If You Want to Serve God, You Gotta Get Out of the BOAT!

Simon Peter is one of my all time favorite people in the Bible.  Peter is the original “Rocky” and he was well known for his “speak first think later” approach to life.  I guess that is why I like him so much, he reminds me of me.  There is an event documented in the 14th Chapter of Matthew that occurred just after Jesus had fed the multitude.  Jesus had sent the disciples ahead of Him in a boat and when He was ready to join them, the boat was a considerable distance from shore.  Beginning at verse 25 and going through verse 33, it tells us “During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. ‘It’s a ghost,’ they said, and cried out in fear.  But Jesus immediately said to them: ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’  ‘Lord, if it’s you,’ Peter replied, ‘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 toward Jesus. But when he saw 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?’   And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.” While many focus on the fact that Peter sank, I want us to focus on what it must have taken for Peter to step out of the boat in the first place.  Using the word B-O-A-T lets create an easy way to understand what it takes to get out of the boat.

The letter “B” stands for “BOLDNESS.”  David tells us in Psalm 138 verse 3 “When I called, you answered me; you made me bold and stouthearted. David is saying that our confidence, our boldness comes from the fact that God is available to us and answers our needs.  David goes on to say in verse 7 “Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes, with your right hand you save me. “  He is certainly given us a good reason for us to be bold.

In the New Testament, boldness is used to mean two different things.  The first can be defined by those who preach the Gospel.  In Acts 13 Paul is responding to the Jews who are raising issue of his preaching the Gospel.  Verse 46 and 47 tell us “Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. For this is what the Lord has commanded us: “ ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth”  God expects us to be bold in how we live our lives for Him.  His desire is that we leave no doubt regarding our allegiance to Him.  Not only in our words but in our actions as well.

The second meaning has to do with the fact we can approach God because of the work Christ did for us.  This definition helps us to see that we have the ability to discuss with God any matter on our heart because of the debt paid by Christ death and resurrection.  2 Corinthians 3: 4-6 tells us “Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant–not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

“O” stands for OBEDIENCE.  I get so frustrated and angry when I hear a Christian talk about the supposed “sacrifices” they have made for the Lord!  God does not ask His children to “sacrifice”, He asks us to be “obedient.”  Romans 6: 15-18 says “15What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. 18You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.”  For the purposes of this discussion we will define the word righteousness as “a right relationship with God.”  Obedience isn’t doing the right things when someone is looking; it is doing the right things because they are the right things.  It’s not being Christian when we are around Christians; it is being the Believer you should be because that is what you have committed to God.  Obedience is doing the “righteous” thing (what God expects of us) no matter who it is, what it is, or where it is.  John 14:23-24 says “Jesus replied, ‘If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.”  We must always be mindful of what is stated in 1 John 2: 17 which says “The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.”

“A” is for “ACTION.”  James 2: 14-17 tells us “14What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”  While it is absolutely true we cannot “earn” our way in to heaven, our actions are the only way the world can see our faith and trust in our relationship with Jesus Christ.  The world is full of “talking” Christians and there lives look very similar, if not identical, to the lost world around them.  God wants us not only to “talk the talk”, He wants us to “walk the walk.”  In other words, our actions speak much louder than anything we say!

The final letter, “T” stands for “TRUST”  John 14: 1-4 tells us “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4You know the way to the place where I am going.”  Jesus is telling us what we have to look forward to in eternity.  He is telling us that this world is not our home and for that reason, life will have challenges and trials.  Romans 15: 13 says “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” God has not left us empty handed in this trust relationship but has provided the Holy Spirit to assist us, to comfort us, and to aid us in our life’s journey.

I hope you will take the characteristics described in B-O-A-T and review where you are in your relationship with your Heavenly Father.  Be honest and candid with yourself and determine if you are sitting comfortably in the boat of life or are you doing the things necessary to serve the Lord as only you can.  It’s really quite simple, if you want to serve the Living God, you have to get out of the boat!

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