Peter was a water walker. Jesus told Peter to “Get out of the boat”! He said, Come to me, Peter! And Peter did just that. My voice is joining with Jesus voice today. I am going to call forth the water walker in each of you. This article is not for unbelievers. This article is written to people of faith. It will be read by people of great potential. And the Spirit is saying: Get out of the boat and walk on water. A life lived in service to God should be exciting. Water walking wasn’t just for that day. This biblical incident is a challenge to all of us to “Get out of the boat” and attempt to do only what we can do with God’s help.
Now I heard about a pastor, and he was preaching, and it’s the end of the service. And before he dismissed the people, he said, ”Right after the service at the back there’ll be a meeting of the board.” And that is how he concluded. And there was a little group there of board members. And the pastor went back there to the meeting and saw a visitor there and he, thought, Well, what’s this guy doing here? And so, he politely said to the guy, ”Sir, maybe you didn’t understand me, but this is a meeting of the board.” And the guy said, ”Yeah, after that service if there’s somebody more bored than I am, I’d like to meet them’.”
You know, that describes a lot of churches – boring. It describes a lot of Christians living a boring Christian life, just so hum-drum, just so blah, just going through the motions. I am sorry but I don’t believe that is what Christianity is meant to be! When you live your life by faith, you see things others don’t. When you step out on faith, there is nothing greater than seeing God do the miraculous. When you read in the gospels, you don’t see Jesus’ life being boring and blah and hum-drum. When you read in the Book of Acts, you don’t see the apostles’ lives being boring and blah and hum-drum. You read of people being set free. You read of miracles taking place. You read of prayers being answered. You read of God opening the doors of the prisons. And so, how can anyone read the Bible and say, ”Well, man, it seemed exciting back then, but it’s not very exciting today.”
It is exciting. I want to teach you how to live an exciting Christian life. If you want to experience God in all of his fullness, you must get out of the boat. I want to look at one of my favorite bible passages. I love the story about Peter and his friends in the boat one night.
Mathew 14:22-33 “Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. 23 And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. 24 But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. 25 Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. 26 And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” 28 And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” 29 So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” 31 And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.”
Can you imagine being one of the disciples in that boat that night? Wow! It was a bit of a difficult night to say the least. They were on the sea. There was a storm. The waves were crashing. They were tired after a day of ministry, and now they are up late fighting a storm. They see this figure coming towards them and it literally appears to be a man walking on water. But they knew what we know now. Men can’t walk on water. So, they assume this must be a Ghost. They are afraid. But it turns out to be Jesus. He calls to them, identifies himself, they probably recognize him and his voice.
They are thinking…well, Of course, Jesus can walk on water. He is the Son of God. He created the water, he designed the laws of gravity and he understands the dynamics of density and so if he created the laws, he can surely bend them, right? And so sure Jesus can walk on water.
And then Peter says, “If it is you please allow me to come to you.” And Jesus says, okay, Come on! The rest of the disciples watch carefully because they are used to Peter shooting his mouth off, and they want to know if he’s going to follow through on this deal. And then, Peter puts one foot over the side of the boat and then the other. Then he lets go. And for the first time in human history, an ordinary man is borne up on the water. It’s a remarkable story.
Peter experiences God enabling him to do what he could never do on his own—to walk on the water. Modern day water walkers may never physically walk on water. But they are enabled by God to do what they could never do on their own.
But of course, Peter’s faith gives out. He doesn’t keep his eyes on Jesus. He looks at the wind and the waves and he begins to sink. By the way, did you catch that, he begins to sink. I think it was a slow sinking. I don’t think he went all the way in. Because Jesus was there for him. Did Peter fail? I think he did—at least in one significant way. He took his eyes off Jesus. His faith wavered and he sank. I want to say something very important about this story. He wasn’t the only failure that night…I think there were eleven bigger failures sitting back in the boat. They failed quietly. Their failure went unobserved and uncriticized. Why? Because they never got out of the boat.
A couple of observations: If Peter was told that he had little faith. What was the size of the faith of those who remained in the boat? Also, Peter experienced a few things they didn’t. Only Peter knew the glory of walking on the water.
When people walk on the water, when people trust God and experience God’s power enabling them to do what they couldn’t do otherwise, I think it marks them. I think Peter carried that memory of water walking to his grave. And another thing—only Peter knew that when he began to sink, Jesus would be there, and he was wholly adequate to save. The other disciples could not know that because they never got out of the boat.
This is the fundamental truth:
If you want to walk on water, you’ve got to get out of the boat.
If you want to experience the power of God in your life, you’ve got to take a step of faith. If everything you are attempting to do, can be done in your own power, you need to get out on the water. It involves risky obedience. When we learn to discern the calling of God in our lives and respond with yes and get out of the boat, we really do experience God’s power in our lives. I have just two questions today to ask us as we look at this powerful story and real metaphor for the Christian.
- WHAT KEEPS US FROM GETTING OUT OF THE BOAT?
A. FEAR STOPS US
Fear is the opposite of faith. There are 365 “Fear nots” in the bible. One for every day of the year. Recently, we had some amazing missionaries visit our church. They were on their way to a very difficult Mideastern nation. They are taking their children and going to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. They are fearless. They are going to one of the hardest places on the planet. They are getting out of the boat! They are going to become modern day water walkers.
You and I will stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ alongside people like those missionaries. I don’t want to be the guy who was too afraid to get out of the boat! I don’t want to be the person who hid his talent in the ground for fear that he might lose it. I want to be a person who went for it. I am determined to get out of my boat and believe God. Fear keeps us from fully trusting God and experiencing what God wants us to do. All the way through the Word, God encourages us to have faith over fear.
Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
It is time to get rid of all fear and walk in faith. I am a pastor and when we were building our current building we were about 60,000 dollars short of being able to fund the construction. I had come down to the church to pray. And as I stood there, fear came upon me. Satan told me, you will never get this building built and paid for and moved in. He said, the people you have will give up. It is going to end up in disaster. In the natural it seemed impossible.
Fortunately, I recognized the voice of the enemy. I stood in that empty building and made a faith declaration. I said, God is going to help us. I told Satan, “Get out in the name of Jesus.” I refused to let fear get ahold of me. God showed up. God came through and the building was fully funded. Our church became modern water walkers as we stepped out in faith in our giving.
Many of us are reluctant to step into unfamiliar territory for fear that we will fail. We are afraid we may look foolish. We fear that our commitment will be too demanding on our lives. We fear that things won’t work out. The eleven stayed in the boat because they were afraid to get out. They didn’t want to drown. All they saw was winds and waves. Even after Peter actually walked on water, they still feared the water.
If we who are in the kingdom of God are going to see God move in powerful ways, we need some people who are willing to overcome fear and get out of the boat. But what about you? What is it that you would do for Jesus, if you weren’t afraid? What would you pray if you weren’t afraid? How bold would your prayers be? Who would you talk to? What would you do? What would the level of your giving be?
When you hear of the ministries of your church, do you think to yourself: “I want to be involved, but I am afraid.” Are you being called to take a new step? When we take that first step, our faith grows deeper. Any steps we take are taken because we trust in Christ. The antidote to fear is knowing God is with you!
Henri Nouwen was a spiritual writer and theologian. He was fascinated by the circus. He particularly liked a trapeze act called the Flying Rodleighs. He saw them perform and became good friends with the family. He had a conversation with Rodleigh, the main flyer.
Rodleigh said: “As a flyer, I must have complete trust in my catcher. The public may think that I am the great star of the trapeze but the real star is Joe, my catcher…He has to be there for me, and grab me out of the air as I come to him in the long jump…The flyer does nothing…I simply stretch out my arms and hands and wait for him to catch me and pull me safely…the flyer must trust with outstretched arms that his catcher will be there for him.”
That is the way it works -complete trust in the catcher! The reason why we don’t get out of the boat is because we aren’t convinced in the power of our catcher. Yet God Almighty will not let us crash as surely as he didn’t let Peter drown.
Peter lived his life trusting God would catch him. That is how he became a water walker. He simply took that leap of faith Are you a follower of Jesus today? Let me ask you, when have you ever fully stepped out in faith, and he wasn’t there to catch you. Do not to let fear control you. You can accomplish things that you could not do on your own. Why? Because of the faithfulness of the catcher.
Another thing that keeps us from getting out of the boat is comfort.
b. THE LOVE OF COMFORT STOPS US.
Comfort will keep you in the boat. I am speaking of the desire to live in and have a comfortable life. Sometimes a comfortable life can be a boring life. Comfort should never be the goal of the believer. God is calling you today, out of your comfort zone. There are going to be a lot of people who stand before Christ at the Judgment Seat of Christ and they will suffer loss on that day. They will not lose their soul’s salvation. But they will realize that the comfortable life they experienced on earth was not what God had in mind. God wanted them to be water walkers. God wanted them to do great things. But they chose comfort.
I wonder, do we have any couch potatoes reading this article? Everyone knows what that is. Those are people who sit at home on the couch, and rather than experiencing life for themselves. They watch TV. They are happy to be on the couch most of the day. They are content to watch others experience the beauty of life. Instead of planting their own garden, they watch shows about gardening. Instead of improving their own house, they watch HGTV and watch someone else’s home get improved. Instead of going into the kitchen and making a phenomenal dinner, they get out a tv dinner, and watch some cooking show. Instead of having friends, they watch a TV show called Friends. Instead of playing sports, they only watch sports. Instead of having a real romantic life, they watch romantic movies on TV. Instead of going on vacation, they watch the travel channel. I hope you aren’t a couch potato because you are missing life!
Now in the church we don’t have couch potatoes. What we have are what I want to call boat potatoes. Boat potatoes are those who are too addicted to comfort, they fail to actually extend themselves in service. They are content to watch others walk on water. They go to church and hear testimonies of what others have done and how God came through. Yet they never get involved or extend themselves in any way. The eleven other disciples were kind of boat potatoes. Weren’t they? I am not saying they didn’t love Jesus. They were willing to follow Jesus, but they wanted him to comfort them in the midst of the storm. Apparently walking on water didn’t interest them. The disciples didn’t want to risk getting out of the boat because they liked the comfort of the boat.
John 15:16 tells us that we aren’t called to be boat potatoes but rather to be fruit bearers: “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.”
Peter decided to get out of the boat. And he didn’t do it just because it would be exciting. His primary reason was because that’s where Jesus was. Jesus was out of the boat and on the water. And Jesus is still looking for people who will get out of the boat. When somebody decides to get out of the boat, they are never quite the same.
A quote I love says, “A ship in a harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.” God calls us to set sail.” And once we’re out on the raging sea, we see God and some new possibilities. Jesus is on the water and bids us come. Do we dare?
How interesting is that that the church was built on Peter, not the others. Jesus said You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church. Peter knew who Jesus was. He was the Christ the Son of the living God. Jesus knew that it takes water walkers to really impact the world. Can you hear the voice of Jesus saying, “Come?” If you want to walk on the water, you’ve got to get out of the boat.
Let me tell you this. It’s a little uncomfortable out of the boat. It’s more demanding out of the boat. The waves are a little higher out here. And it is also a lot more rewarding outside of the boat. Why? Because you will discover that God can be trusted!
- WHAT IS GOD INVITING US TO DO?
What does get out of the boat mean to you? Obviously, if we needed to actually walk on water, we could. But I think this is a metaphor for life. Followers of Jesus have always had to take some risks, to step into the unknown. We take risks not for the thrill or the spotlight, but risks are taken in order to be faithful!
Everyone needs a place to serve. It is as we serve that we have the opportunity to see God at work. Everyone needs a place of involvement with their Lord and Savior! For some getting out of the boat is making a meal to bring to someone who is sick or having health problems. For some it means further involvement in ministry. For some it means standing firm in their confession of healing. For some it means fasting two or three days for family members to be saved. For some it may mean joining the choir. For some it may mean starting to pray again. For some getting out of the boat, means coming to a place like Celebrate Recovery where they can be honest about their life. For some getting out of the boat means you start giving in the offering on Sunday. For some it means stepping up and into a place of leadership and responsibility.
Here is a huge question: What stirs your heart? When you acknowledge and see a need, it could be very well that God is calling you to meet that need. Perhaps your concern is for children, or for the elderly, or for those who live in poverty. Perhaps your heart is drawn to youth, or to injustice, for those in prison, or for those sick, for those in crisis. Some say, I can’t do much. I don’t have much influence. I am simply not able. You are a perfect candidate for water walking! God usually doesn’t call those who are qualified. He calls those who are willing. He calls those who would say, I just want to be used.
This week as I was doing my research I came upon an article about this woman. Her name is Oseola McCarty. Oseola McCarty had a passion and a dream for young people and their education. It is probably because growing up in Hattiesville, Mississippi was difficult. She no doubt had that passion because she did not have the opportunity to receive an education. She quit school in 6th grade because she had to take care of a sick relative. She spent her life washing and ironing for families of the town. Caring for other people’s dirty clothes, she was paid in change and small bills. She lived simply in a small house, never had a car, walked to the store and church, and saved what she could of her earnings.
She was in her 80’s when she was ready to retire. The bank helped her set up a trust fund for herself; she made provisions for her church and for her few relatives. And in 1994, this little lady who had so little opportunity in life gave the amazing sum of $150,000 to the University of Southern Mississippi for scholarships for needy students. She had never been on the campus. Recognizing that at one time the school had not been integrated, but now thankfully it was, she said: “I just figured the money would do them a lot more good than it would me.”
Her amazing gift was recognized nationally. She stepped out in faith with what she had: “I can’t do everything, but I can do something to help somebody. And what I can do I will do. I wish I could do more.” She was given the presidential Citizens Medal and was honored by the United Nations.
In 2014 the market value of the Oseola McCarty Endowed Scholarship Fund totals nearly $745,000. Forty-four students have received McCarty Scholarships with more than $370,000 awarded since the scholarship’s inception.
Years ago, I heard Tommy Barnett share a message. It was on miracles. He talked about miracles. He talked of some of the amazing miracles he had seen in his life. But Tommy Barnett’s sermon had a little twist to it. Instead of believing God for a miracle. He said, why not be the miracle in somebody else’s life. For those forty-four students who received scholarships, Oseola McCarty was a miracle.
I have a Facebook friend named Kevin Ward. Kevin pastors a church in South Texas and seems to be doing a wonderful job. But when he was a boy, he was a kid that was troubled. He was from a poor family on the other side of the tracks. Pastor David Porter used to pick him up in his car and bring him to church. Pretty soon his mom came to church and got saved. God called Kevin and he is now a blessing to many. David Porter was the miracle in Kevin’s life.
My challenge is to you to become the miracle in someone’s life! Get out of the boat. Attempt something great for God. You can be a modern-day water walker!