Jesus Rules the Waves (Matthew Sermon 69 of 151)
February 18, 2007 | Andrew Davis
Faith, Supremacy of Christ
"Whoever rules the waves rules the world," that is the thesis of Alfred Thayer Mahan's book, The Influence of Sea Power upon History. He was Naval strategist who wrote in 1890 saying,"Whoever rules the waves rules the world.” He was meditating on the effect of British sea power on confining Napoleon to the continent about 80 years before that. Because the French did not have a strong navy, not strong enough at least, compared to the British, they couldn't expand Napoleon's reign. He was just extending it beyond that, several centuries back and just talking about the need for naval might. He was writing at a time toward the end of the 19th century, when the British Empire was at its absolute apex, when the sun never set on the British Empire, and in which British people sang a somewhat unofficial national anthem written in 1740 by the British poet, James Thomson entitled "Rule Britannia". In the refrain it says, "Rule Britannia, Britannia rule the waves, Britains never will be slaves." British power was projected by naval might all around the world.
It's an interesting thesis, the one who rules the waves rules the world. I happen to think it's true, I just happen to think Jesus rules the waves. I think he displays that in the text today. It's interesting in Daniel's prophecy and vision, he had a vision of the rise and fall of the world. Nebuchadnezzar had the dream of the statue, with the gold and the silver and the bronze and the iron and the clay and it was a picture of the rise and fall of world empires. Later in his book, in Daniel 7, he's looking out over the sea and the sea is troubled by the waves, the four winds of Heaven are churning up the great sea and up out of it come four beasts, each of them representing four world empires. John saw the same thing in Revelation 13, as the dragon was standing by the shore and up out of the sea, comes the Beast, which I think is the final world empire, the rule of the anti-Christ in Revelation 13. It's interesting that both the four beasts of Daniel, and this final beast, in Revelation 13, come out up out of the troubled sea, the churning sea and I think it represents humanity. The churning of the nations in its rise and fall, in its ebbing and all of its wickedness, and rebellion, and all of the lack of peace we feel inside our hearts. I think a turbulent sea is a good representation of human history, and I think the theme of the Book of Daniel is really the theme of all of world history, and that is that God almighty reigns over Heaven and Earth, and He will someday clearly establish the kingdom of Jesus Christ over all the Earth.
It says in Daniel 2:44, "In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end but will itself endure forever." This is the theme, I think, of the whole gospel of Matthew, the Kingdom of Heaven and especially the King of the Kingdom of Heaven who is Jesus, He will reign forever and ever. What is the nature of His power, how great is it? The nature of His omnipotence? I think we see it in our text today. "Whoever rules the waves rules the world, and I say that Jesus, Jesus rules the waves, and He will forever more. Isn't that encouraging as we look at the turbulence of our present day and we think that it's still true, that it's a fit metaphor for human history, the churning of the waves that cannot rest, that churn up mire and mud as Isaiah said, "There is no peace says my God for the wicked.” But there is Jesus, the Prince of Peace and what an image in our text today, Jesus walking on the water, walking through the waves through the bellows with omnipotence holding him up. The power of God.
There was another British poet who wrote something else about an Empire, and it was Isaac Watts. Long before James Thomson wrote "Rule Britannia”, Isaac Watts wrote, "Jesus shall reign where'er the sun does his successive journeys run, His kingdom spread from shore to shore till moon shall wax and wane no more.” That I believe is the true theme of the great passage we're looking at today. This passage shows and displays, so beautifully, the power of Jesus Christ over all things, and is my purpose today to beguile you into a greater estimation of that power that you would have a sense of just how powerful Jesus is, over the winds and the waves.
The Importance of Solitary Prayer
We begin with Jesus's essential quiet and peaceful communion with His Heavenly Father. Let's set the thing in context. We already saw in John chapter 14, the martyrdom of John the Baptist, how John was beheaded at King Herod's birthday party after the dance of a dancing girl, when she said, “Give me here on a platter, the head of John the Baptist.” Then John's disciples came and took John's body and buried it, and then they went and told Jesus. When Jesus heard this, He got in a boat and withdrew privately to a solitary place. He’s wanting to be alone for prayer. Unfortunately, for that purpose, at least at that moment when He lands, He sees a huge crowd, 5000 men plus women and children. We saw last week the great compassion of Jesus to put his own needs aside and to minister in a three-fold way to that crowd in Mark's gospel. He had great compassion on them because they were harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd, so He taught them many things. First His teaching ministry, and then we saw Jesus's healing ministry, a river of miracles, flowing out and there was nothing He could not do. There was no sickness He could not heal. We see that great power and then He wasn't done. The disciples wanted to send the crowds away so they could buy themselves some food, but Jesus said, "They don't need to go.” Then we see the great miracle of the feeding of the 5000 that was a full coverage of all of their needs by Jesus, the preaching of the gospel, the healing of the sick, the feeding of the hungry every need met. Now it's Jesus's time. The time has come for him to send the crowd away and for Him to get back into that place of great power and communion with his Heavenly Father, the essential communion of Jesus, so He sends the crowd away. Look at verse 22, it says immediately that Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side while He dismissed the crowd. There's really somewhat of a battle of wills going on here because in John 6:14, it says, "After Jesus had fed the 5000, the crowds wanted to take Him by force and make Him king.”
They want to force Jesus to be king right there and then in their own way, after their own patter. Jesus forces the disciples to get in the boat and then forcefully dismisses the crowd. Who's in charge here? Jesus is in charge. He's not going to be made king in their way. He has his own timetable, and He must go to the cross. He does it his way because if He didn't do it that way, none of us would be saved. He's not going to be king that way, but He will be king, He is king, and He will reign forever and ever, but first He must go to the cross. He’s not going to follow their way; He's not going to be forced into their agenda. No, instead He's going to force the disciples to get on the boat. The Greek word is strong; He's going to dismiss the crowd and so off they go, and then Jesus returns to solitary prayer. He goes up by himself alone. It's night by this time, it's dark, and you can imagine Jesus by the light of the moon or by the light of the stars, making His way up the mountain side, and there He is in solitary prayer with His Heavenly Father. This was His regular habit. In Mark 1:35, it says that Jesus, a great while before dawn while it was still dark, got up and left the house, where He was staying, and went off to a solitary place where He prayed.
Another time, after healing a leper, such a huge crowd surrounded Jesus, that He couldn't get any rest. In Luke 5: 15-16, it says, “News about this healed leper spread all the more so that crowds of people came to hear him and be healed of their sicknesses, but Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” This was His regular habit. He would withdraw from the crowd to get alone, and He'd spend time in prayer. Crowds were overwhelming. Another time in Luke 6:12, He spent all night alone in solitary prayer to his Heavenly Father, then came down off the mountain, and designated his twelve apostles, after spending the whole night in prayer with His Father. Jesus regularly had this pattern of withdrawal into solitary places, sometimes mountains. This was his essential communion with his father, and I believe this was the true source of Jesus's power for ministry. This was the true source of the way that He ministered in power. Jesus did a river of miracles before. Toward the end of our text here everybody who comes, even those who just touched the hem of His garment, are healed. It’s a river of power flowing through Jesus. What was the source of that river? Well, Jesus told us He openly claimed it was the father working in him that accomplished these things. That's what he said. And we have to take his word for it, in consistent solitary communion with His Father, Jesus got his daily work assignments. And he also got from his Heavenly Father, the power in order to do those assignments and then went out in the power of the Spirit and did the things the Father told him to do. This is precisely what Jesus said happen in John 14, he said, "Don't you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me." There's a perfect union between the Father and the Son. "The words I say to you are not just my own rather it is the Father living in me who's doing his work.” He says, "Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.” Jesus claimed that the very words He spoke and certainly the miracles He did were the result of the Father living in him powerfully. He also said in John 10:32 to His enemies. "I have shown you many great works from the Father, for which of these do you stone me?” The Father is doing his work in Jesus again in John 8:28 when Jesus said, "When you have lifted up the son of man, then you will know that I am the one I claimed to be, and then I do nothing on my own, but speak just what the Father has taught me." Jesus got alone with his heavenly Father and He listened to the Father. The Father gave him the words to speak and the works to do, and he went and did it.
Let me stop for a moment and ask about your own personal life. Is this your regular habit? Do you regularly get alone with the Heavenly Father in solitary prayer? Do you spend time alone with him to renew yourself spiritually or are you stronger than Jesus? Are you wiser than Him? You know just what to do and you've got the strength to do it. I think we're easily deceived in this. Do we really know just what to do and do we really have the strength to do it? Maybe you don't have a mountain side or some solitary place where you can go. Jesus, in Matthew 6 said, "Go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father is unseen." That could be your solitary place. The question is, are you doing it? Jesus did this regularly. This was his essential communion with his father. Next in our account, however we see the disciples’ peril and fear. Jesus is up there in serenity and in peaceful fellowship with his heavenly Father, but the disciples are in a boat in the middle of a storm. What a beautiful contrast that is. it. I want to apply it to our lives.
Fear: The Enemy of Faith
What a picture we have of Jesus up on the mountain, the disciples way down below in a boat. They're being tossed and turned by the waves, and Jesus, in peaceful a heavenly communion with his father, sees the problem and descends to help them. Hebrews 7 tells us that Jesus is at the right hand of God and is always living to intercede for us no matter what trouble we're going through. I think it's right for us to think that way, and that Jesus is able to help us in the midst of our troubles. Now we have the disciples in fear of peril. Now fear is intrinsic to our suffering here. Few of us go through a week without feeling some fear, perhaps some of us don't go through a day without feeling some kind of fear. Fears are connected to the danger of physical or psychological pain for us as people. Animals have physiological reactions. You see a deer drinking at a pond or something like that, and then jerking up its head and looking sniffing and then back down jerking up again, or a squirrel. Try to catch a squirrel. Squirrels are quick and they know what they're all about. They're all about survival; they have instincts towards survival. I don't know if we call it fear, but they're designed to be able to save themselves. Human fear is different though. It has to do with our intellect, it has to do with our imaginations and our anxieties as much as thinking that we're an imminent physical danger. Most of the time that's not the case, most of the time it's not the case that we think we're about to perish. Sometimes happens, like in a car situation when something unexpected quickly happens, but most of our fears are tied to our thoughts about the future and something's about to happen to us that we don't want to happen. It might be a sickness, it might take something from us or a loved one from us, or our own health, our ability to thrive in this world, we might be afraid of that. It might be financial dangers, thinking that ruin is facing us. Many times, however, our fear amounts to nothing at all, isn't that the case? We fear for no reason. We spent a lot of emotion, a lot of time, a lot of anxiety, afraid about something that never even happens. Wouldn't you admit that that's the way it is with most of your fears? But some of them are genuine, some of them really are genuine things we're afraid of, and they actually do come to pass and cause great harm, and they bring us great pain and suffering. Some of it doesn't go away for a long time, if it ever does go away in this world. It’s painful, we go through these experiences and we're afraid to go through them again. Once burned twice shy. We become afraid. Fear is part of life in this sin cursed world.
The disciples were afraid, I think, in the midst of the storm. If you look at verse 24, it says, “The boat was already a considerable distance from land buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.” John 6: 18 says, “A strong wind was blowing in the water.” The peaceful calm of the Sea of Galilee can quickly be transformed by a violent storm. It has to do with the way that the hills and mountains around are shaped. It can just kind of a funnel wind down in there. It swirls around and really can whip it up into quite a storm. The disciples were rightly afraid. But it wouldn't be long in this account before they're more afraid of Jesus than they are of the storm. Look at verses 25 through 27, "During the fourth watch of the night, Jesus went out to them walking on the lake when the disciples saw him walking on the lake.” They are terrified; “It's a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear, but Jesus immediately said to them, "Take courage. It is. Don't be afraid.” Their superstitions fit into this fear that they think it's a ghost. The theology of ghost does not receive much support from the Bible, but they thought it was a ghost. As a matter of fact, at a more significant moment in redemptive history, this issue is going to come up again namely, at the resurrection when doubts arise in their minds. They thought they were seeing a ghost. It was Jesus risen, and He has to prove to them that he's not a spirit. This is in Luke 24 when He eats a piece of broiled fish, and shows them his hands, and side. He wants them to interact with him physically to prove He has actually defeated death and that He's not a spirit. He's not a ghost. But here they're being afraid, and they cry out in fear. They're afraid that Jesus is a ghost.
Fear is the great enemy of our faith. Over 100 times in the Bible, God or an angel of God or a prophet of God, or a leader from God assures the people of God not to be afraid. It is a repeated theme. Fear is a great enemy of our faith. God is constantly laboring through the Word against our fears, because, like termites, fears are constantly laboring against the structure of our faith. So, we have to work on this issue of fear. God wants us to trust and not be afraid. How many Psalms pick this up as a theme? Psalm 56:3-4, "When I am afraid, I will trust in you, in God whose word I praise. In God I trust, I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?" I get the sense there that the psalmist in Psalm 56 is preaching to himself, he's proclaiming truth to himself, he’s talking himself out of fear, and we need to do that. It is important in the Christian life to learn how to take scriptural truth and preach it to yourself. You are definitely your own most important preacher, far more than I am. Preach to yourself against your own fears.
Jesus’ Compassion for the Fearful
Next, we see Christ's compassion and power as He is sitting up on the mountain. He sees his disciples. We don't get that in Matthew's account, but we do get it in Mark's account. Mark 6:47-48, says, "When evening came the boat was in the middle of the lake and He, Jesus was alone in the land.” Verse 48, "He saw the disciple straining at their oars, because the wind was against them. About the fourth watch of the night, he went out to them walking on the lake." What an image. Jesus is up on the mountain and He looks down and sees the trouble the disciples are in. I tell you that God sees everything you're going through, He sees all things. The Lord Jesus sees everything you're going through. I don't know the nature of his vision at that time and in the days of His incarnate ministry on earth. Maybe God the Father, gave him a supernatural vision of the disciples in the middle of the lake. But He saw them. He looked, and seeing their peril, comes to their rescue. There is such a unifying theme in this text. He sees the disciples' peril and comes to their rescue. He sees Simon Peter's peril and comes to his rescue. He sees the people of Gennesaret and their peril, and He comes to their rescue. Above all, He sees your peril and mine, and He comes to our rescue. He comes to them walking on the water. Now we use that expression “walk on water” to do something extraordinary, something that can't be explained. Talk even about politicians, you know, they expected him or her to walk on water, this kind of thing. It's really blasphemous. Only Jesus can do it and those empowered by Jesus apparently. I have to add that because of this text. Now, people talk about the laws of physics, that expression you'll not find in the Bible. That's just the way God consistently chooses to work in this world. I'm not saying that science isn't something we can pursue, we can, but God isn't subject to those so-called laws, He can do whatever he wants. He's not asking permission of the water to hold them up, he's not doing a study on buoyancy or surface tension. My goodness, what some unbelievers will do to passages like this: The ever present and moving sandbar just below the surface. I've never seen a sandbar like that and certainly not one that went all the way across the whole lake. What a strange thing. One study group at Florida State University led by one particularly creative professor was talking about how, if the atmospheric and water conditions are right, you can actually get small chunks of ice floating, and that explains what happened. Imagine Jesus kind of surfing on the ice getting across. That's not convincing to me. And then, how does Peter get his own little piece of ice just outside the boat? It doesn't make any sense. The lengths that people will do to undercut what the Spirit of God is doing in this text, which is giving us a display of Jesus' power. He can do all things. He's walking on the water, because He's God, because He can do it. When they see Jesus they cry out, thinking he's a ghost, and He assures them that He is Christ, that He is God. He sees Peter's peril and comes to his rescue.
We'll deal with that in a moment, but when He gets across the lake and lands of Gennesaret, his heart is moved with compassion for those people as well. He sees their peril, and his ministry extends to them as well. Look at verses 34-36. “When they crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret and when the men of that place recognized Jesus they sent word to all the surrounding country.” People brought all their sick to Him and begged Him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak. All who touched Him were healed. The crush of people resumed, that's Jesus' life, that was his ministry. He has those occasional times alone with his father, but mostly He's surrounded by needy people and He sees the peril. He's moved out of compassion and He wants to heal them and to take care of them. There is nothing that our Savior cannot do. Touching the hem of the garment, they're cured. The power of Jesus, that's what's displayed in Matthew 14.
But above all, He looks and sees our peril and He come to our rescues. What is the nature of our peril? We could talk about the winds and the waves of your life. We can talk about the trials that you're facing, but let's go right to the heart of the matter. Jesus said, "Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice like a wise man who built his house on the rock, and the rains came, rose... Rains fell, and the streams rose and blew and beat against that house. But it did not fall because it had its foundation on the rock, but everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice, like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rains fell on that house and the streams rose and the wind blew and beat against that house and it fell with a great crash. I think this is Judgment Day and the only way we're going to survive Judgment Day is Jesus seeing our peril and coming to our rescue. This is precisely what He has done at the cross. Do you know Him as your Savior, have you trusted in Him? Do you know for certain that your house is built on a foundation that will survive the peril of Judgment Day? Has Jesus reached down and drawn you up out of judgment by His saving grace? Trust in Him, don't leave this place without trusting in Christ. Call on Him as Peter does, “Lord save me.” Call on Him and He will rescue you. This is Jesus' ministry, He sees peril and He rescue, He saves, trust in Him.
Now, let's talk for a moment about Peter's supernatural journey. What a fascinating thing. Let me ask you a question, if you had been with them in the boat would you have been Peter getting up and walking, or will you have been those that stayed in the boat and waited to see how it turned out with Peter? First of all, would the idea have popped in your mind, “You tell me to come to you on the water.” Would that have even come to your mind? What an amazing man Peter was. Aren't you glad for Peter and all of his successes, and even more perhaps for his failures? Aren't you glad to see what God can do through a person like him? What God can do through someone like you. Look at Peter’s supernatural journey, look at its beginning, its middle, and its end. First the beginning. "Lord if it's you, Peter replied, "Tell me to come to you on the water." "Come," said Jesus. Then Peter got down on the boat and walked on the water and came towards Jesus. Peter was willing to ask something that no one else thought to ask or was willing to ask. And Jesus granted to him a supernatural power that no other human being has ever had, as far as we know. The power to walk on water. We forget that it's not only true that God himself can do immeasurably more than all we could ask or imagine but he actually can do through us immeasurably more than all we could ask or imagine. Isn't it true? And how much we forget that, because we forget to ask, we don't ask him to do great things through us. But Jesus himself said in John 14, the night before he was crucified. "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing, he will do even greater things than these because I am going to the Father and I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name and I will do it." We under-asked. Let's just stop and apply it for a moment. What are you trusting God for that only God can do? What ministry are you stepping out to do and you know if God doesn't support you, you will fail? I think we're just living natural lives and we really called to live super naturalized. We're called to do things that only God could do through us.
Verse 30, "But when he [Peter]saw the wind and the waves, he was afraid and beginning to sink, cried out. Lord, save me." He steps out, he's doing well, but then all of a sudden, he maybe gets smacked in the face by a wave or some sound occurs, and he gets distracted. He stops looking at Jesus, and he starts to esteem the power of the waves to kill them as greater than the power of Jesus to save him. He starts to look at his situation and then he looks inward and says, "Can I do this? No, I cannot do this." And he sinks. Quickly. It's an issue of his faith. He has stopped focusing on Jesus' power and instead he's sinking because he’s sitting on his own strength and he knows he can't do it. He begins to sink and cries out, "Lord, save me," and Jesus says at that particular moment, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?" You will never find anywhere in the gospels or in all of scripture where Jesus cuddles unbelief, where he comforts the unbeliever. He doesn't, He rebukes it. "Why did you doubt? Don't you know who I am?" "Lord, if it's you, tell me to come." “It is me. I'm still me, I'm still here.” He never cuddles unbelief. The end of the journey is that Jesus is powerful to rescue. In the end, He gets the glory. He will get the glory for your supernatural journey also. He'll get the glory from mine. In the end, He gets all the glory. Beginning to sink, Peter cries out, Jesus reaches out and draws him up. What kind of strength would that take? But this is a supernatural power of almighty God working through them, and He draws him up instantly. He doesn't let him flounder, He doesn't let him sputter, He doesn't let him drown, He immediately rescues him. This is the compassion of Jesus. He's not going to let you drown either.
The real issue going on in your life and mine right now is an issue of faith. Satan's real design on you is to destroy your faith in Jesus. That's what he’s after, he wants to kill your faith, so Jesus goes to the heart of the matter, “You of little faith. Why did you doubt?” These are issues of faith. Peter has not yet had at this point his hardest trial of faith. We know when it is. It's the night that Jesus was arrested, and Jesus predicted, "Simon, Simon. Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat.” It's plural, just sift all of them like wheat, “but I have prayed for you, Simon, particularly that your faith may not fail and when you have turned back, then strengthen your brothers." Jesus in that statement shows us the center of his intercessory prayer ministry for us while we're going through trials. You may be going through the biggest trials of your life, you may not. You may have just gotten through some of those winds and waves and all the stuff that was happening, and the water is coming in the boat and you think you're going to drown. But now you've gotten on the other side of it. Or this may yet be in your future. But the object of all of that from Satan's point of view, is to destroy your faith in Jesus. You say, "That's impossible. Isn't it true? Once saved, always saved.” Are we going to continue to believe in Jesus right to the end? Yes, we will. If we have been justified by faith, we will continue right to the end. But you know what? It's a dynamic process. Jesus had to reach up and grab Peter and hold him. Do you have faith independent of Jesus' energetic intercessory prayer in your behalf? Do you have it on your own? Is this your own faith? He gave the faith to you; He is the vine where the branch keeps sustaining that faith. He's interceding for you in the middle of your trial. “You of little faith. Why did you doubt?” He's saying, "Oh Father, don't let our faith fail. Oh, Father, don't let his faith fail." He continues to intercede at the right hand of God, that our faith may not fail. This is the issue.
The ultimate inevitable conclusion is worshipping Jesus as God. Someday I'll get to see Jesus and I will get to worship Him. I'll get to fall down in His presence and say, "You are God, You are Almighty God." That's the outcome of this whole journey, that's where we're heading. What could be better than that? The outcome even in this account is they're worshiping him as God. In verse 27, when they cry out, Jesus literally says, "Take courage. I AM. Do not be afraid." What are the words “I AM” mean to you? This is God's name, he's saying, "I AM, I am God." This is the name by which the Jewish God, Yahweh, is known. He revealed himself to Moses, in the flames of the burning bush. Saying, "Tell them that I AM sent you, I AM that I AM.” This is what he says, "I AM. Don't be afraid, I AM God."
The disciples, react naturally to a supernatural power, verse 33, "Then those who are in the boat worshipped him saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’” This is God's end. His purpose is worship, in spirit and truth, and there's no jealousy in the trinity. It's not like the father says, "Hey, hey, wait about me, what about me? I'm the one who gave him the power." No, He wants us to honor the Son, even as we honor the Father, that's his yearning. It says in Philippians 2, that, “Jesus being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross, therefore, God exalted him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow in heaven and on earth, and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the father.” There's no jealousy in the trinity, He's delighted to see the disciples’ worship and say, "Truly, you are the Son of God."
What application do we take from this? First, I've already given you, solitary prayer. Do not think that you can get along better without solitary prayer than Jesus did. Look at your prayer life. How is it? I had to do that just as I was preparing this sermon. How is my prayer life? Is it what it needs to be? I was convicted, that I need to spend more time in solitary prayer. I take comfort in Matthew 6, where Jesus said, "Go into your room and close the door and pray to your Father unseen.” That's good, but it's still good to have a special place where you can go to be refreshed and renewed spiritually to strengthen yourself. He restores my soul. Do you have that regular habit of private prayer?
What about this whole issue of allegory? Is He the Lord of our rocking boat? Jesus will rescue from the storms of your life. What are the storms of your life? The problem with allegories it denies that this ever really happened historically. I tell you, it happened, there are details. It was about the fourth watch of the night. The disciples are straining at their oars. Peter starts, but it starts to sink. Who makes this kind of stuff up? This actually occurred in space and time. But that doesn't mean that there are not spiritual connections, the stuff you will face in your life, even if you never get into a boat the rest of your life. We have permission to do that because in Ephesians 4, it says if you get good teaching ministry, a good pastor and teacher to teach you, then you will no longer be infants, blown and tossed back and forth by the waves. You won’t be blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men that are deceitful, scheming false doctrine, being under the influence of false doctrines, like being in a storm-tossed sea, says Paul in Ephesians 4. James says, "If you lack wisdom, then ask God, but you better believe that He'll give it to you, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord. He is a double-minded man unstable in all he does.” This is a way of speaking. We know what storms are like, we know what it's like to be under the influence of something that's more powerful than we are that seems to mean harm. We call those things trials. Jesus is watching over you in the middle of your trials to rescue you and help you. But I'm going to go further than that. He actually is bringing the trials to you. He has brought the storm into your life. He is not just managing the storm, he brought it, he has certain purposes in your life. Nothing comes to you except directly by the will of your Heavenly Father, and He is managing and protecting you in the middle of that storm and that trouble. Finally, look at Peter as a commendable example of faith. I know he failed in the middle of it, but he got up out of the boat. How comfortable do we get in our Christian lives? You know what I'm talking about? How comfortable? We don't want to witness; we don't want to go to the far reaches on a mission trip. He may be calling you to get up out of your boat and walk to Jesus. He may be calling on you to go to foreign lands.
But there are applications to be courageous, to step out in faith and do things that only God can do in and through you. What are you doing like that? I want to close with the example of DL Moody who made two commitments in his life that carried him the rest of his life. DL Moody made a commitment after hearing Henry Varley who was a fellow evangelist say this, the world is yet to see what God can do with a man fully consecrated to Him. He resolved to be that man. A man fully consecrated Jesus. That means at every moment, I'm given over to doing the will of God. He said to RA Torrey, his co-worker, he said, "If I believe that God wanted me to jump out that window, I would jump." Fully consecrated, whatever God told me to do, I want to do. He made a second commitment, and this is very interesting. This came out in RA Torrey's funeral sermon for Moody. He preached why God used DL Moody. Moody made a commitment that he would not allow 24 hours to pass over his head without witnessing to somebody about Christ. That's pretty practical, isn't it? Are you courageous enough to make a commitment like that? Try a week, let's start with one week, alright? For one week, you won't let 24 hours pass over your head without witnessing to somebody. There are amazing stories about Moody's commitment. Once, late, late in the day, he hadn't witnessed anybody. It was about 11 o'clock, and he was going back to his hotel. He doesn't know what to do, and he sees a man by a lamp post, and he goes up and he starts sharing and says, "Friend. Are you a Christian?" The man is immediately offended, he says, "How dare you? You don't even know me; you don't know anything about me. And you're asking me that question?" The man knew that Moody was a preacher. He said, "If you weren't some kind of preacher, I'd knock you into the gutter right now." That man went and told some of DL Moody's sponsors that Moody had a zeal without knowledge, and that he was rude and was actually under cutting the work of Christ. The organizer called DL Moody in, he was a young man at this point and said, “You're doing more damage than good.” It caused Moody to doubt some of his own convictions. It was very tough time until three weeks later, late in the night, there’s a loud knock on the door and it's the same man. He said, I've not been able to get your question [ Are you a Christian?] out of my mind. I've come to the conclusion, I'm not a Christian, and I've given my life to Christ, and I just wanted to thank you.
There was another time again late at night. Moody hadn't witnessed and thinking that it’s too late, he goes out and is pouring rain. He sees a man immediately, a man who is walking with an umbrella, so he runs out of his little hotel area, and goes out in the pouring rain, and says, “Do you mind if I share your umbrella? He said, "No, come on." So, there are two of them walking along under the umbrella and he gets an idea and says, "Do you know the security and the shelter that comes from following Christ? He uses the umbrella as a picture of salvation and led the man to Christ. I just think we don't step out in faith because we're afraid of what will happen. We're afraid of what will happen if we make a commitment to go to foreign places or to not let one day go by in seven that we don't witness for Jesus. We're afraid to try new ministries. Don't be. When you step out in faith, you will find the ground under your feet secured by the power of God, by the power of Jesus.