Sunday, August 24, 2014

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. 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. But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”     Matthew 14:22-31  NKJV

I’m sure many of us first heard this story of Jesus walking on the water when we were quite young and attending Sunday School, sitting in our little chairs and listening in fascination as our teacher related this miracle of our Lord.  I know I was, and I remember thinking Peter wasn’t too bright because he turned his eyes away from Jesus and suffered the consequences.  Of course, as I grew older, I began to see just how often I had followed in Peter’s footsteps by making the same mistake that he did by choosing to look away and focus on my circumstances rather than on the promises of God.

If you look closely at this story, it becomes apparent that all that occurred was a setup by Jesus for the purpose of teaching the disciples, and us as well, the importance of looking to Him for our deliverance in times of trouble.  Jesus intentionally told the disciples to leave ahead of Him knowing the storm was coming, and rather than looking for another boat to follow them in, He decided to walk across the sea to where they were in trouble.  Today I want to share with you just four of many points I believe are found in this passage, which I believe we as believers need to remember in these times of trouble that so many of us find ourselves in today.

Obedience can bring a storm.

The disciples followed Jesus’ instructions to proceed without Him, having no idea that by doing so they would encounter a storm so great that they would fear for their very lives. Jesus, on the other hand, knew exactly what was about to happen and sent them on their way knowing full well that they would suffer no harm.  Have you ever followed the path you feel Jesus wants you to take and encountered troubles that make you question your choice to do so?  God knows exactly what will happen when we follow His Son and will never send us someplace where His power cannot save.
For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:       1 Peter 2:20-21  NKJV

And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.      Philippians 2:8  NKJV

Jesus knows what we are going through.

As big as that sea was, have you ever thought about the fact that Jesus knew exactly where the disciples were?  In all of that expanse, in the middle of a great storm, Jesus walked directly to where they were in trouble.  Jesus not only knows what we are going through, but He also knows exactly where we are.  Even though we might feel we cannot see Jesus when we are in distress, He can see us.  His assistance, comfort, and deliverance are available to us if we simply call on Him and ask for His help.  God’s omniscience and omnipresence guarantee we are never alone.

For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.     Hebrews 4:15-16  NKJV

then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment,     2Peter 2:9  NKJV

Jesus has perfect timing.

The disciples who were fishermen were well acquainted with being on the sea in storms, and at first were probably unconcerned with what they were encountering.  Yet since Jesus had sent them off in the evening, and now we see it was the fourth watch or almost morning, they had spent a good twelve hours battling to cross a sea that was only five miles wide.  I have no doubt that it was at this point that even these men were beginning to fear for their lives.  Why did Jesus wait so long to appear?  I think quite possibly Jesus waits until we acknowledge we cannot do it on our own before He appears to deliver us from our troubles.

The LORD is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him.                         Nahum 1:7  NKJV

And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!       2 Timothy 4:18  NKJV

Success of our walk depends on the focus of our eyes.

It is almost comical to think back to that Sunday School class and remember when the teacher asked the question “why did Peter begin to sink”?  I can still hear ten little voices crying out “he took his eyes off of Jesus”!  Even little children understand the point of this story and yet as adults, how often do we forget?  How often do we begin to focus on our surroundings, our circumstances, or our relationships and forget to keep our eyes on Jesus?  Never doubt that Satan’s goal is to use this world to change our focus and cause us to stumble.  I can never forget the words of a hymn we sung so often when I was young; 

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.                                                                    2 Corinthians 4:17-18  NKJV

the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,  Ephesians 1:18  NKJV

As we see this world approaching it’s day of judgment, and we find ourselves as believers experiencing troubles and difficulties, never forget to turn your eyes upon Jesus.

Keep watching.