Sermon : WALKING ON WATER 13th August, 2017.
St. Matthew 14 : 22 – 36. K. Methodist Church 08h30.
A stupid question – perhaps, asked in all seriousness :
‘When last did you walk on water ?’
For when we believe in God the Father and in Jesus our Saviour and Lord we are moving in deep, supernatural domains where the so-called impossible becomes possible; for God expects and allows the so-called
impossible to happen. This world is His creation, and often He acts in ways that surprise us (as some of us know!).
Take the life of Doreen Irvine, for instance, recorded in her autobiography, ‘From Witchcraft to Christ’
-a modern day Mary Magdalene, born in 1932 in England, and, if she is still alive, 85 years of age.
When she became Queen of Black Witches on Dartmoor in Devon she had been competing in tests of power with other candidates. I quote from her book to contrast the power of evil with the greater power of God in Jesus.
Page 101 of her book describe her tests of power as a witch.
“A bird was released from its cage. I killed it in flight. It was something I’d done before but I was the only one who did it in this test. Various other supernatural feats were performed that eerie night on Dartmoor, but the last was the greatest – fire-walking.
“The test was to walk through a great bonfire (not a ring of fire but a great blaze). The successful candidate would meet Lucifer (the Devil) in the centre of the blaze and he would be seen by the assembly to take th hand of the witch and guide her through the flames so that she would emerge completely unscathed.
“I walked confidently into the flames of seven feet or more, all the time calling on my great master Diablos. Suddenly I saw him materialise before me – a great black figure. I took his hand and walked with him to the centre of the great blaze. There I paused, the great flames leaping around me. Only when I emerged at the other side of the blaze did my master Diablos disappear.
“Not even the smell of burning was upon my loose witch’s robe or my long flowing hair. Everyone was prostrated on the ground. ‘Hail, Diana, queen of black witches!’ rose the loud cry of over a thousand witches.”
Later, Diana came to Christ. The Baptist minister, Arthur Neill, writing in 1972 in the preface to her book, states : ‘For seven months I knew what it was to wrestle with terrible powers of evil in relation to her life. On the occasion of every period of exorcism she had to be held down by others (Christian men and women) in prayerful support.
‘The New Testament came alive in terms of encounters with demons of different character who contested the ground they had in her life. With extra-ordinary intelligence, utterly beyond the human, they acted and spoke through her and yet certainly not from her mind. I well remember the night in February, 1965 when, following nmy preaching engagement in a Bristol church, the last of 47 demons were expelled from her tormented and tortured being. Ended was a prolonged and dangerous period of seven months of hell in a life-and-death struggle.
“Doreen is a trophy of God’s grace. The power of God was demonstrated in her remarkable supernatural deliverance by the dynamic authority of the Lord Jesus Christ. All the credit and glory go to Him who did it.”
We need to become more and more aware of God’s unseen, spiritual power. We speak easily of ‘spiritual warfare’, not really understanding it, yet we deal with aspects of it each day in our hidden temptations, in our daily challenges to love and forgive and trust, and in confronting evil when it comes suddenly to disturb and challenge us. We pray formally in the Lord’s Prayer ‘deliver us from evil’, and were we to leave it out we could be in trouble !
The people of our material world, our colleagues, friends and family so often reject the spiritual world in which we live and move and have our being because the spiritual simply cannot be measured ! People therefore disbelieve its existence !
What I want to encourage us all to do this morning is to begin (or to continue doing) the action of faith in God as we learn to do the so-called impossible, that is, to walk on water in various and different ways.
Scripture (the New Testament) is full of supernatural happenings through the ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ:- healings, changing water into wine, multiplying loaves and fish, raising the dead, forgiving sins, stilling storms, casting out demons, being transfigured, walking on water, even coming to us, individually and personally to transform us into holy, godly, powerful, loving people – like John and Charles Wesley.
Scripture was written for believers – us – to encourage and point the way forward, helping us to make God’s Kingdom come, on earth as in heaven. ‘Your Kingdom come, Lord ! Use us to make it happen ! The gift of believing in God the Father and in Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit has been given to each of us.
So the question, ‘When last did you walk on water?’ is really examining your level of faith and trust in God. If it’s low it can change!
The so-called impossible event of walking on water can be applied to your life and mine, now, in many ways. For example :- What percentage of your gross income do you give to God through your church (Do you know) ? Can you double or treble or quadruple it in deliberate self-sacrificial love for God ? THAT’S WALKING ON WATER!
Another example: When are the Anglicans and Methodists going to take seriously the need to promote Christian unity amongst themselves ? At this very moment the Anglicans and Methodists of ‘this area’ are in their holy huddles, worshipping separately. There needs to be movement! Will we ever worship together as living members of the Body of Christ? That’s walking on water !
Another example : So much unemployment in the Eastern Cape. All this is really unacceptable to God. Let Him show us how to move forward in ways no-one has even thought of yet ! Let’s begin to walk on water by God’s grace and to His glory.
I want to show you how to go about it. It all begins and ends with us spending time with our Creator in prayer. All of us can pray (it’s similar to thinking), for God inspires and reads our minds and souls. Pray as you can, not as you can’t !)
To re-inforce this, let’s turn again to this morning’s second lesson in St. Matthew 14: 23:
“After Jesus had dismissed the crowd he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came he was there alone.” Quality time in prayer to God ! Then Our Lord goes to his disciples, walking on the lake. Soon it’s Peter’s turn to walk on water. “But when he felt the wind he was afraid, and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ he said, ‘Why did you doubt?’ “
Peter walked on water because Jesus challenged him to do so. ‘Lord, if it is you, tell me to come to you on the water.’ ‘Come’, he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came towards Jesus.
Each of us here this morning would have done the same, climbed out of
the boat and walked on water and thought nothing of it.
For you and I are called to do so-called impossible things for God.
There are many things we have thought impossible in our lives. In
prayer with our Creator you will hear his voice inviting you to do
one or two or a number of so-called impossible things.
Respond in faith and hope and love. Get out of the boat, write that letter, phone that person, forgive, be reconciled, begin making plans to work with others to solve problems, give away your life to God, prepare for your coming death with faith and hope and in great love. Stop thinking ‘It’s impossible!’
But be careful. It isn’t possible to walk on water if you haven’t spent time in prayer first. Peter tried, and started to sink. Maybe you and I have tried and found it impossible, too !
Without prayer we cannot walk on water – we cannot do the impossible. There are no short-cuts !
My fellow-believers it’s our time, our turn to do little and great things for God, beginning today. How ?
Spend time with our wonderful God in prayer. Face that responsibility.
Pray ! Hear Him with joy and begin to do the unthinkable, impossible things for God. That is our calling, our vocation. That is what He invites us to do.
Make His Kingdom come ! For we are His new creation, living members of Christ now !
To Him be all glory, honour and power, for ever and ever.