APRIL 23: THE FOURTH WATCH

THE FOURTH WATCH

By: Darrelyn L. Tutt

"And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before Him unto the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up into a mountain apart to pray, and when the evening was come, He was there alone. But the ship was now in the midst of the sea tossed with waves, for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled saying, 'It is a spirit,' and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spoke unto them saying, 'Be of good cheer, it is I. Be not afraid.' And Peter answered Him and said, 'Lord, if it be Thou, bid me come unto Thee on the water.' And He said, 'Come.' And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried, 'Lord, save me.' And immediately Jesus stretched forth His hand, and caught him, and said unto him, 'O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?' And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped Him, saying, 'Of a truth, Thou art the Son of God.'
Matthew 14:22-33
Today's Read: Matthew 14; Phil.2
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The Jews had adopted the Roman divisions of night, consisting of four watches. The watches were divided into three hour increments. The first watch began at six and continued to nine (evening); the second watch began at nine and continued to twelve (midnight); the third began at twelve and continued to three (cock-crowing); the fourth began at three and continued to six (morning).
The four watches provide us with four retainable insights:
1) The sovereignty of God is absolute.
 Christ knows that the disciples are going to encounter a storm before they find themselves in one. He is purposefully and masterfully creating a "scene" which wiill ultimately bolster their understanding of Him, their worship to Him, and their witness of Him.
 Christ knows, likewise and in advance, what storms will attend and attempt to make shipwreck of our lives.
He knows the individuals involved, the "watch" in which the storm will occur, and the duration and outcome of the storm.
There is no storm which catches God unaware.
Storms display God's sovereignty, His majesty, and His glory.
"Ah Lord God! Behold, Thou hast made the heaven and the earth by Thy great power and outstretched arm, and there is nothing too hard for Thee."
Jeremiah 32:17
2) The character of God is composed of compassion, tenderness, and pity.
Christ was not loitering on the shores picking up seashells in the midst of the disciples' storm, and He most certainly is not doing so in ours.
Christ was fixed and positioned on a mount, in close communion with the Father, interceding on behalf of those He loved.
This assertion springs from the certain reality of Christ's fixed position, on behalf of us, this very moment.
"Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us."
Romans 8:34
Our storms are not attended without the merciful prayers and pleas of Christ before the Father. He is on the "mount" compassionately, mercifully, and earnestly contending for us and providing grace to us.
We are spiritually covered by an unseen canopy of prayer.
3) Christ appears in the fourth watch.
At the Father's determining and discerning, Christ will avail Himself to our eyes, and for our enlightenment, at the appointed time.
This will be the moment when the scales "fall" from the eyes and we understand the realities and promises given in His word.
"And they remembered His words ..."
Luke 24:8
The promises of God are rarely understood without the storms of life defining them and developing them in us. We are a heavy and dull minded people who require the enablement of the Spirit and the entrance of trial, test, and storm to properly engage the deep realities of God's provisions.
"Wherein ye greatly rejoice though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations. That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ."
1 Peter 1:6-7
4) The outcome of every storm and story is God's glory.
Mmmm ...
God saves the best for the last.
Ultimately and beautifully, every storm is an opportunity for God to display His glory through us and to us.
Every storm, in the end, brings us to our knees.
Every storm, in the end, leads us into surrender-inducing worship.
Every storm ushers in and fosters the potential for depth and growing intimacy with God.
Through every storm we become a little more conformed to the likeness of Christ.
From the ship we bend the knee, and with the disciples utter,
"Of a truth, Thou art the Son of God."
Matthew 14:33
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Three Study Suggestions:
1) Intertwine today's passages and use them in an engagement and conversation with God.
2) Take your eyes off of yourself and place them on a stationary object. Jesus Christ is interceding for "you" and on your behalf this very moment.
 This is your reality; cling to it.
3) Expect deliverance in the storm, and through a form, you might not immediately recognize. At just the right moment, your eyes will see, you'll fall on your knees, and witness the prevailing power and goodness of God Almighty.