Get out of the Boat
What does it take to grow the kind of faith that gets you out of the boat?
Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
Well, one random place I think I’d like to visit someday is what some are calling the “Museum of Failed Products” in Ann Arbor Michigan.
CBS News did a story on them last year if you caught it.
(Show Store Photo)
It’s basically a museum (although it looks more like a store) that has 120,000 different commercial products from the last 40 years or so.
And it has a massive section on failed products.
Like Pepsi AM (Show Photo)
Or, Colgate TV Dinners (Show Photo)
Or, Clairol’s “Touch of Yogurt” Shampoo (Show Photo)
Part of the message of the museum is that failure isn’t a rarity, it’s the norm.
Most estimates put the consumer product failure rate somewhere in the 80-90% range.
I mean, you can make fun of Clairol, and Colgate, and Pepsi all you want, but the reality is, so they failed once in a while…but a lot of times they didn’t.
And it begs the question…what are WE missing…because we’re afraid to risk?
And what about if we connect that to spiritual things?
What are we missing when we’re afraid to have faith?
To trust God in faith…for greater things?
Before I get into our passage this morning…let me take a quick aside to talk about something that is SO AMAZING…and yet, often we can be nervous about stepping forward in it.
And that’s baptism.
First of all, I’m really excited to let you know that our summer baptism is coming up…on July 23rd
If you’re a believer in Jesus, and you’ve never been baptized as a believer, get baptized.
It’s an amazing experience. So powerful.
The Bible speaks A LOT about baptism, and tells us it’s something we’re to do after we make decide to believe in Jesus.
It’s an outward symbol of Jesus washing away our sins.
It’s something that Jesus even commands us to do…it’s that important.
So…if you’ve been waiting to do it…let go of any excuses and sign-up
It’s not about being ready.
It’s about we’ll never be good enough and he died for anyway
It’s not about the conditions being just right..
It’s a matter of obedience. This is what we’ve been talking about this summer. Following the King.
And it’s not (and this a tough on in MN), it’s not even about “if you were baptized already as a baby”
I was myself.
But the Bible never mentions baptizing babies.
It talks about people doing it when their faith becomes their own…after they believe.
It’s so awesome to do it.
If you’ve been putting it off, put it off no longer.
You won’t regret this.
EXPLAINING THE PASSAGE
We’re going to take a look at a passage this morning that talks specifically about the fear of risk…or the fear of faith…as we continue “The Kingdom” series on the Book of Matthew.
One of 4 books (or Gospels) on the teachings and life of Jesus in the Bible.
Before we dive into it, let me give you some context on what is going on.
Jesus is in the middle of an incredibly strenuous day.
He starts his day by hearing that John the Baptist…his friend and relative…was murdered by Herod.
He tries to withdraw by himself, but he crowds follow him…and he has compassion and heals them.
He then ends up having more compassion by miraculously feeding over 5,000 of them
The crowds are so enamored with him that John tells us they intended to take him by force.
And that’s where we join our passage
Let’s join the story here
Or the Renovation App
It’s a story that’s going to happen at about 3 or 4 in the morning.
When your mom told you that nothing good happens after midnight, she was wrong.
(Matthew 14:22-33) – NIV
22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd.23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. 25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. 27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” 28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” 29 “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” 32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
Now, there’s certainly a lot of things we can pull from this passage, but one of the most fascinating things is surely the fact that Peter boldly calls out, “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come out to you on water!”
Now, Peter’s faith of course breaks down a little while later…
But let’s give him some credit, right?
The other 11 disciples were shaking in the boat, and Peter’s calling out to Jesus!
I mean, it wasn’t just Peter who saw Jesus walking on water.
All 12 disciples witnessed it with their own eyes.
All 12 of them have witnessed roughly the same amount of blind people getting their sight back, deaf people hearing, sick people getting well, demons cast out, thousands of people getting fed.
Yet 11 of them didn’t attempt to walk on water.
So what is it in Peter that caused Him to do this?
Why is it that he does this great act of faith?
That’s what I want to look at this morning.
And I want to ask the question: How do you become a person that takes leaps of faith? A person who’d walk on water.
And I want to do so by looking at 4 things I think we need to know to grow in our faith.
#1 – KNOW THAT GOD IS SOVEREIGN
#1 – Know that God is sovereign
Christians throw out this word a lot, but what does it actually mean?
A Sovereign (as a noun) is the supreme ruler. A King. A Queen.
It means that God is the King.
He is the ultimate ruler & authority, and therefore has things under His control.
So, when we say things like God is Sovereign, it means that He’s in control over everything.
I mean, take note here, Jesus isn’t just walking on water (proving He’s Lord of matter AND physics)…he’s walking on water, in the midst of a massive windstorm like it ain’t no thing. J
I wanted to set the context of this passage up for you because this is where it’s important.
Remember how Jesus made them get in the boat…and then goes off to pray?
So, they’re off battling this windstorm and terrible waves for about 7 or 8 hours, but Jesus is well aware of it ahead of time.
In fact, he told them to go off by themselves, knowing full well what they would experience.
One of the hardest places to have faith in your life…(and maybe this is you right now) is when you’re in a trial. Or when you’re suffering.
In other words, when you’re in the storm.
Now, to be fair, a lot of our storms are self-made.
We whipped them up in our own sin.
But not all of them.
And this is a good example for us to remember that some of the trials you may face, might simply be for the purpose of God revealing His glory.
Maybe to you…maybe it’s for the people around you…or maybe it won’t even matter for decades into the future yet
Jesus does the same thing with his friend Lazarus in John 11.
Jesus gets word his friend Lazarus is sick, and he decides to not do anything about it…yet.
Lazarus ends up dying…and Jesus doesn’t show up for another 4 days.
He gets there, and Lazarus’ sister Mary is more than a little peeved at Jesus.
But Jesus lets us know that Lazarus’ suffering was SO THAT God’s glory might be displayed…and then he raises Lazarus from the dead.
So if you’re in a storm, and you’re asking, “How can I have faith in this?”
How can I have faith in sickness?
How can I have faith when my marriage is falling apart?
How can I have faith when I don’t even have a job?
Remember…God is Sovereign. He is the King.
That doesn’t mean everything’s going to work out. But He’s the King.
In fact, Jesus…when he shows up, he says this in verse 27
(Matthew 14:27) – NIV
27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
What he’s actually saying in the Greek (which is what the NT is written in) is “Take courage. I am. Don’t be afraid.”
Now, it looks funny to write it that way, so a lot of translators don’t.
But it’s significant because “I AM” is the name for God.
When God appears to Moses in the burning bush, Moses says, “What should I tell them your name is?”
And God says, “I AM”
And you get the sense that Peter is learning this about Jesus when you read Matthew.
In just two chapters, Jesus is going to say, “Who do people say I am?”
And it’s Peter who blurts out, “You’re the messiah! The Son of God!”
See, I think Peter’s the one who jumps out of the boat, because he’s realizing that Jesus is God.
He’s the King. He’s Sovereign.
And Sovereign means control of anything…even the water.
If this is God…well then I can trust Him.
If GOD is in control of my situation…my steps…my life…then nothing else matters.
But how is Peter catching on so quickly?
Maybe it’s a gift of faith…but we also have to factor in that the Gospels show us that Peter is one of Jesus’ inner 3 disciples.
He gets to spend a lot of time getting to know Jesus
And when you know someone…you trust them.
To trust them, is to have faith in them.
Let me ask you a question: “Who do you trust the most? Who do you have the most faith in?”
It’s the people we KNOW! The people we know best.
That’s true in my life! Its’ my wife first and foremost. My close friends.
That’s who I have faith in.
Think of it this way:
Let’s say you’re on facebook and you see 3 sarcastic statuses in a row.
If you think you’re tool old or too awesome for facebook, just play along
SO you’re wondering to yourself, “Did that person really mean that??”
But, if1 of them is from your close friend, you’d totally get it what they were saying….because you understand them
And for a lot of us…we’re not actually building a relationship with God, we’re just checking his facebook page once in a while.
And thus it’s harder to trust him.
So if you want to increase your faith in this Sovereign God, one of the most practical steps you can take is to just simply spend more time with Him every day.
More time reading his book to you (the Bible)
Use the Renovation app.
Follow a Bible reading plan on there…or in the hallway.
Carve out a time to talk to him everyday
Before bed, or when you get up, or on your commute.
Faith won’t just grow out of nowhere…it has to be cultivated through the discipline of everyday conversation and learning.
#2 – THE MORE YOU WALK IN FAITH, THE MORE FAITH YOU GET
But faith isn’t just cultivated over time through a relationship, faith is also a conscious choice that you follow through with an ACTION.
It’s a decision that YOU still have to make.
For instance, my wife and I have been together for 15 years…married for 10.
She knows that I’m a picky eater.
She knows what I like and of course (the larger list…what I DON’T like) more than anyone.
So, when she says to me, “Hey, I made something new…you’ll like it”
I’ve built up faith in her over time through our relationship…so I believe her.
But sometimes I’ll be out to eat with people that I don’t really know, and they’ll point out some weird dish and say, “Oh, you’ll love it!”
And I’m thinking, “A) You don’t know me B) That’s disgusting.
But with my wife…I know her…so I trust her…so I could take a leap of faith…. because eating something new is a HUGE leap of faith for me. J
HOWEVER, my faith in her isn’t really displayed until I bite into it.
I think a lot of times we don’t think of faith this way (maybe because we over-spiritualize it), but faith needs to be practiced.
I think a lot of Christians lack faith because they never practice it.
They never risk…They never bite into anything new.
So, here’s the second thing you need to know to grow in faith:
#2 – The more you walk in faith, the more faith you get
This is maybe simpler than you’re thinking.
John Ortberg wrote a whole book on this that I read back in college.
It’s simply called, “If you want to walk on water, you’ve got to get out of the boat”
Do you want God to do great things in your life?…well, then…exercise some faith!”
It’s like…I’m not a huge fan of walking on ice-covered lakes.
I fell waist deep into one when I was a kid…
But I remember a number of years ago…I was at a retreat up in Mink Lake…north of Grand Marais.
It’s a Converge Camp…if you can call it a camp…it’s pretty rustic.
No running water even.
I’m more of a “They have a mountain dew vending machine here” kind of camper.
Anyway, we’d go out on the lake…and I’m just tiptoeing…
And here comes everyone else just running by.
And then comes somebody on a snowmobile.
And I’m thinking, “Okay, I guess I don’t have nearly as much faith in this ice”
Or, ever been walking out on a MN lake nervously, and then someone comes driving by you in a Truck?” J
But, we could ask the question?
Why is it that someone can drive a snowmobile or even a truck on the ice?
It’s because…it’s not their first time.
They probably tested it out first with their feet, and then maybe something a little bigger.
The more you walk in faith, the more faith you will get.
The more that you feel like God is maybe calling you to do something…and you do it…and it works…
Well, guess what? The more likely you are to trust Him the next time.
The more that you feel like God is convicting you to let go of a certain sin…and you do it…and He’s proven wise…
The more apt you are to trust Him in faith next time…even if it seems hard.
So, what’s He calling you to do right now that you need to take him up on???
#3 – KNOW THAT SOMETIMES YOU WILL FAIL
I said at the beginning that Peter gets a lot of grief for his lack of faith.
He’s the guy that fell in the water, right?
But we can certainly frame that in a different way.
He’s the only guy that was willing to risk falling in the water.
He’s the only guy whose faith was so strong that he wasn’t afraid of the possibility of failure.
So here’s a third way you can help grow your faith
#3 – KNOW THAT SOMETIMES YOU WILL FAIL
I read this the other day, and it was really helpful to me, so I wanted to share it with you.
A pastor was telling a story about when he was growing up and how his dad taught him and his brother how to ski.
He said one of his most vivid memories was the first day that he and his brother skied all day by themselves.
As they were clicking off their skis, their dad came up to them and asked them, “Did you fall today?”
At first, the boy was a little taken aback. But then he proudly (and truthfully) answered, “Nope! Not once”
And then his dad said something to him that he never forgot. He said, “Then you didn’t try something new today, did you. You see, son, if you didn’t fall, you weren’t in a position to try something new, something daring...you never risked.
And therefore, you missed an opportunity to become a better skier today.”
I think this is a good picture of a lot of American Christians.
We’re like the 11 disciples in the boat.
Sure, we didn’t have to go through that embarrassing fall like Peter did…
But we also never grow in our faiths either.
We come to church, go to house groups, try and read the Bible once in a while…but that’s about it
We’re not known for our risks of faith.
And consequently, we’re not known for our maturity of faith anymore either.
If you keep reading the Bible…into Acts… pretty soon Peter’s the lead disciple
Read some more…and now he’s the guy preaching to thousands as their representative.
Read some more…and now he’s healing people
Read some more…and years later, he’s so wise in faith that he’s writing books of the Bible.
But a lot of his growth and maturation as a Christ-follower is because he was willing to risk failure.
We want to live as a church like that.
We want to be so crazy about changing the world and reaching people for Christ…that we would risk failure.
We can keep doing the same old thing…the status quo…but what if we risked so that even more to see even more people would come to Christ?
We have to be willing to do whatever it takes (short of sin) to see people come to Jesus.
And we will.
You’re not gonna walk on water unless you get out of the boat.
And you’re not gonna get out of the boat unless you’re okay with the fact that sometimes you’re going to sink and have to call out to Jesus for help!
I mean, we can give Pepsi a lot of grief for trying Breakfast Pepsi, but goodness, they would have never became the company they did, unless they “tried things” once in a while.
You can’t learn to ride a bike unless you first get on one
You can’t learn to drive unless you get behind the wheel
And you’re not going to learn to be a person of faith until you start taking God up on some of these things He’s nudging you about.
What’s he nudging you about??
I’m guessing that there have to probably be a few things in your life that God has been bugging you about these past few years.
But honestly, it feels like a stretch right now.
But what if you took Him up on it?
See, you’re never going to be this person of faith that you want to be 10 years from now, unless you make the decisions of faith that will lead to that NOW…in the present.
But if you simply choose “indecision” instead of faith…I can guarantee you won’t grow.
#4 – KNOW THAT YOU MUST FIX YOUR EYES ON JESUS
So, we can learn a lot from Peter’s faith.
But we can also learn from what went wrong on the water.
Why did he sink?
The passage says, “But when he saw the wind, he was afraid”
In other words, he took his eyes of Jesus and he put them on his fears.
But the Bible calls us to Fix our Eyes on Jesus.
#4 – Know that you must fix your eyes on Jesus
When I was a senior in high school, I was the captain of my high school soccer team.
I can remember practicing my pre-game speech to our team for our first playoff game for days.
And I can remember…it was terrible.
But as someone whose day-job it is to speak in front of people, I’ve always been fascinated by how coaches could give speeches that would inspire athletes.
Particularly professional athletes.
For instance, here’s an example of one of the more famous pre-game speeches…and I think it proves this 4th point quite well.
Back when Jimmy Johnson was in his coaching days, he coached the Dallas Cowboys to 3 super bowl wins.
In 1993, he was in the locker room with his players, and they were all super jittery about going out to play a super bowl.
He stood in front of the team and said, “If I laid a long 2-by-4 across the floor, everybody here could walk across it and not fall…because your focus would just be on walking on the 2-by-4.”
If I put that same 2-by-4 ten stories high, between 2 buildings, only a few would make it because your focus would be on falling”
“Tonight, when you go out, don’t focus on the crowd, the media, of the possibility of falling, just focus on each play of the game as if it were a good practice session.”
The Cowboys won 52-17.
It’s a great illustration.
So why did Peter fall?
It’s not really about, as some have tried to say, that he didn’t have enough faith.
Like, “If he just would have believed harder, then he would have stayed up.”
It’s about the OBJECT of his faith.
As soon as he takes his eyes of off Jesus, he starts to fall.
If your eyes are on the wind, you will fall.
If your eyes are on your circumstances, you will fall
If your eyes are on everyone else’s eyes, you will fall.
If you want to grow your faith, the best thing you can do is keep your eyes fixed on Jesus.
Listen, it’s not that Peter has no faith, it’s that he just had a burst of faith…but it wasn’t sustained.
We need to fix our eyes on Jesus no matter our circumstances, or how hard it gets, or how crazy it gets, or what people say.
This is how you create sustained faith in your life.
This is exactly what the Book of Hebrews tells us to do at the beginning of chapter 12…Run with perseverance and FIX YOUR EYES on Jesus, it says.
Listen, the mockers are going to surround you.
If you start radically following the king…
The mockers will come.
Your own thoughts in your head will mock you
The demons will mock you
People will mock you
Every part of this world might be telling you it’s crazy to follow Jesus. Saying:
“Why would you trust Him in this?”
“Why would you obey Him like that?”
“Why would you follow Him there?”
But you just fix your eyes on Jesus.
He’s going to keep looking at you…telling you to keep trusting Him…to keep coming forward.
Put your trust in Him…not yourself, not this world…Him.
And hear me, if you should succumb…if you should get distracted…if you should lose faith…and if you should start to sink…
Cry out to Jesus.
He is merciful. He is loving.
And he will catch you.
He loves you.
Take a leap of faith this week.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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