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Faith & Obedience

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Matthew 14:25–33 (ESV)

25 And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Faith & Obedience

Faith. It is the foundation of being a Christian.

Hebrews 11:1 (KJV) Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Hebrews 11:6 (ESV) And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Ephesians 2:8 (ESV) For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God

So faith is being absolutely certain of something, even if we have no empirical proof (empirical is a word used by scientists to talk about something that can be proven true or false by observation and experimentation). And we cannot come to God or find salvation without faith. Miracles happen because of faith. “We need to put our faith in God for the victory!”
But I believe there is a flip-side to faith that is part of the Christian life. It is not enough to simply trust that God will be faithful to us. This passage from Matthew is an obvious lesson on the importance of faith. But there are lessons here that are almost always overlooked.

An Uncertain Situation

When Jesus came walking on the water toward the boat, everyone was full of doubt and fear. Even when Jesus announced himself, the disciples doubted.
There are many times when our situation will be uncertain.
Times of sickness.
Loss of work.
Financial crisis.
Relationships falling apart.
Loss of a loved one.
You have been waiting for God to move in a certain situation, and it feels like it will never happen.
These seasons of uncertainty can be so overwhelming that we feel like God has abandoned us.
Like the apostles in that boat, our perception can get so distorted that we don’t recognize Jesus standing right in front of us.
But he IS right there with us.

A Moment of Determination

Everyone on that boat thought it was a ghost or evil spirit coming toward them, and they were terrified. But while everyone else was cowering in fear, Peter made a choice to take action. He called out to the Lord.
When Peter called out, he was actually trying to make sure that it really was Jesus that he was talking to.
When we are going through struggles, lots of people are ready with advice and programs to make everything better than before.
We can’t look to simple formulas or models of how things worked for another individual or church to solve our problems.
We need to let the Lord look into OUR situation and meet OUR need in the best way, whatever that way may be.
Peter called out, “If it’s really you, Jesus, invite me to walk on the water.”

Obedient Action

Take note that Peter did not simply get out of the boat.
He called to Jesus, and asked him to invite Peter out onto the water.
Peter knew that the only way he could walk on water was if the Lord willed it.
Here, in the United States, we are taught the importance of making a mark in this world.
We need to show initiative.
God helps those who help themselves.
We tend to apply this to our spiritual lives as well.
We make our plans, and expect God to bless them.
But while Peter asked Jesus to call him out of the boat, he didn't just assume the invitation would be given.
In fact, up until the moment Jesus gave the invitation, Peter wasn't even certain that it WAS Jesus.
Peter wasn't trying to make himself look good, but was making sure that it was really Jesus coming.
Our only goal in any situation is that Jesus is in the center of it. Our objective is to always see the Father be glorified.

Danger of Distraction

How many times have we seen God blessing a situation, only to watch it fall apart? Why do you think that happens?
Here Peter is, walking on the water with Jesus, and suddenly he starts sinking!
Peter became distracted, and it was his distraction that led to his submersion.
Do you think that when Peter saw himself on the water, he might have began wondering HOW it was happening?
How often do we allow our own rationalizations to interfere with our trusting God?
We have our own idea of how it should go, and anything else is unacceptable.
We pray for the in filling of the Holy Spirit, but then we try to figure out how to speak in tongues rather than just trusting the Lord to bring this about in us.
We ask God to guide us, but then we panic when He leads us into shaky territory.
Or else, we beg for God to miraculously intervene, but when the blessing comes, somehow we start thinking that it was from something we did.
When the Brownsville revival happened, Christians from around the world rushed to Florida to find out what that church did to bring about revival.
The pastors of the church were writing books about the spiritual insights that would turn your church into a Spirit-filled megachurch.
Churches tried to copy what they saw at Brownsville, but were disappointed that they didn’t experience amazing revivals
Eventually, the leaders of the church had disagreements and left. Many of the church members left to attend Baptist churches in the area.
Basically, God did something good in Brownsville, Florida, to draw people closer to Himself.
Instead, everyone began focusing on the miracle instead of the Master.
They decided to take credit for it, put it in a bottle, and sell it.
We can get so caught up in what is going on, even in our service to God, that we forget to focus on our relationship with God.
We make everything about us.
Our problem.
Our need.
Our ministry.
Our success.
And then we wonder why things are falling apart around us.
Peter could walk on water for as long as his attention was fixed on Jesus.
Through it all, our eyes must always be fixed on Jesus.

Christ’s Infinite Compassion

Even in Peter's failure, Jesus was there for him.
How ironic that Peter was testing Jesus, and he ended up failing!
The moment was supposed to be about Jesus, and through his distractions, Peter had made it about himself.
Even so, when Peter cried out to Jesus, Jesus was faithful to save him.
How many times do we look at ourselves or others and think, "When am I ever going to get my act together" or "When are you going to get your act together"?
The fact is, it's beyond my power to get my act together. If I could, I wouldn't need Jesus.
But I find myself making that mistake time and again.
My only hope is to call out to Jesus "Save me!" And then take hold of His hand.
And that's the thing: When you cry out to Jesus, He will always reach out to you.

Conclusion

So what do we take away from this?
Starting right now, we stop waiting for the Lord to come find us.
Like Peter, we seek to go where Jesus is. "Lord, if it really is you, call me to you."
As we begin actively pursuing Jesus, we mustn't allow anything, including our service to the Lord, to distract us from getting as close to Him as possible.
When we start to sink, when we start to doubt Jesus, He is still faithful and will save us. We only have to call to Him.
Your uncertain situation is a moment of determination to respond in obedient action. But even in the Lord’s provision, beware the danger of distraction that leads to submersion. Through it all, Christ is infinite in compassion, bringing Divine interaction. With our eyes fixed on Him, we will find satisfaction.
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