I am Not in SoCal Anymore

Good Morning Church,

I pray that the boundless grace of God and the steadfast love of the Lord will warm your heart today as you brave the cold and fulfill your duties. Winter has arrived with an attitude, and the frigid temperatures personally reminded me this week that I am not in Southern California anymore. However, that was a blessing as I have greatly missed the seasons and even the colder weather. Well, by all accounts, it looks like winter will hit even harder this weekend as measurable snow is on the way. We have made preparations in our family and the biggest issue now will be trying to get Christian to sleep tonight as the prospect of playing in the snow is almost more than he can bear. Are you ready for the storm?

This snowstorm has greatly provoked my thoughts this week, in multiple ways, as I have contemplated the physical and spiritual storms, which blow across all of our lives at different times and seasons. These tempests come in many forms from job loss to cancer, from physical pain to familial death, from personal disappointment to marital dysfunction because of sin. The fact that our life is inseparably and undeniably linked to seasonal storms could be disheartening and distracting. However, I want to encourage you today with two biblical truths, which will help prepare you for and keep you stable in the next storm that is no doubt looming over your life.

The first and most foundational truth of Scripture that brings both calm before as well as in the midst of any storm is the reality that God is sovereign over every storm (Isa 46:8-10)! God’s sovereign control over everything, everyone, everywhere, all the time is a truth we often give lip service to but rarely rest upon (Dan 4:34-35). Yet, it is God’s specific control over all of life as well as Satan and the schemes of evil men that serve as a silver thread of hope, which weaves its way from Genesis to Revelation (Gen 3:15Gal 4:4Rev 22:12-13). Consider Who controlled the blizzard that blew across Joseph’s life that landed him in a pit and than in a prison (Gen 50:20). What about the tsunami Jeremiah lived through because of the sins of Israel (Lam 3:21-23) or the dark clouds that chased after David for the many years he lived on the run in the wilderness (Ps 37:23-26). We could contemplate God’s sovereignty in and over the storm filled lives of Noah, Daniel, Job, Paul, and Peter. However, the biggest storm to hit our world was the day of Christ’s crucifixion where the holy Lamb of God was slain for the sin of man (Mt 27:45-54). Even still, God was totally in control over every aspect of the death of His Son (Acts 2:23). While this will not answer our nagging question of why the storms come it does answer the more important question of Who is in control (Job 42:1-6). This truth serves as an anchor that holds true even in the toughest times of life because we rest secure in the hands of a good and gracious God (Lam 3:21-23; Jn 10:28-29)!

If the first truth dealt with the nature of the storm always being under God’s control, then the second axiom to consider is the absolute necessity for storms in the life of every believer. Trials, hardships, difficulties, and storms are not optional but nonnegotiable realities in the life of every follower of Christ for multiple reasons not withstanding is the fact that we live in a fallen world (Rom 8:18-22). Storms are used by God to strengthen our faith (Js 1:2-4) and build our Christ like character (Rom 5:3-4). They help prepare our hearts and fix our eyes on heaven (2 Cor 4:16-18). The lessons learned and the spiritual depth gained, from growing through a storm, provides biblical platforms for effective ministry that comforts others amidst their crisis (2 Cor 1:3-4). Even the hurricane of persecution serves as one of the clearest doorways for declaring the gospel and reflecting the glory of God to a watching world (1 Pet 3:8-17). This week has been a reminder to me of how soft I have become after living five years in a winter environment where the average temperature is 55-60 degrees. I have had to depend on my winter coat, gloves, and even extra layers at times to stay warm. All of this has been a lucid reminder to me of how God uses storms in our lives to graciously drive us to find refuge and dependence on Him (Isa 25:4). Psalm 107 vividly extols these two truths of God’s sovereignty in and over storms and how He graciously uses them in the lives of His people to purify, protect, prepare, and ultimately lead them to a place of great praise for who He is and what He has done. I pray as you sit through this winter storm over the weekend you will take some time to consider how God so personally and powerfully guides and guards our lives both for His glory and our good (Rom 8:28-30)!

Praising God for His Providence,

Pastor Matt


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