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When Faith in Jesus Turns to Fear

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

Matthew 14:31

You remember the story. Jesus surprised His disciples by walking on water to their boat. Peter was so excited he climbed out of the boat to meet the Lord. Then he began to sink and Jesus “reached out his hand and caught him.”

What caused Peter to sink? He was, after all, successfully walking on water. In the previous verse, we find the answer. … when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” (v30)

Peter was distracted by the wind. He changed his focus from faith to fear.

Who among us has not done something similar? We trust God for the impossible or improbable, and then we are frightened by perceived reality.

My mother used to tell me, “focus.” My mind frequently wandered. “Earth to Dickie,” she would say.

Faith requires focus, trusting like a laser on Christ, the object of our faith.

The most succinct and helpful definition of faith is found in Hebrews 11:1. “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

There’s a line in or focus text that is easily missed, yet it is essential to understanding when we should step out confidently in faith. It’s found in verses 28 and 29. 28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” 29 “Come,” he said.

Notice that Peter didn’t step out of the boat UNTIL he was granted permission. He asked, and the Lord told him to come. When we step out on faith without the Lord’s approval, we are setting ourselves up for a faith failure. Conversely, when we know the Lord is in agreement, we will succeed.

The obvious question then is, “How can you know the Lord will support your faith inclination?”

(1) It is not contrary to God’s word.

God will never support efforts intended for evil nor will He assist those who distort or misapply His word.

(2) There is peace in your spirit.

If there is restlessness in your spirit, then trust that feeling. Don’t get ahead of the Lord or try to force a resolution to a concern or problem until you since that inner green light.

(3) It honors God.

Will this step of faith bring glory to God and strengthen your testimony? Will it serve to encourage and inspire someone else to trust the Lord with their burdens?

(4) It stretches your faith.

We are people of faith. Christianity is lived by faith. But sometimes we are challenged to accomplish the extraordinary or endure and overcome hardship. Like pro athletes, sometimes we have to step up our game.

(5) God confirms it in your heart of hearts.

I hope I can effectively communicate this point. There have been times when I have been praying about something, and I sensed confirmation that what I had been praying for had been answered. It’s like God said, “Your request has been granted.”

Several years ago, when I was diagnosed with cancer, I didn’t push the panic button. Even when the cancer specialist told me that all of his testing confirmed the diagnosis, I didn’t worry. Then one day, the doctor sat down beside me, shook his head as if amazed and said, “Your cancer was off the charts, but you don’t have it and I don’t know why. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

The first time I prayed about it, I sensed confirmation from the Lord that I wasn’t sick. After four months of testing that divinely inspired confidence proved to be right.

The first church I served in a ministerial capacity was as an interim pastor. They had a rule that the interim couldn’t be hired as their pastor. But I really liked working there, and the people had responded favorably to my ministry. One morning before the start of the worship service, the chairman of the Pastor Search Committee stopped by my office to tell me they had decided to abide by their original plan and continue their search for a pastor. He wished it could be me but “rules are rules.”

I was devastated. Next morning during my quiet time, I poured out my heart to God, shared my disappointment and desire to pastor that church. Then came that feeling, confirmation in my spirit that I was going to be called as the pastor of Bethel Baptist Church.

Later that day, the chairman called me to tell me of the results of their meeting and their change of heart. “We want you to be our pastor.”

I could write a book about those confirming experiences, when God says, “yes.”

Just remember. When you step out of the boat into the water, don’t take your eyes off Jesus. And if that happens, He’ll still take care of you. Jesus grabbed Peter and pulled him from the water. Acts of faith are seldom carried out flawlessly. But if the Lord’s in it, we can count on Him seeing us through to victory.

For more on this topic check out this article: Walking the High Wire of Faith

Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 3 (July – September) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.

 

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