Monday, August 3, 2015

mission trip devotions Extravagant faith

Extravagant Faith

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Scripture Reading Matthew 14:26-33

Reread: Matthew 14:22-33 and Mark 9:14-29

About two weeks ago, a dear friend text me to say she was headed to Kansas City for a week. Her sister-in-law needs help. She has a brain tumor ... and she’s dying. And while that’s hard enough, Jill doesn’t know Jesus. The conversation we had later that day went something like this ... 

“I want to take every opportunity to pour in Jesus. I LOVE her. And she doesn’t know him. Would you just pray that the Lord would give me just the right words to speak and that the Holy Spirit would soften her heart?” Janie asked. 

“And would you just pray that I’m doing the right thing? My fellas and girls are here. College is coming soon. I treasure this time with them, but I think this is the right thing to do.” 

I promised her I would pray. I asked another prayer warrior friend to pray. I prayed faithfully ... but somewhere between praying and believing my faith ... failed. 

In Matthew 14:26, Jesus calls to his disciples as he makes his way to the boat by walking on the water. They found themselves in unfamiliar territory and they were afraid until they heard the voice of the Master. When they recognized Jesus, Peter said, “If it is you Jesus, command me to come to you on the water.” And Jesus said, “Come.” 

It’s hard for me to picture a mission trip, where the enemy has such a stronghold on the lives of those we hope to serve, that faith wouldn’t fail for some of us at one time or another. Because we probably find ourselves in a similar place as the disciples. We feel confident that the Lord has called us to the reservation and right now ... we are excited!! We may have even said something like Peter does ... ok Lord, if it’s you, just tell me to go and I’ll go! And, Jesus didn’t call Peter out on the water SO THAT HE WOULD FAIL, nor did he call us to South Dakota for anything less than to accomplish His Will. 

And so, according to the scriptures, Peter went ... because Peter knew Jesus’ voice and had faith he had heard his command. I’m struck this morning by this ...   Jesus had only asked Peter to do ... what Peter ... had requested ... Jesus to ask ... Peter to do ... 

Have mercy!! 

Peter had faith Jesus had called him ... Peter WANTED JESUS TO CALL HIM 

 ... until he saw the wind ... 

It’s in the “until of a moment” that whatever you have been feeding begins to flourish. 

Can you see this? Peter steps out onto the calm waters ... feeling pretty good about the whole thing ... maybe he takes a deep breath and his chest expands just a little bit ... he squares his shoulders toward the goal ... knowing the other 11 are looking at him ... from the boat.

The word says this ... “so Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water to Jesus.” FAITH

You know that confident ... swagger.  

“But when he (Peter) saw the wind ...” 

He saw the wind. I’ve been on the beach when it was windy and I could feel the wind on my face, but the word says saw ... Psalm 107:25 says “for He commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea” ... 

... waves ...

Is as vivid in your mind as it is in mine? The evidence of the wind is the waves licking at Peter’s ankles, then his knees. His feet are still firmly on the surface of the water ... but the assault of the waves becomes his circumstance ...

When have you found yourself in a circumstance where the evidence around your suggested danger or failure, but you had been called out by the Lord ... and in your excitement, you jumped out of the boat and went ... but then ... you began to consider ... all the possible outcomes?

Here Peter finds himself at the “until of the moment.”

Pause right there for a minute ... don’t miss this because it’s so important. 
Peter saw the wind ... he could feel the evidence of the danger just below the surface ... 

Peter’s faith failed and he miscalculated the winds as the danger. 

Could it be that the most common cause of failure is our miscalculation of where real danger exists. Setting up the greatest difference between the Lakota and us. You see ... we look at what we want (success, fame, fortune, sex, acceptance, love, freedom) and we fail to see the danger in it. The world tells us if we go to church, life will be “peachy” and we begin to believe the lie. We think we are so far removed from homelessness, addiction, abuse and failure that we cozy up beside the very sins that lead down that path and expect to remain safely under the protective umbrella of Grace without consequence. We think that under Grace, we are free from the natural order of this world ... and nothing bad is ever going to happen to us. We aren’t going to become pregnant or get a disease or go broke or be thrown in jail or lose our family because we love Jesus and He won’t let that happen. We live like we believe that the natural order of things will be interrupted when we act according to our own will because we love Jesus when it comes to our sin. But when it comes to His Will, we question why He would ask us to do something we KNOW we can’t do. 

We trust Him to forgive the sins we want to commit, but we fail to trust Him in the obedience He asks us to offer.  

The Lakota live lives that are diametrically opposed to that ... we introduce them to Grace that completely contradicts all that they know to be true in this world. They know they are going to live a life of alcoholism, abuse, homelessness and failure. That is their natural order of things. They don’t see that for the few that have professed a trust in Christ that their life is a whole lot better. They see that the natural order of things happens. Alcoholism leads to fatherlessness. Drug abuse leads to addiction. Sex leads to a baby you weren’t ready to raise. 

And just as you and I don’t see that we could ever fall prey to those things ... they see no way out of those things by falling and praying. 

We believe we are immune to the consequences of sin because we hold a cheap view of His Grace, death on the Cross and Resurrection. 

They miss out on Grace because they have an overrated trust in things of this world. And both miscalculations leave us wondering if God is who He says He is. 

We don’t recognize the dangers because we believe we are immune to their consequences and the Lakota can’t see Hope in their circumstances. Believing that the supernatural work of the cross is more powerful than what they know in life is just as difficult for them to believe as it is for us to believe that one day we could be in their shoes. 

We don’t see the ploy of the enemy in sin:They don’t recognize the Hope in Christ. 
They are equally devastating lies that the enemy tells us about the gospel. 

So on the eve of serving people who desperately need to know the supernatural power of the Cross and the Resurrection of Jesus, would you spend some time preparing your heart for this sacred work. 

Will you stop and take a look at what you will inevitably tell them is the high price, the treasured gift that Jesus gave to them on the Cross ... now will you reflect on what your life and your decisions reflect about the cost of the Cross? 
Is there unresolved sin in your own life that you need to bring before the Father? 

What are you believing God for this week that is EXTRAVAGANT? 

and on June 17 @ 9:30 in the morning, I even stopped what I was doing because the Lord impressed on me the need to pray. Lord ... soften her heart to your Holy Spirit. Lord ... give Janie words to speak. Lord ... we know you are able. Lord ... please be with Janie. 

And then, later that afternoon, came the text ... 

Honestly ... I read that text as I parked my car in the driveway ... and my hands shook! Tears filled my eyes. I text Janie ... 

It would be a few days before I actually got to hear the story. And as I once again conveyed my response to her text ... I had a confession to make. 

“Janie, I realized the moment that your text arrived that I prayed just like you asked. I believed that God could do all the things I was praying. I thought I believed He would ... but I didn’t ever expect that the text was coming.

Can you hear Peter talking to himself, forgetting that Jesus knows his thoughts? What was I thinking? What am I doing? Oh no ... the other guys are watching! Do you see him glance sideways ... how quickly does the swagger turn into wondering where can I hide? 

I know that the scripture doesn’t say that ... so how is it that I feel so certain that something LIKE THIS happened? 

Stick with me here ... 

And, “Peter was afraid.”

According to the scripture Peter was afraid ... before he began to sink. Peter’s faith failed him RIGHT HERE ... 

you see, there is always a moment when any action can become sin. And somewhere between recognizing the possible danger and sinking ... sin happened.  

Peter stepped out obediently, he walked confidently ... and then came the wind. Still no consequence. THE WIND ISN’T WHAT THREATENED TO TAKE PETER UNDER. Noticing the wind wasn’t where Peter’s faith failed. But when Peter began to weigh out in his heart all the things that might happen as a result of the wind ... he was afraid. 

And then came the consequence. 

“ ...he was afraid and beginning to sink ...” Let that word “beginning” wrap itself around your heart ... linger there, just ... for ... a ... moment. It doesn’t say that Peter went under ... he isn’t drowning ... the waves haven’t swept him away ... he doesn’t flail ... he isn’t calling out to his buddies for a lifejacket ... he isn’t even trying to swim back to the boat ... and, we don’t hear a voice choking on seawater gasping out ... 

Peter’s faith didn’t fail him long. Because He KNEW that Jesus was able and wiling to rescue him. 

Peter KNEW. How often is what we know contradicted by what we feel? We feel like the odds are against us ... we feel like what we’ve been asked to do is impossible ... we feel like there is no way ... we feel like there is no hope ... we feel like ... 

and and then we think, “Is God who He says He is? Did mean what He said?” And secretly, in places we don’t let many see ... we whisper in our heart, “Do I believe any of it anyway?”  And we too ... begin to sink. 

Beginning to sink ... Peter cried out “Lord, save me!” 

Oh that we would be like Peter!!! Because guess what??? 

We are going to become afraid. 

Our thoughts are going to wander toward the “what ifs” of life. 

And our faith is going to fail us. 

Peter didn’t wallow in his sin, he didn’t try to rescue himself, he didn’t throw up his hands and say, “I knew this was going to happen. I knew I couldn’t walk on water!” 

He cried out to the Lord and IMMEDIATELY Jesus reached out His hand to Peter ... rescued him ... 

took hold of Peter saying, “Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt? 

Hear the tender voice of the Father precious ones. Read that again and again until you hear the Daddy voice of Jesus. 

Jesus didn’t shame Peter, he pointed to his sin. Jesus doesn’t look at Peter and say the things we are prone to say ... he didn’t tell Peter to save himself ... he didn’t mock Peter to the other disciples ... He simply pulled Peter out of the shackles of sin that were pulling Peter under the obstacle separating him from Jesus that MOMENTS earlier Peter had supernaturally been given authority to overcome. 

The world looks at this story and they think that Peter’s failure is in beginning to sink. But Jesus looks at Peter’s heart and calls out his sin ... doubt. And carries him back into the fellowship of those with whom he is doing life.

And what is the response to rebuke? They worship. 

So today, is there an area where you need to cry out to Jesus? 

Are you flailing around trying to save yourself? Making excuses for why you are drowning? 

Has He rebuked you in an area of your life that requires response? 

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