Jesus met Peter and the boys on the shore of the lake after a poor day of fishing. They had tried everything they knew to get a few fish to make a living for themselves. Along comes Jesus, a carpenter-turned-traveling preacher. Carpenters don't usually know a whole lot about commercial fishing unless of course they are from Alaska and you need many trades in order to make ends meet. But these guys are not , they were born into their trades and they would pass the family business on tho their sons after them also. So along comes the non-fishing carpenter Jesus and he tells these life-long wave warriors what
they need to do to catch a load of fish. If I were with Peter and the boys, I'm not sure how I would have responded, but they listened to Jesus because He was different; different than anyone they had ever met before. Reluctantly but obediently they rowed out into the deep water (not a great place to catch fish that usually run close to the shore) and threw out their nets AGAIN. This time it was all different. They caught the biggest catch of their lives!
To me this is not the most amazing part of the story. We all know that Jesus is different, that He is God and can do anything. We know that He can make a bunch of fish swim into a fisherman's net because He's God and he does "God-stuff" all the time. What is amazing to me is the response of the Disciples, these guys are not "God-men" they are just men like me. They are concerned about their future, their families, their children, how they will pay their taxes and rent and food. They are filled with the same concerns of life that I am and yet... The very provision that they needed to pay the bills etc., Jesus had just provided. But they left it all. They had just landed the biggest deal (catch) of their lives and yet at one word from Jesus they walked away from it all for the promise of the unknown. "Unknown?" Not really. They knew that they would be with Him, His presence was all the security they needed. They just walked away from the biggest catch of their lives to follow Jesus. It says in Luke 5:21 that they "left everything and followed Jesus." It seems that when you are in God's will and following Jesus that provision is not a problem. So, what really was the greatest catch?
I remember seeing this old skinny dog who I think was lost or had run away or been abandoned. He roamed around town looking for enough scraps to ﬁll his aching belly. Every time he was around people, he was skittish and fearful. If you came near him, he would shy away and if you lifted your hand, he would quickly jump out of your reach. It was obvious that this poor brute had been very mistreated by the hands of a former master.
I also remember our yellow lab, Sophi. She was as bold as a lion. She knew she was part of the family, if she wanted something, she was not afraid to let you know. She alway had the pick of whatever she wanted, all she had to do was show her big, sad, brown eyes to one of the kids and she could get whatever they had available whether it was dinner, dessert or anything in between. She knew she belonged, there was no fearful cowering there at all. She didn't see herself as a slave or even a dog for that matter, but a full-ﬂedged member of the Harris family and was entitled to all the beneﬁts that came with that coveted position.
If only we as God's children had that same kind of bold, conﬁdent, sense of belonging.
Romans 8:15-17 NLT
"So you should not be like cowering, fearful slaves. You should behave instead like
God's very own children, adopted into His family - calling Him "Father, dear Father." For
His Spirit speaks to us deep in our hearts and tells us that we are God's children. And
since we are His children, we share His treasures - for everything God gives to His Son,
Christ, is ours too."
Not only are we deeply loved but we are also abundantly provided for. God doesn't want us to cower about like abused dogs, that would not accurately reﬂect His care for us as a loving Father. A conﬁdent and happy child is a testimony and evidence that he has loving, generous parents. It is the same with our Heavenly Father, if His children are content and blessed, it is a living testimony to His inﬁnite goodness.
Let us then as His dearly-loved children, be bold in His presence (Hebrews 4:16). We conﬁdently expect that our Father delights in us and in providing for us so that we may demonstrate to the world that out God is a loving and generous Father who delights in giving good things to His children. (Matthew 7:11, John 16:24)
I'm NOT a control freak, just ask anyone they'll tell you; anyone that
is except my 16 year old daughter who is learning to drive. Nothing
flushes your controlling tendencies out like not being in control.
She wanted to drive home from a football game yesterday. It
sounded like a good idea, I mean, you know, I'm a good dad,
a little bit of nostalgic, "Dad and daughter time", that is until I
have my finger imbedded into the dashboard and every word
from my mouth is unsolicited advice on how to drive correctly.
"Slow down, put on your blinker, turn wider around that corner, SLOW DOWN!"
No, I'm not a control freak, I'm a father, just ask my daughter....
Jesus' words in Mark 8:35, If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will
lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the Gospel,
you will find true life." Easy words to read, near impossible words to
live. What! Jesus is asking me to give up my life, to relinquish control. But
what will He do once He has control? Where will He take me, how can I be sure
I will like what He has in mind? How do I know I will be happy or fulfilled
or successful if I let Jesus do the driving? What if He crashes my life
into the guardrail or if I get into a head-on collision on the road of non-control?
What kind of insurance coverage and benefits package does this discipleship
gig come with? How can I be expected to relinquish control when I don't even
know where He is taking me? Okay, I admit it, I'm a slight control freak.
All the questions we find ourselves asking: Where are you taking me? When
will we get there? Are there any rest stops along the way? Are you watching
out for the...? These are all the wrong questions. The one question I need to
ask is: "Do I trust the driver?" If I trust the driver and His ability to control the vehicle
of my life and I trust that He knows the way better than I do, I can trust that He will get
me to the right place at the right time in good condition. Relax, let go of the dashboard,
loosen up those clenched leg muscles that are trying to push your feet through the
floorboards, quit giving directions, sit back, trust Jesus and enjoy the trip.
Neil Sedaka didn't quite get it right with his song, it should have been,
"Giving up is hard to do." That is where the words of the Apostle James
comfort us where he says, "But He gives more grace." (James 4:6) It is hard to
"let go and let God", but thankfully we don't have to muster the courage to
do it, He provides the grace to accomplish what wecan't do on our own. Jesus
loves control freaks like me and transforms us into people who trust and
people who accomplish greater things by letting go that we ever could
by running the show. Thanks God, I need you.
Those who have been ransomed by the LORD will return.
They will enter Jerusalem singing,
crowned with everlasting joy.
Sorrow and mourning will disappear,
and they will be filled with joy and gladness. (Isaiah 51:11 NLT)
What a great promise the Lord lays out for those who put their trust in Him.
I know we go back and forth with what we should expect the effects of the Gospel message to be. I have even preached it that God died to make us holy not necessarily happy. This is true but the bottom line is that Jesus wants to bring joy and gladness into a believers life. Ps. 34:8 says to "Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh the joys of those who trust in Him."
Jesus promises a joy that comes from forgiveness and a gladness that comes from freedom. We need to remember this as we tell His story to others. Jesus wants people to experience real joy now and in eternity. The Gospel is really really good news.
“Arise, Jerusalem! Let your light shine for all to see. For the glory of the LORD rises to shine on you. Darkness as black as night covers all the nations of the earth, but the glory of the LORD rises and appears over you. All nations will come to your light; mighty kings will come to see your radiance. (Isaiah 60:1-3 NLT)
The darker the night, the brighter the light. God's plan has always been to love and bless His people so that everyone around them will see it and give Him glory and yearn for that same relationship. Psalm 31:19 says He lavishes us with His favor and blesses us before the watching world.
God desires to bless us because
1. He loves us and takes good care of us
2. It displayed his power and goodness
3. It causes those who don't know Him to desire Him
4. Through us, He is able to bless a fallen, hurting world.
His goodness and glory reflect on us and causes us to reflect that glory to a dark and dying world. Jesus loves people and desires for us to be filled with the joy of His presence. As we spend time with Him, we are transformed and we then reflect who He is and how He loves to those around us.
His desire is that His church would shine so brightly that the world would be drawn to us not repelled from us. We need a paradigm shift, God wants to love the world through us so that they might come to know Him. The church should not be the voice of criticism and judgement in the world but the voice of hope and salvation for all that are drawn to our light.
Pastors Phil Harris of Epikos Church in Bend, Oregon.