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THE TRINITY - THEY LEFT EVERYTHING AND FOLLOWED HIM Luke 5:1-12; Luke 6:20-30

THEY LEFT EVERYTHING AND FOLLOWED HIM                              Luke 5:1-12     Luke 6:20-30

IN A GOSPEL EPISODE, JESUS TELLS A SIMPLE STORY OF HOW TWO BROTHERS RESPONDED TO THEIR FATHER'S REQUEST TO WORK FOR HIM IN HIS VINEYARD.

ONE SON RESPONDED POSITIVELY, SAYING, "I AM ON MY WAY SIR." BUT HE NEVER WENT OUT TO THE VINEYARD.

THE OTHER SON RESPONDED NEGATIVELY, SAYING, "No, I WILL NOT!" BUT LATER HE CHANGED HIS ATTITUDE, AND HE DID GO OUT AND DO HIS FATHER'S WORK.

"WHICH OF THE TWO DID WHAT THE FATHER WANTED?" JESUS ASKS THE CHIEF PRIESTS AND THE ELDERS OF THE TEMPLE.  THEY ANSWER CORRECTLY, “OF COURSE: "THE SECOND SON."

NOW, JESUS DOESN'T PUT ON THIS LITTLE QUIZ TO SEE HOW SMART HIS LISTENERS ARE. HE IS MAKING A CRUCIAL POINT WITH THEM ABOUT THEIR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD:

  • IT IS NOT WHAT YOU SAY,
  • NOT WHAT YOU PROMISE,
  • NOT YOUR GOOD INTENTIONS THAT MATTER MOST. 
  • IT IS WHAT YOU DO!

THIS IS A LESSON IN OBEDIENCE TO DO THE LORD’S WORK IN SERVICE TO OTHERS, ESPECIALLY IN A LOCAL CHURCH FOR TEACHING AND OUTREACH TO THE COMMUNITY.

YOU STUMBLE,   YOU FALL,   YOU REFUSE,   YOU HEDGE,   YOU SHIFT,   YOU FAIL.

BUT GOD YOUR FATHER IS ALWAYS THERE TO REDEEM YOUR LIFE SITUATION IF ONLY YOU WILL OBEY. TRUE OBEDIENCE TAKES YOU BEYOND GOOD INTENTIONS. OBEDIENCE TO GOD'S COMMANDS IS THE MEANS OF YOUR BECOMING THE PERSON GOD WANTS YOU TO BE. YOU DON’T HAVE TO JUST SIT THERE DOING NOTHING BEYOND BLAMING YOURSELF FOR YOUR PAST, NOT BEING OF SERVICE. THE FORGIVENESS, THE HEALING, THE NEW LIFE IS FOR YOU, AND IT WILL CHANGE EVERYTHING FOR YOU IF ONLY YOU WILL RESPOND POSITIVELY TO THE FATHER'S INVITATION TO LABOR IN HIS VINEYARD.

WE WANT THIS CHURCH TO GROW BY FOLLOWING THE COMMAND OF THE GREAT COMMISSION IN MATTHEW 28:18-20.

HARRY AND MARY LOU HAD ONE OF THOSE HUSBAND AND WIFE SPATS THAT JUST WOULDN'T GO AWAY. THEY STOPPED SPEAKING TO EACH OTHER, AND NEITHER WAS WILLING TO BREAK THE ICE. THIS PRESENTED HARRY WITH A PROBLEM. HIS LONG‑PLANNED DEEP‑SEA FISHING TRIP WITH SOME OLD FRIENDS WAS THE NEXT MORNING, AND HARRY NEEDED TO ASK MARY LOU TO AWAKEN HIM. WHAT TO DO? HE DECIDED TO LEAVE HER A NOTE:

"MARY LOU, PLEASE AWAKEN ME AT FIVE A.M. SO THAT I WON'T MISS THE BOAT." ACTUALLY, HE COULD HAVE ASKED ONE OF HIS FRIENDS TO CALL HIM, BUT THIS MIGHT BE EMBARRASSING. THE NEXT MORNING HARRY AWAKENED AT NINE A.M. PINNED TO HIS PILLOW WAS A NOTE SIGNED BY MARY LOU: "HARRY, IT'S FIVE A.M. GET UP AND GO FISHING." BVIOUSLY, HARRY CAUGHT NO FISH THAT DAY.

AND, IN TODAY'S GOSPEL EPISODE, WE ENCOUNTER THE FISHERMAN, SIMON PETER, ON A DAY WHEN HE CAUGHT NO FISH EITHER. HOW ARE WE GOING TO CATCH FISH FOR JESUS IF WE DON’T TRY THROUGH HIM TO TAKE THE RESPONSIBILITY OF SERVICE.

THE GOSPEL SCENE TAKES PLACE ON THE SHORE OF LAKE GENNESARET WHERE JESUS HAS BEEN PREACHING THE WORD OF GOD TO A CROWD GATHERED 'ROUND HIM. JESUS SEES SIMON PETER AND SOME OTHER FISHERMEN WASHING THEIR NETS AFTER HAVING FISHED ALL NIGHT ON THE LAKE. JESUS TELLS SIMON PETER TO PUT OUT INTO DEEP WATER AND HANG OUT YOUR NETS FOR A CATCH."

PETER REPLIES, "MASTER, WE WORKED HARD ALL NIGHT LONG AND CAUGHT NOTHING. BUT IF YOU SAY SO, I WILL PUT OUT THE NETS."

THE GOSPEL WRITER TELLS US, "AND WHEN THEY HAD DONE THIS, THEY NETTED SUCH A LARGE NUMBER OF FISH THAT THEIR NETS BEGAN TO TEAR . . . WHEN SIMON PETER SAW THIS, HE FELL AT THE KNEES OF JESUS, SAYING 'LEAVE ME, LORD, I AM A SINFUL MAN,' FOR HE AND ALL HIS COMPANIONS WERE COMPLETELY OVERCOME BY THE CATCH THEY HAD MADE."

ALSO AMONG THEM WERE JAMES AND JOHN, THE SONS OF ZEBEDEE, WHO WERE SIMON'S PARTNERS. BUT JESUS SAYS TO SIMON PETER, “PETER, DO NOT BE AFRAID. FROM NOW ON IT IS MEN YOU WILL CATCH." THEN, BRINGING THEIR BOATS BACK TO LAND, THEY LEFT EVERYTHING AND FOLLOWED HIM."

WHEN, LIKE PETER, YOU ARE OBEDIENT TO THE MASTER'S COMMANDS, YOU TOO MAY FIND YOURSELF "COMPLETELY OVERCOME" BY THE ABUNDANCE OF GOODNESS HE BRINGS INTO YOUR LIFE. AND, LIKE PETER, JAMES, AND JOHN, YOU MAY FIND YOURSELF WILLING TO LEAVE EVERYTHING AND FOLLOW HIM.

As disciples, we can’t catch people unless we fish for them and teach them. The good news about God is that He loves you and wants you to have life--the good life. But that flows from obedience to His rule.

  • You can obey, or you can disobey. 
  • You can follow Jesus, or you can go your own way.
  • The consequence, or the fruit, or freely choosing to say yes to God is love.
  • Obeying God is learning how to love.
  • Obedience to God’s will opens up the whole secret of life to us.
  • Obedience to the will of God, actually doing what the Lord teaches us to do, is the one and only way to achieve genuine happiness, genuine fulfillment, genuine wholeness of life.
  • Christian happiness is actually joy in the Lord. Genuine joy is only through Jesus Christ.

We say these things week after week. We say them, but do we really believe them enough to act accordingly? Some churches  keep on as they are without much individual outreach right down to the bitter end until they are no longer in operation as a church. We may try to talk our way into the Christ life, but it can’t be done.

He who obeys the commands he has received from me is the man who loves me,  Jesus says. He does not want lukewarmness. The person who loves Jesus is the person who relates to other persons in the spirit of compassion, understanding, concerned loving service.

The closing section of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is a total repudiation of lukewarm religion. Not once, but four times, Jesus emphasized how important it is for us to carry out instructions He has given in the rest of the sermon. He contrasts rich rewards that come to those who obey with disastrous consequences which come to those who disobey (Matthew 5:23-24).

  • Has any one of us not experienced the deep longing for genuine peace of mind and heart and soul?
  • Has anyone of us not experienced that deep longing for the kind of happiness that always seems to be out of reach?

God wants us to experience genuine happiness, true joy in the Lord. And in and through the Lord Jesus, He provides us with the formula that casts aside the mistaken notion that we can achieve genuine happiness on our own.

  • It is a mistaken notion that we can substitute our own formula for God’s.
  • It is a mistaken notion that we are the sole authorities on the subject of life enrichment.
  • It is the mistaken notion that our own happiness is unrelated to the happiness of others.

Churches need to keep their members happy with the joy of the Lord so they will stay in the church for learning, service, and outreach. Recall the gospel episode in which a rich young man has a mistaken notion that not being a murderer, nor an adulterer, nor a thief, nor a liar, nor a cheat was the complete fulfillment of his God-given duties. That was his formula for life not God’s. Even though the young man was very rich he was very unhappy. As Jesus explained, along with the duty not to do violence to one’s neighbor, God imposes the duty to bind up his neighbor’s wounds. Fixing His eyes on the disciples, He said in Luke 6:20, “how happy are you who are poor: yours is the kingdom of God.”

A theology professor tells of a casual conversation he once had with an old friend.

"A good friend of mine sat my office thinking out loud about whatever came to mind. The topics ranged from his marriage to his career to the quality of his walk with the Lord. As the conversation continued, his mood became increasingly thoughtful. His life had known trials, not remarkably different from what most middle-aged men and experienced. His friends described him as hard-working, loyal, and sincere. Everyone agreed. He’s a solid well-adjusted person. After nearly an hour of reflective rambling, his thoughtful mood shifted into a profound, almost sad, almost desperate loneliness. Finally, he asked an astonishing question: 'What it would be like to feel really good for just 10 minutes?'”

An astonishing question. Obviously he needed Jesus! And yet has anyone of us not experienced that deep longing for fulfillment? A Christian should show fruit of service as led by the Holy Spirit for fufillment. Along with the duty not to take from one’s neighbor, God imposes the duty to provide for his or her needs. This includes providing programs in a church to provide spiritual teaching to adults and youth. And it is this divine form of service, of binding up wounds and healing hearts of others, sharing blessings with others, that Jesus implores us to embrace as our lifestyle of service to others. The gospel truth is that only by losing ourselves in loving service to others can we find the genuine happiness we seek.

In a Peanuts comic strip, Charlie Brown holds up his hands before his friend Lucy and says, “These are hands that someday may accomplish great things. These are hands which may someday do marvelous works. They may build mighty bridges or heal the sick or hit home runs. These are the hands that may someday change the course of destiny.” To which Lucy replies, “They’ve got jelly on them!”

In the interest of your eternal happiness, do not talk about your Christian duties with jelly on your hands. God’s formula for happiness is not meant to stick somewhere between your knowing it and doing it.  If your neighbor is in need of material and spiritual support, then don’t let your money and service to others keep sticking to your fingers covered with jelly.

Let us empty it all right now in God’s presence. And with true poverty of spirit let us cry out,

  • Oh God, I’ve emptied it all out, and there’s nothing left.
  • Oh God, I’m at the end of my resources.
  • Oh God, I’m helpless before you.

You may have come here today feeling quite helpless. But deep within, you somehow know there’s more to life than you are experiencing. Deep within, you know there’s something better, something more fulfilling, something lasting to be discovered. Deep within there is the hope of a new life in Christian service.

Cry out with the psalmist, "Lord, I am greatly afflicted. Lord deliver my soul from death my eyes from tears my feet from stumbling."

Does your soul ache to echo the same words? Do want to be happy?

To have the joy of the Lord? Jesus answers, Happiness is about humility. about being pure in heart, about being meek about relying on God’s Word on how to become a fulfilled human being in service to the Lord. about showing mercy to others. about understanding and empathy and compassion and caring enough to obey the Great Commission. and is about love.

As the Church faces the 21st century, the needs are great. The needs of the future are staggering. Many are saying the Church will fail, and people will turn elsewhere to find meaning and joy in life. As we face the future, let us pray that God will meet the needs of the world through us. Please pray even if you don’t have much faith. Let God surprise you. Through our prayers, God will make us people of faith. James 5:16 tells us that prayer works. The King James version, says it this way: The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Which reads like this in the NIV: The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

The need for us to be able to trust unconditionally would be absurd if God our Father had made himself unavailable to us. But He is available to us. And if we are not trusting in this reality, we’ve got jelly on our souls.

This church can show grace to the community in the Sedalia area by offering people the opportunity to learn about the good news of Jesus Christ in a loving church family dedicated to serving others through Him.

THE INVITATION

You can't depend on your own goodness to get to Heaven. We've all sinned  (Romans 3:23). Jesus paid the penalty for your sins with His death on the cross and His resurrection (John 3:16).

To be forgiven and be guaranteed a place in Heaven, you need to repent of sin, confess that you are a sinner, and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ in your heart (Acts 2:21).

You can use the following prayer or your own words, but you must actually believe in your heart that your prayer is real:

Lord Jesus, I believe You are the Son of God. I confess that I have sinned against You in thought, word, and deed. Please forgive all my wrongdoing and let me live in relationship with You from now on.

I receive You as my Savior and recognize that the work You accomplished once and for all on the cross was done on my behalf.

 Thank You for saving me. Help me to live a life that is pleasing to You.

In Your name I pray, Amen.