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Christ Is Here!

Matthew 14: 28, 29; 1 Corinthians 4: 10

Here is a story from the life of Jesus which the early church preserved as being immensely
relevant to its own storm-tossed existence.
Was Christ really master of the vast, elemental forces of secularism and unbelief that
flooded the world and threatened to sweep the church away?
Should they really take Jesus at His word?
That was the question.

Was it just plain foolishness to rate His claims too highly?
Or should they risk being fools for Christ's sake?
This occurrence in the life of Jesus speaks to us today.

Their ship was tossed in the fury of the midnight storm, and for the disciples the frightening
aspect of the storm was that Christ was not there.
They had left Him ashore when they embarked.
He took the road to the hills.
He was away the spending the night in solitary prayer.
He wasn't with the disciples.
Every disciple thought, " If only Christ were here!"

In the storms of life there is real trouble when we lose our touch with God.
We know exactly how those disciples felt.
When those days of decision come to us, we also think, " If only Christ were here!"
And in days of stress, anxiety and emotional distraction, when trouble and depression
affect us… and the world seems dark, and we do not know how we can possibly face
what lies ahead, we say to ourselves, " If only Christ were here!"
And in days of terrible temptations… " If only Christ were here!"

He is nearer than we think.
He was praying when the storm arose.
He knew the urgent danger of His friends.
" And in the fourth watch of the night He went unto them, walking on the sea."

There are those here today who have encountered Christ on seas as wild and threatening
as they were on that night.
For it is one of the discoveries of life, to understand how storms, stress and need
may bring the Master near.
When the whole world is so confused, as it is today, and troubles are many, the Lord is there.
" He plants His footsteps on the sea
And rides upon the storm
."

And when your life is troubled by perplexities, failures, and frustrations, then it is the time
to look up and lift up your head for you are in the presence of God.

But the disciples did not recognize Him.
At least not at first.
" What's that?" They cried, as they looked at the storm-tossed waves and the dark.
" Its a ghost," they cried aloud in terror.

Then Jesus, hearing the cry of His disciples spoke to reassure them.
" It is I!" It is no ghost.
" It is I, be not afraid!"
Through the darkness they hear a familiar voice that assures them.
" It is I!"

He is here today in this sin sick society.
He is here today in this frustrated, fearful world.
He is here now in this house of God.

Simon Peter wanted to make sure that it was Jesus.
" Lord, if it be Thou, bid me come unto Thee on the water."
This is just like Simon Peter.
None of the other disciples wanted to walk to Christ on water.
Oh, No!

The storm might have shaken their courage, but they had enough good sense
to cling to their security and hold tight to the boat.
And do you not think that when they heard what Peter was asking, and saw what he was
asking to do, they must have told him, " Peter, you're crazy, stay in the boat.
Have you lost your mind? Peter, get back in the boat
!"

Look at this man climbing out of the boat to go to Jesus.
Most of us would have said that he should not have done it.
Humanly speaking -- to step out of that boat -- to even attempt to step on the water was foolish.
If it had ended with Peter drowning, we would have said, " We told him not to do it."

And there was those who said that Mary should not have shattered her precious
alabaster box at Jesus' feet.
And there were those who said those four men with the paralytic friend should not have
torn up the roof of the house to get to Jesus.
And there were probably many who said that Matthew should not have left his ledgers
and his desk and his comfortable income to go off to follow Jesus.
And there are those who thought that Albert Sweitzer should not have buried himself
in Central Africa.
Many people have done amazing things for Jesus!

Simon Peter with the storm in his face, cried out, " Lord, bid me come to Thee!"
This is the kind of person that Christ wants.

Today, Christ needs us to be be fools for His sake.
Peter walked on the water to go to Jesus.
Paul stated, " We are fools Christ's sake."

People will do amazing things for love that they would never attempt for money.
And many men and women who love God have been fools for Christ sake.
" Jesus, my Lord, I Thee adore;
O make me love Thee more and more
."

" Peter said, Lord, bid me come to Thee on the water."
And Jesus said, " What? Peter, are you crazy! Get back into the boat. Get back before you drown!"
He didn't say that.
Oh, no, Jesus said, " Come!"
He encouraged him.

"Lord, bid me come to Africa, " Albert Sweitzer asked Christ.
And Christ said, " Yes, come."
Today, there are young men and women who are asking, " Lord, bid me come and serve You
wherever you want me to go
!"
And Christ will say, " Come."

I do not know where you stand for Christ today.
I only know that Christ may say to anyone, "Come, walk to Me on the water!"
Then, there is only one thing for us to do -- get out of the boat and go to Jesus.
Christ commands us: " Come, walk on the water."
You must not refuse the His call by saying that kind of sacrificial life is not for you.
For when God calls, God will provide all the resources you need to walk on the water.

Christ calls us to break away from the dull mediocrity of life.
He calls us daily to new adventures.
He calls us to walk where He walked, and to love as He loved.
He calls upon us to seek the Father's will as He did, and to love Him with all our being,
and to love others as we love ourselves.

Remember that it is Jesus Himself who calls us..
" Lord, bid me come."
" When Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water to go to Jesus."

This event teaches us a truth that we must remember.
As long as Peter kept his eyes focused on Jesus, he was walking on the water.
As long as his eyes were focused on Jesus, he was walking on the water toward the Lord.
Then, as his attention was diverted and he looked at the terrifying waves splashing
around him -- it was then that things went wrong.
" When he saw all the wind boisterous, he was afraid."
He began to sink.

That phrase, " beginning to sink" is so crucial.
The thing had not actually happened.
It was only beginning to happen.
You could not have noticed that all was not well by looking at Peter.
Outwardly, he seemed to be still walking on the water.
But he knew the difference.
He knew something was going wrong.
He was beginning to sink.

It is that first stage which is so crucial, whether it is on the Sea of Gennesarth
or on the sea of life.
There is often nothing to indicate that we are beginning lose our grip on life and ready to
go down beneath the waves.
The change may may not be even noticeable.

Perhaps, there is someone here who is still outwardly successful and prosperous,
who is still walking bravely in the way of God's commandments, but he knows better.
He knows that things are not right.
His spiritual life is dissipating.
His standards are wavering.
He has lost the blessedness he knew when first he saw the Lord.
No one would ever dream of saying he has sunk, for he has not.
But this is the crises, he is " beginning to sink."

Peter suddenly felt it, and knew it; and all at once above the roar of the tempest,
he cried allowed, " Lord, save me!"
" Lord,help!"

You do not need to make elaborate explanations to God when life is beginning to get you down.
He knows.
He understands.

" Immediately, Jesus stretched forth His hand and caught him."
"O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
Did you think I would bid you come to Me on the waters, and not give you strength to do it
."

And now, the Master is looking straight at you and me.
He is asking, " Why is your faith so small?"
" Did you think I would ask you to face an impossible task and not supply the spiritual resources?"
" Did you imagine that I would command you to come and commit your troubled heart to Me,
and let you drown for your obedience
?"
" Did you suppose I would give any one a call to preach or to go to a mission field
and not be there to help them on your their challenging journey
?"

"O you of little faith -- why did you doubt?"

" When thou passeth through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers,
they shall not overflow thee -- not even the floods of Jordan at the end
."

So, the Master rescued His disciple, and when they reached the boat, and the storm calmed down.
" Then" -- notice this -- " they that were in the ship worshiped Him."

And we, like those disciples, have seen the works of the Lord and His wonders in the universe
and know that God's hand is guiding all history and our own individual experiences.
We may get down on our knees beside them at the bottom of the boat,
ashamed that we have given Him only a fraction of the love and gratitude we ought to have given.

So, I say to all those this service who have come to worship Him.
He can still come the waves.
To Him be the glory forever and ever.

Sermon adapted by Dr. Harold L White