Water Walking 3

2 Peter 1:5-8

When a co-worker and I were brought on to the FRAT (Function Report Automated Table) team at Proctor & Gamble our duties were simple – a six-month job moving data from files into charts. As time went on we learned more and more about the reports and we began suggesting other ways we could help. These new duties led to more information, more suggestions, more work. The six-month assignment became open ended and after four years we had became an essential part of the process.

Through effort we gained knowledge. Through knowledge and creativity we re-applied our talents – and gained more knowledge. Peter speaks of a similar growth and progression.

What are we to add to our faith? What are we to add to our goodness? What are we to add to our knowledge? Our self-control? Our perseverance? What is the benefit of having all the qualities listed?

A recent meeting with other pastors touched on the ideas of this week. How much is enough? Can we ever reach that point where we have done all that can be done for God? Will we ever completely know God?

So many people I encounter have reached a point in their lives where they feel they have done enough. They taught Sunday school for X number of years. They attended church faithfully for X number of years. Now it’s enough. They begin to feel they have done their share and they can step down.

Do we retire from being Christians? Do we stop doing work for God? Do we stop trying to perfect our faith?

Of course not. No matter how old we are or how much we have done, there is more to be done. Our faith is a lifelong experience, not a career of so many years ending in retirement.

Our consultant position was a piece of cake, the easiest job I have ever done in my life. And we could have simply done our time and been terminated after six months. But we added to what we knew and tried harder, becoming better, more valuable employees.

The same is true of faith. Build your faith by adding goodness and knowledge. Learn to be self-controlled and to persevere in hard times. Study the Scripture, attend worship, build your godliness and brotherly love. When you build yourself in these spiritual ways you are becoming more effective in Christ Jesus.

DAILY CHALLENGE: Set a specific spiritual goal for yourself for 2008 and work to achieve it. CLICK HERE to go to our list of possible goals.

Water Walking 2

Matthew 14:25-31

Many people are familiar with the name “Edsel.” The car was created by Henry Ford and named after his son, Edsel. Unfortunately for Edsel, the man, “Edsel,” the car, was a flop and the name became synonymous with failure. Poor Edsel. Poor Henry. We can easily overlook the many successes Ford had in auto-making because sometimes we have a tendency to focus on the negative and not the positive.

The story of Peter walking on the water is a familiar one and is frequently trotted out as an example of failure. Who comes to the disciples during the storm? How did the disciples react? What did Peter ask for? What did Peter do in verse 29? What did Peter do in verse 30?

This passage was used on Laity Sunday to illustrate our speaker’s message about giving more effort in our spiritual life. The key verses here are 28 and 29. Peter prompted Jesus to call to him, thus assuring Peter that he would have the authority to do what Jesus was doing.

And what happens in verse 29? Peter walks on the water. We so often overlook that. We focus on the failure of Peter. He couldn’t stay on top of the waves. He lost faith. He should have kept his focus on Jesus.

But the fact is, even though he eventually began to sink, Peter DID walk on the water. He even suggested it. The other disciples didn’t even try. They were too afraid to leave the boat.

It is unfortunate that Peter is remembered for his lack of faith, his sinking, because he is the only human (since Jesus was human and divine) to have walked on water. We remember the failure but we forget the success.

And this is what keeps many people from trying something hard or new. What if I fail? Peter failed, but he succeeded first. He may have sunk, but he walked on water first, and no one can take that away.

When it comes to strengthening our faith by trying new challenges we can either be like the eleven who hid in the boat, or we can dare like Peter. We may sink, but we won’t know until we try. And if we sink, well, at least we did something.

Peter wanted to walk on the water. He asked Jesus to summon him. We need to ask Jesus to summon us to something new, something that will deepen our faith. Is Jesus calling you to read more of the Bible? Is Jesus calling you to try teaching Sunday school or a Bible class? Is Jesus calling you to volunteer more time at church or increase your financial giving?

DAILY CHALLENGE: Call to Jesus and ask what your walk on the water is supposed to look like.

Water Walking 1

1 Kings 19:9-13

There was an old Saturday Night Live skit about a television personality much like the current Dr. Phil and the like. The female host had a single line that she persisted with when dealing with her guests. “Look at yourself.”

“Look at yourself,” she would say over and over again.

The skit was meant to be amusing because of the simplicity of the approach, but today’s passage reminds me of that one line.

What does God ask Elijah? How does Elijah respond? What does God have Elijah do? What is the point of this dramatic presentation in verses 11 and 12? What does God repeat in verse 13?

The repetition of God’s question seems to be God saying “Look at yourself, Elijah.” What are you doing here, Elijah? God knows why he is there and what he has been through, yet God asks the question twice.

Is He really seeking an answer or is God making Elijah look at himself, making him examine what he has done and what he needs to do?

I believe Elijah needed to examine himself and where he was to see that his work was not finished. It had been difficult so far and it would be difficult again, but he needed to remain faithful in serving God. There was no stopping and hiding in a cave.

We can be like Elijah, hiding in a cave of safety, a spiritual place that is secure and comfortable, away from the wind and earthquake and fire of life. But we are not to stay in the cave. Like Elijah we need to move on.

We may have spent years attending worship services, studying Scripture, volunteering at church, but it isn’t over. Many people reach a point where they feel it is enough. In spite of the effort and challenges we can’t go to a cave and hide away. We need to continue moving deeper in our faith – studying more, attending more, giving more.

Look at yourself. What are you doing here? Are you finished? Have you had enough? Are you spiritually at the end, your limit? Or can you go deeper in your faith? Can you serve God more and can you grow closer to our great God and Father?

DAILY CHALLENGE: Find a new spiritual challenge. Re-dedicate yourself to worship attendance, tithing, small group involvement and Biblical study.