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Holding on to Faith, Shipwrecked
Day 95: Holding on to Faith Shipwrecked
19 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:
Sometimes the boat sinks even when you're not the Captain. Life had whisked Paul along, and he found himself seaboard to Rome. He knew the waters well enough and knew the seasons well enough to know that leaving harbor would spell disaster. Winter was coming, and rough seas would be expected along with violent tempests. Paul warned of the dangers, but being a prisoner for being a Christian left him no choice but to go along with the Captain's decision to let loose the moorings and sail ahead despite the warnings. (See Acts 27)
How many of us have gone on ahead of God despite clear warnings?
There is a nautical term for sinking your own ship on purpose. It's called scuttling.
Scuttling is the deliberate sinking of a ship by allowing water to flow into the hull. This can be achieved in several ways—seacocks or hatches can be opened to the sea, or holes may be ripped into the hull with brute force or with explosives.
The ship in the Bible typifies the direction and destination of our lives. Sometimes the boat of our lives is scuttled by our own doing, sometimes they are shipwrecked by the doing of others. Often, when our ship is wrecked, if we're not careful, we'll point the blame at others. In reality, the vessel is sunk whether we like it or not, and the real issue is, what do we do now?
Jehoshaphat was king of Judah, and he had a trade route that required sea-vessels to go and get the gold from far away lands. His forefather Solomon knew all about it and made quite a bit of money from it (See 1 Kings 9:26-28). However, Jehoshaphat made the grave mistake of yoking up with the wicked king of Israel in his endeavor, and this caused shipwreck in his life.
37 Then Eliezer...prophesied against Jehoshaphat, saying, Because thou hast joined thyself with Ahaziah, the Lord hath broken thy works. And the ships were broken, that they were not able to go...
Paul was a man of God who was in the will of God. His ship sank, too (as referenced earlier in Acts 27). Paul is writing to Timothy when he mentions two men who made shipwreck of their faith, "Hymenaeus and Alexander." He used them as bad examples. Before that, he tells Timothy to "war a good warfare," (1 Timothy 1:18) and make sure he's "holding faith, and a good conscience," (1 Timothy 1:19). Why is this important? Because when we don't allow faith and good conscience to man the helm, the wind of the Spirit will not fill our sails and land us in our desired haven. Those two men discovered what happened when they cast off faith and a good conscience. They were shipwrecked. What is faith? It is looking unto Jesus (See Hebrews 12:1-2). What is a good conscience? That is knowing that your heart is right with God and that there is nothing between that hinders fellowship. The conscience is that organ of the soul that recognizes the moral footsteps of God. When we step outside of God's divine law, it sounds the alarm.
Paul did something here that is sometimes required when warnings no longer work. "I have delivered [Hymenaeus and Alexander] unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme." (See 1 Timothy 1:20)
Wow! What does he mean by that? Were these men lost? No. That's the kicker. They were not lost as far as salvation is concerned. But they allowed their ships to venture off course in spite of the warnings of the lighthouse (Paul) and that venture placed them among the crags and rocks that pierced the hull of their vessels and allowed the waters to come in and scuttle their ship. When we get off course and get out of church, what do you think God is really going to do? He's going to let us know what it's like again to have Satan at the helm.
Don't believe me? Read 1 Corinthians 5 carefully. We don't know the end of Hymenaeus and Alexander. But we do know what happened to the young man in 1 Corinthians 5. The church at Corinth listened to Paul and turned the unrepentant man over to Satan. In 2 Corinthians 2:6-8, the unrepentant man, tired of Satan, repented and came back to God and God's people.
So what do you do when you're shipwrecked? Realize what caused it. Repent immediately and make things right with others you affected by your sin. Get cleansed by the blood of Christ. Go back to church, every service. Read your Bible and put your heart into it. Make time for real and meaningful prayer. Give yourself to praising God all day long. God can build you another boat. Interestingly, Jehoshaphat, who lost his ships in his first endeavor, did build new ships. When wicked Ahaziah solicited him again, Jehoshaphat refused.
49 Then said Ahaziah the son of Ahab unto Jehoshaphat, Let my servants go with thy servants in the ships. But Jehoshaphat would not.
Prayer or Praise?
Day 94: Prayer or Praise?
Psalm 63:3–4 — 3 Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, My lips shall praise thee. 4 Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name.
Does anyone have a prayer or praise? If you’ve been to church for any length of time, you will have heard this question asked. I say, why not have both? How about praise and prayer. The better our prayer life becomes, the better our praise will be.
David wrote this psalm while he was in the wilderness of Judah. Saul had chased him from the hustle and bustle of town, and he couldn’t go to worship at the tabernacle. David wasn’t able to enjoy the interaction of sporting or the marketplace. Instead, he had to find shelter in caves and dens. Not much of a life for the anointed king of Israel! It was in this wilderness that David’s thirst for God intensified. When life has been ripped from you and turned on its head, what truly matters will become apparent.
Notice what David said, “Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee” (See Ps. 63:3)
This morning, I prayed for our teenagers. We have some that are in their senior year, some juniors, and some in middle school. Sports, show choir, graduation, comradery, social events, all canceled. Life has been turned on its head. But is it life?
The answer is yes, and no. Yes, in the sense that it is a part of life here in America, and in the sense that it is something all teenagers look forward too. Yes, in the sense that it is real and physical and tangible. But is it eternal? David said, “Thy lovingkindness is better than life.” I hope we can see that. We can realize that it is in the wilderness that God is better than all of that combined. I’m praying that God will help them see that He wants us all to put Him first in all things. And, that they would realize He IS BETTER than life.
Are these things sin? No, but they can be. God wants us to learn to keep Him first. Anything that can take our hearts from God becomes sin to us. Keep God first.
David went on to say, “Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name.” This was a common form in prayer. To crouch on the knees and to kneel forward with your face to the ground was considered prostrating yourself. Then, sitting back up while still on the knees and lifting your hands to heaven was praising. Both are acts of worship, and both are acts of prayer. Raising your hands in God’s name in prayer…
Let’s talk about prayer and praise for a moment. How’s your prayer life? Here are a few characteristics that ought to be included in all of our prayers. Robert Murray McCheyne said,
“I ought not to omit any of the parts of prayer—confession, adoration, thanksgiving, petition, and intercession. There is a fearful tendency to omit confession proceeding from low views of God and His law, slight views of my heart, and the sin of my past life. This must be resisted. There is a constant tendency to omit adoration when I forget to Whom I am speaking when I rush heedlessly into the presence of Jehovah without thought of His awful name and character. When I have little eyesight for his glory and little admiration of His wonders, I have the native tendency of the heart to omit giving thanks, and yet it is especially commanded. Often when the heart is dead to the salvation of others, I omit intercession, and yet it especially is the spirit of the great Advocate Who has the name of Israel on His heart. 1
1 Bounds, Edward M. The Purpose in Prayer. Bellingham, WA: Faithlife, 2004. Print.
If we learn to include these characteristics in our prayers, we’ll find God moving to meet us and to answer us. Without a doubt, we’ll have reasons to praise Him. David said, “My lips shall praise thee.”
When should we pray?
1 O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee...
3 My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; In the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.
17 Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: And he shall hear my voice.
The saints of old all concur that the morning is the best time to start. Even the Lord Jesus set the example for us,
35 And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.
The midday prayer is to get us back on track. The evening prayer is for reflection and confession. Keep a short account.
J. I. Packer had this advice,
Be wholly committed to Christ’s service each day. Don’t touch sin with a barge-pole. Keep short accounts with God. Think of each hour as God’s gift to you to make the most and best of. ...Live in the present; gratefully enjoy its pleasures and work through its pain with God, knowing that both the pleasures and the pains are steps on the journey home. Open all your life to the Lord Jesus and spend time consciously in his company, basking in and responding to his love. ....get on with what you know to be God’s task for you here and now.1
1 Galaxie Software. 10,000 Sermon Illustrations. Biblical Studies Press, 2002. Print.
Take Time to Praise Before Time Runs Out
Day 93: Take Time to Praise Before Time Runs Out
18 For the grave cannot praise thee, death can not celebrate thee: They that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth.
Hezekiah was king over Judah. He was a very godly king. He turned God's people back to God, and the land saw a great revival. But Hezekiah's end had come upon him suddenly. He found that he had a significant infection that was going to cause his death. Even the prophet Isaiah was sent by God to tell him, "Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order: for thou shalt die, and not live." (See Isaiah 38:1)
Up to this point, it appears Hezekiah hadn't entirely given himself up to live as if he was going to die. He lived as if he had time as if he always had more time. Many of us live in the same manner. We live as if tomorrow will ever come, and it will still happen. The question really is, what side of the sod will we be on when tomorrow comes?
Hezekiah suddenly was faced with the penalty of sin as we all will one day face. (Which is death, by the way, See Romans 6:23) You say, what was his crime? I can't answer that because even God cast Hezekiah's sin behind His back. (See Isaiah 38:17) But it wouldn't be hard to figure out that he was indeed a sinner, and the wages of sin are death. We are all going to die, by the way. That day is going to come where tomorrow will not have us in it. In today's world events, the COVID-19 virus has a death rate of 1.8 % of all who are infected. Sin has a death rate of 100% of all who are infected, and ALL are infected. I'd say I'd take the sin infection a bit more seriously!
When Hezekiah got the news that he was going to die, the command was, "Set thine house in order." This clearly indicates that up to this point, Hezekiah's house wasn't in order. So I'm going to ask you, Is your house in order?
I sometimes know in these devotionals, we go a little deeper than sometimes we'd like to go. But I am going to ask you to, "Step out into the water. Wade out a little bit deeper. Wet your feet in the water of his love..." Hezekiah recognized a truth here that we would do well to remember.
When you treat life as if you'll always have tomorrow, you're ill-prepared to enter Heaven. Notice what he said in Isaiah 38:10, "I said in the cutting off of my days, I shall go to the gates of the grave: I am deprived of the residue of my years." He went on to say, "For the grave cannot praise thee, death can not celebrate thee..."
Hezekiah recognized that up to this point, he hadn't praised God enough. He realized up to this point that he hadn't served God adequately. He conceded that up to this point, he hadn't learned about God enough.
Randy Alcorn, in his excellent book on Heaven, states,
Imagine you're part of a NASA team preparing for a five-year mission to Mars. After a period of extensive training, the launch date finally arrives. As the rocket lifts off, one of your fellow astronauts says to you, "What do you know about Mars?"
Imagine shrugging your shoulders and saying, "Nothing. We never talked about it. I guess we'll find out when we get there." It's unthinkable, isn't it? It's inconceivable that your training would not have included extensive study of and preparation for your ultimate destination. 1
1 Alcorn, Randy. Heaven. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale Momentum, 2011. Print.
The question we must ask ourselves is, how prepared are we for our eternal home? For some of us, that eternal home is a place of fiery torment of unending pain. As a preacher friend of mine says, "Some of you are going to hell with gasoline britches on unless you get saved!" Are some of us entering Heaven because we've been washed in the blood of the Lamb, but we're going to look rather foolish? Are we going to be out of place because we haven't prepared ourselves for that place?
Hezekiah was given a moment of mercy in his life. God stopped his life. That sickness caused him to not be able to further industry in Judah or to build more or grow the economy. The illness prevented him from focusing all of his energy on building his empire and gave him the point in time to begin focusing his time on eternity.
God is doing that for you. What will it take for God to get your focus off of this life and onto the next? Hezekiah realizes that the time to get ready for Heaven is today and not tomorrow. Tomorrow may not be here.
Praising God at Wits' End
Day 92: Praising God At Wit’s End
27 They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, And are at their wits’ end.
Psalm 107 is a beautiful chapter in the Psalms that exalt the mercy of God in sending circumstances into the lives of people to cause them to stop and think about the direction of their lives. People who are living their lives oblivious to God’s existence or are just not keeping Him where He belongs in their lives. God's proximity to us matters to Him.
God created us to be very close to Him. He created us to have an intimacy that not even marriage can fully appreciate or display, though it is used as illustrative (See Ephesians 5:25-32). Because of sin, our nearest and dearest is the one and only; Me, Myself, and I. We live life as if we are the center of the universe, and the sun, moon, and stars revolve around us. The is only one Center in the Bible’s story, and it’s not us. It is Christ.
Trials were inflicted to draw their hearts to the place where they “are at their wits’ end.” Is that where you’ve found yourself? The King James Translators put in the marginal notes on this phrase, at their wits’ end, as “All their wisdom is swallowed up.” Your wit is your ability to figure out how to navigate life’s troubles and trials. Are you at your wits’ end yet?
The verse that this phrase is found belongs to a passage of verses, Psalm 107:23-32. It describes those who “go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters” (v23). So we’re talking about mariners who get their living by hauling cargo. Then we see in verse 25, “he [that is, God] commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth the waves thereof.” Everything was going great. Suddenly, a mighty wind arises and causes them to “mount up to the heaven...go down again to the depths...[causing] their soul [to] melt because of trouble.” (v25-26)
It is God that brings them to their wits’ end. Why? Does God find humor in our calamities? Absolutely not. He cares enough about us to know that without Him, we are lost at sea, no matter how much money we make. There is nothing like our own prosperity that tends to spoil our souls.
The mariners are forced to cry out for help beyond themselves. Notice verse 28,
28 Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, And he bringeth them out of their distresses.
Its the cry of the soul that God is listening for. That is praise from the broken heart. In verse 29, “He maketh the storm a calm...” and in verse 30, “So he bringeth them unto their desired haven.”
A haven is ‘any place in which ships can be sheltered by the land from the force of tempests and a violent sea.’ That’s the truth of the matter. The world is under the curse, and we are in it. We only have one safe place, and that is in Christ. He is our “Haven of Rest.”
God is using this generation pandemic to awaken His children. The lost people are awakened, but they don’t know where to turn. They need to see in us not a form of religion but the form of Christ.
19 My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,
Paul said that he travailed in birth again. The picture here is that of a woman having to give birth to the same child twice. Can you imagine ladies? That is what Paul is saying. He is saying that he led some people to the Lord that got saved, and they started living for God but then started getting cold in their walk with God because they were succumbing to the temptation of being religious but lacking devotion to Christ. They needed to allow Christ to be formed in them all over again. You know what they needed? Revival. Not the talk about it kind. But the real deal, where Christ actually becomes all in all. People need to see Jesus in us. That’s not just a saying.
Praising God By Little and Little
Often in my Christian life, I've wasted much time peering into the big picture of God's plan for my life. I wanted to know what the future held for me and what God intended to use me for. For those of you who serve God and especially called to preach, perhaps you can relate to this. Others, who are living their lives day to day, but often wonder and worry over the future and what it entails, this message will be for you as well. God has a unique method. His plan is seen from Him from the beginning to the end, but He doesn't overwhelm us with the big picture and bog us down with the details. He doesn't give us a fatalistic point of view, where we live by fate and believe that our choices won't matter. Instead, He gives us His purposes "by little and little."
God doesn't care if you're a president or a CEO, a housewife or a nurse, a preacher or a Sunday school teacher, etc. etc. God cares about the little things you do every single day. Because He can only truly us in those areas if we are surrendered to the little things. He's concerned about the small choices we make. God cares about the tiny words we use and the significant effect they have on others. He cares about the little attitudes we carry throughout the day. He's deeply engaged in whether or not we are going to make the little choice to depend on Him or rely on ourselves. He cares about the short recreation time we get at the end of the day and how we spend it. He cares about the types of songs we choose or the kinds of movies we watch. He cares about the little things.
30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
God cares about the little things.
10 He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.
God doesn't want me peering into the big picture of my life. He wants me filled with His Spirit. To be filled with His Spirit means that I am making the conscience little choices from the start of the day to the end of the day to yield to His guidance and base every small decision upon what He wants me to do. That might seem crazy to some people, but that is precisely what "being filled" is referring too. The word filled means 'to occupy the whole of.' That means there is no room left for anything else. Now, does that mean God doesn't lead me to have fun? Absolutely not! Who do you think invented fun? God's fun is clean. Evil is good inverted. Notice what Sarah said when God had opened her womb and fulfilled His promise to her and Abraham,
6 And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me.
God caused laughter in Sarah's life. God will allow us to enjoy life by His fullness, not by the lack of His fullness. Regardless of what our lives are filled with during times of turmoil, we still can find joy in His presence.
11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: In thy presence is fulness of joy; At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
The text we chose for today was about Moses giving instruction to Israel as they waited on the borders of Canaan land. They had been waiting and waiting to inherit their promised land and were anxious to enter. Moses taught them about the land and that it was holy to God. He taught them that it was possessed by their enemies and that their enemies would have to be deposed if they were to enjoy the land of promise. He explained this that God would "by little and little," "put out those nations before thee." The reason for this is because, if they "consumed them at once," then "the beasts of the field" would "increase upon" them. Israel didn't possess the numbers to inhabit all of the cities at once. If they would have cast out every single enemy and left the towns uninhabited, then the animal kingdom would take over. Then they would have that problem on their hands.
There is a spiritual application here. This is a picture of the Christian life. When we are entering into the victory of Jesus Christ, that promised land represents our souls. It's already holy to God. But there are enemies in God's land; the enemies of the flesh. If we were able to eradicate all of them at once but lacked the spiritual maturity to maintain the spiritual life, we would be overcome by the beasts of the field, i.e., Satan. Little by little, we grow in grace, and God teaches us to rely and depend on Him.
Start with little things in your Christian walk. Start by starting your day with God. Make time for prayer and Bible study. Start reading a good Christian book. Commit to reading just one chapter a day. Make little choices throughout the day that honor God. Before you know it, God will have thrust out the enemy before you and also given you spiritual maturity to possess the land because you understand the vital importance of God-dependence.
Praising God by Staying Put
The picture before us is a potter working with clay on the potter's wheel. The potter has a picture of what he wants to mold the clay into, but the clay doesn't cooperate. It is 'marred in the hand of the potter.' He could've just thrown the marred pottery into the trash heap, but instead, he makes it again, 'as seemed good to the potter to make it.' The clay didn't turn out like the potter wanted it, so he made it again at his own discretion. The clay doesn't get to choose; that's the potter's job.
Real clay doesn't talk back. It doesn't move wittingly out of the reach of the hands of the potter. We do. God asked Israel,
6 O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the Lord. Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.
We forget whose hand we are really in. We fight against the circumstances we find ourselves in, and we attempt to get ourselves out of our trials. We're refusing the hands of the potter, and as a result, we become 'marred.' The word mar means 'to injure; to deform; to disfigure.' We do ourselves, no justice, when we resist God's will for our lives. When we refuse to yield to the hands of God, we're hindering our progress in becoming what God wants us to be.
Stay on the wheel.
If there is any advice this morning, I'd love for you to take in is that. Stay on the wheel. Let God mold you in your trials. Don't run from God. Ask Jonah how that worked out. The best way we can praise God is by staying put. Allow God to continue molding you.
The Cathedrals wrote this song:
He Didn't Throw the Clay Away
Empty and broken, I came back to Him
A vessel unworthy, so scarred with sin.
But He did not despair...He started over again
And I bless the day, He didn't throw the clay away.
Over and over, He molds me and makes me,
Into His likeness, He fashions the clay.
A vessel of honor, I am today,
All because Jesus didn't throw the clay away.
He is the Potter...I am the clay
And molded in His image, He wants me to stay.
Oh, but when I stumble...
When I fall...
When my vessel breaks,
He just picks up those pieces,
He does not throw the clay away...
Over and over, He molds me and makes me,
Into His likeness, He fashions the clay.
A vessel of honor, I am today,
All because Jesus didn't throw the clay away.
A vessel of honor, I am today,
All because Jesus didn't throw the clay away.
Remember, Jesus doesn't throw the clay away, but we do that to ourselves when we get off the wheel. Don't give up. Your plans for this year are obviously wrecked. But God's plans are not.
My Daddy Can Beat Up Your Daddy!
Day 89: My Daddy Can Beat Up Your Daddy
15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
Almost every child on the playground across the world has uttered the words, "My Daddy can beat up your daddy!" There is an instinctive desire to praise our fathers that God has put into His creatures. When we're young, to us, our dads are invincible. As we grow older, we start to see them less and less invincible and more and more human.
Some people have poor experiences with their earthly fathers, and the concept of a heavenly Father does not appeal to them. That is because they just simply do not understand. In essence, there are only two fathers in this world. We either belong to the one or to the other. Yes, we each have a biological father. But they're only able to instill in us from the outside. The writer of Hebrews called them "fathers of our flesh," and they "corrected us...for a few days...after their own pleasure." (See Hebrews 12:9-10) But the two fathers I am referring to work from within us. They are spiritual fathers. Can you guess who they are? Either God is your Father or Satan.
44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
Frankly speaking, we are all born spiritually attached to Satan. We are born sinners, and it isn't until God intervenes and shows us our sinful state and need of a Savior are we able to be delivered from the inward rule of Satan to the internal government of God. The Bible calls this, being "born again." (See John 3:1-7) The Jews were offended, who heard Christ tell them that their Daddy was Satan. Just like most people are when you tell them that Satan is their spiritual Daddy. That's because they don't want to think they're that bad. That's proof alone that they are worse. That's proof of their spiritual bloodline. They are good without God, and therefore, under the curse. (See Genesis 3:1-7)
But the miraculous takes place. That murderous devil, that liar, and deceiver who keeps his children in darkness, who treats his offspring as if they are spoils of war, slaves to do his bidding, has no power to stop one of his children from turning to Jesus. He can lie to them, but if they believe the truth about Jesus, he has to forfeit them.
God becomes their Father. Then the Spirit of God comes rushing into the inner man and brings with Him Christ, who is truth and life. He also brings in the "Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father."
This changes the game completely. When the child of God gets a hold of this truth, hell's gate will shake. Satan's strongholds that's been erected in the mind of the believer will crumble to the ground as if it was made of straw when this truth is grasped: "we cry, Abba, Father." Of course, many of you know that the word Abba is Arabic. Its definition, however, is given right after the comma in our text. "Father."
When we cry out to our "Father," what does our Father do? What do you do when you hear your child cry out for help?
Guess what Devil? My Daddy can beat you up! Isn't that something to praise God for? This ought to do much to change our prayer lives. The concept of "crying" is involved in praying. Crying out to our Father ought to usher us in before the King. He hears us because we are His children. We are not subjects; we are co-heirs with Christ. That's what the term "Spirit of Adoption" is all about! We don't have time to study it out, but I have, and I encourage you to do the same. We are born into the family of God by the spiritual birth at Salvation, not adopted. It has no bearing at all to the idea of being adopted into a family. NONE. I know that might seem confusing, but that's because Paul wrote this over 2,000 years ago. It has everything to do with having all rights as a son or daughter of God. (See Galatians 4:1-7)
So the next time you are overwhelmed by the Enemy, remember what Paul said, "ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." Tell that devil, "I'm going to tell my Dad!"
Launching Faith with Praise
A timid faith fears the unknown. Sometimes it's not the unknown that fearful faith fears, sometimes it fears the well-known. This kind of faith is challenging to get into motion because of past failures. Simon had the sort of weak faith that had experienced failure already. It was difficult to trust after he had already seen defeat. Timid has a telling synonymous word, 'undaring.' Christ had given the express command, "Launch out into the deep." This was something Peter was unforward to do.
To launch means to 'throw forward; to spring forward; to enter energetically...' and after suffering inadequacy, entering a task with enthusiasm can be quite the challenge. Peter's response revealed this 'undaring faith' by telling Christ, "Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing." (Luke 5:5) This has a familiar phrase that goes along with it. "We've tried that before." But the question really is, "Did you try it with faith?"
Faith isn't something half-cooked. It isn't a mixture that depends solely upon my belief. It isn't something that requires a combination of emotions that convince my mind that if I really believe hard enough, it will work. Faith is complete confidence that if God said it, and I believe it and obey, He will honor it. It was Jesus who said, "Launch out into the deep." It wasn't the word of a mere man but of the Son of God, the Living Word.
Jesus proved His own statement that He made again and again,
20 ...verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
Peter responded with a timid, undaring faith, but nonetheless, an obedient faith, "Nevertheless, at thy word I will let down the net." Their faith was honored, for "when they had done this, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake."
This would prove to be a lesson they learned for later in the ministry. After Christ was crucified, buried, and risen again, they would yet be tested on this point. On the sea of Tiberius, Peter and John and some of the other disciples were fishing. Still, they had toiled all night without a catch. A man stood on the shores whom they hadn't yet identified who asked them if they had caught anything. When they confirmed that they hadn't, the man again commanded them, "Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find." They obeyed immediately. There was no second-guessing. "They cast therefore, and now were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes." John tells Peter, "It is the Lord." (See John 21 for the whole story)
What is the Lord calling you to launch out into the deep for? It's going to require daring, audacious, and enthusiastic faith. It's going to need you to be willing to fail if it means you are obeying the Lord. Failure in the eyes of God is the failure to have daring faith.
How does praise work along with this audacious faith? Back in Luke 5, after the great catch of fishes, praise entered the equation. We might miss this point because we don't usually use these particular identifiers when noticing praise. "Simon Peter...fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. For he was astonished..." (See Luke 5:8-9). This was an act of worship. Faith draws out our real condition because it brings us into contact with the Presence of God. What is our actual state? We're sinners. Just like Peter. We recognize that truth and as painful at is it, it praises God because we're able to admit to God our weakness and are then truly able to offer a faith that is unmingled with pride. They were also astonished. This is praise as well. Astonishment stirs the heart to lift up our voices in praise.
God's response to faith will always astonish you.
20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
So how do we launch faith by praise? Instead of waiting for the results of what God is going to do in response to faith, we start praising Him for it first. This is actually the Scriptural thing to do.
6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
See how thanksgiving (which is a form of praise) is included in the very prayers we offer to God regarding our needs or the needs of others? Praise is mixed in with faith. It launches faith. I mentioned earlier that faith is not some mixture of emotions that we build up to believe enough but is based on the word of God. That is true. However, if we have God's word on it, there is nothing wrong with getting our emotions involved with our faith because emotions do help with energy. If I am excited at the possibilities of what God is going to do, then praise will stir up my feelings to move forward with daring faith to trust God. If I am lethargic emotionally, then my faith will move at a snail's pace.
It's amazing what praising can do
It's amazing what praising can do
I don't worry when things go wrong,
Jesus fills my heart with song!
It's amazing what praising can do