|Sermon Studies

Small Group Sermon Series Discernment - Session 4

Sermon: Discerning and Deciding to Step out of the Boat

Speaker: Rich Villodas

Date: Febuary 10, 2019

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Mathew 14:22-33 [NIV]

22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd.

23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone,

24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.

26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

29 “Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.

30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”


Amid fearful challenges or opportunities we face, how can we discern God’s voice and step out in faith? In this session, we take a look at the interaction between Jesus and Peter when he is faced with a decision to make.

Opening Questions

  1. In light of the challenges and opportunities you are facing, what do you think Jesus might be saying to you?"
  2. What indicators give you some measure of confidence that it is indeed Jesus speaking to you rather than someone or something else?

  1. The Ten Meter Tower that was featured in the 2017 Sundance Film Festival is a portrait of human-beings in doubt and the way humans respond to fear. What is your response to this clip?
  2. When we are faced with an important decision to make, many of us are over analyzing and paralyzed, some of us are rushing to jump in without checking if there is enough water, many of us are standing there. How do you relate?

  1. Storm in the bible is often a metaphor for disorientation, confusion, and spiritual warfare. When the disciples were in this situation, Jesus drew near. Share a time where you were in the middle of a “storm” and Jesus drew near.
  2. Jesus is near but hard to see and often hidden. This is the conundrum of our lives. What does this say about Jesus?

  1. The sea in ancient times was the dwelling place of evil powers like Leviathan the sea monster. Jesus walked on water to show that he has authority over every power in this world. What are some of the storms in your life you are afraid of?
  2. The first few words out of Jesus were words of assurance. “Take heart, I AM, do not be afraid.” How does this apply to the challenges and opportunities you are facing?

  1. Peter is discerning and asks “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come.” In the midst of a storm and the noise of the waves, Peter is able to recognize Jesus’ voice. We, also, want to ask if it is in fact, God in our situation. A crucial part of discerning is to ask God “Lord, is this of you?” Knowing the Scripture, spending daily time with God, being in community with believers are all ways we grow in discerning God’s voice. How are you equipping yourself to discern the voice of God readily? Where do you need to grow?

  1. Read verse 29. We often stay on the boat out of fear of failure, embarrassment, and the unknowns. We like to wait for absolute certainty. We end up worshiping certainty instead of worshiping God. In what areas in my life am I worshiping certainty instead of God?
  2. Read verse 30. Peter was in the center of God’s will, and sinks. No one was more in the center of God’s will than Jesus, and He ends up on a cross, crucified. What happens when you hear correctly and still sink - marriage crumbles, business fails, lose the job, health, etc.?

Leader’s note: No matter what good things we accomplished and morally righteous we are, sooner or later we all fall, and lose our way. As we find ourselves sinking, as our sins bring us under the waters, “Lord save me” brings us right back up.

  1. Read verse 31. What does this say about Jesus?

Leader’s note: Jesus is strong enough to grab and lift us from our sinking situation immediately. It may look differently from what we imagined, but He will save us.

Where are you in the story today? In the boat, refusing to go anywhere? Have you heard the voice, and at the edge? Are you walking on water? Are you sinking? Regardless of wherever you’re at, all things lead to these three words “Lord save me.”


  1. What are you taking away from this study?
  2. What are you willing to start this week to become more sensitive to God’s voice?

Pray Together

Father, we sink because of despair, fear, addictions, and yet our sinking does not have to have the last word. Thank you for your strong arms of grace and mercy that lifts us up. Lord, it requires us to say the words “Lord save me.” Help us train our souls to be so sensitive to your voice, so we can hear you and can distinguish your voice from others.