Today we’re going to talk about Leverage. But before we do, let’s look at our theme passage again from Matthew 14:25-32, but this time I want to share it with you from The Passion Translation:
25 At about four o’clock in the morning, Jesus came to them, walking on the waves! 26 When the disciples saw him walking on top of the water, they were terrified and screamed, “A ghost!” 27 Then Jesus said, “Be brave and don’t be afraid. I am here!”
28 Peter shouted out, “Lord, if it’s really you, then have me join you on the water!” 29 “Come and join me,” Jesus replied. So Peter stepped out onto the water and began to walk toward Jesus. 30 But when he realized how high the waves were, he became frightened and started to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he cried out.
31 Jesus immediately stretched out his hand and lifted him up and said, “What little faith you have! Why would you let doubt win?” 32 And the very moment they both stepped into the boat, the raging wind ceased.
Before we dive into looking at the principle of Leverage, let’s back up and do a quick review from last week. We talked about that process of discovering and uncovering your giftedness for the Mission of The Kingdom. Here’s what the process looks like:
- God’s Gift Produces Great Joy.
- God’s Gift Requires Gritty Determination To Use It.God’s Gift Produces Great Joy.
- Your Gift Will Far Exceed Your Abilities.
- Surround Yourself With People Who Have Godly Wisdom.
- Align Yourself With People Who Pray.
- Start Using The Scientific Method of Trial And Error
OK, on to Leverage. I know I just heard some of you thinking, “What does Leverage have to do with being a Water-Walker?” Good for you thinking like this—I’m glad you asked because it’s the next step in overcoming fear and getting out on the water with Jesus.
Let’s start with a definition of Leverage. This word is used in a lot of different contexts, but let’s go back to the scientific principle of Leverage and move from here: “Leverage changes the amount of force needed to move an object. It reduces the strength required to move a much heavier object.” This principle is applied in finance, business and politics. But there is a spiritual application to the concept of leverage that needs to be explored.
Like most things in The Kingdom Of God, spiritual applications and principles work in Backwards Logic. Here’s a few:
- In Order To Live, You Must Die;
- In Order To Find, You Must Lose;
- In Order To Receive, You Must Give;
- In Order To Rise Above The Crowd, You Must Serve The Crowd.
Now let’s apply the Backwards Logic of The Kingdom to Leverage. Spiritual Leverage Reduces The Influence Of The Stronger Object. Think about moving a rock that weighs 3 times more than you. You take a lever, find the right pivot point and even though you weigh 3 times less, you can move that rock. Your weight and the weight of the rock remains the same.
In Spiritual Leverage, the weaker you become, the weaker the object becomes, until you are stronger. What I’m trying to say is that whatever is in the way of you stepping out of the boat to become a Water-Walker, becomes weaker as you become weaker. Insane! Am I right? Does this really make Logical Sense to us?
And this leads me to The One Thing You Need To Remember From This Message, And It’s Not My Idea, But the Apostle Paul’s: God’s Power Works Best In Our Weaknesses.
In case you forgot, Paul had been pleading with God to take away some unknown “thorn in the flesh”. It didn’t happen—instead God revealed something more powerful that Paul needed—and so do we. 2 Corinthians 12:9— “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” This was God’s answer—3 times.
Most people love the hear stories about the powerful God we serve. But herein lies the problem: That information alone is not enough to create courageous human beings. I can receive tons of information designed to assure me that God’s power is sufficient. But the information alone does not transform my human heart.
In order for such a transformation to take place, we need to learn how to apply Leverage—using one force to move what seems to be an immovable object. If you want to know if you are living outside the boat, then ask yourself this question, and ask it often: What am I doing now that I could not do apart from the power of God? It’s clear, the only way Peter could stay afloat was if God took over.
When we risk using our Spiritual Giftedness, we can know the joy of being used by God. But we have to trust before we act. We see this over and over again in scripture. Moses had to trust that God would part the Red Sea. Gideon had to reduce his army from 32,000 to 300 before God would bring the victory. Naaman had to wash 7 times in the water before he was cured of leprosy. The loaves and fish had to be relinquished before they were multiplied. The seed has to be planted in the soil and die before the harvest can happen.
Most of us have an area that might be called our “Spiritual Comfort Zone,” which is the area we feel most comfortable trusting God. When God calls us to go beyond our spiritual comfort zone, we begin to feel nervous or uncomfortable. We would prefer not to go outside that zone until we feel better about it.
You have to follow the Path of God, which requires us to admit our weaknesses and inabilities. Pay close attention to Peter’s Statement: “Lord, if it’s really you, then have me join you on the water!” It’s those 5 words: “have me join you”—it’s the words of weakness and inability. Most folks don’t have the problem of being too weak—though that is what they say.
The problem is many are often Too Strong. What God told Paul is the same thing He wants us to hear: “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” Where do we need to Leverage our weaknesses so that God’s Power works the best? There are a lot of points and places, but think about these as a start in your life.
1. Leverage Our Points Of Our Fear!
Step out of the boat at the point of your fears. Why? Because He wants us to overcome them through His Power, and not be intimidated and defeated by them.
For example, one of the most exciting adventures in life is helping another person find God. What keeps us from getting out of the boat evangelistically? Fear! But on the other hand, look at the upside potential. We might actually be part of God’s redemptive purpose on earth. But if I wait until I feel like I’ll be 100% effective, I will never step out of the boat to help someone surrender to Jesus.
What, exactly are you afraid of, spiritually? Bring those fears to God and God will provide His Power. But, if you never admit your weakness of fear, you will never know His Power. Secondly,
2. Leverage Our Points Of Frustration!
Sometimes people in Scripture get motivated to trust God in remarkable ways when they become frustrated with the brokenness of a fallen world. We see it in David when he couldn’t stand any longer the insults of Goliath. We see it in Elijah when he could stand the idolatry of Ahab and Jezebel.
In the world today, it is at the point where we are frustrated by the mess our culture is in and that sense of what God desires. To fix that gap between what is and what God desires should motivate us to action for a cause that is greater than ourselves. It may be your frustration with political systems that abuse people. It may be your sense of frustration that there are so many homeless people. It may be your frustration with the loneliness the elderly often feel when placed in a skilled nursing facility. Whatever it is that makes you feel frustrated, take your weaknesses to bring about change and allow Him to fill you with His Power. Thirdly,
3. Leverage Our Points Of Compassion!
Being A Water-Walker Means We Move Towards What Breaks Our Heart. Compassion is expressed in our actions. Jesus certainly modeled this for us. Scripture says that many times when Jesus looked at the crowds, seeing their deepest needs, He was filled with compassion.
When was the last time you took a serious compassion risk? Jesus did it all the time. He touched lepers, ate with tax collectors, associated with prostitutes; all these were a part of His calling—they were why He came! For you it is working with Christian Center of Concern, Delivering meals on the Third Saturday, or coming up with an idea that Shows Compassion To Those Who Need It, Not Those We Think Deserve It. Finally,
4. Leverage Our Points Of Prayer!
Real-life stories of Water-Walkers are always stories about prayer. There is something about getting out of the boat that turns people into Intense Pray-Ers. They live each moment of each day with the conviction that they cannot accomplish things without God’s help.
Paul prayed—3 times—about his thorn in the flesh. And all 3 times, God’s answer was the same—“My strength works through your weaknesses.” Peter’s Prayer Request Was To Join Jesus On The Water. So tell me this: What’s Your Prayer Request For Yourself? Is it about yourself? Is it complaining about the shape of our culture? Is it wanting Jesus to come back now to get you out of this miserable culture?
Water-Walking is not about the great thing you will do. It is about the great thing God longs to do with you through his powerful grace in you. But first you have to Leverage Your Weaknesses! It’s more than getting your feet wet. Those in the boat had wet feet—Peter had wet feet—the difference was Peter Leveraged His Weakness By Bringing It To Jesus AS He Walked On Water.
Well, I’m down to your Next Step. For some of you, this Next Step may well be the most painful moment of your life. It’s a moment you’ve been putting off—or you’ve been living in denial.
Tell God Your Weakness.
- It could be pride that is keeping you from getting out of the boat and into a relationship with Jesus. You’ve been playing the church game, and you don’t want anyone else to know.
- It may be fear that is holding you in the boat—fear of failure—or just maybe your fear is the fear of Truth—that if the truth of your life becomes public knowledge, you’re afraid that those closest to you will be ashamed of you and turn away from you.
- It may be shame that’s keeping you in the boat. It may be a private shame of something you once did—or a public shame that everyone knows about. It may be a lifetime of shame—of doing the wrong thing—making the wrong choices.
- It may be doubt that keeps you off of the water. You don’t want to admit it, but you seriously doubt you could ever be a Water-Walker because, well because Jesus couldn’t help you be that Water-Walker you’ve been hearing about.
- Or it may be the worst weakness of all—You Have No Weaknesses. Arrogance is your weakness and you don’t even know it.
Here is what I’m asking you to do this morning. Leverage Your Weakness. If one of these, or any of an infinite number of weaknesses is yours—take that weakness to the right place.
Bring it to The Father—tell Him all about it. Then listen…listen to what HE says about your weaknesses—“My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.”
I’ve asked you not to focus on Peter’s sinking—but think about it now. When Peter started sinking what did he do? He Leveraged His Weakness By Crying Out To Jesus. And Immediately—Immediately Jesus Saved Him! Leverage Your Weakness By Bringing It To God, And The Grace Of God Becomes Stronger Than That Thing That Is Keeping YOU In The Boat