Picture of Pastor Gettys

Sermon delivered July 19, 2008 by Pastor Don Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the New International Version NIV unless otherwise noted. Divine pronouns and titles are capitalized.

The Perfect Storm Tamer

Luke 8:22-29

(RealAudio Version available)

We’re continuing a series of sermons on the miracles of Jesus.  And this one is called The Perfect Storm Tamer.  Have you ever read the book The Perfect Storm?  Well, this is The Perfect Storm Tamer.

How many of you remember back on April 10, 1912, the great ship, the Titanic, went out on it’s first voyage?  You remember that?  Reading about it.  This British ship was almost 4 city blocks long.  It was 11 stories high.  It was the most magnificent ship in the world, and it was luxurious and beautiful beyond words.  It was unsinkable.  The captain said, “You know, I don't even think God could sink this ship if He wanted to.”  And they went out on the deep waters, the cold waters of the North Atlantic.  And they broke a world’s record.  The biggest ship ever to sink.  Another world’s record they broke was that this ship was on fire every hour of its active life of duty.  I have a box here labeled Titanic, and in here, Warren Oliver loaned this to me, is a chunk of coal that the little submarine went down 12 thousand feet and got this chunk of coal, and several chunks of coal that were unburned.  That fire burned for the entire trip until finally the ocean waters put the flames out.  Many passengers were so self-sufficient and proud that they didn't even bother to get life insurance.  They believed in the indestructibility of this ship so much.  Five iceberg warnings were given to this ship.  They were telegraphed and when the sixth message came over the radio, the operator telegraphed back, and said, “Be quiet.  I’m busy. Send me a message later,” because they were just in the process of figuring out that they were about to set another world’s record.  The fastest crossing of the ocean ever.

And there’s a text in Proverbs, chapter 16 and verse 18 says this.  "Pride goeth before destruction."  I think we need to listen to that.  Just about the time we begin to feel we’re indestructible, we’re headed for deep trouble, if you know what I mean.  And with an iceberg only a mile or two away, they knew nothing about it.  They were heading towards certain destruction.  Suddenly the man up high in the crow's nest spotted this mountain of ice ahead of them.  And he yelled down in that tube to the engine room, “Iceberg! Stop!”  They didn’t pay any attention to it.  He rang the bell.  The bell rang for three minutes and finally they answered the call and he said, “Iceberg dead ahead! Reverse the engines!”  But it was too late.  They hit that mountain of ice.  

11 millionaires went down that day.  Major Peuchen left 300 thousand dollars, which in that day was a lot of money and the money was even worth something in those days, compared to our dollar today, I think.  He left all that money in the safe in his room and grabbed three oranges.  Many people didn't even bother to get on the lifeboats because they said this ship is not going to go down.  It can’t go down.  The water was so cold, 32 degrees they estimated, that the brittle metal was so fragile that the ship actually cracked in half and there are two halves down there to 12 thousand foot level.  

I daresay there are several titanics here in our audience today.  Now you think, you know, I am indestructible.  I have enough money.  I'm well fixed.  I’m healthy.  I am unsinkable. 

I remember very well a member of this congregation went to Bi-Lo grocery store with her son and as they pulled out of Bi-Lo a car struck them, and she was killed.  You never know when an iceberg, whatever it will be, I don't know what it will be in your life.  Hopefully it will never happen, but let's not get the feeling that we are indestructible.  Is it possible, is it really possible to be unsinkable?  Yes or no?  I want to tell you today how you can be unsinkable, and you think, “What's he going to do?”  Well, listen. 

Has there ever been such a thing as an unsinkable ship?  Yes!  Noah’s ship would not sink, in the Bible.  That ship that Moses rode.  Remember that one?  About that big, in the bullrushes?  It wouldn't sink.

And there's another one in the Bible.  Come over here to Mark, the fourth chapter in your New Testament, and we want to do a little bit of study today about a wonderful miracle of Jesus Christ, and this opens with a picture of the preacher asleep in His pulpit.  Have you ever seen a preacher asleep.  It's bad when preachers sleep in the pulpit.  That's really bad.  Well Jesus was asleep in His own pulpit. 

Mark, chapter 4, verse 35 to 41 is our topic of study today.  Jesus was tired.  Did you know that preaching is exhausting?  When you put yourself into it, isn't it exhausting?  People shake my hand and then, ‘Your hand is cold.”  Well it's because all the energy is taken up, I’m presenting to you and my hands are cold if I have preached a good sermon.  Now you’re going to test me from now on, aren’t you?  “Your hands are hot today.  You didn't give it your best.”  I should never have said that.

Towards dark Jesus and His disciples got on the boat and they were going to cross to the other side.  They were going to go over to see the other side.  I don't know why we always want to go to the other side, but that's where they wanted to go. 

Now we have been on the Sea of Galilee.  In January of 1984, my wife and I went there.  We were walking along the west side of the Sea of Galilee, and I noticed all these government signs printed in three languages warning people about the danger of high waves and dangerous conditions that could instantly erupt.  And so we read them and we thought, well, it looks pretty calm today, so we got on the boat and went out there and enjoyed it.  Didn't have any problem at all.

But notice Mark, chapter 4, verse 37.  “And there arose a great storm of wind.”  The storm was a wind storm.  “And the waves beat into the ship so that it was now full,” the Bible says.  The ship was full of water.  Now when your boat is full of water, you're possibly in danger.  

Storms need fuel.  Do you know what ‘storm fuel’ is?  It is the temperature difference of air.  You can’t have a storm when everything is the same temperature, but when you have a huge cold front meeting with a huge warm front you have a problem.  That's why we don't live in Wichita.  We live in, well I'm not picking on Wichita.  I never should've said that.  You know, you can say bad things in the pulpit.  But anyway, we live here because storms are better here.   They’re bad, but they're not as bad, it seems like, and there was a heavy storm, and the Sea of Galilee…  As my wife and I were on this little boat we could see up toward Mount Hermon.  Now Mount Hermon is an elevation of 9 thousand 2 hundred and 32 feet high, above sea level.  The Sea of Galilee is below sea level.  In fact, it's down to the level of 6 hundred and 82 feet, so there's a difference there of 10 thousand feet, and the air channels down through these valleys, all the way down to the Sea of Galilee and comes out across, and you end up with waves.  The waves of the Sea of Galilee can reach as high as 30 to 40 feet on that little sea.  It’s 13 miles long and 8 miles across.  Imagine looking up at a wall of water 40 feet above your head.  Just imagine that.  That is a serious wave, and the mountain valleys act like big funnels and the wind comes across.  In fact, the spray can go 3 hundred yards onto the land across the lake.

Now the Greek word in Matthew, chapter 8, verse 24, is very vivid.  It says the storm was a ‘seismos’.  You know, we have seismometers.  We measure earthquakes.  That storm was so huge that it was like an earthquake.  It shook the lake.  It shook the boats, and in Mark, chapter 4, verse 37, the boat was in danger of swamping.  It was full of water, and you never know.  When you get your health checkup or your mammogram or, you never know what's going to happen.  You never know what the stock market's going to do.  You never know.  Somebody gave me an article, we need to start stockpiling food.  I'm going to read this article.  We’re in serious times.  You never know what is going to happen and so you need to do, to be ready.  

You need to trust Jesus, and they quickly realized that they needed to do something drastic, and I can just picture them bailing water and probably Peter bailed the most water because he was the most energetic, but eventually they realized that they could not help themselves.  They could not save themselves.  And when we come to the realization that we can’t save ourselves, we have actually arrived.  You know, even experienced Christians can't save themselves.  You realize that, don't you?  You can’t save yourself.  

Romans, chapter 3, verse 23 says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  All have sinned.  What case is that?  “Have sinned” is what?  Is it past, present, or future?  “All have sinned,” that’s in the past, and all “fall short.”  Is that past, present, or future?  That's present.  All have sinned in the past, and all fall short, now.  Today.

In fact, I was reading in a little book that I have here.  It’s called The Faith I Live By, and in this little book there’s an interesting quotation.  This quotation says this.  “We shall often have to bow down and weep at the feet of Jesus because of our shortcomings and mistakes.”  We shall often have to bow down at the feet of Jesus.  As Christians we make mistakes.  We have sinned in the past and we still sin and we can't save ourselves from that.  There is only one Savior and Who is that?  That's Jesus Christ.  He's our Savior.  All of our good works will never be enough.  Salvation by good works doesn't work. 

So in this crisis in the boat they actually had forgotten Jesus.  They had forgotten their Savior, and I imagine during a huge lightning strike it illuminated the boat and suddenly they saw Jesus.  Suddenly they remembered that Jesus was there.  Finally these struggling, exhausted, sopping wet sailors saw Jesus.  They remembered Him and they called on Him, and I think when disaster strikes the very first thing that you should do is turn to Jesus.  Number one.  That's what you need to do, and He has an unlimited supply of rescue. 

Now where was Jesus?  Well, He was on the boat.  Look at verse 38.  What was Jesus doing?  He was sleeping!  He was sleeping.  He was sleeping on a cushion, the Bible says.  Now I don't envision that this was a big, you know, like the cushions that we have in our television room.  It was a cushion, the cushion in most of the ships, in those days, were kept under the coxswains seat.  And that's where Jesus was.  Jesus was in the stern, which is the back of the boat.  And the stern; the stem is in the front.  There’s a, I’m a landlubber so I don't really, but I know where the stem and the stern are.  And one is the starboard and the other is the moonboard, or something like that.  I don't know much about it, but  the stern is in the back.  He was in the back of the boat, and He was sleeping. Imagine that.  During this tremendous storm, the Bible says that the boat was filling up with water and here's Jesus sleeping.  How could He be sleeping in a storm like that? 

The storm was severe, and I imagine the devil had something to do with the severity of that storm.  Satan has studied the secrets of the laboratories of nature and insofar as God permits, he controls those things.  The devil was after the early church.  You see, the entire church was in that boat.  All the disciples, and Jesus their leader.  They were all there.  He had them all.  They were all in the same boat.  Do you remember back in December of 2001, when we had an airplane crash over here across the street from our church and our conference president was killed, and our conference vice President.  There were five people killed in that air crash, right here across the street.  2004.  I got the right date.  You always say things that are wrong, but you're always corrected, so that's good.  2004.  It hurt our conference.  Imagine what the devil might have done, could he have destroyed that early church.  So here comes the devil, not like a snake in the forbidden tree, but like a sea serpent.  He’s going to paralyze the early church.  He’s going to kill it, and he comes, but Jesus, is there and fortunately Jesus takes charge. 

Now, I don't know how Jesus could be asleep in a storm like that.  The boat was filling up with water.  Let me ask you a question.  Which part of the boat fills up with water the first?  The front of the boat or the back of the boat?  Wouldn't the back of the boat fill up first?  Isn't that correct?  And where was Jesus sleeping?  In the back of the boat.  How could He do that?  I just don't understand that.  He had peace in His heart.  Jesus did.  He is the creator of the world, He doesn't worry about anything.  The storm revealed the Savior, and often times in our lives, it’s the storms that reveal the Savior.  There's a church down the street here from McDonald Road that has a sign out in front of it.  Did you read it on your way to church this morning?  It says something about the fact that it takes a crisis.  It takes a problem before we see the Savior.  The storm revealed the Savior.  The storm could not wake Jesus, but I want you to know that as soon as they cried out to Jesus, [snap] He woke up, just like that. Storms don't wake Him up, but you do when you pray.  You wake Him up.  Well, not that He’s asleep, but He diverts all of His attention to you.  

I think one lesson that I learned in reading this story is that never, ever battle the storms of life alone.  Always turn your problems over to Jesus.  Storms are beyond our ability to cope.  So don't keep struggling on and on without Jesus.  Come to Jesus early on, before the boat even gets full.  They had run out of human solutions, but they hadn’t run out of answers because Jesus was there.  He was there and what a great Savior He is.

Well they cried out.  In verse 38 they said, “Don't you care that we’re perishing?”  Does Jesus care when we’re suffering?  When you go bankrupt?  When you can’t sell your house?  I could ask you today, how many of you can't sell your house and a lot of hands would go up.  Does Jesus care about that?  Absolutely He does.  Have faith in Jesus.  Jesus often stays in the background until we really cry out.  Mark 4, verse 39, “Immediately Jesus got up and He said, ‘Peace, be still.’”  The Greek word here is ‘be muzzled’.  ‘Be muzzled’.  Jesus is in charge of the waves and the water.  They obey Him.  Just like they're alive.  In fact, the word in Mark 1:25, ‘be quiet’, is the same word that He used in both instances.  When He was casting the devil out of somebody, He used the same word.  Interesting.  Jesus knew the demons were out to get Him, I think, and the wind and the waves obeyed.  Now there’s 2 miracles here.  I've seen wind stop blowing, but then the waves, it takes away the while for them to calm down.  I think there was, the wind stopped and instantly the water was placid.  The Sea of Galilee was just as smooth as your top of your table.  They probably had to row all the way to the other shore.  I don't know.  It only took two words, ‘be still’.  Jesus is the superman of the world, right?  He's the creator, and He concludes here in verse 40 of Mark, chapter 4, and He said to His disciples, “Why are you afraid?  Do you still have no faith?  Where’s your faith?” 

Where is your faith?  As you look at your 401(k)s and you see everything going, which direction is it going?  It’s going down.  Where’s your faith?  Hang on, hang on.  Trust.  We have so little faith in Jesus.  Never trust the Titanic.  Trust your titanic Savior, but not your titanic boat.  And switching from cigarettes to wine coolers, and I could give numerous illustrations like that, is like switching seats on the Titanic.  You’re going to go down either way. 

In verse 41, the disciples concluded, Jesus was on the boat, they were terrified.  They asked each other, “Who is this?”  They knew Him as a person from Bethlehem,  they knew Him as a person from Nazareth, but Who is this?  Well, He was the creator of the world.  God Himself was on board. 

There was a train that was going through the darkness, through the night, and they encountered a bad storm, and the rain and hail started beating on these coaches, and the wind was buffeting the train, and the people could feel the coaches moving in this terrible wind and the rain was coming down, and they could see in the lightning strikes that the water was up to almost the level of the tracks and people were beginning to pray.  Their faces were white.  They were clutching onto the edges, and they noticed one little girl on board, who was just sitting there smiling and happy and at peace.  Somebody said, “How can you do that?  We might lose our lives,” and she said, “Well, my daddy is the engineer, and he's not going to risk our life.  We’re going to be just fine.  He's driving the locomotive.”  You know, you need to put Jesus in charge of your life. 

I was going down the freeway and I saw a bumper sticker.  I don't have any bumper stickers on my bumper.  But I saw one on somebody's bumper and it said ‘God is my co-pilot’.  You know, I pity people like that.  ‘God is my co-pilot’.  That's bad.  You don't want God as your copilot.  You know, they better switch seats.  You better put God in front of the steering wheel, and you sit over there. 

I went up in my brother-in-law, John Kershner's airplane last week, a little homemade, experimental aircraft.  I don't know how to fly.  I said, “You feeling good today, John?”  “Yeah, feeling good.”  “Okay, let’s go”, because my life is in his hands, you know.  I don't know how to land it.  Well I know how to get down, probably.  If you push on the wheel, you’ll go down.  If you pull clear back, you’ll probably end up going down.  Whatever I would do, I would go down, but it might not be a good landing.  I want God as my pilot.  I don't want to be the pilot of my life.  I want God to be in charge of me.  I want Him to be the captain of my ship, and He'll see the icebergs years in advance, and He'll route me around, and I may be fearful at times, but if I just look to Him, I'm going to make it.  I'm going to be there. 

Let me tell you how you can be unsinkable.  That little boat hit a giant iceberg of the devil's wrath and all the forces of darkness were there.  The disciples were on board.  Jesus was on board.  The demons were intent on killing the early church, but the ship was unsinkable.  Do you know why?  Because no ship can ever sink if Jesus is in it.  Amen?  No ship can ever sink if Jesus is in it, and you can't sink if Jesus is in your heart.  And here is the grand secret of how you can be unsinkable.  How you can have faith that will carry you through the most stormy challenges of your life.  If Jesus is in the midst of your heart you will be safe from stem to stern.  You'll make it.

Hymn of Praise:  #3 God Himself is With Us
Scripture: Luke 8:22-29
Hymn of Response:  Master, The Tempest is Raging

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McDonald Road Sermon transcribed by Steve Foster 8/6/08