Sermon Preached on March 15, 2015
Luke 6:12-16 – One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. 13 When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: 14 Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, 15 Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, 16 Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
These few short verses tell the story of the first guys Jesus picked to be leaders in His church. We remember them as Peter who was brave enough to be imprisoned for his faith and John and Matthew who, between them, wrote five books of the Bible. We know them as Philip, the guy who saved an Ethiopian and started the church in Egypt and Thomas who got labeled the doubter. When we read about them in Acts and beyond, it’s hard to imagine we could ever be like any of these guys. But those stories outside of the first four books of the New Testament tell about guys who had been empowered by the Holy Spirit. That’s not how they were when Jesus hand-picked them.
I think we often need reminded that when these guys met Jesus, they were just everyday ordinary men. More like you and me than you might imagine. For instance, according to Matthew 4 and Mark 1, Peter, Andrew, James and John were fishermen. Philip was from the same little town on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, so he may have been a fisherman also. There’s probably a really good chance they weren’t a formally educated bunch. Like most fishermen today, they were probably very intelligent men who used their backs more than any book learning they may have been privileged to have at a young age.
And you may have thought that Matthew being a tax collector and dealing with all of that money would have been chosen to be the moneykeeper for the group. Instead, Judas, the one who would eventually betray Jesus, was the man chosen by the group to be more trustworthy than Matthew. We know that Nathaniel (aka Bartholomew) didn’t consider Jesus to be of much worth when the others tried to convince Him to follow, and we can speculate that the other five were not much more educated or important since we don’t really ever hear much about them.
These are the twelve guys that Jesus chose to get the Christian faith started, twelve guys that are a lot like you and me. Think about it. Have you ever felt like those apostles? Have you felt like you don’t know enough or don’t have a good enough job? Maybe you’re like Matthew and you feel as though people don’t really like you that well, or like those last five, and you’re just too obscure for anyone to even notice you.
The thing is it doesn’t matter how you feel about yourself, as long as you aren’t like Judas, the one who will cheat Jesus, go behind His back and side with the enemy and complete betray Him, Jesus can use you. You see, Jesus saw those twelve men for what they could be, not what they were. God did it throughout Scripture.
• People saw old people when they looked at Abraham and Sarah, but God saw potential for a beautiful baby.
• His family saw Jacob as a mama’s boy, the youngest twin and the one who deceived his brother, but God saw the father of many nations.
• Joseph’s brothers saw a lazy dreamer, but God saw the ruler of Egypt.
• Samuel saw a short shepherd when he met David, but God saw the King of Israel.
• Moses had a speech impediment, Isaiah was afraid he wouldn’t know what to say.
I could go on, but I think you get the picture. Over and over again we read about people who were nothing, nobodies, but God saw who they could be.
And that’s how He sees us. 1 Samuel 16:7 says that “People look at outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.” He knows what is deep inside of us, and He sees us by what we are capable of, not what we’re doing.
So, how can you become all that Christ has created you to be?
The first three steps are things we tell you about all of the time.
1. We need to be worshipping Christ here and through prayer every day
2. We need to be learning about God by reading His Word every day and
3. We need to spend time with the people of God as often as possible.
So, today I’m going to focus on the last two things we need to do.
1. The first thing we need to do is to allow the Holy Spirit to move in our lives. That’s what set the 12 apart. That’s the thing that made them strong, that enabled them to do those things we admire outside of the gospels. The Holy Spirit is what turned Peter from the one who lied about knowing Jesus to the one who sat in prison because He defended Him. It’s the Holy Spirit that took Phillip, the disciple who was never mentioned much to the guy who God used to save Egypt. It’s the Holy Spirit that caused John to change from the one whose main concern was getting a good spot in heaven to being the one who really told us about the Holy Spirit.
Luke 11:13 tells us “how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Have you asked Jesus to pour His Holy Spirit out on you? Have you given His Spirit permission to empower you?
After you ask Him to be your Savior, the Spirit of Christ is the beginning of truly living the abundantly full life that Jesus promised in John 10:10. But there’s one more step to really being all you were created to be.
2. Finally, it’s time to step out. And you might have to do that BEFORE you feel like you’re full of the Holy Spirit. Peter did it. He stepped out of the boat onto the water at least a year before He knew the fullness of the Spirit. But the disciple heard Christ call Him and He went. And for those of you who just thought, “Yea, but he also sunk.” You are right! But it’s OK, because Jesus grabbed his hand and rescued him.
What is Christ calling you to do? Who is He calling you to care for? How are you being called to serve Christ? You won’t believe the amount of growth and trust that comes in the middle of serving. So what is it? And what’s keeping you from doing it. Is what you feel like you should do something that you are sure you are not qualified for, educated enough or have the right personality to do? Maybe you think you don’t have time. Did you know that when you say those things you are really telling God that He doesn’t know what He’s talking about? If God leads you to it, He will walk with you through it. And Peter proves that even if you fall flat on your face in the middle of it, Jesus won’t let you drown.
Maybe God is calling you to something inside the church, like leading children’s church or a small group. Perhaps He’s been asking you to arrange a mission trip or take on something that we haven’t even dreamed yet. There’s really no limit as long as it’s God’s idea and not just our good ideas.
I want to challenge you today to step into service. Maybe you’re already serving. Then I challenge you to make sure you are still doing what Christ has called you to and not stuck in a training place that He prepared for you.
Don’t ever think you aren’t smart enough or don’t know enough. Not good enough and not enough time are NOT good reasons.
Our mission statement is “Celebrating the Life of Jesus Christ and Helping others find Life Abundant.” I want you to have life abundant. You are missing out on blessings when you aren’t serving. Don’t wait another minute. Don’t believe those lies that say you aren’t old enough or aren’t young enough. The truth is God sees the real you, not the you that you see and not the you that others see. Trust that He knows you better than you know yourself and step out of the boat.