Lessons Of A Lifetime

Looking Unto Jesus
Or
Looking At Our Circumstances
Sunday July 12, 2020

Scripture To Consider:
“And when Jesus sent the multitudes away, He went up onto the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. But the boat [the disciples were in] was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea [water], they were troubled, saying, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out for fear.”

“But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Be of good cheer! It is I: do not be afraid.’ And Peter answered Him and said, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to You on the water.’ So Jesus said, ‘Come’. And when Peter had come down out of the boat, He walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, Peter was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, ‘Lord, save me!’

“And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’ And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. Then those who were in the boat came and worshipped Jesus, saying, ‘Truly You are the Son of God.’”                                                                                                                        Matthew 14.23-33

Something To Consider:
After feeding five thousand men plus women and children with a lad’s little lunch, Jesus sent His disciples away in a boat to cross over the lake. He then sent the multitudes away so He might privately seek His heavenly Father’s presence in prayer. While praying, His disciples were again at sea in the midst of another storm.

This time Jesus was not in the boat with His disciples. So, in the early morning darkness and out of concern for their safety, Jesus walked upon the water in their direction. And this miraculous walking on the water by Jesus, brought about troubled hearts and minds among the fearful disciples.

According to Jesus in Mark’s gospel chapter 9 and in verse 23, Jesus declared; “If you can believe, all things are possible to him [or her] who believes.” After hearing the words of Jesus, a father of a son tormented by an unclean spirit proclaimed, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.”

Wow! How true of a statement concerning the human dilemma. How often we want desperately to believe, and yet our flesh cries out of our unbelief! Paul quoted twice in his letters, a statement found in Habakkuk 2.4. “Behold the proud, his soul is not upright in him; but the just shall live by his [or her] faith.”

Something Else To Consider:
The disciples were troubled by their thinking Jesus to have been a ghost. But Jesus sensed their fear and spoke to them these comforting words that so many since then have taken much comfort in. “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” And still, Jesus remains concerned about His 21st century disciples, followers, and leaders in training, who have become fearful in the midst of circumstances that are out of their control.

Therefore, if we listen with ears to hear in the midst of our difficult circumstances we might hear Jesus say to us, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” Fear and faith create oppositional responses from most humans. I mention most, because some, such as military soldiers, have been trained to suppress fear in the heat of the battle. What about the in-advance training of a Christian soldier in the spiritual army of the Lord? What kind of training is available to us?

The first lesson of a lifetime to be learned concerning our human response to fear is to be obedient to the Word of Jesus! Peter overcame his first test of whether to succumb to fear or to faith by his obedience to Jesus’ command, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, He too walked on the water to go to Jesus! Have we been willing to come to Jesus? Have we been willing to get out of the safety of our own boat and come to Jesus?

Something More To Consider:
By a simple request and an answer from Jesus declaring, “Come,” Peter found himself walking on the water to go to Jesus. But the moment Peter’s attention was shifted from looking unto Jesus, to the surrounding uncontrollable by Peter circumstances, he began to sink. The writer of Hebrews 12.2 reminds us to be found, “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Our looking unto Jesus helps to keep our focus on Him who cares for us and not on our ship sinking circumstances. And yet, if our faith is overcome by our fear, our prayer should be as was Peter’s, “Lord, save me.” And if that be our response to our own unbelief, as Jesus rescued Peter, He will come to our rescue! And yet, we too may hear these words of rebuke from Jesus. “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Why do we as believers, struggle like Peter with this earthly battle between fear and faith? Something Jesus proclaimed in the Garden of Gethsemane may help our human understanding. While Jesus prayed, His disciples slept! Therefore, Jesus asked and declared, “What? Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Is that not a most true picture of the human dilemma? It is as if we are doomed to failure in this earthly battle between faith and fear. And yet, there is hope in the midst of all our failures. For we have access to the forgiveness of God!

A Few Final Words:
And having said that, are we taking full advantage of the forgiveness of God that can be found on a daily basis in Jesus Christ? When we fail, when we fall, and we do so on a regular basis, do we seek the forgiveness that is only available in and through Jesus Christ? If we do, and we are allowing the Word of God to consume our thoughts, our true biblical faith will arise more often than fear.

Will we be found in times of end time tribulation, faithfully looking unto Jesus, or fearfully looking unto our circumstances? Will we succumb to our human fear or will we allow faith to bring about an overcoming and enduring to the end spirit within us? We must understand, according to Romans 10.17; “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”

Therefore, we must heed the spiritually instructing words of the apostle Paul from Ephesians 6.17-18. “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end [not succumbing to human fear] with all perseverance [a willingness to endure to the end] and supplication for all the saints [fellow like-minded believers].”

Peter’s faith was a lot like most people, at times strong, and at times weak, and yet he took full advantage of what little faith he possessed. As end time ambassadors for Christ, how can we do any less? “But when he [Peter] saw that the wind [humanly uncontrollable circumstances] was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, ‘Lord, save me!’” How can we expect to do any less or any better than Peter?

Prayer:
Our Father in heaven, increase our faith in Your Son Jesus, that we might not sink at the slightest change in our earthly end time circumstances. In Him Always, Amen!

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