too many of today’s independent fundamental Baptist churches are starving. by this I mean that the preacher sent from God to feed the congregation is not supplying the necessary food to strengthen and sustain the believers. born-again Christians need more than just the sincere milk of the Word given to them Sunday to Sunday. Spirit-fed meat should be found in their daily walk with God but also served up on the preaching menu on a regular basis. the downside to this is that too many of today’s independent fundamental Baptist preachers are not off the milk themselves. how can they expect their congregation to grow?
so my question is: are you hungry? the Holy Spirit has driven me to a desire for meat from the Word that it near ravenous. physically I like a good ribeye loaded with all the trimmings, and spiritually the Holy Ghost has been serving just that.
Matthew 14:22 – 32 is a favorite section of Christ’s earthly walk that I have always loved. mainly because it tells of the only 100% human to ever walk on water, Peter. but until the other day the Holy Spirit showed me something that I had never noticed. so here goes…
verse 22: "And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship." this is only a portion of the verse but notice that Jesus constrained his disciples. meaning He "urgently & repeatedly suggested" they get into a boat and leave. no doubt one could see the Lord almost physically picking them up one-by-one and placing them into the boat, telling that one to stay, and doing the same to the next just like parents do with their own children. this was done because He knew about Verse 24.
this is good! verse 24: "But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed about with waves: for the wind was contrary." I love this! Jesus Christ knew the wind was going to be contrary! do you see that? He knew when He was constraining the disciples to get into the ship in verse 22 what was going to happen in verse 24! now you can’t tell me that He isn’t the Son of God if, by chance, verse 24 just happened. nothing happens by chance to God!
so what does Jesus do? He goes for a leisurely stroll… on the sea. verse 25: "And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea." I can see it now – wind and waves billowing about, a little ship being tossed to and fro like a ragdoll in a dryer, and there’s my Saviour. calmly, serenely, maybe even whistling, walking on the water – to His disciples. do you get what I am saying? Jesus knew when He was constraining in verse 22 about the storm, He even knew about taking a walk on the water, and all for what? to go to His disciples. He placed them in the exact position where the only place to go for help was to Him. and there He was. in the midst of the storm – but in control.
verse 27: "But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I: be not afraid." He placed them into a boat. He placed them into the midst of the stormy sea. only to prove to them His power and might over the extenuating circumstances that surrounded them. Hallelujah! my God is mightier than any storm surrounding me! my God even places me into storms if only for me to see how mighty He is. to see that He IS in control no matter what befalls me. to prove to me that He is there at every turn of life’s wave whether calm or contrary. no doubt He does it just to flex his everlasting muscles so His children can ooh and aah over them aka give Him the glory He so richly deserves. it’s like, "Hey Christian, watch this" and then he flexes his big muscles and the storm is calm. that’s my God!
now that was all said for this. Verse 28, "And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water." did you catch it? Peter ASKED to leave the safety of the ship and step out into the stormy sea. exactly where Jesus was. it wasn’t satisfactory to be in the ship NEXT to Jesus. no, he wanted to get out INTO the water. he wanted to LEAVE the ship and replace it with the Saviour – eternal security. he wasn’t content with the norm. he wasn’t satisfied being with the other 11. instead he asked Jesus, "Can I come out there with you?" I’m sure he knew how safe/unsafe those fishing boats were and decided it was more safe on the water. the key is that Peter ASKED to go out to Jesus. we’ve all heard about Peter’s faith in walking on the water and his lack of faith in sinking once out there, but we fail to realize that Peter asked Jesus if he could go to him. and where was Jesus? on the water.
now here is the meat. Jesus placed His disciples into a position in order to prove to them He was mightier that their surrounding circumstances. but once in those circumstances, He wanted to see who would take the step TOWARDS Him. God places each of His children in circumstances we do not have control over. but it is only to see if we will in turn run to the One in control of those circumstances while in that situation. the next time you find yourself in a storm, ask the one in control of the storm if you can come closer. Peter found it easy for Jesus to stretch out His arm and catch him while sinking in the waves as Jesus was right in front of him.
now to make it hurt. Jesus could have reached out His arm and catch me all those years ago before I stepped into sin. if only in the middle of the storm I turned and asked to go to Him, instead of running from Him. ouch.