Saturday, February 11, 2006

My Weekly Blog - Stormy weather

    Hello Friends,
I went to Bible Study this week; it was very stormy. No, not the Bible Study - the weather. As we sat down to start studying about Abraham, the lightening and thunder started too. Graham the home group leader had to speak loudly to be heard over the noise from outside. Then there was a really loud clap of Thunder, it must have hit somewhere in the premises, because we all jumped. Then again, and again. Apparently, this storm was all over the district. At one point the lightening was very close and out went the lights (I felt at home - quite used to that from Zimbabwe - not that there needed to be a storm to knock the lights out in Zimbabwe). Four little children came through from where they were sleeping and joined the grown-ups in the lounge. Of course the animals were upset too. One of the group members who happens to be a next door neighbour to the hosts house, remembered that certain electrical equipment was still plugged in, so he decided to run home and make sure everything was off and unplugged. He ran out the gate, and a strange dog (a beautiful white alsatian looking dog) ran in from the street - straight into the house.) So at one point, we had four children, 12 adults, 4 dogs all huddled together in the lounge. They stayed there until the storm passed over, and the children were reassured that the storm had gone away. Eventually, the things calmed down and the children went back to bed, and the strange dog left, and we continued our Bible study by torch and candle light. Before long the lights were back on and everything returned to normal. Strangely enough, I got a devotional about storms on my email the very next day. It's written by a chap called Ron Hutchcraft and he has daily devotional entitled "A word with you." I copy it here for your interest:
#4979 - "Storm Proof Security"
Acts 27:18-20

    If they ever ask me to be a participant in those Nielsen ratings of who is watching what TV show, they'll probably find me watching the Weather Channel more than a lot of viewers. Oh, not necessarily because I'm intrigued with low-pressure systems, or barometric readings, or cumulus nimbus clouds, but because I want to see my future in the places I may be traveling to. But sometimes, they don't have the weather on. They have this primetime documentary show called "Storm Stories." Now while the story of a storm that happened twenty years ago isn't going to help me plan for tomorrow, the stories are pretty dramatic. They're often amazing accounts of the people who survived major weather disasters - and the people who didn't. It's especially interesting to see what steps help you be a storm survivor rather than a storm victim.

    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Storm Proof Security."

    I'll bet you've got your own personal "storm stories," don't you? I know I've got mine - stories of some life storms that you've been hit with; medical storms, financial storms, family, marital, heavy weather with your kids, maybe your work, or the ministry, your relationships. One of the most dramatic storm stories I ever read is actually in our word for today from the Word of God in Acts 27, beginning with verse 20. It's going to help you survive your storm - because it shows the two anchors you can hang onto that no storm can touch.

    Paul is a Roman prisoner, being carried to Rome aboard a ship loaded with Caesar's grain, and they get hit with a massive storm that drives them all over the Mediterranean for two perilous weeks. Paul says, "We took such a violent battering ... they began to throw the cargo overboard." That's pretty desperate. The apostle goes on to explain that "neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging." Have you ever been in a situation like that where none of your usual points of reference could help you; you're drifting and confused. That's what we're talking about here.

    Then, "we finally gave up all hope of being saved" (Acts 27:18, 20). Notice, "we" gave up all hope. Even the spirit of the great Apostle Paul has succumbed to the storm. But then the next day we find him standing up and saying to everyone aboard, "Keep up your courage because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed." What happened? Well, God reminded Paul of those two anchors that will carry you through. He explains to the people on that storm-threatened ship: "Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me and said, 'Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you'" (Acts 27:22-25).

    Anchor #1: Who you belong to. The God "whose I am." Don't let the storm make you forget that the Lord is your God and that His sovereignty is unshakeable. No life that is in the hands of the Sovereign Lord is out of control no matter how much it feels like the storm is winning. If you are His child, then every storm in your life has either been sent by Him or approved by Him for His glory, for your good and your growth.

    Anchor #2: Who you do it for. The God "whom I serve." The storm can blow away every reason for finishing the thing that God gave you to do except one - the One who called you to do it. He hasn't moved, no matter how much the ship is getting blown around. God told Paul, "The mission I've given you, you will complete." He's saying the same thing to you. Hang onto your anchors and no storm, however violent, will sink you!

    About the ending of the storm story: The ship that was supposed to be headed from Israel to Italy - the ship that had been seemingly out of control for two weeks ended up going aground on the island just south of Italy. All the time Paul's ship had appeared to be out of control, it had been right on course, and so is yours because of the God "whose you are and whom you serve."

About that Anchor #1 - it says "If you are His child." I believe we are all His children in the sense that He is our Creator, but in this case I think Ron means if you have been adopted into the family, that is, you have committed your life to Jesus Christ, to follow him and live with Him for ever. Even if you are not a Christian, however, I think it is true to say that God allows storms in your life, to help you depend on Him, and call on His name. I remember that one of the first sermon's I preached, while at Bible college was based on Psalm 107:
Others went out on the sea in ships; they were merchants on the mighty waters.
They saw the works of the LORD, his wonderful deeds in the deep.
For He spoke and stirred up a tempest (storm) that lifted high the waves.
They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths; in their peril their courage melted away.
They reeled and staggered like drunken men; they were at their wits' end.
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble and He brought them out of their distress.
He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed.
They were glad when it grew calm, and He guided them to their desired haven.
Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for men.
PS 107: 23-31
"For He spoke and stirred up a tempest." Some people shake their fists at God and say why do you let me suffer like this. Others cannot accept that God would cause his children to suffer and that there must be some other explanation. I am inclined to think that both reactions are wrong (though understandable.)
Firstly those who shake their fists at God: They acknowledge God is the source but they forget that He also brings the calm that follows the storm. Yes, storms do have natural scientific explanations for their occurrence, but I believe that God controls even these natural forces. But I'm speaking also about the figurative storms in our lives. God knows about them, and He has allowed them, for whatever purpose. Maybe He's waiting for you to call on Him.
The second group who deny God would cause the Storm, they have ignored that line I quoted, "He spoke and stirred up a tempest." The other week in Church, Pastor Rich was saying that above everything else God loves his Glory and so everything he does is to increase His Glory. Because of this, He also loves us and has created us for His glory. " 
We see this exemplified in the following verse that follows the section I quoted above: "Let them exalt Him in the assembly of the people, and praise Him in the council of the elders." Ps 107:32 Who are the "them" being spoken about? I think they were the same sailors who were in that storm. It may not be possible to give to testimony and praise God while in the midst of the storm, that's understandable, but you will come through it, and then, you must "exult Him" by telling others how He took you through. Friends, I've been through many a storm in my life. And I will no doubt experience more in my life time, but God is taking me to my desired haven, and even if I can't see it, God is directing that ship - He has his hand on the rudder."
I do hope that someone getting this at this time will be encouraged by this. If you have any questions, or would like prayer, feel free to write to me, and I will gladly pray for you.
You may share my blog with friends, particularly if you feel that I have said something that will touch their hearts. (If that is the case, the glory belongs to God.)
I am praying today for my friend Alisan, her husband, David their two children who left Johannesburg today to go to Namibia as missionaries.
Till next week then,

I have sent this to a number of my friends so I just want to explain to those getting this for the first time. I have started a blog and a newsgroup on Yahoo. I have resolved to write one a week. Sometimes it will contain news about me, sometimes something that has got me thinking will result in a little comment. Mostly it will be of a spiritual nature, a Bible Study, or just what God has been saying to me. Whatever it is, I like to share it, in the hope that it will touch someone, and is a word in season.
If you have written to me and said that you would like to get these on a weekly basis but you do not have access to the internet, then I have added your name.
If you have written to me and said please don't send me this thing - I'm sorry, I never got the email - write to me again and I will make sure I don't send you any more.
If you have not written to me but would like to get this weekly, I can do one of two things:
1. Add you to my NewsGroup - that will involve you going onto the Internet and registering. (send me an email saying you want to join and I will send you an invite). (I know it's complicated, but it prevents all kinds of wierdos trying to send us rubbish.)
2. Add your name to my private list (if you can't or don't want to go online to join). Send me an email saying PRIVATE LIST please. 
If you do not want to get this, send me a brief email saying NO MORE PLEASE. (Don't forget the "PLEASE"!!!)
Your friend,

1 comment:

ruth said...

i will now go to your latest blog then gradually read through all of them. your insight inspires me

thanks John.