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November 4, 2014

Conquering your fears

“‘Don’t be afraid,’ (Jesus) said. ‘Take courage. I am here!’”

Matthew 14:27 (NLT)

What is your greatest fear?  Mine is heights. I take Jesus’ promise in Matthew 28 literally when He said, “And, lo, I am with you…”  I prefer staying grounded.  It made my hands sweat just to watch my friend, Nick Wallenda, walk the high wire between the skyscrapers in Chicago the other night!  I heard about the tightrope walker who walked across a high wire with an empty wheelbarrow.  The crowds cheered with excitement as he made it successfully across.  Then, he looked at the crowd and asked, “How many think I can walk back across the high wire with this same wheelbarrow?”  Everyone shouted a confident, “Yes!”  Then he said, “Who would like to get in the wheelbarrow?”  All of a sudden, there was a quiet hush across the crowd!   It’s exciting to see others exercise their faith, but it’s not really faith until I step out.  That’s what Peter experienced in Matthew 14.  He and the other disciples were in the boat crossing the lake when they were caught in a violent storm.  Let’s pick up the story in verse 24. “Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves.  About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water.  When the disciples saw Him walking on the water, they were terrified.  In their fear, they cried out, ‘It’s a ghost!’  But Jesus spoke to them at once, ‘Don’t be afraid,’ He said.  ‘Take courage. I am here!’ Then Peter called to Him, ‘Lord, if it’s really You, tell me to come to You, walking on the water.’  ‘Yes, come,’ Jesus said.  But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink.  ‘Save me, Lord!’ he shouted.  Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. ‘You have so little faith,’ Jesus said. ‘Why did you doubt Me?’ When they climbed back in the boat, the wind stopped. Then the disciples worshipped Him. ‘You really are the Son of God!’ they exclaimed.”  I think Peter gets a bad rep from most people when they read this story because he was afraid and began to sink.  The truth is, he was the only one with enough faith to get out of the boat!  He stepped out of the boat and into the storm!  I think I would have been among the other disciples hunkered down in the boat for dear life!  This week, we’re going to dig a little deeper in this passage to learn from Peter how we can conquer our fears about the future with faith.  There are storm clouds hovering everywhere today.  Our world seems to be spinning out of control with the heavy winds of disease, political and economic unrest, compounded by international terrorist crises.  But the crisis can’t stop God’s power to enable us to step out in faith into our future!  This is the greatest time for the church!  Crisis time is opportunity time for us to take bold steps of faith into the future with courage that God is for us!