22 Immediately after this, Jesus made his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake while he sent the people home. 23 Afterward he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone. 24 Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves.
25 About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came to them, walking on the water. 26 When the disciples saw him, they screamed in terror, thinking he was a ghost. 27 But Jesus spoke to them at once. “It’s all right,” he said. “I am here! Don’t be afraid.”
28 Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you by walking on water.” 29 “All right, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when he looked around at the high waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.
31 Instantly Jesus reached out his hand and grabbed him. “You don’t have much faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” 32 And when they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. 33 Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed. NLT Matthew 14:22-33
What would you have done? You are in a middle of a storm. The boat is rocking. The waves are smashing. You are very tired. A ghost is walking on the water and getting closer. You think it might be Jesus, you’re not sure, you’re a little fuzzy on that. The ghost invites you to get out of the boat and walk on water. Are you excited to jump out? Or do you stay in the boat?
This story is about Peter following Jesus. He has to face and overcome terrorizing fear and take a huge risk to get out of the boat. Think about this for a second, everything asked of Peter goes completely against everything he has ever learned. For example, while fishing with his dad, he would have learned to stay in the boat so you do not drown. What does Jesus ask? It seems crazy. “Peter, come in here, don’t be afraid, it’s all good.”
This story is also a story about us following Jesus. When God asks us to follow His leading in our lives, it can go against everything we are used to doing, we can be frozen with fear. It can seem crazy. It scan feel like we are taking a huge risk to leave our comfort zone. For us to give control over to God just seems like it’s too much risk to take.
Do you know what I am talking about? That moment God invites you to give your life over to Him. He wants you to trust Him. He wants you to follow Him. What do we do, we can be like the other eleven disciples gripping the side of the boat in fear. Do you have moments like that? God comes and speaks to your heart. Things like; I need you to forgive, I need you to handle your money this way, I want you to slow down and be with me, I want you to go and help create MRC Gettysburg. God speaks to us, He leads us but we are afraid of following.
So why do we think that giving our lives to God and following Him is so risky? Because we think, doing life our way makes the most sense. It’s called pride and if we don’t deal with it, it can turn into rebellion against God.
6 Seek the Lord while you can find him. Call upon him now while he is near. 7 Let men cast off their wicked deeds; let them banish from their minds the very thought of doing wrong! Let them turn to the Lord that he may have mercy upon them, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon! 8 This plan of mine is not what you would work out, neither are my thoughts the same as yours! 9 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than yours, and my thoughts than yours. TLB Isaiah 55:6-9
Did you read that: “this plan of mine is not what you would work out.” That’s it. God’s plans and thoughts are so different than ours. We can’t even begin to imagine the beauty of His plans. So in those moments when God asks us to give Him our lives and follow Him, we kinda don’t want to do it.
If we were going to write our own story, we would have control. Our plan is immediate satisfaction. Our plan means we would be safe and secure. Our plan means we get what we want; the job, the validation, revenge, etc. Our plan makes sense to us. To follow God’s plan, to get out of the boat, just seems too risky. Why? Cause we want to do it our way.
So what is normal for most Christians in North America? We go half way. One leg in the boat, one leg out. One leg splashing in the water, one leg still in the boat while we sit on the side of the boat. We do we go half way? We like to appear that we jumped out of the boat all the while covering our basis just in case God doesn’t come through. We think, I’m going to kinda follow Christ.
If God asks me to forgive with a pure heart, I don’t. But to nice up my pride and rebellion, I will be fake nice to them. If Jesus teaches me to give money, I don’t. Actually, I’ll give what I want to give and how I want to give because I want to keep that control. If God asks me to date in purity, I don’t. But to nice it up my pride and rebellion, I go to church now and then. If God asks you to stop being negative or a victim, I don’t. But to nice up my pride and rebellion, I make excuses as to why the God stuff doesn’t work for me.
Do you see what I am saying? God invites us into an adventure to follow Him. It scares us because it can feel like it goes against everything that seems right to us. So we go half way to appear as if we are following Christ and the truth is, we want to keep control. This is why the world looks at the church and says, ‘There is no difference between church people and the world.’ There is nothing that distinguishes between a Christ follower and someone living in our culture.
What is God leading you to do? What is it? When God speaks to your heart and asks you to get out of the boat, what do you do? If you feel fear, if you feel it’s a risk to follow Christ, this story about Peter is a story about you.
I want you to realize something about Peter. Peter got out of the boat because he was obedient. His decision was not about luck – ‘Peter is lucky he was the favorite disciple.’ It wasn’t about his personality – ‘It’s just easier for Peter because of his personality.’ It wasn’t about his talent – ‘It was easier for Peter because he was a fisherman.’ It was a decision to be obedient. He had to face overcome fear to be obedient.
I want you to realize something about a disciple of Christ today. Obedience to Christ isn’t about luck. It’s not easier for someone else because they have a different personality. It isn’t easier for someone because they have a natural talent. Obedience is a choice and feels like a risk for everyone.
We think giving our lives to God and following Him is risky because we believe doing life our way makes the most sense. And to cover our pride and rebellion, we see others who are obedient and we make excuses as to why it is easier for them.
The second reason we think following Christ is risky is because we think the most important things in life are about comfort and safety.
In the Bible when God freed the Children of Israel from being slaves in Egypt, they had to walk through the desert and face enemies before they got to the promised land. Here is they responded to God leading them to freedom.
Then all the people began weeping aloud, and they cried all night. 2 Their voices rose in a great chorus of complaint against Moses and Aaron. “We wish we had died in Egypt, or even here in the wilderness!” they wailed. 3 “Why is the LORD taking us to this country only to have us die in battle? Our wives and little ones will be carried off as slaves! Let’s get out of here and return to Egypt!” 4 Then they plotted among themselves, “Let’s choose a leader and go back to Egypt!” NLT Numbers 14:1-4
God is leading them to better places and what do they want to do? Go back into slavery. Let me ask you, how many times has God invited you to give your life over to Him and follow Him and you think; I want to go back to the way I was living before. I don’t want to follow God, it seems hard. I want to go back into misery because at least in misery I knew what was coming, more misery. That seems insane, but that is in all of us.
In the Peter story, did you notice that Peter jumped out, walked on water and sank? Did Peter fail? No, the other eleven disciples failed because they never experienced God. They thought the cost to get out of the boat was too great. They wanted comfort and control. They didn’t understand that the cost to stay in the boat, where it was safe, was greater than following Christ. What was the cost? They never experienced God so their faith never grew. All they had was a story about what Peter did.
Today, when God asks you to give your life to Him and follow Him, what do you do? Do you privately say no? Do you quietly just ignore God? Do you leave here today unnoticed? You say, ‘Well, maybe next month.’ I would challenge you to understand, the cost to stay in the boat where you think it is safe and you have control, that is a higher cost than getting out of the boat. Put another way, the cost to not follow Christ, to quietly say no inside, that is higher than following Christ.
We think giving our lives to God and following Him is risky. Why? Because we believe doing life our way makes the most sense. Secondly, we think the most important things in life are comfort and safety. Lastly, we want to avoid fear. We think by staying comfortable or in the boat we can escape the feeling of fear. Here something you need to know. Fear will always be with you. If you stay where you are and never get out of the boat, you will be afraid of the boat sinking. If you get out of the boat, you will be afraid of walking on water. Fear is always with you, you don’t escape fear. Fear is a part of life. There is good fear. That stops you from harm. There is also bad fear. That stops you from living life to the full.
God is here today. God’s invitation to you is simple, “Come follow me.” What do you do?
Do you follow Him? Take the risk, jump out of the boat, rearrange your life to follow Him?
Do you kinda smile at him and privately and secretly make decision; no, I’ll stay right here.
What holds you back? God’s way doesn’t make sense to you so you don’t trust Him? Comfort and control are more important to you than experiencing God? Maybe it’s fear. You want to avoid that uncomfortable feeling of fear but you never realize that fear is always with you. It doesn’t matter if you follow Christ or not.
You must hear me. The cost of not following Christ is always greater than following Christ.
In 2017, our invitation to you is to risk everything, get out of the boat. Become a fully devoted follower of Christ. Here is where we want you to start: Prayer. Every day, starting today, we will give you prayers to pray to begin the process of following Christ.
Today I want to close with this prayer, let me read it before you pray it.
“Dear Heavenly Father, I admit, I need You. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says; when I believe in Jesus, God takes all the sin and junk from my life and pours it into Jesus and all the righteousness in Jesus is poured into me. I believe that. When You see me, You see Jesus’ righteousness in me.
I declare, based on scripture, I don’t have to earn God’s grace, Jesus did all the work for me, I am free from trying to earn God’s love.
I declare, based on scripture, the hammer of judgement that I am afraid will fall on me, will never fall on me because the hammer fell on Jesus.
I declare, based on scripture, I am a child of God and He loves me just as I am.
Father, I give You my life, all of it, every area of it. I give You all authority over my life and pray that You would break any pride and rebellion in my so I can follow You with a soft heart. Show me any area I must surrender to follow You.
In Jesus name, Amen.”
When God leads you, when He calls you, what do you do?