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Reverend Dr. William H. Curtis

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Between Sinking and Saving

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

2 CMatthew 14:29-30 (NIV)

The story of Peter walking on the water is not about failure or fear. It is about the reality of faith’s growing process. This is how faith grows. It’s how faith exercises. This is how faith increases endurance. This is how faith builds capacity.

You don’t grow faith sitting on the boat where it’s expected of you to stay up on the water, speculating about Jesus and hoping to occasionally get it right. No, you grow faith because you take bold steps to see how much your belief in Him has created capacity for you. You get out there on what your imagination had invited you to consider.

But when reality hits, challenge comes, and the wind blows, you start to see that the conditions around you don’t care that you have trusted Jesus. The wind doesn’t die down simply because you’re being creative and starting to think big. The storm doesn’t cease because you asked Jesus to do something bold.

The things which limit you, scare you, frustrate you, cripple you, and restrict you have a vested interest in keeping you on that boat. And when you step out of that boat, they aren’t going anywhere; they are going to test you and distract you while you’re out there trying this big thing you asked the Lord for.

And true to form, when these windy realities are successful, you sink. But hear me about this: even when we have faith in Christ, life is lived between the sinking and the saving.

Don’t refuse to try just because sinking may happen. You are in a relationship with the Christ who can save you when you sink. It’s not about your sinking, but about your faith.

In other words, faith is perfectly okay with your failures. But what is not okay is your living with too little confidence to take the big step.

So recognize that you will have adversity. Recognize that you will have times of sinking. Recognize that you will need to call out to Jesus to save you. And then take the step out of the boat and move closer to the Savior.

Fully Restored

“We are glad whenever we are weak but you are strong; and our prayer is that you may be fully restored.”

2 Corinthians 13:9 (NIV)

When studying this chapter of 2 Corinthians, verse 9 just wouldn’t stop grabbing my attention.

In the previous verses, Paul essentially said to the church at Corinth, “I’m planning my third visit to you. I’m upset about how you are being so reckless with so great a salvation. You’re not weak, even though you’re acting like it. And I have no doubt about what is planted in you. I know it’s a strong salvation because I know what I preached. And despite my weakness as a person or the weakness of my proclamation to you, I know that my weakness was not enough to stop the strength of God’s redemptive work to dig deep roots in you. I might be weak, but God is strong.”

Paul is saying, “I know that I’m feeble, but I know the strength of my God. And because of this, I know you have it in you (and I’m praying for you) to fight for it. I need you to fight for your redemption, fight for your salvation, fight for the integrity of your faith—because it’s worth it. You are given grace to fight for it, and I’m praying that you will, so that you can experience what life is like when you’ve been fully restored.”

That word “restored” implies in this text that God can bring you back. Back to what? Back to the perfect state when salvation rested its redemptive power in your life. You can be fully restored to wholeness, brought back to maturity, reestablished to complete order.

What Paul prays for believers in Corinth is what Jesus offers to each one of us: a chance to come back from all the draining debilitating attachments to our lives that suck the energy from us and drag on our emotions and pull on our focus and tear at our enthusiasm. Paul says, “If you anchor back into the centrality of your faith in Jesus Christ, you don’t have to walk around drained. You don’t have to feel the drag on your emotions. You can focus again on your spiritual enthusiasm because our God is a God who can fully restore you.”

You can walk squarely into this season of your life despite the drain and drag of last season. God never wants you fragile, on the fringes, or shaky about your faith. He wants us solid in the center of His will, steady about our spiritual convictions.

Examine Yourself

“Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified.”

2 Corinthians 13:5-6 (NKJV)

In 2 Corinthians 13, Paul is fatigued by constantly hearing about how divided the church of Corinth is, and how immoral they are acting among themselves and in the community.

Sounds like many churches in today’s world.

What exactly does Paul want the church in Corinth to do in order to address these issues? He wants them to self-examine. In fact, he urges self-scrutiny, which implies the performing of a self-audit spiritually.

The questions that I believe Paul would want the Corinthian believers to ask themselves are the same questions I want you to ask yourself:

• Where are you in your love for Jesus?
• Where are you in your commitment to God’s Word?
• Where are you in your surrender to living in God’s will?
• Where are you in being a witness for God in the world?
• Where are you in your faith?
• Can it hold up in the swirling temptation?
• Can Jesus be your easy choice when standing at the divergence of life in obedience to Him versus life that is antithetical to that aim?

Paul is asking them examine themselves to see if they are living according to the faith that they profess. It’s almost as if the apostle is saying, “Test yourself and see if Jesus is truly living in you.”

Paul assumes that they will pass the test, but he wants them to mature from the exercise of it. He knows they love Jesus. He knows they believe in Him. But Paul is hoping that self-examination will reveal to them the worth that ought to be attached to that belief.

So before Paul makes his journey to the Corinthians to address all of these things, he writes this letter to reveal that his prayers are proceeding it all. He’s praying that they would stop allowing their lives to be so easily distracted. He’s praying that they would affirm and then be affected by the salvation that they’ve been given by the grace of Jesus Christ.

That is my prayer for you as well. Examine yourself and allow the examination to move your heart and affect your lifestyle.

You Are Enough

“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

2 Corinthians 12:9 (NKJV)

Don’t ever minimize what you bring to the table.

I don’t care how small your contribution is, how “normal” your life feels, how limited your time might be, how narrow your circle has become, how late in life you are to coming to the scene, or how humble your beginnings were. I don’t care if you carry a lengthy rap sheet or a mile-long list of mistakes and sins. I don’t care whether you cart around with you insufficiencies, idiosyncrasies, or excessively heavy weights that you’re ashamed of. None of that matters.

What you bring with you is all that the Lord needs, because you are enough.

No matter what has happened in your life. No matter the weight that has been put on your shoulders. No matter the scars, the wounds, or the bruises. No matter how deeply you have been cut or hurt. No matter how badly you’ve been made to bleed. If you can still have faith inside of you, you can look in the mirror and say, “Despite it all, I know that I am enough.”

Your gifts are intentionally shaped by God for you to live your life to the level of His belief in you. Your drive in life is not even close to God’s belief in your capacity. He defines where you flow, and where you function, and what you bring, and what you release, and how you show up, and the contributions you make, and the ideas you offer, and the energy you present. You can’t minimize any of that because God has been intentional about the precise way He has resourced you and where He has placed you.

You can trust that God has given you what you need to be powerful in the gray spaces in your life. And I’m here to tell you you’re enough. You may not believe it, but you are enough.

You don’t need to be ashamed of any part of your story—no matter how sinful, sordid, toxic, or demonic. You aren’t who you used to be, and you can thank God for that. You can own it and declare, “I know I’m enough, because of Jesus.”

Jesus Can Meet Your Need

Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.”

John 6:14 (NKJV)

Jesus was teaching a great multitude of people out in a remote setting, far enough away that when evening was approaching, the Lord’s disciples understood the need to break for the day and give the people a safe chance to make it back to their villages for food. The ministry of our Lord had provided spiritual nourishment all day, but these people now needed physical nourishment.

The disciples imply to Jesus, “We packed commitment. We packed loyalty. We brought along with us curiosity and dedication, but Lord, we didn’t pack any extra food. You’ve got to let these people go. They need to eat.”

In John’s Gospel, we read that Jesus tested the disciples saying, “Where can we buy bread for all of these people?” And Philip tells Jesus that an entire day’s pay times 200 would not be enough to buy bread sufficient to feed this many people.

Andrew says, “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what is that compared to the enormity of the need?” And Jesus takes those two fish and five barley loaves, He lifts them, prays over them, multiplies them, and feeds the multitude with them. Not only is everyone fed, but there are leftovers to spare.

The need was immediate. The need was urgent. The need was huge. And the provision was miraculous.

The provision was so miraculous that it confirmed for those who perhaps were on the fringes of belief in Jesus that what He had been teaching all day out there was worth believing. It was so miraculous that it became easy for many of the people to conclude that only God can make something like that happen and, therefore, Jesus must be the real deal.

The message Jesus sandwiches there between such need and such provision is amazing. It demands the attention of our hope. It is so simple, and yet it is powerful and life changing. And that message is this: You can’t ever have a need that is greater than the Lord’s ability to meet it.

Let me say it again: We all have needs, but not one of them is so big that Jesus cannot meet it. Jesus can meet your need.