WALKING ON WATER: Faith trumps the seen world with unseen power. Amen!!!

I was at the Rosebriar Christmas open house yesterday with my book, WOOD'S END.  I sold a few, met lots of people with kindles and nooks and gave out at least five hundred bookmarks.  More important than this blessing I had some wonderful fellowship with women I'm grateful to have met. 

Standing with my friend Marj, Renee' gave us an impromptu sermon inspired by the Holy Spirit.  She shared her story of how her husband lost his job and they lived in one room of a rented house for two years in order to save money and survive.  She shared what she learned... that money is an idol and that God's provision is a faithful and true provision to those that keep their eyes on Him.  Renee's words were born of adversity.

Shared as her story was, in the middle of a busy room, it felt as if the three of us were entirely alone.  When Renee' was interrupted she ignored the suggestion she go sell her beautiful hand knitted items and went right on speaking what the Holy Spirit compelled her to say.  As I listened to the passion in her voice I knew that God was using her.  The Holy Spirit was speaking.  It was just what Marj and I needed to hear and we told her so.   

As Marj and I stood listening - Debbie Sisk who owns Rosebriar (a wonderful restaurant in Eads, TN) handed us each a lovely linen hand towel with the word FAITH embroidered in large letters.  In retrospect, as I think of this in the light of a new morning I know that Debbie too was prompted by the Holy Spirit to evidence His message in this thoughtful gesture.  That linen hand towel was a tangible postcard from the unseen world to the dying seen world.  It was a telegram handed over by His specially chosen delivery person...  FAITH

We finished up at about 3PM and I headed home to change and let Declan (my dog and Charlie to those who know) out before church.  I had missed church last week because I was at another event in Pickwick and was hungry to be in the fellowship of my friends at church.  I had missed praying with Nancy and wanted to hear news of Peggy's daughter, Diana.  (Diana, a young mother and wife, is very sick with cancer and hospice has just been called in / we continue to pray for healing.)  Then my Pastor, Arnold Roberts (Eagles Nest Christian Fellowship) preached on Matthew 14: 22-33.  As the Holy Spirit spoke through Pastor Roberts many of us cried.  It was just what we needed to hear. 

It had been a busy day.  Matthew 14: 13-21.  Over five thousand men, not counting the many women and children, had all converged to hear Jesus speak, to find healing, answers for their restless minds, spiritual and physical restoration.  John the Baptist had just been martyred and Jesus' ministry drew large crowds.  Before the day began Jesus withdrew to pray.  With John's loss on his mind (costly are the death of His saints) Jesus began the day with prayer; speaking to the Father; YAHWEH, JEHOVAH GOD.  Now when Jesus heard about John, He withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself; and when the people heard of this, they followed him on foot from the cities (Matthew 24: 13). 

The day began with Jesus withdrawing to pray and ended in the same way.  After feeding the five thousand and dispatching his disciples to the other side by boat to prepare the next destination; the next appointment with destiny for those who needed the very LIFE... the very BREAD OF LIFE that Jesus is we read.  Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowds away.  After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone (Matthew 14: 22, 23). 

John had just passed to glory and now satan thought He might prematurely kill the disciples.  The storm is a metaphor for many life applications, but it is most relevantly a very real event that must be viewed as it occurred, in the context of the unseen realm and spiritual warfare. But the boat was already a long distance from the land, battered by the waves; for the wind was contrary.  And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea (Matthew 14: 24, 25). 

The fourth watch begins after 3AM and takes us to daybreak.  There would have been much cloud cover and the sea we know was a tempest with high waves that threatened to flood the boat.  Too many of us can apply this image to our own lives.  We feel overwhelmed by circumstances that threaten to swamp us in one form or another.  

And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea.  When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, "It is a ghost!"  And they cried out in fear (Matthew 14: 26). 

It's important to note that Jesus defied the earthly constraints of physics to display evidence of miraculous power to those that needed Him.  Both human and divine Jesus walked upon the raging sea to reach those he loved; those sealed for His purposes with a destiny and plan to live by a different set of rules and laws under a covenant of grace.  

At first Jesus wasn't recognized.  The fear was winning and help is not always recognized.  Blinded by fear we are always tempted to rely on the logic of a world that is passing to destruction. This is the world we see, feel, and walk in.  But a hair breath away, coexisting with every move we make is an unseen realm and the power that faith unleashes. God tells us to fix our eyes on Him.   

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before HIM endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12: 1, 2).    

As the form of Jesus, the reality of His presence moved over the raging water and drew closer to those in the tiny boat, seemingly overpowered by the very real laws of nature, our Savior and Lord spoke these words.  But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, "Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid." (Matthew 14: 27). 

We don't know exactly how many were in the boat.  Maybe all the apostles and maybe just some.  I can only imagine what that group felt as they saw the irrefutable evidence of God's power in sealing a purpose that defied logic. Love and Life, Jesus Christ, was there in the tempest of that storm just as He is with me and you in whatever storm logic has dropped our way. 

When Pastor Arnold Roberts preached on this last night he made a great point.  In the life of a Christian not all storms are satanic.  We don't always get our way.  It is, however, a precept of the divine that what satan means for evil God uses for good and if change is coming by way of a storm, in the midst of fear and shock, we must overcome the fear to see the sure and certain hand of God.  I don't know about you, but I'm there right now... in the midst of a tempest. The storm may look different for each of us, but we are right here together and like Peter, our inclination and the cry of our heart is to meet Jesus in the eye of that storm. 

Peter said to Him, Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water (Matthew 14: 28).  More often than not we hear this entire passage preached as evidence of Peter's lack of faith.  Jesus told Peter, You of little faith, why did you doubt? (V31b).  But we also see evidence of Peter testing the spirits, because at first Jesus wasn't recognized.  His being there was beyond what the physical eye is over-trained to expect. It is biblical to test the parameters, the substance of the tempest we find ourselves in... to evaluate and pray about what we should do. Not all that appears as rescue and help is from the Father, YAHWEH. And as Pastor Arnold pointed out last night we are told to test the spirits.  Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world (1st John 4: 1). 

In times like ours, where the voice of Christianity is under assault, we may get many confusing messages.  No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.  Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds (2nd Corinthians 12: 13-15).  

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.  We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ... (2nd Corinthians 10: 3-5). 

So Peter said: Lord if it is you command me to come to You on the water (V28b).  Think about this just a minute.  Lord if it is really You; if You're here with me; command and then compel me to meet you in the middle.  Meet me Lord in the eye of the hurricane where all around me circumstances and people rage, but here with you it's a quiet place of seeking your will in contemplation; in intimate prayer and fellowship.  Lord I'm here; waiting to see evidence of Your power.  I'll give You all the gory.  

And He said, "Come!" (V 29a).  Note that this is an emphatic, unqualified "Come!"  To meet Jesus in the eye of the hurricane; in the midst of the tempest is the imperative that defines the Life and Love we live in Christ.  If He has promised it; He will deliver.  All His promises are yes and amen. 

And He said, "Come!"  And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus.  But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord save me!"  Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?" (Matthew 14: 29-31).  

That's a good question.  Why do we doubt?  Why is it so hard to trust Christ in the midst of times that test our endurance and tempt us to fear.  I don't have the answer.  I just know that I want more of that word stitched on the linen cloth that Debbie gave me as a telegram from God.  I want more FAITH   We are clay; fragile and needy and yet it is at just these times that God is there for us.  As we admit our helplessness he steps in to reveal the kind of rescue and love that trumps the seen world with unseen power.    

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body (2nd Corinthians 4: 7-10). 
Immediately... not later or next week, Jesus was there for Peter.  Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold... of Peter.  He'll do the same for you and me.  He may not answer exactly as we want but he'll have a plan that is better.  We are in His firm and certain grip and nothing can snatch us out of Jesus' hand.  And... despite our fears, Jesus is also in the details of our circumstances.  Amen!

For more perspective read my blog, found in archives and dated November 22, 2009.

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