Friday, May 19, 2017

HOW STRONG IS YOUR FAITH?

After the miraculous feeding of 5,000 men, women, and children as recorded by Matthew in chapter 14 of his gospel, (verses 13-21), one would think that the disciple’s faith in Jesus would be unshakable. Such was not the case. Jesus sent them by boat to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, while he went into a mountain to pray (22, 23). In contrast to the time of peace and serenity Jesus was experiencing, the disciples found themselves confronted by a violent storm.
Matthew reports on what happened, “But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary” (Matthew 14:24). Life is just like that at times. It seems as though we find ourselves rowing against the wind while the circumstances surrounding us are not letting up.  But lo and behold, in such times like that, Jesus manifests his presence with us. Not in a visible way as he did that night to his troubled disciples, but in way which assures us that he is the good shepherd who cares for his sheep. Therefore, we are told what to do in 1 Peter 5:7, “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you”. When Peter saw Jesus walking on the water his faith was strong and he petitioned Jesus to allow him to go to him (Matthew 14:25-28). Now Peter, seasoned fisherman that he was, had never walked on water before, so this was quite an amazing request. What is even more amazing is the fact that he got out of the boat and began to walk on the water.  How many of us would have even left the boat? What was Peter thinking as he began his walk toward Jesus, “so far so good?” Whatever positive thoughts may have crossed his mind suddenly vanished when he began to look at the water and started to sink. In this case, it took something quite disturbing to get his eyes off Jesus, and get himself into trouble. Usually it doesn’t take such a dramatic event before our faith starts to fail us and we, preverbally speaking, “begin to sink”. Let’s return to the narrative. And he (Jesus) said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased” (verses 29-32).  A few things can be seen here. First, Peter obeyed the Lord’s command. He started out strong in faith. Second, as long as his eyes were on Jesus he was doing fine. Nothing should have changed because he saw Jesus standing on the water, proving that Jesus had the power to do as he willed. Third, doubt and fear quickly set in when Peter looked at the angry waves. Circumstances prevailed over faith. The Lord’s words to Peter, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt’? (31b), give us an insight into the nature of the human condition. The best of men are men at best! By nature, we are all men of little faith and prone to doubt the wisdom, power and love of God. Such doubt is even more apparent when our personal or family welfare is at stake. The little faith we have must be constantly nourished and strengthened to become unshakeable faith. Time spent in God’s Word, time spent in prayer and praise, and time spent with one’s brothers and sisters in Christ is a sure means of building the Christian up in faith. Don’t think you can stand on your own two feet in the storms of life. You can only stand by the grace that God supplies which comes through Jesus Christ. There are no self-made men in the kingdom of God. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Pastor Tom
 "A man can no more take in a supply of grace for the future than he can eat enough today to last him for the next 6 months, nor can he inhale sufficient air into his lungs with one breath to sustain life for a week to come. We are permitted to draw upon God's store of grace from day to day as we need it."
- Dwight L. Moody





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