Today we are going to talk about the elephant in the room. It’s the one thing that was in The Boat that we haven’t focused on. Without exception, every person in The Boat had this because The Boat was full of it. I’m sure you know what it was, so let’s look again at our story for this series from Matthew 14:25-32 (NLT)
25 About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!” 27 But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”
28 Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” 29 “Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.
31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” 32 When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped.
What would you guess would be the most common command in Scripture? It is not to be more loving. That is at the core of God’s desire for us, but that is not His most frequent command.
It is not about don’t worship other gods, even though He wants our undivided devotion. The single command that occurs most often is this: Don’t Be Afraid! We are all probably familiar with FDR’s famous quote after Dec. 7, 1941: “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” It was actually a paraphrase from a much earlier quote by Henry David Thoreau: “Nothing is so much to be feared as fear.”
If you can remember only 1 thing from today’s message, it is critical that you remember this:
Fear Is The Demon That Keeps You From The Life God Is Giving To You.
Life inside the boat isn’t the normal life for a follower of Jesus. Water-Walking isn’t for the elite or the few. It’s the life that God gives to every Disciple, every Follower of Jesus.
When Jesus came in human flesh, it was an all-out Declaration Of War against the Evil One who took control of God’s Image Bearers by deception. And in This War, and it is a War, God has chosen to recruit those who will engage The Enemy. His recruits? His Image Bearers! That’s Us! And the way to engage in this Spiritual War is to get out of the boat. But…
Fear is the number 1 reason why people refuse to get out of the boat. So we need this command all the time. Lloyd Ogilvie notes there are 366 “fear not” verses in the KJV Bible—1 for every day of the year, including one for leap year.
Now these disciples experienced fear twice—first in the face of the storm, and then in the face of Jesus walking on the water. Peter faced fear a third time, when he turned his attention back on the storm.
Fear disrupts faith and becomes the biggest obstacle to trusting and obeying God. Fear will sink us faster than anything else, even the threat of death.
Why does God command us not to be afraid? Fear doesn’t seem like the most serious vice in the world. It never made the list of the 7 Deadly Sins. No one ever receives church discipline for being afraid. So why does God tell us to stop being afraid more often than he tells us anything else?
I strongly suspect that the reason isn’t that God wants to spare us emotional discomfort. In fact, He usually He says it when He wants people to do something that will lead them into greater fear. I think God says, “Don’t be afraid” so often because fear is the Number 1 reason human beings are tempted to avoid doing what God asks them to do.
At its simplest form, fear is an internal warning cry that danger is nearby and we had better do something about it. It motivates us to take action and remove ourselves from whatever is threatening us. Fear can be a good thing—it keeps us from stepping out into heavy traffic, or touching live electrical lines. I’m not talking about that kind of fear. I’m talking about the fear that makes our spirit a prisoner and keeps us from the design God has for our lives.
It is the kind of fear that hurts us by keeping us from trusting God. Trust and fear have been battling each other for the human heart—and your heart—for a long time. Eventually one or the other will win.
Think about your life. Where is Jesus calling you to jump to Him with reckless abandon? And at this very moment, which is winning the battle? Where are you? In or out? When we allow fear to win the battle, the losses are high. First of all, let’s look at what you lose when fear wins out over trust.
1. There Is The Loss Of Worth!
Why are so many people who claim the name of Christ lack that sense of self-worth when we have every reason to have that sense of self-worth? When you face a difficult situation, do you approach it, take action, and face it head on; or do you avoid it, wimp out, and run and hide? The Enemy want us to take the easy way out.
Fear Strips Away Your Dignity And Without Dignity There Is No Self-Worth And When There Is No Self-Worth There Is No Confidence In Us To Face That Fear. Living in fear kills our inner sense of confidence.
2. There Is The Loss Of Destiny!
If you live in fear, you will never experience the potential that God has placed in you. Remember, Growth Always Involves Risk, And Risk Always Involves Fear. If you are waiting for some ironclad guarantee that everything will work out perfectly, if you are waiting for all the risk to be removed, you will stay where you are—and stagnate.
Fear of failure holds us like a prison. You have a Divine Destiny; a potential God has in you. But it’s your choice on what to do with it
If fear holds you captive, you will lose that Divine Destiny—and that is a price that is too high to pay.
3. There Is Also A Loss of Joy!
Have You Ever Met A Deeply Joyful, Chronically Worried Person? Fear destroys joy! Live in fear, and you will know the pain of constant, chronic anxiety. Giving in to fear is a joy-killer. It will make your imagination run toward the negative: “What if bad things happen? What if I’m misunderstood? What if I don’t succeed? What if I preach a bad sermon?”
When You Live With A Fear-Perspective, You Give Those Things The Power To Rob You Of Joy Right Now. You and you alone give fear its power. When you live in fear, the power of “what-if” becomes overwhelming., and you go through life without joy. And finally,
4. There Is A Loss Of The Sense Of God’s Presence.
Fear whispers to us that God is not going to take care of us. It tells us we are not really safe in his hands. Simply put, Fear Says That God Isn’t Available FOR You. He’s too busy or you’re too weak, too worthless for God to take an interest in you. When you believe that God isn’t available to you—you will not draw from His presence the strength and power you need. Fear causes us to distort the way we think about God, and makes us unavailable to God. Fear makes us live as though we serve a semi-competent god.
Fear dominates our need for security, and herein lies the problem. Fear Cannot, By Its Very Nature, Will Ever Give Us A Single Shred Of Security. Fear holds us tighter than any rope or chains. It will flood your heart and mind with doubts and anxieties. There will never be any peace in your life, and no real security, until you hear the voice of Jesus say: “Come on!” and then, get your feet wet.
So, how do we overcome this demon of fear? Let me share with you 3 things you can do so that God can defeat your demons of fear:
1. Rehearse God’s Presence Every Day
This is something you do BEFORE you find yourself in the boat in a storm. Rehearsal is what you do before the start. This is what you do at the beginning of your day. And do it more often if you need it:
- Acknowledge Who He Is! Revelation 1:8
- Remember That God Is Always With You!
- Remember The Moments Full Of His Love, Grace And Mercy. Psalm 77:11
- Affirm Who You Are! Romans 8:16
- Ask God To Search Your Heart! Psalm 139:23-24
2. Renew Your Mind All Day Through The Holy Spirit
Focus on your thinking. Your thinking influences how you see your circumstances, your culture and people you encounter. That’s why Paul said in Romans 12:2—“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Changing your thinking is an intentional and continual decision on your part. Here are some things that can help:
- Read or listen to the Bible throughout the day.
- Listen to or sing in your heart some of your favorite music about God’s faithfulness, grace, mercy and love.
- Read or listen to writers who inspire and challenge you.
- Before you made a choice, act or speak, ask God to help you see the moment the way HE sees it.
- Have Conversations With God all day long—we call it prayer.
3. Re-Focus Your Heart In That Moment
If you haven’t been doing the previous 2 things, this will likely be impossible for you. Now, look at Peter’s third encounter with fear—he saw the waves and felt the wind. That became his new focus. But…but when he realized what was happening because of that new focus—he calls out to Jesus. He was afraid in the boat—but he overcame that fear by calling out to Jesus. And the fear from the storm?
He Overcame That Fear By Calling Out To Jesus.
Later on Paul put it this way in 2 Corinthians 4:18— So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
So, Here Are Your Next Steps:
- Name What Frightens You The Most.
- Ask Jesus To Take It Away—He Will, You Know.
- Name One Thing You Would Try To Do For God’s Kingdom If Fear Wasn’t An Issue—Because It’s Not.
Remember, you will never be totally free from fearful thoughts, but you do not have to give that fear any power—God will always be with you. Even if you sink, the Original Water-Walker will be there to lift you up in love and without condemnation.