Stepping Out In Faith
by Cindie York
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Part 1: You Feed Them
As soon as Jesus heard the news, he left in a boat to a remote area to be alone. But the crowds heard where he was headed and followed on foot from many towns. Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
That evening the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.”
But Jesus said, “That isn’t necessary—you feed them.”
“But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish!” they answered.
“Bring them here,” he said. Then he told the people to sit down on the grass. Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he gave the bread to the disciples, who distributed it to the people. They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers. About 5,000 men were fed that day, in addition to all the women and children!
Jesus had heard the news of John the Baptist and went to a remote area to be alone. But the crowds heard where He was headed and followed him on foot.
Jesus had compassion on them and healed the sick. John 6:2 states that the crowd followed Him because of the miracles He continually performed. So many times we seek after the signs and wonders. We have to see to believe. Oh, if we could only learn to just trust in God.
Mark 6:34 explains that Jesus stated that these people were like sheep without a shepherd so He also began teaching them many things.
Jesus went up on the mountainside on the far side of the Sea of Galilee. The disciples told Jesus it was getting late and to send the crowd away that they may obtain food.
Matthew 14:16 But Jesus said, “That isn’t necessary- you feed them.”
Now I know that I have read this passage many, many times before. Every Christian has heard the story of Jesus feeding the multitude. Even the many unbelievers have heard this scripture. Admittedly, this time when I read it, I looked at it in a completely different light. I have never really thought of the part that said, “you feed them.”
“You feed them.” A command to the same disciples who in Mark 6:20 just returned from a ministry tour and had explained to the Lord all they had taught and done while gone. They would seemingly be perfect candidates to work such a miracle. This was a test of faith. Jesus was standing there beside them, they were not alone. The Son of God Himself was there…present! Would there be any hesitation?
I have thought several times while rereading the passage of scripture, what would I do in this situation? How would I react to a command of the Lord as great as this? How much faith do I really possess? I would love to think I would jump straight up and get to the mission at hand but I tend to look at the size of the situation, the size of the need, and allow that to hinder my work for the Lord. I am ashamed of that fact but I realize I am not the only one who needs to learn to trust God. Not simply trust God with some things but in all ways, in all areas. I have to learn to stand on the promises of God for the Bible tells us in Numbers 23:19 that God is not a man, so he does not lie.
In John 6:5-7 Jesus actually asked Philip “where are we going to buy bread for them to eat?” This scripture says that Jesus was testing Philip, for He already knew what he was going to do. Philip said even if they worked for months they wouldn’t have enough to feed the multitude. Not even 200 denarii would be enough (1 denarius=1 days wage/200 denarii=$40).
John 6:8-9 tells us that Andrew saw a young boy with five barley loaves and two fish, but wondered how this meal for one would benefit so many people.
We see here that Andrew and Philip, Christ’s own chosen Disciples, who have walked with the Lord, seen first-hand the many miraculous works of the Lord Jesus and still lacked the faith to act at Jesus command to feed the multitude. They let the size of the need decrease their faith. They were looking how big the mountain was, instead of realizing how big their God is. They were looking at this through carnal eyes and not from a spiritual standpoint.
Matthew 5:17 “But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish!” they answered.
This declaration exclaimed a complete lack of faith. They were looking at this visible value as insignificant and useless. Don’t we often look at what we have to offer God as worthless or insignificant when it comes to working for the Lord? We seem to forget He can use whatever or whomever He wants to fulfill any purpose He wishes. Ephesians 3:20 reminds us that through His mighty power at work within us He can accomplish infinitely more than we can think or ask.
Jeremiah 32:27 “I am the Lord, the God of all the peoples of the world, is anything too hard for me?
Matthew 5:18 “Bring them here,” he said.
Christ says, “Bring them here.” He spoke this as a command. Up to this point the disciples allowed doubt to creep in and hinder their work for the Lord. They were looking at their abilities and immediate physical resources and not the God of which all things are possible.
I am sure the Lord was disgusted at their lack of trust. I just picture Him like a parent of a child who gives up too easily when learning something new or difficult and they just aren’t getting it. The parent steps in and finally says, bring it to me. Kind of like, “when will they ever learn?”
Matthew 5:19 Then he told the people to sit down on the grass. Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he gave the bread to the disciples, who distributed it to the people.
Jesus blessed the meal, gave thanks to God and gave the bread to the disciples to distribute it to the people. This reminds me of faith without works is dead. I believe it was necessary for the disciples to actually be involved in this work. It wasn’t enough for them to see Jesus working this miracle but they needed to actually put faith into action.
Matthew 14:20-21 They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers. About 5,000 men were fed that day, in addition to all the women and children!
Five thousand men, excluding women and children were not just fed but were full and satisfied. The disciples picked up twelve baskets full of leftovers. How amazing is our God? He is not just a God that makes provisions but is a God of abundant blessings!
I believe it was necessary for the disciples to collect the abundance of leftovers to strengthen their faith, to show them yet again, that no situation or circumstance is too big for God to handle. Jesus wanted them to be part of this amazing move of God, to make it personal and more real to them. Any time we see healings, experience provisions, witness deliverances, etc. our faith is increased.
Jesus Christ was right there with them, just as He is with us. We may not be able to physically see Him as the disciples did that day, but we must know that when He tells us to feed, speak, or act in faith that He will be with us. He wanted the disciples to act with full unwavering faith. He wants exactly the same thing for us…to act with full unwavering faith.
Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.
Part 2: The Storm
Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.
Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!”
But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”
Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”
“Yes, come,” Jesus said.
So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.
Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”
When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.
Matthew 14:22 Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home.
The word immediately specifically stands out to me here. Immediately after this miracle of feeding the multitude, Christ insists that the disciples get into the boat and sail across the lake.
This could be for several different reasons. First of all Jesus wanted to be alone to pray. Second, Christ knew what was lying ahead for the disciples at sea and He knew that their faith had been increased by the miraculous event that has just taken place. By personal experience, after being involved in a mighty move of God, there seems to be a greater courage and boldness that follows. So if they immediately left, their faith would have been at a heightened state.
Matthew 14:23 After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.
Here we notice Jesus went to pray in solitude…removing first every distraction.
We all need to have our alone time with God in our prayer closets, seeking earnestly, sincerely, laying every hindrance aside, focusing on the Lord. The Bible mentions that when we pray in secret that we will be rewarded openly.
Another reason Jesus sent the crowds away is mentioned in John 6:14-15. The people saw the miracles that Jesus performed and they were proclaiming that He was the Prophet who came to the world and that they might make Him king of which would be inappropriate and His true purpose for coming to this corrupt world had not yet been fulfilled.
Matthew 14:24 Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves.
It is now dark and the disciples are in a storm at sea…in a battle, trial, a storm of life, unable to see clearly, distracted.
Strong winds blowing all around…resistance, opposition, pressure from the enemy.
Heavy waves pounding on every side…pulled in different directions, confused, being tossed around unwillingly, up one moment and down the next.
Battling the enemy…trying to stay afloat, trying hard just to keep head above the water, trying not to sink at the hand of the enemy, allowing fear and anxiety to rise up, maybe trying to fight by oneself?
Now this is exactly like the devil to come in after an awesome move of God, when faith is increased to throw some type of distraction, hindrance, stumbling block, placing some weight upon you to overshadow the marvelous work of the Lord. Or maybe Satan will try to remove that increase of faith you just grabbed on to before it could sink in, by planting doubt, fear, worry, intimidation, or anxiety full force at you! Absolutely disgusting!
Matthew 14:25 About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water.
I read where the disciples were approximately 3-4 miles out at sea. Jesus came walking on the water.
Matthew 14:26 When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!”
Think about this…these same disciples just witnessed an amazing event, actually participated in it and now at the first sign of trouble, their faith is once again found lacking! They were not just lacking in faith but were fearful, actually terrified. They were once again so distracted by the situation that they allowed fear to grip hold of them to the point that they couldn’t even recognize the Lord.
Christ’s own disciples did not recognize Him? The devil had put temporary blinders on them to fog their judgment, their clarity. The devil is still using the same tricks as he did thousands of years ago. He is trying his best to keep us distracted, fearful, confused, blinded, intimidated to the extent that we can’t recognize when God wants to speak to us, speak through us, lead us, help us. The devil attempts to take our focus off of our wonderful Savior, the Word of God, and stand on His every promise.
Satan knows if he can keep us looking at the storm or battle before us we won’t hear Christ speak…”Don’t be afraid, Take courage. I am here.”
Matthew 14:27 But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”
This verse is a promise of God. What a promise! Help us to stand on Your promises.
Joshua 1:9 This is my command-be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Deuteronomy 31:8 Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.
Matthew 14:28-29 Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” “Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus.
How often do we question, Lord is that really you? Peter is encouraged knowing Christ is there and his faith is immediately increased. This sounds like the majority, up one moment and down the next. Why are we like that? Why do we allow our faith to be as unsettled waves tossed about in the sea? Because it is a lot harder to walk by faith and not by sight. It is human nature to some degree to want the tangible. Christians must learn to die to the carnal ways of thinking, learning to be spiritually minded, strong, unmovable, and unshakeable.
Peter got out of that boat and walked on the water! He did try, which is more than many can say. After all, Peter was the only disciple who even attempted such a great act of faith. People only want to speak of him sinking but at least he got out of the boat to start with.
Matthew 14:30 But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.
Verse 30 reminds us that Peter did take his eyes off the Lord and began to sink. That is precisely what happens to us, when we take our eyes off of the Lord. Those times when we allow the devil the opportunity to plant doubt and allow our guard to drop, even for a moment. That is all it takes to start sinking…a moment. Give NO place to the devil!
When we allow the devil to plant that spirit of fear in our minds, we will not be able to accomplish the purpose God has for us. We won’t have the courage to step out of the boat to start with, let alone walk on the water.
We must keep focused on Christ, placing full trust in Him. And although we don’t physically see His presence, have the faith to know HE IS THERE! HE IS THERE!
Matthew 14:31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”
Jesus grabbed him when he began to sink. When Peter realized he needed the Lord, he asked for help and Christ was there to lift him up. Thank you Lord for being an ever-present help in times of trouble that when our faith does waiver, You are there to pick us up. It is a shame we have to keep being taught this lesson over and over.
Jesus asked him why he had such little faith. Why did he doubt Christ?
Jesus is asking us the same question every time we doubt Him and His promises. Whether it is be to witness, give a message, pray for the sick, sing a song, write an article, teach a lesson, or preach a sermon, if we truly want to please the Lord, we must learn to trust. We have to learn to walk by faith. We have to rebuke fear, doubt, worry, etc. We have to be obedient regardless of the appearance of the situation…even if it is moving out of our comfort zone and on to the waves of the sea. Even though Peter did sink, he briefly got to walk on the water with Lord, Wow!
Matthew 14:32 When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped.
Notice here that the wind stopped. The enemy had no authority or power over the Lord. The Lord was in full control. Christ can speak to any storm, Peace be still and the waves and seas will obey his command.
Psalms 56:9 My enemies will retreat when I call to you for help. This I know; God is on my side!
Matthew 14:33 Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.
Then and only then the disciples worshipped. Think about this, only after the storm ceased did they worship the Son of God. Wonder what would have happened if they would have started worshipping during the storm.
Now the disciples say “You really are the Son of God!” This blows me away. How many times did they have to see the Lord move before they would make this proclamation? This is the same group of apostles that had already been out telling about the Lord. Seriously, do we as Christians not do this same thing? We tell everyone about the Lord, teach about Him, sing about Him, Praise Him…but He is constantly having to prove Himself to us…we have a lot to learn from this passage!
I cry out to God Most High, to God who will fulfill His purpose for me. Lord help us to praise and worship you regardless of the situation or storm we may face. Let us not delay praises until the end of the storm but let us worship you at all times, for you are worthy, for You ARE the Son of God and our magnificent, holy Savior!!! Help us not to doubt Your precious Word, for You are a God that doesn’t lie, and You can be trusted to keep Your promises. Increase our faith and when the storms of life are raging around us let us not waiver or fear, but be steadfast, unmovable, strong, and determined. For You said You haven’t given us a spirit of fear or timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. Forgive us for doubting You Lord. You don’t deserve that and I am so ashamed of my behavior. Please give us strength to replace our weaknesses. Keep us on guard and aware of the tricks of the enemy and let us not give him any door of opportunity to enter or allow him a foothold. We will walk in victory!! Hallelujah!! In Your precious name we pray, amen.
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