Water Walking 101
This is the second storm the Bible mentions involving Jesus and the disciples. The first was in Matthew 8 when Jesus was asleep in the boat and the disciples woke Him up crying, “Master, we perish!” That message was called “The Storm Before the Calm.” [read today’s text]
At least Jesus was present in that storm, but this time He’s nowhere to be found. His presence is not apparent. And we all go thru storms where it seems God is not in it, and cannot be reached. What do you do then?
5 anchors to hold to while weathering the storms of life:
1. I am Guided by God's Providence.
Jesus has allowed this storm to be.
The parallel passages in Mark and Matthew make it clear: They are in this storm because Jesus sent them into it on purpose.
Matthew says Jesus “Constrained” them to go. This is a strong word which means to compel or to drive. The disciples wanted to stay where they were after the great miracle of the loaves and fishes they had just been a part of, but Jesus made them leave.
Joke—Boy Scout was late for troop meeting. When questioned about his tardiness he explained that he was doing his good deed for the day. “I spent a good while helping an old lady across the street.” His scoutmaster replied, “Why would that take so long?” “She didn’t want to cross the street!” He constrained her to go!
Jesus constrained them to go, knowing their course would intersect a great storm. We know now that had they stayed they would have been tempted to ride His coattails and never leave His side. We are all attracted to power…but Jesus wanted the disciples to be able to stand on their own, even without His presence. He proved He could walk on water, but wanted to show them they could do the same thru faith. The point is that sometimes God will send us into a storm of testing, and at the same time He is delivering us from a storm of temptation. He may be sparing you from something worse you could not foresee. And it is better to be in God's will in a storm than out of God's will in the calm. God's will is the safest place to be!
You see, God is more concerned with our spiritual growth than our personal comfort. He loves us just as we are, but He loves us too much to leave us that way. He sees down the road and He is molding us in His image step by step. In the first storm He was present, in the second storm He proved to be there, but they couldn’t see Him at first. Peter learned to look to Jesus, even when he couldn’t see Him!
Even in the storm God is in control! Jesus knew that down the road Peter would one day be crucified upside down, and John will be boiled in a cauldron of oil, James will be beheaded in Jerusalem, Luke will hang from an olive tree in Greece, Mark will be dragged to death in the streets of Alexandria, and so on. So Jesus takes them all thru a gradual process of bigger and bigger storms along their journey.
The disciples may have been scared to death, but in the end they realized they went thru this storm not because they were out of God’s will, but because they were IN His will.
Some storms are for correction as in the case of Jonah. Sometimes we drift off course, and God needs to bring a storm to blow us back to where we are supposed to be.
ill.--little boy lost his boat off the pond bank. He began to cry. A man came along and said, "Don't cry, I'll get it back." He began to throw large stones at the boat. The boy was dismayed. "Trust me," the man said. Of course, he was throwing the rocks on the far side, creating waves which drove it back to the bank, right into the boy's hands.
Sometimes God allows ripples in life...sometimes they are like tsunami waves...but when we are driven back into the arms of Jesus we see this was a storm of correction! And we can thank God for the storm. Because we are guided by His providence.
Some storms are for perfection such as in this storm. These are designed to mature us. The best growth I've experienced in my life came not through smooth sailing, but on the high seas!
Either way, God is in control and we are guided by His providence.
ill.--it's like a chess game. Ever played someone who is much better than you? You think you are making your own decisions of your own free will...and yet you always seem to end up exactly where they want you to be.
And man thinks he can take his world wherever he wants but I'm here to tell you today that this thing is gonna end up exactly how God wants it to.
The first anchor we have in the storm is that Jesus has allowed this storm to be. I am guided by His providence. The second anchor…
2. I am Graced by His Prayers.
Jesus is praying for me.
When I am in the place of peril, Jesus is in the place of prayer.
v. 15-16 Jesus goes to the mountain to pray, according to Mark, and the disciples to the sea. What a contrast between their two locations. The Gospel of Mark says that Jesus could see them toiling in rowing. He’s on this mountain overlooking the Sea of Galilee and He can see the storm and the disciples in it. They can’t see Jesus, but He can see them. And the Bible says that Jesus ever liveth to make intercession for us. He isn’t surprised by what comes upon us…He’s there watching and praying for us! The disciples are in the place of peril, Jesus is in the place of prayer. And even today He is praying for you!
Ill.—A little boy got in trouble and his mother disciplined him. He was mad at his mom for this. At bedtime he knelt with his mother by his bedside and asked God to “bless daddy, sissy, bubby,” the dog, cat, fish, and friends, but not his mother. At the end of the prayer he smirked at his mom and said, “I guess you noticed you weren’t in it!”
The good news for us today is that no matter what we’ve done against Him, Jesus is praying, and we’re in His prayer!
Anchor #1 is that Jesus allowed this storm to be. Anchor #2 is that Jesus is praying for me…
3. I will be Gladdened by His Presence.
Jesus will come to me in His own time. [the storm will be stopped]
v. 17-19 The 4th watch of the night is between 3 AM and dawn. It’s the darkest part of the night. Liberals say the disciples actually saw Jesus walking on the shore, and like a mirage they imagined He was walking on the water. But the Bible says they were in the midst of the sea [approx. 3 miles out], in the darkest part of the night, raining like crazy. I wish the liberals would take the time they spend concocting such nonsense and spend it in church!
ill.--they remind me of a grocery stock boy / a woman was looking for a larger chicken than the biggest she could find in the poultry section / she asked, "Do these things get any bigger?" / He said, "No, they're dead!"
I’m just simple enough to believe that God walked on the water just the way the Bible says. I believe that every drop of water in that sea held hands to uphold the lovely Son of God who created them! I believe that gravity itself answers to Jesus, and that this great miracle was a small thing for Him!
Ill.—a little girl met her newborn baby brother, just home from the hospital. Momma taught her how to support the head, but of course she had to let his head sag a little and test why she had to support it. Somebody later asked her how she liked her new brother. She said, “He’s ok, but his head’s not screwed on right.”
And liberal theologians heads aren’t screwed on right…and they cause people to doubt the truth of God and His Word!
Why did Jesus come to them in this manner, walking on the water? In part it was to show them that what they feared the most was under His control. The waves that were over their heads were under His feet…and I don’t care what storm you are going thru, whether financial, familial, emotional or physical…He’s on top of it!
What you fear the most may actually bring you closer to Jesus. That raging sea was nothing but a sidewalk that brought Jesus closer to them, and could bring them closer to Jesus if they would get out of the boat in faith!
They thought it was a ghost at first.
Joke—2 security guards worked at a hospital morgue. It was eerie. The first asked, “Do you believe in ghosts?” The second replied, “No, but I’m a-scared of ‘em!”
It looked like things couldn’t get worse in this storm, and now here comes a ghost! Why would they think it is a ghost? Because they were living in fear instead of living by faith. Faith would have assumed it was Christ, the One Who just worked the great miracle before their eyes on the hillside. But since they now couldn’t see Him, they didn’t believe. They needed to learn that faith is believing in something you CAN’T see.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
We say, “I don’t see how God is in this!” Exactly! What a great opportunity to exercise faith!
Had they not already seen Jesus calm a storm before? Did not the waves lie down peacefully like a whipped pup? They had good reason to believe in faith during this storm…and so do you!
Don’t let your imagination run wild w/ paranoia. The devil works in the realm of the mind. Don’t live in fear, live by faith!
We can be assured that Jesus allows storms to be for a reason, and He is praying for us, and will come to us in His own time. 4th anchor…
4. I am Guarded by His Power.
The storm has power over us, but Jesus has power over the storm!
They are afraid...of the water. And what they feared the most is what Jesus came to them walking atop!
ill.--Some said, "If Biden wins the election...we're sunk!" Well, the election is over, and Jesus is still King, the tomb is still empty, and we who are on God's side will still come out on top!
5. I am Growing in His Purpose.
The storms of life can help me grow in faith.
Faith is like film...it is developed in the dark!
On that boat that night was the loud but lovable Simon Peter. What must the others have thought of him as he began to step out. “Boy, he’s pulled some crazy stunts in his day, but this is just too much!” But as he confidently jumps out his feet land on water that feels like concrete! Can you imagine how fun that would be?
It’s easy to criticize him for taking His eyes off the Lord and sinking, but at least he got out of the boat. The church today is filled w/ ‘boat people’, but there is a great need for water walkers! We need risk takers who make attempts, who try and fail, and get back up again. We need a big challenge. If we aim at nothing we’re sure to hit it!
Imagine you are Peter, and you go under. What goes through your mind? For the record, I think it’s good that Peter sank, knowing his pride the way we do. Could you imagine living with him if he had not? He would have been the Barney Fife of the New Testament! He would have started a church and called it “Water Walker Baptist Temple!”
God is not looking for perfection, just for someone to get out of the boat and try something once in a while. So how about you? Ever been out on visitation? Would you give it a try? Ever witnessed to someone? Will you give it a go? Ever taken the first 10% out of your paycheck and set it aside before paying all your other bills, even in a time of inflation? Are you willing to make an attempt and see if it’s really true that you can’t out give God?
Peter learned a lot that day…about himself and about the Lord. He learned that when fears rise, faith dies. He learned to keep His eyes on Jesus and not on the storm, and that each of us can be a water walker!
Fear is looking at God thru your circumstances, but faith is looking at your circumstances thru God! We need to live above the circumstances, not under them. Don't waste this storm. It would be a shame to go through it and not grow because of it.
Your storm may be for correction or for perfection, but Jesus allowed it to be, and allowed your paths to cross, and while you are in the place of peril, Jesus is in the place of prayer…He may seem far away, but He’ll come to you in His own time, and He’ll use this storm to increase your faith!
Hold to the anchors!
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