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“Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear: But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:25-31, NKJV).
In order to effectively live the Christian life, you must understand faith. Believers are saved by faith, we walk by faith, the promises of God are received by faith, and we please God by our faith. God’s word has key passages that teach us a great deal about faith. Matthew 14:25-31 is a powerful teaching passage that shows us 4 important principles concerning faith. From this passage we see that faith is a response to God’s word, taking our focus off God’s word can hinder our faith, lack of faith can limit God’s power in our lives, and we can receive the beginning of a miracle but ultimately not receive that miracle, fully, if our faith is not consistent. Our faith should be based on God’s word.
Peter did not walk on water by his own willpower. The first thing that he did was to ask the Lord to give him the power to walk on water. And Peter did not walk on water until Jesus gave him his word. This is one of the areas where the “Word of Faith” movement misses it. Christians should not simply start naming and claiming things. If we have a desire, the first step should be to ask God; we don’t tell God what to do. And our petition should be based on the written word of God. We should not ask God for things that his word does not authorize. We petition God based on his word, and we do not step out in faith until God, through the Holy Spirit, tells us to. The Holy Spirit will speak God’s word back to you and this is when you start claiming the promise. Once we take a stance of faith, we must remain focused on God’s word.
Peter’s mistake was that he took his mind off Jesus, and he started focusing on what his physical senses perceived. In that moment, he began to doubt God’s word. And Peter’s faith began to fail. When we are standing in faith and believing God for something, there will be many temptations to doubt God’s power. But we must remember that the spiritual created the physical, and the spiritual reality is far greater than what are physical senses can discern. If God has given us a promise, it does not matter what the situation looks like. If we continue in faith, that promise will manifest. A lack of faith can limit God’s power in our lives.
“But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (James 1: 6-7).
“So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done. And whatever things you ask in prayer believing, you will receive”” (Matthew 21:21-22).
“Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?”” (John 11:40).
There are some things that God will do for us despite of our faith, this is called his sovereign will. However, many of God’s blessings will not be released to us if we do not receive them by faith. If we do not have faith in God, we will not experience much of what God has for us. This is a sobering thought, but the scriptures confirm this many times.
Peter did receive a miracle, but he did not maintain it. Peter fell short because he did not stay in faith. Believers can receive part of a miracle, but a lack of consistent faith will cause them to not walk fully in that miracle. We must trust God fully and not settle for partial miracles. When we see God working in our lives, we must focus even more on his word. Do not cut God short because you are not keeping your faith in the fight, persevere until the end.
Learn from God’s word. Allow the Holy Spirit to teach you about prayer and faith. Do not presume upon our Lord, petition him based on his word, and wait for confirmation from God’s Spirit. When the Holy Spirit gives you a promise, stand on God’s word until you receive the full manifestation of your prayer request. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:26).