Principle number five, verse 29: We Succeed When We Move Toward Jesus.
Text: Matthew 14:22-31
I have seen a lot of people go through storms and I have had an abundance of them myself. One common factor is that in most cases people believe that they are doing what is right when the storms comes. Peter moved toward Jesus in the midst of contrary winds and waves and things seemed fine.
Observe carefully, there are two things here, while in the presence of the storm, that do not keep Peter from moving toward Jesus. It’s all about what direction we move in when the storm comes. Look closely, there are eleven (11) others who did nothing, and that is what most of us do. Some of us pull away, while some others will move toward Jesus. What do you do when the storms come? Run and hide, blame and shout ! What is your response to your storm?
2011 seems like a good time to begin to discipline ourselves to draw nigh to God. Relationships and fellowship are lifelines in any storm. We are not designed to go it alone. No man or woman is island, and all that church-speak about "I have Jesus and that is enough" is inadequate. We shortchange ourselves and others. We need others to talk with, cry with and share our pain with. Peter was on the water, but Jesus was with him. We need others that have Jesus in them to be with us.
Principle number six, verse 30: Lapses of Focus (faith) are Recipes for Spiritual Failure.
Peter is torn by the forces around him, now his focus and his faith are distracted. he is paying attention to the wind and the waves rather than the great "I AM". This lesson highlights the importance of focused faith. Lapses are too expensive. Lapses happen when we take our focus off of Jesus. It happens when we get preoccupied with the wind and waves, and it is a set up for disaster. Some of the people, problems and events of our lives are just our wind are waves, designed to get our focus-faith off of Jesus.
Peter provides us with a great example of what to do when we have our lapses. Peter cried out. Wait, he didn’t just cry; no, the text said he cried out to Jesus. Our problem is that we cry. We cry in the problem, and we cry about the problem, but we don’t cry out of the problem to Jesus. "Lord, save me," is the right response to lapses of faith and sinking situations. Can you think of some things caused you to lose your focus?
Principle number seven, verse 31: Storms are Measuring Devices that Reveal our Faith Level.
The final verse of our text is quite revealing, Jesus, in the nick of time reaches out and saves Peter the same way HE does so many times with us. It is about the closeness of Jesus. Yes, we will contend with wind and water forces, but Jesus is always available and accessible for those of us whom call on him. What a glorious fact, that no matter how strong the forces push against me, Jesus is available and accessible. Additionally HE educates us as HE eradicates us from our predicament. Jesus tells Peter that the core of the problem is an faith problem. Jesus tells Peter that this storm has revealed his faith level. It is not how much we shout, or how loud we sing, or how eloquent we preach or pray that speaks about our faith level, but rather what we do when the storm comes. We are encouraged to review our responses each time we come through a storm and strive to do better with our focus-faith.
There is a song that says "the storm is passing over, and that there is a blessing in the storm." We must remember that no matter how dark the night, and no matter how rough the way may seem, we need to be encouraged to keep on keeping-on. When the storms of life are raging and we find ourselves struggling and straining with the winds and waves of life, will we be willing to get out of our boats? The boat of tradition. The boat of low expectations. Whatever your boat is, I want to encourage you get out of the boat. Not only do I want to encourage you to get out of the boat, but also want you to remember that whatever happens move toward Jesus. When you have problems in your home, and problems on your job, go to Jesus. We must keep our focus on Jesus and not allow ourselves to lapse and collapse. We must remember that storms that the reveal our faith level.