Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God


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14 Obedience –Are you on board or over board – Part 3

Matthew 14:20-33
20 They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers. 21 About 5,000 men were fed that day, in addition to all the women and children! 22 Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. 23 After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone. 24 Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. 25 About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!” 27 But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!” 28 Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” 29 “Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. 31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” 32 When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. 33 Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.

In Matthew 14:20-33 we see Christ calling an ordinary person to engage in an extraordinary act of trust. As Peter steps out of the boat he reminds us that when you ask the Lord for instructions you need to be prepared to follow them when he speaks. How often do we call on God only to disregard His directions? Its not that His instructions are difficult to understand, you don’t need a Phd to figure them out you need faith to live them out. There is a vast difference between feeling the safety of a solid wood boat beneath your feet and stepping out onto the surface of an element that your entire being and entire life experiences say will not support you just because someone tells you to. We need to remember that our safety and security is not found in what seems solid but in the One speaking. What is critical is not only that we recognize the voice of the one calling us to come, but that we put out trust in Him. Do you believe the voice of the One beckoning? When Peter asked Jesus to invite him to come Jesus responded by saying “Yes, come.” In order to act on God’s Word Peter had to make a move that went contrary to common sense and all that he was accustomed to calling normal. When you call to Jesus and He invites you to come will you act on His Word or waver? Will you respond to His direction or dismiss? Many dream of doing what Peter did but they refuse to take that step out of the normality of their regular lives toward the excitement of obeying the Lord’s commands. Rather than responding to the voice of Jesus they reman in the boat only to be bashed by the waves and driven by the winds. What is going to move you the Savior or the storm? Are you going to be driven by the fear of the storm or faith in the Savior? Stepping out is not simply a change in geographical position but a change of spiritual position. This is not about a change in your circumstances its about coming closer to the Lord. There are many today who when they don’t find what they are looking for in the Lord turn to blaming everyone and everything. They are quick to cover up fears and doubt by criticizing those who have stepped out for the Lord. They only point to Peter’s failure instead of focusing on the fact that Peter ACTUALLY walked on water! Why don’t we move when the Messiah speaks, because we trust in the familiar instead of faith? We want to rely on our routines instead of resting in the Redeemer. How many songs remain unsung and how many verses remain unwritten because we have become so carelessly comfortable with where we are that we are unwilling to heed His call? It takes courage to get out of your comfort zone because the path to Jesus involves forgoing the familiar for faith. Peter was able to walk on water only as long as he walked by faith. The sad part of this story is that only Peter stepped out at the command of Christ. Many hear the Word but few follow through an act on it. All of the disciples saw the Lord walking on the waves but only one wanted to emulate Him. Why did the rest hang back, were they waiting and watching to see if it would work? Was it let Peter test it out and if its safe we will also say yes to the Savior? Thats not faith its fear; obedience is based on trust in the Savior not the success of others. How many times have we found ourselves in this same position, we hear God’s voice but we forfeit obedience because of fear. There are many who are too timid to venture out but boldly criticize those who dare. We become satisfied to sit and stare when we could be stepping out and surfing the storm. We end up living sad lives separated from the Savior because we refuse to obey. Stepping out at God’s command may seem foolish but to those who follow its a walk of wonder. Do you want to live a safe life and stay in the boat or a supernatural one and step out for the Savior? For a short while Peter was striding over the storm, standing above the situation not sitting in it. Now we need to note that just because we obey the Lord and do what He says does not mean that we will be trouble free, the storm still surged even after Peter said yes. Obedience is not some guarantee to a problem free life its the gateway to a power filled one. We don’t rest in calm circumstances we rest in Christ power over them. We sometimes worry as to wether Jesus is aware of our situational storms, but the real question is are we aware that He is sovereign over the storm. Jesus demonstrated to Peter that He was in control of the very circumstances that threaten to consume him. He is the King over your current crisis, the master of your mess and sovereign over every storm. What is really in control of your life, the currents of your circumstances or Christ the King? It was the words of Jesus not the wind and the waves that made a difference in Peters life. While the other disciples stayed and stared from the boat Peter said “Lord, if that’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.” Lord command me to come to you, this is the moment of faith when Peter believed that if Jesus gave the order, He could do it. There could have been eleven more disciples experiencing the miracle, walking above their circumstances but only one asked. What would you attempt for God if you knew that you couldn’t fail? Living a live of reckless obedience isn’t just about expect great things from God, its also about attempt great things for God. Faith is a wonderful thing in the abstract, but the critical moment comes when it’s time to get out of the boat. Faith isn’t a feeling its action based on belief, a belief that caused Peter to bail out of the boat. I wonder if after it was all over wether the other disciples said: “I knew that was Jesus out there, I knew Peter would walk on the water, I could have gone out there and done that too.” There are a lot of people who practice faith in theory, but that night in the storm, only one of them practiced by putting faith to His feet and getting out of the boat. Are you living a life of obedience, are you putting feet to your faith? One day this life will be over and I wonder what footprints of faith will we leave to guide our kids to God? Go for a walk in any cemetery and ponder what was left undone because people were to busy bound up in the boat, afraid to venture out when they heard the voice of Jesus. They heard his call they just didn’t heed His command. As you stand in that cemetery surrounded by the silence of death ask yourself this question: How many great songs were never written, pictures never painted, life-changing achievements never attempted, powerful testimonies for Christ never spoken? What could be more tragic than to go to your grave never having tasted the great things God made available to you all because you never asked or you refused to respond? Peter not only believed Jesus could enable him to walk on the water he chose to act on that belief. Faith is not simply knowing that God is out there, it is more than mentally believing, it also involves doing something about that belief, it means getting out of the boat. If you say that you believe then why are you still in the boat?


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13 Obedience –Are you on board or over board – Part 2

Matthew 14:20-33

20 They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers. 21 About 5,000 men were fed that day, in addition to all the women and children! 22 Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. 23 After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone. 24 Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. 25 About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!” 27 But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!” 28 Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” 29 “Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. 31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” 32 When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. 33 Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.

Twice in this passage we see Jesus calling His disciples to obedience. The first involves a call to get into the boat and the second to:

  • Get out of the boat

At first the disciple’s perception of Jesus was panic, because instead of seeing the picture painted against the backdrop of belief it was filtered through fear. It was only after Jesus called to them and calmed their hearts that their fear was replaced by faith. We might argue that they had never seen someone walking on water in the midst of a storm and so their fears were valid, but hadn’t they just witnessed the miracle of Jesus feeding the masses? I mean if Jesus could feed multitudes with a measly meal of five loaves and two fish, which is not physically possible, then what would prevent Him from having power over the sea or for that matter over any situation? Why do we limit the Lord? Why when we witness His power do we minimize His miracles by living like they only pertain to that particular place and time? Today we are just like the disciples, who after experiencing God’s incredible power over the impossible, default to doubt instead of trust His power during our next trying time. His miracles may move us to marvel but do they move us toward building a foundation of faith? The next time you experience uncertainty are you going to rest and rely on the foundation of faith or default to doubt and fear? The tragedy for many modern Christians is that we fail to transcribe His truth. If God did the impossible and defied the laws of physics with the miracle of feeding the masses, then why couldn’t He walk on water? It is hear that Peter calls to Jesus asking Him to call Peter to come to Him. Peter is not challenging Jesus he is stating a powerful truth. That unless Jesus is doing the calling we can’t accomplish the impossible, Peter wasn’t tempting Jesus he was trusting Him. The first time that Jesus called Peter to come to Him, to leave His boat and follow, it required a step of faith but one we need to remember that was taken on the heels of another mighty miracle. After fishing all night and coming up short it was Jesus that did the impossible and filled his nets to overflowing. As Peter recalls the power of God in his past it causes him to pursue God in the present in spite of the problems, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” Jesus first words didn’t calm the storm they calmed their straying hearts, “But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!” You may long for God to change your situation but it may be your sight that needs changed, because many of us are more focused on the storms than on the Savior. Are you going to focus on the severity of the storm or the strength the Savior? Stop letting the chaos consume you and just listen to His call. Jesus replied in verse 29, “Yes, come, so Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus.” When Peter listen to the Lord’s call it gave him the courage to climb out the boat. Today instead of responding to the call of Christ many of us are clinging to the comfort of our boat. In the storm we are tempted to put our security in the stuff, but safety and security are not found in our ships they are found in the Savior. Jesus told his disciples to get into the boat not to depend on it; there is a difference between getting into the boat and it becoming our god. You see the boat was only a tool to transfer them to the other side not for them to put their trust in. So Peter asked Jesus to call him to come, that means he was willing to respond, today are we really willing to follow through on what we pray? Do we really mean what we say? We ask God to strengthen our faith but is that what we really want or what we know we should say? What are you calling on Jesus for, is it for the courage to come to Him regardless of the challenges, or is it for Him to calm your circumstances? It was in the midst of the storm that Peter calls out to Christ, despite the difficulty and the darkness he is determined to do life with the Lord. How desperate are you for Jesus? In order to leave the boat and come to Christ Peter had to be willing to let go. What are you holding onto that is preventing you from journeying to Jesus? Many of us are only willing to respond to Christ’s call to come when its calm, we say, Lord when it’s safe I will serve, when it’s comfortable I will come. But Peter doesn’t wait for the water to calm before he comes to Christ. He simply responds to Jesus and does something that to many seems reckless, he steps out of the safety of the boat and into the storm. But Peter knows that relying on Jesus is never reckless. Christ’s call is a call to courage in spite of your current circumstances. Reckless obedience is following the Master no matter what, no matter where you are, who you’re with, or what you’re doing. Reckless obedience doesn’t focus on the cost; it simply focuses on following Christ. Peter knew that only Jesus could call Him to walk on the waves, that only Jesus could give him success over the storm. At some point we will all come to the crossroad, respond to His call or choose what seems comfortable. What will you choose to heed, the call of Christ, to get out of the boat, or clinging to what is comfortable and missing not just the miracle but the Master. Reckless obedience is willing to abandon the safety of the ship and step out in faith to follow the call of Christ. What about you have you made a decision to follow despite the danger? How much do you really trust God at this point in your life? Enough to obey His call even in the chaos? Enough to surrender the safety of your ship for the simple call of the Savior? Security is found in the Savior not in the silencing of your storm. What if you stop looking simply for a change in your circumstances and started listening for His call? What would it look like for you to let go and really listen to the Lord?