Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Jesus Still Surprises

“And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.””(Luke 5:5 ESV)

How quickly Peter and the other fishermen obey Jesus, even though what He said surprised them. They were the experts in this. Fishing was their livelihood; Jesus would make fishing for men their life. They "knew" that letting down their nets again should not give them a different result from the one they had experienced all night, but Jesus surprised (maybe shocked is the better word) them with the abundant catch.

Jesus is surprising.

“And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”” (Mark 7:37 ESV)

When was the last time you were astonished beyond measure by the works of Jesus? Does He continue to surprise you or has your walk with Him become just a little bit too predictable? Many years ago God prompted me to write this prayer in my Bible: "Lord, please always keep me in the deep water, over my head." I could fill volumes with the ways He has answered this prayer in my own life.

Two weeks ago, I walked into a series of meetings thinking that I would be chosen for a new leadership role. I was surprised (but surprisingly not disappointed) when another was chosen. I was astonished when I was invited to consider another, better fitting role - one that I had not even considered. I was astonished. I was surprised. I let down the net and pulled up the unexpected, because that's just what life is like in the deep water.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Why Jesus Chose Simple Men (Training of the Twelve, Chapter 4, part 3)

Jesus started with fishermen, tax collectors, and former revolutionaries. They were the best people He found to work with. Others were too proud to become disciples and because of that, they excluded themselves from the high honor of apostleship. The civil and religious leaders boasted in their unbelief. The citizens of Jerusalem were interested for a moment in the zealous young man who purged the temple with a whip, but their faith was superficial. Therefore Jesus would not entrust Himself to them; He knew what was in them.  There were a few sincere sympathizers with high positions, but they did not have the level of commitment needed to become apostles. Nicodemus was barely able to speak a timid word on Christ’s behalf and Joseph of Arimathea was a secret disciple because of his fear of the Jewish leaders. These were sharp people who did not have the stuff that was needed from missionaries of the cross. People so fettered by social ties and political connections and so enslaved by fear would not become the people to take the gospel to the world.

So Jesus had to fall back on the rustic, but simple, sincere and energetic men of Galilee. And He was quite content with His choice and sincerely thanked His Father for giving Him these men. He would have gladly taken men of learning, rank, wealth, and refinement if they would lay those things down for His service, but since none seemed to be available, He too these humble men. He preferred devoted men with no advantage to undevoted men with every advantage. Their station in life really did not matter as long as they were spiritually qualified for the work to which they were called. The most telling thing about a man is not what is on the outside, but what is within. John Bunyan was a man of low birth, low occupation, and up until His conversion, low habits. But by nature, he was a genius and by grace a man of God.

The gospels are not autobiographical and the apostles were not the central characters in the story. Christ was their hero; and their sole desire was to tell what they knew about Him. They looked at the Sun of Righteousness and in His radiance, they lost sight of everything and everyone else.