Posts Tagged ‘Matthew 14’

Matthew 14:22-33 – HOW TO TRUST MORE AND SINK LESS

Trust more, Sink Less!

“I was terrified of the storm last night” she said. When I asked why, Jessica, 92, told me that she had once been STRUCK BY LIGHTNING! That would certainly explain her fear.

Imagine being on a lake in the midst of a terrifying storm and seeing a lightning lit, ghostlike, wave walking figure, coming towards you. If you were afraid of the storm, you would be overwhelmed with the horror of His presence (Matthew 14:26 NLT). What would it look like to see Jesus walking on water?

Suddenly they hear His familiar voice, a bell like song soaring above the noise of the storm, “Don’t be afraid. Take courage. I am here!” (Matthew 14:26 NLT). In the original language He says in effect “It is the ‘I AM’ who is coming to you”. “I AM” is the name for God. Job describes God as One who “… marches on the waves of the sea” (Job 9:8 NLT). Even a cyclone whipping up the waves pales into insignificance in the presence of almighty God.

Peter blurts out “Lord, if it’s really You, tell me to come to You, walking on the water.” Why would Peter even ask this question? It’s in the middle of a storm and the last thing you would want to do is to get out of the boat? What is he thinking? He’s AFRAID of the storm but in AWE of God’s presence. It’s a question of “Where is the safest place to be. In the boat or with Jesus.”

When I ask God for miracles at times He grants them in ways I don’t expect.  “Yes, come,” Jesus says. So Peter goes over the side of the boat and walks on the water toward Jesus (Matthew 14:29 NLT). 

At first there is a mixture of DOUBT AND IMPULSIVE PRESUMPTION, but doubt transformed into faith allowed Peter to walk on the water and accomplish the impossible. Impulsive presumption transformed into trust allowed him to be a part of the miracle. Peter gives me hope that my doubts and presumptions can be transformed into trust and faith just when I need the supernatural intervention of God.

I can spend my life rowing in circles in the midst of an unresolved storm or I can come. If Christ says “Yes, come” and it involves a miracle, then He will give me the power I need to accomplish the impossible (Matthew 14:29).

And Jesus still says “Come.” Matthew 11:28 (NLT) echoes these words “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” What would it be like to come to Christ in the midst of a storm?

When Peter sees the strong wind and the waves, he is terrified and begins to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouts. Despite weak faith, Jesus still saves him. It’s a little bit like the father who came to Jesus so his son could be healed. Jesus said “Anything is possible if a person believes.” The father replied “I do believe, but HELP ME OVERCOME MY UNBELIEF!”  (Mark 9:24 NLT).

Jesus immediately reaches out and grabs Peter. “You have so little faith,” Jesus says. “Why did you doubt Me?”

Jesus doesn’t say he has NO faith. He just says “You have so LITTLE faith”. Still Peter must have known he’d either sink or be saved. Someone said “WHEN I TRUST MORE, I SINK LESS.”

This is the way it works when I come to Christ. In the midst of the storms of life Christ commands me to “Come.” I don’t have enough faith to save myself, only enough to cry out for mercy. “Lord, save me,” and Jesus reaches out and saves me. Acts 16:31 (NLT) says “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.”

What if we could run with immunity, childlike in the midst of such awesome power, between the huge stuttering shocks roaring challenges that need to be heeded, the intense glimpses of cityscape, the jagged shards of light slicing the sky. What if we could dance with defiance to the frantic rhythm of drum crescendos on the rooves and driveways, sing to the sweeping chorus of wind and play with innocent abandon in the rushing water and the rain. What if we with faith unyielding on the sea could slip over the barriers of dread and walk where others fear to tread (Ross Cochrane). Philippians 4:13 (NLT) says “I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”

What would it look like if I were willing to stop frantically rowing around in circles, get out of the boat, and with mustard seed faith walk towards Jesus to experience a lifechanging miracle? All I know is that when I TRUST MORE, I SINK LESS.

Pastor Ross

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Whitewater Living!

Matthew 14:22-25 – EXTREME WHITEWATER LIVING

Increased levels of dopamine, endorphins and serotonin because of a high level of physical exertion! Adrenalin is racing through their veins (in other words they are afraid and insecure). These guys didn’t ask for a WHITE WATER RAFTING expedition, for an ultimate EXTREME SPORTS ADVENTURE that day. They are not ADRENALIN ADDICTS! They just want to get across the lake. This is the equivalent to the perfect storm, an environmental variable they could not have predicted.

She is screaming, OVERWHELMED with a sense of fear, hallucinating and imagining the worst. Her own INWARD STORM is raging, and as a result she is not in a position to trust anyone. She misunderstands our intentions and suddenly she is as strong as an ox. First she has to know what is going on before she can be helped and so we carefully explain what is happening. The waves are stilled and the ambulance men are eventually able to place her on the stretcher. Beautiful Jennifer (in her 80’s) is on her way to hospital. Matthew Henry says “Most of our danger from OUTWARD TROUBLES arises from … INWARD TROUBLES.”

After meeting the physical and spiritual needs of people, Jesus sends the crowds home and His disciples across the lake. As night falls He retreats into the hills by Himself to pray. Why does He, of all people, need to pray? Perhaps because He has not yet had a chance to grieve the murder of John the Baptist. He wants to be alone. The paparazzi would have driven him to take His place in the spotlight. The people would have propelled Him towards campaigning for a presidential election, but Jesus wants to leave the last miracle behind and is compelled only to pray.  

Meanwhile, the disciples are in trouble far away from land. A strong wind has risen, and they are fighting heavy waves (Matthew 14:24). They are compelled to pray too, because this is a SAFETY AND SECURITY NIGHTMARE and they are 2000 years too early for a SEARCH AND RESCUE helicopter… yet Jesus had asked them to go. He goes to them.

When the disciples see Him walking on the water, they are terrified. In their fear, they cry out, “It’s a ghost!”” (Matthew 14:26 NLT) In the midst of a terrifying storm, you don’t expect someone walking on water in the moonlight and shadows of the deep. All they need is a sense of HORROR added into the mix. This spectre is almost enough to tip them over the edge. This is a story to tell their kids, if they get out alive. They are overwhelmingly astonished by this random miracle. One commentary on this passage says “Approaching deliverance sometimes wears an alarming aspect”.

Jesus doesn’t ever promise me that I will not meet storms along way in which He calls me to go. He asks me to go anyway. Nevertheless, it is a little disconcerting for the disciples to say the least! Jesus walking on water! Why does He do this? He wasn’t just SHOWING OFF (I’m God. I can walk on water. Bare foot skiing with a difference. Extreme water walking).

When I face an escalating adrenaline rush because of an extreme safety and security issue in my life He is always right there in the midst of it, calmly walking on the water while I am frantically rowing for my life. He is always there in the midst of my circumstances but at a slight distance. Mark says that He would have passed by. He won’t force His way into any situation. He waits for me to recognise His presence and His ability to help.

It’s a good principle. Be close enough to help someone who is feeling insecure and fearful but give them enough space to know that I am there to help. Give the person time to see I am not a further threat. Worthwhile moments well spent. If I see Rambo when I am underfire, I still need to know he is not the enemy before I can allow him to try to help me solve my dilemma.

Getting close enough for them to see Him, He says “Don’t be afraid. Take courage. I am here!” (Matthew 14:26 NLT). It’s not safe in the boat, let alone in the water! If a man overboard, struggling to remain afloat had said this, you would question his sanity, but since Jesus is walking on water, He may just know what He’s talking about. He’d certainly have my attention!

I have to get my eyes off the trouble before I can see Him. I have to get my perspective right before I can understand. 365 fear not’s in the bible, a years worth of peace. Actually in the original language He says in effect “It is the ‘I AM’ who is coming to you”. “I AM” is the name for God. That’s just another confidence booster when you are in the midst of a storm, but only if you recognise Him. Bumper sticker – KNOW JESUS, NO FEAR. NO JESUS, KNOW FEAR.

The invitation during life’s most unsafe and insecure times is to acknowledge God’s help and presence and you will find courage and hope. Christ’s presence conquers fear. Knowing the love of Christ, dispels insecurity. His promise – “I will never leave you or forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5 NLT)

Isaiah 43:1-2 speaks about Xtreme Life – “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are Mine.” Since He loved us enough to die for our sins, and defeated death by rising again, He is able to deliver us in the extreme life experiences in the midst of the storms we face,… just in time to prepare us for the next challenge. 

Pastor Ross

Matthew 14:1-2 – BREAKING THE CHAINS OF MY LIMITATIONS

Breaking the Chains of My Limitations

One hundred and one years have passed and he still believes in a SUPERSTITION that once haunted Herod Antipas almost 2000 years ago. The centenarian I spoke with yesterday doesn’t like the idea of the afterlife, of heaven and hell, of continuing to live on past death, nevertheless he clings to a belief in REINCARNATION, that the soul is recycled. It is recorded that Herod Antipas also believed you could return and inhabit a different living person (Matthew 14:1-2). Reincarnation with a twist.

In delivering a series of messages based on The Truth Between Us, Erwin McManus, founder of Mosaic, recently said that true atheists and followers of Christ both want to rid themselves of SUPERSTITION. Thankfully, both atheists and followers of Christ ask us “Is that really the truth?” and if we were honest sometimes the answer is “No, it’s more connected with superstition and rituals and our own biased desires.” It may even be based on our self imposed limits for discovering half truths.

Religion especially can be the hive of superstitious nonsense. But then again science and rationalism can also limit our ability to discern truth by relying only on our senses. Allowing for a multiplicity of ways to discern truth and not simply restricting and limiting discernment to the five senses allows me to exercise faith as a valid system of perception. When science refuses to acknowledge that we know things beyond our senses it becomes scientism. It cuts us off from the possibilities of discovering a more holistic range of truth for our lives.

No-one should be more committed to pursuing truth than a follower of Christ, who says He is the way, TRUTH, and life and that the TRUTH will set us free (John 14:6, John 8:32). Sometimes the only verifiable truth I have is the truth evidenced by a changed life. It isn’t Jesus who is responsible for leading me to believe in superstition. He will never take me anywhere where truth is not.

When Herod hears that some people think that Jesus is John the Baptist risen from the dead (Luke 9:7-9), with superstitious fear and a guilty conscience, he readily grasps at this explanation (2 Timothy 4:4). This is weird because he claims to be a Sadducee, and Sadducees don’t believe in life after death.

Years later Herod meets Jesus face to face when Jesus is on trial to be crucified (Luke 23:8–12) but even then He misses his opportunity to discover who Jesus really is and examines Him as a curiosity.

Strange that all the conclusions about Jesus that people come up with don’t include what John has been telling them all along. God has promised to them a Redeemer. Jesus is the promised Messiah, the Saviour. Instead they come up with a quasi reincarnational theory.

Where does imagination stop and truth start? Children mix imagination and truth, but discerning that which is imaginary and that which is a possibility is the process that allows me to discover truth.

If I was not willing to accept Christ for who He is I guess I would be forced to come up with some fanciful explanation that allowed my atheism or superstition some credence and would not obligate me to come under God’s authority. Scientific or religious. It wouldn’t matter much which. There’s a downward trend here in Herod’s life that must tear him to pieces inside. He can’t explain away the miracles of Jesus and he desperately wants to maintain control of his world, so he must grasp at staws.

The invitation that both Herod and John the Baptist gives to us is to seek the truth. In the palace Herod entertains the truth but allows superstition and pride to reject Christ for who he really is. In the dungeon John the Baptist speaks the truth and though he is beheaded by Herod, it is the Truth about Jesus that sets him free.

Perhaps the questions worth asking are “What superstitions am I willing to embrace when it comes to seeking for the truth about Jesus? Am I simply applying limited constructs in a desire to eradicate Christ and His authority in my life? Am I really willing to seek the truth about who Jesus is? Am I willing to act on truth that I perceive beyond my senses and beyond my superstitions?”

John 16:13 (NLT) speaks about God the Holy Spirit as “THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH” who “will guide you into all truth” John 16:8 (NLT) says “… He will convict the world of its sin …” of unbelief. Am I willing to look beyond myself for the answers I need in life?

Pastor Ross

Matthew 14:1-12 – BRAVEHEART VS THE MAFIA

Braveheart vs the Mafia

He is drawn to the MAN IN THE DUNGEON. Beliefs are tested in the dark dungeon experiences of my life where everything is ripped away to expose who I really am. A dungeon is that place where everything is pointless without the purposes of God. Yet when all I have to offer to God is a dungeon it becomes a place of His presence, a throneroom, a place where His authority and intentions overrule my circumstances. A place of FREEDOM.

 The Godfather is dead. “Herod the king”, psychopathic mass murderer who killed the baby boys of Bethlehem in a last ditch attempt to destroy Jesus is now gone (Matthew 2:13-18). Long live the Dons. Long live “HEROD THE TETRARCH” who has survived to rule a quarter of his fathers kingdom. His tetrarchy extends from the Sea of Galilee to the northern part of the Dead Sea. Ambitious and just as deadly as his father, HEROD ANTIPAS has now been ruling about thirty-two years. In the luxury and excess of his kingdom he is imprisoned by a dungeon of his own making, far more oppressive than John’s. What a mess.

Meet his comare (mistress). Granddaughter of the late great “Herod the King”, HERODIAS is niece to both her husband PHILIP, and her lover. Herod and Herodias? Days of our lives! She seeks to justify her relationship with Herod but the man in the dungeon DENOUNCES it saying that it is against God’s law (Leviticus 18:16, 20:21). He is anything but politically correct and his influence is far-reaching with the people. He lives out Ephesians 5:11 (NLT) which says “Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, EXPOSE them, even in the presence of a Godfather figure like King Herod. He may be in a dungeon but the dungeon is not in him. He declares that sin separates me from God, that genuine repentance is needed and that I need to come under the authority of Jesus whose way he is preparing.

With a heart as black as a dungeon wall, Herodias tries to rid herself of the irritation, but what mother would involve her own daughter in such a quest? What kind of trauma will result from such a gruesome plan?

Herod doesn’t hold back when it comes to his birthday party or in celebrating the anniversary of his accession as king. He holds a magnificent banquet. Good food, questionable entertainment. He lives a life of debauchery.

Salome dances seductively before Herod. She is the daughter of Herodias and Herod is not so much seduced by her dance as he is obligated to her mother to give her whatever she desires. He makes a foolish oath to grant her any wish, up to half his kingdom, but her heart too is imprisoned, and she too is drawn with malicious intent to the man in the dungeon. Salome consults with her mother.

Herod is deeply grieved by her request but doesn’t want to lose face. So, with only a moments hesitation, he grants her desires and orders John the Baptist to be BEHEADED. This is quite a table that has been set. Adultery, incest, debauchery, seduction, murder and the macabre all sit together at the kings table as John’s head is brought in on a platter.

Why did John have to die? The key to understanding this is found in Acts 20:24 (NLT) – “But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.”

Courage. Humility. Faithfulness. Selflessness. Reformer. Servant and Ambassador for Christ. Martyr. Who says it’s easy being a follower of Christ? Would I be willing to stand boldly with the message of repentance and faith in Christ that God has give to me in the face of death? In the words of BRAVEHEART “You have come to fight as free men. And free men you are! What will you do without freedom? Will you fight? …Fight and you may die. Run and you will live at least awhile. And dying in your bed many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance, to come back here as young men and tell our enemies that they may take our lives but they will never take our freedom!”

Galatians 5:1 (NIV) puts it this way – “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

Philippians 1:20-21 (NLT) could well be used as John’s vision and his epitaph – “For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honour to Christ, whether I live or die. For to me, TO LIVE IS TO LIVE FOR CHRIST AND TO DIE IS GAIN.” 

Pastor Ross