MATTHEW 14:22-27 – Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”
THEME OF THE DAY. LESSONS LEARNED AT SEA. The most important lessons in life are going to be learned in the most trying and difficult times in life. Even though we do not like trials and difficulties, we need them. The most dangerous time in the life of a Christian is when life is “smooth sailing” with some minor inconveniences, but mostly manageable on our own. If we find ourselves in this condition, be alarmed. Two spiritual consequences are looming on the horizon and fast approaching our hearts. The first one is apathy. Without trials and difficulties, we will not seek and cling to the Lord. And when the hunger for Him and the seeking of Him grows weak and neglected, apathy or loss of first love overcomes us. We become backsliders. The other consequence of a life lived relatively problem-free is our Christianity is really nothing more than morality. We lose the Biblical substance in our walks with the Lord. Remember, the Apostle Paul’s exhortation to the new believers in Asia Minor – Continue in faith. Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22). What should concern us if we lack direct trials and difficulties challenging our faith and obedience to the Lord? Christians must be tried, not with the normal problems of living in a sin-cursed world that even unbelievers encounter, but direct difficulties in living a life of obedience to the Lord. A Christian not tried for the faith is a profession only Christian not in the faith. And the disciples in today’s scripture are severely tried. Let us take away two lessons from them to help us understand the Lord’s work in making disciples of Him.
First, trials of our faith do not just happen. They are sent by the Lord. Who put the disciples in the boat and storm? Jesus. And He will do the same to us. Be careful not to complain about our circumstances. To do so is to grumble against God’s work in our lives – Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or disputing (Philippians 2:12-14).
Another lesson is sometimes Jesus will not immediately deliver us from tough circumstances. When did He come and calm the fears of His disciples? After they toiled and reached the end of themselves. Our Lord sent them to sea in the evening. He came to them in the fourth watch of the night which is between 3:00 am and 6:00 am. They spent at least eight hours in a raging storm. Why did Jesus delay? To teach them to wait on Him as their only help and to empty them of self-sufficiency. Remember this when the Lord seems to ignore us in trying times. He has not. He is teaching us.
Lessons learned at sea. These stories in our Bibles are not for us to just enjoy and marvel over. They are instructional. Spend time in today’s account and let the Lord of the sea and storms teach us some valuable lessons on how He makes faithful disciples.
PRAYER: “Father, help me to see the lessons You would have for me in the storms of my life.”
QUOTE: “God teaches us most when life is the hardest, if we are sensitive to Him and listening.”