FOLLOWING JESUS TODAY
When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.
I’m privileged to work with compassionate people who serve free meals in our community. I’ve also seen other people travel overseas to serve in a hospital, provide a shower ministry to homeless people, visit elderly people in a local convalescent home, care for children, and encourage prisoners in jail. There is a very positive golden thread in these acts of service: they are motivated by grace! Maybe you can relate to an inner drive that is derived out of love? Sadly, history is full of people who have used religion and Jesus’ name to justify vile behavior.
In contrast, when you let God’s grace fill your heart, you are capable of the most God-glorifying actions. Jesus will lead you to places and people that are ready to receive your timely help. Experiencing God’s grace usually involves making some intentional decisions. Peter was a professional fisherman who had been trying to catch fish all night but caught nothing. When Jesus showed up and told Peter where to drop the nets, he didn’t want to listen to Jesus. His pride didn’t want any instructions from Jesus (ever notice how pride hates suggestions and can insist on sticking to a plan that doesn’t work?).
When he simply did what Jesus told him to do, the catch of fish was so abundant that Peter was humbled. Jesus told Peter that greater work is coming. Soon Peter will be reaching men and women for God. Following Jesus is more than just a noble concept; it includes real choices in our everyday lives.
There are major lessons in this passage about following Jesus:
1) Following Jesus includes realizing that He has more wisdom than you in every area of life. We are often tempted to think that we are the experts and have a better plan than God; we try to call the shots.
2) Following Jesus includes a sense of urgency. We are often tempted to think that we will wholeheartedly follow Jesus down the road when it’s convenient and easier. Jesus says that life with Him is more abundant than any cheap thrills the world can offer.
3) Following Jesus includes being willing to leave everything. We are often tempted to put certain people or things in our life above what God wants us to do. Jesus is worthy of being the center of our lives.
4) Following Jesus includes leading people to Him. We are often tempted to think it’s only about ourselves and ignore other people and their souls. Everyone makes their own decisions and many people reject God, but God still wants each person to know how much He loves them.
5) Following Jesus includes believing He will do great things through you. We are often tempted to think that we are failures, but God speaks kindly to us and doesn’t give up on us. God rewards anyone who earnestly seeks Him.
1) What are some of the reasons to follow Jesus?
2) Do you ever say no to Jesus or think you have a better plan?
3) Has God ever humbled you with unexpected results?
4) What is Jesus asking you to do or say this week?
Luke 8:22-25. Jesus can calm you and your storms.
Matthew 16:24-27. Some people gain the whole world but forfeit their soul.
John 21:15-25. Focus on following Jesus, not your past failures.
Joshua 1:6-9. Be courageous when God is leading you.
Father God, thank You for sending Your Son Jesus to earth. I am challenged to really follow You Jesus, and not let my pride get in the way. I know what You are asking me to do, and I want to stop resisting. So today I commit myself to You, and I want to do and say exactly what You want. You are the Lord of my entire life. I pray this in Your name, Jesus. Amen.
For more from Pastor Jesse Bradley and Activate Media Ministries, visit www.activatelife.org