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Sermon Geoff 02022020



In 2007 my stepmother went on a cruise to Vanuatu aboard the PO Pacific Star. The captain was warned about a tropical storm heading into the path of the ship but he took a risk and went ahead anyway. The storm struck the ship damaging the bow, injuring passengers and causing heaps of people on board to becoming ill from the ordeal. Mt stepmother said it was a holiday from hell. She was thrown about in her cabin and freaked out when she saw seawater coming in under the door. P&O refunded the passengers and flew them home also giving them a voucher for a free cruise.

All of us have all been in a storm at some stage and this morning we are going to look at 4 storms in the Bible, what caused them and the people who were involved.


JONAH 1:1-16

God commanded Jonah to go and tell the people of Nineveh that He was about to punish them because of their evil ways. But Jonah did not want to obey the Lord, so instead of going to Nineveh, he boarded a ship that was heading in the opposite direction. He decided to rebel and run away from what he knew God was telling him to do.

But Jonah couldn’t run away from God and when the ship was out at sea things started to go wrong for Jonah. God sent a great storm that was so fierce it threatened to sink the boat.

At first, Jonah ignored what was happening but the situation became so bad the sailors had no choice but to throw him overboard.

The storm did not subside until Jonah admitted that he was the cause of the problems; that storm had come about because Jonah disobeyed God.

God brought this storm upon Jonah because he refused to do what God told him to do.

When we continue to ignore God, His Word and the voice of His Spirit, often the only way He can get our attention is to allow a storm to come upon us. He will use the circumstances and people around us. And in many cases, it will involve painful experiences.

C S Lewis “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world”

For some, the storm may come in the form of a tragedy involving people who are close to us, or the loss of financial or material security, or job or accident.

I remember Tama Stirling telling us that he was running away from God until one day he found himself in hospital flat on his back and only then did he turn back to God.

God does not allow these things to happen because He is cruel and vindictive. His purpose is to wake us up to what we are doing and bring us to repentance. It is a loving act of One who is seeking to save us from something far far worse. To save us from the destructive damning consequences of our disobedience.

In the Middle East if a lamb keeps wandering away from the flock t is quite common for the shepherd to break its leg so it can’t wander away and by the time the leg has healed the sheep has learned to stay close to the shepherd.

It may be this morning that you are heading into a storm. It may be that you are in the middle of a storm. You may need to ask yourself:

  • Am I running away from God?
  • Am I am disobeying Him in some area of my life?
  • Has God been telling me to do something, to deal with something, to put something right and yet I have been resisting it?
  • Have other things become more important to me than the Lord and His concerns?
  • Have I been so caught up in chasing after my own selfish, ambitious desires and everything seems to be going wrong for me?


I have seen so many people over the years go from one disaster to another, getting deeper and deeper in the bog because they stubbornly refuse to obey the Lord. And they just can’t see that their life is in such a mess because they turned away from God.

I want you to notice something else here. When Jonah disobeyed God he literally dragged the sailors down with him. You can’t knowingly do wrong and go against God without it affecting others.

How did Jonah come through?  He –

  1. Recognised what is causing the storm. Jonah 1:12
  2. Repented of his rebellion and disobedience.
  3. Returned to God. Jonah 2.
  4. Renewed his commitment to Him. Jonah 2:9
  5. Recommenced where he stopped obeying. Got back to the point where he moved out of God’s will. Jonah 3.

God can still use you.


MATTHEW 8:23-27

Here Jesus and His disciples were in a boat together on the Sea of Galilee and suddenly a storm arose and the boat was nearly swamped.

What was the cause of this storm?

I believe it was a spiritual attack and I will tell you why.  Because when Jesus calmed the storm, He dealt with it the very same way He dealt with demons and satanic forces.

Why did Satan try to drown them? Because Jesus was on His way to deliver a man who was possessed by 1000 demons. Once the man was delivered he would then go to the 10 cities in that area and share what Jesus had done. No wonder Satan tried to stop them from getting there.

Some of the storms, problems and troubles that come upon us are caused by Satan because we are seeking to do God‘s will. 

NB – Paul and Barnabas at Derbe.

Every time you decide to get closer to God, obey Him, spend more time in prayer or reading the Bible or sharing your faith, Satan will try and discourage you. He will even use storms to hold you back.

He will often use the people who are closest to you without them realising it. He did that with Peter. Remember when Peter tried to stop Jesus from going to cross and Jesus immediately recognised who was working through Peter and He said, “Get behind me Satan.”

Sometimes on a Sunday morning when you fully intend to come to church a storm will break out. I have had people tell me that many times on a Sunday morning while they are getting ready for church they find themselves arguing or things start going wrong. And they end up not coming. It’s strange how it only happens on Sunday morning.

How did the disciples deal with the storm? They went to Jesus and woke Him up. He told them that they didn’t have to be afraid because He was with them. Then He rebuked the wind and the waves and the storm ceased.

If Satan is causing the storm:

  1. Turn to Jesus, keep focused on Jesus. Remember that greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world. Jesus needed to remind the disciples of that fact.

He was with them in the storm and that was enough to drive away all fear. Satan cannot sink you while you are trusting in and looking to Jesus.

  1. Stand against and resist the devil in the strength of the Lord. Jesus has given us the authority to stand against Satan and prevail. Luke 10:19 “Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy.” We are told in James 4:7 “to submit to God, resist the devil and he will flee.”


One thing Satan fears more than anything else is the presence of the Lord Jesus. When the attack comes, don’t handle it by yourself, face it with Jesus, hold onto Jesus and trust Him for the strength and the power to overcome the evil one.

A little was asked, “What do you do when Satan knocks at the door of your heart?”  She replied, “I send Jesus to answer the door.”


MATTHEW 14:22-33

In this incident, Jesus sent the disciples into a storm in the middle of the night. He wasn’t with them this time.

Have you ever been in a storm of problems and difficulties and felt that God wasn’t there? That He had left you to struggle away on your own? Although the disciples didn’t know where Jesus was, He knew where they were. And when they were struggling with the waves, He came to them, walking on the water.

This storm wasn’t caused by God or by Satan, but Jesus allowed the disciples to go through it to build their faith. And sometimes God allows us to go through a storm because He wants to build our faith and develop our character.

James 1:2 “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” 

1 Peter 6 “There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honour on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.”

Why did Jesus send them into a storm?

  1. He wanted to show them that nothing could separate them from Him, not even a stormy sea.
  2. He wanted them to know that the problems they were struggling with were under His feet. Nothing is too much for Him to handle. “Be of good cheer I have overcome the world.”
  3. He wanted to teach them to walk on water. To trust Him for the power to get on top of the problems they were struggling with. Peter was the only one who was prepared to take the step of faith.

Notice that when Peter walked on the water the storm did not stop. Jesus wasn’t there this time to stop the storm. He was more concerned to teach His disciples how to rise above the waves.

God’s major concern is not to remove our problems and our hardships, but to teach us how to overcome them. How to respond to them. How to come through them. How to develop our faith and trust in Christ in the midst of them.

Romans 8 “What shall separate us from the love of Christ….trouble, hardships, persecution, famine nakedness, danger, sword. No in the midst of these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”

N.B. v32. As soon as Jesus got into the boat the storm ceased. Once Peter had learned to walk with Jesus on the wild sea, the storm had served its purpose.

Often God will allow the storms in our life to continue until we have learned not to react in fear and anger, but to respond in confident trust.

Are you going through a storm at present? Trials, struggles, difficulties? How have you been reacting?

Out of anger, fear, resentment? Perhaps you have been asking God to change your circumstances, take the problem away?

God is more concerned about developing our faith and character than removing the problem. Our holiness than our happiness. He is waiting for us to act rather than react. To believe that He is in the storm, that he is greater than the storm, He is on top of it, He is in control of the storm and rather than focus on the storm, focus on Jesus and begin to trust Him, thank Him and praise Him and respond the way He would have us respond.


ACTS 27:22-25

Here Paul was on board ship sailing for Rome when suddenly a mighty storm broke out and everyone’s life was in danger. Yet it was Paul who remained calm, confidently trusting in God in the midst of the storm.

Paul had to go through that storm for the sake of those on board. When they saw how Paul reacted to the storm they began to listen to what he had to say and they were willing to trust His God.

Sometimes we are called to go through trying and difficult circumstances not because we are being disobedient, not because Satan is getting at us, not even to develop our own faith, but for the sake of others. 

John Wesley had a similar experience when he was sailing to America. On the ship were a group of Moravian Christians. Suddenly a tremendous storm hit the ship and threatened to sink it. Wesley who thought he was a Christian was terrified along with the other travellers and crew. But what affected him the most was when he saw the Moravian believers standing on the deck in the midst of this fierce storm singing hymns of praise to the Lord without any fear. 

Wesley was so moved and convicted by their reaction that he began to seek the Lord until He was truly born again and then he was used so mightily to bring revival and moral and social transformation to England.

Sometimes we go through painful and difficult experiences and we can’t see any rhyme or reason for it. Why is this happening?

We search our own hearts to see if there is any sin we have not dealt with, can’t see anything there, we resist the powers of evil, nothing changes.

We may not be going through this for our own sakes but for the benefit of others. It may be that God is building into us a depth of experience and understanding so that we can help others.

Jesus once said to Simon Peter, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you like wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, come through this trial, strengthen your brothers,” Luke 22:31

A Christian friend of mine who is a lawyer in Wellington was made redundant during the financial crash in the late eighties. For 6 months he prayed for work but was unable to find a job. I spoke to him during this time and he said to me, “I believe that God has allowed this to happen to me so that I can understand and support those have lost their jobs. Before this I never knew what it was like to be laid off, now I am better able to get alongside those who are unemployed.”

In Isaiah 65:10 God said, “The valley of Achor will be a place where you can care for your flocks and herds. Achor means trouble. God is saying here that those deep valleys of trouble and difficulties you go through will be used to encourage, help and support others.

Are you heading into a storm or are you in a storm?

Is it because you are knowingly disobeying God? Living contrary to His will and His Word?

Wake up to what happening. Repent of your rebellion, disobedience and get back to where you moved out of God’s will.

Is it a satanic attack because you are seeking to walk close to God and obey Him. Recognise who is causing the trouble. Hold onto the Lord, submit to Him, resist the devil in Jesus name and he will flee.

Test of faith. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and don’t allow the difficulties to get on top of you.  Ask the Lord to show you how to respond to the problem. He will teach you.

Preparation for helping others. Ask the Lord to use your difficulties to build into your life and character what is needed to equip you for what lies ahead.