(Presented July 24, 2020 to my Biblical Interpretation/Biblical Communication Group)
Audience: The intended audience of this Large Group Message is elementary-school-age children living in the U.S, with a particular focus on those in third-sixth grades (typically within the age range of 8-12 years old).
LAUNCH [3 min.]
- Arouse Attention:
What would you do if a huge storm, like a hurricane or tornado, was heading straight for your door?
Feel all alone.
Try to figure out what to do.
Fear that God doesn’t care.
Doubt that he would be able to protect and save.
That’s exactly what I did when Hurricane Irma, a huge Category 5 storm, was on a direct path for my home in Orlando.
Irma had winds of 180 mph (that’s as fast as a NASCAR race car). The storm lasted for 12 long days. It was so huge (almost as wide as Texas) and was one of the most powerful storms ever seen.
Irma caused massive destruction everywhere it went.
In the U.S. alone, nine states had damage as Irma turned streets into rivers, ripped down power lines, uprooted trees, and cut off access to the coast.
When Irma first hit Florida, it beat up [PUNCH GESTURE] the lower half of our state, causing tornadoes and flooding as it moved inland … closer and closer to me in Orlando.
About one out of every five people in Florida had to leave their homes to find safety … I was scared to stay at home, but also afraid to leave. So many people were stuck on the crowded highways, trying to flee from the storm.
- Surface the FC:
As the hurricane was quickly getting closer, I was anxious and wondered if God was there, and big enough to get me through the storm.
I also hurried around town, buying up food and supplies, as if my life depended on me to be prepared for the worst.
I didn’t believe God really cared. I thought that my safety (and the safety of my family) rested on me alone.
Hurricane Irma was a real storm, but I also face other “storms”” in my life where I am scared God isn’t there and that he isn’t powerful enough to rescue me.
- Connect Audience to the FC:
What about you?
Hopefully you won’t have a huge hurricane knock [KNOCK GESTURE] on your door, but maybe you’ve been afraid when you faced a scary situation in your own life.
Maybe you have forgotten about God’s care and power to protect you when things didn’t go as you wanted.
Or maybe you’ve had to say goodbye [WAVE GESTURE] to a friend or family member, and now you feel all alone.
Whatever the storm of life, often we are scared God isn’t there and that he isn’t powerful enough to rescue us.
- Frame the MBI:
But do we have to be afraid that God doesn’t care?
Do we need to worry that he can’t handle our problems?
How can we rest in God and trust that he is in control, even in the biggest storm?
- Introduce the Passage:
Today, let’s look at a story in the Bible about a huge storm in Mark 4:35-41.
EXPLORE [8-9 min.]
- This story begins one evening in Israel, after Jesus has been teaching crowds by the Sea of Galilee. Jesus and his disciples were going across the water in a small fishing boat.
- Let’s read about this in Mark 4:35-36: On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him.
- Rising Tension:
- This next part is where the story starts to get interesting.
- Verses 37-38 say: And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But 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?”
- So there they were, in the boat on the calm water, when suddenly a huge storm came up without warning.
- The wind blew so hard, and the waves were so high, that water was gushing into the boat. These experienced fishermen were so scared they thought they would die.
- But then there’s Jesus, asleep on a boat cushion, without a care in the world, resting after a long day of teaching.
- Jesus was exhausted, showing that he was human, too, even as much as he is God.
- The disciples woke up Jesus, complaining that he didn’t care about them being in danger. Here, they call him “Teacher” because they only thought Jesus was a man and not God.
- Climax/Turning Point:
- Then comes the turning point in the story …
- Let’s read Mark 4:39: And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
- What just happened? Jesus just speaks a few words, and the winds and waves immediately stop! How is this possible?
- Here, Jesus shows his divine power over nature, something only God can do.
- Illustration: The Old Testament also talks about this same power when God shows control over nature, with just a word. Psalm 33:6-7 says, “By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host. He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap; he puts the deeps in storehouses.” This is some pretty amazing power here!
- By showing this kind of power, Jesus points to himself as being God.
- Yet he is God who is with them in the boat, and he alone has the power to save them.
- Following Action:
- This last part of the story is actually surprising.
- Let’s read verses 40-41: He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
- After Jesus calms the storm, he scolds his disciples. He asks why they were afraid, especially since he, who is God, was with them in the boat.
- They never needed to fear. Jesus points out that their faith is what is needed to overcome their fears.
- Then the disciples’ fear of physical harm (drowning) changes into “great fear” as they are in awe of Jesus.
- They ask the most important question of “Who then is this?” and wonder about Jesus’ power and authority.
- They begin to see that Jesus is God and has great power, yet he is also with them in person (in the boat).
CONNECT [4-5 min.]
So how does this story connect to us?
In what ways are we like the disciples in the boat?
- Sometimes we are scared God isn’t there.
- The disciples were so scared of the storm, even though Jesus was already in the boat with them.
- This can happen to us, too, when we let our fears take over or when we don’t see that Jesus is with us.
- Illustration: Maybe you get scared when you hear the loud crack of thunder, or you don’t like to be left alone in the dark. It’s easy to forget that God is always there, ready to calm you.
- Sometimes we are scared that God isn’t powerful enough to rescue us.
- In the boat, the disciples panicked and got upset with Jesus because he was sleeping during the storm. It didn’t seem he cared or was able to help them.
- They tried everything they could to be safe, but found out they were no match for the huge storm. They thought they would die.
- Illustration: Maybe you worry about getting hurt in a car accident, or when riding your bike. You might think God doesn’t care or that he isn’t able to protect you.
What do we learn about Jesus in this story?
- We learn that Jesus is God.
- When Jesus calmed the wind and sea, he proved he is God because only God has the power to control nature. Through his power, Jesus showed he is God to the disciples, and to us.
- Illustration: We watch the disciples have a “light bulb moment” [LIGHT BULB/LIGHT UP GESTURE] about Jesus being God when they are filled with awe and ask, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (Mark 4:41).
- Jesus was physically with the disciples, so they knew what it was like to have God with them in body. Now, through the Holy Spirit, God lives inside all who trust in Jesus to save and forgive, and he is with us in Spirit.
- Illustration: Jesus gave a few details about the Holy Spirit, as described in John 7:38-39: “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive …”
- We also learn that Jesus is all-powerful.
- By controlling the winds and seas with just a word, Jesus proved he is all-powerful.
- Illustration: Throughout the Bible, God shows he is all-powerful in many ways. In the Old Testament, in Psalm 107:28-29, God again calms a storm and rescues his loved ones. It says, “Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.” [SHHH GESTURE]
- By controlling death, through his own death on the cross and his resurrection, Jesus proved he is all-powerful.
- Illustration: Jesus shows he is God and is our Savior and Redeemer who won over death, saves us from our sins, and now offers us eternal life. The Bible, in 2 Timothy 1:9-10, describes Jesus as “our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel …”
APPLY [6-8 min.]
Now, instead of being scared God isn’t there and that he isn’t powerful enough to rescue us, we can rest in his control … because Jesus is God and all-powerful.
Let’s look at three ways we can rest in his control …
- WAY #1. Because Jesus is God and all-powerful, we can respond with awe.
- HOW? We can respond with awe through singing and shouts of joy.
- Awe is a God-shaped combo of amazement and holy fear. And we should be in awe of Jesus as God, much like the disciples were after Jesus calmed the storm.
- We can show our awe of God by our songs and joyful music.
- Illustration: Psalm 65:7-8 tells how others in the Bible showed they were in “awe” of him. It says, God “who stills the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, the tumult of the peoples, so that those who dwell at the ends of the earth are in awe at your signs. You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy.”
- ANOTHER HOW? We can respond with awe by giving thanks.
- We can be in awe and respond by thanking him for who God is and what he’s done for us.
- This is also a way to worship God.
- Illustration: As described in Hebrews 12:28, “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe.”
- WAY #2. Because Jesus is God and all-powerful, we can be honest with him.
- HOW? We can be honest with him by telling him our fears.
- When we are afraid of being alone, or scared of getting hurt, we can talk with him about these things, and know that he cares and will listen.
- Illustration: Like in Psalm 66:19, we can say, “But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer.”
- ANOTHER HOW? We can be honest with him by admitting our sin and asking for help.
- When we act like it’s all up to us or when we don’t obey God’s rules, we can “fess up” and ask him for help and forgiveness.
- Illustration: According to 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
- WAY #3: Because Jesus is God and all-powerful, we can trust in his power.
- HOW? We can trust in his power to calm our hearts.
- When we are shaking with fear or scared for our lives, we can run to him and rest in his lap, like we might with an earthly dad or mom. But God’s lap is the safest place on earth!
- Illustration: Jesus is also like a good shepherd, gently caring for us. This is described in Psalm 23:4, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
- ANOTHER HOW? We can trust in his power to protect our lives forever.
- We can trust God to protect our lives here on earth, but also to give us eternal life. He loves us so much that he died on the cross so we can live with him forever in heaven.
- Illustration: To live with him forever, we can accept God’s gift of grace. It’s that simple. According to Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
So, in review …
Because Jesus is God and all-powerful, three ways we can rest in his control are to:
- Respond with awe – through singing and shouts of joy, and by giving thanks.
- Be honest with him – by telling him our fears, and by admitting our sin and asking for help.
- Trust in his power – to calm our hearts, and to protect our lives forever.
IN CLOSING …
Because Jesus is God and all-powerful, we can rest in his control.
Yes, we can rest in his control, even in the middle of a huge storm.
Yes, we can rest in his control, even when we are scared God isn’t there and that he isn’t powerful enough to rescue us …
AND Yes, we can rest in his control, because Jesus is God and all-powerful.
Speaking of resting, I wanted to share the rest of the story about Hurricane Irma …
The huge storm grew bigger and stronger as it moved closer to my home in Orlando. Thankfully, at the last minute, it shifted and didn’t hit us directly.
But Irma did pelt our home with 15 hours of rain and strong winds that were aimed at the corner of our house by my son Noah’s bedroom. Irma damaged our roof and patio, as well as the porch near Noah’s room.
At the time, Noah was 7 months old. Crazy, but somehow, he literally “slept like a baby” through the entire 15-hour storm!
My son, Noah, is my real-life example of how we can rest in God’s control!
I, too, found rest in God’s control …
In the midst of the storm,
I was able to respond with awe,
I was honest with him about my fears,
and I trusted in God’s power.
And for you, I pray that even if you are scared God isn’t there and that he isn’t powerful enough to rescue you, you will trust that Jesus is God and all-powerful, and find rest in God’s control – of everything.