A sermon preached at New Hope Lutheran Church, West Melbourne, FL on February 7, 2010 by Pastor Dale Raether Peter Shows Us How to Serve the LordLuke 5:1-11Do you ever get frustrated with how much you get done in a day? Time just flies by. Sometimes at night we may have good intentions that tomorrow we’ll be more productive. But then maybe we don’t sleep well and have trouble getting up in the morning. On top of that we get hit with a bunch of dumb stuff, and first think you know day is shot and nothing is done. Now add to this frustration Jesus’ words in our text, “From now on you will catch men.” Like, when is that going to happen? Everyone is so busy with their jobs, and taking care of their family, or just running to appointments, who has time to be a witness for Christ? Or, who has time to call that person, that recently lost a loved one or is all alone? And so, not only might we feel frustrated over how little we get done, we feel guilty, and feeling guilty can make us not want to do anything at all. This morning instead of beating ourselves up, let’s follow Peter’s example! He served the Lord: 1. by doing his daily work. 2. by listening to Jesus’ word. 3. by obeying God’s will. 4. by continuing in repentance and faith. We read, “One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the people crowding around him and listening to the word of God, he saw at the water's edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets – Luke 5:1-2.” This was early in Jesus’ ministry. Peter was already convinced Jesus was the Promised Savior. This happened when his brother, Andrew, heard John the Baptist say, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Andrew got Peter and introduced him to Jesus. They spent the rest of that day together, and then Peter went back to work. He was a fisherman. In those days they fished with nets – usually at night close to shore when schools of fish would come in. The night before he had caught nothing; and so Peter was getting his nets ready for the next night’s work. In doing this Peter was serving God. You see, he had a family to feed. The Bible doesn’t tell us if they had children, but he did have his mother-in-law was living with them. She too became a believer and would later serve God by cooking for Jesus and His disciples. Anyway getting back to Peter, he was doing what he was supposed to be doing. Paul wrote in First Timothy, “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever – I Timothy 5:8.” Never underestimate the value of your daily work. God made us to be the crown of His creation, and to care for however much or little He’s given us to care for. But what if our daily work is boring; or, sometimes it’s overwhelming. The fault for that is sin. Also, sometimes God is moving us out of our comfort zone, so that we grow. But pray for joy in the little or big things you have to do, for joy in serving comes from God. One of the ways He increases that joy is by increasing our faith through His Word. We read, “He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat – Luke 5:3.” We don’t know if Peter had more to do to get ready or still had to sleep. Either way Peter knew Jesus was his Savior, and whether he had time for it or not, he wanted to listen to Jesus’ Word. God teaches us to have that same attitude. In Exodus 20 it says, “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work… For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy – Exodus 29:9-11.” Believers in the Old Testament had to worship on Saturday. We may worship any day we want. Nevertheless God’s resting after creating for six days sets the pattern for all time that after six days of work it’s time for some worship. There are several reasons for this. Our greatest service to God isn’t the work we get done. Our greatest service is trusting that He is our Father through Christ; and, listening to His Word and singing it strengthens our faith. Also, as God feeds our faith, He renews our strength for whatever lies ahead. So, if our goal is to get the most done we can done, which is more important – hearing the Gospel or spinning our wheels at home? I say that because when we prioritize His Word, God often multiplies what we get done with our remaining time. Plus we have the joy of being reassured that we are forgiven and that God is with us. Reading on in our text, “When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch – Luke 5:4." As I mentioned earlier, with the equipment they had, they had to fish in the shallows at night. Putting their nets into the deep during the day normally would be a total waste of time and result in having to get the nets ready all over again. However that’s what Jesus told Peter to do, and he obeyed. Jesus also speaks to us through His Word. As we ponder it, He guides us in our inner spirit on how to handle different situations. For example next week is Pro-life Sunday. Our guest preacher will be Pastor Robert Fleischmann. He gives talks on life-issues all over country. He’s also an editor for this Clearly Caring magazine. You can read it on our website by clicking on resources. Anyway suppose someone has Alzheimer’s. Would it be reasonable to save the time and money and let that person die, or even hasten death along with a little poison? The world would say that’s reasonable. Jesus says, “Whatever you do for the least of these brothers of mine, you have done it for me.” He also warns, “You shall not murder.” And so, caring for those who can’t care for themselves IS serving Jesus. Furthermore, when His love moves us to obedience, Jesus always bring about abundant blessings. We read, “Simon answered, "Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets." When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink – Luke 5:5-7.” Doings things God’s way “pays” because the blessings don’t depend on our skill and effort. Yes, God uses our skill and efforts, and He urges us to always put our whole heart and soul into it. Still, all blessings come from Him. And so, rather than worry about the outcome of what we do, let’s pray that the Lord help us to love and that He be glorified. Then like Peter we will be following God’s will; He will direct our day, and He bless in ways we can’t even imagine. Now, if all this is true when it comes to serving Him with physical work, it’s especially true in sharing the Gospel. Peter writes, “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light – I Peter 2:9.” Part of the reason God gives us to do what He gives us to do is so that we can show the love of Christ in how we live each day. But a person also needs to actually hear the Word. And so, from time to time Jesus puts opportunities in front of us to speak His Word. Pray that you may see those opportunities. Pray also that the Lord bless your words. In other words, let down your nets, because on the Last Day you will be shocked, when Jesus shows you all that your faithfulness accomplished. But what if we haven’t always been that faithful? Peter wasn’t either. We read, “When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus' knees and said, "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!"We’re fooling ourselves if we think we can stand in the presence of God without feeling the guilt of our sins. Isaiah in our Old Testament reading felt it. Peter felt it too. And it’s not that either of them had committed any crimes. But the light of God’s holiness exposed to them the sinfulness that’s in everyone. And then God comforted each. He told Isaiah that He had taken away His sin. He told Peter, "Don't be afraid; from now on you will catch men." Just as with Isaiah and Peter, the joy of forgiveness puts love in our hearts so that we want to serve others. Unfortunately, we often don’t stay in that joy for very long, because we sin every day. Plus the more we grow in the Word, the more His light exposes our sinfulness to us. And so, like Peter we may feel that we’re worthless servants. In one way that’s a good thing because it keeps us from idolatrous pride. Also as we’re assured again and again of God’s forgiveness, we are enabled to better to use our gifts in love. In other words a key to serving God, and this is the most important one of all, is that we daily repent and look to the cross. We read, “So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.” This doesn’t contradict what I said about Peter being responsible. I’m sure he made arrangements for his mother-in-law, because the Bible doesn’t contradict itself. So also for us, being a follower of Jesus means living in the world, and at the same time always being ready to let go of everything for the sake of the Gospel. Pray that God bring each of us to that point. Then we won’t get stuck in our ruts, wasting our days, but we will see what our purpose is. It’s doing our daily work for the good of others. It’s hearing the Gospel for our own good. It’s doing God’s will in whatever opportunities He gives us. And it’s continuing in repentant and faith. Such a life is not frustrating. It’s joy filling, and even when we do get frustrated because we are sinners, let’s not give up on our purpose. But see all the more how important our purpose in life is, and then make decision on how we use our time accordingly. And now go out there and catch some fish. Amen.

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