Tenth Sunday after Pentecost

“FAITH TO WALK ON WATER” –MATTHEW 14:22-33.

KEEP YOUR EYES ON JESUS”

A man took his new hunting dog out for his first hunt. He shot a duck that fell into the lake. The dog ran on top of the water, picked up the duck and brought it back to his master. The man was flabbergasted.

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He couldn’t believe what he had just seen. He shot another duck. While he starred in disbelief, the dog again ran on top of the water and retrieved the duck.

Hardly daring to believe what he saw, he invited the neighbour for a shoot the following day. Once again, each time he or his neighbour shot a duck, the dog would run on top of the water and retrieve the duck. The man said nothing- neither did the neighbour. Finally, unable to contain himself any longer he blurted out, “Did you notice anything strange about my dog”? The neighbour rubbed his chin thoughtfully and finally said, “Come to think of it I did. Your dog can’t swim”. This just goes to show that some people can’t see a miracle even when it stares them in the face.

Political joke- Joh Belke Petersen was premier of Qld. Joh-Bob Hawke and the Pope had a meeting on Fraser Island. The meeting finished and the helicopter that was to take the three men back to the mainland was late. So the Pope decides to walk to the mainland. Joh then does the same. Then Bob Hawke set out but unfortunately drowns. The Pope turns to Joh and says, “Didn’t Bob know where the stepping stones were?” Joh replies, “What stepping stones?” Despite what some of his most fervent supporters might think Joh couldn’t actually walk on water.

The fact is that people can’t walk on water-as anyone who has tried will know. We don’t have webbed feet. Walking on water requires skills/powers that we humans simply don’t have. Yet for a short time, Peter was able to walk on water.

The Scene: After the feeding of the 5,000 Jesus wanted to be alone to pray. He sent the disciples ahead by boat. The wind blew up. Then a full blown storm hits. This was not uncommon for an inland sea surrounded by mountains.

It was about dawn- before 6 am when Jesus walks towards the boat-no stepping stones. By the way why was Jesus walking on the water? Mark Twain was visiting the Holy Land and decided to take a boat ride on Lake Galilee. He asked the man how much that would cost. The man figured that Mark Twain was a wealthy American and said $100. Mark Twain said,”forget it. Now I know why Jesus walked on the water” The disciples are terrified. They think that Jesus is a ghost. Then Jesus speaks to them,” take courage. It is I- don’t be afraid.” Tell me! Would you have reacted any differently? Wouldn’t you have been frightened in that situation? Would you have had Peter’s courage? “Lord if it is you tell me to come to you on the water?” Would you have asked that question? And then when Jesus says “Come” would you have had the courage to go?

They say that fools rush in where angels fear to tread. That’s Peter isn’t it-bold- impetuous-over confident. There was no doubt that Peter believed it was Jesus. And that he actually walked on water. Just imagine how Peter felt-on top of the world-elated- pinch himself to see if he was dreaming.

Then what happened? Peter looked away from Jesus. He “felt the wind. He saw the water whipped into huge waves. He saw that he really was outside the boat-he was really walking on water. Then he made a crucial mistake. He took his eyes of Jesus-panicked. He thought to himself, “What on earth am I doing out here on the water? He had a sinking feeling- and that is what happened-down he went. It was a very short time from elation to panic.

Perhaps you have had those times when you were “Riding high”- when things were going well. So much so that you started to get “big ideas” about yourself and your abilities. You were going “great guns” “hot shot”. I think that something like that was going on in Peter’s mind. “Look at me guys-I’m walking on water”. The implication –Peter was better- showed more faith than the other disciples who stayed in the boat. Then Peter got that sinking feeling and down he went.

A similar thing can happen to us when we develop a superior attitude- or get too big for our boots. Suddenly with a crash- your worlds comes tumbling down. All those securities- all those things that propped you up have come crashing down. And you are feeling helpless. You feel like you are drowning-going under. Everything is closing in on you. Have you ever felt like that? What did do you do?

As Peter went under the water he yelled out to Jesus, “Lord save me”-brief prayer- a prayer of desperation-conviction. Jesus was the only possible source of help. What do you do in desperate straights? Who do your turn to in those life threatening situations?

Peter prayed, “Lord save me”. And Jesus did. He reached out, grabbed his hand and said, “O man of little faith why did you doubt?

What can we learn from this story? There are times when the storms of life threaten to overwhelm you. There are times when the waves of sorrow-doubt-strife-affliction-trouble threaten to swamp you. Remember help is at hand. And it is only a prayer away. So when you are in a situation like Peter-when you are being overwhelmed-give the Lord a call. Turn to Jesus and He will help you. The Psalmist says, “Call upon me in the day of trouble and I will deliver you”.

Now that is a promise from Almighty God. You can’t do better than that.

So in those times when you feel in danger from being overwhelmed by troubles-pressures- when your sins threaten to sink you-when you seem to be falling deeper into a hole. Then Look to Jesus-keep your eyes on him. Ask him for help. And He will help. He will take you by the hand just like he did for Peter. He will assure you that because you have turned to him in faith, he will respond. He will save you from whatever is threatening you.

Now it is most unlikely that Jesus will invite you to walk on water. But there may be times when he will ask you to step out in faith- to put all your trust in him. The important thing then is to remember that Jesus is by your side. He will be right there to lift you when you fall-to save you when you feel overwhelmed.

BUT! You will never discover that unless you take the step of faith. Peter would never have discovered whether he could walk on water unless he stepped out of the boat. That is the way it is with God’s promises. You will never discover whether they are true-unless you take the step of faith. You only find out of God keeps his promises by taking the step of faith.

You may ask, “Isn’t that taking a risk?”Isn’t that too risky”?

Well it all depends on who is making the promise. Is the person who makes the promise reliable-dependable?

Remember! It is Jesus who makes this promise. His Word is reliable. You can trust his Word-promise. How do we know that?

The Cross and the open grave are proof that Jesus does keep his promises.

So when Jesus calls you to step out in faith, remember that he is by your side. His hand is already in yours.

And above all- “KEEP YOUR EYES ON JESUS”.

Pastor Haydn Blaess.

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