11 Jan 2015 by Jason Law CM –
2014 was not a good year for Malaysia. There were three airplane disasters within a single year, a huge flood that displaced thousands and even took lives, and an escalating tension in the air. It is not a strange thing that many Malaysians did not greet this year with joy but rather with somberness. Amidst such situations, how are Christians supposed to approach issues in their daily live?
Recognizing the importance of addressing this issue, Pastor Aris Siew from Praise City Cheras has taken the initiative to address the subject of fearlessness in a series that will cover this month and the next. Chaos is inseparable from issues such as this, and Pastor Aris communicated that this fact should not be sugarcoated.
Chaos is, in fact, part of daily life of which no one is exempted including Christians. We only need to look at what is happening around the world to know this. In John 16, Jesus foretold the coming event of the scattering of the disciples. In verse 33, He tells them that on this earth, there will be trials and sorrow. For every disciple of Christ, this is something that is very real and when it comes, these trials must be faced.
A classic example in Old Testament days was the story of Job. Job was a man who loved God and walked rightly with him. Nevertheless, in his story we find that overnight he lost all his possessions, and one day when all his children were in the house, the roof collapsed and killed them all. This is a level of trial that few of us would fully understand.
Yet despite his difficult circumstances, he did not curse God, but only the day of his birth. And although he anguished over his plight, he stopped short of accusing God of injustice. In Job 1:21, he said something that showed the faithfulness of this man of God: ’Naked I came, naked I will depart. The Lord had given and the Lord had taken away, yet the name of the Lord be praised’.
In 2 Timothy 1:7, we are reminded that God did not give us a spirit of fear but of power, love, and self-discipline. How do we as Christians attain this kind of courage and peace even amidst the most challenging times? Pastor Aris shared that there are 4 things within the passage of Matthew 14 that will help us.
Matthew 14:22-36 is the famous passage of Jesus’ walk on water and it is also one of the best illustrations of the nature of faith in the Bible. First of all, Pastor Aris highlighted, is the importance of prayer as shown by Jesus in verse 23. This was just after the feeding of the five thousand, but Jesus did not retire to rest but instead withdrew to a quiet place in order to pray. If Jesus prayed, how much more do we need to do so? Prayer is what connects us to God. It is through prayer that we communicate with Him and the only secure place is with Him.
The first thing that we can learn from the passage of Matthew 14:22-36 is how to stay calm and confident during chaos. Pastor Aris shared that fear has an intransigent nature and has a persistent power. Despite that, when the time comes to deal with it, the best way to do so is with a calm mind and with the faith and trust that God is with us no matter what we may go through.
The first step towards losing the battle is by losing control of our feelings or thoughts. The disciples allowed the surrounding chaotic environment – the night sky, the tossing waves, the heavy wind, etc – and the vision of Jesus’ walking on water to shape their minds. Instantly, Jesus responded in compassion to reassure the disciples.
Yet not all the disciples reacted in the same way, and Peter’s response is one of the most notable acts in the New Testament, all the more so when we remember that he was not in a controlled environment. The disciples were right in the middle of the Sea of Galilee and the storm-tossed waves and heavy wind were very real. Peter replied, ‘Lord, if it’s you, tell me to walk on the water’. Jesus gave the call, and Peter started to walk on water.
Pastor Aris shared that often, the way to handle chaos in our life is to think out of the box during such times. We must learn how to ask God for strength and wisdom, get out of the boat, and try something we have never tried before in faith. For a time, Peter did what was impossible to the human mind.
Peter continued to walk on water so long as he focused and centered his sight on Jesus. The moment he took his sight away from Jesus, he saw the waves around him, panic started to set in his spirit, and he started to sink like a rock. Peter only started to sink when he lost sight of Jesus. This is the third thing we can learn from this passage: the importance of staying fixed on Jesus. We must be constant and consistent in our walk and relationship with Him.
Lastly, and an important lesson we can learn from this passage is to be covered by the Lord and carried by Him. The moment Peter started to call for help, Jesus instantly reached out and pulled him from the water. Jesus’ immediate response is a visible sign of God’s heart of compassion for His people. God is ever faithful and if we are true children of God, we must be faithful and steadfast with God.
Matthew 7: 24-29 tells us the story of the wise and foolish builder. If we want our foundations to be strong when the hard waves hit, we must build them on a solid rock. Especially during times of chaos, we must stay faithful and near to God.
NOTE: Praise City’s ‘Fearless’ series will cover 7 more areas of challenges to faith: Fearless of Hard Work (11 Jan), Fearless of Hardships (18 Jan), Fearless of Man (25 Jan), Fearless of Final Moments (1 Feb), Fearless in Prayer (8 Feb), Fearless of Spiritual Powers (15 Feb), and Fearless to Love (22 Feb).
To find out more about the church, you can visit the church website at http://praisecitykl.com/ or their Facebook page at /Praise-City-Church-Kuala-Lumpur/
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