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Sunday, March 1, 2015

. . . . . . . End Times: How to Walk on Water

Like the disciples in Matthew, chapter 14, all believers will face storms of biblical proportion sooner or later.  The Word of God tells us that this becomes inevitable, when we exchange our love for the world and the broad road that leads to hell, to follow Christ on the narrow road to eternal life.

 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
2 Tim. 3:12

Jesus walking on water is more than a miracle—it is a multifaceted lesson regarding spiritual survival during times of chaos and it illustrates how our life (spiritual as well as physical) is completely in the hands of God:

 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it:
and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
Matt. 16:25

If we think there is anything we can do to save ourselves, we have certainly been deceived.  Only God, alone, has the power to save us.  But this saving relationship has given us something else—supernatural encouragement and peace of mind, by understanding how “walking on water” provides the faith to remain faithful through any storm.  Jesus gives a detailed demonstration how this takes place in the following steps found in Matthew 14:

Step #1:  Jesus gives a command

 And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples 
to get into a ship,
and to go before him unto the other side,
while he sent the multitudes away.
Matt. 14:22

Walking on water is a serious matter, not a magic trick for the sake of entertainment, nor a selfish power trip.  The real lesson Jesus is teaching His disciples is not about literally walking on literal water.  It is more important than that. The principles of walking on water are designed to save physical lives as well as eternal lives; even though the specific purpose, at the moment, may really only be known to God Himself. 

In this first step, we see that the ability to walk on water is initiated by a command of Christ.  “Jesus ‘constrained’. . .” or “commanded” the disciples to get into a ship.

This was not the first time Jesus had told the disciples to get into a ship, but this time the command was different.  Their environment was becoming more dangerous—the world was beginning to turn against Christ and His followers. 

Earlier in this chapter, we learn that Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist, had just been beheaded by Herod for exposing sin and preaching the truth.  When Jesus heard that John had been killed, He went into the desert intending to get alone and grieve.  However, when the multitudes discovered where Jesus had gone, they followed, bringing their sick to Him to be healed.  So instead of taking this time out to be alone and grieve, He spent the day ministering, healing, and feeding over five thousand of them.

So it was almost evening when Jesus was finally able to get away.  He wanted His disciples to understand the urgency regarding His need to be alone, so He “constrained” them to get into a ship without Him.  

“Constrained” is a very strong word—more forceful than a mere suggestion.  Here is the evidence of this being a serious matter.  

He was telling them to “Get into the ship now and go ahead to the other side!”

Nevertheless, Jesus' desire to get away neither stopped Him from unselfishly ministering to the multitudes, nor kept Him from positioning His disciples for their next lesson—an equally urgent and vital lesson designed to prepare them for the changes that were beginning to take place in the world.

How do we apply this principle to our own personal relationship with Christ?

When He gives a Word from the Scriptures that (1) strikes us with a compelling sense of urgency and that (2) requires obvious action on our part—when we sense in our spirit that He is “constraining” us to do something, this is often the first step to walking on water. 

We will be better able to identify this specific type of situation, if the action we are called to take requires more wisdom, strength, or courage than we think we possess—a scary situation that involves some type of “risk.”

Only Jesus knew what was about to transpire, so when He gave the command to get into the ship, the disciples had no idea that this boat ride was going to become an unnerving lesson about how to walk on water.

Step #2:  Recognize the Preeminent Source of faith.

 And when he had sent the multitudes away,
he went up into a mountain 
apart to pray:
Matt. 14:23

Jesus was about to teach His disciples a life-sustaining spiritual lesson:  How to put the spiritual Word of God into physical action.  He was bringing this lesson from the spiritual dimension into the physical dimension in order to demonstrate how genuine faith works to enable us to walk on water.

(These dimensions are discovered in the principles of physics, which Jesus created and used to create all things—not from some new age idea or satanic doctrine—See Genesis, chapter 1.  Jesus first emphasizes this difference between the spiritual and physical dimensions in the New Testament, in John, chapter 3; when teaching Nicodemus how to be born-again. By comparing the Holy Spirit to the effects of the wind, Jesus was revealing to Nicodemus that an unseen spiritual dimension exists and while we are not able to see this dimension, we are able to see the effects of it.) 

So Jesus sends His disciples away and goes to pray—to get alone with the Father.  Here is another example that walking on water is not something we just decide one day to do on our own.  Jesus knows how the power of God works through the Word.  Therefore, before He can do anything more, He must pray—exchange Words
. . ."commune" with the Father. 

The Preeminent Source of faith is the Father.  This is validated in Matthew 6 by Jesus’ instruction and demonstration regarding how to pray.

 After this manner 
therefore pray ye:
Our Father which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.

Just as Jesus is praying—getting instruction from the Father in the heavenly realm/dimension, so we are to ask the Father, in the name of Jesus, to give us instruction and the faith to act upon it in the physical realm /dimension.  How do we acquire the instruction we need and the faith to act upon it? 

So then faith 
cometh by hearing,
and hearing 
by the word of God.

The “Source” of our instruction and faith is the Father in Heaven through the Son, who became flesh and IS the Living Word—the very unique and specific Word that is alive today.  This is the same Word that created all things; verified in the first chapter of Genesis.  Therefore, Jesus demonstrated through His prayer, that the Father is our preeminent, ultimate-instruction-and-faith-giving-Source

However the Scriptures also tell us that, as sinners, we are not permitted to address the Father as Jesus addressed Him; yet Jesus tells His disciples that when they pray, they must address the Father.  So how can this be done?

We can only address the Father, when we believe the Word of God, turn from going our own way, and get off the broad road to destruction by calling on the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, because Jesus paid the penalty for our sin and cleansed us from all unrighteousness by shedding His Blood on the cross.  It is the Blood of Jesus, the Living Word, that cleanses us; and we continue to be cleansed “with the washing of water by the word”—the God breathed, written Word.

 That he might sanctify and cleanse it
[the church—believers in Christ]
with the washing of water by the word,
Eph. 5:26

***Keep in mind: The Word of God is likened to waterhere***

Step #3:  Remember believers’ unique position in Christ. 

 Wherefore he [Jesus] is able also 
to save them to the uttermost
that come unto God by him,
seeing he [Jesus] ever liveth 
to make intercession for them.
Heb. 7:25

The prayers of the children of God may be feeble, but they are not the only prayers the Father hears.  Jesus, Himself, prays for those who belong to Him. 

6 I have manifested thy name
[Jesus has declared/glorified/revealed 
the Preeminence of the Father]
unto the men which thou gavest me
out of the world:
thine they were, and thou gavest them me;
and they have kept thy word.
Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me
are of thee.
For I have given unto them
the words
which thou gavest me;
and they have received them,
and have known surely that I came out from thee,
and they have believed that thou didst send me.
I pray for them:
I pray not for the world,
but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.
Jn. 17:6-9

Make no mistake about it.  Genuine believers have access to all the power they need to walk on water.

Because the Word of God is alive with His power, it is not like any other “word.”  It is able to give life and bring all things into existence.  Therefore it can also bring forth the faith to be faithful.  It can provide all that we need in order to be in harmony with the will of God.

This does not have anything to do with “name it and claim it” doctrines, salvation via “good works” or somehow trying to acquire a position of "sinless perfection." 

This is solely about learning to walk on water—walking with, living, and growing in harmony with the Preeminent Most High God, Creator of all things—according to His established written Word. 

It is His position as Creator which makes Him Preeminent and the Source of all things, including the faith required to walk on water.

Note that believers have another very unique position in Christ that the Father has given them as well.  The above passage tells us that this position is located out of the world”—separated from the belief system of this world.  Since satan is the “god of this world,” this means that genuine believers function freely outside of satan’s domain; regardless of their situation.  They physically benefit the world, by existing in the world, but are not of the world."  

Because they know Christ and belong to Him, the Truth has set them free from the bondage of satan, because Jesus IS the Truth. . .the Way. . .and the Life.

Back to walking on water. . .

The disciples have been commanded to get into a ship—to remove themselves from “terra firma” and get into a vessel—and like Noah’s ark—their ship will no longer be supported on shore by the earth/world but will, instead, be supported by water”/the Word of God.

When He told them to get into a ship, it’s like Jesus just told them to “get into the ark!” and (as Noah and his family could observe the flood waters cleansing the earth) the disciples/believers will also be able to observe the salvation of God from this Word-of-God-supported-ship.

Step #4:  Understand that accessing the power to walk on water requires times of isolation.

and when the evening was come, 
he was there alone.
Matt. 14:23b

Jesus had to separate Himself from the multitudes and go alone, up into a mountain to get His own instructions from the Father before He could instruct His disciples.  He had to isolate Himself in order to give the Father His undivided attention.  If we desire to walk on water, we must also experience times of isolation so we can also give the Father and His Word our undivided, uninterrupted attention.

Therefore expect in times of trouble, that believers will likely find themselves isolated and know that this is intended to be a blessing from God—not a curse.

  20 Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers,
and shut thy doors about thee:
hide thyself as it were for a little moment,
until the indignation be overpast.
21 For, behold, the Lord cometh out of his place
to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity:
the earth also shall disclose her blood,
and shall no more cover her slain.

Step #5:  Recognize a scary situation when we see it.

But the ship was now in the midst of the sea,
tossed with waves:
for the wind was contrary.
Matt. 14:24

The disciples were just doing what Jesus had told them to do—they obediently got into the ship.  However, now they find themselves in the midst of the sea being tossed about, bobbing in the water like a fishing cork, under attack from a “contrary,” chaotic wind—not a wind like the Spirit of God, but a negative, destructive, evil “wind”—that would probably have a lot in common with an evil spirit, no doubt a “prince and power of the air” -type-of-wind. (Eph. 2;2)

They were just doing what they were told.  They didn't do anything wrong.  They hadn't made any wrong choices.  This very scary situation was not their fault.  Nevertheless, it became perfectly clear to them that they were under attack. 

What they still did not know is that this attack was going to be used to teach them how to walk on water. 

Step #6:  Jesus comes to help the disciples in a very unexpected way.

And in the fourth watch of the night
[the last part of the night or just before daylight]
Jesus went unto them,
walking on the sea.
Matt. 14:25 

Now it’s the “fourth watch of the night”—it’s about as late as it can get and still be called, “night” and the disciples are clinging to the ship for dear life. 

Jesus finally comes to help them—but not in any way they would have ever imagined.  This other-worldly scene—witnessing Jesus walking on water—generates a great amount of fear in the disciples.  It is no doubt “the last straw” after a very exhausting, stressful night battling the storm.

Step #7: A point in time arrives when it becomes necessary to process the fear.

And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea,
they were troubled, saying,
It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.
Matt. 14:26 

At this point, the disciples have lost it.  They don’t even understand what they are seeing.  These grown men are terrified enough to cry out—actually scream in fear.  At first they think that some evil spirit has somehow slipped into their physical dimension—to escalate the attack against them.  They have had a long rough night and it seems that a very bad situation is getting much worse.  They are now physically and emotionally drained and certainly do not feel up to facing what appears to be some new, strange-type-of-threat. 

Step #8:  Jesus quickly comforts and encourages the disciples telling them not to be afraid.

But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying,
Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.
Matt. 14:27 

The great love Jesus has for His disciples motivates Him to quickly identify Himself; then comfort and encourage them. . .and in this exhortation. . .He also reveals His purpose. 

By specifically encouraging them not to be afraid He is, at the same time, leading them to consider that a lesson could be hidden in this chaos as well.  The disciples know that Jesus would not tell them to “be of good cheer” without also providing what they need to do that.  Jesus is there to take control of the attack.  All they need to do now is trust Him and discover the lesson.

Step #9:  Realize that this is an important lesson about how to walk on water.  

 And Peter answered him and said,
Lord, if it be thou,
bid me come unto thee on the water.
Matt. 14:28 

Peter is the first to realize that this scary experience is really a lesson of some sort.  He knows that if the person they are seeing walking on water is the real Jesus, then this has to be a lesson on how to walk on water, since the foundation of Christ’s teaching has always been about following Him and His example.   

But as usual, Peter only sees the physical part of the picture.  Yes, impetuous Peter sincerely wants to be like Jesus and walk on water, but he does not yet understand that this lesson is about something more important than walking on water.

They are actually about to be taught how to access the spiritual faith to overcome a physical situation.

Step #10:  Under-estimating what it takes to walk on water.

 And he said, Come.
And when Peter was come down out of the ship,
he walked on the water,
to go to Jesus.
Matt. 14:29

Yes!  A-m-e-n!  Peter wants to walk on water!  What an experience!  All he has to do is “believe”. . .right?

So he comes down out of the ship, walks on water, and makes his way toward Jesus.

But when he saw the wind boisterous,
he was afraid; and beginning to sink,
he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
Matt. 14:30 

BUT. . .there is more to walking on water than Peter first thought.  After all, Peter is only human and it is the tendency of humans to fear when they find themselves in a terrifying, physical, real-life-threatening situation.  Human courage can be a very fickle thing. 

“. . .when he saw the wind boisterous. . .”

If Peter “saw” the magnitude of the wind—how “boisterous” it was, that means he had to take his eyes off Jesus to be able to focus on this fearful situation.

Remember “washing of water by the Word”?

The Word of God—the Living Word, Jesus Christ, as well as the written Word, the Holy Bible, are both involved in cleansing and empowering believers. . .providing the faith to be faithful—giving us a supernatural ability and courage to “walk on water” when the storms of life threaten us.

However, if we take our eyes off Jesus/the Word, it is impossible to be supported by the Word/water and consequently we will be overcome and sink.  We can only endure the storm and reach our ultimate destination by keeping our eyes only on Jesus/the Word, because it is the Word /“water that (1) either supports us, because through it, God provides what we need to stay afloat, follow Christ’s example, and be united with Him, or (2) it condemns us to the depths, because we reject it (and God’s help) and find ourselves among the fearful and unbelieving in the end.

He that overcometh shall inherit all things;
and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
But the fearful, and unbelieving,
and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, 
and sorcerers,
 and idolaters, and all liars,
shall have their part in the lake which burneth 
with fire and brimstone:
which is the second death.
Rev. 21:7-8 

When the storm comes ... those who have rejected Christ and His offer of salvation ... will not be able to endure the storm ... and will ultimately perish.

We may be like Peter and underestimate what it takes to walk on water, but if we really belong to Jesus, the good news is that He will stretch forth His hand to us too and catch us when we begin to fear and doubt . . . and He will also give us some sort of wake-up call to make us aware that our level of faith is not adequate—that the water of the Word is somehow not sufficiently supporting us. . . either because (1) we are distracted and not focusing on His Word or (2) do not have enough of His Word successfully retained in our memory bank.

 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand,
and caught him, and said unto him,
O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
Matt. 14:31

Walking on water is a matter of consistent faith—not jumping back into the boat and pulling a tarp over our head—but paying more attention to what the Word of God says than to what is going on around us.  

While we need to diligently watch what is going on in the world, prepare, and pray; at the same time, we need to filter all that we see and hear, through the Word of God because it will provide the understanding and strength we need to be able to keep walking on water.  

If we genuinely belong to Christ, He will by grace, continue to give us the faith we need to be faithful—so we are able to ultimately overcome unbelief and fear. 

And when they were come into the ship,
the wind ceased.
Matt. 14:32 

When will the wind cease and this chaotic storm end?

We must remain steadfast and keep walking on water according to the Word of God, consistently united in fellowship with Christ through His Word—focusing only on Him until one day, like Noah, all genuine believers will enter the “ark,” which is Jesus, and be carried safely to our new heavenly home.

 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, 
and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things 
whatsoever I have commanded you:
and, lo,
I am with you always,
even unto the end of the world.
Matt. 28:19-20 

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