AGCC Sun. a.m. 8/9/1998
TEXT: Matt. 14:22-33
Too often Christians have a poor understanding of what it means to live
the life of faith. Often our concept reflects our society rather than
Scripture. Our society tells us that life should be pain free, hence all
the aids and medications we have to quickly remove any and all pain from life.
Our society is set up to make life easy and the pursuit of happiness is mistaken
to mean the guarantee of happiness.
Nowhere in Scripture however is the life of faith portrayed this way! In
fact, rather than mirror our society's understanding of a pain free life the
Bible presents nearly an opposite view, the life of faith is often experienced
with difficulties that require faith to overcome them.
The reason so many Christians today find it difficult to worship God and
live for him is because they have an improper view of the Christian life, their
hope in coming to Christ was to find an easy life rather than a godly
life. Godliness however is usually formed through difficulties, not
ILLUS: In hot tropical rain forests,
huge plants and trees grow quickly, sometimes almost overnight. But these trees
have soft wood, and they fall prey to insects and diseases and live only a short
time. In the rugged mountains of the north, growth is slow. Plants and trees
must endure high winds, ice storms, and intense cold, but they grow strong and
tough with knotty, hard wood. Hardships have values we don't usually appreciate
at the time, but they have a tendency to strengthen us.
-- Albert P. Stauderman, Let Me Illustrate,
(Augsburg, 1983), p. 13.
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us
that God may allow fierce storms into our lives, but He will always be with us
in them, and through them we will discover the power of God and His control of
our lives and all things around us!
A. God's Plan 14:22-23
1. Jesus had just days earlier learned that John the Baptist had been killed, and from both this and his experience with the 5,000 he was ready to get alone for prayer.
a. Jesus thus sends His disciples ahead of Him to the next place of ministry.
b. The trip over the Sea of Galilee was completely in God's will!
2. The Lord simply sends them on ahead, He does not guarantee them a safe trip without incidents, just to "go".
a. There are always possible dangers as we do what God asks us to do.
b. Following Jesus did not exempt the disciples from dangers that were common to all men everywhere.
3. Their responsibility was to be obedient to Christ's direction in their lives no matter what.
a. This has not changed today!
b. We need to adopt the mentality of the French Foreign Legion in regards
to our walk with God:
If I falter, push me on. If I stumble, pick me
up. If I retreat, shoot me. --James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House
Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 128.
B. Great Problems! 14:24
1. They had made good progress until somewhere around 3-6 am!
a. A sudden storm had blown in against them.
b. They were completely doing the will of God and obeying Jesus' directions and yet they found it nearly impossible to obey the Lord!
c. What do you do when this happens?
2. To their credit they don't give up…they continue to fight against the storm! Mark 6:48 adds here that they were "straining at the oars".
a. It might have been easier to just turn around, but they were determined to be obedient.
b. Like many of life's storms, they make almost no progress even though they are working hard at doing what Christ had asked them to do!
3. Jesus certainly could have prevented this storm, but it was each of these trial experiences that helped shape the godly character of these men.
a. The Lord is far more concerned about the development of our character than He is the general comfort of our lifestyle!
b. To keep us from struggling would allow for us to become weak!
ILLUS: A man confined to bed because of
a lingering illness had on his sunlit windowsill a cocoon of a beautiful species
of butterfly. As nature took its course, the butterfly began its struggle to
emerge from the cocoon. But it was a long, hard battle. As the hours went by,
the struggling insect seemed to make almost no progress. Finally, the human
observer, thinking that "the powers that be" had erred, took a pair of scissors
and snipped the opening larger. The butterfly crawled out, but that's all it
ever did--crawl. The pressure of the struggle was intended to push colorful,
life-giving juices back into the wings, but the man in his supposed mercy
prevented this. The insect never was anything but a stunted abortion, and
instead of flying on rainbow wings above the beautiful gardens, it was condemned
to spend its brief life crawling in the dust. That gives me the idea that God
knows what He is doing. It's a fact that you can depend on Him--even when it
seems the struggle is hard and meaningless. --James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton:
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 20.
4. Like the disciples, the storm had actually made all their progress cease, they were literally going nowhere fast!
a. They were expending great energy and making no progress.
b. So many times we feel this way in serving God too!
c. Discouragement soon led to fear, and with this all efforts
II. GOING WHERE GOD DELIVERS 14:25-31
A. God's Presence 14:25
1. While Jesus was far away physically, He was not far from them in His heart and mind, and even on the mountain top praying He takes note of their difficulties and immediately comes to them.
a. Jesus is not bound by the laws of nature since He Himself created them, so He takes the quickest route to them…walking on water!
b. God doesn't get sidetracked from coming to us when we are in need, and He is never too busy to take notice of our trials.
2. There was something to learn in this experience, so Jesus does not simply stop the storm.
a. God is always in control, and when He does allow storms into our lives it is always with a purpose in mind.
b. The disciples knew Jesus could do miracles, but they needed to see Him as more than a miracle worker, they needed to see Him as Lord of all!
3. Jesus therefore doesn't simply end the storm, but He does make His presence known to them.
a. In Mark's account of this story it indicates that Jesus didn't even plan on stopping, but that He simply was going to pass by them! (see Mark 6:48 "He was about to pass by them…")
b. This wasn't out of coldness, but simply to challenge their faith.
4. By now they should have trusted the Lord, enough things had transpired
so that their faith would bring them through this.
ILLUS: We can easily forgive a child
who is afraid of the dark: the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of
the light. -- Plato,
Leadership, Vol. 1, no. 2.
B. Great Panic! 14:26-27
1. Their faith should have been strong enough just seeing Jesus pass by them, they weren't children anymore.
a. Unfortunately the still carried baggage from their pre-Christ days.
b. The Jews had a superstition about seeing ghosts at night, if you ever saw one at night it always meant evil things were about to happen to you!
c. Instead of their knowledge of Jesus ruling their hearts, their old way of thinking kicks in!
2. They would have done better to think about Christ and less about their
old myths…for their fear keeps faith from surfacing!
ILLUS: The remarkable thing about
fearing God is that when you fear God you fear nothing else, whereas if you do
not fear God you fear everything else. -- Oswald Chambers in The Highest Good. Christianity Today,
Vol. 42, no. 2.
3. Jesus has to quickly remind them to get their fear off of myths and put their faith back in Him, so He quickly corrects their thoughts about who He is!
a. It is tragic to think that they couldn't identify Christ's presence, this is what fear does for us when we are in storms and fearful, keeps us from even knowing God's presence in the situation!
b. How many of us when we are afraid have felt that God had abandoned us? The truth is that He never does this, we just can't identify His presence because of fear!
4. Jesus' expression to them "TAKE
COURAGE" (NIV) or "BE OF GOOD
CHEER" (KJV) was to move them back to the place of faith and away
C. Godly Plea 14:28-31
1. Peter is the first to respond in faith, although it is just a "little faith" (see 14:31)
a. Peter's slight doubt still shows in his statement, "IF it's you…"
b. Peter will not venture where Christ does not bid him to come, at least in this he uses wisdom.
2. Peter's desire was to be near the Lord, this was the endearing feature of Peter, even if he tended to be impulsive otherwise.
a. Jesus' response to Peter's request is immediate and definitive, "COME"!
b. Jesus is touched by Peter's godly desire to be near Him.
c. The request to come to Jesus demonstrated faith, especially since the storm was still raging!
3. It is interesting to note that even at this point Jesus has not stopped the storm!
a. Even when we are drawn closer to the Lord the storm may still be a full strength!
b. Peter steps out in faith with his eyes fixed on Jesus…and the miraculous happens…while the storm continues!
4. Peter finds himself walking on the water miraculously even with the storm still brewing all around him unabated.
a. Sometimes Jesus bids us to come to Him during the height of the storm without taking it away!
b. As long as Peter kept his eyes on Christ there was no problem… BUT
5. Peter after already walking some distance toward Christ suddenly becomes aware of the continuing storm, it has not calmed down in spite of getting near Jesus and Peter makes the near fatal mistake of taking his eyes off Jesus and putting them back on the storm!
a. Peter does the expected thing when his eyes turn back to the storm, he starts to sink!
b. Boy if this doesn't describe our life when we get our eyes off of Christ!
6. Peter quickly does the right thing however, he cries out to Jesus to save Him, a prayer that God will never ignore!
a. It isn't the length of a prayer that gets God's attention, it is the sincerity of our prayer!
b. Peter discovers how quickly and how desirous God is at saving us, for He immediately reaches out and takes hold of Peter to keep him from sinking!
c. It is not God's desire that we perish!
ILLUS: As the sounds of battle drew
closer to Saigon on April 29, 1975, biology teacher Thoa Nguyen gathered his
family. South Vietnam would soon fall to the Communists. "We will never
surrender our beliefs," said Thoa, a devout Christian. "We must leave our
country." But at the airport Thoa, his school-principal wife, Son, and their
seven children were turned back. The following morning a band of Communist
youths seized Thoa and pushed hm into the street to be executed. "Please, dear
God, help!" Son screamed as a pistol touched Thoa's head. Suddenly a woman ran
forward. The Nguyens, she said, were popular for their good deeds as teachers.
An execution without trial would harm the revolution. God answered Son's prayer
as Thoa and his family were released. -- Today In The Word, Moody Bible Institute, August 6,
7. And so Peter is rescued from his own lack of faith by the cry of desperation and Christ's love for him.
a. Jesus does express his concern over Peter's "little faith" however…
b. After all, hadn't they just the day before fed the 5,000 miraculously, to say nothing of all the sick that had been healed before the meal!
c. It is ironic that a miracle or even a set of miracles does not always
solve the problem of faith, faith must be applied each time to each of life's
storms all over again.
I. GIVING WHAT GOD DESERVES 14:32-33
A. God's Power 14:32
1. Only after both Peter and Jesus step on board the ship does the storm finally quit!
a. God's power isn't always revealed early in a storm, but His presence always is if we are looking for Him!
b. God's power was at work, everything was under Christ's control, a fact they should have known.
2. Why did Jesus allow so much of this storm to touch them before calming it by His power?
a. To make their faith stronger in Him, it is one thing to believe when Jesus is touching other people, another thing when it is us!
b. God's power was not just for all the other people that needed Him, they
needed to experience it also.
ILLUS: A diamond is a chunk of coal
that made good under pressure. -- As quoted in Bob Phillips, Phillips' Book of Great Thoughts &
Funny Sayings, (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1993), p.
3. Christ desired their spiritual growth as well as that of the
B. Great Perspective 14:33
1. Suddenly their whole understanding of Jesus had changed, while they had seen Jesus touch others, they now had been touched by Him and this resulted in a new understanding of Christ, HE IS LORD!
a. They begin to worship Him.
b. Everything looked different now.
2. When Christ has touched your life you will not be able to avoid worshipping Him.
3. Jesus was always in control, they just now understood this.
a. They never did have to be afraid, their faith would triumph.
b. They had found a new respect and awe for Christ.
ILLUS: Out West, a cowboy was driving down a dirt road, his dog riding in back of the pickup truck, his faithful horse in the trailer behind. He failed to negotiate a curve and had a terrible accident.
Sometime later, a highway patrol officer came on the scene. An animal lover, he saw the horse first. Realizing the serious nature of its injuries, he drew his service revolver and put the animal out of its misery. He walked around the accident and found the dog, also hurt critically. He couldn't bear to hear it whine in pain, so he ended the dog's suffering as well.
Finally he located the cowboy--who suffered
multiple fractures--off in the weeds. "Hey, are you okay?" the cop asked. The
cowboy took one look at the smoking revolver in the trooper's hand and quickly
replied, "Never felt better!" -- Leadership, Vol. 19, no. 1.
4. An encounter with Christ will change our perception of those things
around us too, let us worship Him!
CONCLUSION: The disciples were clearly following Jesus' directions - which led them right into a storm! God does not lead us into a carefree life, but when we face the storms and seem to go nowhere He does promise to be with us! Christ will not abandon us when storms hit, He will join us in the storm where we will realize the awesome Savior's presence and power…resulting in praise! The secret? Keep your eyes on Christ, not the storms!