Faith During the Storm

Sail Boat

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Monday’s lesson, The Shipwreck, reminds me of another storm at sea and the faith of a young girl. Below is a remarkable account of Ellen Harmon, no more than eighteen years old. She is on a steamboat leaving Portland Maine that has just run into a very dangerous storm. While many were fearful for their lives, this young girl, when asked by an older woman why she was not afraid like everyone else, could answer with assurance.

“I told her I had made Christ my refuge, and if my work was done, I might as well lie in the bottom of the ocean as in any other place; but if my work was not done, all the waters of the ocean could not drown me. My trust was in God, that he would bring us safe to land if it was for his glory.” Ellen White, Life Sketches, p. 241

Young Ellen was confident like Paul, not that she would necessarily survive the storm, but that God’s purpose would be fulfilled and the Gospel would be spread around the world, regardless of her fate in the storm.  God did indeed have a work for Ellen to do. Ellen later married James White, an Adventist pioneer, and the rest is history.

God also has a purpose for each of us. Our goal in this world should not necessarily be to live a long life, but to live a faithful life. Sometimes we ask God where the safest place to be is, when what we should really be asking God is simply, “Where do you want me to be?” As long as we have the assurance young Ellen Harmon had, that we are in God’s care and doing God’s work, the longevity of our life is not consequential, and we shall be prepared to walk away from this world either by death or the Second Coming at any time.

Each has his own experience, peculiar in its character and circumstances, to accomplish a certain work. God has a work, a purpose, in the life of each of us. Every act, however small, has its place in our life experience. – Ellen White, Testimonies Volume 3 Page 541

Growth Group Lesson Plan #22 – Storm

DIALOGUE # 22 – STORM
by Pr Denis Sand – sanddenis@gmail.com

Objective of today’s dialogue: Challenge people to experience the peace that God wants to give us in the midst of the storms of life and to share that calmness and hope with others.

Additional resources: Read and study the material in the following pages for context and further comprehension.

Welcome (15) – Fellowship
• What are some of the most usual difficulties that your student friends (or people in general) face in our days?
• How do they handle the stress from those situations?
• How do you usually handle stress or very difficult situations? Do you panic, look for distractions, procrastinate?

Worship (15) – Worship
• Read Psalms 46.1-3
Shout to the Lord
How great is thou art
• Take time to give thanks to God for the deliverance that he brought to you when you went through some hard times, storms of life. Briefly share it with the group.
• Pray together giving thanks

Word (30) – Discipleship
• Read Mark 4.35-41
• Why do you think Christians have to go through storms? V37
• Where is Jesus when we suffer in the midst of life’s storms? Why?V38
• How could Jesus sleep when his loved friends were scared to death and suffering? V38
• How do you feel and how do you react when Jesus seems to be sleeping while you are finding no way out of the storm?
• Since Jesus has the power to even control storms, what practical steps should we take when we find ourselves in one of them?
• Why is faith so important in facing the storms of our lives? V40
• How has God helped you cope with your storms or difficulties in life? Allow people to share 3 short testimonies.
• How can each one of us grow this week in our faith in Jesus? Give real ideas! Rom 10.17
• What do you think is God trying to tell you tonight?

• To do: Please read out loud as a group, and challenge members to memorize Psalms 46.1-3

Works – Witness (15) – Ministry & Evangelism
• Ask each person in the group to write down the names of friends who are going through some heavy storms.
• Ask each one to think and plan how they could share today’s message with them.
• When praying in groups of two, pray specifically for those names.
• Once again ask, each person if they need to be prayed for?

Refreshments– Fellowship
• Keep moving around, being friendly, getting to know people, loving them as Christ has loved you!

Additional Resources: Desire of Ages, 333-341 Chapter 35 – “Peace, Be Still”

Tampa Bay Storm

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I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area. (Yeah right!)

After seeing pictures on the news last night of Bayshore Blvd all flooded, I went down early this morning with my camera to see what I could see. The street was not flooded anymore but you can still see a little flooding.  I take pictures of Tampa Bay all the time in the sunshine, when it looks so beautiful. Today’s picture does not look so beautiful does it? But you know what? All the trash you see, that has washed up on the bay, was around the whole time when I took the other beautiful pictures of the bay. The storm did not make the trash, it only revealed the trash that was already there. I thought about my life. Some times on sunny days, when all is going well, I may think I am a beautiful person. However when the storms of life come I may find some garbage in my heart. The storms of life don’t make the garbage in my heart. The storms only reveal what has been there all along. I think David knew that when he pleaded with God, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties;And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalms 139:23-24 NKJV The storms of life may show us all the garbage in our heart, but God’s love can clean it all up for us and make us beautiful inside and out!

See what great love   the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!   And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends,   now we are children of God,   and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears,  we shall be like him,   for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. 1 John 3:1-3 NIV

Watch the 23 second video I took here.

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Jesus Wept: The Bible and Human Emotions, Lesson 5

I am writing tonight from the dark and stormy Tampa Bay area.

 

Jesus wept: The Bible and Human Emotions, Lesson 5.

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“If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared” (Psalm 130:3, 4, NIV).

I am so glad we have a God who does not hold our mistakes against us. I am grateful also for friends who forgive and forget so easily. When I was in junior high, I remember we used to tease a kid in our class thinking it was all in good fun. We did not realize how hurtful we were. Years later, as a Pathfinder club leader I had to counsel some kids one night for teasing one of the other kids, and making them upset. On the way home that evening, I realized that I had caused the same pain to the kid in my class years before. I felt bad, so that night I sent them an e-mail and apologized for my behavior years ago. The next morning, when I got up, there was an e-mail telling me they do not remember me teasing them. They said all they remember is that I have been a good friend for over 30 years. I just thought, “Wow!” I want to be loving and forgiving like that.

A few years ago, when I had not been in Tampa long at all, I said something (Its always my mouth that gets me in trouble) that I should not have said to another elder in the church. I called and apologized later, and the other elder forgave me very quickly. Still, I felt awkward and foolish for how I had acted. Ever since then the elder has always been very nice to me, but up until just here lately, I have always felt very awkward around this person. Then one day he and I were talking together, having a very friendly conversation when it dawned on me, that this elder does not even remember the situation that has me feeling embarrassed every time I see him. I told myself that if he has forgiven me and forgotten about it, then I should forgive myself and forget about it.

Jesus says, “freely ye have received, freely give.” Matthew 10:8. I believe this applies also with forgiveness. We need to be very forgiving of others, like my friends have been with me. Likewise we need to forgive ourselves.

The Fruit of the Spirit, Lesson 4

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Here are my thoughts on this week’s SS Lesson.

Thou wilt keep [him] in perfect peace, [whose] mind [is] stayed [on thee]: because he trusteth in thee.  Isaiah 26:3

 

Mark the perfect [man], and behold the upright: for the end of [that] man [is] peace.  Psalms 37:37

Real peace does not come from being right with the world. It comes from being right with God. Peace of mind is not knowing that you have money in the bank. It is knowing no matter what, God will take care of all your needs. Peace is not knowing that you will live through the storm. Peace is knowing even if you die in the storm, God has promised you eternal life. Peace is Ellen Harmon, an 18 year old girl explaining why she was not terrified during a storm at sea when she said, “If my work for God is over I might as well rest at the bottom of this sea as anywhere else, but if my work is not over, not all the water in all the sea will be able to drown me.” (Life Sketches, p. 240) Peace is Marion Fisher, a 13 year old Amish girl telling a deranged gunman “shoot me first” so that help would arrive in time for the other victims. Peace is an elderly man I was studying with this summer who laid on his deathbed with a smile on his face saying “I’m ready to meet Jesus.” Peace is my 100 year old grandmother’s last words to my mother, “I will see you in heaven.” Peace is Jesus sleeping in a boat during a storm at sea. (Matthew 8:25)

Peace is not the absence of the storm, it is the absence of the fear of the storm. Peace is not the absence of death, it the absence of the fear of death. Peace is not the absence of worldly turmoil, it is the presence of God in the turmoil. Peace is a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Here is one of my favorite quotes on peace from the Spirit of Prophecy:

  Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John 14:27. 

     Before our Lord went to His agony on the cross He made His will. He had no silver or gold or houses to leave His disciples. He was a poor man, as far as earthly possessions were concerned. Few in Jerusalem were so poor as He. But He left His disciples a richer gift than any earthly monarch could bestow on his subjects. “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you,” He said. . . . He left them the peace which had been His during His life on the earth, which had been with Him amid poverty, buffeting, and persecution, and which was to be with Him during His agony in Gethsemane and on the cruel cross. 

     The Saviour’s life on this earth, though lived in the midst of conflict, was a life of peace. . . . No storm of satanic wrath could disturb the calm of that perfect communion with God. And He says to us, “My peace I give unto you.” 

     Those who take Christ at His word and surrender their souls to His keeping, their lives to His ordering, will find peace and quietude. Nothing of the world can make them sad when Jesus makes them glad by His presence. In perfect acquiescence there is perfect rest. The Lord says, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee” (Isaiah 26:3).   It is the love of self that destroys our peace. While self is alive we stand ready continually to guard it from mortification and insult; but when self is dead, and our life hid with Christ in God, we shall not take neglects or slights to heart.

     When we receive Christ into the soul as an abiding guest, the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, will keep our hearts and minds. There is no other ground of peace than this. The grace of Christ, received into the heart, subdues enmity; it allays strife and fills the soul with love. He who is at peace with God and his fellow men cannot be made miserable. . . . The heart that is in harmony with God is a partaker of the peace of heaven and will diffuse its blessed influence all around.  {Heavenly Places, p. 249} 

You can find more studies and devotionals at In Light of the Cross.