Steven Furtick - The Power of What-If
"What if…?" works both ways. The wind was against them, the Word was for them, and "What if…?" works both ways. When we get into hypothetical situations, the longer we wait on God to change certain situations… Once again, how many are there right now? Maybe you even feel like you're drowning in what you don't know. You've analyzed it, and there's a certain element of it you can't control. The Devil didn't start this storm; Jesus sent them directly into it. A lot of us would turn around at this point and say, "Well, maybe we didn't hear him right", but they pressed to the other side. Watch this. What if there's something on the other side that is worth going through the storm for? Or is it harder sometimes for us to give faith to the "What if…?" than it is to give fear to the "What if…?"
Just like the wind blows… The wind can blow in either direction. So can the "What ifs". A lot of times in my life I've learned that fear is just faith in the wrong "What if…?" "What if we fail"? What if we don't? We're here with a lot of our staff. We had some training, and I asked them to stay around and help me preach to you. We told some of the stories, but we didn't tell all of the stories about when we started the church. Holly was reminding me of one the other day where, just as soon as we went to start the church, the resources that were supposed to be given for our salary were pulled back. Then somebody else was going to pay our insurance, and that got pulled back.
Now, if my faith in God was contingent upon the conditions, I would have taken that as a sign that God didn't speak to me to start the church, but what if the wind is proof that what's on the other side is so significant you have to push through to get there? A lot of us interpret the wind as an indication that we should turn back around and head home. In this particular situation, Jesus said, "I want you to go to the other side". Now here comes the wind. That represents resistance. For you, that may represent depression. For you, that might represent anxiety. We all go through different storms, and as I've taught from this pulpit before, comparing the size of your storm to my storm and the significance of my storm to your storm serves no purpose.
The greatest thing about the passage is that Peter didn't even really express faith; he just considered possibility. I'm going to show you this. He didn't say, "Lord, I know it's you. Tell me to come". He said, "Lord, if…" What if? "What if…?" works both ways. "What if…?" can make you give up, "What if…?" can make you freak out, or "What if…?" can make you step forward. I want you to notice something Jesus did. Are you ready? This is where it gets good. He said, "If it's you, give me a word", and Jesus took him really literally. He gave him one word. Did you see it in the text? "Come". Y'all, I had a Chihuahua. That's how we talked to the dog. Jesus talked to Peter like I talked to Yoyo. That was the dog's name. This is a confession. I had a Chihuahua named Yoyo. We would say, "Come", "Stay", stuff like that. Jesus talked to Peter like I talked to Yoyo.
Here's why, I think. Do you want to know what this makes me think? That sometimes the deepest things God speaks will also be the simplest. Sometimes we can confuse deep with confusing. I've noticed a lot of times I would rather learn something new than practice something old. Some of the deepest things God will speak will be so simple, like "Come". "Okay. Well, Jesus, I was expecting a little more. I've never walked on water before. Are you going to give me any pointers? Like, a little bit of coaching? Like, should I put all my weight on one foot"? You have to remember. We read these Bible stories and we just compare walking on water to paying our bills. He was walking on water! We make it mean whatever we want…changing a tire, walking on water. Right? Peter is transcending the laws of buoyancy, yet Jesus does not give him details, just direction.
So, if God isn't giving you details right now, ask him for direction instead. Some of the biggest words God ever spoke to me in my life were just directions, impressions in my spirit. Can I share one with you? Here's one. Sometimes God will speak to me, and he'll tell me, "Go say, 'I'm sorry.'" "Well, Lord, I would rather do a Bible study on forgiveness". Do you see how sometimes we want something deep so we don't have to do anything with it? I've been guilty in seasons of my life at highlighting my Bible, but at the same time I was highlighting my Bible I wasn't even willing to embrace the simplest habits, like gratitude. I know in my life that being grateful is the greatest way for me to have joy, so why is it the hardest thing to do? Because it's so simple.
See, right now in this season, maybe we need to simplify what God is speaking to us. We don't have to understand everything. Some of us have so complicated what we need from God to move forward in faith, but all he said was "Come". Sometimes all he'll say to you is "Peace". Sometimes all he'll say to you is "Love". Sometimes all he'll say to you is "Forgive". I found out that sometimes God will not give the details; he'll simply set the direction. "Come". "Wow. You really took me literally there. 'If it's you, tell me to come.' 'Come.'" Oh man. God was speaking to me studying this. He said, "You know how you want confirmation to obey me sometimes"? Like, "God, I'll do it if you give me a sign. Give me a sign that I'm supposed to do it".
You know you're supposed to do it. It's something you know you're supposed to do anyway. "God, give me a sign and I'll tithe". You already know you're supposed to do it. God said, "The command is the confirmation". "Well, God, I don't know if I can". "I wouldn't have told you to come if you couldn't". Let me bring this home. "I wouldn't have made you his father if I wouldn't enable you to raise him". So, when I don't feel like I'm enough, I don't realize if God gave it to me, he put it in me. When he said, "Come", when he gave the command, he also supplied the strength for me to step on, step out. "Yes, Lord. I can do it. Yes, Lord. I can make it. You wouldn't have told me to preach if you wouldn't enable me to preach". The same voice that told him to come would be the same word that would enable him to do it. I don't need any more confirmation but that he told me to.
"But, Lord, are there any subpoints? Like, 'Come' is Roman numeral I". This is a class. Right? "All right. So, left foot first? Show me how to do it". "Come". And Peter did, which is what makes the next part really weird. I mean, really weird. I'm going to lose some of y'all here, because it's really weird. How many disciples were in the boat that day? Twelve disciples. Let's not put Judas in. Eleven disciples who didn't suck. Eleven sincere disciples and Judas all going to the other side. There's an assignment on the other side, but God is weird, because he gives the test before the lesson. They don't even know what's on the other side, and neither do you. None of us know what's on the other side of what we're currently going through. I told our staff today our new church logo… It used to be one of these.
Now it's a question mark. That's our new church logo. "When are we going to open all of the buildings again"? Question mark. Yet at the same time, I love how Peter… Of all of the Eleven and Judas, Peter was the one who had the faith to step out. I get with that, because… Do it big. You know? If you're going to do it, go big, Peter. "If it's you, tell me to come". "Come". So, he makes his big move. The Bible doesn't say how long he walked on the water. He must have made it pretty far. I'm going to tell you why I think this. Consider with me. They couldn't see Jesus up close enough to know whether it was a ghost or really Jesus. They needed to hear him to know. The only way they heard the word was the wind carried it. The wind that was against the disciples carried the voice of Jesus.
Some of the things that are against you will enable you to hear God more clearly. The other thing is when Peter fell, the Bible says a word that started the passage as well, and you can look this up in verse 22. It says, "Immediately Jesus made them get into the boat to the other side". Then it says that when Peter got out of the boat… Immediately, when he started to sink, Jesus grabbed him. It doesn't say he fell immediately. It says that as soon as he started to fall Jesus caught him. Now, when Peter fell and Jesus caught him immediately, the next thing Jesus said is something he said a few times in Scripture. He said, "You of little faith". That offended me. If anybody deserves to be called little faith, it's Judas. You're going to single out Peter? That bothered me that he called that little faith. I mean, if you think it's little faith, you go do it.
When someone says, "That sermon was pretty good. It wasn't your best", I'm like, "Well, you preach one. I'll go listen to yours. I'll go listen to your best one. Preach your best one. You do it". "I just think you need to be more patient with your kids". "Good. I'll send them over to you and you can give them the patience I haven't been giving them lately. You do it". That's what I was thinking. So I sat with it, because last week I preached about little. Did you hear that sermon? Take the Lid Off a Little. The whole phrase got me. "You of little faith". I thought, "Well, we're all doomed if he thinks that's little. I mean, it's all I can do to get in a five-minute prayer time right now and not get distracted and start checking my phone. If that's what he thinks is little faith, I'm definitely not making it to heaven". But the phrase "You of little faith" doesn't necessarily refer to quantity; it refers to quality. It's not how much faith; it's how far faith. Little faith. It doesn't mean it wasn't strong; it means it wasn't sustained.
I want to show you something now, and I want you to lean into this. I thought, "Well, Jesus, if that's little faith, then what is big faith"? And it hit me…a Scripture I read about one of the two times Jesus was actually amazed. There are only two times in the New Testament that the Bible says Jesus was amazed. One time was in his hometown where they had no faith in him because they were too familiar with him. That's a whole sermon that we don't have time for in this class. That's Familiarity 101, and we'll do that class on another day…how familiarity can be the enemy of faith, how you can start getting so comfortable in your life you're afraid to do anything else. So, that's one time that he was amazed at their lack of faith, but what I want to show you is in Matthew, chapter 8. If you go with me to Matthew, chapter 8, we're going to see one of the times Jesus was amazed.
The Bible says there was a centurion, a military official, who had a sick servant. He had an issue. His storm was not a hurricane or rain and thunder and lightning. His particular need revolved around the sickness of someone he cared about. Matthew 8:5: "When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him…" Listen. This word is right for you. The Spirit of God gave me this passage, because I couldn't figure out, "If that's little faith, then what's great faith"? This centurion asked Jesus for help. "'Lord,' he said, 'my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.' Jesus said to him, 'Shall I come and heal him?'" Now let's contrast. Peter said, "If it's you, tell me to come". Jesus asked the centurion, "Should I come"?
What I saw next blew my mind. I never saw it before. I've been preaching since 16. I never saw this before in the Scripture. "The centurion replied, 'Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, "Go", and he goes; and that one, "Come", and he comes. I say to my servant, "Do this", and he does it.' When Jesus heard this, he was amazed…" He was blown away. He was exploding head emoji. "…he was amazed and said to those following him, 'Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.'"
The Lord spoke to me this. One disciple said, "Lord, if it's you, tell me to come". Jesus said, "That's little faith". One man said, "Jesus, I know who you are. You can stay". The Lord said, "Sometimes it takes greater faith to stay". "You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee". I hear the Lord saying, "You can come, and that's fine. That's little faith. But sometimes the greatest faith is when you stay because you trust that the one who spoke the word has authority over every situation".
See, right now, we're in a storm where we don't really have anywhere to go and there's really only so much we can do, and I don't really have a whole lot of options. God said, "When I see you staying in praise, staying grateful, staying encouraged, staying on the job, and staying in the ministry, just staying, that's great faith". It's great when you stay. You can come if you want to, but Jesus said, "Great faith is when you know that if I said, 'Let's go to the other side,' there's no storm in Galilee, there's no Devil in hell, there's no virus in the world…"