#2059 –The Lord of the Storm  – 16 Aug 2009

The Message

Bishop Kenneth Ulmer

Special Guest

Eric Le Marque

Special Music

Joyful, Joyful
A Shelter in the Time of Storm
The Lord is My Light
God is My Strong Salvation

Solo/ Anthem:
Nita Whitaker – You’ll Never Walk Alone

The Message

Well good morning everyone. Good morning everyone else. Won’t you join me in thanking God for Dr. Schuller and Dr. Coleman? Some of you may have already picked up a theme in this service today. We began by singing a song that says Jesus is a rock in a weary land. A shelter in a time of storm. Eric gave a testimony of how God delivered him through the storm. ‘Nita Whitaker sang for us and ministered to us and she said “when you walk through a storm, hold your head up high.”

Psalm 29 is the Psalm of the storm. This Psalm speaks of the drama of a vicious storm, the rocking and reeling and tossing and turning. It speaks of storm language, of winds and thunder and lightening. Speaks of raging storms and yet in this storm, there is the voice of God and He speaks. It’s as though it’s a duel, it’s a chess match, it’s a tit for tat, it’s a jousting match between the storm and the voice, the storm and the voice, the storm and the voice. Seven times, the Psalmist says, “And the voice of the Lord.” In the midst of a storm, there is a voice.

What’s your storm today? I’ve discovered that storms are tailor made. They are customized. They may fit the person next to you but it won’t fit you and the one that you are dealing with may not fit the person in front of you. Storms are tailor made. And yet they are universal. And yet in the storms of life, there is the voice of God.

The Psalmist paints a dramatic picture of God and the voice of God and a storm. It says in Psalm 29 that God sits upon the storm; the voice of God is enthroned on the floods, on the waters. It says God is above the storm. Hah. It’s a great picture. It was suggested when you look up, when I look up and we see the clouds and we hear the thunder and we see the lightening of the storms in our lives, when we look up, maybe where you are in this room, where you are in that hotel room, where you are at home, and you look up and you imagine that the ceiling or the roof is the storm clouds that are above you. According to the Psalmist, God is above that storm. God is above what is above you.

And even in this storm the voice of God, the voice of God speaks today in your storm. Maybe it’s a relational storm, maybe it’s a personal storm. Maybe it’s a financial storm, maybe it’s an emotional storm, maybe it’s a spiritual storm. Ah but I’ve come to know that storms are equal opportunity employers. I’ve got a storm, you’ve got a storm. All God’s children got a storm.

Storms are a part of the realities of life and yet the Psalmist says in this storm there is the voice of God. It’s as though you imagined the storms above you and above the storm that is above you, there’s the voice of God that pierces the cloud and pierces the storm and pierces through the rain and the storm and the lightening. And His voice is heard. He speaks through that storm to get a word to you. He’s brought you here today to speak a word in your storm.

He speaks first of all; listen, to the storm that you are in. I’ll say it again. God speaks. The voice of God speaks and He speaks to the storm. He speaks to the storm that you are in. The storm that has you tussled and tossed, the storm that has you shaken and yet He speaks to that storm.

The disciples were in a boat one day and Jesus said to them, get in the boat. Listen, Jesus says, get in the boat and let’s go over to the other side. Jesus says to the disciples. Let’s get in the boat and let’s go over to the other side. And about half way the journey to the other side, a storm arises. The winds begin to blow, the waves begin to toss, the billows begin to roll, the storm rages and someone remembers that Jesus is on the boat. Being in a storm is bad, being in a storm without Jesus is worse. I’ve got one witness down here. I’d rather be in the boat with Jesus than on the shore without Him. The bible says they were in a storm then someone remembered that Jesus was there. There is a song in the African American tradition that dramatizes this scene and the song says “Master, the tempest is raging. The billows are tossing high. The sky is overshadowed with darkness. No shelter. Our help is nigh. Carest thou not that we perish? How canst thou lie there asleep when each moment so madly is threatening a grave in the angry deep?” Get up Jesus.

Jesus takes the helm and pronounces the benediction upon the storm. He speaks to the storm that you are in. And He said peace! Be still. One version says quiet! One version says shut up! I like that on my side of town. Shut up! Jesus speaks to the storm that hassles you. He speaks to the storm that torments you and He says peace be still. Because He speaks to the storm that you are in. But not only that but He speaks to you in the storm. I’ll give it to you again. You missed that. I’ll give it to again. He speaks to the storm that you are in, but He also speaks to you in the storm. It’s interesting if you look at Psalm 29, it seemed as though God is a storm chaser. It seems as though He is a storm tracker because there’s a motion, there’s movement, there’s fluidity in this passage, in this 29th Psalm. The storm begins on the waters and then the storm moves to the mountains. And then the storm moves to the desert, the wilderness, watch us as we track the storm. It begins on the waters, out in the ocean, out in the sea. It then moves to the mountaintops of Lebanon. And then the storm moves to the wilderness, further and further inland. Stay with me, I’m going somewhere. Watch this.

It begins and He speaks when we are tossed on the sea. Those times when it seems as though our lives are adrift. Those times when we struggle with meaninglessness. Those times when it seemed as though our lives are just being tossed back and forth, around and around in circles, lost, drifting on an ocean and on a sea. As the song says, like a ship without a sail. And yet if that’s where you are today, He speaks to you in your storm.

Others of us are on the mountaintop. The mountains of Lebanon, the mountains of Herman. We’re at the peak, we’re at the pinnacle. The top of our lives, the peak of our lives. The peak of success. The peak of our careers, our dreams and yet there is a loneliness there. There is yet an emptiness because even at the top we are tossed and driven like a ship on a sea. And yet He speaks to you in your storm. Others of us are in the desert seasons of life. The wilderness when Israel was wandering in the wilderness, they knew in their spirits this was not home, for God had made a promise that they would go to a land flowing with milk and honey, a promised land. They knew that they were there in the desert, in the wilderness, and yet that was not home. God speaks to someone today in the desert season of your life. When you realize that you are not where you are going, you’re in transition, you’re on your way someplace and yet it seems as though you’re stuck in a wilderness, stuck in a desert. And God speaks to you even in your storm.

Well I need the help of the disciples one more time. Once again, they were in a ship and they were in the midst of a storm. This time, the bible says, the winds were tossing and the waves were blowing and they looked in the mist of a storm, and here comes Jesus walking on the waters. Here comes Jesus in the midst of their storm. And He speaks and Peter says, “Lord if that’s You and I know it is, let me come to You!” And he speaks. Come, walk to Me.

In order to walk to Jesus on the water, Peter had to get out of the boat. If you want to walk on water, you’ve got to get out of the boat. Your neighbor didn’t get that so tell the person next to you, if you want to walk on water you must step out of the boat. God says that to someone today. You’ve been stuck in a boat. You’ve been stuck where you are long enough. You are not where you are going. The journey is not over. Don’t unpack your bags you’re just passing through. That would have been a good place for an “amen,” right off down in there, just kind of slip one in.

Because He is a God who speaks to you in your storm. So here’s what we’ve learned. The voice of God speaks to the storm that you are in. The voice of God speaks to you in the storm. And then James comes along and James says there are times when we are filled with doubt and confusion and fear, and James says within our inner being we are tossed with waves, we are tossed back and forth, we are tossed and wavering because there is a storm within us. I declare unto you today not only is He God enough to speak to the storm that you are in, and not only is He God enough to speak to you in the storm but He’s God and He speaks even to the storm that is in you. Storms of doubt, storms of fear, how can I make it. I’ve lost this, I’ve lost that, how can I go forward. Storms within. Storms of guilt. Storms of pain. Storms of discouragement. Storms of betrayal. Storms of confusion. Storms that ask Lord, how did I get out here?

 Storms are raging within me and yet God speaks to the storm within me and He says peace! be still. Ah He is the voice in your storm. He speaks to the storm that you are in. He speaks to you in the storm. And He speaks to the storm that is within you.

Well, I have the weather report. I have the weather forecast. And I stopped by to tell someone there has never been a storm that did not end! That was another great place for an amen! Right off down through there. There has never been a storm that did not end. Does not matter how raging the hurricane, does not matter how devastating the wind, there has never, check the record, there has never been a storm that did not end. Ah, and when the storm ends, the atmosphere changes! The clouds begin to roll back. Ah those slaves used to say steal away, steal away; I ain’t got long to stay here. You’re not going to stay where you are. The Psalm says my God, He calls me, He calls me by the thunder. God is calling someone today. He’s calling and saying come to Me. He’s calling and saying lift up your head. He’s calling and saying the end is not over yet. He’s calling and say I still love you. He’s calling and say you shall make it. He’s calling and say where you’re going is better than where you’ve been. He’s calling today. My God, He calls me and He calls me by the thunder!

And the old negro spiritual says the storm is passing over. Hallelujah. That’s God’s word to someone today. The storm is passing over. Don’t get comfortable where you are because God is taking you from where you are to where you ought to be because the storm is passing over. You may have to cry all night long but weeping may endure for a night, but joy will come in the morning. The storm is passing over. Now when you know the storm is over you don’t have to wait until it’s over, you can begin to shout and praise God in the midst of the storm. God says to someone today, He challenges you to start dancing in the rain. Shouting in the rain. Pray to Him in the rain. Celebrating in the storm. Giving Him praise and giving Him glory. Don’t wait till the storm is over. Somebody ought to praise God in this house right now, somebody ought to say the storm is passing over! Hallelujah!

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