Water from the Rock

Water from the Rock

Daily Reading

 The entire Israelite community left the Wilderness of Sin, moving from one place to the next according to the Lord’s command. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink.So the people complained to Moses, “Give us water to drink.”“Why are you complaining to me?” Moses replied to them. “Why are you testing the Lord?”But the people thirsted there for water and grumbled against Moses. They said, “Why did you ever bring us up from Egypt to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?”Then Moses cried out to the Lord, “What should I do with these people? In a little while they will stone me!”The Lord answered Moses, “Go on ahead of the people and take some of the elders of Israel with you. Take the staff you struck the Nile with in your hand and go. I am going to stand there in front of you on the rock at Horeb; when you hit the rock, water will come out of it and the people will drink.” Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel. He named the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites complained, and because they tested the Lord, saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”

Would you like to read this passage in another translation? Click Here 

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Daily Reflection

God’s provision often comes from the unlikeliest source.

Complaints had reached a feverish pitch. The elders of Israel stared at Moses as mutinous imaginations bubbled to the surface of the minds. Some younger men in the crowd, with their feet,  loosened fist-size rocks with from their earthy bed.  A few of them already wielded stones with white-knuckled grasp. Moses felt their gaze burrowing into his back, and their complaints filled his ears. All Moses could think was, water from a rock? Nevertheless, he trusted Yahweh’s instructions.

After wiping the sweat from his brow, Moses stretched the rod of God to the heavens bringing it down on the rock with an echoing crack. The mob of mad Hebrews winced at the deafening blow. The murmuring slowly halted. In the silent moment, the sound of water grew from a faint trickle to a gushing crescendo of living water. God had given the provision of water from the unlikeliest source. Life-sustaining water flowed from a rock.

In 1 Corinthians 10:4, Paul affirms that the rock “was Christ.” Who would have considered a carpenter born of seeming scandal in Bethlehem, raise a Nazarene, would build a bridge to glory? Can anything good come from Nazareth? Jesus of Nazareth was struck for us. From His suffering, flows living water for all that believe. Some may wonder why God chose this method, but He delights in using the unlikeliest means to accomplish His will. Have you drunk from the Fount, which is Christ?

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Suggested Prayer

Lord, thank you for Christ’s sacrifice. Help me to realize today that my help may come from the unlikeliest source. In Jesus Name, Amen.

 


In the Word TogetherIn the Word Together is a devotional blog series based on the Narrative Lectionary that aims to aid in daily devotions. Unless stated, all posts are written by Kevin W. Bounds.  Necessary attributions are as follows:

Christian Standard Bible – Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.

Narrative Lectionary –The Narrative Lectionary (http://www.narrativelectionary.org) is an open-source project created by Profs. Rolf Jacobson and Craig Koester, Luther Seminary, Saint Paul, Minn.

Daily Readings for the Narrative Lectionary – Copyright © 2018 Clergy Stuff

Daily Bread

Daily Bread

Daily Reading

The entire Israelite community departed from Elim and came to the Wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had left the land of Egypt. The entire Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by pots of meat and ate all the bread we wanted. Instead, you brought us into this wilderness to make this whole assembly die of hunger!”

Then the Lord said to Moses, “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. This way I will test them to see whether or not they will follow my instructions. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather on other days.”

So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites: “This evening you will know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt,and in the morning you will see the Lord’s glory because he has heard your complaints about him. For who are we that you complain about us?” Moses continued, “The Lord will give you meat to eat this evening and all the bread you want in the morning, for he has heard the complaints that you are raising against him. Who are we? Your complaints are not against us but against the Lord.”

Then Moses told Aaron, “Say to the entire Israelite community, ‘Come before the Lord, for he has heard your complaints.’” 10 As Aaron was speaking to the entire Israelite community, they turned toward the wilderness, and there in a cloud the Lord’s glory appeared.

11 The Lord spoke to Moses, 12 “I have heard the complaints of the Israelites. Tell them: At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will eat bread until you are full. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.”

13 So at evening quail came and covered the camp. In the morning there was a layer of dew all around the camp. 14 When the layer of dew evaporated, there were fine flakes on the desert surface, as fine as frost on the ground. 15 When the Israelites saw it, they asked one another, “What is it?” because they didn’t know what it was.

Moses told them, “It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat. 16 This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Gather as much of it as each person needs to eat. You may take two quarts[b] per individual, according to the number of people each of you has in his tent.’”

17 So the Israelites did this. Some gathered a lot, some a little. 18 When they measured it by quarts,[c] the person who gathered a lot had no surplus, and the person who gathered a little had no shortage. Each gathered as much as he needed to eat. 19 Moses said to them, “No one is to let any of it remain until morning.” 20 But they didn’t listen to Moses; some people left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and stank. Therefore Moses was angry with them.

21 They gathered it every morning. Each gathered as much as he needed to eat, but when the sun grew hot, it melted.

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Daily Reflection

God desires daily dependence.

“What is it?” asked every quail-filled Hebrew. Bewildered, in the dawning light, they gazed at the frostlike substance blanketing the desert sands. With slow-reaching hand, some gathered it for closer inspection.  While inhaling the scent of this foreign substance smiles formed on their faces. It was the promised bread of heaven.

“It tastes like honey… and…umm…wafers,” declared one from the camp.

After this Moses and Aaron instructed the people on how to collect and keep heaven’s provision. They were to depend on this regular distribution, except on the Sabbath. God was testing their obedience. Would they come to Him daily for fresh nourishment? Unfortunately, some tried to preserve the manna, but it spoiled filling the camp with a foul smell.

Many people are merely surviving on what God provided yesterday. They are living in the “glory days” of yesteryear. Put the stale bread down. God wants you to encounter His fresh grace and thrive each every day.

Are you living off a previous Sunday sermon? Or are you engaging the Scriptures every day? When is the last time you felt the wind of the Spirit rush over your soul? Has hunger pangs become normal for you? Like the Israelites, God desires your daily dependence.

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Suggested Prayer

Lord, forgive me for attempting to live off of past experiences. Your grace is renewed every day. I need a freshness in my walk with You. In Jesus name, Amen.

 


In the Word TogetherIn the Word Together is a daily devotional blog series based on the Narrative Lectionary that aims to aid parents in leading family devotions. Unless stated, all posts are written by Kevin W. Bounds.  Necessary attributions are as follows:

Christian Standard Bible – Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.

Narrative Lectionary –The Narrative Lectionary (http://www.narrativelectionary.org) is an open-source project created by Profs. Rolf Jacobson and Craig Koester, Luther Seminary, Saint Paul, Minn.

Daily Readings for the Narrative Lectionary – Copyright © 2018 Clergy Stuff

Sweet Songs of Redemption

Sweet Songs of Redemption

Daily Reading

Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord. They said:

I will sing to the Lord,
for he is highly exalted;
he has thrown the horse
and its rider into the sea.
The Lord is my strength and my song;[a]
he has become my salvation.
This is my God, and I will praise him,
my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
The Lord is a warrior;
the Lord is his name.

He threw Pharaoh’s chariots
and his army into the sea;
the elite of his officers
were drowned in the Red Sea.
The floods covered them;
they sank to the depths like a stone.
Lord, your right hand is glorious in power.
Lord, your right hand shattered the enemy.
You overthrew your adversaries
by your great majesty.
You unleashed your burning wrath;
it consumed them like stubble.
The water heaped up at the blast from your nostrils;
the currents stood firm like a dam.
The watery depths congealed in the heart of the sea.
The enemy said:
“I will pursue, I will overtake,
I will divide the spoil.
My desire will be gratified at their expense.
I will draw my sword;
my hand will destroy[b] them.”
10 But you blew with your breath,
and the sea covered them.
They sank like lead
in the mighty waters.

11 Lord, who is like you among the gods?
Who is like you, glorious in holiness,
revered with praises, performing wonders?
12 You stretched out your right hand,
and the earth swallowed them.
13 With your faithful love,
you will lead the people
you have redeemed;
you will guide them to your holy dwelling
with your strength.

14 When the peoples hear, they will shudder;
anguish will seize the inhabitants of Philistia.
15 Then the chiefs of Edom will be terrified;
trembling will seize the leaders of Moab;
all the inhabitants of Canaan will panic;
16 terror and dread will fall on them.
They will be as still[c] as a stone
because of your powerful arm
until your people pass by, Lord,
until the people whom you purchased[d] pass by.

17 You will bring them in and plant them
on the mountain of your possession;
Lord, you have prepared the place
for your dwelling;
Lord,[e] your hands have established the sanctuary.
18 The Lord will reign forever and ever!

19 When Pharaoh’s horses with his chariots and horsemen went into the sea, the Lord brought the water of the sea back over them. But the Israelites walked through the sea on dry ground. 20 Then the prophetess Miriam, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women came out following her with tambourines and dancing. 21 Miriam sang to them:

Sing to the Lord,
for he is highly exalted;
he has thrown the horse
and its rider into the sea.

Daily Reflection

An eerie silence rests on the crowded shore framed only by the sound of the unsettled waters. Astonishment filled the atmosphere; not a word was spoken.  As the Israelites gaze across the frothy Red Sea, a chariot wheel surfaces tumbling in the surf. Then one by one, lifeless Egyptian bodies wash ashore. Their Egyptian captors were gone. Yahweh had delivered them like Moses foretold.

Silence gives way to the singing. Moses leads the redeemed throng in a mass chorus of praise. This is a sweet song of redemption. God blazed a path through the impassable Red Sea. Dry sandals began to step in rhythm. They were tasting the freedom Yahweh promised!

The Song of Moses recorded in the Exodus 15:1-21 inspired the Israelites for generations. It was their anthem of deliverance; a song of redemption. It’s not only their song but ours too. This anthem will be sung by the redeemed in heaven (see Revelation 15:3).

Songs have the power to inspire worship, instruct us in righteousness, and reminds us of our redemption. We are commanded in Scripture to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (see Colossians 3:16). You may be facing a mountain of opposition, but God is on your side. As a child of God, it will only take a moment to think of a time when God parted your Red Sea situation. Remember? Why not praise him in advance?

What is your song of redemption? Amazing GraceHow Great Thou Art? What a Beautiful Name?  It may even be an original tune God has given you. Sing it loud. He is worthy of our praise and adoration. You will come out of your situation with dry sandals for sure! Will sing for His glory today?

Suggested Prayer

Lord, thank you for your redemption. Although I face situations that seem impossible, help me sing your praise. In Christ’s name, Amen.


In the Word Together is a daily devotional blog series based on the Narrative Lectionary. Unless stated, all posts are written by Kevin W. Bounds.  Necessary attributions are as follows: Used by Permission

 

 

Christian Standard Bible – Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.

Narrative Lectionary -The Narrative Lectionary (http://www.narrativelectionary.org) is an open-source project created by Profs. Rolf Jacobson and Craig Koester, Luther Seminary, Saint Paul, Minn.

Daily Readings for the Narrative Lectionary – Copyright © 2018 Clergy Stuff

 

Chained by Expectations

A SERMON FROM LUKE 7:18-35



By Kevin W. Bounds

Introduction

            Expectations can be misleading. I recall when in the parts business as a counter salesman, I would speak with customers all over the southeastern United States. While conversing on the telephone, I would form a mental image of how I thought the person on the other end of the line might look. Later on, in my career, I became an outside salesman, which allowed me to see the people I once only could visualize. They never looked the way I expected them to look. I learned a valuable lesson. Expectations can be misleading.

In Luke 7:18-35, the characters in this narrative deal with their expectations. This sermon will look at: 1) John’s expectations of Jesus (18-23) 2) The people’s expectation of a prophet (24-30) and finally; 3) What Jesus says about misleading expectations. By examining each aspect of the passage, we will see that if we are not careful, we too can be chained by expectations.

 

John’s Expectations of Jesus (18-23)

  1. First, it is important to look at John’s question concerning Jesus. He asks, “Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?” (19) [Emphasis added].
  2. The Hebrew people had long anticipated the Messiah (or Anointed One). Messiah is the Hebrew title for this person, and Christ is derived from the Greek title of Christus.
  3. Of course, many different opinions were formed on how this coming Deliverer would look and behave.
  4. Per the Prophet Daniel, the timing was ripe for the Expected One to arrive on the scene. Four hundred and eighty-three years had passed since Artaxerxes issued the decree to rebuild Jerusalem. (See Daniel 9).
  5. Earlier, John the Baptist dealt with the people’s expectations (see 3:15) by point to Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah. However, Herod would have John arrested and John at the time of this passage was in prison.
  6. Why would John the Baptist now be questioning Jesus whether He is the One? It is possible, the answer can lie in John’s expectations.
  7. Turn to Luke 3:15-17.
  8. In verse 17, the imagery that John the Baptist uses is one of judgment. It was a common perception in the day of Roman occupation that the Expected One would thrust out all enemy forces from Israel. However, John was imprisoned and this probably made him start to question.
  9. Having a larger view of God’s purpose of Christ’s first Advent, we know that His Second Coming will fulfill John’s expectations. Remember, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him (NASB Jn 3:16-17).
  10. Look back a Luke 7:23 for this is a key verse to understanding this passage. John was borderline offended because he was chained by his expectations.

 

The People’s Expectations of a Prophet (24-30)

  1. In this section, there are two groups of people; the common people and tax collectors and the Pharisees and lawyers.
  2. Jesus addresses misguided expectation by asking a series of questions.
    1. “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? (24).
    2. “But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who are splendidly clothed and live in luxury are found in royal palaces!” (25)
    3. “But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and one who is more than a prophet.” (26)
  3. John the Baptist didn’t fit many of the people’s expectations.
  4. The Apostle Paul explains the principle further. He writes,

(26)  For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; (27)  but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, (28)  and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, (29)  so that no man may boast before God. (NASB 1 Cor 1:26-29).

  1. The next two verses are pivotal!
  2. In verse 29, the “unacceptable of the day” acknowledged God’s justice. This Greek word is It means to show to be righteous, declare righteous.[1] The same word is translated “vindicated” in verse 35.
  3. In verse 30, the religious folks did not acknowledge God’s justice, but “rather rejected God’s purpose for themselves, having not been baptized of John.” The Greek word (boule) translated “purpose” means counsel.[2]
  4. The religious people were chained by their expectations!

 

What Jesus Say About Misleading Expectations (31-35)

  1. Since the religious people’s expectations misled them to reject John the Baptist as a prophet, they ultimately rejected Christ.
  2. John came in one fashion and your rejected him. The Son of Man came in another fashion, but you rejected Him too.
  3. The Apostle Paul captures many of the Jews’ perception of Christ. He writes, “For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness,” (NASB 1 Cor 1:22-23).
  4. Remember, “Blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.”(NASB Luk 7:23) and  “Yet wisdom is vindicated by all her children.” (NASB Luk 7:35).

 

Conclusion

  1. Often, we allow our expectations to chain our perception of God. If Jesus was really the Son of God, He ____________ (fill in the blank).
    1. I once was acquainted with a man that said he decided to be an atheist because God didn’t answer his prayers as he expected.
  2. Often, we allow our expectations to color our awareness of God’s love for us. If God really loved me, He would ___________ (fill in the blank).
  3. In John 11, Martha’s expectations of Jesus were that he should have come and healed her brother, Lazarus.
  4. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts. “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. (NASB Isa 55:9-11).
  5. Trust God not your understanding!
  6. Don’t be chained by your expectations! To mix metaphors, don’t think you can place God in a box.

 

[1]New American Standard Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, (Anaheim, CA: Foundation Publications, 1998), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “1344”.

[2]New American Standard Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, (Anaheim, CA: Foundation Publications, 1998), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “1012”.

 

The Lord of the Sabbath – Luke 6:1-16

THE LORD OF THE SABBATH:

A CASE FOR COMPASSIONATE CONFRONTATION FROM LUKE 6:1-16

By Kevin W. Bounds



 

Introduction

  1. In a world immersed in social media and a twenty-four-hour news cycle, everyone has an opinion. Now people can rant online without the consequence. Now people take to the street with picket signs protesting anything. Don’t believe me? Then you have not had social media, watched television, or read the newspapers lately.
  2. In this volatile mix of opinions, how are Christians to behave? Many think disciples of Jesus are to remain dormant and docile. We are assumed to follow a plastic Jesus. A false representation of the Founder of Christianity as a pussyfooting politically correct prophet (if there is such a thing). HOWEVER, this is not the Jesus of the Gospels. Yes, He was compassionate, but He was also confrontational.
  3. Often, the idioms like “judge not” or “cast the first stone” are quoted out of context and passages of making a whip of cords to remove people from the Temple are never mentioned.
  4. Yes, we are to be non-violent. However, Christians are called to like Christ. Who was compassionately confrontational.
  5. In Luke 6:1-16, we witness Jesus displaying a compassionate, yet challenging approach in His ministry. This sermon will look at the actions of Jesus and attempt to convey how we should apply the principles drawn from those actions in our daily lives. In the sermon, we will look at three different scenes: 1) the confrontation in the fields (vv. 1-5) 2) the dispute in the synagogue (vv. 6-11) 3) the ordination of the Twelve (vv. 12-16).
  1. Concerning this passage, Warren Wiersbe writes, “For over a year, Jesus ministered as a popular itinerant Teacher and Healer, and multitudes followed Him. But now the time had come for Him to “organize” His followers and declare just what His kingdom was all about.”[1]
  1. It is noteworthy at the end of the previous chapter, Jesus gives a parable concerning new wine in new wineskins (Matt 5:36-39).

Confrontation in the Fields (vv. 1-5)

  1. Jesus was unafraid to share a controversial truth with those whom He disagreed (v. 5). However, it was loving compassion which drove Him to confront the misinformed.
  2. In these five verses, we witness the disciples of Jesus walking through the “cornfields” – other translations render it grain fields – harvesting by hand and eating the corn/wheat.
  3. The Pharisees were not accusing of stealing because in the Law there was provision made for people gleaning from others’ fields. Moses writes,

 When thou comest into thy neighbour’s vineyard, then thou mayest eat grapes thy fill at thine own pleasure; but thou shalt not put any in thy vessel. When thou comest into the standing corn of thy neighbour, then thou mayest pluck the ears with thine hand; but thou shalt not move a sickle unto thy neighbour’s standing corn (KJV Deut 23:24-25).

  1. The scribes and Pharisees were disturbed by doing this practice on the Sabbath. The interpretation of the Sabbath was the source of contention here. Jesus is not negating the Sabbath because the Sabbath is good. However, Jesus was confronting the neglect of human need by the scribes and Pharisees.
  2. For Jesus, the key to the Sabbath was that God made it for man and not the other way around (see Mark 2:27).
  3. In verses 3-4, Jesus explains interpretation to the Law was to be done with loving compassion, especially when a human need was involved. (See 1 Sam 21:1-6). The scribes and Pharisees had missed it by a mile!
  4. In verse 5, Jesus makes a remarkable statement about being “Lord of the Sabbath.” Rest assured his audience did not miss the claim to deity. Who can say such a thing but God?
  5. Jesus moved by loving compassion boldly spoke the truth!
  6. You will inevitably encounter people who will not accept the truth of Gospel. You should not shy away from conflicting views but lovingly stand for righteousness.

 Dispute in the Synagogue (vv. 6-11)

  1. It is important to notice that Jesus picked this fight in the synagogue. He was moved by loving compassion to help those that could not help themselves.
  2. The scribes and Pharisees were more concerned with the working hands that were meeting human needs in verses 1-5 than they were of the human need to have working hands! This man was handicapped by his infirmity.
  3. A “religious spirit” is more concerned about what others are doing wrong instead of helping others.
  4. Jesus called them out by pointing to the heart of the issue in verse 9.
  5. Jesus backed up his claim and interpretation with action. He miraculously healed the man’s withered hand.
  6. Does anyone like being called out? The scribes and Pharisees were not different. However, they were driven to the kind of madness that desires to kill!
  7. YOU WILL, in a world that is counter-gospel, will experience hatred. However, you must be willing to stand for truth. Jesus did!

 Ordination of the Twelve (vv. 12-16)

  1. It is no coincidence that Jesus ordained the Twelve, after this rejection by the scribes and Pharisees. Yes, I do believe this ordination was symbolic of a “new nation,” since there were Twelve Apostles; one for each tribe.
  2. However, I believe it was also for practical purposes. Jesus knew that eventually He would lay His life down and His message needed to continue. To perpetuate the message, He made disciples.
  3. Confrontation can lead to casualties, but we must reproduce through discipleship. Spurgeon/Whitefield comments about John Wesley’s ministry.
  4. I know it may be a horrible illustration but to control lice, you must stop the reproduction. The same goes for weeds too!

 Conclusion

           In a world filled with opinions, you will face conflicting views (i.e. Bible, social issues, politics). However, we must not resist violently with rage, but loving confront the falsehoods with truth. Much like the men down through the ages: Martin Luther stood against a corrupt church, William Wilberforce strove to end the English slave trade, and Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his life for the sake of civil rights. But more importantly, Jesus bleed so we could know the truth and be set free. We must be unafraid to share controversial truth because HE is with us (Mt 28:18-20; Heb. 13:5) We speak for the ones without a voice or the ability to rectify the injustice done to them, even if it cost our lives! In case we pay the ultimate price, the message of truth must be passed to the next generation of Jesus followers!

[1] Warren Wiersbe The Wiersbe Bible Commentary: New Testament, 2nd Ed., (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2007), 153.

Jesus Uses Empty Vessels – Luke 5:1-11

JESUS USES EMPTY VESSELS:

A SERMON ON THE CALL OF THE DISCIPLES IN LUKE 5:1-11

           By Kevin W. Bounds


***Sorry for the inconvenience but recording begins approximately 20 seconds***


 

Introduction

DETOUR

The year was 1920. The scene was the examining board for selecting missionaries. Standing before the board was a young man named Oswald Smith. One dream dominated his heart. He wanted to be a missionary. Over and over again, he prayed, “Lord, I want to go as a missionary for you. Open a door of service for me.” Now, at last, his prayer would be answered. When the examination was over, the board turned Oswald Smith down. He did not meet their qualifications. He failed the test. Oswald Smith had set his direction, but now life gave him a detour. What would he do? As Oswald Smith prayed, God planted another idea in his heart. If he could not go as a missionary, he would build a church which could send out missionaries. And that is what he did. Oswald Smith pastored The People’s Church in Toronto, Canada, which sent out more missionaries than any other church at that time. Oswald Smith brought God into the situation, and God transformed his detour into a main thoroughfare of service. [1]

Brian L. Harbour, Rising Above the Crowd.

 Empty Nets (vv. 1-2)

  1. Jesus uses seemingly empty experiences to advance his purposes.
  2. Jesus was continuing his itinerant preaching ministry. At this point, Jesus was proclaiming the gospel to those around the lake of Gennesaret. (1)
  3. In a day without megaphones, microphones, or public address systems, the crowd inched closer and closer to hear the words of the grace that flowed from the Messiah’s mouth. In my imagination, I can see Christ being pushed to the water’s edge as the crowd thronged him. To the point, that he begins to look around to find a boat to put some distance between him and the mass of people. This was a common practice of teachers in this day because this would produce an amphitheater-like effect.
  4. Remember God uses circumstances to advance his purposes. In this case, he used nets that returned empty from the night before.
  5. In verse 2, Luke records that the boats were empty because the fisherman “were washing their nets. As the story develops, Luke records this ship is Simon’s and that they had “toiled all night” (v. 5) and had nothing to show for it.
  6. However, the disciples would not have been in the position they were to hear Christ teaching on the shoreline, had they caught fish the night before because they more than likely would have gone to the market to sell their catch. This also means that the boats would not have been in a position to be used by Christ either. Thus, meaning some in the crowd would not have been able to hear the message.
  7. I am certain Simon (Peter) and the other disciples were discouraged after coming back from fishing empty handed. But had they not experienced the seemingly empty experience in the night, they would have missed out on an encounter with Jesus in the morning.
  8. “… weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. Psalm 30:5 (KJV)
  9. You may be experiencing a season of seemingly empty toil in your life, but God may be positioning you for a miraculous encounter.
  10. Joseph may have wondered many times what God was up to. And Moses’ forty years on the backside of the desert probably felt like a season of barrenness. But God was positioning them with purpose. He was directing their destiny despite the drought.
  11. Jesus used the empty nets to prepare the boat to be ready for launch!

Empty Boats (vv. 3-7)

  1. Notice in verse 3, Jesus uses the empty boat to bring Simon (Peter) a little closer to him. At first, the fisherman was washing his nets in failure. However, this failure set him up to get closer to the one that has never known defeat.
  2. After being in the boat for a while, Jesus commanded Simon (Peter) to “…launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.” (4)
  3. Simon (Peter) would not have been able to launch out if the He would not have been in the empty boat that had been prepared for this very moment.
  4. In verse 5, although he may have thought it was an exercise in futility, Simon (Peter) used faith by making his statement. He stated, “nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.”
  5. You may not understand what God is trying to accomplish but just follow his commands. The results will be astounding.
  6. The haul of fish was overwhelming. Neither the nets or the boats were empty now! Their fullness came when it was the appropriate time.

Empty Men (vv. 8-11)

  1. Jesus used the empty nets and boats for his glory. However, what he desires is empty men and woman.
  2. In verse 8, after seeing the miracle, Simon Peter fell at Jesus’ knees crying, “Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” This was the reason for all that had occurred up to this point.
  3. Notice Luke uses the name Simon up until this revelation in verse 8, where he adds the name Peter. This was the nickname Christ would late give him that meant a rock. Could this addition signify that the admission of spiritual emptiness means this the beginning of a transformation?
  4. In verse 10, Christ reveals what his plan and purpose for all the empty vessels that day. He says, “Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.”
  5. The disciples went from failures to fishers of men!

Conclusion

  1. And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him. Luke 5:11 (KJV)
  2. Often, I have looked at the final verse of the call story and marveled at the faith of these men. They leave everything to follow Christ. Although there is an element of this story that focuses on their faith, I believe it also reveals the faith Jesus had in them. He saw empty vessels he could use.
  3. You may be experiencing an empty season of failure, but Christ can use you. Get in the boat. Get alone with Jesus and allow him to transform you from the inside out.

 

[1] “Detour,” Brian L. Harbour, Rising Above the Crowd,  http://www.sermonillustrations.com/a-z/d/detour.htm, accessed 19 Jan 2017.


 

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