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Monday, August 6, 2018

More The Surprise About Your Storm Is, That YOU’RE STILL ON COURSE! I Know The Storm Blew Some Stuff All Over The Place, Some People Were Expecting You To Be Destroyed In The Storm: But Look At God!

Acts 27:44, "the rest were to follow, holding on to the planks or to some broken pieces of the ship. And this was how we all got safely ashore.” (GNT) 

It was some years ago, but I remember when they closed a local airport. You see there was a violent storm at Newark airport, and thousands of people had their plans suddenly changed indefinitely. I’ve come to find out in life, Storms have a way of doing just that!

There’s a snow storm, for example, and schools and businesses, even though they all had their plans made for the day, suddenly have all those plans thrown out the window. Meetings that HAD to be today are amazingly rescheduled. Planes and ships are diverted and all because of a storm. 

You see, a storm is a classic embodiment of that familiar phrase, “Due to circumstances beyond our control…” Ever heard that line? 

Truth is: maybe you’re in the middle of a storm right now. Your life and plans are being blown around in every possible direction, and it seems like everything is completely out of control. Well, if that’s your testimony, then I’ve got some really good news for you today! According to the Word of God, Acts 27 talks about A Stormy Surprise!

Now, I don’t know where your storm is right now, but maybe there’s something blowing your life out of control: (a marriage conflict; a troubled child; a financial crisis; a health scare; a job loss; or a ministry transition). Whatever your storm is, it’s blowing fierce and hard! And to make matters worse, you've already tried everything to get it back to smooth sailing, and yet, all you see in all directions is nothing but complete and utter chaos!

And by the way, if you’re one of those tremendously blessed folks who’s not in a storm Right Now, Just Stay Tuned; Your Forecast Will Change Just Like the Rest of Us! That’s just the way life is. Before you know it, out of no-where, the winds blow, the waves are high, the lightening is bright, the thunder is loud, the foundation is shaky, the cold airs of conflict and crisis strike, and you’re wondering if you’ll Survive the Storm! We all get them, so if you haven’t YET, simply Stay Tuned!

However, for those who feel that In Your Life Right Now Things Are Completely Out of Control By the Storms of Life, You’ll Most Definitely Be Able to Relate to Paul’s Storm in Acts 27!

What was happening was that Paul was being taken by Roman soldiers on a grain ship from Israel to Rome. They had a lot of water to cross to get from where Israel is and to cross the ocean and to get over to Italy where they needed to be, and in the middle of all this they encountered a terrible storm that lasted for fourteen days. Hurricane strength, we’re told in Acts 27:20

When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved.” (NIV). Now, if you’ve ever felt like all your points of reference were gone, like Acts 27:20, you couldn’t see the “…sun, the moon, the stars…” –Which Are All Things You Can Usually Count On To Be There As Your Day-to-Day, Consistent Point of Reference. When That’s Gone, The Storm Is Bad! The things you were able to hang on to before, They’re No Longer There! That one song that use to encourage you, now you can't remember one verse of it, that friend whose shoulder use to be available for you to lean on has vanished into thin air, that Scripture that would pop into your head right when you were ready to throw in the towel (and now you have no idea what book of the Bible it’s even found in). It feels as though all you used to Depend on has somehow Disappeared into the Darkness of the Storm! 

Well, maybe you’re there right now, and you know what, truth is, it’s easy to give up hope. I know "church folks" will tell you that's not supposed to ever happen to a believer. But truth is, life can get real hard, and heart breaking. 

It's difficult to keep a praise on your lips when your coworker is cursing you out. It's hard to keep joy when you've lost loved ones back-to-back. It's not easy to keep shouting when your marriage is screaming divorce. Its’ rough trying to teach Sunday school to other children when your own don't even attend. Life is not easy! No, not even for the believer. So never beat yourself up when you have a moment of lost hope, it happens to the best of us, from the pulpit to the door (whether we admit it or not)!

However, before you feel as if your lost hope can never be found again, keep this in mind: The Outcome of the Story Is What You Need to Take Note Of! Acts 27:44declares, “…Everyone Reached Land Safely.” They were blown into the rocks after two weeks, But It Says, IN THE END, They Were On An ISLAND! And in chapter 28 we find out the ISLAND was called MALTA! Do you know where Malta is? IT’S ON THE SOUTHERN COAST OF ITALY! Why is that such good news? Because, Regardless to a Violent Storm, They Ended Up Right Where They Were Heading All Along! Oh, they’d been out of control for two weeks or so it seemed, BUT THE WHOLE TIME THEY HAD BEEN OUT OF CONTROL, THEY HAD ACTUALLY BEEN RIGHT ON COURSE, AND SO ARE YOU!

The Surprise About Your Storm Is, That YOU’RE STILL ON COURSE! I Know The Storm Blew Some Stuff All Over The Place, I Know You Received Some Bumps And Bruises And Even Some Brokenness In The Storm, But YOU’RE STILL ON COURSE! As hectic as it is, as violent as it was, as rough as it’s been, as depressed as you’ve felt, YOU’RE STILL ON COURSE! Yes, with a marriage that seemed to be sinking, children that seemed to be jumping over-board, a ministry that seemed to lose the wind in its sails, and a health that has seemed to be tossed to and fro, from healthy to sick all in the same week, YOU MY FRIEND ARE STILL ON COURSE! REGARDLESS TO THE STORM, PAUL STILL ENDED UP EXACTLY WHERE HE WAS SUPPOSE TO BE…AND SO WILL YOU! SO, DON’T BE DISCOURAGED BY THE STORM, YOU’RE STILL ON COURSE!
Nahum 1:3 says, “…The Lord has His way in the whirlwind and the storm, and the clouds are the dust beneath His feet.” (AMP)

Look at this text in a few additional translations with some deeper insight:
“…He can BE SEEN in storms and in whirlwinds; clouds are the dust from His feet.” (CEV) Some encouragement during your storm is found in knowing that God is SEEN even in storms. The problem is that like Peter, we tend to focus on the storm instead of the Savior who’s in the storm With Us! Matthew 14:30-32, “But when he saw [the effects of] the wind, he was frightened, and he began to sink, and he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus extended His hand and caught him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.” (AMP) The key is knowing that Jesus is in the storms of life WITH us, and close enough to us in the storm, like Peter, that all He had to do was reach out His hand and touch him. He's that close to us in the storms of our lives as well. So take heart beloved, because in the harshest of storms, the hand of God is still nigh. Those are the things we lose sight of in storms. We began to focus on the ‘effects of the wind’ instead of keeping our eyes on the One who created and controls All the Elements! When your in the storms of life, don’t look at the storm or its effects, look for God, He can always be seen in the storm!

“…He will USE whirlwinds and storms to show His power. People walk on the dusty ground, but He walks on the clouds.” (ERV) Don’t be afraid of the storms, God uses storms to show forth His power! The problem is that we focus on how powerless we feel in the storms of life instead of focusing on how powerful God is even in the midst of the storm! In fact, He’s using the storm you’re in right now for your good not your harm. That's why you have to always condition yourself to look for the lessons He’s showing you on how to trust Him even in strong storms where you feel most weak! 2 Corinthians 12:9, “but He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you [My lovingkindness and My mercy are more than enough—always available—regardless of the situation]; for [My] power is being perfected [and is completed and shows itself most effectively] in [your] weakness.” Therefore, I will all the more gladly boast in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ [may completely enfold me and] may dwell in me.” (AMP) God uses storms to showcase His power, and uses your weaknesses in the storms of life to do the same. Be encouraged in knowing that God is Using this storm on your behalf!

“…Raging winds and storms MARK HIS PATH, and clouds are the dust from His feet.” (GWT) When the winds and storms are raging in your life, don’t try to figure out which way to go, simply look for the Path of God. Follow His Footsteps and You’ll Exit the Storm Better Than You Entered it! Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him, and He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way].” (AMP) Don’t pace the floor in fear, walk by faith as you follow the path of God. If you just ask Him, He’ll show you the way to go! Psalm 37:23, “The steps of a [good and righteous] man are directed and established by the Lord, and He delights in his way [and blesses his path].” (AMP) In chaos, let God order your steps, and you will be sure to never stumble. Just ask Him to show you where He’s marked His path so you can follow it, instead of tripping over trouble trying to figure it all out on your own. Jeremiah 33:3, “This is God’s Message, the God who made earth, made it livable and lasting, known everywhere as God: ‘Call to Me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.’ (MSG)

“…He shows His power in the TERRORS of the cyclone and the raging storms; clouds are billowing dust beneath His feet!” (TLB) No matter how terrifying your storm is, know that God still shows His power in the terrors of the cyclone and the raging storms. When God is in the storm with you, you need not worry yourself, no matter how bad the storm is. Your Storm Will Never Be Bigger Than the Size of Your God! Remember, Your God is Omnipotent; Omnipresent; Omniscient; All-Powerful; All-Present and All-Knowing. What Storm Do You Know Can Top That?! Psalm 147:5, “Great is our [majestic and mighty] Lord and abundant in strength...” (AMP); “Great is our Lord and of great power…” (AMPC); “Our Lord is great and so strong…” (CEB); Our Lord is great and powerful…” (CEV); “Great is our Lord, and abundant in power…” (ESV); “Our Lord is great, and His power is great…” (GWT); “How great He is! His power is absolute!” (TLB); “Our Lord is great, with limitless strength…” (MSG) Now, with a God that Great, are you really going to let this temporary storm scare you?!

“…Tornadoes and hurricanes are the wake of His passage, Storm clouds are the dust He shakes off His feet…” (MSG); “…Where the Lord goes, there are whirlwinds and storms, and the clouds are the dust beneath His feet.” (NCV) I hope you’re starting to understand that when God is in the storm with you, you are in the safest place in all the world! And that means even in the midst of the tornado, hurricane, whirlwind and storm, He is always present, and you are always protected! After all, the Bible says, “Where the Lord goes, there are whirlwinds and storms…” If you’re in a storm, God is already there, so take heart!

Be Not Discouraged! The Lord Is Still In Control of Your Care and Course…Despite the Storm!

Believe It Or Not, As Bad As It Looks, His Ways Still Work…Even In the Storms of Life! And for an added bonus, God speaks in storms too!  “And now, finally, GOD answered Job from THE EYE OF A VIOLENT STORM…” (Job 38:1 MSG) Never feel as though storms have the power to cut off your communication from God. He sees you, He hears you, He speaks to you, He’s there with you! Even when the storm is Violent it can’t silence His Voice! So, make sure that while you’re in the storm, you keep your ears open, the Lord has a wonderful way of communicating calm even in the midst of chaos! Listen to the Bible: “Late that day he said to them, “Let’s go across to the other side.” They took him in the boat as he was. Other boats came along. A huge storm came up. Waves poured into the boat, threatening to sink it. And Jesus was in the stern, head on a pillow, sleeping! They roused him, saying, “Teacher, is it nothing to you that we’re going down?” Awake now, he told the wind to pipe down and said to the sea, “Quiet! Settle down!” The wind ran out of breath; the sea became smooth as glass. Jesus reprimanded the disciples: “Why are you such cowards? Don’t you have any faith at all?” They were in absolute awe, staggered. “Who is this, anyway?” they asked. “Wind and sea at his beck and call!” (Mark 4:35-41 MSG) Your storm is never designed to take you out! You just have to remember what happened BEFORE the storm took place: The Bible says, "…He said to them, “Let’s go across to the other side.” The best lifesaver in the storms of life is to always remember what “…HE SAID…”! He didn’t suggest to go, He said LET’S GO! When God is with you never let what’s around you distract you from the direction He’s already given you! If HE SAID let’s go across to the other side, it doesn’t matter what takes place along the journey, one way or another you will reach the other side! Remember: Your Storm is Keeping You On Course! Yes, Even With All of Its’ Chaos! Therefore, Never Allow the Sound of the Storm to Drown Out What God Has Already Said!

Your Storms Will NEVER Be Powerful Enough To Short-Circuit The Power Of The God You Serve! Remember: Even Jesus Himself had to face storms: “Right now I AM STORM-TOSSED. And what am I going to say? ‘Father, get me out of this’? No, this is why I came in the first place. I’ll say, ‘Father, put your glory on display.’” A voice came out of the sky: “I have glorified it, and I’ll glorify it again.” (John 12:27-28 MSG) Jesus Himself was “…STORM-TOSSED…” yet He determined to endure it because it would display the glory of the Father! And as bad as your storm is, and as violently as it’s tossing you to and fro, don’t give up, give out or give in! Stick it out! You will eventually arrive to your destination and there will be glory after this!

Yes, In the End You May Just Make It By On Broken Pieces, However, That Still Does Not Change the Unchangeable Fact and Truth, That You Still Made It!  

Jesus made it to the Crown, but not without the Cross, Enemies, Spit, Mockery, Piercing, Tomb, Grave, Nails, Pain, Suffering, Agony, Blood, Sweat etc…Yes, He made it, but it was a horrible journey. And yet He didn’t stop and take down the sails, He stayed the course, because there was too much Purpose and Promise on the other side of this. Likewise it is for you!

Paul Was Destined For Italy, and the Storm Would Not Be A Distraction, But a Driving Force to Ensure He Made It There! And Not Just Made It There, But Made It There With the Testimony of What He Had to Make It Through To Get There! And if it’s anyone who has a testimony of endurance, it’s certainly Paul! The Bible says, “I’ve worked much harder, been jailed more often, beaten up more times than I can count, and at death’s door time after time. I’ve been flogged five times with the Jews’ thirty-nine lashes, beaten by Roman rods three times, pummeled with rocks once. I’ve been shipwrecked three times, and immersed in the open sea for a night and a day. In hard traveling year in and year out, I’ve had to ford rivers, fend off robbers, struggle with friends, struggle with foes. I’ve been at risk in the city, at risk in the country, endangered by desert sun and sea storm, and betrayed by those I thought were my brothers. I’ve known drudgery and hard labor, many a long and lonely night without sleep, many a missed meal, blasted by the cold, naked to the weather. And that’s not the half of it, when you throw in the daily pressures and anxieties of all the churches. When someone gets to the end of his rope, I feel the desperation in my bones…” (2 Corinthians 11:23-29 MSG) Now, if Paul can survive THAT, you can survive THIS!

Listen: Your Storm Will Not Be a Straight Path To Your Destination! And After All, Who Wants to Hear the Boring Story of How You Left Here, and Simply Made It Straight There, With No Bumps, Bruises or Brokenness…Who Can Relate To That?!That’s Why Your Storm Is Adding Streets, Paths, Cliffs, Dead-Ends, U-Turns, Corners, Hills, Avenues, Back Alley’s, Valley’s and More to Your Story’s Journey! People Will Be Able to Relate to What You’ve Been Through, and then Further Be Encouraged to Know That They Can and Will Make It Through Just the Same!

You may feel like you’re either going nowhere right now or you’re on the verge of utter shipwreck disaster; maybe on the verge of being blown on the rocks even to crash and burn. But remember, the surprise in the storm is this: GOD STILL CONTROLS SEEMINGLY OUT-OF-CONTROL TIMES! He uses them to blow His children right where they were supposed to go all along! SO DON’T LET THE STORM DISCOURAGE YOU, DISTRACT YOU OR DISHEARTEN YOU! THE BOTTOM LINE IS: THE STORM IS KEEPING YOU ON COURSE! YOU WILL SURVIVE AND YOU WILL HAVE AN AWESOME STORY AND TESTIMONY TO TELL ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STORM!  

Blessings
J.P. Olson