The Chosen – Book Three – Day 40

Day 40


“‘Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.’ And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.” ( Mark 6:50-52)

Let’s go one more round because the heart of this story isn’t Jesus calming the water after walking on it. It’s also not Simon Peter getting out of the boat, although those things are awesome and important and endlessly relevant for us. The heart of this story is the heart change of the disciples. There was indeed a seismic shift that occurred after seeing Jesus defy gravity and also the weather. Finally, for goodness’ sake, the men were astounded in a way that changed them because finally their hearts weren’t hard.

As we’ve discussed, this wasn’t their first opportunity to be blown-away that day. All twelve had witnessed and participated in the feeding of the five thousand-one of the most epic miracles of all time. Nevertheless, they failed to fully understand what it meant and how incredible the whole thing was. The miracle had eluded them because minds can’t be blown when hearts are unwilling.

We see that a lot throughout Scripture. The condition of hard-heartedness is a congenital one and expressed in numerous ways for a variety of reasons. Take these broad categories for instance:

  1. The pure-evil hard heart. (Think Pharaoh, Jezebel, and Herod the (not so) Great.)
  2. The prideful, self-righteous hard heart. (Think the Tower of Babel builders, King Nebuchadnezzar, and the Pharisees).
  3. The skeptical or indifferent hard heart. (Think pretty much everyone else).

different brands of yuck, but they all had one thing in common: despite being given everything they needed to believe, hard-hearted folks stay stuck. It was for that reason the disciples were lumped in with the worst of them. While they weren’t evil or self-righteous, they were still skeptical when they ultimately had no right to be.

Thank goodness that when Jesus climbed into the boat that day, the disciples got it! Their eyes did not fail to see, and their ears did not fail to hear. They were astounded because it clicked; if this bread-multiplying, water-walking Messiah can feed the masses and calm the waves, then we have no reason to be afraid. Or skeptical. Or unbelieving. Ever. Because there’s nothing He can’t do.

“When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored to the shore. And when they got out of the boast, the people immediately recognized him and ran about the whole region and began to bring the sick people on their beds to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.” (Mark 6:53-56)

When they had crossed over. Turns out that phrase has a double meaning because not only did they make it to other side of the lake, they had finally made it to the other side of unbelief. Which means that even though they’d witnessed many miracles, this was the first time they got to experience the power of God unencumbered by their own doubt. Oh, what a joy-filled day that must’ve been! And oh, how firm their resolve must’ve become to take the good news of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth.

Being softened by God’s power, authority, and love is the heart of any story. It’s also the purpose of every story. Because when our minds are blown and we finally understand who He really is and what He can really do, unbelief, doubt, and fear fade away. In their place is a firm foundation faith that we’ll be standing on all the way to eternity.

And, for goodness’ sake, what’s more amazing than that?


Ask God to forgive you for any hard-heartedness, be it pride and self-righteousness or skepticism and indifference (we’ll assume you’re not evil). Ask Him to soften your heart to better understand who He really is. Praise Him for His power and authority over all things, including and especially, you.


  • When reading the Bible, do you find it difficult to be amazed by the things God has done? If so, why? Are the stories too familiar? Do they seem implausible? Explain.
  • The purpose of every story is to soften our hearts toward Jesus. Which stories have done that for you the most? Which stories have blown your mind?
  • Read 2 Peter 1:3-111 (and when you do, remember the guy talking is the same one who Jesus made walk on water!) What has Jesus made available to you through His death and resurrection? In what ways have you been given everything you need to believe?



The Chosen – Book Three – Day 39

Day 39


“And Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ He said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord, save me.’ Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’ And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.'” (Matthew 14:28-33)

Simon Peter liked being in the middle of the action. When the disciples realized the mystery figure on the water was Jesus and not a ghost, Simon’s fear morphed into faith. And excitement. And resolve. Simon had a growing desire to be wherever Jesus was even if that meant braving a squall. As for the others? Well, they stayed put.

That’s the thing. Far too often we take a pass on really following Jesus because we don’t like the optics. We’re afraid He’ll require us to go somewhere we don’t want to go or do something we don’t want to do. What if He leads us to change jobs, or adopt a child, or move, or end a relationship we desperately want to stay in, or (God forbid!) become a missionary in a foreign land? By its very nature, following can be so disruptive. We’d prefer to retain control, to self-govern by holding tightly to our pride, our passions, and our pursuits. we’d prefer to cling to the things that make us feel comfortable and safe.

Kinda like a boat in a storm.

Problem is, we can’t stay int the boat and also walk on the water.

Simon Peter made the choice to walk, and the result changed the course of history. Until that moment, the disciples still weren’t fully understanding wht it meant that Jesus was God incarnate. For reasons that could only be chalked up to our dumb human nature, even the miracle of the loaves and fish hadn’t 100% settled it for them. “And Jesus got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened” (Mark 6:51-52).

Turns out healing every disease and sickness (Matthew 4:23), teaching with other worldly authority (Mark 1:22, 6:2), and empowering the disciples to do the same (Luke 9:1) wasn’t quite enough. Apparently, the men also needed to see physics defied and the weather controlled (more than once!) before the eyes of their hearts could truly see. But whatever-they finally got it, and Simon Peter’s response was to move forward in faith, believing the One on the water would make him walk too.

And that’s exactly what happened.

Of course, when Simon took his eyes off Jesus, he began to sink. That’s how it works; we sink when we focus on our circumstances instead of our Savior. But that’s not really the point because when we’re following Jesus closely, He’s right there to pick us up when we fail and fall. Thank goodness.

The more important thing, dear reader, is that Simon got out of the boat. And that’s where the action always is. Because when we’re out of our depth, wholly depending on our Savior’s power and plans, awesome things happen like seas parting (Exodus 14), giants falling (1 Samuel 17), lions purring (Daniel 6), armies resurrecting (Ezekiel 37), and God glorifying Himself through the lives of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

So, no matter the optics, we have nothing to fear because the One who did all that is still with us. And that means we’re free to get out of the boat and live as God intended, not succumbing to worldly pleasure or pressure, but to live fully surrendered and willing to follow the One who walks on water.


Praise God because He’s worthy of it. Praise Him because He allows us to be part of the awesome things He’s doing in the world. Praise Him because life here isn’t all there is. Praise Him because He promises to lead, strengthen, and carry us all the way to heaven. Praise Him!


  • In what ways are you stuck in the boat?
  • In what ways is God asking you to step out in faith?
  • How does knowing that Jesus walks on water change the way you feel about otherwise impossible things?


The Chosen – Book Three – Day 38

Day 38


“Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” (Matthew 14:22-27)

Out on the lake that night, there were a lot of legitimate things for the disciples to fear. The wind and the waves, for one. The constant threat of being arrested by the Jewish religious leaders, another. The perpetual abuse and heavy taxation that came from living under the Roman occupation, still another. Add to that the group’s quickly spreading fame, the growing crowds, and the inevitable wondering whether or not their lives would ever be the same. So yeah, there were definitely reasons to be afraid.

Including, apparently, a ghost.

That’s right. As the grown men struggled to row, they saw something that caused all twelve of them to “cry out in fear.” And before you shake your head in judgment (like we did), consider the context:

  1. Never before had these guys (the majority of them fishermen) witnessed something moving along the surface of the water, especially so far from shore. Come to think of it, no one ever has again.
  2. They were three to four miles from the shore (John 6:19). So, what else could’ve been moving toward them?
  3. Their emotions were already frayed. Following Jesus had brought total upheaval to their lives; they were constantly on the move. They were also witnessing one mind blowing thing after another with no time in between to rest or even process.
  4. They didn’t yet know how close Jesus actually always is. But they were about to.

“Take heart; it is I.”

In other words, be comforted. be confident. Be encouraged and full of hope because the One who heals the sick, makes the lame walk and the blind see, the One who teaches with all authority, wisdom, and knowledge, and the One who just fed 5,000 plus people by multiplying loaves and fish from a little boy’s lunch-He is with you. And the wind and the waves obey Him.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves because the exhortation given on the lake that day wasn’t just for the disciples. The truth is, we all have things in our lives that cause us to cry out in fear, and our first instinct isn’t usually to look for help off the starboard bow. The same was true for the disciples. Simply put, they were struggling and straining, and Jesus wasn’t there.

Which caused them to believe that Jesus wasn’t there.

Rookie mistake. mark’s account of this same story actually says, “And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and Jesus was alone on the land. And he saw that the disciples were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea” (Mark 6:47-48).

He saw them because He was watching them. Turns out there was never a moment when they were out of His care or beyond His reach. He wasn’t neglecting them. He wasn’t forgetting them. He wasn’t apathetic to what they were going through; the opposite was true. But He knew they needed to learn the very thing we must learn: that God is with us even before we’re aware of His presence (Zephaniah 3;17); that He never leaves us or forsakes us (Deuteronomy 31:8); and that when harder things than wind and waves come our way, we can take heart because nothing can separate us from the love and care, power and plans of Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).

And now we’re nearing the end of this devotional book, along with the point of the whole thing.


Thank Jesus for His constant presence in the lives of His followers. Tell Him about the things that scare you and ask for faith to believe He’s moving toward you before you can see or feel Him.


  • What specific circumstances in your life have you feeling alone or afraid?
  • How do Jesus’ words, “Take heart, it is I. Do not be afraid,” impact the way you feel? How should they help you respond?
  • Memorize a couple Bible verses about God’s faithful presence, and then recite them back to yourself every time the wind kicks up.


The Chosen – Book Three – Day 36

Day 36


“Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'” (Matthew 19:26)

Something significant happens when people unite to accomplish a goal. First, they agree the goal is possible. Then plans are drawn, tasks are assigned, headway is made, and so is history. The whole thing can be enormously inspiring, or it can be an unmitigated disaster. it depends on the goal and why the people want is accomplished.

When it comes to Christian goals and plans, we like to remind ourselves that ‘with God all things are possible.” But we often forget the first half of that verse, which is, “With man this is impossible.” We also tend to draw a total blank regarding the context and why Jesus said it, which was to answer the disciples’ original question: Who can be saved?

The whole conversation happened right after a rich young ruler walked away from Jesus because he wasn’t willing to part with all his stuff. Although it was possible for him to follow the law and build a fortune, he didn’t want to forfeit his personal kingdom in order to surrender to Jesus (Matthew 19:16-26). Which means it was impossible for him to save himself from himself.

There’s a similar story in Genesis that illustrates the possible/impossible ratio, but on a grander scale. After the flood, God told the people to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth,” (Genesis 9:1) but they didn’t want to. So, they decided to stay put and create a utopian society for the sake of being awesome. Unified in their narcissism, the people said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth” (Genesis 11:4).

Not okay with their obnoxious plan, God said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them” (Genesis 11:6). Rest assured, God was not nervous or threatened by what the people could accomplish. He actually allowed them to pursue their own nonsense. He watched as they unified around a goal, drew up plans, assigned tasks, and made some headway. But then He dismantled the whole thing by confusing their language and scattering them over the earth because that was His plan. He’d already made that clear.

Turns out, it’s possible for man to build all kinds of things: a fortune, a tower, a city, a company, a non-rofit, a terrorist cell, a theater group, a bowling league, a tyrannical regime-you name it. God watches as we unify and draw up plans. And He leaves us alone until our plan messes with His. In which case, He dismantles that sucker faster than you can quote: “No wisdom, no understanding, no counsel can avail against the Lord” (Proverbs 21:30).

Side note: While it’s impossible for our plans to succeed against the Lord, they most certainly can succeed against ourselves. Like the rich young ruler, we can build a personal kingdom and then walk away from all that jesus has to offer. Or, like the tower-building egomaniacs, we can succumb to groupthink and wander from God’s plan. Either way, we lose, which is why we desperately need the Impossible to intervene.

And why we need to respond when He does.

Something significant happens when surrendered, obedient people unite with Christ to accomplish His goals. First, they agree that with man the most important things are impossible. Then they grow in faith, believing that with God all things are possible. Kingdom plans are drawn, tasks are assigned, and history is made. Ultimately, the whole thing is enormously inspiring because God and God alone can save us from the unmitigated disaster that is ourselves.


Pray that God would revel any of your plans that mess with His. Pray that He would expose any personal kingdom building or groupthink habits that prohibit you from following Him with your whole heart. Praise Him for intervening and saving you from yourself.


  • Is there something you’ve built that would be very hard to walk away from if Jesus asked you to?
  • Have you ever succumbed to groupthink that was directly opposed to God’s plan? Explain.
  • How has God interrupted your possible with His impossible? How did your plans and to do list change?