Weekly Teachings by Erik Momsen
Walking by Faith
by Erik Momsen
I often hear the words "Do you have faith?", "Are you a person of faith?", "Have you lost your faith?" Very often the secular world means, "Do you have some practices that you ascribe to religion?" or even better: "do you find some strength in believing someone or something out there looking out for you?"
For Bible-believing Christians faith is not so much a ritual, even though faith must have actions. Faith is also not a set of ideas. Faith is an inner voice, motivation, strength that directs us to take action towards a greater good. Faith is simply to step out of the arrangements you have made to keep yourself safe and comfortable.
We speak about a "life of faith" or "to walk by faith". God is into taking walks - sometimes very long ones with people who have the courage to go with him. Faith drove the Israelites through a sea and over a desert. Some may say it was desperation. Faith is often given in dire situations.
Faith drove Paul to long sea and land journeys. It drove Jonah into the belly of a large fish. It drove Dr. Livingstone across Africa.
ONE SHORT TOUGH WALK OF FAITH
The disciple Peter and the others got into a small boat one afternoon so as to meet Jesus on the other side of the Sea of Galilee. I wonder if they asked him how he was going to get there? By 3 am the next morning they were saying their prayers. The Greek in Matthew says the boat was "tormented". They thought they were going to the bottom.
Just then they see what they think could only be a ghost walking on the water. Mark tells us that Jesus intended to "pass them by". This word is the same one used when God "passed by" Moses and showed him His glory. It is also the same word used when God told Elijah to stand on the side of the mountain ... "for the Lord is about to pass by". The gospel writers knew this walking on the water was something only God could do. Jesus was showing His divinity.
- They had to learn that God comes at the darkest moments.
- He comes when you least expect and in unexpected ways.
- God also comes in response to obedience - He had told them to cross.
- Obedience does not also ensure smooth sailing.
- Keep your head UP if you want to see God - looking at the sinking boat would not have helped.
THAT'S NOT ENOUGH -
PETER WANTS TO GETS OUT OF THE BOAT
Before he gets out he says, "Lord if it is you, tell me to come to you on the water". Why does Matthew include this?
- We need to be sure it is God in a situation.
- This is not a story about risk, but about obedience. This was not Galilee's version of extreme sport. It is a story about extreme discipleship. Extreme discipline. (John Ortberg)
- Even if it is Jesus, does Jesus want him to do it? Does Jesus think it is a good idea?
- One big lesson that the disciples were learning - if Jesus could do it so could they - if they trusted and obeyed.
YOU'RE OUT OF THE BOAT - NOW WHAT?
The great thing is, Peter gets out and walks. One would expect him to start running but human nature and old mindsets take control. He sees the wind. The weather hasn't changed. It is still the same storm.
- He takes his eyes off the saviour and onto the storm.
- Fear overcame faith.
- Fear will set in every time we do something new.
Fear is the fertiliser of faith - faith must grow on top of fear.
WHAT ABOUT THE OTHER ELEVEN?
They did not risk - did not experience a new fear - did not fail in a new way --- but they also did not walk on water and did not learn new faith.
Perhaps some were even too fearful to lift their eyes above the edge of the boat to where the Saviour and disciple were testing faith.
They where the pew warmers - the "boat potatoes".
Comfort and safety are the dangers of our age - it is the death of the seed of faith. Those few seeds we are given just stay in the little packet, dry out and lose all life. All hope is gone.
A life with Jesus is a walk of faith. It includes risk, fear and danger. Jesus is a dangerous person to be around - But He'll always catch you when you fall.
Date Added: 2008-04-09
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