#2 (THE "DON'T BE AFRAID" SERIES)
"DON'T BE AFRAID TO DO THE IMPOSSIBLE!"
TEXT: Matt. 14:22-33
INTRO: Fear is one of Satan's best tools against Christians! The Christian community at large often has not been all it can be because of fear.
1. How many people never share their faith in God with others because of fear?
2. How many Christians never develop their talents because of the fear of failure?
3. How many Christians miss great opportunities because of fear?
4. How many Churches never progress and do great things because of fears; fear of finances, fear of commitment, fear of failure, etc.
Fear and faith are nearly opposites, where fear often holds us back faith often goes boldly where no man has gone before! No wonder one of the most common greetings Jesus used was "Do not be afraid…" or "peace be unto you."
We are living in days when nearly everything can frighten us. Our news media rarely focuses on what is good and right, its main focus is on what is wrong and bad, and studies are often given on all kinds of things that we can be afraid of! It has gotten so bad that you can almost make anything frightening today if you use correct but creative statistics!
ILLUS:BARRY SIEGEL IN HIS BOOK "WORLD MAY END WITH A SPLASH" SHARES THE FOLLOWING FRIGHTENING STATISTICS: "IF EVERYONE KEEPS STACKING NATIONAL GEOCRAPHICS IN GARAGES AND ATTICS INSTEAD OF THROWING THEM AWAY, THE MAGAZINES' WEIGHT WILL SINK THE CONTINENT 100 FEET SOMETIME SOON AND WE WILL BE INUNDATED BY THE OCEANS! IF THE NUMBER OF MICROSCOPIC SPECIMEN SLIDES SUBMITTED TO ONE ST. LOUIS HOSPITAL LAB CONTINUES TO INCREASE AT ITS CURRENT RATE, THAT METROPOLIS WILL BE BURIED UNDER 3 FEET OF GLASS BY THE YEAR 2224! IF BEACH GOERS KEEP RETURNING HOME WITH AS MUCH SAND CLINGING TO THEN AS THEY DO NOW, 80% OF THE COUNTRY'S COASTLINE WILL DISAPPEAR IN 10 YEARS. THEY HAVE ALSO DISCOVERED THAT PICKLES CAUSE CANCER, COMMUNISM, AIRLINE TRAGEDIES, AUTO ACCIDENTS, AND CRIME WAVES! HOW DO WE KNOW THIS? ABOUT 99.9% OF CANCER VICTIMS HAD EATEN PICKLES SOMETIME IN THEIR LIVES ... SO HAVE 100% OF ALL SOLDIERS, 96.8% OF COMMUNIST SYMPATHIZERS AND 99.7% OF THOSE INVOLVED IN CAR AND AIR ACCIDENTS. MOREOVER, THOSE BORN IN 1839 WHO ATE PICKLES HAVE SUFFERED A 100% MORTALITY RATE! AND FINALLY, RATS FORCED-FED 20 POUNDS OF PICKLES A DAY FOR A MONTH ENDED UP WITH BULGING ABDOMENS AND HAD A LOSS OF APPETITE! NOW YOU CANNOT EVEN EAT A PICKLE WITHOUT FEAR! -- Source Unknown.
Seriously, while fear often keeps us safe, faith moves us to do the impossible! All the great things in Christianity came about because someone had faith! Think of all the miracles in the Bible, how many occurred where there was no faith!?
Faith makes the impossible possible, we need to not be afraid to do the impossible!
PROP. SENT: The Bible will teach us that fear robs us of doing great things for God, faith on the other hand will enable us to do the impossible, so don't be afraid!
I. DISTRESS! 14:22-26
A. Focus 14:22-24
1. Jesus had just finished feeding the 5,000 (actually it was much more since this report only counted the men!)
a. He had miraculously multiplied the 2 fish and 5 loaves from a small boy and fed them all!
b. there were even left-overs ... 12 baskets left, one for each disciple!
2. In John's Gospel it is stated that the crowed was going to make Jesus their king by force because of His miraculous power!
a. this helps explain why Jesus IMMEDIATELY makes the crowd leave and now asks His disciples to get into a boat and go to the other side!
b. The crowd ... and even His disciples didn't understand why He did the miracle! Their focus was on the material realm, Jesus was just trying to show them that He had control over the material realm, therefore, He could also help them spiritually. A message they didn't receive!
3. The crowd's focus was wrong, they only saw what they wanted, not what they needed!
a. so many times they failed to see what Jesus was trying to show them.
b. so many times we do the same thing, we don't really focus on what's important, just what we want!
ILLUS:PRESIDENT FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT GOT TIRED OF SMILING THAT BIG SMILE HE WAS FAMOUS FOR, AND SAYING THE USUAL THINGS AT ALL THOSE WHITE HOUSE RECEPTIONS THAT PEOPLE EXPECTED HIM TO SAY, SO ONE EVENING HE DECIDED TO FIND OUT WHETHER ANYBODY WAS PAYING ATTENTION TO WHAT HE WAS SAYING WHEN THEY MET HIM. AS EACH PERSON CAME UP TO HIM WITH EXTENDED HAND, HE FLASHED THAT BIG SMILE AND SAID, "I MURDERED MY GRANDMOTHER THIS MORNING!" PEOPLE WOULD AUTOMATICALLY RESPOND WITH COMMENTS SUCH AS "HOW LOVELY!" OR "JUST CONTINUE WITH YOUR GREAT WORK!" NOBODY LISTENED TO WHAT HE WAS SAYING, EXCEPT ONE FOREIGN DIPLOMAT. WHEN THE PRESIDENT SAID, "I MURDERED MY GRANDMOTHER THIS MORNING," THE DIPLOMAT RESPONDED SOFTLY, "I'M SURE SHE HAD IT COMING TO HER!" HE WAS THE ONLY ONE WHO HAD FOCUSED ON WHAT HE SAID! -- Source Unknown.
4. Jesus had not only fed the multitude, He had preached to them as well about spiritual realities, but they never focused on that, just the miraculous food!
a. You can see why Jesus quickly dismissed the crowds so He could go alone up the mountain to pray!
b. you can see why He immediately sent away His disciples too.
c. it was time to refocus!
5. Jesus no doubt felt distressed over the crowd's focus, hence His need to pray alone!
6. The disciples were distressed because they were having a terrible time obeying what Jesus had told them, to go to the other side!
a. a terrible storm was fighting them all the way!
b. sometimes when we do what God asks us to do we find that there are forces against us pushing us back or keeping us from doing what God wants!
c. To their credit, they didn't give up, they were determined to obey Jesus!
d. they worked hard to keep going, but they were going nowhere!
e. how often does this happen in our walk with God?
B. Fear! 14:25-26
1. The other time they had faced a bad storm at sea they at least had Jesus on board with them, but not this time!
a. It appeared they were on their own this time!
b. They were using all the human effort they could muster.
2. Jesus, aware of their distress goes out on the Lake, but it seems clear from Mark 6:48 that Jesus did NOT intend to stop and join them in the boat, for in Mark's Gospel it states that Jesus "was about to pass by them…" when they saw him they cried out in fear!
a. Jesus did not intend to stop and join them in the boat, but their fear made this necessary!
b. Perhaps Jesus had hoped that they had learned from the earlier experience to trust that they would come through o.k.
3. When they saw Jesus, they assumed He was a ghost, after all, they had not seen Him walk on water before, much less during a terrible storm!
a. popular Jewish beliefs at the time held that if you saw a spirit or ghost at night it meant that something terrible was going to happen to you.
b. their reaction of fear probably indicated that they were thinking about this and assumed that disaster was about to fall upon them!
c. fear had them assume the worse, it usually does!
d. Fear not only makes us assume the worst, it also keeps us from pressing on in trust, it makes us hold back!
ILLUS:THERE WAS A MAN WHO HAD TO CROSS A WIDE RIVER ON THE ICE. HE WAS AFRAID IT MIGHT BE TOO THIN, SO HE BEGAN TO CRAWL ON HIS HAND AND KNEES IN GREAT TERROR. HE THOUGHT HE MIGHT FALL THROUGH AT ANY MOMENT. JUST AS HE NEARED THE OPPOSITE SHORE, ALL EXHAUSTED, ANOTHER MAN GLIDED PAST HIM NONCHALANTLY SITTING ON A SLED LOADED WITH PIG IRON! HOW LIKE SOME CHRISTIANS! HEADED FOR HEAVEN, THEY TREMBLE AT EVERY STEP LEST THE DIVINE PROMISES BREAK UNDER THEIR FEET! THEY NEED ONLY TO LOOK AT THE CONTEXT OF ISAIAH 12:2 TO REALIZE THAT GOD IS THEIR SALVATION AND THE LORD IS THEIR STRENGTH AND SONG. BY RESTING COMPLETELY UPON HIM AND TAKING HIS PROMISES BY FAITH WE CAN DRIVE OUT THE PARALYZING FEAR THAT HINDERS OUR EFFECTIVENESS IN SERVING CHRIST AND THE PROGRESS WE COULD MAKE BY FAITH! THE BIBLICAL MANDATE IS THIS: "I WILL TRUST, AND NOT BE AFRAID!" -- Source Unknown.
4. Jesus quickly identifies Himself to them so they don't keep reacting in fear.
II. DELIVERANCE! 111:27-33
A. Faith! 14:27-29a
1. Jesus' presence alone should have taken care of their fear!
2. the fear that had gripped their hearts had paralyzed them!
3. they did not have to be afraid, He was with them!
a. Jesus encourages them to "take courage"
b. You notice He told them to "TAKE" courage ... how do we take courage? By faith!
4. Christ's promise to all His disciples: "lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age!" (Matt. 28:20)
5. Peter, whose love for Jesus often exploded in sudden bursts of faith, now prepares to do the impossible!
a. It is interesting to note that Peter never did ask to walk on water, he simply asked Jesus that he be allowed to "come to Him."
b. Peter as a fisherman certainly knew how to swim well, perhaps he simply thought of swimming over to where Jesus was!
c. Peter's desire was simply to be with Christ, he wasn't thinking of how to get there, just to get there!
6. faith is not put into the miracle we hope for, it is put into the person of Christ!
a. too many times you hear people express faith in HOW God will DO something …
b. But we are to put our Faith IN Christ, not the miracle!
7. This was exactly the problem with the crowd after Jesus had fed them with the loaves and fishes, they had faith to believe He would do material miracles for them, but not faith in Jesus as the one who would meet their spiritual needs!
8. Peter was so in love with Jesus that when his faith sprang into action it was always to get close to Jesus, this is why he at times did the miraculous!
ILLUS:A FATHER SAID THAT HIS LITTLE GIRL, WHO WAS MUCH AFRAID OF THE DARK, SLEPT AT NIGHT IN A CRIB BESIDE HIS BED. OFTEN HE HAD BEEN WAKENED DURING THE NIGHT BY A LITTLE VOICE SAYING, "PAPA, IT'S DARK! IT'S DARK! PAPA! TAKE NELLIE'S HAND PAPA!" AND WHEN, IN ANSWERING, HE HAD TAKEN HOLD OF THE LIFTED HAND, SHE SANK QUIETLY TO SLEEP, ALL HER FEARS BEING TAKEN AWAY BECAUSE HER FATHER WAS PRESENT! THIS SHOULD BE TRUE WITH US TOO, FOR OUR FATHER IS ALWAYS RIGHT THERE BESIDES US, EVEN IN THE DARKNESS! -- Source Unknown.
9. Jesus bids Peter "come," He never turns down faith, especially faith that helps us step out to do the impossible!
a. Whatever Peter expected, he simply in faith steps out of the relative safety of the boat during the storm and heads toward Jesus!
b. Peter like Jesus is walking on the water!!
c. Peter's faith in Jesus enabled Him to do the miraculous ...
10. How many times have we stepped out in faith, even during the storms in our life to do the impossible?!
a. usually during storms we withdraw and seek safety!
b. this is the result of fear!
c. but we are live by faith, not fear!
11. Peter was the only one to step out in faith, and he was not disappointed!
B. Fumble! 14:29b-31
1. What starts out in faith can soon return to fear. Peter is starting off fine, but then he takes His eyes off Jesus and puts them back on the storm!
a. the results are immediate ... immediately he starts to sink!
b. how true with us too, even if we started off in faith, if we even for a moment take our eyes off Christ and put them on the circumstances of our lives and the storms in our lives the effect is immediate, we begin to sink!
c. this results in fear returning where faith had conquered!
2. It certainly must have been hard to ignore the storm, after all it was all around him, and he was not standing on the boat which represented at least some security!
3. Even an experienced swimmer like a fisherman like Peter would be in real trouble in this rough sea!
a. at least he doesn't make the attempt to get back to the boat on his own or to trust his own ability to swim, some of us probably would have tried in our own strength to do that!
b. Peter does the smart thing when fumbling and beginning to sink, He prays!
c. you will notice that he doesn't pray a long prayer, but a very sincere one!!
d. Peter cries out in prayer, "LORD SAVE ME!"
(1. this kind of prayer Jesus always hears!
(2. this prayer recognizes the need for Jesus, and Christ will always respond!
4. It is too bad Peter had let all the stuff around him take his eyes off Christ, but don't we often do that?
a. the age we live in can deliver so many distractions that we can hardly hear Christ speak anymore!
b. We need to learn to keep the "clutter" out of our lives so that Christ can be clearly heard, S0 we can have faith to do the impossible!
ILLUS:A MAN WENT INSIDE A TELEPHONE BOOTH AND DIALED THE NUMBER OF A FRIEND. WHEN THE CONNECTION WAS MADE, HIS FRIEND KEPT SAYING TO HIM, "I CAN'T HEAR YOU, SPEAK LOUDER, I CAN'T HEAR YOU!" ALL HE COULD HEAR WAS THE ROAR OF THE TRAFFIC IN THE BACKGROUND. FINALLY HE SAID TO HIS FRIEND, "SHUT THE DOOR SO I CAN HEAR YOU AND NOT ALL THE BACKGROUND STUFF!" FAITH IS WHAT HELPS US SHUT THE DOOR SO WE CAN HEAR GOD CLEARLY AND THUS RESPOND TO HIS CALL ON OUR LIVES! FAITH WILL ENABLE US TO DO THE IMPOSSIBLE! -- Source Unknown.
5. You will note that Jesus does not say that Peter had no faith, just "little faith."
a. Jesus says to him, "you of little faith, why did you doubt?"
b. evidence of that doubting was his sinking!
6. how do we know when we are living in doubt, when we are sinking spiritually?
a. when our eyes are more on the world than Christ.
b. when fear is more a factor in our lives than faith.
c. when instead of doing the impossible we are looking for ways to find security and comfort!
d. when we are sinking out of sight from the rest of the disciples and God!
7. At least when Peter began to sink he did the right thing, he immediately calls out to Jesus for help!
a. and Christ immediately answers his prayer!
b. faith restores the impossible to possible again!
8. It is one thing to fumble, another thing to quit!
9. fear will drive you to God or away from Him, Peter chose to go to Jesus!
C. Focus! 14:32-33
1. Jesus had just asked Peter, "why did you doubt?"
a. this is a good question, had there ever been a reason that Christ had given Peter to doubt before?
b. Had Jesus ever failed him before?
c. Had Jesus ever been without power?
d. Hadn't they all gone through a storm before and survived?
2. Jesus was really asking, "on what basis do you not believe?" An interesting
a. the world always asks the wrong question, they ask "why do you believe?"
b. but the real question should be, "why don't you believe?"
c. in the light of history and God's faithfulness through many generations, what reasons do we have NOT to believe!?
3. You will notice that Peter and Jesus walked back to the boat while the storm continued to rage, the storm did not end with Peter's resurgent faith!
a. the storm didn't stop until Jesus and Peter had returned to the boat and were inside the ship!
b. Faith does not always remove the storms right away, it just allows us to walk through them safely and without fear!
c. Faith first restores our focus, Peter was not thinking about the storm now even though it was still raging, he was thinking about Jesus whom he was walking back to the boat with!
4. Suddenly the rest of the guys made a discovery about Jesus that they should have already known: HE REALLY IS THE SON OF GOD!
a. That fact had always been there, but it took Peter's faith to help the rest of them focus correctly!
b. What they had been told by Jesus' teaching was now known by example!
5. Fear exacts a heavy toll on our lives...
ILLUS:THE STORY IS TOLD HOW DEATH ONE DAY CAME STALKING A CERTAIN CITY. AS DEATH WAS WALKING TOWARD THE CITY A MAN RAN INTO HIM AND ASKED DEATH WHAT HE WAS ABOUT TO DO IN THAT CITY. DEATH RESPONDED, "I'M GOING TO THAT CITY TO KILL 10,000 PEOPLE" THE MAN ANSWERED, "THAT'S TERRIBLE AND HORRIBLE!" DEATH SPOKE UP AGAIN AND SAID, "THAT'S THE WAY IT IS, THAT IS WHAT I DO!" AND SO THEY BOTH WENT ON THEIR WAY. A DAY OR SO LATER THE MAN HEARD THAT 70,000 PEOPLE HAD DIED THAT DAY IN THAT CITY, AND SO WHEN HE WAS RETURNING TO THE CITY AND RAN INTO DEATH LEAVING HE ASKED HIM, "YOU SAID YOU WERE ONLY GOING TO KILL 10,000 PEOPLE, BUT I HEARD THAT 70,000 WERE KILLED. WHY DID YOU LIE?" DEATH ANSWERED, "I DIDN'T KILL MORE THAN 10.000 PEOPLE, WORRY AND FEAR KILLED THE OTHER 60,000! -- Source Unknown.
6. In Hebrews 11:6 it states, "without faith it is IMPOSSIBLE to please God."
7. The only way to do the impossible, to please God or do anything, is by faith. Don't be afraid to do the impossible, Jesus will be with you!
CONCLUSION: It is impossible to keep from sinking when the storms of life strike us and our response is without faith! Faith works better when it is practiced and not just preached! The only way to do the impossible and not be afraid is to have our focus on God and not on the storms. Don't be afraid to do the impossible, have faith!