Summary: This sermon deals with what can happen when we obey God's commands.
 So it was, as the multitude pressed about Him to hear the word of God, that He stood by the Lake of Gennesaret,
 and saw two boats standing by the lake; but the fishermen had gone from them and were washing their nets.
 Then He got into one of the boats, which was Simon's, and asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat.
 When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, "Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch."
 But Simon answered and said to Him, "Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net."
 And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking.
 So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.
 When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!"
 For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken;
 and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, "Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men."
Approximately 200 years before the birth of Christ...
Rome and Carthage fought the three Punic Wars.
The second war was waged by Hannibal, the Carthaginian king.
218 B.C. Hannibal stood with his elephants, chariots and wagons
atop a high pass in the Alps.
He looked down on the Roman enemy below.
Vengeance was in his mind since the defeat of Carthage
in the first war.
As he led his army down the slope
he encountered an enormous obstacle.
It was a huge rock wedged into the valley floor.
Unless the rock was moved, his chariots and wagons couldn't pass.
His troops set about trying to crack the rock
with picks and hammers.
They failed because the rock was just too big!.
Sacrifices and incantations to the Carthaginian gods failed.
Shoving against the rock, even by his elephants, proved futile.
The troops were discouraged.
Hannibal was intense, impatient and frustrated.
They had come so far only to be stopped by a boulder in the road.
I wonder if the frustration Hannibal felt
was similar to that of the fishermen?
They had worked all night
and time after time drew in empty nets.
They were not fishing for fun.
This was their livelihood.
They ate or starved...depending upon their catch.
They had worked all night for nothing!
Do you ever feel like that?
SOMETIMES OUR EFFORTS, TOO,
Whenever I think of futility I automatically think of Moses.
He tried to lead the people the right way,
but time and again they rebelled.
So he cried out to God,
Numbers 11:11 "Why have You afflicted Your servant? And why have I not found favor in Your sight, that You have laid the burden of all these people on me?
Futility also reminds me of Paul the apostle.
He established church after church
only to see them riddled by pride, division
Certainly anyone who has ever tried anything
has felt that same futility.
In our prayer life: we pray
but God seems not to hear or pay attention to us.
In our Bible study: we read and meditate and search the scriptures
but it seems that we are getting nothing out of it.
In our home-life: we try to have peace and harmony
but there is strife;
We try to raise our children right
but they seem to be influenced by other forces.
We try to get ahead
but the money runs out before the month does.
In dealing with some overwhelming sin,
we try, but we do the very thing we detest.
Sometimes there are frustrating roadblocks before us.
Sometimes other people put them there.
Sometimes our own foolish choices put them there.
Sometimes Satan tries to block our progress.
Sometimes God has closed a door.
Sometimes circumstances beyond our control have stalled us.
SO...We feel powerless.
We don't have the wisdom we need --
and so we face futility.
There was a roadblock before Hannibal and he was angry.
All efforts to remove the rock failed.
So Hannibal cried out, "Burn it!"
Burn a rock?
To the troops it seemed madness.
Surely their commander was not serious.
They'd tried everything sensible and the rock wouldn't move.
But burn it?
The command made no sense.