Nets vs. Bait

Screenshot 2019-04-29 at 9.29.44 AMIf you listen to my Sunday sermon (it’s linked in the left-hand sidebar) there are numerous references to Peter and other disciples fishing. Jesus called Peter by telling him that he would become a “fisher of men.” Peter left his nets behind and that’s an important detail to keep in mind.

When we go fishing it’s probably not on a commercial fishing vessel. We go for recreation or even for sport which probably means a rod and reel for most people. We use bait, either live bait like night crawlers and crickets or else some type of lure or fly. Sharing the Gospel message is like casting a net, not like using bait on a hook. When Jesus first met Peter his crew had been out all night and not caught anything. Same story in John 21. We cast the net of the Gospel and many times come back with nothing. But we keep throwing it out there. If we were trying to attract cell phone or cable customers to sign a contract then bait and switch or bait and hook tactics might do the trick. But we are called to build the Kingdom, not generate profitable sales figures. Go out into the world and be wise as serpents but innocent as doves. Don’t forget the innocent part.

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What Shall We Do?

Peter preaches In the first chapter of Acts, Jesus told the Apostles to wait in Jerusalem for the promise. He then ascended to Heaven to sit at the right hand of God the Father. In Acts 2 they were gathered in one place and the Holy Spirit filled the entire house. Each one filled with the Spirit began to speak in tongues, and they went out into the streets of Jerusalem. This event is known as Pentecost and is still celebrated 50 days after Easter Sunday. Some in the crowd that day objected that the Apostles were merely drunk and Peter responded with a turning point sermon in the history of the church.

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For Us or For All?

torah scroll Some of Jesus’ teachings were meant for multitudes of followers, while at other times he taught only his disciples. There are some occasions we cannot be sure who he was talking to, nor if he meant the present time or prophesied of future events. Did you know that sometimes the Apostles wondered about the same things?

Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for all?” And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Luke 12:41-43 Continue reading

Look at Who God Uses

I like to build to a point, but I’m going to come right to it.  Through the Bible God calls people into his service that are, for lack of a better term, screwed up.  No one used by God in some great way has their act together.  Consider a few examples; there are many others.

In Genesis 15:6 Abraham becomes the first person of faith.  He believed God, and God counted it to him as righteousness.  He is lauded in Hebrews 11 for having the faith to offer his son Isaac.  But before Isaac was born he father Ishmael by the Egyptian servant Hagar.  He lied twice about his wife Sarah was his sister.  A role model of faithfulness, perhaps not so much for other things. Continue reading

The New Thing in Sermons

In the Old Testament, the prophet was a person who did the speaking for God.  Not necessarily predicting future events, the prophet acted as the spoken voice of God on earth.  During Jesus’s earthly ministry, he was found daily in the temple or synagogue reading and teaching.  While his sermon on the mount may have turned the Pharisees’ world upside down, he was regarded as a rabbi in most Jewish circles.  In Acts chapter 2, on the Day of Pentecost, Peter preaches something entirely new. Continue reading

Building on the Rock

jesus_teachingAs Jesus finishes the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7) he offers some practical advice concerning his teachings.  He says that anyone who hears his words and does them is like a wise man that built his house on a rock.  Do we all know what happens next?  The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew, but the house did not move.  To not heed the word of Jesus is to be the foolish man who build his house on the sand; great was the fall of it.  Continue reading

Jesus’ Involvement in Starting the Christian Church

jesus_teaching If we began a study of the first century church, 9 times out of 10 we would begin with Acts chapter 2.  The Holy Spirit comes as promised, and Peter preaches a fiery message proclaiming Jesus is the Christ.  Certainly by the end of Acts 2, we see the first Christian believers come together in an organized way.  But if we back up a just a few chapters, Jesus gives the disciples instructions on what will happen next, going beyond his death, burial and resurrection.

Critics of Christianity, as an organized religion (the Church), even claim that Jesus had no intention of starting a new church or movement of any kind, but rather his followers started one in his name.  To put it mildly, these critics have not studied the Bible.  Continue reading