Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

24. Cultivating Christ Like Character, Faith – Part 4

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Matthew 14:22-33

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.

As we look at cultivating the Christ like character of faith we come to Peter’s response to Jesus Faithfulness which is a response of Faith. In light of the Lords faithfulness faith is the only right response. God consistently calls us to follow by faith but so often our fears get in the way. What are those fears, well it would be easier to list what we don’t fear. For the list of phobias that we have as humans is almost unlimited. One of Satan’s favorite weapons is fear, because fear effects our focus. It causes us to take our eyes off of Christ and put them on our crisis. So that instead of walking by faith we end up following our feelings. Satan our enemy knows your fears, and he is going to throw those fears in your face. It might be the fear of failure, whether that be in the past, the present or even fear of future failure. It might be the fear of what others will say or do. But regardless of what the fear is Satan will try to throw it in your face. But you don’t have to focus on the fear you can focus on Christ’s faithfulness. The best way to keep the enemy at bay is to keep Christ before.  If you want to keep the enemy out then keep Christ in. Sheep have no reason to fear the wolf when they live in the shadow of the Shepherd. Because while Satan does not fear praying sheep he does fear the presence of the Shepherd. We are by nature fear focused people that is why Jesus not only came to His disciples but also called out and told them not to cower but to be courageous because the great I Am is here. Their courage did not come because of a change in circumstances, the storm was still raging, no their courageous came because Christ was in control of the storm. Today we want to base our courage not on Christ but on Him calming our circumstances. But courage doesn’t come because of a change in circumstances it comes because Christ is in control of your circumstances. Instead of focusing on the junk that creates fear we need to focus on Jesus who cultivates faith. It’s here that Peter responds to the call of Christ and climbs out of the boat, leaving his man made worldly security to walk with the Savior. When it comes to a life of faith it’s important to note that this is not only the second boat trip but also the second storm that the disciples have gone through as a result of obeying Jesus. While we often pray for smooth sailing if Jesus remove all of the obstacles there would be no need for obedience. The truth is prayer strengthens us for challenges more than it changes our circumstances. Yes it’s true that sometimes prayer changes circumstances but more often it changes us. God often uses prayer not to exempt us from difficulty, but to strengthen us to endure it. You can certainly ask God to give you a pass from cancer, accidents, grief, pain, or financial pressure. But perhaps it is Gods Will not to give you a pass but a to grow you so that you will pass. I love this prayer that an unknown Confederate soldier wrote. – “I prayed for strength that I might achieve, I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey. I asked for health that I might do greater things, I was given infirmity that I might do better things. I asked for riches that I might be happy; I was given poverty that I might be wise. I asked for power that I might have the praise of men, I was given weakness that I might feel the need for God. I asked for all things that I might enjoy life, I was given life that I might enjoy all things. I got nothing that I asked for, yet everything that I had hoped for. Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered. I am among all men most richly blessed.” In the first storm Jesus was with them in the boat while in the second He was interceding. Jesus stretches our faith in incremental steps. The first time he got into the boat with them, but the second time he sent them on ahead. It’s one thing to trust Jesus when he is right there, but are you going to trust Him even when you can’t see Him? Jesus uses the same boat to help us take baby steps in our faith. It’s here that in response to the faithfulness of Jesus we see the Faith of Peter. Yet sadly Peter has become the most familiar part of this story because most of us forget to first focus on the faithfulness of Jesus. Are you going to focus on the storm or the Savior, on your fears or on His faithfulness?

 

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