Luke 5, I’d like to speak to you about servants. In my mind, as a matter of fact, last night we had a meeting with the team that’s leading this effort to sort of, send off this English ministry, and we were talking about the need for people. Also Greg was suggesting to do different things for ministry. We really want to raise our servants right from this group, rather than import them from the Spanish service.
And you know, when you begin a new ministry there’s always a need. It’s a great time, by the way, when a church is much larger, you know, people come and they want to serve, and it’s sometimes hard to find them a place because everything seems to be taken. But in the beginnings of a ministry it’s always so much easier, there’s need everywhere.
So we were talking about that last night as we organized and looked back upon the last four services we have had, and definitely it was clear that we needed more people to come in and lend a hand in the various things that we’re trying to do.
So, it got my mind, thinking about service, about the challenge of service and also the reward to rejoice of service. And there is a wonderful passage that over the years I come back time and time again. It really spoke to my life for many years, and I think it will speak to you as well.
So, let me just begin to read it. It says in Luke, chapter 5, “So it was as the multitude pressed about Him (Jesus) 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 there 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 talked to the multitude 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, oh 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’. So when they had brought their boats to land they forsook all and followed him”.
Father, thank you for this rich, graphic, beautiful word that you give us tonight. We rejoice in it and we revel in the beauty of your word and the certainty that it brings that just as it is described, so did it happen. We can trust in that dependability of your word and its ability to minister to us, enrich us, challenge us, give us new insights, and new vistas for our lives, so we pray that your purposes will be achieved tonight through it. Lead us, Lord. We give you all the honor and all the glory for any good that may come out of the declaration of your word tonight. In Jesus’ name. Amen. Amen.
As I said, I want to speak about service and it is so important that we understand that, as was saying, the challenges of services, but also the rewards of service, the promise that there is in service and that we understand that when we are called into the Kingdom of God, we are called to service.
Yes, we are called to salvation, of course. We are called to saving relations with Jesus Christ. We are called to enrich our lives with all kind of new knowledge and the insight about the spiritual realm and about human nature, and on and on and on, but we are also simultaneously called to serve, to give of ourselves, to serve sacrificially and to really adopt a new way of looking at the world, which is so different from the way secular men and women look at the world. We are called into service, all of a sudden we are asked to place our sight and our priorities on something other than ourselves, and to begin to look at the world, really, and our own destiny and our own nature in a very different way. And I think that all these deems are implicated here in this passage, that I’ve just read.
You know, the passage begins somewhat inauspiciously, let’s say. There’s a problem, there’s a dilemma that Jesus is facing. It’s a good one and I think all ministers with like to face the dilemma that Jesus faced, the problem that He faced. And it is the kind of dilemma that can only come when there is power in the air. When God’s anointing is in a ministry.
It says that ‘the multitude pressed upon Jesus’. We know from the gospels that everywhere He went, He had that problem. People pursued Him, people wanted a piece of Him, they wanted to receive something from Him.
I preached a few weeks ago about the passage where Jesus receives his disciples after they had been sent to a kind of an internship in evangelism. They come back and they tell Him all that took place and so on, and He says ‘guys, lets go for a rest. Lets take a small vacation.’ So they get on a boat, but what happens? It says that people heard about Him, that He was going to the other side of the sea of Galilee and they rushed there and when He got there thinking ‘Great, we’re going to have a good time the next couple of days’, there are all the people smiling and waiting for Him to minister to them.
It was a problem that He confronted always. Why did Jesus confront this problem? Well, He had the power of God with Him. People were needy. At one point it says that Jesus saw the multitude and He saw that they were like sheep without a shepherd. There was a void in the people because they wanted and needed something that religion, established dead pharisaic religion, would not provide them. Just as today, a lot of religion that is pushed at people in so many ways, cannot touch the human heart, cannot solve, cannot fill the need of people. Only the presence of God, only the anointing of God, such as we see in Jesus, only that grace, that touch of grace that was so characteristic of Jesus’ ministry.
I think the fact that Jesus could give the people hope and pharisaic religion could only give them condemnation. The fact that Jesus spoke about a gracious Father, for whom it was easy to receive people, and pharisaic religion could only give people a whole set of tasks and things that had to be accomplished before that serious sovereign could be satisfied, then yes, perhaps, you could enter a little bit into his presence.
The fact that Jesus had a supernatural power to heal and how we need in our time that supernatural anointing of God for physical healing, for emotional healing. This morning I was speaking with someone who is not a member of our church, I was introduced to her over the phone yesterday, and a young woman, the prime of her life, intelligent, well educated, but deep, deep needs, and just a big void because she doesn’t know Jesus, doesn’t know that God of love that I had to convince her that love had a purpose for her in her life, and so many needs that there are there. I don’t know if I’ll ever see her again, but I had to present to her the fact, you know, in Jesus there is hope for you. In Jesus there is a solution for that depression, for that anxiety, for that exhaustion that you feel despite all the other things that you have.
And people need that. People need that supernatural power of God. It is something that I pray that God will give us as a church, as a community of faith. And we spoke about the need to dwell in the power of God, that Jesus had. Because I think that when that power is there, people flock, people come.
A lot of the stress that we experience trying to get people come to our churches, all of a sudden is dispelled, because people will flow where there is hope, where there is blessing, where there is love, where there is an experience of God, real God.
And so Jesus offered this and so people came to Him in rows. And so we have a dilemma here because people are pressing upon Him and so He cannot speak to them as well as He’d like to be heard. There’s probably several rows of individuals pressing upon him and probably talking and you know, shouting for Him perhaps to have touch them and so on and so forth. And so what He did was He looked around and He sees these two boats and it says…. You can imagine the scene.
There’s a couple of fishermen who own these boats, they were partners in business, and they’re washing their nets. And so Jesus determines that, and I marvel at the whole physical nature that this transaction in His mind, He decides ‘I’m going to step away from the multitude, establish a certain amount of distance and then I can speak to the people, I can count them’, and some commentators of this passage have said that it is true, that when He asked to step a little bit from the shore, the fact that water is a very good conductor of sound, I’ve made the experiment in some lakes in Maine, and it’s true. It is an excellent conductor of sound and that He was going to avail himself above all those advantages in order to be able to preach his message more clearly.
So, what I see here is a dilemma that Jesus had. It was a good dilemma. But what amazes me is the fact that He was in this dilemma, and the answer that He sort of discovered, that He decided to adopt. It amazes me because knowing who Jesus was, and all the miracles that He had performed, His divine nature, I am intrigued by the fact that He chose a perfectly natural solution to His problem. When in other situations He used the supernatural resources, to solve such problems, such as with the multitude for example needed to be fed. He used his supernatural power to bring about a multiplication of things and He did a creative miracle.
But here He chooses a totally natural course of action. And so I am intrigued by that and I really believe that there’s a reason for that, and that at the very least there is an illustration which I hope that you won’t find excessive in my interpretation this evening, which I think sheds a lot of light on the service and on how God has chosen to solve this dilemma. Because I believe that the dilemma of Jesus is a dilemma of God as well, if we can speak in those terms. God has no dilemmas in absolute terms, but He chooses to consignments of certain procedures because He has chosen to act that way in relation to human kind, so He adopts certain ways of doing things, and that creates some dilemmas for Him.
I think that one of the dilemmas for example, how to save mankind that had violated His word without violating His justice. That was a dilemma. How can I exercise grace and love and at the same time justice? He solved that dilemma by sending Jesus in the form of man, God himself, dieing, solving his dilemma. And so here he has one as well, how can I proclaim the word in this moment? And He asks men to help him solve his dilemma. He asked Peter to let him climb on his boat and step a bit from the multitude. And it says that when He did that, He taught them.
And I see there a metaphor, if you will, and illustration of service, because what happens is you know, God wants his message of salvation to be preached, just as Jesus wanted his message of salvation to be preached to the world. God wants people to hear the message. There are needy multitudes all over the world that need to hear the message of Jesus and there’s some sort of disconnect between the need that God has to have his word proclaimed, and the need that people have to hear the word of God. So, you see, the parallel that I’m trying to establish here?
In that same way, God could, if He wanted to, choose a totally supernatural way of solving that dilemma. He could have sent an angel. He could have sent an archangel with all the power, and all the dignity and all the glory of an angelic being and proclaim the message of salvation to the entire world in very little time, and so much more economically than the messy solution that He adopted just to assign that task to his church, human beings.
God could have chosen to proclaim in a booming voice that would be heard simultaneously all over the world His plan of salvation and probably much more convincingly, and again, without all the messiness that we ministers engage in, as we try to fulfill that, and all the messiness that comes from people, the church and all the divisions and the wars and the failures and schisms and the scandals that have characterized the preaching of the gospel throughout the ages. And yet, mysteriously, God chooses that humble instrument to proclaim his message, rather than do it in a much more elegant, convenient, way to His glory, to His majesty, to the complexity of what He’s trying to achieve.
It never ceases to amaze me that fact. You have heard perhaps the illustration that when somebody who had died, arrives to heaven….. excuse me, I’m getting it wrong, but you know, when Jesus arrives to heaven, it says that the angels ask Him ‘well, what is your plan now?’, what is your plan to proclaim the message? And Jesus said ‘I have left that assignment to my church. They are going to announce the message of salvation.’ And the angels are somewhat, you know, they are not convinced of the adequacy of that plan and they ask him ‘well, what if that fails, what if that doesn’t work? Because they knew how puny, how inadequate human beings could be, and Jesus answered ‘I have no other plan’. He had chosen to have His message of salvation proclaimed by sinful, inadequate, limited human beings, through a process that was going to be messy, convoluted, sin-filled, and yet He chose that way to announce His message of salvation.
Just as Jesus chooses rather than simply magnifying his voice as He could have very easily done, or found some other way to solve his dilemma, He chooses a humble boat and says ‘would you allow me’, He says to the owner of that boat ‘would you allow me to step into the boat to fill it with my person, with my gifts, with my message, with my voice, with my resources and announce the message of salvation to these needy people’.
And this is where, sort of the punch line of that whole illustration comes in, which is that I really believe that our lives, you and I, are like Jesus boat, Peter’s boat. And that we are the solution to God’s dilemma. My life, my gifts, my resources, my experiences are the boat that Jesus wants to use, now in a much grander scale, and that God instead of choosing an angel, or a spirit or whatever, He says ‘no, I will proclaim my word to a needy multitude through simple, humble boats’. ‘Human lives, human vessels, that I can step into, through my spirit, inhabit, animate and project my message to the multitude through that instrument’.
And so you see that we are, I know that I am, the vessel, you are the vessel that Jesus wants to use to solve the dilemma of the ages, to announce the message of salvation. And Peter had a choice at that moment. He knew a little bit of Jesus, we are suggested in other passages of scripture that point, but he didn’t know Jesus fully. He knew of Him, he knew that He was the new creature on the scene. He was an enfant terrible. He did miracles, He did great things, He was, sort of the word of the day. But he didn’t know all about Jesus, he didn’t know his divine nature, he didn’t know really a whole lot of things as we can see later on. But he accedes to Jesus’ petition, just as we always have the choice, when the Holy Spirit prompts us, and there’s a need in God’s body….. because you see, it’s not just about some sort of elegant proclamation of the word before a multitude, it’s all kinds of….
I mean, the proclamation of the message is so complex and sometimes it can be bringing a glass of water to the preacher. That can be part of being that boat. It can be helping to serve in a fellowship meaning. It can be calling someone on the phone who is depressed and spending a precious hour that you needed to finish that paper, that you’re already late for, and giving over your need to the Lord and saying ‘I will, Father, serve as your instrument to bless this life’. It may be visiting somebody in a hospital and nobody knowing that you did that, because you don’t have a little badge that says ‘visitor to hospitals’ given to you in a ceremony before the congregation, but you do it because the Holy Spirit says ‘Do it’. And would you let me use you for that purpose?
Jesus is always asking us, ‘Would you allow me to step into your boat and fulfill my need and solve my dilemma?’. There are thousands of moments in a person’s life when Jesus steps before you and says ‘Would you be my instrument? Would you be my vessel at this moment? Would you be the transmitter of my will and my message, specific sometimes to that individual?
I speak somewhat autobiographically, because 22 years ago the Lord asked me ‘Would you allow me to use your life to be a pastor and to pastor this congregation?’. It was a group such as this one, a very small group of people. Our church had been founded in 1982 and around 1984 our founding pastor announced that he had to return to Puerto Rico and I was a graduate student at that time, very enamored of my career, you know, to continue to teach at a university context. I was looking forward to that. I loved my field and I was anticipating a great life doing what I was very passionate about.
And at that point I was very involved in the church and I was sort of the pastor’s right hand, and he announced that he had to leave. And so this congregation that was doing so well, that was growing nicely, there was a lot of enthusiasm and there was a beautiful nucleus of people, and we were in love with our pastor. I had no idea that he was going to leave, his wife was a great woman of God, an intellectual woman, a professor of Boston University, great pianist, great voice. I mean they were a perfect team. He was evangelistic and anointed and energetic and enterprising, all the things you want in a pastor. And he said ‘man, we are here, we’re going to go at 100 miles an hour and this church is going to be filled up in no time.’ All of a sudden he says ‘I have to return to Puerto Rico’, and our hearts fell, and all the dreams that we had for that young church all of a sudden were thrown to the ground.
Now, God had been speaking to me earlier. He had been asking me about, you know, would I let Him use my boat? And I remember that the first time that we moved to that church in Cambridge I…. We had been six months already founded and we had started in the south end of the Emmanuel Gospel Center, and the first time that I stepped behind the pulpit to give the Sunday school, it was down at the same level as the congregation because it was a very small group, I was filled with this inexplicable, I had never had that experience before. I didn’t have a whole lot of experience in the movement, in the moving of the Holy Spirit. I was with this inexplicable sense that God was telling me, in the way I interpreted it, because it was more of a visceral kind of feeling, but I was able to take that feeling and transmit it to my mind and to language. And it said ‘this church was founded so that you would pastor it’, and I had no intention of that. Of all the things I wanted to do to serve God at that point, pastoring was the least attractive thing that I could ever imagine.
I always saw pastors as you know, poor, oppressed by their congregations and living an uncertain life, and I didn’t want any of that for my life. I had other plans and I was sure of what I wanted to do with my life, I had it very well planned out. But that was very early, at that point no one had a clue of what the pastor was thinking, that he was going to leave or anything like that.
Several months passed and the pastor announces that he has to leave…. By the way, I never shared with the pastor that word that the church had been founded so that I would pastor it. I mean, I don’t think he would have liked that, because at that point I don’t think he didn’t have any inkling. The fact that he had to return to Puerto Rico developed totally unexpectedly.
But the point is that God started working in my life, and at that moment, when the congregation was left without a pastor, I kind of, stayed holding the ship. By the way, I’m still doing it 22 years later, but the fact is that during that period of time as I pastored and as I laic person I was doing my graduate work still, teaching and so on and so forth. And the Lord was telling me ‘Don’t let this congregation die. I have raised it for you to pastor it. I have a calling for you, would you take over this congregation? Would you become its pastor?
And here I am thinking. I have a great future ahead, I want to become a professor and I want to write books if possible and I’d love to just live the elegant life of a professor and that tweed jacket, I wanted to put it on, and that pipe I do want to smoke it sometime. But God was saying ‘Would you let me use your boat? Would you become a pastor of this small congregation? Put your livelihood on the line. I was going to get married soon and you know, there’s all kinds of things that were happening. Actually we were married at that point, our child was on the way, now that I think it, 1984. It just made it so much more difficult for us, for me to decide. Do I leave all my dreams, I came from a poor family in the Dominican Republic. All of a sudden I get the chance to make it. And God is saying ‘Become the pastor of a small Latino congregation in Cambridge, and put all your dreams and all your desires for security on the line. Would you do that for me?
At that point the congregation, also time was going by and God was speaking to the congregation, they offered me the pastor of if, they said ‘if you want to become our pastor, we’d love for you to do it. And I had to make a choice at that point. A whole of other things were happening in my life, and I decided to go ahead and do that. I decided to accept the call to be pastor.
By God’s shear grace I was able to finish my doctorate and God gave me that dream, but I never really after that visited a classroom to teach. I think I have read a novel because my area was literature, maybe once or twice since I graduated in 1989 and I turned my energies to becoming a full time pastor, serving the Lord.
And 22 years later, the point is this, 22 years later all the fears that I had and all the anxieties and all the uncertainties, all the demons that I had sort of concocted in my mind, that could materialize, none of them have come to pass. On the contrary, God has blessed me, my wife, our daughters, God has blessed our lives beyond our wildest dreams. I mean, the fulfillment of serving the Lord, of seeing lives transformed, maybe not writing books of paper, but as Paul said, having books that are alive as I look at people that God has given us the privilege of touching and of participating in their dramas. That’s been a wonderful, a wonderful privilege and honor and I have never regretted, even for a moment serving the Lord.
But I had a crisis moment, just as I suppose Peter had a smaller crisis moment, but you may have that some day. And you know, you may have that in moments when God comes to you and says, ‘would you help? Would you give sacrificially for a project that your church has? Would you give sacrificially for a mission somewhere in either in the inner city or a thousand miles away, or whatever? There are moments when God is asking us ‘would you let me use your resources? Would you let me use your boat?’. And I do hope that we will always say to the Lord, yes. Maybe with fear and trepidation, maybe with anxiety because we are given to that as human beings, but I do pray that we will be obedient as nothing else. And that as we obey we will learn joy and we will learn to get know our God so much better than if we had said ‘No’, to Him and continued in our selfish way; and perhaps not even selfish, sometimes you know, you may say to God ‘God you know what? I really can’t serve you right now.’ And you know God is so humble and so loving that many times He’ll say ‘Ok, no problem. That’s fine, maybe we’ll negotiate later on.’ And He can do that. Sometimes He won’t come back and you say ‘no’ and it’s definitive. Or sometimes He hopes, you know, He waits that you mature a little bit more, but the case is that depending on what your choice is, certain rewards will emerge.
And you know, this is for me the greatest justification for service, is that when you serve the Lord with all your heart, when you honor the Lord, when you give Him your life, when you lend Him your boat, three, ten, thirty times a day, God always, always blesses somehow. He is never a debtor. I have learned that if you want to live a fulfilling life, if you want to be blessed and joyous and rewarded in life, then I suggest that you give to the Lord, sacrificially, be generous with God. Pull out all the stuffs, just let go, be scandalously generous with the Lord, put Him first in your life.
I can tell you from personal experience from childhood and many times I have not been up to the task and to the level, that I would want to serve my Lord, but when I have had the insight and the strength to give to the Lord and to love Him deeply and generously and to believe Him, I have been the most blessed of human beings. And I really want to encourage you, I want to call you to a mentality of service to the Lord. Do not compartmentalize your life, don’t say ‘this is mine and this is God’s’. ‘yes, Lord, I’ll give you my money but I won’t give you that relationship. Yes, Lord, I will give you my time but don’t ask me for that habit. Or, yes, Lord, I will give you my time, but don’t ask me for the money. Or don’t ask me for that character trait, or don’t ask me for that profession.’
Because, I mean, when we do that, we are violating that first rule which is that: it all belongs to God. When you come into the kingdom, whatever resources God needs, you must place them at His feet, whatever it is.
And you know, and Peter’s journey serves as an illustration of what happens when you do that. Because we know from the passage that Peter, as he was washing his nets, and Jesus was looking at him, and you know, Jesus is mindful of them all, but Jesus is also near the drama that was Peter and He had a plan with Peter’s life. And He knew exactly because of the whole chain of events that are delineated in that chapter, that Jesus knew the internal drama of Peter. He had been facing the entire night completely fruitless, completely sterile night. His business was, you know, at zero at that moment. He must have been somewhat anxious at his situation. And here is Jesus doing his thing, innocently asking him, ‘Can I use your boat?’. Peter allows him to use his boat. Jesus fulfills His task, solves His dilemma and then says to Peter ‘Peter, let’s get on that boat and launch it out into the deep sea for a catch, for a catch.’
In other words, it wasn’t some sort of adventurous experiment. When Jesus promises something He fulfills it. You see, when Peter allowed him to use his boat, there was probably no intention or inkling that Jesus could do anything to solve his problem, his financial, his material problem. He allowed Jesus to use his boat for spiritual purposes and now Jesus turns to him and reveals to him, ‘I know what your needs are. I am mindful of your dilemma and I want to do something about it. I want to bless you’.
See, because I really believe that when you serve the Lord with all your heart the deep desires of your life are given to you. The dreams of your life are given to you. That is the paradox, the essential paradox of the Christian life. And it is in the gospels that when you die you live, when you give, you receive, when you subtract, you add; when you sacrifice, you gain; when you obscure yourself, you are lifted up into prominence. Wonderful paradox.
Jesus said it ‘if the grain dies and falls to the ground and dies, it bares much fruit. But if it stays whole, if it doesn’t die, then it stays in just one single grain’. The key to fulfillment in life, the key to success, the key to material prosperity, the key to joy, the key to prominence in the Christian economy is sacrificing it all, forgetting about it, ceasing to make to make it an object of pursuit and to take it to the center, put it to the very periphery and install God in the center, His will, His needs, His desires.
When you do that wonderfully, paradoxically, all of a sudden, what you shifted to the side God says ‘don’t worry, I’m going to take care of that’, and even things you didn’t even know you needed, God digs deep into your heart, sees what you really need, what you really want according to the essence of who you really are, and He gives you even those things. The beauty of God’s love and the key is that.
You know, we live in a very selfish generation and as a young adult you may be, even as you serve the Lord, you know, the tendency many times is for us to be selfish. We don’t define it as such, but many times we live life, it’s our agenda, it’s what we want to accomplish and yes, we serve God but it is often because what He gives to us, what He can provide for me, the peace that I need, He’s my aspirin, He’s my sedative, He’s my candy man, He gives me what I need. He’s my hero, he’s my this, he’s my that. God says ‘No. you have to make me the seat of your joy and of your satisfaction. I have to fulfill all your dreams, all your desires. When you make me the object of your love and when you give me whatever I ask of you, including your Isaac, -and there’s another story that serves to illustrate that same dynamic-, when you give the thing that you love the most, then I will take that, perhaps I will sacrifice it, but perhaps I may simply keep it as a guarantee and they I may decide to, you know, take it back. And I’ll multiply, I’ll through in so much more and I will also bless you in this way, and this way, and this way. That is the basic dynamic of the whole scripture.
You can find it in Salomon, you can find it in Daniel. You can find it Moses, you can find it in Paul. The same thing. Give your boat to the Lord. Give your life to the Lord. Die to self. Die to your desires. Put God first. Sacrifice yourself a thousand times. Whenever there’s a need in the Kingdom of God you’d be the first to seek to solve it, you’d be the first to say ‘Lord, what do you need? If I don’t have it here, I’ll manufacture it. What do you want of me?’, and be passionate about it.
And the less people are aware of what you’re doing, the better. the more menial the task, the better. The more insignificant it seems, the better. The less public the sacrifice, the better, because God will be watching. He will go into the intimacy of your soul. He will see there, because He always sees and He says ‘I will bless you beyond your wildest dreams’.
So Peter get on the boat, let’s go deep into the sea. And there’s a beauty which I don’t have time to unpack, there are 3, I would call physical metaphors of separateness, and different degrees of blessing and use. When you are in the shore, in the middle of life, in the worldly desires, and you’re with the multitude as Peter was, sterility and frustration. As you separate yourself God can use you, can begin to speak to you. And then He says ‘now, go into the deep, into retreat, into intimacy, into prayer, into fasting, into seeking me with all your heart and I will reveal myself, I will bless you there in a way that you cannot even imagine.
So He says ‘Peter, go into the deep and through your nets, those very nets that last night you were trying to use and catch fish and you could not do it, because I was preparing an illustration for your life, a graphic object lesson. Now, through them in my spirit, having done my will, flowing in my blessing and in those totally inadequate conditions, now do it and you’ll see what happens.’
And Peter was, again, obedient enough to do that and all his needs, his material needs, were fulfilled because he gave his boat for the spiritual purposes. Seek you first the Kingdom of God and His justice and all these other things that people kill themselves for, that they are anxious about, that they slave over, that they dehumanize themselves to obtain, that they distort their soul to achieve, will be given to you, and in the morning you’ll be refreshed that God image in you will be intact, you will not have had to make any pacts with the devil and you’ll receive them spontaneously, freely, organically, because you have flowed in God’s perfect will and this is not mysticism, this is not cheap poetry, this is real, people. If you dare to believe God, if you dare to put your life on the line, like Daniel did. If you dare to submit your reason and your preservation instincts which will be there to fight every step of the way, those heroic decisions that you are called to make by God and you’ll do it out of shear obedience and you risk and you jump into the abyss before you can think too much about it, and if you give your boat to the Lord as many times as Jesus asks you, your needs will be fulfilled.
They many not be fulfilled the way that you want them to be fulfilled, but they will be fulfilled in a way that you could have not have dreamed of. It’s the secret to happiness. Peter, not only was blessed financially, he blessed others financially, and then the most important, he was given a new identity. He was exalted. He was lifted from smelly fish to transacting with souls and 2000 years later, we’re still talking about him. He was made into the founder of …. Or rather the human anchor of an entire species, church, Peter, that lowly, smelly, pale fisherman, he was lifted to another height.
Jesus said to him ‘Peter, from today on, forget it, man. You won the lottery. You’re going to become the pulp. Why? Because he had the instinctive insight to say to Jesus, ‘Yes, Jesus, use my boat.’ A lowly decision lead to a huge elevation. That is the essential dynamic of the Christian faith.
Again, we go back to that critical passage in scripture, let the same spirit that was in Jesus be in you, being equal to God didn’t think it something could be grasp and held to, but rather gave it away, decided to accept God’s call, to lend him his boat. Because Jesus was sort of the archetypal being who did that, He gave his father the boat.
This is why Paul says Philippians 2, God raised Him from the death and gave him a name above every other name, that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is the Lord.
He lent God his boat. He demoted himself, he impoverished himself, he divested himself and the paradox went into action. At the same time he became rich, he became powerful, he was exalted, he was ennobled, because he did the very opposite in the Lord
Peter said ‘ in your word I will cast the net’. When you do things in the will of God and upon God’s gracious, kind declaration, you will always have a huge catch in your life.
So I call this evening to a life of service. Would you stand with me for a moment? I do pray that you will receive that word in your spirit, that you will make a commitment to live a life of service. Give God your gifts, do not be stingy with the Lord. That is the wrong person to be stingy with, not because He’ll blast you if you do, but because you wont be as blessed if you do.
Give your life to the Lord a thousand times a day, give to Him everything. Dare to trust in Him. Dare to cast the net, even that if doesn’t seem that anything is going to come out of it. Dare to throw the net, anyway. Just obey and trust that that paradox will kick into action as soon as you do, that your Father will be seeing in ways that you cannot even imagine, and He’ll say ‘I am mindful of what you have done today and I want to bless you, I want you to give you a fulfilling life. I want to show you that I’m a faithful God, I’m a generous God. Ultimately I don’t need your boat, but I wanted to see whether you’d give it to me anyway.
So I pray, Father, this evening, help me Lord, first, not to be generous with you because that’s not applicable, but to yield everything to You, to be absolutely passionately committed to your desires, your whims in my life. Father, do whatever you please. Lead us where you care to lead us, where we don’t want to go and use us for your glory.
Father, I pray that your word will unleash in each of us a passionate desire to be used by you in little things and in big things, every day, every day, use my hand, Lord, use my mind, use my pockets, use every thought, use every gift, use every resource, use every circumstance, use every experience, Father, the boat is at Your service, 24 hours a day. Awaken us from sleep, make us uncomfortable, take away pleasures that we so treasure and send us to be an instrument of your will. Make us an incessant source of service for your kingdom and give us the vision to see those moments when you say ‘would you lend me your boat?’.
Father, I want to be alert 24 hours a day. I want to be open to you, calling to your bidding. Now, there in your heart I want you to ask just say yes to the call of the Lord to a life of service right now. Embrace it. Embrace it. Say, ‘Father, I will serve you. Father I will be militantly obedient to you. I give you my life. Yes, Father. We worship you. Thank you. Thank you, Lord. Thank you for your word. Give us the courage, Lord to do your will. In your name Jesus. In your name. Amen.