Sunday, March 1, 2009

He Chooses You

Today was the first Sunday in Lent, a little cold outside but with a bright sun beaming through the windows and a lot of warm hearts within. Pastor Brad welcomed us warmly and summarized last Wednesday’s Ash Wednesday service this way: “You’re probably worse than you think you are, but God’s message to you in, ‘I love you.’” He then introduced his theme for the upcoming weeks: An Ordinary Day With Jesus.

1. Cheryl Borndal noted that camp registrations are here.
2. A photographer will be here on the 15th and 22nd to take pictures for a new church directory. If you are part of our church family, even if you are not a member, get your family portraits taken so you can be included.

Dana Stroschein then shared for a few minutes regarding the tragedy that befell their family. Their home burned this past week. Dana put it this way, “We gave up our house for Lent.” It was wonderful to see her spirit. The Lord’s hand was evident in some of the particulars by which they’re lives were saved. "Despite the fact that our country is in an economic crisis, with wars going on abroad," Dana said she has never been more grateful. It was a moving testimony to God’s grace.

The quartet – Ken, Dale, Chuck & Darlene – sang for us and then led the worship time, which was followed by the offering, Scripture readings and a time of prayer.

He Chooses You

By studying the encounters between Jesus and different kinds of people it is possible to perhaps learn something about ourselves and our God. The ordinary day -- if any day with Jesus can be called ordinary -- which Brad talked about this morning was from Luke 5:1-11. The passage begins like this:

1And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret...

A little background on this lake. It is also called the Sea of Tiberius, or more commonly the Sea of Galilee. It is about seven miles wide and thirteen miles long, 680 feet below sea level and surrounded by thousand foot hills. It was the setting for a lot of cool things that happened in the life of Jesus. He stilled the storm here, fed 5,000 and walked on the water.

3And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon's, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship.

At the time of this story Jesus had become somewhat popular already. Seeing the fishermen’s boats he got into the one with Simon in it. Simon was Peter’s name before Jesus declared that he was Peter, Petros, the Rock.

In the previous chapter, we find that Peter and his brother Andrew, though followers of Jesus were also still working as fisherman. In Luke 4:38 Simon Peter saw Jesus heal his mother-in-law and which indicates he was probably married and had a home life. So when Jesus gets into his boat, it is probably not their first meeting.

What’s interesting here, Brad noted, is the kind of people God chooses to change the world. Right from the beginning the whole list of is an assortment of people with shortcomings. Abraham was too old, Moses stuttered. David was too young, Rahab was a prostitute, Noah got drunk, Gideon doubted. In the New Testament John the Baptist was just plain weird.

Brad shared all this as a set up to some points he wished to make further along.

In verse four, Jesus turns to Simon, having finished his teaching, and says, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets.”

You can picture Simon’s response at this point. “Jesus, you may know something about carpentry, and teaching the Scriptures, but you don’t know anything about fishing. We’ve been up all night and caught nothing.” The nets had already been cleaned from a night of fruitless labor, so Simon wasn’t thrilled at this request. They were commercial fisherman by trade and knew that this was not a good time of the day for fishing, with the hot sun glinting on the water and the fish down deep.

Interestingly enough, despite his doubts, Simon answers, "Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets." This is the very first time in the New Testament that we find the word “Master.” It is not the same as rabbi, or teacher or instructor. It says, essentially, “You’ve got authority.” And Simon pretty much indicates by these words that he wouldn’t do this for anyone else, but in this case it’s “as you wish.”

The catch, of course, is so incredible they have to call men from other boats to help bring it in, but even with the help the boats were so full they began to sink. At this, Simon Peter falls on his knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!”

But Jesus replies, “Get up. From now on you will help Me catch men.” The word “catch” here actually means rescue.

Pastor Brad added some perspective here by sharing a story from Rob Hall, who preached at CHIC about six years ago. Hall pointed out that all Hebrew children, as part of their religious training had to memorize the Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament. The highest honor for Hebrew youth was to be selected to follow their rabbi. A common saying of the day was, “May you be covered in the dust of your rabbi.” It indicated that it would be an honor to be such a close follower.

When Jesus went about, the “best candidates” for following rabbis were already taken. Simon Peter and the others here, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were those who hadn’t made the cut. Jesus, however, looked deeper than most people. And it was upon these men that the future of the church would depend.

In point of fact, we’re all “clearance rack” material. Yet, God says, “I want you to be my child,” in spite of our lopsided souls and garbled lives.

Here’s how Paul puts it in his letter to the Ephesians: 3-6How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He's the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth's foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son. (Eph. 1:4-6, The Message)

WE are the focus of God’s love.

It may be a risk investing in the stock market, but it’s an even greater risk when we invest in others. Jesus took that risk and invested Himself in fallible people, gave everything because He saw value there. He took the cross for every single one of us because we are deeply valued in His eyes.

“God has an incredibly high value of you,” Brad said. And the invitation, to follow Him still stands today, for you and me.

At the conclusion of this message, Brad stepped to the Communion table to partake in the Sacrament.

“We come to this table not because we must, but because we may,” he said.

“Do this in remembrance of Me.”

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