Monday, February 3, 2020

Water Walkers

Have you ever had someone ask you for your help or advice because they knew that you were the most likely candidate able to meet their need only to have them totally disregarded your help or advice? Did it make you think, "what was the point in asking?" Let's bring it closer to home. Have you ever asked God for  help or advice knowing that He is the only one who could meet your need only to totally disregarded His help or advice? I am sure many have done this also. Well, James shows us one particular area that assures us that God does responds to our need if we ask Him, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him." (James 1:5)

Although this is talking about asking God for wisdom, it applies across the board when asking Him anything according to His will. Let's look closer at what James says about asking God for things, "But let him ask in faith, with no doubting..." (James 1:6) Unfortunately, many of God's children are asking but much of the asking goes unanswered because of the underlying current of doubt which neutralizes faith. Doubt in the lives of most Christians is usually very subtle because they (there are various kinds of doubt) are directly related to what one understand or misunderstand about God. Many times Christians who genuinely love the LORD will "Hope" that God answers their prayer, which is not faith. Some may say things like, "let it be according to Your will" or "God must have a special purpose as to why He did not answer" or "it must not be God's timing" or even "God is sovereign and He chooses whose prayer gets answered and whose prayer does not."

The Gospel of Matthew shows us a situation that also deals with the issue of faith and doubt. The disciples were in a boat crossing the sea and between 3 AM and 6AM. They see Jesus coming towards them walking on the water. Peter calls out and says, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water." So Jesus said, "Come." And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, "Lord, save me!"  Jesus grabs Peter and then reveals very pointedly as to why Peter, who was walking on the water (it's very important to see this) began to sink, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" (Matthew 14:22-31) Peter beginning to sink, although he was already walking on the water, had nothing to do with hope, God's timing, God's special purpose or whether it was God's will. It had to do with doubt that neutralized Peter's faith. Jesus' statement was not such as to bring condemnation on Peter, but to address the issue that prevents God from doing all the things that He desires to do through and for His children.

Notice what happens when Jesus and Peter get into the boat, "And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, "Truly You are the Son of God." (Matthew 14:32-33) Yes, Jesus is the Son of God, but this incident is not about Jesus' identity, it's a lesson on faith. Even though the disciples were confessing Jesus to be the Son of God, we need to recall, Peter also walked on the water. He simply believed Jesus' word to "come" out of the boat and walk on the water. The winds ceased, not because Jesus is the Son of God, but faith in almighty God. Look at another incident that is very similar in many ways.

"On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, "Let us cross over to the other side." Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him,"Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?" Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Peace, be still!" And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, "Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?" And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, "Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!" (Mark 4:35-41)

Again, this is an issue of faith, not the identity of Jesus. When Jesus said, "Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith? He was addressing the issue of doubt, (fearful: faithlessness) and insinuating that if the disciples would have exercise faith. they too could have stopped the storm. How do we know this to be true? "Jesus said to him, "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes." (Mark 9:23)

As we go back to James, James continues with a very hard but truthful word, "...for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways." (James 1:6-8) This again is not to bring condemnation on believers but to bring them to make a decision, "...How long will you falter between two opinions?" (1 Kings 18:21) If we do not ask God in faith, James tells us that we should not expect to receive anything from God. This makes perfect sense doesn't it? It would be like passing a sign that says "stop and receive free money" but you don't stop because you have been trained to think that nothing is free, especially money. This type of thinking is doubt at work.

Jesus said, "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! (Matthew 7:7-11) All of this should give us a good understanding, no longer doubting, that God is a better and more desirous giver than any human being. All we need to do is "ask in faith, with no doubting..." and we to can be water walkers... 

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