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February 1, 2012

Following Jesus In The Central Valley

Jesus, while walking by the Sea of Galilee saw the two brothers Simon and Andrew fishing.  Jesus said to them, "Follow me, and i will make you fishers of men."  Immediately they left their nets and followed Jesus.  Later, Jesus saw two other brothers, James and John, in a boat with their father mending their nets.  When Jesus called to them the two brothers left their boat and their father and followed Jesus.  (Matthew 4:18-22)

To be a disciple of Jesus we must follow Him.

These disciples were simple Galilean fishermen, rough, unlearned, elementary men governed by Jewish passions and prejudices and narrow in their outlook.  Before they could become fishers of men, they would have to learn how to live in a way that relied upon the power of the Spirit of God.  Jesus says, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men."

Matthew records what the disciples were doing at the moment Jesus called them.  Peter (Simon) and Andrew were casting their nets into the sea.  That is what they knew how to do and what their abilities were.  Jesus teaches them to cast nets for men.  As the account goes on we see how Andrew becomes the disciple who brings people to Jesus, even as he's brought his brother Peter to Christ.  Peter becomes the great evangelist when, on the day of Pentecost, he preaches the gospel to three thousand people.

James and John were doing something else.  They were mending their nets.  This is their skill and ability.  The Greek word for "mending" has the idea of equipping and/or preparing.  Just as James and John were equipping their nets (getting them ready) when He called them, Jesus teaches them to mend nets as fishers of men.  They would do ti as teachers equipping the saints.

This is an encouraging thought because it means that when Jesus calls us to a ministry He assumes the responsibility to teach us everything we need to learn in order to fulfill that calling.  As we follow Him (yield our lives to Him) He will equip us and use us, our abilities and personalities, to fulfill His calling.

In a very real sense, following Jesus means learning to do life as if Jesus is the one doing our life.  Put simply:  Doing my life Jesus' way.

Creekside is a unique part of God's work here in the Central Valley and beyond.  God is calling people to salvation and life with Him.  God has called us to follow Him in His ministry.

Someone has said, "There's a fine line between fishing and standing on the shore life an idiot."

Left to our own wisdom, planning, and programs we would have a seriously ineffective ministry as a congregation.  Laughable if the consequences were not so serious.

We need to learn how to fish.  We need to know fish and what catches them.  Are we learning to be the congregation which God has called us to be and to uphold the uniqueness of that community in a way which compels all men to come to Jesus as their Savior?

A huge part of our learning takes place during individual and corporate study, prayer, fellowship, worship, and service.  A huge part of our learning comes as we share our faith and life with others who also need to follow Jesus with their lives.  A huge part of our learning is a result of being teachable.

Following Jesus means a whole lot more than just agreeing that He knows where He's going.  Are we willing to follow Jesus wherever, whenever, and into whatever He leads us?  Are we willing to be used by Him to reach others with the gospel?  To be a part of His ministry of discipleship?

Jesus said, "Follow Me..."  The question for us is this:  Have we left everything to follow Jesus?  Thinking through what this means for us - what impact would it have in the places we work, go to school, hang during the week, at Creekside, or even in our families if we did?