TRANSCRIPTION | Sunday, December 6, 2020 | Taking On Water

 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

I’m going to launch a new series today just simply entitled God With Us. My family would testify alongside of me that I have wrestled tremendously trying to get clarity over the direction that I should take the messages in the month of December, and ultimately kind of settled into this vein because I just think that it's never really a bad thing to remind people that God is with them. And I think in a season such as the one that we are experiencing, I mean 2020 has been quite a year right? You know, sometimes you think about the new year, and you're like we're gonna ring in the new year. I'm gonna tell you something, when I get to December 31, I'm gonna wring 2020 out. And so when you think about just so much of the stuff that's happening and going on and people are wrestling with, and seems like you hear of a new struggle or a new challenge every single day, man that some family’s going through, or somebody is wrestling with, just really a great time to be reminded God with us. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

So, I’m going to read a few passages, and I'm going to share a Scripture with you. The book of Matthew 1:21  says this, “And she shall bring forth a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he shall save the people from their sins.” Somebody say Jesus. Verse 23, “And behold, the virgin shall be with child and she shall bear a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which is translated God with us. Would you just say God with us? God with us, God with us. Now, Look with me at Matthew 8:23, a very important passage of text for us this morning, I really liked the Lord's give me some things to share from this. And we're going to use it as a foundation. Matthew, 8:23, “And now when Jesus got into a boat, his disciples followed him.” Jesus got in a boat, his disciples followed him. “And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with waves, but Jesus was asleep. And then his disciples came to him and they woke him up and they said, Lord, save us we are perishing. And he said to them, why are you so fearful oh, you have little faith. And then he arose, and he rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm, so the men marveled, saying, who can this be, that even the winds and the sea, obey him.” God with us. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

Father, I ask you to just help me to preach, help me to teach, help me to share your Word in a way that brings the revelation more clear to every one of us, that you are with us, that you are for us. And God, there are things that you intend to do in our life, that coincidence will never be able to take the credit for. Jesus, prove yourself strong and mighty, and available in this place today. In Jesus’ name, the Church said, amen. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

I want you to look with me again, at that first verse that we read in Matthew 8:23, it says, “And now when Jesus got into the boat, his disciples followed him.” Jesus got into the boat, and his disciples followed him. The last few weeks, we've put a heavy emphasis on the fact that we are to be followers of Jesus, and that we are each invited to follow him. And that as we follow him, there's going to be moments where he calls us to even greater levels of faith or greater levels of experiencing his presence and his work in our life. But, when you look at this particular passage of text, you see even an extended revelation of what it means to follow Jesus and what you can expect as a follower of Jesus. It says that Jesus got in the boat, and his disciples followed him. Now this passage that we've read from Matthew chapter eight, it's actually recorded in two other Gospels, three Gospels total; Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Each one of them gave us a little bit of a different vantage point of exactly what happened as they got into the boat and they tried to cross the sea. But what becomes clear, is that Jesus leads them into the boat, and he is making the statement that they are going to cross over. Now, here's the thing. When you're following Jesus, and he tells you that you're going to cross over, that he tells you that you are going from point A to point B as you follow him, you just kind of take for granted we're gonna cross over.

We're gonna go from point A to point B. Like when, when Jesus says that, if you are a follower of Jesus, you are of the faith-filled opinion, okay, Jesus said, we're gonna do it, so we're gonna do it. But when Jesus tells you to get in the boat, and he tells you to follow him in crossing over, you do not typically visualize any struggle associated with crossing over. You don't tend to think that something is going to happen that might go bad, or that might go wrong. You don't visualize a challenge. You certainly don't visualize a storm, because after all, you're following Jesus. And our expectation of following Jesus is that he leads us around storms, not through storms, especially if a storm happens to be sent by the enemy.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

But what I want you to see in this passage of text is that Jesus who is all knowing, he's all man, but he's all God. He is the author and the finisher of the faith, even at the time he's stepping into this boat. There is nothing that is going to catch him by surprise. When Jesus got into the boat and told His disciples to follow him, because they were crossing over, Jesus knew that there was a difficulty that was laying ahead of them. Jesus knew that there was something challenging that they were about to incur. But nevertheless, this did not divert Jesus’ path. Jesus knew it was coming, and he didn't lead them around it. Jesus knew it was coming and he still chose to lead them right into the middle of a storm. And it's not just any storm. Scripture says that it is a great tempest. The Greek word for tempest in this passage of text is used 11 other times in the New Testament. In 11 other times, it is never translated as storm. 11 other times the Greek word that we see here as tempest is used in the New Testament as the word earthquake. So what we understand now is this is not a normal storm. This is not an average challenge. This is not your typical difficulty. This is a storm that is accompanied by wind, it is accompanied by flooding rains, it is accompanied by thunder, it is accompanied by lightning, but evidently, it must have also been some kind of a tsunami. That not only was everything shaking above them, everything was shaking underneath them, to the point that the sea literally begins to overwhelm the boat, that the water is beginning to flood into the boat that they are in. I wonder, have you ever been a part of a storm where you just thought to yourself, this isn't normal? Have you ever been going through something and you just thought to yourself, this is not the average challenge? Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you were doing everything that you possibly could to follow Jesus and be where Jesus wanted you to be and do what Jesus wanted you to do, and yet you found yourself in a storm. And it wasn't just a storm where the wind was blowing, and the lightning was gonna flash a few times and everything would go back to normal, like it was a storm that wouldn't go away. It was a storm that kept getting worse, instead of getting better. It was a storm that like with every passing moment, you felt like I'm taking on more water. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

When you visualize what it means in the emotional realm to take on water. it's that feeling when you are overwhelmed. It's that feeling when you begin to wring your hands and you say, I don't know how much more I can take. It's that moment where you say if something don't change, and if something don't change quick, I'm gonna sink. This marriage ain’t gonna last much longer My bank account aint gonna hold out much longer. I don't know if I'm gonna be able to go to the office another day and hold it together and act like I know what I'm doing because. You ever had that moment where you just realized this is not a normal storm. I just wonder if anybody's going through 2020 and you just had a few moments where you're like, this isn't normal. This is not the average challenge. And you were following Jesus in 2019. And you did your best to follow him in 2020. And yet, boom. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

You know, the thing that sticks out to me about this, this tempest, this earthquake, this wind storm, the devil sent it. Here's how I know that. Because later in this text, Jesus stood up and rebuked it. And the son would never rebuke something that the Father sent. So what we know is that this storm was sent by the devil. And the devil fully intended to steal, to kill, and to destroy. The enemy fully intended to sink, the Son of God and his disciples. The enemy was giving it his best shot to rattle the faith of the people who followed Jesus, to the point he was shaking everything that they knew. Everything normal was coming up, do you understand what happens in a storm, like sails start ripping, oars get ripped off the boat. When you go into a tsunami of source, like there's a high likelihood that is all the water and stuff begins to flow into this wooden boat, that stuff is starting to come apart. Stuff is starting to break, as that boat is on the. Things are failing. Things are falling apart. Things are getting ripped. Things are getting torn to shreds. And Jesus knew the devil had a storm the moment he put those disciples in that boat. He knew the enemy was gonna try to do something the moment he told them, we're gonna cross over. And he did not lead them around it, he led them through it. And there's something you need to understand about following Jesus, he is not going to always allow you to push the easy button. Jesus is not always going to allow you to go around it. Why? Because then he would not be able to fulfill the Messianic prophecy of Psalm 23. The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want but wait a minute. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, because you are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Sometimes you're not going around it, sometimes you're going through it. And when you start to go through it, you're gonna find out where your faith stands.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

Because one of the things about going through stuff, about going through storms, and going through earthquakes, and taking on water, I don't know how y'all feel about it, but every time I've ever been in that situation, I've had a few issues with God. I don't like how quiet he tends to get in those situations. I don't like how slow it feels like he's moving when I'm in. See, some of y'all  you ain't been in a storm so long because you just breezing through 2020. But I'm talking to somebody because somebody knows what it is to get your cage rattled. There's somebody in this house this morning that you know what it is to feel like I don't know how much water I can take on before this thing sinks. And by the way, God where are you? Like God, I love you, and God I trust you, I'm trying to trust you, but you know God this boat can only take so much water. it's a scientific fact God it will go down if it takes much more water. Y'all can act so holy on a Sunday morning. And you may have never got verbal like that with God, but you know it was in your heart. Like hey, God are you aware of what is happening here? Like the wind would have been bad enough, but now the earth is shaking. I don't even know if I can ride this boat anymore. It's like a roller coaster.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

Every time it dips I'm taking on more water. God, where are you?! Where are you? Like you told me to get in this boat? You lead me. If I didn't hear you on that, I've never heard you on anything. Oh, you never been there have you? You ever had that moment where it's like, God, if I didn't hear you about that, I don't you never heard you own anything, and this sure don't feel like I heard you. Cause God I’m starting to wonder if I've even got grace for this. God, I'm coming apart. I don't know how to pay for this. I don't know how to fix these damages. I don't know how I’m going to explain this to all these other jokers who are losing their mind. Ever been there? You were just trying to cross over. You know, he told you that was the person you were supposed to be in relationship with, but he didn't tell you about the storm. He didn't tell you about taking on water. You know that he told you that you were supposed to be a part of that business, that, that was for you. You were supposed to do that. He didn't tell you about the storm. He didn't tell you about the nights when you would wrestle all night long thinking I don't know how much water we can take on. You know that he. And you were just trying to follow him, and nobody said anything about the water. Nobody said anything about the storm. Nobody said the devil was going to be able to get this loose in my life. Nobody told me about all this. Have you ever been there?

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

It's possible that some of you are there right now. Wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat clawing because the nightmare came back and the anxiety attack. You feel like you're perishing. And you're concerned that you're about to be a laughingstock when the whole thing goes down. They said they heard God, what a joke. But you know they cried out, Lord save us! Like, where is he at? He's not up here! Is he overboard? Where is he at? And then they realize the answer is not up here. The answer is only going to be found when they go deeper. This is a deck boat. This is a boat with a cabin. This is a boat that has an inner chamber in it, and it's taking on water. And as if the situation is not bad enough to find the answer, they got to go deeper into a situation that is already bad. And now when they stick their head down into the chamber that is flooding, they discover that their lays Jesus, and his cage doesn't seem to be rattled at all. In fact, he seems to be at complete peace. He is resting in the middle of the storm. Hey, Jesus! Jesus!

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

The Bible says that Jesus rose up and came up into the middle of that boat and spoke peace

be still. And there's a part of me that wonders if he was talking to the waves, or he was talking to the disciples. Because what we know is everything went silent. Everything became calm. And now that he's taught to this situation, he begins a conversation with the disciples, and he says, why do you have such little faith? And if you stop there, you're going to miss the whole point. Because yes, it was a moment of correction. Yes, there's probably a rebuke within his tone. But you can't miss what happened. Because what Scripture points out in verse 24, is there was a great storm. And what Scripture points out in verse 26, is that there was a great calm. So Jesus took the storm and he turned it into calm, but between a great storm and a great calm Scripture says this, “There was  little faith.” Great storm, great calm, little faith. Wait a second, I thought faith is what moved God.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

I thought faith is what caused God to do it. Great storm, great calm. Devil did something really big and bad, God did something really big and good. Little faith. And he still

did it. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

Hey, Peter, James, and John, you don't got to be Moses or Elijah. Sometimes all you need is just what little you got left to see God bring calm to the storm. It does not say that he fixed the sails. Don't check out on me yet. It does not say that he put the boat back together. It does not say that he resolved all the damage that may have been incurred. It just says he calmed it all down. Little faith can have a great effect. Even when you feel like you've got more fear than faith, little faith can have a profound effect on bringing the calmness that you have been searching for, the calmness that you have been longing for, the calmness that you have been pleading for, the calmness that you have been wondering like God where are you at in all of this. Great storm, great calm. little faith.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

Here's what happens next. It's verse 27, and it says When this happens, they don't know what to do with it. They knew he could open a blind eye. They knew he could unstop a deaf ear. They knew he could preach like nobody ever preached. They didn't know he had any authority over wind. They'd never seen this version of God. They never experienced this manifestation of God. They're learning something in spite of their little faith. And, this is what they say, verse 27, who can this be? Who is this? Like, who is this God that we have in the boat with us? Who is this? Well, here's the goodness we know who he is. In Matthew chapter 1:21, “And she shall bring forth a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.” Somebody say Jesus, “And he will save you from your sins. You shall call his name Jesus, and he shall save you from your sins.” But watch this, don't miss it, verse number 23, “And behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, God with us.” Watch what happens. You call him Savior. They acknowledge God is with you. It's the only way you could have made it through the storm. It's the only way that you could have got back to port. It's the only way that when every other boat went down in the emotional distress, that somehow you're still floating. Somehow you didn't sink. Somehow you're still making your way through, everybody else's trying to pick up the remains, and somehow you and your family are still floating. Like anybody else would have give up, anybody else with a set of Gods this quality must not exist. Anybody else would have said if Jesus ain't gonna do it now, he ain't ever gonna do it. I'm going overboard! I quit! Somebody send the rescue mission! But instead, you called him Savior! You called him Jesus! And now they're standing at the harbor, and they're saying, I'm telling you, I don't know how to explain it, I don't know how to understand it, but God is with those people. God is with that family. God is with that business. There might be some tattered sails, there might be some broken boards, there might still be some water in the bowl, but God is with those people! God is with those people! God is with! I need somebody who knows what it is to have God with you. Look over at somebody and tell them God is with me. God is with me. You call him Savior, and the world has to acknowledge God is with you. He didn't say that you would call him Emmanuel. He said, you  will call him Jesus. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

Have you called him Savior? Like, have you called him Savior? Because if you've called him Savior, it means you're following him. And I want to tell you just cuz you following him does not mean there will not be a storm, does not mean that there will not be a storm that the devil himself sent. But if you'll just keep calling him Savior, if you just keep calling him Jesus. Psalm 107 says it this way in verse number 28, “And he brings them out of their distresses.” Watch this, “When they cry out to the Lord in their trouble, he brings them out of their distresses. He calms the storms so that it's waves are still, and then they are glad, because they are quiet. And so he guides them to their desired haven. Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for the wonderful works to the children of men, let them exalt Him also in the assembly of the people and praise him in the company of the elders.” Somebody shout, Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! If you know him as Savior, and you will stick with him and not jump overboard, and not not question him to the point that you leave in the middle of a storm, the world will eventually have to say, God is with them.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

 I leave you with this thought. I told you this story is recorded in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. And one of the things that the other Gospel writers points out is that, and I alluded to it earlier, but it specifically says this, that Jesus was in the innermost part of the boat, the innermost part of the boat. And I point this out to you as well, that when you're going through all those storms, you're going through all that wind, it doesn't mean that you won't have to go down before you go. But the thing I really want you to see is that that boat is a type and a shadow of me and you. That boat had Jesus in the innermost part. And I just wonder, have you ever really allowed Jesus into the innermost part, where you said there's no section of my cabin that's off limits. There's no cavern within my soul that I'm keeping you from. Jesus, I give you the innermost part. And I think that the thing that Jesus would invite all of us to do, is to first experience him as Savior. And that in so doing, we can then experience him in the inner most part, deep inside of us, to where that when the whole world is coming apart at the seams, we have some kind of a peace that passes understanding. Because Jesus is on the innermost part. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

Curt is going to just play soft. I want to tell you a story about one of my heroes of the faith. John Wesley may be one of the greatest preachers of all time. The man preached over 40,000 sermons in his lifetime. He built ministries that still stand to this day. But what everybody remembers about John Wesley is that before the days of modern amplification, he preached to 10,15, 20,000 people at a time. And it wasn't to choirboys. He went out into coal mines, strip mine fields, stood up on stumps, the backs of wagons, on horseback and preached. And these big rugged, grizzly men would give their life to God, overcome by conviction. In one event, he led so many coal miners to the Lord, that they had to retrain the mules after the salvation experiences because the mules stopped and went based on curse words. And after those guys got saved, they weren't comfortable saying the curse words anymore. They had to retrain the mules. Honey, that's revival. Put that in the dictionary. They asked him at one point, why is it that so many people come to listen to you preach, especially people that you wouldn't expect to see in a religious setting. And he said, I set myself on fire, and they come to watch me burn. But what people miss about Wesley, they see everything he built, they read all the highlights of the resume, but they miss that when he graduated from Oxford University in England, he was disenchanted with Europe, very frustrated with England. He didn't like the prostitution. He didn't like the gambling. He didn't like the economic issues and all the politics. And he got on a boat and he came to America. And he started going down the Georgia coastline preaching to Native Americans. And he failed miserably. It was an utter disaster. And he had to tuck tail, get on a boat, and go back to England in failure. It's the beginning stages of his ministry. And it starts with failure. They’re on the boat, a storm comes out of nowhere. It's rocking that ship. There becomes a certainty that things are going down. John Wesley wasn't trying to hide the fact that he was scared. In fact, he was horrified. He looked around, everybody around him was freaking out. Everyone is concerned. This ship is not going to make it, we're all going to die. And in the middle of his chaotic fear, he looks over to one side of the boat and he sees a handful of people, and they are at complete peace. They are completely calm. They were Moravians. They were from an island and making their way back. And John Wesley, in the middle of the storm, he walks over to them and he says to them, are you not frightened? Are you not scared? Are you afraid that the ship is going to go down? And the leader of that tribe said, why should I be afraid, I know Christ? And then with disarming directness, he looked at John Wesley and he said, do you know Christ? And at that moment, John Wesley realized he had never allowed Jesus into the innermost part of his being. And the impact of 10s of 1000s of people and churches that still stand to this day came only after surviving a storm. and realizing you got to get Jesus to the innermost part. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

How about you bow your head, you close your eyes, and you first call on him as Savior. Call him Jesus. Call him Savior. If you've never done that, right now is your moment. Receive the blood of Jesus shed for you. Call him Savior. Admit that your sins need cleansing. Admit that your soul needs saving. Call him Savior. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

And after that part is settled, invite him into the innermost part of your life. That no section of your soul, no section of your heart would be reserved for, let him in, let him all the way in. Bring him into the stern of your life. That when the wind starts blowing, and the lightning starts flashing, and the thunder starts clapping, and the boat starts taking on water, and the earth starts shaking beneath you, and you can't even make sense of how big the storm is, that there will be some kind of peace in spite of your little faith, that brings great calm when God has had his say.