The message was brought by Rev. Eddie Foster.
Matthew 14:22 And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. 23 And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. 24 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. 26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. 27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. 28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. 29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. 31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? 32 And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. 33 Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.
Jesus had just fed 5,000 men, besides the women and children, probably 15-20 thousand people. He persuaded the disciples to get in a boat and go to the other side. On the man side of Jesus, he was tired and went to the mountain to be alone with the Father. He made room in his busy schedule to be with the Father. How many will say they pray enough? I don’t. The very fact that the Bible says “the effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” ought to make me pray more than I do. Then a storm came and was tossing the boat to and fro. Jesus came walking on the sea. The last person the disciples expected to see was Jesus Christ. They had left him on the shore. They thought they saw a ghost walking on the water; that made them afraid. This was natural. I’ve been afraid. We all have. Jesus spoke to them and said Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. Peter spoke up and said Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. Jesus summoned him out of the boat. No other man had ever done what Peter did–he walked on water. But then he remembered the storm. Verse 30 says But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid. He began to sink.
At this point Jesus had not stopped the storm. He knew about it while he was still on the mountain. He could have stopped it then but he didn’t. Get hold of this. Jesus can calm storms around us, but even in the midst of them, he is there to get us through. He never leaves us.
I want to share 5 things with you about this story.
(1) When Peter got out of the boat, that was a big deal. We get down on Peter but at least he did get out of the boat. Be willing to try something big, something new. The most dangerous words in the church are “we’ve never done it this way before.” I’m not big on change. Change for the sake of change is ridiculous. Why fix it if it isn’t broken? But if something needs changing, change it. There might be opposition but change it anyway.
(2) Peter became aware of the wind. Outside influences will discourage you. Develop faith not to sink by keeping your eyes on Jesus. Eyes on the world will defeat. The world is a terrible place right now. We need to pray for our leaders. We don’t have to like what they do but we are told by the Bible to pray for them. How do we get this faith? (a) Read the book. I subscribe to the Bristol Herald Courier. I read it every day. It does nothing for me like this book–the Bible. This is the living Word of God. I can read it and read it and something leaps out of the page at me. (b) Believe the book. All of it. Someone was asked once if he really believed a whale swallowed Jonah. He said I do and if the book said Jonah swallowed a whale, I’d believe that too. (c ) Use the book. When you have doubts and fears, use the book. David said to hide its words in our hearts that we might not sin against God. It will sustain us through the storm.
(3) Peter was willing to try something big. So did Joshua. In chapter 10 he commanded the sun to stand still. That’s big. He risked embarrassment if God didn’t come through. They needed a few more hours to win the battle. Why not ask God to give it to them. He did it. Another big one is the story of Elisha and Elijah. Elisha wanted a double portion of what Elijah had. When Elijah was caught up in a chariot of fire in a whirlwind, Elisha didn’t get distracted by the sight. He’d been told that if he saw Elijah taken away he would get his desire. He asked and he got something big. Another example is Caleb, one of the 12 spies sent to check out the land of Canaan and report back to the people of Israel. Ten said there were giants and they couldn’t go against them. Joshua and Caleb agreed there were giants but said God could do it. Now 85 years old Caleb asked for a big thing. He said “give me this mountain.” He didn’t want God to just hand it over to him. He asked for it with the intention of claiming it and fighting against the inhabitants. That’s what he did. That’s big! David took down Goliath. How? He threw the stone from his sling and hit him in the forehead. He should have fallen backward but the Bible says he fell forward. I think God just knocked him in the back of the head when the stone hit the front. We give God opportunities to do mighty things when we ask him. It prospers the work of God. Don’t limit God. Jeremiah 33:3 says Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not. Ephesians 3:20 says Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think. God is able and can do great things. Why would we limit him?
(4) Walk by faith, not by sight. Peter looked at the storm and began to fall. While we walk by faith we are trusting the Lord. When we walk by sight we are trusting self. Then we get in trouble. Faith got Peter out of the boat and it was all right until he looked around. A centurion asked Jesus to heal his servant. He knew Jesus didn’t have to go to his house to do it. He told Jesus that he could speak and it would be done. Jesus said he’d not seen such faith even in Israel. Jesus never rebuked the disciples for not being wealthy. He never rebuked them for a lack of intelligence. Many were just poor fisherman. He did rebuke them many times for their lack of faith.
(5) Be willing to cry for help. We have a mindset to ask God for help when it gets real bad. Ask God first. We rely on forces of the world but the end is sometimes devastating. Times of difficulty will come. Some preach a health and wealth religion. That’s not reality. Storms are inevitable. You’re either in a storm, getting ready to go into one or getting out of one. As far as I know, right now, I’m not in a storm. Before the sun goes down I could be in one. Be willing to ask God for help. Peter went to Jesus right away. If he’d started out in some long prayer he’d have been under water before he got to the asking for help. Do we need to do something special to get God’s attention? Peter simply said “Lord, save me.” Immediately Jesus reached forth his hand and lifted him up.
Jesus knew about the storm. He knows about your storm. Ask him about it. Take the big stuff to him. If your God can’t handle the big stuff, you need to change gods. My God can meet and handle all my storms.
It’s been over 2,000 years since this story took place but the invitation is still the same: come. To Peter, Jesus said come. To the lost: Jesus says come. To those with a heavy yoke: come. In a storm? Come. Your problem can be handled by our God.