Thursday, March 31, 2011

Are you ready to drop it all and follow Jesus?

Matthew 4:18-22

How much has your life changed since you made the decision to follow Jesus?  If there was a possible way to actually view your life before Jesus and your life after Jesus just how different do you think the two would be.  In the very least, if we took all the habitual things you did before Jesus and lined them up to the habitual things you do now how different would these two lives be?

Would there be an incredible difference, say a 50% difference?  Would it be lower, possibly 25%?  Would there hardly be any difference, more like 5%?  What do you think?  How much of that difference would be significant?  For instance, is the difference that you now pray before you eat and when you go to bed?  Is the difference that now you occasionally pick up your Bible and read from it?  Is the difference that sometime during the weekend you go to church?  Is the difference that you don’t swear or tell dirty jokes?  Is the difference that you now include Christian music with your secular music?  Just how important or significant are these differences?  Do you ever feel like there might be something more?

In Matthew 4 we find this story concerning the calling of Peter, Andrew, James and John.

Matthew 4:18-22

When we first read this it seems like one day Jesus was walking along the beach and as he is walking he sees Peter and Andrew and thinks to himself “Those fellows over there look like pretty good disciples.  I think I’ll just go over there and ask them to completely drop everything and follow me.”  So he goes over there and says “Follow me” and they instantly drop everything and go follow him having very little clue of who he is.  Of course, this makes for a pretty strange story and doesn’t happen too often in reality.

In actuality these men may have been following Jesus for somewhere around a year before he approached them.  We know this because in John’s Gospel there is a different story that takes place before this.  Andrew was actually a disciple of John the Baptizer.  When John pointed out that Jesus was the “Lamb of God” Andrew went after Jesus.  Later he would bring his brother Peter to meet Jesus.  So it is obvious that there was some sort of relationship here and enough of a one where Jesus felt that he could call them to full time discipleship.

How long have you been a follower of Jesus?  Some of you have been followers pretty much since you were born, okay, since an early age.  In that amount of time how much has life changed for you?  Do you feel that as you get closer and closer to Jesus life is constantly changing?

These four men would become Jesus’s full time disciples were probably content with listening to him and at the same time continuing to live there regular lives.  They were obviously still working in the fishing industry.  Even though they may have been content with the ways things were they knew better when Jesus asked them to drop everything and really commit themselves to him.

We are very similar.  Many of us are content with the way our lives are going.  We believe in God and believe that his son has given us eternal life.  Things are okay, but how many of you are willing to take the next step in your commitment to Christ.  You see, that is exactly what is happening in this passage.  Even though these men were content when Jesus called them they were willing to take it up a notch.

How often do you hear the call of Jesus to step it up?  How often to you respond to the call?  Over the last few weeks we have been studying Matthew and at the end of every lesson I give you an opportunity to respond to God’s Word.  How many of you have responded to the challenge?  How many have responded to God’s call and dropped everything?

How does this call look?  I just gave you an example with Thursday night lessons, but the call comes in other ways as well.  When a Christian brother or sister confronts you it can be a call from Jesus.  Jesus has different mediums that he uses to get our attention.  He uses Scripture, sermons, lessons, prayers, songs, friends, situations, etc…  The Holy Spirit is amazing when you look at all the ways he speaks to us.

What is sad is that many times when He speaks to us we ignore Him.  We act like the message is for someone else or it doesn’t apply to us because….  God is constantly calling us to make decisions like these four men.  He is constantly asking us to drop things that we consider important. 

I knew that God was calling me into ministry at an early age.  It was my desire to be a pastor when I was in elementary school.  Somewhere in Jr. High or High School I began to deny this calling by God and instead I began to listen to the calling my dad was making.  He encouraged me to start thinking about getting a job that made good money.  I started taking drafting classes in middle school and continued taking them all the way through high school.  I was preparing myself to become an architect or engineer.  There finally came a point where I had to make the decision.  God was calling me and had been calling me for years.  I sacrificed everything to follow that calling.  I even sacrificed, or at least I thought I had, a relationship with my dad.  You know what happened as a result?  I am much happier doing and following God’s will then I think I would have been doing my own thing.

What is God calling you to drop?  What is he calling you to do?  Every single person here as specific things that God is calling them to do.  I don’t know those things.  You do.  But I do know some general thins God calls us to do.  He calls us to repent of sin that is in our lives.  He calls us to turn away from those things that break his heart.  Specifically, he calls us to get off his throne and allow him the rightful place in directing our lives.  He calls each of us to love all those around us.  He calls us to make him look good to those around us.  He calls us to holy living.  He calls us to share the good news with the world.

Over the course of the next few weeks we are going to be challenged by God’s word to respond to his call in specific areas in our lives.  Jesus said that we cannot serve two masters.  There will come a point where we have to decide whether we follow our own will or we follow God’s will, and let me make this point.  Not making a decision is really making a decision to not follow God’s will.  Trying to ignore God’s will is pretty much the same as telling God you don’t want to follow him because you basically live your life as if you said no to him.

Is there something specific you know God has been calling you to do and you know that it involves sacrifice?  I encourage you tonight to be like Peter, Andrew, James and John.  Drop what you’re doing or holding on to and follow God’s call.

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