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Daily Distinctives, April 26, 2015 (Abandon Ship)

April 26, 2015

Daily Reading:

[Mat 4:18 NKJV]
And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.

[Mat 4:19 NKJV]
Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

[Mat 4:20 NKJV]
They immediately left [their] nets and followed Him.

[Mat 4:21 NKJV]
Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James [the son] of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them,

[Mat 4:22 NKJV]
and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.

Daily Distinctive:

An old pastor friend of mine told me once, “Nick, when God calls you be ready to drop everything and go where He calls you.” I had just lost my job when I heard these faithful words. I had told my friend that I had sensed that God was calling me to ministry and he reminded me that I still had a family that I needed to care for, and that I ought to prepare for this call and work while I waited, after all, a man who will not care for his family has denied the faith is worse than an infidel (1 Timothy 5:8). And so from that point forward I set out to start a business that I could walk away from at a moment’s notice. I have to say that the past few years have not been the easiest, but God has provided and sustained my business and has caused it to grow each year since I began. One thing that I learned from my old pastor is not to hold on to things too tightly. In fact we should hold on to things with open and outreached hands, offering¬†them to God. What we will find when our hands are open in offering, it is usually God who fills them with blessings! That is some good stuff. But the question that the passages in my daily devotional brought to my mind is simply this: “Would I be willing to drop everything to follow after Jesus?” I hope that you will ask yourself this very same question. So let’s examine the Scriptures together and see what spiritual insights they might provide us with.

[Mat 4:18 NKJV]
And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.

Jesus had just began His ministry and He goes for a walk by the beach. Immediately I think of the old game show “The Dating Game,” where you would likely hear the clich√© comment, “I like long walks on the beach.” But in a sense that is kind of what Jesus is doing here. He is walking on the beach and looking to begin a relationship with two men that would be used to change the world for the glory of God.

It is here that Jesus comes upon Simon Peter and Andrew, and they are hard at work plying their trade. They were fishermen as the verse above tells us. Like Simon Peter and Andrew we all work to make a living (unless of course you are retired, but from what I gather even retirement does not mean cessation of work). Now I do have to say that a bad day fishing is better than the best day at work, but I digress. The point that I would like to make here is that they were going about their daily business. They were probably good Jews. They likely went to synagogue and heard all of the stories of the Patriarchs and the Prophets. They likely believed that Messiah would some day come. Little did they know that walking up the beach to meet them was the very Messiah that they had learned about from their youth. We know that this was not their first encounter with Jesus, for we read in the other Gospels about their encounter with Jesus after His baptism by John the Baptist.

[Mat 4:19 NKJV]
Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

Here we see the calling. Jesus walks up to them and says, “Follow me…” I don’t think that this was a command as much as it was an option. I don’t think that Jesus used the “Jedi Mind Trick” on them to get them to come. I have a strong suspicion that they saw Jesus and when He said, “…I will make you fishers of men,” they were compelled to choose Him and follow after Him because they saw something in Him that was pure. As we saw earlier in the chapter Jesus recently come down from a forty day fast and the temptation in the wilderness, and we know that when He had finished that ordeal that He was filled with the Holy Spirit. The glory of the Father was probably dripping from Christ as He calls out to the two.And so ¬†we see that…

[Mat 4:20 NKJV]
They immediately left [their] nets and followed Him.

When I first encountered the Living Christ with a repentant heart, I was completely enamored by Him and His love for me. He was to me my Savior and I owed Him everything. I knew that one day He would call me out to ministry, even before I was saved I knew that one day I would be. I don’t know how to explain it, but I pushed that far beneath me and denied it to my family and my friends who in my youth knew it too. In fact in open rebellion I fought against the LORD until the day He showed Himself to me in truth and in love and broke my hardened heart. Still, I pressed on, albeit now as a believer in Christ, and went about my business working and going to church as often as I could. Ministry was the furthest thing from my mind. I did not know that serving was even important for believers when I was young in my faith. Over time though, the more I learned and the more I studied God’s WORD the more I had come to realize that service is every believers calling and I have to say the rest was truly history for me. I served everywhere and anywhere they would let me. Over time I began to see the Gifts of the Spirit that the LORD had given me and it sparked a fire in the deepest part of my soul that burns to this day. And so I have to say, without a shred of doubt, when the LORD calls me, I will drop my nets and follow Him.

[Mat 4:21 NKJV]
Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James [the son] of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them,

So with Simon and Andrew in tow, they come across James and John. Now I love these guys! Their zeal, as you will discover, was classic! They were called the sons of thunder! In Luke 9:54 they say, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” They were talking about the Samaritans who had not welcomed Jesus as He passed through their lands. And so these guys were a couple of pretty intense dudes. Still when God called them, they left their father, Zebedee, behind and followed Christ Jesus. And it is important for us to consider that when we follow after Jesus there is going to be things that we leave behind. This is a good thing. I think about my own life and how much garbage I left behind when I surrendered to Christ. And so I could say that whether He calls me out while I am deep in the process of building my business, or later in life when I winding down and tending to the nets, I am going to drop it all and follow Him. Imagine how my poor wife must feel knowing that at a moments notice all of the security that God provided will come in a different form.

Another thing that was personal for me here in this study is that the two zealous sons of Zebedee were willing to leave behind their own family to follow after Christ. Now having recently lost my own parents I can totally relate to this. I have to bury the past and move on if I hope to serve the LORD. I did not have the best relationship with my dad and so packing up and leaving would not have been a difficult thing for me. In fact that is exactly what I did at age 16. I left. Unfortunately it was not to follow Jesus. But later in life I reconciled with my dad and then I left him again, this time to build my relationship with the LORD. I can’t tell you how many rolled eyes and concerns expressed me being “indoctrinated by a cult,” from my well meaning parents. The fact is that as a family we did not go to church, and so when I returned to them as a saved believer in full zeal, I can understand why they might have thought that. Still I look back on that day as leaving my mother and father, dropping the nets and following after Jesus.

For far too long I have held a grudge agains my own father for not pouring in to me the things of the LORD. I vowed to not allow that to happen for my children. But you know when I read this passage it gave me all the more reason for me to stop mending my own nets of self-pity over the lack of love my father shared, and leave my father behind to follow after Jesus. And so that is what I have done. I have forgiven my earthly father and have pursued a lifelong relationship with my Heavenly Father.

[Mat 4:22 NKJV]
and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.

Here is the thing that I noticed in this verse. One simple word that speaks volumes to me personally. Notice here that when they received the call, they “immediately” left the boat and their father and followed Jesus! That is so cool. There was not playing around, the got up and followed.

And so I look forward to the day when I hear from the LORD, it is time, Go! So that I can simply obey and bring honor and glory to the Savior of my soul. I get excited just thinking about what the LORD has done in my life, who He is changing me to become, and the hope that I have for a future. I long to share the WORD of God from the pulpit. Not so that I can be in the spotlight, but to calm these fires that in my chest (not heartburn either) to present the same Salvation that delivered me from a truly “dead-end” life. And so when He does call, am I willing to drop it all and go. Without a doubt, Absolutely Yes!!!! How about you?

Daily Muse:

Another long day at work. I am beginning to thing that ministry would be a vacation! But even I know better than that. When you pour yourself into ministry you are poured out and refilled so many times that it can be physically, mentally, and spiritually exhausting, but in an amazing way. It’s not too different from exercising. It may be hard and exhausting to exercise at first, but the more you do it the more it feels right and you actually see over time that it is actually improving your demeanor, your health and your overall looks. Still I look forward to that day where I get to test my belief that ministry is more difficult than my own job! As difficult as it might be, I am still compelled to keep busy and wait for the LORD to launch.

Daily Prayer:

LORD, I simply pray for sweet rest. Renew the time for Your servant. Allow me to rest well and still be invigorated by Your WORD. I pray for opened doors LORD. I pray for godly men to surround me and encourage me in my walk. I pray that You would continue to work in and through me to bring glory and honor to Your name. I love You LORD and it is in Your name that I pray.   -Amen

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