Facing storms with Jesus

Ntokozo Nhlabathi

This morning I spoke to a believer with whom I work. During this time where the young people are no longer able to come for help due to COVID-19, she had been tasked to phone the parents of the young people who have been through the CYPSA program. There was so much that was encouraging and uplifting and there was also sad news. Some who had received the grace of God have pushed that hand of grace aside and returned to their old ways. Some have been taken by death in this state. Yet many have received God’s grace and their lives have been transformed. They took hold of the hand of grace and they have not let go of it. How terrible if, when God stretches out His hand, offering help and grace, we push it aside. We may not be in a physical grave but spiritually we are dead because we have pushed God’s hand of grace aside.

One parent who was phoned related about her son who came to the mission in 2017 in a desperate state. God helped him and had mercy on him. He returned home and made his life right with his parents, neighbours and the rest of the community. He paid back where he had stolen. He attended church with his parents, apologised to the congregation and shared what God had done. People were astounded. Old believers were amazed at the Gospel that causes such a change in a person. This young man was on fire for God and would not allow the slightest thing to separate him from God. If there was anything, he would quickly deal with it. People were amazed at the transformation in his life. It seemed to the parent as if this young man could see the prize before him. In 2019 he became ill and after a brief illness, the Lord took him. This parent was so grateful that her son died a wonderful death because he had been washed and cleansed and there was nothing between him and God.

This made me reflect on where we have come from. Last Sunday we celebrated the 25th anniversary of Radio Khwezi, one of the ministries of this work. Rev Stegen said that it was not easy at the start due to the opposition he experienced. When CYPSA started there was also much opposition, but God has blessed the work and there is wonderful lasting fruit. Rev Stegen, in obedience to God, opened the way for these people who were rejected by society to hear God’s word so that they could be restored and returned to their families. The opposition Rev Stegen faced is indescribable. Some people left the work saying that this place had become a den of robbers, but Rev Stegen stood firm in the vision that God had given him. Today we see the fruit of this. There are so many changed lives. I have received wedding invitations from young men who have come to the Lord and God has given them a wife, but due to COVID-19 there are many invitations that one cannot accept. It is amazing when one looks at the fruit of the Gospel.

This morning on Radio Khwezi, the listeners spoke about how people hear God’s voice one day but the next day not. If you do not hear God’s voice, it is like a water pipe that is blocked. The water should flow but there is a blockage. Remove that blockage and the water will flow once again.

Day after day we see God’s miraculous working here at the mission. We see the mercies, the grace and the working of God daily. I say this because I still have a clear vision. I can see. I can see God working, but the day my vision gets clouded and I no longer see clearly anymore then I will be the one who will stand on the mountain and shout out that God no longer works. When one looks back at what God has accomplished through this Gospel one is amazed. My prayer is that God will help me, because my heart is grieved when I think that many of the challenges we have faced, are not brought about by those who never knew God but because of those who once knew Him and then left the way. May we be people who are dedicated to what God has called us for. May we not be people who are known to be believers but who have been overtaken by these outcasts of society, those who knew nothing of God, who were far away.

When God’s hand of grace is stretched out to you, do not push it aside. In the Bible there is a man who lay beside a pool for 38 years. Others got into the pool when it was stirred, they were healed and returned home. But for 38 years this man lay beside the pool. After so many years Jesus came by and asked him, “Do you want to be made well?” My reply would have been, “Yes, Lord.” But this man answered differently: “Lord, when I tried to get into the pool someone else gets in there before me.” The Lord did not ask him why he was not well, He simply asked whether he wanted to be made well. 38 years passed by, one after the other, and this man was not healed. How many years ago did God call you to preach the Gospel? He called you out of your family to serve Him and be a child of God. This man lay unhealed for 38 years. Maybe you were saved many years ago but there is a spiritual disease that you have had for all these years and you have not been healed. You might be doing amazing things but there is a disease from which you have not been cured. That disease could be racism. There is no deep unity between you and your brother of a different race and after so many years you forsake the gospel because of the deep-rooted racism within you. I have discovered that whenever rebellions took place - where people rose in opposition to either a government, a political party, a church or a movement, it is always instigated by people who were on the inside. They were the people who did the most damage. They opposed their own people.

35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” Mark 4:35 – 41

Friends, when I read this word it stirred my heart. 35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” The Bible says that they sent the crowd away. There are many who are unable to make progress in their spiritual lives because of the crowd. There are many who lose their peace with God because of the crowd. Many today are wallowing in mud because they can not leave the crowd. Some have a mountain of sin which they have got involved in because of the crowd. People speak badly about others because of the crowd.

On that day there were also other boats with Jesus’ boat. As they crossed the lake, the Bible says a great windstorm arose and they were very afraid. They thought they were going to drown but then they remembered, “The Teacher is there at the back - asleep.” I do not know what made Jesus lie down in the stern, He might have found Himself on the back seat because others were on the front seat wanting to see what was going on. But when the storm arose, even though He was out of sight and out of mind at the back, they were reminded of Him. He was the one who could help them in the situation.

Allow me to use this illustration. The boat is the church. Storms will rise and the waves will swamp the boat which is the church. The storm can buffet the church or target one individual. Is Jesus in that boat - which is the church that the Lord Jesus will fetch as His bride? Is Jesus in your boat? Is He in my boat? As we sail on the sea of this world with all its challenges, is He in our boats? There were other boats that He was not in. Storms will come. This will happen. When you are on that lake, that sea, the waves and wind will come but is Jesus in your boat? When the boat is close to the shore, the waves lap gently against the boat and it will seem as if there are no problems, but when the boat goes into the deep, the waves and challenges will come and then will Jesus be in your boat? When the disciples realised that they were up against a storm without any solution, they went to the Lord Jesus.

Child of God, you would not be where you are today if Jesus had been in your boat. With so many factions and divisions in the church, it is clear that you were not in the boat with the Lord Jesus, otherwise you would have been united, but the fact that you have splintered off shows that Jesus was not there. If the storm comes and Jesus is in your boat, that storm will not shake you because you know that Jesus is with you. Those who do not have this assurance will go to people on the outside when the storm arises, those who do not know a thing about what is happening in the boat, and ask them for help.

Do you think it will help if when you have left the harbour and a storm arises, you then phone those at the harbour to ask what you should do? You do not ask the captain of the ship who is in the boat with you. It is a fatal mistake if you do not communicate with the captain who is with you, but you go to those who are on the outside and ask for help. Brethren when we meet with storms who do we go to for advice? Do we go to those in the boat with us who know what buttons to press?

If you have a child at home whom you have rebuked and that child goes and complains to the neighbours, that child is an evil child. The child may run to the mother for comfort when the father has disciplined it. That child is a bad child. When there is a storm, there are those who go to other passengers who are frozen with fear and who think they will drown and ask them for help instead of going to the captain or to those who are strong and courageous, those who say that they will ride out this storm. You do not wake the captain from His sleep and ask Him what should be done. Some jump ship because they say the ship is going to sink. Who do you go to for advice and help? You leave the One who is the solution, the who can solve everything in the stern of the boat and go to other people who make matters even worse. These disciples grasped the mystery. When the knees of these seasoned fishermen shook with fear, they realised they needed to call on His name. When He awoke, He did not tremble. He realised this storm needed to be silenced. Brethren, you need to do the same. Wake Jesus up. Raise Him. Go to Him. But you will not be able to do that unless you have checked that Jesus is with you in the boat. We need to ensure that Jesus is there so that when storms arise in our families, we know we can call on Him to silence the storms. This will protect us from confusion or going off our minds when we experience storms. This will protect us from doing strange things such as writing on the internet – such things will never solve the problem; they will never silence the storm. If I know that Jesus is with me, I can come to Him when there is a storm and say, “Lord, this storm has arisen now in this calling I have had from You, what should I do?” When that happens, you do not need to go to the internet or to other people, there is a Person you should go to.

Storms will come, they are unavoidable, but is Jesus in our boat? When you know that Jesus is there, you know to whom you can go. You will not have to go to outside people, to the world, where they laugh and say, “These people do not even know where to go when they have a situation!” They may applaud you and say that you are so brave because you are prepared to dive into the waves and swim away from the boat but deep down they say, “What a fool, he did not go to the One who could silence the storm!”

Some do not tell the crowd to go away, they ask them to stay. They leave the crowd on the shore and set off to the other side but in their hearts, they say, “If I fail, I can always come back here.” Therefore, it is easy for some to return to immorality and drugs or whatever it may be when the going gets tough. If you leave the crowd there, they will rise again and form a wall between you and God. If you have not dealt with the crowd and sent every one of them away, when the storm arises, they will cloud your vision and instead of going to Jesus you will go to the crowd. That crowd can represent the pride in your life. If you have not dealt with this crowd, it will rise when the storm comes and you will find refuge somewhere else, not in Jesus. If the love of money has not been dealt with in your life, when that storm arises, instead of going to Jesus you will return to your money. If there is bitterness, grudges and jealousy when that storm arises, instead of going to Jesus, the other things will rise up. May God grant us the mercy and grace to deal with the crowd, to send it away so that when that storm comes, we will know that we have one refuge to whom we should turn - the Lord Jesus.

This helped the disciples. They left the crowd. They sent them away and they were left alone with Jesus in the boat. When the storm arose, they knew that the Lord was there. They could awaken Him. If we get into the boat with some of the crowd, my friend whom I want in the boat with me, when the storm arises, I will turn to my friend – this member of the crowd whom I took into my boat.

Tell me, dear friend, is your life perhaps in the state it is in today because of some of the crowd whom you have taken with you into the boat and when the storms arose you did not turn to Jesus, you turned to them. When the storm arises, you speak as the crowd; you even take the lead and say things like, “This boat was not built properly. If it had been, we would not have this problem with the storm.” You speak in this manner instead of going to the One who can silence the storm. Make sure when you get onto that boat that Jesus is with you and that He alone is with you - not the crowd; so that when the storm arises you look neither left nor right because you know where you should go.

We are a congregation. We are all members of one body, but if anyone takes the place of the Captain, and I rather go to them than to Jesus then my boat will sink. Many rely on other people to help them rather than the Captain of the boat, the Lord Jesus. When people experience financial storms, they go to others for refuge, others who can provide for them from their overflowing resources instead of to the One who can silence the storm - the Lord Jesus. He can even silence a financial storm.

A certain young man who was about my age, one day started losing the way and his clear vision was clouded. He said, “When things are like this everyone must take care of themselves. Others have nice cars; a big house and I now have a wife and children whom I must care for.” What did Jesus say? If He called you in the first place, did He say you must look at their cars and houses? Didn’t He say look to Me and I will care for you? This young man said that he felt he should now leave and preach the gospel in his home area. Is that what God said to Him in the first place? It is true that we are not all called to the mission, people do have different callings, but what was God’s calling to you in the first place? Are you deviating from that? When you got into the boat, what did the Lord say to you? When the storms arise who do you call upon? “Brother,” he went on, “you don’t understand - how can a person live without a salary? Even the Bible says that a man must live from the sweat of his brow.” We are very good at quoting the Bible when it suits us, but when the Lord Jesus called you He said, “Look at Me.” We thank God for the Gospel.

39And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

When He awoke, He rebuked the storm and it was still. Let us call on the Lord Jesus in the storm and He will quieten it. He is the Master whom even the wind and waves obey. He is the One who can control everything. He can command it and it obeys Him. It will not help you to run around on the internet and at the end of the day you have to say I was not completely truthful, I exaggerated here and there. Come to Him who can silence the storm. Yes, you almost got it right when you speak about everything but you are just next to the way, because you should speak to the right person. If you have a question or there is something that you do not understand, if you are confused, go to the right person, to a child of God who is anointed by God, and seek answers where you will receive help, not on the internet where you are just trying to soothe your conscience. It will not help you there.

The Lord rebuked the wind and the sea, and it was quiet. It was so still and calm that the disciples were afraid and said, “Who is this?” People will be amazed when God works, when you call on Him and He silences the storm in your life. When you go to your neighbours and apologise to them about something you had against them or where you offended them. When that storm is silenced, people will stand amazed as they were when they saw the life of that young man, I told you about in the beginning.

Conclusion Michael Ngubane

We thank the Lord for His living word. It is wonderful to serve the Lord Jesus. He is not from this world but from heaven. He was sent by God to do His work. Part of His work was to silence these storms. Unbelievers were amazed. Believers were strengthened in their faith through His work. Not only those who were with the Lord Jesus in the boat benefitted but also those in the other boats. Jesus is amazing, the disciples panicked but the Lord Jesus would have nothing of that. If He had been affected by their emotions and fears, He would also have landed in the sea; but no, He is the Son of God. If He had become fearful and anxious nobody would have been helped.

We have heard the secret. Was it that they were in the correct boat? No, Jesus was in that boat. We thank God when we see the presence of God, when we see God at work. Leave the noise of the crowd. Leave their screaming, shouting and turmoil. Let us have that peace, with the knowledge that Jesus is in the boat and that He is at work. How wonderful that we know Him, the Almighty, so that whatever the onslaught may be; however fierce the storm may be; however many fiery arrows and darts there may be; finally, He will overcome, rule over it all and silence the storm. All we need is to make sure that Jesus is with us. Then we can go to bed and wake up in peace because Jesus is with us and we know that He will accomplish this for us.

We thank the Lord that we may know Him and believe on Him. We thank the Lord that He has the Gospel and the words of life. Where else can we go, for He has the words of life?