If You Want To Walk On Water
by Dan Augsburger
Peter & Getting Back in the Boat
This morning I want to talk how to make this real on a day to day basis. I want to do so by considering Peters experience, for it is very instructive of the process God takes all of us through in the process of bringing about transformation.
1. Accepting Jesus Call to Follow
In seeking to walk with Jesus, Peter had to first personally accept the Jesus call to follow. Matthew 4: 18-20
In Peters day there was much religious activity going on. Many people were going to the temple, many were following Jesus. But mingling with others who are religious, going through the motions, can never substitute for personally hearing and responding to Jesus call.
Today, you also live in a place where much religious activity goes on. Have you personally responded? I hope so; if not, I beg you to do so as soon as possible.
For one thing, God isnt into spiritual temps.
That may work for modern society, but as one preacher put it, God will have all, or he will have none.
We are counseled in Scripture to sit down and count the cost prior to making such a commitment, and let me assure you it is well worth the cost! But have you personally responded?
Perhaps you feel unqualified for God to use you in a great way.
None of Jesus followers were qualified either. Some were rough and impetuous fishermen like Peter. Others were unsavory tax collectors like Matthew. Some, like John, were zealots looking for ways to push the Romans out of their country. None were highly educated, none seemed to have the background conducive to making a global impact. But these impediments did not stand in the way, however, for Jesus was more than able to work in their lives as long as they gave Him permission to work.
It was in this context that we find the wonderful quotation that we referenced on Sabbath regarding the unlimited potential that is possible to the one who surrenders everything to God.
They were humble and unlearned men, those fishers of Galilee; but Christ, the light of the world, was abundantly able to qualify them for the position for which He had chosen them
. He who loves Christ the most will do the greatest amount of good. There is no limit to the usefulness of one who, by putting self aside, makes room for the working of the Holy Spirit upon his heart, and lives a life wholly consecrated to God. If men will endure the necessary discipline, without complaining or fainting by the way, God will teach them hour by hour, and day by day. He longs to reveal His grace. If His people will remove the obstructions, He will pour forth the waters of salvation in abundant streams through the human channels. If men in humble life were encouraged to do all the good they could do, if restraining hands were not laid upon them to repress their zeal, there would be a hundred workers for Christ where now there is one
. God takes men as they are, and educates them for His service, if they will yield themselves to Him. The Spirit of God, received into the soul, will quicken all its faculties. Desire of Ages, p. 250
So, the first step of walking with Jesus, is personally responding to His call to follow!
Transition: Peter obviously responded to Jesus call, but he still had growing to do, as did all the rest of the disciples. One of the significant early learning experiences had to do with accepting Gods timing and Gods way
which brings us to our second point:
2. Returning With Jesus Back Into The Boat
In order to walk with Jesus, Peter had to return with Jesus back into the boat. Matthew 14: 28
In Matt 14 we read of 5000 people being fed from the five loaves and the three fish a little boy brought with him. We can easily feel the excitement of the disciples over the miraculous power that seemed to attend Jesus feeding of the multitudes and confirmed a power that could only be divine. He was about to take the throne of David, they said to each other? This is what they had been hoping for from the beginning and they were in fact doing all they could to encourage such a process forward. They had endured many inconveniences in following Jesus, but His taking the throne and the benefits that would accrue to them in the process made it all worthwhile. With the feeding of the 5,000, they could almost taste success!
As we have already discussed, the disciples were told to cross to the other side, which led to their hopes being dashed, which then led to a storm and Peter walking on the water. Finally Jesus rescued him and led him back to the boat.
Notice the following:
Walking side by side, Peter's hand in that of his Master, they stepped into the boat together. But Peter was now subdued and silent. He had no reason to boast over his fellows, for through unbelief and self-exaltation he had very nearly lost his life. When he turned his eyes from Jesus, his footing was lost, and he sank amid the waves. Desire of Ages,p. 381
Jesus could have allowed Peter to spend more time walking on the water, but as soon as He was rescued, he was led back into the boat.
You ask, what do you mean, getting back into the boat with Jesus?
A, Getting back into the boat means getting back into a relationship with Jesus through Bible study and prayer.
B. Getting back into the boat means following His leading.
C. Getting back into the boat means seeking to discover His will for your life and pursuing it.
I cannot emphasize enough the need to seek out His will for the purpose of pursuing it. Why?
(1). It will spare you much wasted time.
Life is too short to waste time in going down wrong career or marriage pathways, to say nothing of saving untold amounts of money.
(2). It will spare you much wasted pain and suffering.
(3). It will allow Gods highest purpose to be fulfilled in your life.
(4). It will spare someone else pain and suffering for you will be less likely to draw others into the wrong pathways, and I particularly think here of relationships.
Let me share a little story from the book Fire in the Belly, about a man and woman who were madly in love.
They fell in love; decided to pursue a loving relationship that would exceed the norm, so much so that they decided to distance themselves from all distractions by choosing to live on an abandoned island. They rowed up to the beach of this island and began exploring; the woman exploring the lower part of the island, the man exploring the higher elevations. While scouting the island, the man came upon a rock formation that seemed to radiate a religious presence. So he began praying, asking that he might make her the happiest woman in the world. Feeling answered, he returned to the shore where he discovered the woman had gotten back into the boat and was rowing away. The story ended by saying His prayer was answered.
The moral of the story is most instructive: there are two great decisions in life, the first being Where do you want to go in life, and the second being, Who you want to go there with. One of the reasons there is so much pain and unhappiness in life is due to the fact that too many people answer the second question before they answer the first question.
Let me tell you a little more about CT Studd
CT Studd joined Hudson Taylor in China and began working as a missionary. At the age of 25 he inherited his portion of His fathers fortune, which amounted to £29,000. Just prior to his receiving notice of the funds that were coming he had read the story of the rich young ruler. Ah, he thought, I have the opportunity to do for Jesus what the rich young ruler never did, and soon gave to the a variety of missions £25,000. He felt led to do this. Needless to say, this was most of his money. Later he met Priscilla a Irish lass from the Salvation Army. Shortly before they married he told Scilla about what he had done. Now it was her turn to encourage CT to not hold back: The Lord said to give all! We must give all and start clean before we get married. Thus they gave all of their funds away and entered their joint missionary service in poverty. Over the course of his lifetime, God returned more than five times the funds he had given away. He was able to give confidently because he knew He was living at the center of Gods will, and that God would bless His giving!
Knowing God's Will
Perhaps you are saying, Dan, how can we know Gods will? Here are four steps that George Müller suggested that I have found most helpful:
a. 90% of knowing Gods will is choosing to have no will of our own.
b. Anything that is Gods will cannot go against anything taught in the Bible.
c. Anything that is Gods will will be accompanied by the opening of His providences.
d. Anything that is Gods will will be accompanied by His peace.
I have shared this plan with other people, and it works!
As I speak the story of Jonathan and Rosalind Goforth comes to mind. Jonathan was deeply convicted that they were to enter the interior regions of China. His wife, Rosalind, wasnt at all sure, since there were many communicable diseases in China and they had already lost three or four children. He begged her to consider, but she remained adamant that she wasnt going into the interior region. Finally he asked her to think about it over a weekend. At the end of the weekend he sought her decision. Nothing had changed. His response was, I fear for our children, for God can care for our children better in the place He wants us at, even if it is the interior of China. Rosalind remain unconvinced. One of their children became ill and was restored to health through much prayer. Later another child became ill. That child didnt survive the illness and unfortunately passed away. While standing next to her childs bed, Rosalind suddenly saw that her sin had brought terrible consequences and she promised God right then and there that she would no longer resist His leadings. So the family headed into the hinterland and became a wonderfully successful revival campaign living in various cities for 30 day time periods. And what of the children? She wrote many years later that the children enjoyed the most marvelous health from that time. She chose to trust Godshe chose to get back into the boat with Jesus and He did not disappoint her!
Do you want to walk with Jesus? Youre going to have to start by getting back into the boat!
(5). It will enable you to experience many answered prayers, for prayer is always answered along the pathway of Gods will.
(6). It will invigorate your Bible study as nothing else can. Notice what George Müller said in this regard:
If God does bless His Word, He expects that we should be obedient children, and that we should accept the Word as His will, and carry into practice. If this be neglected, you will find that the reading of the Word, even if accompanied by prayer, meditation and faith, will do you little good. God does expect us to be obedient children,
and in the measure in which we carry out what our Lord Jesus taught, so much in measure are we happy children. Extract from sermon given at Bethesda Chapel in 1871.
4. Doing Things God's Way
Getting back into the boat also means doing things His way.
I think of the story of David taking the ark of God back to Jerusalem. He hadnt been studying for himself and apparently had been told that it was okay to send the ark back via a new wagon pulled by Oxenhadnt the Philistines done the same thing? But God showed his displeasure of their disregarding His instructions, by allowing a man to die. Its not that God has a double standard, rather that He holds us up to the light we have been given. God will bless us if we follow the light that we have been given. If we fail to follow that light, not only will He not bless us, he will sometimes make sure our efforts fail to make sure we understand that He cannot bless compromise.
5. Allowing Him To Guide You Through Buffeting Storms
It means getting back into the boat to allow him to guide you through the storms that may be buffeting you at this time perhaps.
6. Getting Back Into the Body of His Church
It also means getting back into the boat of His church.
I feel duty-bound to say, with respect and with an awareness that the church is not perfect, that the independence that characterizes so much of what goes on in our ageeven in churchesseems out of joint with what is taught in the Bible. I believe God will have a church at the end of time, and that it is your privilege and mine to support that church, to pray for that church, and to uplift that church and thereby hasten the coming of Jesus.
Independent Limbs: What if you came to the church and found a bunch of hands in the back on one side of the church, and a bunch of legs on the other side, and toes in the middle, etc.. Would that make sense? Why should it make sense for us to be so independent as a church.
Independent Efforts: What if one hand decided to get all the other limbs in the church to act as a hand? Would it make sense? Of course not. Unity isn't the outcome of compromise, but the acceptance and pursuing what God wants.
Hitting ones thumb: What if you hit your thumb with a hammer? Would you say, Oh, thats okay? Of course not. Your whole body would respond. And so, in the church if one of the weak and apparently insignificant members is hurting, we will all hurt!
If you want to walk with Jesus, you will have to get back into the boat. It will mean a loss of independence and self-aggrandizement, but it will be the place where God will abundantly bless you.
Transition: As you know, it isnt always easy to live for Jesus, for not everyone sees the need.