Luke 5:1-11 – Surprised by Generosity

The Miraculous Catch of Fish by Patrick J. Murphy

One day Jesus was standing beside Lake Gennesaret when the crowd pressed in around him to hear God’s word. Jesus saw two boats sitting by the lake. The fishermen had gone ashore and were washing their nets. Jesus boarded one of the boats, the one that belonged to Simon, then asked him to row out a little distance from the shore. Jesus sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. When he finished speaking to the crowds, he said to Simon, “Row out farther, into the deep water, and drop your nets for a catch.”

Simon replied, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and caught nothing. But because you say so, I’ll drop the nets.”

So, they dropped the nets, and their catch was so huge that their nets were splitting. They signaled for their partners in the other boat to come and help them. They filled both boats so full that they were about to sink. When Simon Peter saw the catch, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Leave me, Lord, for I’m a sinner!” Peter and those with him were overcome with amazement because of the number of fish they caught. James and John, Zebedee’s sons, were Simon’s partners and they were amazed too.

Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid. From now on, you will be fishing for people.” As soon as they brought the boats to the shore, they left everything and followed Jesus. (Common English Bible)

One of the most fundamental characteristics of God is generosity. God’s benevolent nature defines the divine stance toward humanity. This may not seem overly remarkable. Yet, when the infinite holiness of God intersects with the prideful arrogance of sinful people, gracious generosity is the unpredictable and amazing result.

Many people on planet earth have been raised with a god who is aloof and something of an old cranky curmudgeon. Such a god gets easily angry and zaps people with lightning or some natural disaster. It is no wonder so many persons have fled from belief in God.

Can we, however, entertain the notion that the Creator God of the universe is quite the opposite of the perpetually upset deity?

In Jesus, we have displayed for us what the basic disposition of the Divine truly is.

On one occasion, Peter (a guy who could raise the ire of most gods) was going about his business, fishing in the Sea of Galilee. Having not yet encountered Jesus, yet stopping to listen to his words, Peter ended up having this uninvited stranger literally get in the boat with him.

There was something remarkably different and compelling about Jesus since Peter did not immediately toss him out. Such a calm, confident, and gracious nature – nothing like Peter had expected. So, here is this ordinary fisherman face-to-face with the Christ of God. 

Jesus told Peter to put the boat out and cast the nets. Peter, an experienced fisherman and knowledgeable about the water, knew for certain that he would not catch anything. But, out of deference to Jesus, he did so, anyway. The result was such a large catch of fish that the nets nearly broke from the weight.

The Great Catch by John August Swanson (1938-2021)

Peter’s response is instructive. He fell at the feet of Jesus in a profound sense of his own smallness and sinfulness. Next to Jesus. Peter saw how little faith he really had. He rightly discerned that he did not deserve such generosity from Jesus, an overflowing abundance given to him despite his unbelief. 

In the face of such grace, in the vortex of an incredible mercy, having seen the generosity of God directed squarely at him, Peter left it all behind to follow Jesus.

So, here we have the nature and character of God before us. No perturbed deity. No exasperated god ready to raise a storm and toss the boat over with Peter in it. No, Jesus, the Son of God, does not operate that way. There is no strong-arming people into faith. God’s tactics steer clear of base manipulation through guilt, or mind-twisting others through shaming them. 

Instead, God is beautifully and simply present with people – showing grace and generosity in places where one would least expect to find it. 

If confronted with such love, what would you do?

Early in my life, I viewed God as some eternally bored deity who would occasionally get out his divine BB gun and shoot people in the rear, just for something to do. God, in my understanding, cared nothing for the real lived experiences of people on earth.

But much like Peter of old, Jesus showed up unannounced in my life. And what I found was like Peter – a kind, benevolent Being who showered such generous love on me that my heart was immediately captured. I have never looked back since.

We intuitively know, down deep in our gut, in the very marrow of our bones, when genuine Love is among us. Generously true Love immediately connects with the deepest needs of our lives. No evangelist must convince us with offering free gold crosses or promised blessings. None of that matters when Love incarnate is present, when the great God of all is among us.

Peace, hope, and faith are the results of the divine loving presence. They cannot be conjured or ginned up through excessive asceticism or extreme discipline. Love is a gift. Love is a person. And it is given generously and graciously from the One whose very nature is charitable and hospitable.

Praise be to God!

Gracious God, you sent your Son to me even though I was neither looking for him nor expecting anything from him. Thank you for breaking-in to my life so that I could break-out for you with glory, honor, and praise.  Amen

1 John 2:1-6 – Live as Jesus Did

Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. (New International Version)

Jesus is our advocate, the one who speaks on our behalf, our mediator, who stands in the gap between heaven and earth, standing-up for us when we have no leg to stand on. 

Christ has atoned for all our sin, guilt, and shame through his “propitiation” which means that his death satisfied all demands of justice and put to rest the sin issue once for all through his blood. Christ’s gracious intervention has saved us from ourselves. 

Jesus Christ has made it possible for us to experience forgiveness, restoration, and new life. Whenever we are so broken and so full of tears that we cannot even speak words at all, Jesus steps in and speaks on our behalf with words that mean something because they have been backed up with the action of the cross.

“But” as the late Ron Popeil used to say on the old commercials, “that’s not all!” Not only do we have deliverance from sin, death, and hell, Christ’s followers have both the means and the opportunity to give back and be a blessing to one another and the world. The Spirit enables us to obey God’s commands and is the continuing presence of Jesus to us and on this earth.

Christians are called to be little advocates, practicing the ministry of coming alongside and interceding for one another before God. We can agents of spiritual healing in a world of brokenness. Our gospel proclamation, a message of grace and forgiveness, gets to the very root of human problems and travails.

  • Anyone who harms and hurts others as a matter of habit in the name of Christ, and does not heal, is no follower of Jesus but is a victimizer.
  • Any person who talks a good talk, and walks a bad walk, is not living as Jesus did, and is a spiritual pettifogger.
  • Anybody who claims the name of Christ and avoids reading and studying and praying over the New Testament Gospels, is a slovenly lout, no matter whether they have prayed a “sinners prayer.”

Whoever claims to live for Christ must live as Jesus did. So, how did Jesus live?

“If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me.”

Jesus (Matthew 16:24, NLT)

“You know that the rulers of the non-Jewish people love to show their power over the people. And their important leaders love to use all their authority. But it should not be that way among you. Whoever wants to become great among you must serve the rest of you like a servant. Whoever wants to become first among you must serve the rest of you like a slave. In the same way, the Son of Man did not come to be served. He came to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many people.” (Matthew 20:25-28, NCV)

He came to tell about the light and to lead all people to have faith.

John 1:7, CEV

“You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.” (John 13:13-15, NRSV)

Your life must be controlled by love, just as Christ loved us and gave his life for us as a sweet-smelling offering and sacrifice that pleases God.

Ephesians 5:2, GNT

Adopt the attitude that was in Christ Jesus:

Though he was in the form of God,
        he did not consider being equal with God something to exploit.
But he emptied himself
        by taking the form of a slave
        and by becoming like human beings.
When he found himself in the form of a human,
        he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death,
        even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-8, CEB)

Don’t be angry with each other but forgive each other. If you feel someone has wronged you, forgive them. Forgive others because the Lord forgave you.

Colossians 3:13, ERV

But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

“He committed no sin,
    and no deceit was found in his mouth.”

When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. (1 Peter 2:20-23, NIV)

This is how we know love: Jesus laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.

1 John 3:16, CEB

Christians inhabit unlovely places for the purpose of putting sacrificial love there. This is what it means to live as Jesus did.

O Lord, you have taught us that without love whatever we do is worth nothing. Send your Holy Spirit and pour into my heart your greatest gift, which is the love of God in Christ, the true source of healing and the real bond of peace. Amen.

1 Corinthians 13:1-13 – Will Our Ministry Have More Love?…

Love is enduringly patient with the quirkiness of others. Love is infinitely kind and generous to everyone it encounters. Love does not envy or resent another person’s gifts or abilities; it does not place oneself on a pedestal as a braggart. Love is not puffed-up like a peacock looking for constant attention and believing that life is all about my-way-or-the-highway. Love is never snarky toward others and does not seek a selfish conniving agenda at all costs.

Love does not fly-off the handle with limited information, and it absolutely never keeps a scorecard of other people’s offenses. Love does not cheer when other people screw-up, but, instead, throws a party when someone embraces gospel truth. Love always looks out for others, always gives the other person the benefit of the doubt, always sees the potential in others, and always believes what God can do in the most stubborn of hearts. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, My own translation)

Love Is Eternal

Love will forever endure. There is never a time when being un-loving is required or acceptable – that somehow we need to withhold love from someone so that they will get the clue they are doing something we don’t like.  In other words, love does not hate people who are different from us. Hate is temporary. Love is permanent and ageless.

As humans, we simply do not have the full picture to everything happening in the world. We don’t see all the angles or have a complete understanding of everything. Because of our limitations, we are to avoid being so quick to evaluate and judge. 

Love makes God’s interests in other people our interests. Love is to be our guiding and overarching principle for living. Love is to be our way of life. Love cannot be manufactured or synthesized. That’s because God is love, and God cannot be reproduced into our own image of how we think life ought to operate.

Many people are unloving and unkind in this often cruel and calloused world because they don’t know God loves them. If we don’t believe God loves us, then our words and our actions will reflect more of hate than love.  God really truly does love you and me. This is crucial. Do not forget this. Believe it. Live it. Enjoy it. Know it in your heart and deep in your gut. Tell it to yourselves until you are thoroughly bathed in it because it is more wonderful than any 70’s love song could ever describe it.

The Lord your God is with you.
    He is like a powerful soldier.
    He will save you.
He will show how much he loves you
    and how happy he is with you.
He will laugh and be happy about you. (Zephaniah 3:17, ERV)

Christianity does not simply happen by knowing some belief statements about God and Jesus. Christianity happens when people experience the white hot burning love of God in Jesus Christ for them. 

Jesus came not only for those who skip church and only occasionally read their Bibles, but also came for the hard-hearted thief, prostitute, adulterer, addict, terrorist, murderer, and for all those caught up in bad choices and failed relationships.

God’s love is never based on our performance, or how good we look to others; it is never conditioned by our moods. The love of God only looks longingly at you and me with the potential of what we can become in Christ, loving us as we are. This is a world-altering revolutionary reality:

God loves me as I am and not as I should be. 

Mit Tdrahrhe

But Christ died for us while we were still sinners, and by this God showed how much he loves us. (Romans 5:8, ERV)

Despite the decline of institutional religion in the Western world, the vast majority of people still believe God exists. Conversely, however, the majority of people do not believe God truly loves them. We are in a crisis of love. People need to know the God who is Love. 

Christianity never begins with what we do for God so as to make ourselves lovely and presentable to the Divine.  No! Christianity always starts with what God has done for us, the great and wonderful Love that exists for us in Christ Jesus.

God our Savior showed us
    how good and kind he is.
He saved us because
    of his mercy,
and not because
of any good things
    that we have done.

God washed us by the power
    of the Holy Spirit.
He gave us new birth
    and a fresh beginning. (Titus 3:4-5, CEV)

All the wrong turns in the past, the mistakes, the moral lapses, everything that is ugly or painful, it all melts in the light of God’s acceptance and love for us. Amen.

Will Our Ministry Have Love?

Welcome, friends! Our help is in the name and with the love of the Lord who made heaven and earth. Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 13 is the great love chapter of the New Testament. All Christian ministry and mission is to be thoroughly grounded and bathed in love. Love is a deliberate and intentional decision to meet the need of another person without showing favoritism or discrimination – because that’s what God does.

Click the videos below, and let’s consider together the essential, effective, and eternal nature of love…

Pastor Tim Ehrhardt, 1 Corinthians 13:1-13

Life is short and we have too little time to gladden the hearts of those who travel the way with us. So, be swift to love and make haste to be kind….and may the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with you now and always. Amen.