KEEP YOUR EYES UPON JESUS!Excerpted from a sermon delivered at Orange Street Congregational Church, 11 July 1998 by the Rev. Ken Kemble of the United States
'Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset [us], and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of [our] faith; Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right Hand of God. For consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.' (Hebrews 12:1-3.)
'And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is 1; be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth [his] hand, and caught him, and said unto him, 0 thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.' Matthew 14:22-33
In this passage in Matthew, we see something that I think is very significant. Jesus had been preaching and, as usual, had attracted a large crowd. Five thousand men, besides women and children, had gathered to hear Him, and He not only taught them, but He also fed them all (possibly as many as ten thousand people) through a miracle of provision. After He had fed them, He sent them away, and instructed His disciples to get into a boat and go out onto the Sea of Galilee while He Himself went to be alone to pray.
While Christ was in prayer, the wind became boisterous, and the waters of the sea became severely troubled. But in the fourth watch of the night (somewhere between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m.), He went out to the boat, walking on the water! When the disciples (who were, I'm sure, already very concerned about the weather) saw Him, they were frightened, and thought they were looking at an apparition! Knowing this, Jesus said "Be of good cheer,. it is I; be not afraid!"
Peter, always the first to speak up, good or bad, said 'Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water!'. So Jesus instructed Peter to come on out to Him.
Peter, following Christ's instruction, proceeded to go out to Jesus; and he too was walking on the water!
But when Peter realized what was going on, and saw that the wind and the waves were tempestuous, he was afraid, and began to sink down into the water. Peter immediately cried out to the Master, and Jesus stretched out His hand to catch him. And as Jesus caught him, He said '0 you of little faith, why did you doubt?'
Jesus then took him, and they got into the boat; and when they did, the storm immediately ceased, and in this same account in the gospel of John (6:21), it records that they were immediately to the other side of the sea. And they all worshipped Jesus, saying 'Truly, You are the Son of God!'
There is something very significant that I want you to see in this account; something that I hope -will help you ... it is the same with us today.
You see, our Lord has gone up. And we are left here below to face the storm. Yet, we do not have to face the storms of life alone; He is ever with us. Hebrews 7:25 says that He 'ever liveth to make intercession for us.'
As long as we hear His Voice, and obey His Word, we will be on top of the troubled water, or, on top of the storm - the situation that troubles us - we will be on top of LIFE. But when we take our eyes off Him, and begin to go our own way, and focus on other things, we will begin to sink down into that which we are focused on.
When Peter followed the Master's instruction, He was on top of the water, as troubled as it was. But when Peter took His eyes off Jesus, and began to look at the troubled water all around him, he began to sink down into that water.
What He was FOCUSED on began to CONSUME him!
And it's the same with you and rne. You see, just as Peter sank into the troubled waters, we too will sink if we focus on the trouble that is all around us!
Now, I know, there are many things out there to trouble the waters. There will be storms in life. But do not focus on the storm! Because what you are focused on will consume you!
That is why we must keep our eyes on Jesus! Because as we are focused on Him, we will not be consumed by the storm, but will be consumed with our Lord and Master Jesus Christ and His precious Holy Spirit as He becomes more and more the centre of our lives! And when we are focused on and consumed with the central figure of all the ages, we will NEVER be shaken!
We are indeed in a very troublesome time in the history of our people. Wickedness abounds, and the righteous are pressed down. The turbulent wind and the tempestuous waves are all around us on every side, and the trouble and hopelessness of our situation would seem to be almost insurmountable. Life is full of storms. What are you going to focus on?
We must be as determined as Job was when he said 'Though He slay me, yet will 1 trust in Him!'
No matter what happens, we must remember that God is absolutely SOVEREIGN, and that the rulers of all nations and kingdoms of this world are but pawns in His Hand, to accomplish that which He desires.
That's hard to remember when evil seems to prevail, but GOD IS STILL IN CONTROL! And don't you ever forget it. We may be under the Refiner's fire at present, but it MUST be so; for He is purging out the dross. And He WILL purge the Kingdom of all that offends!
Don't focus on the troubled water, and be consumed by it! Live your life according to God's Word; keep your eyes on Jesus and put your trust in Him, and you'll be on top of the troubled waters! Because right out there in the middle of all that trouble is the ROCK OF AGES; and He's a FIRM FOUNDATION!
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