Doubt

Intro, Purpose & Plan

Who do we look to for help when we seem to be all alone and in total darkness as life tosses us about? Let’s understand that the One who loves us will come to our rescue. Let’s look at the story of a small boat in a stormy sea in Matthew 14:22-33.

Matthew 14:22-23 Go before Him

In Matthew 14:22-23 Jesus told His disciples to “go before Him to the other sideHe went up on the mountain by Himself to pray.” Sometimes it’s as if He has also sent us forth alone. As God, Jesus is everywhere at all times, but sometimes it seems like He has sent us on ahead for some reason. Sometimes it’s because Jesus has a special miracle planned for us. The crowd wanted to make Jesus an earthly king. When seduced by worldly promotion that is not in God’s plan, find a solitary place to pray. Ask heaven to keep us from the egotism that leads us away from His will.

Matthew 14:24 Tossed by the Waves

In Matthew 14:24 we read that “the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves.” The disciples were where Jesus had sent them but they seemed in trouble. Shallow lakes are known for dangerous storm waves. Sometimes when we believe with our whole hearts that we are where Jesus wants us, things seem to go wrong. We doubt our calling. Sometimes Jesus sends us to sea even though He knows a storm is coming. We face winds of false doctrine, waves of temptation, and storms of mistreatment. Jesus is not trying to hurt us, but teach us to walk by faith and not by sight.

Matthew 14:25 Walking on the Sea

In Matthew 14:25 we read, “Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea.” The fourth watch was the last night watch, from about 3am to sunrise. Sometimes in Christian life, Jesus allows us to go through most of the night before He comes to us. And when He does, He may come in the form of a miracle, a supernatural event that is beyond any natural explanation, like walking on water. God often chooses to intervene just before we lose hope, so as to not overly try us. In Job 9:8 we read, “He... treads on the waves of the sea.”

Matthew 14:26 An Apparition

In Matthew 14:26 we read that, “when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out for fear.” When God appeared on the mountain to ancient Israel they were afraid, and when Jesus walked on water, the disciples were afraid at first. Sometimes we may be afraid to invite God into our situations, yet we need to remember that like with Israel and the disciples, God shows up in such a manner because we are highly favored. As they thought that Jesus was an apparition, we too can think that Jesus is somebody else. But, He comes to bless.

Matthew 14:27 Be of Good Cheer

In Matthew 14:27 after the disciples’ initial fear seeing Jesus walking on water we read, “But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” In the midst of storm wind and waves, Jesus spoke. He must have been close to them. The boat is an ancient Christian symbol of disciples tossed to and fro with trials of faith, temptations and mistreatment. Yet, Jesus calms the storms and provides safety. In church architecture, the center is the nave, meaning ship. Noah was brought to safety (1 Peter 3:20-21), Jesus comes to our boat and carries us through the storms to eternity.

Matthew 14:28-29 Peter walked on Water

In Matthew 14:28-29 we read that Peter asked Jesus to let him walk on water too, “So He said, ‘Come.’ And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.” Some are bold like Peter and jump right in. There is no criticism of that personality here. There is an example of what someone can accomplish with God’s help in their initial rush of faith and desire to be with Jesus. Studies have shown that of all those who rush forward at modern forms of evangelistic rallies, only about 15% join a church and stay. Spontaneity is good. Perseverance is better.

Matthew 14:30 Lord Save Me

After Peter’s impetuosity and Jesus’ granting his request to walk on water, he quickly began to doubt. We read in Matthew 14:30 “But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, ‘Lord, save me!’” There is often a conflict between sight and faith. Faith is the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). Moments like this come to all of us. We begin to sink in life’s stormy waters and realize that we have more zeal than faith. We have had our eyes on our tempestuous circumstances and not on Christ. Then we cry out, Lord, save me.

Matthew 14:31-33 Why did you Doubt

Peter had attempted to walk on water. Jesus stretched out his hand to catch him. So, Jesus said in Matthew 14:31-33, “‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’ And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.” Peter did a good thing, stepping out on faith. He did not continue in faith. This is not the devil’s temptation, a foolish leap from the temple mount (Matthew 4:5-7). That would be wrong. Stepping out of the boat and walking on water begins with a prayer request, followed by an invitation from Jesus to “Come.” Then, like the disciples we cry, “Truly You are the Son of God.”

Outro

Sometimes we seem to be all alone at night in a storm at sea. When we are tossed by waves of temptation and doubt, Jesus comes to us in the midst of a dark night and calms the waters.

References

Providence

Intro, Goal and Plan

What can we do with meager human resources? Is there an answer in the Gospels? Let’s understand the invisible dimension of life, Jesus. Let’s examine Matthew 14:13-21, the miracle of feeding the 5,000 and see how it applies to us today.

Matthew 14:13-14 He was Moved with Compassion

In Matthew 14:13-14 when confronted by a large crowd, we read that Jesus “was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick.” As a Christian, I am ashamed of the sins of the Church. I admit that we too often lack compassion. A common fiction is that people are poor because they are lazy. Yet, honest analysis of the causes of poverty admits many other reasons including the poor being the victims of crime, overpopulation, low wages, inefficient distribution, corruption, bad education, environmental degradation, political oppression, colonialism, disease and war. The miracle of feeding the five thousand is a radical contradiction of selfish religion. Are we moved with compassion?

Matthew 14:15-16 You Give them Something

In Matthew 14:15-16 after the disciples wanted to send the crowds of people away, Jesus simply replied, “You give them something to eat.” Church potluck meals can be traced to Jesus feeding this crowd that had gathered on the north shore of the sea of Galilee. The disciples wanted to dismiss them, just as many of us would. Can we hear the selfish political lies? Kick ‘em out! Can we hear the ancient Greek lie that, God helps those who help themselves? Jesus said, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” Is Jesus inviting us to be givers instead of takers, compassionate instead of mean?

Matthew 14:17-18 We Only...

When confronted by a huge problem, we look at our resources and say, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.” Like Elisha we need to lift our eyes to heaven, and behold, the mountain full of horses and chariots of fire all around. Like Ruth, we throw ourselves at the feet of our Redeemer and know that He will Provide. When everyone thinks we are insignificant, little people and laugh at us, God can give us the courage to slay the Goliaths in our lives with the smallest of weapons. When foolish people threaten to ruin our lives, like Abigail, God provides us with wisdom to save the day.

Matthew 14:17-18 Bring them Here

What does Jesus offer to do with our problems? In Matthew 14:17-18 as with the fish and loaves, He says, “Bring them here to Me.” “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you” (Psalm 55:22). “Fear not, I will help you” (Isaiah 41:13). “humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6, 7). “He will feed His flock like a shepherd” (Isaiah 40:11). “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles” (Psalm 34:17).

Matthew 14:19 He Blessed

In Matthew 14:19 we read that, “looking up to heaven, He [Jesus] blessed and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitudes.” A little boy had a packed lunch of 5 loaves of bread and two fish. He offered it to Jesus. Jesus blessed it and fed thousands. When we give thanks at a meal, we are not asking God to make bad food good. God created all things good. We acknowledge that we need God in our lives, that we live because of His Providence and we give thanks. When Jesus blessed the loaves and fishes, he was preparing an extraordinary Provision.

Matthew 14:20-21 They all Ate and were Filled

In Matthew 14:20-21 as Jesus fed the huge crowd we read, “they all ate and were filled, and they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments that remained.” It reminds us of God’s providence in the wilderness. Communion reminds us of the one who provides our daily bread and the bread of eternal life, Jesus. Our weekly offering is like loaves and fishes. We ask God to multiply our efforts to feed way beyond our numbers. God will supply. We cannot provide what our community needs. We can only look to God’s Divine Providence. He allows us to assist in feeding His people and He multiplies our small offerings.

Outro

Our resources are small and the task is huge, but we are in the miracle business. We do not look to what we bring, but to our Lord’s Providence.

References