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Friday, March 30, 2012

Why Did You Doubt?

 Matthew 14:28-31 (NIV)
28 "Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water." 29 "Come," he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!" 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?"

I have read this story many times and wondered, "What do you mean, 'Why did I doubt?' Of course, Peter doubted. Wouldn't everyone?" Jesus didn't think so. So, let's look at the evidence.

Jesus has just fed the 5,000 from a child's lunch sack. There was enough for everyone after He had blessed two fish and five small loaves of bread. Not only were they fed but there were twelve large baskets of bread left over. Jesus is obviously capable of creating. No one can put enough water in the soup to feed that many people! It wouldn't have stretched out far enough to have given each person a taste. Jesus made that which wasn't there be there. That's creating.

The ability to create is reserved for only one person: God. Peter should have and may have understood who Jesus was at this point but he ignores what he has observed to go with what he has already known.

Jesus walks on the water Himself. The law of gravity had to be suspended for this to happen. There is not enough surface tension for any man to stand on water unless it is frozen. Who can suspend the natural laws of the universe? God. Peter should have and may have understood this when he asked to come out on the water. However, he forgets what has been revealed to him and reverts to what he has always known.

Peter knew that men cannot walk on water. Yes, he saw Jesus doing so but that mattered very little to him when he doubted and became afraid. Indeed, that is the order. Doubt precedes the fear. There would have been no fear if there had been no doubt.

Our lives are full of observations of the physical laws of the universe. We know that water boils at 100 degrees C under one atmosphere of pressure. We know that objects fall at 9.8 meters per second per second. We know that matter and energy remains constant in the universe. We know that anyone who has been dead for several minutes cannot be brought back by human means.

The violation of the things we know are called miracles. Miracles go against that which we have observed. Thus, our tendency is to doubt the validity of any miracle. We also find it hard to accept that a miracle will occur to accomplish God's will. Our lives are full of worries, anxieties and fears because we doubt the wisdom, power and love of God.

Faith is not suspending what we know. It is believing that God is greater than what we know. It is not claiming that God will do something because we want Him to. It is believing He will do something because He has commanded it into being.

Peter asked to walk on the water to Jesus and was commanded to do so. The God of the Universe was suspending the laws of the universe so that He and Peter could take a stroll together. Jesus did not remove the apparent dangers which would have swallowed Peter. The wind was still blowing hard and the waves were still rising and falling. Drowning was almost assured if Peter sunk in those waves. The disciples would have had a hard time getting to him. The waves would have pushed him under the water and he would have had very little chance of survival. I have personally seen waves on the Sea of Galilee like this and know I could not last a few minutes if I were in the water. My observations were in the daylight!

But isn't this often the demand of our Lord? Doesn't He command us to come to Him through something that seems impossible?

The first mission trip that I was a part of organizing seemed doomed from the start. The year was 1978 and we needed to raise a little over $13 k for building materials which would be used to build a church in Mexico. We had nothing and we had a month to raise the money. We told two groups of pastors on the same day of our need. We told them how God was putting the trip together. We told them that He would provide. One set of pastors joined us in prayer and sought to support the mission trip. Some in the other group openly laughed at us. They told us there was no way to raise this money in such a short time when nearly everyone going on this trip was a college student.

But we persevered because we believed that God would provide. And no, we didn't have $13 k in a month. We had over $40 k! I thought of the twelve baskets left over. Isn't God a God of abundance?

Each time I hear the call of my Savior saying, "Come!" I have to remember that He will not take away the dangers or circumstances which can cause me to fail. And, yes, I sometimes look at those things and doubt. It is after He has been the provision that I have needed that I am ashamed and ask myself, "Why did I doubt?"

The God of the Universe will suspend the laws of the universe to bring me to Him. This is not for me alone. It is for everyone who listens to Him; everyone who asks to walk on the water to Him.


His Touch said...

I know James and Linda McLerran from Cameron that are now in Lllano, Texas. God is so good. I always look and read the next post above my own blog page. Sounds like you are in the best work possible. Spreading God's word and loving people. Enjoyed your post. Blessings! Mary Kay
Look me up.

high-expressions said...

I have been through this story a couple of times too, but it was several years ago, how this story was quoted to me, that left a nagging "doubt" in me; and even as I read just a few lines after the verses, here, I remembered the instance.

Several years back, when I entered into a heightened state of wanting to know if I were called to serve Him in more significant way than running a home cell in my church, which I did before, I read the Word, books, searched the internet, fasted and prayed, attended seminars, and consulted people, included itinerant preachers, coming to the Full Gospel Business Fellowship that I was a part of. I mean I was thinking about part-time working, part-time serving the Lord, or be going on short-term missions, and be at the fore-front of some ministry.

I had no distinct miraculous encounters where I was told, "You shall be so and so or what and what", although over the years, I had dreams (dreams in sleep) that indicated, in my life, I might have to be doing stuff which are associated with, being servant of the Lord (more than merely a church-goer). In earlier years, looking at my circumstances, I could NOT imagine how I could be doing some of the things I saw myself doing in those dreams, or be found in those situations featured in the dreams, but 4 years or so, ago, my circumstances took a dramatic turn.

Actually, there is NOT, a lot of real help, as to how one can be sure that one is called. Suggestions that point to supernatural encounters do NOT really help unless you have them, and there are equally many who are in ministry for the Lord in full-time or part-time, who never quite had, the supernatural encounters, in being called. Some just said, "You will know". That sure did NOT help a lot!

Now, one preacher from the US, when I asked him, he said, "You must be called, if NOT, don't do it, don't do those unnecessary sacrifice, like jeopardizing a good job; and he began to relate that same story of how Peter was called by the Lord; that, when he, Peter, faltered, the Lord had the onus to save Peter! Is it like that, I wondered?

I mean, if I were NOT called by the Lord, to go into specific “fuller-time” ministry, and if I thought I was called or believed that I was called, and I went ahead, when I get into trouble, the Lord would NOT come to rescue? While I understand that we are to walk in the plan that God has for us, but if we are NOT literally told what are we to do, despite we prayed and waited, surely, we are NOT to live in inaction when there appeared to be indications (from the dreams) of otherwise. Sure, we take timing too, into account. I am NOT a young man, now; I used to be, but am NOT, anymore, and so, I cannot be waiting and waiting so very long. Now, is it true that if I don’t trouble trouble, trouble will NOT trouble me? In other words, if I do NOT do anything, then I would NOT have trouble, and so, would NOT be needing God to come to rescue me! But trouble still troubled me when I did NOT serve Him significantly. If I could look to His rescue in such time as that, how come I cannot be looking to Him to rescue when I am serving Him, even if I read His precise will for me inaccurately (we are NOT talking about willful disregard). It does NOT make sense.

Cont. on next page...

high-expressions said...

Cont. from preceding page

Today, I have stronger inclination of how one would handle such dilemma, but I still do NOT have that much of an answer for “Those who are asking if they should take some kind of ‘plunge’ for the Lord”. I have NOT gone into full-time ministry, but it is NOT entirely because I did NOT hear Jesus saying, “Come, serve me in …..”, but rather the circumstances and timing are perhaps, NOT quite right; some bit of it, in terms of my responsibility towards my children. What I have done: I hold down a less demanding job, and sacrifice my annual leave so that I could arrive at some more peaceable state to serve the Lord in marketplace ministry, and been serving actively in weekend services of the church. The manner in which I serve in the church’s altar ministry is somewhat exceptional, and it was without challenges and oppositions and attacks from the unhappy side. I continue to write extensively on the internet about faith issues, and I head up a monthly Divine Healing Marketplace Meeting, in which I preach and minister.

I come to believe, for many, we just need to take steps, some, one step at a time with the Lord, others, small steps, and then let the Lord lead us. For many, it is step by step; each time, we sense his wish, we do accordingly. Instead of looking at call as a gigantic leap, my advice is to wade into the water, going deeper as the Lord leads. You really cannot say, “I stay up here, where it is dry. That will NOT do.” You got to get into the water. And you got to keep your eye on Jesus.

If I may interpret the story, it is we are all already called generally; the moment you enter into salvation, you are called. However you walk, serving already or NOT yet, or in between, your focus is to be on Jesus. The walk of a Christian in the earthly phase of the Kingdom of God in the world is a supernatural walk, like it is walking on water; defying the law of the gravity, in the case of walking on the water, defying the norms of the world, in the case of a Christian subscribing to the ways of God. When you, like Peter, faltered, if the Lord does NOT come to rescue you, just as the law of gravity will have Peter, and would bring Peter into deep “shit”, the norm of the world will also drive you down to the levels of the unsaved. We are all in need of the Lord to come to rescue; we are on the water already, so to speak!

The main thrust of the story is Jesus is teaching us NOT to doubt God. Ps Prentis said that doubt precedes fear; clearly, doubt and fear are different, and he is right, “we doubt, and so, we fear”. We doubt God, and we end up fearing the “forces” against us.

In what way could we be doubting God? We could be doubting God’s love for us, and His faithfulness towards us; or we could be doubting God’s power and ability; or we could be doubting God’s righteousness and justice. What do you usually doubt God for? How can we reduce the doubt? I suggest the followings:

1. Get to know more about God
2. Get to know God more (this is different from 1)
3. Get a taste of the goodness of God, or move into the positive experiences with God
4. Serve God
5. Learn to be led by His Spirit

Cont. on next page...

high-expressions said...

COnt. from preceding page

Our God exists NOT just in theory. Hello, I say it again, our God does NOT exist in theory only. Meaning, we can experience God. Do you mean I can walk along the beach with my God? Not exactly, though possible for some, but what I am saying is that He is in our lives, by His Spirit; it is NOT we are here, on earth, and God is up there, in the Heaven, and we are left alone, until we expire. He is as real as Jesus was with His Disciples, there, on the lake, or at the mount! Preachers shouldn’t insist on “Just believe, you should NOT need to experience”. Come on, you don’t continually hide in the attic, and say to your children, “Children, this is your daddy speaking; you just believe, you don’t have to experience me!” God is NOT like that. The disciples’ experiencing Jesus was their experiencing God. That was how they progressively have their doubts of Jesus banished. You can read about Him, but you should also want to experience Him. Experiencing God is life-transforming; it sure beats years of head-knowledge about Him.

This wisdom from God: Know well, the one for you, and then you can confidently take out the one against you. When you doubt the one for you, you will fear the one against you. If you do NOT doubt God’s love for you, His faithfulness for you, His power and ability, and His sense of righteousness and justice, you will fear NOT, the enemy. So, it is you doubt, so, you fear; if you doubt (God) NOT, you fear (the enemy) NOT.

In the wisdom above, it means we are NOT to take our eyes off Jesus or God, because He is the one fighting for you, against whatever and whoever. The mistake Peter did was that he looked away, and looked at the wind and waves, their ferocity. When we look away, our mind becomes preoccupied with how large our problem is or how strong our enemy is, instead of how great our God is. How do you sing the song, “How Great is Our God”? I always sing it with full gusto.

In our Christian life, we are to grow in our faith in God, diminish our doubts of God, and increase our trust in Him, besides growing in love for Him, and in holiness. Yes, God will help you, but you have to effort in diminishing your doubts of God, and correspondingly increasing your faith in God, and decreasing your fear for the enemy. Instant transformation is NOT the norm; throw the preacher out, if he insists you arrive upon entry into salvation. There is nothing weird about you if you are NOT perfect, but you do need to grow, and there is a part you have to play, like Peter still needed to response positively to Jesus’ beckon, and keep his eyes on Jesus, and follow instructions. Where are the instructions, generally? Yes, in the Word.

And one more thing, Christians are NOT only people with eternal hope; we are people with positive outlook. Outlook implied future. We are hopeful people; tomorrow will be better; if tomorrow is NOT better, tomorrow’s tomorrow will be better; if NOT, then tomorrow’s-tomorrow’s tomorrow!

You can chop it, slice it, trim it, or whatever, in the words of Apostle Paul, 3 things remain or to be abided in, for a Christian: faith, hope and love.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions