SPECIAL SUNDAY SERVICE WITH PASTOR (DR) MENSA OTABIL (GENERAL OVERSEER, INTERNATIONAL CENTRAL GOSPEL CHURCH (ICGC) CHRIST TEMPLE, ACCRA GHANA)
TOPIC: LAUNCH OUT – PART 5 (FOLLOWING JESUS)
DATE: 26TH MARCH 2023
BIBLE TEXT: LUKE 5: 1-11
Let us rise up together as we make our “DECLARATION OF GATHERING” in this “YEAR OF GATHERING”.
Are you ready? Say with me:
I Proclaim Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour. The Lord is the Shepherd of my Soul, my Shelter by Day, my Light by Night.
In His Name, we Plough our fields, by His Spirit we gather the Harvest, in His Light we seek and find.
In this Year of Gathering, the Lord of the Harvest has commanded: Launch Out into the Deep. At His Words, we cast our Nets, we gather in Souls and Substance for God’s Kingdom.
The Lord is our Reward; in this Season I received God’s Portion set aside for me: Full Measure, Pressed down, Shaking together and running over.
Nothing is Lost and Nothing is wasted in Jesus Name – Amen!
This is my Final in the Series: “LAUNCH OUT”.
It is a 5-Part Series, and this is the Part 5 of Launch Out.
The Sub-Title is “Following Jesus”.
And in this Part 5, we are going to look at Peter – Following Jesus.
As a matter of fact, this is the whole intention of the Episode between Jesus and Peter – The reason why Jesus asked for his boat, the reason why He told him, “Launch Out into the Deep for a Catch.”
All of that is so that Peter would become Follower of Jesus Christ.
And we are going to look at how that happened in this Passage.
One of the things you would notice about the Lord Jesus Christ is that He doesn’t force us to Worship Him or to serve Him.
And when you read the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) you’ll see that many times in the Encounters that Jesus had with People, He led them gradually to discover Him.
He didn’t force Himself on People – He wanted People to know Him and to Love Him for themselves.
So let’s go to our main Text – Luke 5:1-11 (NKJV);
1 So it was, as the multitude pressed about Him to hear the word of God, that He stood by the Lake of Gennesaret,
2 and saw two boats standing by the lake; but the fishermen had gone from them and were washing their nets.
3 Then He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat.
4 When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”
5 But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.”
6 And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking.
7 So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.
8 When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!”
9 For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken;
10 and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.”
11 So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him.
We’ve looked at so much in this Passion and we’ve looked at it from different Points. But this is the intention of the Passage; this is what the Passage is all about, this is what the Passage is all about, this is where it is leading us to.
Peter had just received a Miracle from Jesus – So much fish! So much, such that his Net is breaking and the boat is threatening to sink. And with that came some response from Peter.
Three (3) Things I want you to Note from Peter:
The first is Revelation:
Peter saw Jesus for who He is. He was astonished at the Catch of fish and the Miracle that had happened.
So much had happened, and the Bible says, he is astonished.
Why is he astonished?
The Bible tells us, he is astonished because of the Catch of fish.
Why is he shocked? I am sure he is shocked because what he received that day was unsual. He had never seen such amount of fish in his Life.
All his Life he’s been fishing, and he has not caught as many fish as he caught that day and that shocked him.
So this is a Major Miracle in the Life of Peter. And what did he do? He had a Revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ – He knew who Jesus Christ was.
You know, many times we receive Blessings from God, and we are excited, because God has done something Great for us. But we never Pause to think, “what does this Miracle mean to me?”
And for Peter, that Miracle opened his eyes to the Lord Jesus Christ – It didn’t open his eyes to himself and to the fish, but to who Jesus is.
So the Question I want to ask you is: “what does God’s Blessing mean to you?” When God gives you a Miracle what does it show you about God?
There are those who see a Miracle happen and they see their own importance. You know, some times when you hear People give Testimony in Church, there is no Glory of God in their Testimony.
People talk about “I Prayed and I Prayed, God answered!” And the tone of the Testimony seems to focus on “I Prayed, I Fasted, I gave.”
… But Miracle does not Point to us – It Points to God.
It shows what God has done, not what we have done. We don’t Testify of our Goodness, we Testify of God’s Goodness.
Hence, every Miracle must give us a Revelation of Who He is.
Your Life, your Testimony, your effort, is an amplification of God’s Power, of God’s Grace. The Lord who is able to do Mighty Things for us.
So, that’s the first thing – Peter saw Jesus for Who He is.
Second, is Reference:
Peter yielded himself to Jesus.
The Passage says, he fell down at his knees – He went on his knees and held the knees of Jesus.
He yielded himself totally to the Lord – And that’s what Worship is all about.
Worship is yielding to God.
We sing, dance, raise hands when worshipping. But ultimately, Worship is not about just lifting up your hands, singing and dancing; Worship is about yielding to God.
When we Worship, we bow to Him; we surrender to Him. And that is why you cannot go into a Place of Worship and come back seeing your own importance.
When we truly Worship God, we surrender all we have to Him – We yield everything to Him.
We cannot be in the Presence of God worshiping Him and leave angry, leave upset. Because if you truly worshipped Him, you would have surrendered everything to Him.
And that’s what Peter is doing here – He recognizes who Jesus is and he pays homage to the Lord Jesus Christ. He worships Him, yields to Him.
He made Jesus the center of his Life – No longer Fish, no longer Business but Jesus is the center of Peter’s Life.
The third thing we see (shockingly) is Remorse – He became aware of his sinfulness.
He said, “I am sinful man; I am not worthy Lord.” It’s amazing!
And he says something very interesting; he says to the Lord Jesus Christ “depart from me, I am not Worthy.”
Basically, Peter was not actually sacking Jesus Christ (where should He go)? They are in the sea, He should leave the boat and go where?
That Phrase “depart from me” simply means: Lord, I am not worthy to be in Your Presence.
And Miracle make him see Jesus for who He is; makes him now before Jesus and reference Him. And now he feels unworthy.
Because when you have a real Encounter with God, that’s how you feel.
When you have a real Encounter with God you don’t come feeling, “I am the Greatest of all times.”
When you have an Encounter with God, you come always feeling, “I am Nothing but for Your Grace, but for Your Mercy and the Kindness of God – I wouldn’t be where I am.
And we have to learn that, so that we don’t see the work of God in our lives as many of us do – Worthy, Great and Awesome People.
But when we Encounter God, we should come out feeling “Oh woooooow! See what the Lord has done: I don’t deserve it and He has done it for me.”
And Peter said, Lord depart from me, I am not worthy (I am not Holy).
Peter is not a the only one who has such an Experience; Isaiah had such an Experience in the Book of Isaiah 6:4-5.
If you know the Story – Isaiah had a Vision of the Lord God Almighty and He saw the Glory of God and Angels shouting, Holy, Holy, Holy!
And the Passage says: And the Posts of the door were shaken by the Voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. So I said: “Woe is me, for I am undone!
Because I am a man of unclean lips,
And I dwell in the midst of a People of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The Lord of Hosts.”
When you have this reference for God – God has done something for you, it doesn’t puff you up but it humbles you!
The works of God humble us.
Simon Peter has seen Jesus work Miracles – His own mother-in-law has been healed by Jesus. But when he saw all of that, something fell on him.
You know, when he started his journey with Jesus in Luke 5:5 he called Jesus ‘Master.’ But at time, he not only calls Jesus Master, He calls Him, Lord.
When he called Jesus Master, he trusted Him to take care of his business. But when he called Him Lord, he meant, “everything I have belongs to You.”
It’s one thing to believe God for a Miracle and we do that, you know!
Many of us when believing God for a Miracle, we go for Prayer Meetings, do all kind of things. And Miracles comes!
But after the Miracle comes, we are so excited about it, we forget the One we were talking to about giving us the Miracle.
How many times do People experience the Hand of God and still think of Him after the Miracle has been done?
Most of the time we get a Miracle, we rush away from the Presence of God; go on our merry way, live our own lives. And then later when we are in trouble we come back seeking God.
But that is not what Peter is doing. He says Lord, You are Holy, You are Worthy; I’m not even fit to be in Your Presence.
And how did Jesus respond to Peter? He says to him, do not be afraid.
I have been wondering: why did Jesus say to Peter, “do not be afraid?” Why did He tell him that?
When you read the Bible you’ll find that many times when People, either came into the Presence of God or an Angel appeared to somebody; the Angel tells them, ‘Fear not.’ Or ‘do not be afraid.’
Because the General Notion then was, if you see God or you see Him in any form, you are dead! So, if you have an Encounter with God you are going to die.
Peter now believes he has an Encounter with God – He is scared!
That’s why he says, Lord move away from me! He thinks, “I am going to die!” And Jesus says, “Fear not.*
… Everybody say: FEAR NOT!
And the reason why He said do not be afraid, was because He wanted Peter to know he would not die. “Do not be afraid.”
And the Lesson we learn there is that: God’s Holiness does not keep Him away from us.
To be Holy means to be separate; to be apart. And when we say that God is Holy, it means that God is separate.
But the fact that God is separate from us, or that He is Unique, and there is no one like Him, does not mean that He doesn’t want us.
As a matter of fact, God’s Holiness draws Him to us – That’s why Jesus came to die for us.
And by the way, do you think that it was only when Peter recognized who Jesus was that Jesus also knew who He was?
Jesus knew who He was all along – He knew He was Holy, He knew He was the Son of God, He knew He could do Miracles, He knew all of that!
And yet, what did He do? He went to Peter, asked for his boat, sat in the boat, gave him instructions.
All this time Jesus knew He was Holy.
And what does that teach us? His Holiness will not separate Him from you.
And that’s why it’s sad sometimes, when Christians sin – They feel “oh, I have done something terrible; I am not going to Church again.”
Well, when you are sinner, that’s when you should run to God. Because God’s Holiness does not sack us – God’s Holiness embraces us.
He knows who we are – He knows our Weaknessrs, and He wants to help us to overcome those Weaknesses.
And God’s Holiness draws us to Himself, it doesn’t separate us from God.
4. A NEW PERSON
The Final thing we are going to look at is what happens to Peter – He becomes a New Person.
There is a New Peter now.
When he encountered Jesus Christ, first he is disappointed.
He is a disappointed Fisherman – Toiled all night, caught nothing. But now there is a New Peter.
I. Peter obviously, although he is a Fisherman, he is also a very Religious man.
Most of the Jews in those days were very Religious; and he (Peter) was also Religious.
II. But not only that, he was actually seeking for the Fulfilment of God’s Will for Israel.
So, he started by following John the Baptist.
Interestingly, when he followed John the Baptist, he didn’t leave everything to follow him; he was still a Fisherman when he followed John the Baptist.
He followed John the Baptist because John was seen to be a Great Prophet. And some People thought he was going to be the Messiah. But John kept telling his Disciples: “I am not the Messiah.”
Andrew was there; and one day he Points to Jesus and said, “that’s the Messiah.”
So Peter starts following Jesus around, watching Him, trying to check Him out, ‘is He really the True Prophet and the Messiah?”
Now he has encountered Jesus in a very Personal way – His mother-in-law had been healed by Jesus, now he has caught a lot of fish, now Jesus is in his boat!
… And he has this Divine Encounter with Jesus, and He transforms Peter – He becomes a New man!
There are Three (3) Ways of Newness of what we see in the Life of Peter:
1. A NEW PURPOSE:
The first thing that we see is a New Purpose – His Mission in Life is redefined.
Up until this time, fishing was all that mattered to Peter – He lived by the Lake, he spent almost all his Life on water.
Most likely, his father was a Fisherman.
We know that he is a Fisherman; and his brother is a Fisherman – It is a Fishing Family.
If you asked Peter “what are you going to be?” The only thing he can say is Fisherman!
Because you know, in those days, you don’t Change your Profession much – If your father is a Fisherman, your child become a Fisherman.
And that’s how it goes.
It’s not like these days that you don’t follow your father’s job.
But those days, if your father is a Carpenter, your son is a Carpenter. If your father is a Shepherd, you would be a Shepherd, and so on and so forth!
That’s how it went – People didn’t Change Profession much. You stay within a Family Profession.
And so Peter is a Fisherman just like his father and brother.
If he had a Sister, I am sure she will be in the Fishing Business – Cooking fish, frying fish or doing something with fish.
Fish was their business!
So, if you ask Peter “what is your Life all about?” I am sure it’s fish he can talk about.
He knows all kinds of fish; he knows when you catch fish, when you don’t fish. He can give you a whole Lecture on fish.
That’s all his Life was about.
But Jesus encountered Peter and He Changed him – He Changed his Ministry.
Jesus says, from now on, you will catch men.
Other Passages in the Gospels says, “I will make you a Fisher of men.”
Jesus took Peter’s Mission to a New Level. His Passion for fish is now redefined.
You know, many of us have Passion for Life – For Peter, it was fish.
For some of you, it may be reading or writing; or Mathematics (accounting).
For some People, it is Fashion.
For some People, it is Cooking.
Everybody has a Passion for something.
Some People have a Passion for Football.
I get amazed at how much Passion People have for football. I get amazed at the Influence with which they talk about football – Preaches football.
They live in Ghana but they know every Players in the English Premier League; they know every Players in the Spanish League; they know every Players in the German League.
I mean, they sit in Ghana: they’ve never travelled anywhere before. But they are too Passionate – They debate who is the GOAT (Greatest Of All Times): Is it Ronaldo or Messi? And their heart is in it.
And some of them get very, very disturbed if their Team in England losses.
They know how much every Players costs. They know their Seasons, they know how many goals – Passion!
They are like Peter;
But Jesus Christ says, I want to take that Passion and use it somewhere else.
Have you considered maybe Jesus wants to take that Passion you have and says, I want to use it for my Glory; for my Kingdom. So from now on you are going to apply the same Diligence to do my work.
He didn’t say to Peter don’t fish again – No fishing, you are going to be a Carpenter. He didn’t say, “you will be a Carpenter of men; a Shepherd of men.” But “Fisher of Men.”
He took the Passion and redefined it.
May the Lord take your Passion, your drive, your energy and use it tremendously for His Kingdom and for His Glory – Amen.
May the thing that beats in your Heart now, beat for the Kingdom of God – Amen.
May there be a drive in your Heart for the things of God – Amen.
… Peter has a New Purpose; not only does he has a new Purpose, he has;
2. NEW PRIORITIES.
He gave up everything: he gave up what he had treasured – He gave up the fish.
A few hours ago his Life was fish. Now he leaves fish behind – The most fish he has ever caught, he turns away from it.
Peter said, fish is no longer Number One (No. 1) in my Life. I have given everything to fish; but now, I am going to give everything to Jesus.
I am not saying you should go and stop your job – Not everyone can be like Peter.
But each one of us at a certain Point, would have to turn from just living our lives in Pursuit of worldly things, to a Pursuit of God’s Kingdom – God’s Priority.
Alright, go ahead and be the Accountant, Medical Doctor, Engineer, Fashion Person, a Model, a Sportsman. But can you imagine what it would be like if you say, “I am using all of these for the Glory of God?
Peter turned from what he treasured the most and made Jesus Christ the Priority of his Life.
I just want to suggest to you that – If you are a Christian and you have Passion for something. And that something else is Number One (No.1) in your Life, you cannot know your Lord so well.
Much as you are Pursuing so many things in Life, the Number One (No. 1) thing in your Heart must be Jesus; the Number One (No. 1) thing in my Heart must be Jesus – Not this Church. It must be Jesus!
3. A NEW PURSUIT
And the Final thing we see about Peter is that he has a New pursuit.
He followed Jesus and his Mission – A New Purpose, New Priorities, New Pursuit – Something that he is following.
And I like how the Passage ends. It says, they brought the boat full of fish to the Shore: they didn’t count how many fish he caught; they didn’t even check how much would this fetch us in the market – They just saw all that God has done; they dumped the fish at the Shore!
Something that was the Greatest yearning if their Heart, they left it at the Shore – They didn’t count it, they didn’t take Part of it, they didn’t sell it.
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He simply turned his back and Jesus!
There comes a time when we must leave everything at the feet of Jesus – Your accolades, your Greatness, your Rewards, my Great Achievements. Lay them at the feet of Jesus.
And that is what this whole Story is about – To bring Peter to the Point of Total Surrender of everything.
So, what is the Lesson we’ve learned this Year is Gathering and the Launching Out that we are doing:
All th things that we will do? (And I know that God will do great things for you – Amen)
But remember, after all has been achieved, you don’t keep them.
You come to Jesus and say, “You enabled me do catch the fish, I caught these much because You were in the boat. Without You I could not have done these. So, to You belong all the Glory, all the Praise, all the Adoration and all the accolades. Everything is Yours.”
And at the end of the day, that’s what we do!
Not, “Lord see what I have done.”
Do you know God is not impressed with your Success?
Your father and mother may be impressed, you may even be impressed – But God is not impressed.
The only thing that impresses God is that which we Sacrifice for Him.
And if you can really achieve Success and give Him Praise for it, that is the real thing that God wants.
And He is not going to take the fish from you; He is not going to take your money from you; He is not going to take your business from you.
But He wants you to always make Him the Priority.
And this year (2023); as we go Gathering, Launching Out and Catching fish, as our boats are overloaded with benefits, may the Lord help us to keep our focus right – Amen.
That when all has been achieved, all the Glory, all Honour, all Adoration; everything belongs to God – His it is and He Who is, who made us who we are!
Father, this Morning, we learned that after everything is done, we lay it all at Your feet.
Help us Lord to always remember that. And never take Your Blessings as the end in itself. Never take what You give us as the end in itself.
But Lord help us that whatever You give to us, and the Great Blessings that You give to us would always end up at Your feet.
In Jesus’ Name we Pray – Amen and Amen!
More, wisdom in Jesus name????