Matthew 4:18-22New Life Version (NLV)
Jesus Calls Peter and Andrew
18 Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee. He saw two brothers. They were Simon (his other name was Peter) and Andrew, his brother. They were putting a net into the sea for they were fishermen. 19 Jesus said to them, “Follow Me. I will make you fish for men!” 20 At once they left their nets and followed Him.
21 Going from there, Jesus saw two other brothers. They were James and John, the sons of Zebedee. They were sitting in a boat with their father, mending their nets. Jesus called them. 22 At once they left the boat and their father and followed Jesus.
Forget the former things says the Prophet Isaiah – Behold I am a new thing.
Isaiah was a Prophet of God and here he is telling Israel that despite it’s painful past despite the agony of the nations heart God was going to do a new thing with his people Israel so new so beautiful that at the beginning of this passage he says When you pass through the waters I will be with you.
Throughout scripture God often brings people to a new place where he does something completely new = amazing and literally world changing.
We have just witnessed one such new thing in the life of Mary a young country girl who was entering what she thought was an ordinary world of being a wife and parent and respectable citizen she did all these yet God transformed her life and did a new thing.
Or what about Joseph – favoured son that he was whose life was privileged – multi coloured coat who was plunged into the deepest despair exiled – betrayed imprisoned and then promoted and elevated to be the most powerful person in Egypt and probably the known world all to fulfill the purposes of God. God was doing a new thing in Joseph and at the end of his life he could say The devil meant it for harm yet God used it for God.
There are crossroads ahead in our life and God will use them for his glory or not depending on our response.
I was thinking of two early examples from the twentieth century – The Duke of Windsor Edward future King of England who chose a shadowy relationship with a women Mrs Simpson from the USA A divorcee – and married her and gave up the throne of England in those days one of the most powerful positions in the world – a man who retreated into the shadows and gave up his God given destiny compare him with Eric Liddell subject of the blockbusting movie Chariots of fire – Eric Liddell
Eric Liddell who was selected to run for Great Britain in the 100 metres final for the Olympics until he discovered that the heats were run on Sunday a practice which Liddell felt dishonoured God and so he was transferred to run the 400 metres an event that he won the gold medal in – God was doing a new thing in both these men's lives one chose God’s way the other chose the way of the flesh you can guess which one is remembered well by history.
Imagine if you will Peter in the Bible reading this morning
were putting a net into the sea for they were fishermen. 19 Jesus said to them, “Follow Me. I will make you fish for men!” 20 At once they left their nets and followed Him.
I wonder what Peter was thinking that morning as he went out and started fishing but suddenly into his life came Jesus and Jesus was planning a new thin g for him and his brother.
Here was the opportunity for a whole new life of adventure and walking with God and Peter instantly knew it was the right way and followed it. Drops the net and – well just goes.
God wants to do a new thing in all of our lives – we Christian's should smell of constant freshness of God’s hand on our lives. Just as people after the Christmas giving of gifts might smell of lynx or eu de cologne so we should smell of the freshness of Jesus. Because God is wanting to do a new thing in our lives as well.
Our scriptures this morning lead us down a path of adventure with Jesus and we can’t do boring because a moment by moment life with Jesus doesn’t allow for that at least not in a crusty way.
This morning I want to encourage you that whatever your situation is then god want’s to do a new thing with you as you walk with him and as it says in Jeremiah29 11 as the prophet speaks to Israel.
I know the plans I have for you says the Lord plans for a future and a hope.
This morning I would like to look at how the scriptures coach us not to miss the moment s where God speaks to us so that we too are able to grasp the new thing that God is doing in our lives.
1. Build an understanding and relationship with God.
Understand how God has worked in the past and keep an up to date relationship with him. God had moved mightily in Israel's past as the scripture reminded Israel in the past that when they came out of Egypt v16
This is what the Lord says—
he who made a way through the sea,
a path through the mighty waters,
who drew out the chariots and horses,
the army and reinforcements together,
and they lay there, never to rise again,
extinguished, snuffed out like a wick:
God had led Israel out of Egypt in miraculous circumstances and drowned the army of Egypt in equally miraculous circumstances in order to rescue his people and to do a new thing in that time.
But even so God says Forget the former things behold I am doing a new thing – he is saying you are going to experience something new and wonderful and even though at that time Israel was falling to pieces and eventually was completely shattered the new thing happens and God restores his people and the nation is restored by the likes of Ezra and Nehemiah so that God’s people are again in his land and even though they again were scattered 70 years after Jesus death here in our own time in 1946 Israel was rebirthed as a nation. God does a new thing once again.
It seems to me that if we want to grasp the new thing that God is doing in our lives we need to draw close to him and stay close to him. Then when some moment of change or opportunity comes we are ready for what god is going to do.
Our service and walk with God needs to come from a hot heart our hearts need to be on fire with God and like all fires they start from small beginnings.
We need to kindle the fire of faith in our hearts daily. Read your bible and pray every day is the little children's song we sing and it is so helpful we need to walk with God. Moses was seen to be a righteous man and so was Enoch who walked with God and then was no more he basically walked straight into heaven so great was his intimacy with God. So many people say that they know God but all they are really saying I was close to him once but I have allowed the ways of this world to creep into my heart until my faith has moved from my heart to my head and only a corner of my head.
In Jeremiah chapter 4 it says “Break up your fallow ground and sow not among the thorns.
One who did such a wonderful job of this was Toyhitiko Kagawa he had been a major figure in helping Japan recover from earthquakes prior to world war 2.He was a Japanese Christian who, during the Second World War, risked his life time and again saving American servicemen who were shot down over Japan. He hid them and kept them alive by sharing his meager supply of food. “It wasn’t that he sided with the American cause; it was just that his Christianity compelled him to love even” his enemies, even “…those who were bombing and killing his friends and relatives.” He was eventually caught and tortured for his actions. We can see in what he did that the kind of generous, selfless love which comes from God is willing to take risks even for those who are enemies, and in this, even to bear pain, a pain not unlike the cross.
It is now 200 years since the gospel was preached in this country so consider George Augustus Selwyn. He could very easily have remained in Britain, in relative ease and comfort, and awaited a rewarding position as bishop. In the event, he accepted the call to be bishop of the recently formed diocese of New Zealand, serving with great dedication. In his service, he did not limit himself to church affairs or the concerns of his fellow-countrymen, but vigourously took up defending the rights of the Maori people, native to that land. In disputes between natives and settlers, he sought to mediate between the two groups. In short, the love of God transformed Selwyn to see as friends those whom he might have considered strangers and enemies.
When God wants to do a new thing in your life you already need to be prayed up and in relationship with him ready to respond to whatever call he might place on your heart.
Secondly obedience a call without obedience is a tragedy. Dietrich Bonhoeffer is quoted as saying, “One act of obedience is better than one hundred sermons.”
Bill Hybels' The Power of a Whisper (p.110-111):
"Don't ever buy into the idea that everything God prompts His followers to do will be uncomplicated or low-cost. Sometimes God asks His children to carry heavy loads, as He did with the apostle Paul. But even--and often especially--under those backbreaking burdens, God's purposes are fulfilled. When our (whispered) task is tough, the reward of knowing we've helped further His Kingdom and bettered our broken world is all the sweeter.
"If you ever find yourself with a difficult assignment, why not try giving God thanks for trusting you with something that needs your particular strength. He assigns tasks to the right person every time. He did it throughout history, and He still does it today. As you walk whatever potholed path He has asked you to walk, never forget the tough journey that Jesus Himself once made. ...Christ was asked to bear the most difficult assignment of all--to lay down His life as a redemptive sacrifice for humankind. He chose to obey. And because of His obedience, you and I enjoy our redemption today."
In the Bible the people who obey God are just great we read about Jesus and Joseph and Moses and others and stand in awe. Disobedience gives us that sinking feeling in the pit of out stomachs it isof great sadness when we read of Saul who struggles to obey God and wrecks his life. Jesus of course is our ultimate model for obedience and it is his model that we must seek to follow.
Thirdly when God is doing a new thing expect anything and don’t let it throw you.
Peter could not have forseen Jesus calling him that day he set off to work but God did call him and his response was immediate.
Jonah didn’t expect God would call him to Ninevah so he didn’t go but David expected God to call him to take on goliath so when the opportunity presented then he took it.
God can come and call an individual at any moment. I was in a duatholon some years ago and was on the cycle leg. There on the roadside was a cyclist who was injured from falling off their bike. At first I thought good at least I passed someone then I realised that it was God’s moment. Fortunately I was able to help the poor man to the Ettrick pub and leave him there. God will give us moments like that and we will need to make decisions.
Galatians 5:13-14 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Such moments will define you.
I would like to illustrate by reading a little of the great Japanese Christian hero a truly great Christian hero, is Toyohiko Kagawa, born in 1888. His parents were people of wealth. He had a great future as a brilliant young man.
But something, or rather somebody, upset his life of comfort, ease, and luxury. That somebody was Jesus Christ. Kagawa heard of Christ, the Son of God, who came to earth, suffered, and died for us and for him, Toyohiko Kagawa. Such a great love impressed the young Kagawa. Here was the answer to great questions that had been in his mind.
Furthermore, he was terribly troubled by the slums in his country. How could he sleep nights when human beings lived under such conditions? Whole families in one room without windows. Small children working long hours.
The young Kagawa had compassion on the slum dwellers, even as his Master, Jesus Christ, had compassion on the multitudes nearly two thousand years ago.
When he announced that he was going to move into a small room in the slums and help all who came his way, his family said No. Furthermore, they opposed his becoming a Christian.
Just how Kagawa stood firmly against his parents' opposition, how he rented a room and gradually built up a settlement house in the slums, how he organized workingmen's clubs to buy their food cheaper, how he organized workers to secure better pay—all these are just a few of the thrilling achievements in one man's life.
He caught a dreaded eye disease in the slums. He was never strong physically, and when I heard him speak here in America once, I was impressed with his smallness and frailty. I wondered, How can such a small and weak-looking man do so much for God?
But when he began to speak, I knew the answer. For here was a man dedicated completely to Christ and to God. He has not the slightest selfishness to hinder his working for others. Furthermore, he likes to laugh and make others laugh.
During World War II Kagawa spent years in jail for opposing the Japanese military policy which oppressed helpless people and that finally brought the United States into the war and defeated the Japanese. Kagawa pointed out how war settles nothing and how his whole nation would suffer because of its cruel acts.
After the war he was released immediately and was one of the greatest forces in bringing friendship back between America and Japan. He came to America and was warmly greeted wherever he went.
To look at Kagawa one cannot help but wonder: How can such a tiny, weak-looking little man do so much?
The answer is: God can use any of us to do his will if we but let him. This little yellow-skinned man, Toyohiko Kagawa, the most loved man in Japan, is proof of that.
God in 2015 will want to do a new thing in your life.
You can be as successful as your response to God’s call on your life.
But 1. Will you maintain a close relationship with him.
2.Will you obey him.
3. will you expect anything and not let it throw you.