profound reason, it was because He wasn't in a panic over the circumstances - like we so often are. He was at perfect peace in the midst of the storm; because He knew that the storm was under His control at all times. He was in His Father's will; and He knew that no matter what else happened around Him, His Father's will would still be fulfilled in Him. He had no reason to be afraid - vividly illustrated by the fact that He was asleep in the midst of the storm. And so long as He was in the boat, the disciples had no reason to be afraid either.
Now; when you and I go through a storm, it may seem as if the Lord isn't aware of it. It may seem as if He was "asleep". But we can be sure that He isn't. He never sleeps on us; and if it appears that He does, it's only meant to test our faith in Him. As Psalm 121 says, "He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep" (Psalm 121:3-4). When you are in the midst of the storm, just remember: Jesus is there too - in the midst of the storm with you. His apparent "silence" is to see if you will trust Him and have confidence in Him.
We can be confident that Jesus - who experienced perfect peace in the midst of the storm - is always with us in the storms of life that we encounter. And He offers us His own perfect peace in our storm . . . if we will just accept it.
PRINCIPLE #3: WE DO THE BEST THING WE CAN DO DURING A STORM WHEN WE CRY OUT TO JESUS (v. 25).
The disciples certainly did the best thing they could do. In fact, they did the only thing they could do. They cried out to Jesus, and woke Him from His sleep. Matthew tells us, "Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, "Lord, save us! We are perishing!"
By the way; what a fantastic prayer that is! Analyze it carefully. In the word "Lord", we see that they knew who to go to; and also in what manner of reverence they should approach Him. In that first word, they recognized and admitted His authority and power. Remember in the model prayer that is known as the Lord’s prayer it begins with “OUR Father” “To call Him "Lord", in this case, was to confess His deity. In the second word, "Save!", we see that they knew what they needed. They needed Him to rescue them. They laid out their need before Him. And in the third word, translated "We perish!", they rightly stated their situation; and rightly understood how helpless they were unless He did what they asked. If He didn't help them, they were lost.
That's a a great "sinner's prayer" if ever there was one! "Lord, save me! I perish!" You can't be saved unless you admit your need, cry out to Him as "Lord", and plead with Him to save you.
And when He has our hearts - expressed in our crying out to Him in prayer in a time of trial - He responds. As it says in Psalm 50:15; "Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me."
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This leads us on to the fourth principle we find in this passage:
PRINCIPLE #4: BEFORE JESUS REBUKES THE STORM, HE MAY FIRST WISH TO REBUKE OUR LACK OF FAITH (v. 26).
Matthew tells us that Jesus awoke in response to their cry. But he tells us that, before He rebuked the wind and the waves, He rebuked His disciples. "Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?"
Look at what Jesus says about their condition. Jesus says that they're "fearful". But the Greek word that is used is(deilos) means "timid" or "cowardly". It suggests a kind of fearfulness that is unbecoming and inappropriate - even sinful.
And look at what Jesus says about the cause of their sinful condition. He calls them, "O you of little faith". Their real problem was being shown up by the storm; and that real problem was their lack of faith in Him! All that they had seen of Him hadn't sunk down into heart-level with them yet. They didn't yet really understand who He was; and how, because of who He was, and because of the fact that He was with them, they had absolutely no reason to be afraid.
Now I would never want to be misunderstood as being flippant about the trials of life that we may go through. The storms that we go through are very real, and - at times - very terrible. But each storm is allowed by our Lord to encourage us to place our trust in something about Himself that we've already been taught.
He has already shown us what He can do and the storms force us to go back to that thing we've learned about Him, and trust in Him a new way in the current circumstance.
I wonder if, in the storms of life, the Lord doesn't often wish to rebuke us for our terrible lack of faith in Him before He rebukes the storm. I wonder if He doesn't often have to ask us, "Don't you think I know there's a storm? Why in the world are you being so cowardly?" We should learn to trust more in the promise of Philippians 4:6-7:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:6-7).
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PRINCIPLE #5: JESUS IS ABLE TO CHANGE A 'GREAT STORM' INTO 'GREAT CALM' WITH JUST A WORD (v. 26).
The Bible tells us, "Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea . . ." Now, just imagine that! He actually "scolded" the weather and the water! Ordinarily, that would seem crazy - to personalize wind and waves and talk to them! But the results speak for themselves; because we're told, "and there was a great calm." In fact, Luke tells us that the wind and the raging of the water "ceased". There wasn't even a mere "lessening" of the wind, and a gradual "decline" in the waves. They ceased altogether; and it went from "great tempest" to "great calm", in a moment's time, at the word of Jesus!
He proved this when He was in the storm with His disciples. He is able to do the same for us in the midst of the storms we experience in life. The storm is always under His control; and He is able, if He so commands, to turn it from a great tempest into a great calm.
The disciple's own interpretation should be enough for us: the wind and the sea "obeyed" Him! Even wind! Even the sea!
PRINCIPLE #6: JESUS PROVES - THROUGH THE STORMS - THAT HE IS SOVEREIGN OVER ALL AREAS OF OUR LIFE (v. 27)!
And the implication for us is that He is able to command far lesser things than wind and sea; and they too will obey Him. If He can command wind and waves, He can command everything else that may come into our lives. His call to us, in the midst of the storm, is that we trust Him to have absolute control over all that comes our way, and to lean on Him as our strong and all-sufficient Help.
And when the psalmist writes all this, he then calls for the only proper response: worship! He writes,
Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men! Let them exalt Him also in the assembly of the people, And praise Him in the company of the elders (vv. 31-32).
PRINCIPLE #7: WHEN JESUS RISES TO OUR RESCUE IN THE STORM, THE RESULT SHOULD BE THAT WE WORSHIP HIM (v. 27).
We're told by Matthew that the disciples "marveled" at what had just happened. When we look at the other Gospels, we find that it's even more profound. We find that, according to Mark, they "feared exceedingly" (Mark 4:41); and that, according to Luke, "they were afraid" (Luke 8:25).
When we trust Jesus to see us through the storms of life, He takes us through to the other side and shows us more of who He really is. And as a result - if we truly learn what He seeks to teach us through the storms of life - we come a way more in love with Him, and more in awe of Him, and more surrendered to Him.
"Worship" occurs when we see our great God for who He really is, and respond to what we see in an appropriate and heart-felt way. And its in the storms of life that we get to see who Jesus really is. And so, when we go through the storms with Jesus - and if we're trained by it as we should be - we'll come out of the other side worshiping Him!
We are being thrown about in the midst of a storm right now - circumstances that are frightening and outside of our control? Then learn the lessons from this story. Let’s remember that everything including this pandemic is in God’s hands.