Monthly Archives: July 2011
Mark 1:16-20 – As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” 8At once they left their nets and followed him. 19When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. 20Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.
Jesus did not put up a sign up sheet in the carpenter’s shop that said Interested in following me sign up here. Jesus takes the initiative by seeking out followers to come and follow.
Jesus did not ask for volunteers to be a part of the kingdom expansion. He simply asked people to follow him. What is interesting is that these men had no special preparation. Jesus did not choose the socially prominent; the best trained or even the most religiously devout. He did not find them in a synagogue he simply was walking by and he called them to follow him.
Jesus gave them a call to action. Jesus did not call them to go to the temple and learn about him. He called him to follow him so that they could do something. Answering the call of Jesus does not mean you simply come to church, sing a few songs, help out around the church from time to time and give an offering. Answering the call of Jesus is a call to action. Jesus requires absolute obedience and sacrifice.
Discipleship is not a part-time hobby done on Sundays, but a lifetime commitment. You must be prepared to leave everything behind to follow him. Following Jesus is not about mastering the facts of his word; it is about being a part of his mission. Look at verse 17 again, “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
Jesus was not calling his disciples to be a part of a study group he was calling them to be a part of his mission.
My friend and I were traveling together, and he seemed a bit frazzled. When we got to the airport, he forgot to have his identification readily available and couldn’t find his record locator number. The ticket agent waited patiently, smiled, and then helped him at the “self” check-in. After receiving his ticket, he asked, “Where do I go next?” The agent smiled again, pointed at me, and said to him, “Stay close to your friend.”
That can be good advice for all of us when our lives get frazzled—stay close to your friends. Although Jesus is our best friend, we also need relationships with fellow believers to help us survive in this life.
In his first epistle, Peter was writing to believers who needed one another because they were suffering persecution for their faith. In a few short sentences in chapter 4, Peter mentioned the need to receive and give “fervent love,” prayer, and hospitality (vs 7-9). He also included the need for believers to use their spiritual gifts to minister to one another (vs 10). In other passages, we’re encouraged to comfort each other with the comfort we’ve been given by God (2 Cor. 1:3-4) and to build each other up in love (1 Thess. 5:11).
When life gets difficult and we get frazzled, staying close to our Christian friends will help us to get through. Who do you have in your life that is a friend that helps you when life seems to unravel?
Numbers 13:25-33, “At the end of forty days they returned from exploring the land. 26 They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land. 27 They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. 28 But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. 29 The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan.”
30 Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”
31 But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” 32 And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. 33 We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”
So many people in this life want everything without any effort.
We see that doctors home and say “I’d sure like to have a home like that” – but we don’t want to go to school for 15 years.
We see a young man walking through the mall, it looks like his muscles are about to bust out of his shirt, and we say “man I’d like to have muscles like that” – you can if you go to the gym 5 times a week and pump iron till it feels like your arms and legs are gonna fall off.
Many believers have the attitude that just because they are saved and in the family of God, that now God is supposed to be this Genie in a Bottle and give them everything they ever dreamed of without any effort, or work or discipline on their part.
The fact is to win the victories that God has for us it costs something, and the cost never goes on sale.
Sometimes you have to struggle, Sometimes you have to fight. There is something in the struggle that is necessary to become what God has ordained you to be.
God left giants in the promised land on purpose.
- Because they needed to learn how to fight. God is a God of process, and in order for them to be prepared to lead at the next level they had to learn how to fight. God is preparing you to lead at the next level.
- Because giants distinguish the difference between professors and possessors. It’s one thing to confess the promises of God, it’s another thing to strap on your sword and go toe to toe with your giants and possess your promises.
- You get to know yourself in the struggle. The real you comes out under pressure.
- You get to know your God, you realize that God is your only help. You see how big and powerful God is.
- The struggle produces thankfulness. Watch the news, when someone survives a tornado, their house is gone their car is gone but they are so thankful that they are still alive, the family is together.
Some of you may be in a struggle right now. Can I tell you that there is strength in the struggle. And the good news is that God promises to never leave you alone in the struggle. He was with the Israelites, and He will be with you.
In Luke 5:1-11, Jesus was teaching a crowd of people by the water’s edge. As Jesus looks over he sees two old boats used for fishing, he goes over to the boats and asked one of the fishermen to take him out on the boat a little ways from the shore. And the fisherman, named Simon, did just that. Jesus sat down in the boat and continued to teach the people from there.
Jesus could still address the people, maybe more effectively since they could all see him better now and the shore functioned better acoustically like an amphitheater.
But I believe there was clearly another reason why Jesus wanted to speak from the boat. He wanted to talk to the owner of the boat, Simon.
I think its important to see that Jesus is not only interested in crowds, he is also interested in you individually.
Jesus is never too busy to meet with just you! Jesus could relate to the crowds as a classroom teacher, but he also wanted to relate to a person named Simon as an individual tutor. Jesus is not only interested in us as a congregation gathered to worship him, but he is also personally interested in meeting with each of us one on one.
He may do that through something that the minister says that relates directly to you. God may do that through someone else that will speak to you. God may have done that this week in some time alone with him, for prayer and for silent meditation or for reading the word of God.
Maybe the question we need to ask now is: why would Jesus change his focus from the group to a single person?
Answer: When Jesus meets us, it is to take us from shallow faith to deeper faith. This is what happened to Simon. He had been washing the nets while keeping one ear listening to Jesus. He had to fish to make a living. Simon was working hard at his job, like many of you are, in making a living for your family.
So he thought he couldn’t give up what he was doing and just spend the whole day with Jesus. But Jesus was going to do something special in his life.
Notice that when Jesus asked Simon to sit in his boat, he asked Simon to put out a little from the shore. Then after he had finished teaching the people, he told Simon to put out into the deep water to go for a catch of fish.
This movement from shallow water into deeper water I take as an analogy of what Jesus was going to do in Simon’s faith life. Jesus was going to take Simon from his superficial, half-hearted and casual attention to him and turn that into a deeper, more personal and real commitment to Jesus.
Simon protested mildly, saying, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything…. But because you say so, I will let down the nets” (vs. 5). In other words, “I’ve already been there and nothing happened. But, oh well, since it is you, I will give it one more try.”
And how does Jesus take us from where we are to where he wants us to be?
By pushing us, that’s how. Jesus pushes us, ever gently, sometimes with words, sometimes with actions, away from one level of stability, as symbolized by the shallow water near the shore, to a place where we are more dependent on God, as symbolized by the deeper water.
And we might also mildly argue with him, saying, “Lord, I’ve already been there and done that.” “I’ve already tried reading the Bible, I’ve already prayed, and it hasn’t worked. I’ve already…” But hopefully we won’t stop there, but will continue to say, “But if this is what you want me to do, to go once again from where I am now, then so be it.”
What happens in the deeper water? It is more scary. It is more unstable, at least more unfamiliar. But it is also where there are more fish. Fishermen never catch many fish from the shore; they have to go out into the deep water to catch larger fish and more fish.
Likewise, Jesus wants to take you from your comfortable shoreline to a deeper place where you will find more food for your soul and more dependence on him.
This can come, for example, in the form of an illness, or other crisis, either to you or to someone you know, and all of a sudden, you are drifting away from predictability and one kind of stability to a place that is more mysterious and where you can’t see the bottom. But God is taking you there. He is not abandoning you in that illness or crisis. He is actually using that situation like a boat to take you further out into a relationship with Him.
And the journey to the deeper water is always to help us to know God better.
I had the opportunity to go visit with a friend of mine who owns a business this morning and we spent nearly two hours walking, talking, dreaming, praying over his business, equipment and staff – and that got me thinking about how God can be glorified in a for-profit business.
Marketplace Ministry is a buzz word in the Christian Community, but what does it really mean? Is it finding ways of doing ministry while in the secular marketplace? Is it working a for-profit business in order to fund a non-profit organization. Is it working your job faithfully from 9-5 with the goal of evangelizing your coworkers by your lifestyle commitment to Christ and your work ethic to your employer? Perhaps it can be all of those things to some degree when we remember that Jesus called us to be “the light of the world”.
Listen to what Jesus said in Matthew 5:14-16, “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
If Christ is the ‘Light of the World’ and we claim to have Him in our lives then it must make a difference in the way we live. He (our Light) lives in us and must be seen in our actions, heard in our words, revealed in our attitudes and displayed before men in our lives.
Lets be honest this morning – for many people who claim to be followers of Christ very little light shines out of them. Ask yourself ‘Is it light that is revealed in my life?’ ‘What does your life say about the Christ you claim to know and love?’
‘What does your attitude, your words, your actions reveal about Jesus the ‘Light of the World?’
Not too long ago, Renee was watching a little girl at our house while the girl’s parents were out. As she followed me around I heard the familiar, “Whatcha doin’?” over and over. Whether I was working at my computer, putting on my shoes to go outside, sitting down to read, or helping in the kitchen, she followed me and asked what I was doing.
After answering her a few dozen times with, “Paying bills,” “Going to the store,” “Reading my email,” “Helping Renee,” I came to the conclusion that she was asking a key question.
Answering to a curious little girl about everything we do is one thing, but answering to God about our actions is infinitely more important. Wouldn’t it be helpful to think of God coming alongside us at any time to ask, “What are you doing?” Imagine how often our answers would seem meaningless or empty.
“I’m spending the entire evening watching TV.” “I’m eating more food than I should.” “I’m going another day without talking to You.” “I’m arguing with my spouse.” The list could go on—to our embarrassment.
We are told to use our time carefully – I like the way Paul said it, “Be very careful, then, how you live. Not as the unwise, but as the wise – making the most of every opportunity.” (Eph. 5:15 NIV).
So, it’s a good question. God wants to know: “Whatcha doin’?”
Understanding our identity is crucial to fulfilling our destiny.
Our identity is tied to Jesus Christ as the Son of God; Jesus is not simply the latest and greatest savior. He is not simply another choice on the spiritual buffet; you can’t say, I will take a little bit of Jesus, a little bit of astrology, a little slice of Buddhism and a sampling of New Age Philosophy and that will get me to God. No Jesus is the only way to God. Jesus would later tell his disciples “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
The disciples would carry on the same thought in the book of Acts when they told the religious leaders, Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.
While it is important to remember who we are; it just as important to remember what we are to do. Jesus does not just call us to recognize him or to know him intellectually. Jesus expects us to do something with the knowledge of him.
Homework: What are you going to do about it?
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For the past three years Life Church has sponsored FREEDOM CELEBRATION, a family-friendly activity leading up to the Amazing firework display provided by Citizens National Bank on July 3rd each year. From our first year with just an inflatable slide and bounce house, we witnessed the desire of Midlothian families to come together for a large scale attraction. Each year our FREEDOM CELEBRATION grew and attracted a greater crowd. It has provided to be a great festive time in our community as we celebrate our nations freedom. It wouldn’t have been possible without the strategic partnership of our vendors, the Midlothian School District, the Midlothian Police Department, the hundreds of volunteers from Life Church, and of course CNB’s firework show.
Maybe you are asking, where is Life Church this July 3rd? And where are all the great attractions, competitions and events? I’m glad you asked. Each year we spend time praying and seeking God’s will on the best investment of our time and resources. After weeks of prayer it seemed the more people on our staff and leadership team that we talked to, the more we were in agreement about a change to this summer’s event. After much prayer and planning, we want you to invite you and your family to join Life Church for the biggest end-of-summer blow out ever at our Back 2 School Bash!
After speaking with Dr Stewart, MISD Superintendent, and gaining the support of Boyce Whatley, Midlothian Mayor – we are moving full steam ahead. On Saturday, August 13th we are planning a 6 hour long Back 2 School Bash at the Midlothian Panther Football Stadium. Check out everything that is going to be happening:
- Largest Inflatable Water Slide in Texas with 150ft of sliding distance
- 2 Story Obstacle Course
- 2 Euro Bungees
- 24ft Rock Climbing Wall
- 30 ft Dry Slide
- 2 Obstacle Courses
- Bounce Houses
- Batting Cage
- Games & Competitions