- What do you fear most?
- What ways are you currently dealing with anxiety, fear and uncertainty?
- Who are you connecting with regularly that is helping point you back to the truth?
Good morning and welcome to Hope City Church Online! I’m so glad that you’re here today. Hope City Church is a non-denominational church located here in Sarasota FL, and actually, because we’re here at church online, let’s check in and see where everyone is from. Let us know in the chat box just to the right of the screen where you’re coming from.
COVID 19 can keep us from gathering, but it can’t keep us from engaging.
Speaking of COVID 19…. Can we have an honest moment here. Is there anyone else out there that wishes they would have labeled it with a smaller number at the end? Like COVID 5? Or Maybe even COVID -5? I mean… I feel like I’m packing on the COVID 19 this week.
SNACKING. My daughters are making cookies. And I’m not going to hurt their feelings by not eating their cookies, right? What kind of dad would that make me.
SO, let’s all have an honest moment here. What’s your go to COVID 19 snack? You’re headed to the pantry, what’s your snack your grabbing? Comment over in the chat, or maybe you don’t have a specific snack… but would you go for SALTY or SWEET?
I know that I’m joking about my COVID snacking, but this virus is not a joke. We know that… We are watching our world change day by day. I wake up every morning and ask myself, what’s happened last night while I slept? What’s the update for today? There are so many unknowns about this… so many new things that we’ve had to learn and think through.
Like the phrase SOCIAL DISTANCING. This feels so strange, and yet right now we are being asked to help flatten the curve and slow the spread of this virus by keeping our distance, and not meeting in large group gatherings.
I wonder, what has been the hardest thing for you this past week? What has been hard for you these days? What have you found yourself wondering about. How would you answer that question? If you’re with your family, take a few minutes and discuss that sometime today. Or answer that in the chat right now. What’s been hard?
We have Church Online Hosts here available that would love to pray with you, love to encourage you today.
We may be facing an overwhelming situation. This is unlike anything else that I’ve seen in my life, but the good news is that, we aren’t the first people to experience emotions like fear, anxiety and worry.
“COVID-19”… “Coronavirus”… “Flatten the Curve”… “Social Distancing”… These words have changed our lives and they are shaping our current reality. Physical symptoms are not the only thing that is spread by COVID-19. Fear, anxiety, worry and concern are just as contagious. Together we are going to discover that there is another set of words that can heal our lives—Take Heart. John 16:33
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
These two words were spoken by Jesus 2,000 years ago and yet they couldn’t be more relevant to us today. This is why we are starting a brand new series called, TAKE HEART. I want to walk through this time together and encourage you from God’s unchanging word.
We are facing a lot of fear right now. A lot of unanswered questions, but together we’re going to take heart.
We’re going to see that we aren’t the first people to ever go through a chaos like this! In fact, we actually have a first-hand account of some chaos that Jesus’ best friends, his disciples endured with one another. Let’s look together at Mark 4 starting in verse 35. Go ahead and turn over to Mark 4 in your Bibles today. Or you can click the Bible Tab here above the chat box, and click to Mark 4. We’re starting in verse 35.
35That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.”36Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Mark 4:35-37
Jesus and His disciples, a group of men who followed Jesus and learned from Jesus were in a boat on the Sea of Galilee. And a storm came up. The winds blew, and the rain fell, and the waves began to grow in strength and size. To those of us here in FL, we’re familiar with storms like this. A thunderstorm can develop quickly for us. And Chaos can show up in your life in a matter of moments, right? You can come home and find out news you never expected. You click open to FB and read things you couldn’t imagine.
This storm was scary, and it was chaotic. They left a crowd of people and got in a boat, just the way they were. They went to work that day, went about their business and all of a sudden through no fault of their own, they were in the midst of the storm, just as they were. This is an important reminder for us, PT 1 NO ONE IS EXEMPT FROM THE STORM! It doesn’t have to be a hurricane to bring damaging winds in your life.
Some of you have been through storms before and they may not have been weather events. There are financial storms. I’ve got a friend who went through Bankruptcy and has shared with me the struggle of getting back on their feet as a family. There are relational storms. I’ve got another friend who has watched as divorce has ripped their family apart. Years later, and the effects of that divorce are still right there on the surface.
There are Spiritual Storms. And I have talked with friends of mine who have said to me, Peter I like you, but I don’t really like the church. The church has let me down, and I’ve been burned by the church in the past. I’ve given up on God, because it feels like He gave up on me.
Then there are PERSONAL STORMS. This can look like illness and sickness. Viruses, and Disease.
No one is exempt from the storms. And they can leave you trying to figure out what to do next! As we think about COVID 19, the Coronavirus, we are all being impacted by this.
I don’t want anyone to miss this… God is not punishing you because of something you have done. God doesn’t use storms to PAY YOU BACK… Look at who is in the boat… it’s not just a bunch of men… it’s JESUS TOO! It’s the son of God. He’s in the boat. He’s in the slop of the storm. He’s searching for Toilet Paper just like the rest of us. Right? Just kidding. GOD NEVER USES A STORM TO PAY YOU BACK, BUT STORMS DO HAVE A TENDANCY TO BRING YOU BACK.
I’m not surprised if some of you have found yourself spending a little more time in prayer this week. Maybe a little more time reading your Bible. No one is exempt from the storm.
The storm the disciples were in continued… Look back with me at what happened.
38Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” Mark 4:38
The disciples are on the boat panicking and in fear they go wake Jesus up. Feeling all alone, they run to Jesus and shake him. GET UP! Their question is critical for us today. Jesus, don’t you care? Why are you sleeping? How could you sleep right now?
How many of you have asked that question before? “God, don’t you care? God I don’t know what to do… Don’t you care? What are you doing?” Maybe you were even tempted to ask that question this past week. We look around and we see what is happening aroud the world. We look around and we see what’s going on in our nation, and then in our own state. STUDENTS ARE LIKE… I DON’T GET TO GO BACK TO SCHOOL TILL WHEN? No kid has ever wanted to go back to school more than a kid that’s on the Social Distancing plan. HAHAHA! They’re even saying, GOD don’t you care? Did you fall asleep at the wheel?
It was quite the opposite. Jesus sleeping wasn’t a sign that he didn’t care, It was a sign of His confidence that nothing was more powerful than Him which would disturb his sleep.
Jesus has an answer for that question… It comes from Matt 6:26, Jesus is talking to people who were worried about what COULD happen in the future. And Jesus says these words.
26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Matthew 6:26
Next time you wonder if God cares about you, think about the birds. They don’t prepare, they don’t stockpile. Think about how God takes care of them.
Right now, we are meeting everyday as a family, and asking two questions of each other: How can we pray for you today, and What are you grateful for today. When we focus our hearts on WORSHIP, we can’t help but overcome WORRY. When we focus our hearts on PRAISE we can’t help but overcome PANIC.
Jesus answers their question with action.
39He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!”Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
40He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
Jesus answers their question with a question of his own. Why are you so afraid? Where is your faith? Jesus points out something for those of us who are in the midst of the storm, wondering what to do, and that is that Pt. 2 FAITH OVERCOMES FEAR. Fear sneaks in and tries to tell you that the problem is bigger than it is.
Fear wonders about the What if. Faith believes in the Who Is. Fear worries about uncertainties, while Faith focus on Absolutes. Fear says, what if the storm comes. Faith says, I know who Controls the storm. Fear and faith stand in tension with one another.
Everyone on the boat was experiencing the very same storm. They felt the same rain. They heard the same wind. However, they experienced it in two very different ways. Why do you think that Jesus was capable of sleeping through the storm? It’s not because he took an Ambien before their voyage.
It was because He had full confidence, or faith in the fact that the storm would not overpower them. The winds could blow, the water could come over the side rails, and yet, Jesus was confident that it wouldn’t overcome them.
Let me ask you, what are you confident in?
As we face this virus as a nation, or even as a church, or even as a family… you have to wonder, am I making the right decision. What’s going to happen. What will tomorrow bring? And guess what, we don’t know.
What are you confident in?
While you think about that, let me show you the disciples response.
41They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” Mark 4:39-41
The disciples have witnessed Jesus calming the storm and they are left with one question: WHO IS THIS? Who is Jesus? The sea obeys him and the wind obeys his voice. They must answer this important question. Who is Jesus? Is Jesus simply just a son of God, or is He one with God? Is Jesus just a good man?
This leaves us with the final take away from this story, and that is that in the midst of Crisis, when you don’t know what to do, we need to PT. 3 CALL ON CHRIST.
What did the disciples do? They woke Jesus, they shouted out. They called on Christ in their crisis.
Sometimes God will calms the storms around you—and sometimes He calms the storm in you.
But know this: Every crisis reveals how deep our faith in Christ really is.
It exposes the gaps in our faith. What we’re really trusting in for our salvation.
What is your faith in?
Have you put your FULL FAITH in Jesus Christ as your Lord & Savior?
Or are you just “onboard” for the ride? You like Jesus. You like coming to church, but you haven’t fully put your faith in Jesus yet.
We can call on Christ by doing exactly what the disciples did… By bringing your concerns to Him. It doesn’t require a ritual, or a routine, it requires authenticity and honesty. Don’t worry, God can handle your honest fear and anxiety. There is nothing that you can say that will shock God. Call on Christ!
So TAKE HEART. There is nothing that can overcome God. You have a strong father who will stick close to you no matter what.
Jesus calms the storm in this story, but has Jesus calmed the storm in you? Jesus’ closest friends watched as nature responded to His words. Today Jesus may be speaking to you. He may be calling out to you and inviting you to listen to His words. To hear him say, Peace, Be Still! It doesn’t have to be a physical storm in your life, but what could Jesus calm in your life today? What kind of peace could you experience if you would quit trying to do it all on your own and trust in God!
So let me ask you? Where is your faith? Where have you placed your faith? Is it in your own abilities? Is your faith in your intelligence, your position or your power?
What if you were today to decide to move your confidence from your own strength, and your own energy to something far more reliable than that. Someone far stronger than you. Imagine the peace you could experience when you place your faith in Jesus Christ!
This doesn’t mean that the storm won’t happen, it just means you know the one who controls the storm. You are confident in the one who can bring you through the storm.
If you’ve never placed your faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and savior I want to give you that opportunity today. I want to give you an opportunity to respond to the question that the disciples asked, “Who is this man?” The Bible tells us time and time again that when we don’t know what to do, we should turn to Jesus. And this morning, some of you just don’t know what to do. Would you Look to Jesus?
It’s as simple as saying, Jesus I don’t know what to do. I’ve lived my life on my own and for my own. I need you. I believe that you died on the cross for my sin. I want to live my life with you at the center.
Maybe there was a point in time where your confidence and your faith in God has slipped. And today you are finding that it’s not where you want it to be. There is no shame or guilt in that. It may just be a matter of fact. Would you be willing to renew your faith in Jesus today?
Many of you have been saying, myself included. I can’t wait for things to go back to NORMAL. What if the new normal was us going to Jesus with our every thought, every concern, every prayer. What if our new normal was meeting our neighbors needs and being closer in community. What if our new normal was a faith that depended on God alone.
The Bible tells us that everyone of us has a need, we’ve all sinned, or done things that go against what God says, and when we sinned we separated ourselves from God. But God
Had a different plan. He made a way for us not to stay stuck and that is because of JESUS. Right now, across Church online, wherever you are. If you would like to place your faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I want to invite you to do that right now. You can make a decision right now that has the ability to change the rest of your life. If that’s you and right now you’re saying I’m done with FEAR, I choose FAITH… then I want to invite you to pray in the quietness of your own space, and your heart, DEAR GOD, I know that I’ve sinned, FORGIVE ME. I am asking you to lead my life now. I TRUST YOU. I commit my life to you. IN JESUS NAME AMEN!
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In the moments when we don’t know what to do, the greatest thing we can do is confidently go to the one who calms seas and brings chaos to order.