Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Getting Back in the Boat

A sermon developed by Dr. Terry W. Dorsett based on Matthew 14:22-33.

Verse 22 - Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He dismissed the crowds.
               Notice the first word of this verse is immediately.
               To understand this passage correctly, we need to know what happened right before it, so that we can understand why this passage happened immediately after it.
               The verses before this passage tell the story of how Jesus took a meal of 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish and miraculously multiplied it so that 5000 men plus their families had a full lunch AND they had 12 baskets of leftovers.
               That miracle demonstrated how Jesus had the supernatural power to overcome the natural laws of the universe.
               That miracle was a spiritual high for the disciples. They left the feeding of the 5000 thinking they could take on the world with Jesus’ power.
               Immediately after they left that miraculous event, they got in a boat and went through a terrible storm. So much for their spiritual high!
               Life is full of ups and downs.
               We often feel like we take three steps forward and two steps back.
               When something good happens that makes us feel great, it seems like something bad comes right along to rob us of our joy.
               The disciples experienced this same thing.
               If the disciples had known what was coming, they would have never gotten in the boat on their own.
               But Jesus knew they needed to learn a valuable lesson, so He made them get into the boat.
               Jesus knows what is going to happen in our lives and sometimes He nudges us along so that we get into the boat and take the journey that He knows we need to take.
               Jesus sent the disciples to the other side. He did not want them to just sail around in circles. Jesus wanted them to go a specific direction and end up in specific place.
               Life is a journey. But a journey is not just going in circles and never getting anywhere. A journey has a destination.
               Some people say they are on a journey through life, but in reality they are just lost. They are wandering endlessly in circles experiencing the same frustrations and difficulties over and over again.
               Jesus has a plan for our lives.
               Jesus wants us to end up in a specific destination.
               So embrace the journey of life, but do not get lost along the way.
               We must always remember where we are headed, which is toward eternity!

Verse 23 - After dismissing the crowds, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. When evening came, He was there alone.
               Jesus put the disciples into the boat because they had a lesson they needed to learn.
               Jesus then went up on a mountain where He could see the events as they played out.
               Notice that Jesus was praying while He was on the mountain watching His disciples learn this valuable lesson.
               When we go through the difficult storms of life, we sometimes feel like Jesus has abandoned us.
               But Jesus is watching over us all the time. He sees every detail of what is happening.
               Jesus is praying to the Father for us, interceding on our behalf.

Verse 24 - But the boat was already over a mile from land, battered by the waves, because the wind was against them.
               Though Jesus was on the mountain praying for His disciples, they did not know that. To them it seemed that they were alone in the boat.
               The boat was over a mile from shore when a storm blew in and giant waves battered the boat.
               No matter what they tried to do to steer the boat, the wind was against them.
               When trouble comes in life, it often seems like we are a mile from shore.
               We often feel battered and bruised by the storms of life.
               Sometimes it seems like no matter what we do, the wind is against us and nothing goes right.
               In these moments, we wonder where Jesus is.

Verse 25 - Around three in the morning, He came toward them walking on the sea.
               After the disciples had been struggling all night long, Jesus came to them at 3 AM.
               It is often in our darkest hour, when we think that all hope is lost that Jesus enters the picture and everything begins to change.
               Jesus may not always come on the schedule we want, but He always comes on the schedule that is right. He is an “on-time” God.

Verse 26 - When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified. "It's a ghost!" they said, and cried out in fear.
               When the disciples saw Jesus walking on the water, instead of getting excited because help was on the way, they got scared.
               Often when Jesus begins to reveal the answer to us about the storms we are experiencing in our lives, our first reaction is fear.
               We often fear the answer Jesus gives us because we want the easy way out.
               Jesus’ answer is always the right one, but it is not always the easy one.
               If we choose to ignore Jesus’ answer, there is no plan B that will work.
               It’s either Jesus, or sink!

Verse 27 - Immediately Jesus spoke to them. "Have courage! It is I. Don't be afraid.”
               Jesus spoke words of comfort and encouragement to them.
               Jesus speaks to our spirits and brings us comfort in the midst of the storm.
               Jesus used the phrase “It is I.”
               This phrase was the same that Moses heard when he stood at the burning bush and God said “I Am”
               This was a declaration of the divinity of Jesus.
               Jesus was both fully man and fully God.
               This gave Him the ability to relate to us as people but also to do miracles that changed the course of the natural laws of the universe.
               Jesus still sits on the throne of heaven and He is still in charge, even in the storms of our own lives. We do not need to be afraid.

Verse 28 – “Lord, if it's You,” Peter answered Him, “command me to come to You on the water.”
               Peter said “if” it was Jesus then he wanted to walk on the water too.
               Who else did Peter think it was?
               The word “if” shows that Peter was trying to make some type of bargain with Jesus.
               When we get into trouble in our lives, we often try to bargain with the Lord.

Verse 29 - "Come!" He said. And climbing out of the boat, Peter started walking on the water and came toward Jesus.
               We should be very careful when we bargain with Jesus, He may just take us up on our offer!
               Peter had committed himself so he climbed out of the boat and on walked on water.
               The laws of physics tell us this is impossible.
               But with God, the impossible becomes possible!
               As long as Peter was focused on Jesus and going toward Jesus, he was able to do the impossible.
               When we go through storms in our own lives, the key is to stay focused on Jesus and keep moving toward Jesus.

Verse 30 - But when he saw the strength of the wind, he was afraid. And beginning to sink he cried out, "Lord, save me!”
               But Peter had a hard time staying focused on Jesus.
               Instead Peter let the storm distract him.
               As soon as Peter took his focus off of Jesus, he began to sink.
               We also have a hard time staying focused on Jesus.
               Like Peter, we often find it easier to focus on the storm that is going on around us and we get our eyes off Jesus and begin to sink.
               There are also times when we go through storms of life and we start toward Jesus, and He helps us, but as soon as the pressure lets up a little, we go right back to our old ways and we begin to sink again!
               Peter cried out, “Lord, save me!”
               When we begin to sink, we must refocus ourselves on Jesus.
               We must cry out to Him. We must ask Him to help us. We must swallow our pride and realize that our way is NOT working and we must trust Him to rescue us from the mess we have made of things.

Verse 31 - Immediately Jesus reached out His hand, caught hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”
               As soon as Peter cried out for help, Jesus reached out His hand and rescued Peter.
               Jesus gave Peter a second chance because Jesus is the God of the second chance.
               Jesus is the God of the 10,000th chance!
               We should thank Jesus for His grace and cry out to Him for help no matter how many times we’ve cried out to Him before.

Verse 32 - When they got into the boat, the wind ceased.
               Jesus helped Peter get back in the boat and the storm stopped.
               Think about this for a moment. The last place Peter wanted to be was BACK in the boat. He wanted to be on dry ground!
               But Jesus made Peter get back in the boat because Peter had not yet finished the task that Jesus had given him, which was to take the boat to the other side.
               Often when we cry out to Jesus, we expect Him to make all the problems go away.
               While Jesus does calm the storms, He also tells us to get back in the boat!
               We must get back in the boat because we are not yet finished with whatever it was that He told us to do.
               We cannot just give up and quit. Quitting is not victory. Quitting is defeat.
               We must thank Jesus for His help, but then we must get back in the boat and finish what we started.
               We should not look for the easy way out, we should look for the “Jesus way” out and the Jesus way requires getting back in the boat and rowing, sailing, or paddling it to the other side of the lake.
               Start paddling!

Verse 33 - Then those in the boat worshiped Him and said, “Truly You are the Son of God!”
               The way to find the strength to get in the boat and continue to the other side is to focus on worshiping Jesus and acknowledging that He really is the Son of God.
               That means He really is in control.
               Accepting that He knows what He is doing even in the midst of the storm is vital to finding the strength to get back in the boat.
               If Jesus really is the Sovereign Lord over everything, then we can trust Him.
               We can get back in the boat and do whatever He asks us to do.
               We can praise Him in the midst of the storm, because He is worthy to be praised and He is in control.
               Stop complaining and start praising!

  1. We all go through difficult times in life.
  2. During those times the Lord wants us to learn valuable lessons that will help us achieve His plans for our lives.
  3. To learn those lessons, we must stay focused on the Lord, which can be hard to do when our struggles threaten to overwhelm us.
  4. When we stay focused on Jesus, He calms the storm, but also tells us to get back in the boat and finish what He called us to do.

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