September 4, 2011: Lord, Deliver Us From Daily Doubt

Let us pray: Dear Savior, keep our faith strong and vibrant. Keep our eyes focused on You and Your kind heart directed at us. For then our problems will recede, overwhelmed by Your tender goodness and loving care. Amen

GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, OUR BROTHER AND GOD’S SON!

TEXT: Matthew 14: 22-33

Dearly Beloved By Christ:

Have you ever noticed all the parallels between the Children of Israel in the Old Testament and the various disciples in the New Testament? Both groups are God’s visible church here on earth. Both groups contain the truly faithful and also some unbelieving hypocrites—think Judas. Both groups are treated to powerful manifestations of God’s glory in the form of miracles and various signs and wonders.—The pillar of cloud and fire, Christ’s transfiguration, the signs accompanying His death, and healing the sick and even raising dead people. Both groups are filled with faith as a result of such wonders. And both groups usually fall into doubt soon thereafter. We mortals just cannot seem to maintain our faith in God’s goodness and His intimate care of us. Our lesson is one such example.

Right before this lesson where Jesus walks on the water, we find our Savior and the disciples feeding the 5000 plus. I include the disciples in this as they distributed the 5 loaves of bread and the 2 small fish and then picked up more leftovers than they began with! It was an obvious miracle. It showed Jesus care for the human body after caring for the human soul all day as He preached and applied to everyone the Bread of eternal life, His good news of forgiveness. Then nightfall comes. Christ sends the 12 off across the lake in their boat. He dismisses the crowd and climbs up the mountainside in order to commune with His Father, to pray. In the twilight hours He can observe the disciples’ progress and also sees the storm that had blown up and was tossing them around. Since Jesus can read our hearts, even across time and space, He knew they were afraid. He knew they were thinking dark thoughts about their safety. And so, He resolves to walk out to them and comfort them. All this leads to His interchange with St. Peter which we’re going to ponder under this heading:

LORD, DELIVER US FROM DAILY DOUBT

I

“During the 4th watch of the night (about 3-4 in the morning) Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. ‘It’s a ghost,’ they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’ ‘Lord, if it’s you,’ Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to you on the water.’ ‘Come,’ he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.”

Have you ever come to church on Easter, left exhilarated and feeling very strong, and by late afternoon some personal problem erupted and you were left feeling that God had forgotten about you? Let’s be honest. Our faith, and the strength of it, is kind of like a yo-yo. It is constantly fluctuating between the zenith of heavenly certainty and the wane of mud-puddle doubt. It might be a bad doctor’s report that throws you. It might be an unwanted, unexpected bill. It might be an accident that claims a loved one. It might be a hurricane that raises your blood pressure to new heights and ruins all the food in the freezer via a power outage. The point is: when our comfort zone is invaded we almost always think the worst and focus on anything but God’s care for us. The Children of Israel did it. The disciples did it here. And so do we.

And then when God actually does come to assist us, we usually don’t pay attention and recognize His coming. Here they thought He was a ghost—kind of like the dead coming to claim the soon-to-be dead from the storm raging around them. In our case today, God often works through people that care about us and try to help us. Christians should show God’s love to and for each other. But very often we don’t trust the motives of such people. Very often we think they must have an agenda. We often project our faulty motives upon them and therefore don’t trust them.

II

Do you know why Pastors make their confirmation kids learn certain Bible passages from memory? No, we’re not trying to be mean. Instead, we’re trying to prepare them in advance for moments like the one Peter went through in our lesson. You see, we don’t have the physical, visible Savior here today. But, we do have His voice and the same powerful words of truth used to comfort Peter and save him. God’s Word is God’s Word no matter the time, or place, or even who utters it. Godly truth is still Godly truth. So, just as Christ comforted Peter, so He comforts us and uplifts our spirits when daily doubt descends. And that, my friends is the glorious truth of the second half of this lesson.

“Lord, if it’s you,’ Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to you on the water.’ ‘Come,’ he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ he said, ‘why did you doubt?’ And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.'”

Lord, deliver us from daily doubt! This lesson fits that headline in many ways. First, as long as Peter fixed his gaze upon Christ, he was actually able to walk on the water! No doubt is evident when Christ is our sole focus. But, when he allows his gaze to stray, oops! He begins to sink. Second, note well that Peter doesn’t sink right away. God never allows us to fall without some advanced inkling it is occurring. Thus giving us time to repent. Third, a weak faith is still a saving faith because it clings to Christ Who is always strong. By crying for help to Jesus, Peter showed his weak faith and asked Jesus to strengthen it. And He did, didn’t He! Immediately Christ catches him. Fourth, doubt and “little faith” go hand in hand. Peter was chided for it and we need to be, too, at times. For we can grow our faith by God’s grace the more we expose ourselves to His Word of forgiving truth and love and pay attention to it! Fifth, when they climb into the boat and the storm is stilled, they all worship Christ as the Son of God. Well, isn’t that the point? He is! He’s all powerful, all loving, and centers His love upon you and me every day. All we have to do is open our eyes to His blessings. And then we really need to give Him thanks and praise. For when we center our eyes upon Him the storm swirling around us always seems to recede, doesn’t it? So, today we pray: Lord, Deliver Us From Daily Doubt. Thereby we’ll not only sleep better, we’ll live and breathe better, too. Amen
THE PEACE OF GOD WHICH….