Sermons

Summary: This message will show you how to "walk on water" in the midst of life’s storms.

DON’T GO DOWN WITH THE SHIP!

Matthew 14:22-33

July 28, 2002

INTRODUCTION:

Two hunters came across a bear so big that they dropped their rifles and ran for cover. One man climbed a tree while the other hid in a nearby cave. The bear was in no hurry to eat, so he sat down between the tree and the cave to reflect upon his good fortune. Suddenly, and for no apparent reason, the hunter in the cave came rushing out, almost ran into the waiting bear, hesitated, and then dashed back in again. The same thing happened a second time. When he emerged for the third time, his companion in the tree frantically called out, “Woody, are you crazy? Stay in the cave till he leaves!” “Can’t,” panted Woody, “there’s another bear in there.”

Do you ever feel like the hunter in the cave? Like every time you turn around there is another problem just waiting for you. Like no matter what you do you just can’t escape from your troubles. Often times in our rushing around trying to deal with our problems we only make them worse.

A photographer for a national magazine was assigned to get photos of a great forest fire. Smoke at the scene hampered him and he asked his home office to hire a plane. Arrangements were made and he was told to go at once to a nearby airport, where the plane would be waiting. When he arrived at the airport, a plane was warming up near the runway. He jumped in with his equipment and yelled, “Let’s go! Let’s go!” The pilot swung the plane into the wind and they soon were in the air. “Fly over the north side of the fire,” yelled the photographer, “and make three or four low level passes.” “Why?” asked the pilot. “Because I’m going to take pictures,” cried the photographer. “I’m a photographer and photographers take pictures!” After a pause the pilot said, “You mean you’re not the instructor?” (Jokesmith)

There is an old seafaring tradition that if the ship sinks the captain should go down with the ship. Now I will be the first to admit that I don’t know much about sailing, but that sounds like the stupidest tradition I have ever heard of. I think jumping into a life boat and living to sail another day would be a much better tradition. Many Christians today are in danger of going down with the ship. Many Christians are in danger of having their spiritual lives sunk by the onslaught of life’s storms. They say things like, “There’s no use because I’m just no good. That’s just the way I am and there is nothing I can do about it.” That is the type of attitude that says, “Since the ship is going down, I might as well go down with it.” The storm’s of discouragement, despair, and disbelief threaten to sink us, but rather than going down with the ship we must find a life boat because there is nothing noble about a senseless spiritual death.

Peter’s example has much to teach us about how to find this life boat. One night Peter and the disciples were sailing across the sea of Galilee while Jesus stayed behind to pray. As they were sailing a fierce storm suddenly arose and threatened to sink their ship, but, as we will see, Peter was unwilling to simply go down with the ship. Please follow along in your Bibles as I read Matthew 14:22-33 . . .

1. RESPOND TO THE CALL OF CHRIST.

The storm was raging ferociously around the small fishing vessel and by all appearances twelve men were about to be lost at sea. However, something marvelous and miraculous unexpectedly happened. Jesus approached the boat walking on the water. At first the disciples were frightened by his appearance, but Jesus comforts them by reassuring them that it is him. Peter is unwilling to simply go down with the ship and wishes to go to his Lord, but knows that it would be foolish to do anything with out first being commanded to do so by the Lord and so he asks Jesus to command him to come to Him on the water. Jesus called Peter to come to him and Peter stepped out in sheer faith and began to go to the Lord walking on the water.

When we find ourselves caught in the storm’s of life that threaten to sink us Jesus will always come to us. However, He is not content to come to us because He also wants us to come to him. He doesn’t want us to go down with the boat and so He calls us out of the boat. How do we respond to the call of Christ? The key is faith. Like Peter, He calls us to step out in an act of faith. This act of faith will always be something that we cannot handle on our own and it will seem crazy from the world’s perspective. No secular sailor would advise walking on the water as a solution for getting caught in a fierce storm. The response that Jesus calls for requires both faith and action. Peter had to believe in Jesus, but if he didn’t act on that belief he never would have walked on the water. William Booth said, “Faith and works should travel side by side, step answering to step, like the legs of men walking. First faith, and then works; and then faith again, and then works again -- until they can scarcely distinguish which is the one and which is the other” (William Booth in The Founder’s Messages to Soldiers, Christianity Today, October 5, 1992, p. 48).

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