|Nets | Cast the Nets|
|June 23, 2012|
Nets: Week 2
Welcome to the second message in our three-week series called Nets. In this series, we’re exploring the mission and vision that God has laid on our church.
Of course the big news in this series has been the announcement of the first step in our relocation process. It’s become clear that God has called us to buy or build a new facility for our church. Our current building is aging. It’s developing a lot of problems. It also has limited space and limited parking. God has a new facility in our future.
But He is also calling us to be bold in the interim. We don’t know how long it will be until we have a new facility. We’re praying it’s a short time, but God will reveal the timetable when He’s ready, not when we’re ready.
In the meantime, starting in November, we will become what’s known as a portable church…a church that moves in and out of a temporary facility each week. Our portable location will be the Holiday Inn in Eastgate. Our target start date is November 25. That’s when we plan on holding our first worship service in this new location.
This is big stuff. It’s big stuff when you start talking about buying or building a new facility. But we’re committed to it.
It’s big stuff when you talk about a new portable location. It’s big because it requires us to be bold. To take a step of faith. But we’re committed to it.
The reason we’re committed to these things is not us. We’re not looking at the Holiday Inn and saying, “Oh, it’s such a nice facility. We deserve that.”
We’re not pursuing a new permanent facility because we think, “We really deserve a nice, new building.”
The reason that we’re committed to these things is because we’re committed to the nets. We’re making these moves because we are committed to reaching lost people for Jesus.
We’re going to be in Matthew 4 again today. This series is based on the time when Jesus called some men to follow Him. All of them were fishermen, but ultimately, Jesus had a different kind of fishing in mind for them.
In Matthew 4, the Bible says, “As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.
Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.” (Matthew 4:18-22, NIV)
Last week, we saw how God has called us to prepare the nets. Today, He’s telling us to cast the nets.
Last week we focused in on the call of James and John. Today we’re going to laser in on Peter and Andrew. Like James and John, these two were brothers and they were fishermen. And just like James and John, the story of how Jesus called Peter and Andrew should really rock us even today.
Let’s pray and we’ll jump into it.
A dry net is a useless net. A dry net means the net is not being used for its intended purpose. A dry net is easier to handle. Things don’t get messy with dry nets. Dry nets are a lot less work.
But dry nets also don’t accomplish anything. Dry nets mean that fishermen aren’t doing their work. It means that there won’t be a catch. Even though it gets hard and messy when you cast your nets into the water, that’s exactly what nets are for.
You are here today because someone got their net wet for you. Someone cast a net in order to reach you for the gospel. It would have been easier for them to keep their net dry. It would have been a lot easier to not step out and take a risk. It would have been easier to just keep quiet. It would have been easier to keep their net dry. But someone chose to get their net wet for you.
And as a church, we’ve got to keep making that choice. We can’t just prepare our nets. Once they are prepared, we’ve got to cast them out. We’ve got to get our nets wet. Even though wet nets are more work. Even though it makes things messy and more difficult. The plain fact is that nets are meant to be wet.
In Matthew 4:18, the Bible says, “As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.” (Matthew 4:18, NIV)
Why were Peter and Andrew casting their net? Because they were fishermen. It’s as simple as that. They were casting a net because they were fishermen.
Peter and Andrew didn’t have to be told to cast their net. They were fishermen, and that’s what fishermen do.
We don’t have to be told to our cast nets. We are followers of Jesus. That’s what we do. We don’t have to be told to reach people for the gospel. We have been saved by the blood of Jesus. We have been transformed by the Holy Spirit. We hear the voice of God through His Word. We know the change that has come about in our lives. We know what we’d be like if we had never met Jesus, so introducing more people to Him is just what we do. Once you’ve experienced the grace and mercy and forgiveness of Christ, the only thing you want is for other people to experience the same thing. Once you realize that someone got their net wet for you, you want to cast your net out for others.
When the nets are ready, you’ve got to cast them out. Preparation is meaningless without execution. You can fix up your nets all you want, but if your net never hits the water, it’s all for nothing.
The big vision that we’re talking about in this series is actually not new. We’ve been talking about it for a while. I’ve preached about it on this stage for a while. The only thing we’re doing in this series is talking about some of the details that God is revealing to us.
Everything in the last few years has prepared us for this move. We’ve prayed. We’ve prepared. Now it’s time to cast the nets.
So let’s dig into the story of the calling of Peter and Andrew. They were all about casting their nets. But in this story, there are a few things that become very clear.
The first thing is that Jesus set the timetable. The timing of this whole thing was determined by Jesus. Not by Peter or Andrew. Not by James or John. The timing was decided by Jesus.
Look at the first verse of the story. “As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew.” (Matthew 4:18a, NIV)
Jesus was the one who went for a walk beside the Sea of Galilee. Jesus is the one who sought out Peter and Andrew. Jesus went to them and announced the mission. They didn’t seek Him out. He sought them out.
Even though that sounds simple, it’s critically important that we understand this truth. Jesus is the one who determines the timetable.
I’ve told you before that patience is not my strong suit. I’ve told you that, if it were up to me, we would have moved a long time ago. We need a new building? Bam. Here it is. Let’s go.
If the timetable were up to me, that’s how it would go. And if the timetable were up to me, we wouldn’t even be talking about a portable location. We would just move into a brand, spanking, new permanent location. But as we see in our story, there is only One who sets the timetable, and that’s Jesus. Not Peter. Not Andres. Not you or me. Jesus is the one who sets the timetable.
So why does our timetable include a portable church move? Here’s what the Lord has revealed to us. We have smacked against the same ceiling time and time and time again. If you look back through our church’s history, it’s been the same thing over and over again.
Grow. Hit 200. Smack! Dwindle.
Grow. Hit 200. Smack! Dwindle.
I’ve seen it happen 3 or 4 times in my tenure here. And it happened several times in our church’s history before I even arrived.
This move is all about busting through that ceiling, once and for all. That, in turn, will set us up so that we’ll be able to make the more permanent move that we believe God has called us to make.
If the timetable were up to us, we’d have a new facility and we’d have it now. But timetables aren’t decided by us. They are delivered to us.
This year at Sports Camp, I taught the kids about how Jesus’ washed the disciples’ feet. And of course, I couldn’t just tell the story. We needed a little Sports Camper participation. Anybody feel sorry for this young lady?
But this also may have been the most memorable lesson of Sports Camp. This story clearly illustrates that our God is a servant. Jesus took on the most menial, most disgusting task in first century culture…and He did it for His disciples.
Initially, the disciples objected. Especially Peter, who is at the center of our story today.
When Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, Peter questioned Him. And here’s what Jesus said in response.
In John 13, the Bible says, “Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” (John 13:7, NIV)
Sometimes what Jesus does for us and what He calls us to do doesn’t make perfect sense. In fact, I’d go further than that. Almost ALL of the time what Jesus does and what He calls us to do doesn’t make perfect sense.
Trust always comes first. Understanding always comes later. Jesus told Peter, “Trust me now. You’ll understand later.”
And that’s exactly where we find ourselves. In some ways, this isn’t the timetable that we would have chosen and it isn’t the route we would have picked. But in the absence of complete understanding, there is complete trust.
And we have very good reason to trust…because God has never failed us yet. We’ve never come upon a mountain that He didn’t move. We’ve never arrived at a Red Sea that He didn’t part. God has not failed us yet…and He’s not going to start now.
So this is our moment. This is our moment to say, “Jesus, I trust you. And I know that once I see the blessings you will pour out on us, I’ll understand. I’ll understand later. I’ll trust now.”
Let’s go back to our story. Jesus set the timetable. Then Jesus clarified the mission. Jesus chose the time to walk up to Peter and Andrew and call them. And when He called them, He clarified their mission.
The Bible says, “They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” (Matthew 4:18b-19, NIV)
Jesus clarified the mission. Peter and Andrew were out casting their nets. They were fishermen, and this is what fishermen did.
When Jesus arrived on the scene, He saw what they were doing. He supported what they were doing. All He did was clarify what they were doing. He clarified their mission. They were still going to fish. They were still going to cast nets. But they were going to start fishing for people. They were going to cast nets to reach people with the gospel.
When you follow Jesus, it means that you always allow Him to change your course. He leads, we follow. And when He clarifies our mission, as His church, the only thing we can do is obey.
I’ve had so many amazing conversations since last Sunday. So many people have been so excited about what God is doing here. One of the most meaningful conversations I had was actually with one of our oldest members. My friend, Ralph, told me, “It’s the Lord’s will that matters. My will doesn’t mean anything.” That’s a direct quote. And it’s one that I’ll never forget. I’ll never forget it because that’s the kind of faith that I want to have.
When Jesus clarifies our mission, we go. We may not understand it all. We may not have every answer. But when Jesus says follow, we follow.
This has been a very clarifying season for us. Over the last year, the Lord has really clarified who He is calling us to be and what He’s calling us to do. Moving our services to the Holiday Inn in Eastgate is a single pixel of a much larger picture. It’s a picture of a church that is all about the nets. It’s a picture of a church that cares more about eternity than the temporary. It’s a picture of a church that is willing to sacrifice our comfort to reach more people.
That was another great conversation I had with another long-time member last Sunday. She said, “It’s not about my comfort. It’s about reaching more people.”
All I could do was hug her and say, “Wow.” That’s where I always want to be. I always want to be in a place where I say, “It’s not about me. It’s not about my comfort. It’s not about what is easy for me. It’s about the nets. It’s about reaching more people. It’s about making heaven more crowded.”
And that’s what this move is all about. For some of us, it’s actually closer. For others of us, it’s further away. But I talked to a family last week who will be one of the furthest away from our new location, and they said, “You don’t have to worry about us. We’re in!” Because they know it’s not about them. It’s all about the nets.
This move allows us to cast a much wider net. We’re not abandoning Amelia. Amelia is still well within our target area. I worked on part of this message in the Eastgate Chick-fil-A. I could literally look out the window and see the Holiday Inn. But I didn’t drive there so I could see the Holiday Inn. I drove over there because I wanted a chicken sandwich. And everyone else in Amelia does the same thing. If we’ll drive there for chicken, we’ll drive there for church.
In fact, we’re going to have an opportunity to head over there very soon so everyone can see it for themselves. Next Sunday, July 1, right after church, we’re all heading over to the Holiday Inn. Everyone will get to see the space. We’ll all get to see how things are going to work. And most importantly, we’ll get to join together in prayer for God to do immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine. So next Sunday, right after church, we’re going to head out and we’re going to get our very first small taste of what’s next.
But here’s something you need to know about all of this. We are not abandoning Amelia. It’s well within our target range. But you know what else will now be in our range? Milford. Loveland. Anderson. Batavia. Eastgate itself. This doesn’t eliminate target areas. It adds more of them. You know what our target area will become? The entire east side of this city! The only thing this move does is enlarge our nets.
My wife was a huddle coach at Sports Camp. In Nicki’s little group alone, there were school districts represented from Bethel to Milford.
Our church isn’t just impacting Amelia. We are impacting Clermont County, and even beyond. This move magnifies our impact even more.
Aren’t there other churches around this area? Yes, and we hope they all explode. We pray that God does incredible things through their ministry. We love them. We support them. You know why? Because we’re all on the same team! And because there are more than enough lost people to go around.
Peter and Andrew were all about the nets. And when Jesus called them to follow Him, He said, “You’re still going to be all about the nets. But I’m going to make sure you’re fishing for the right things.”
He clarified the mission. But He also laid out the cost. When you decide to go all in and follow Jesus, incredible blessings await you. But so do big challenges. There is always a cost.
In Matthew 4:20, the Bible says, “At once they left their nets and followed him.” (Matthew 4:20, NIV)
Just like we saw in James and John last week, Peter and Andrew were fishermen. It’s how they were able to provide for their families. If they fished, they ate. If they didn’t fish, they did not.
When Jesus said, “Follow me,” what He was really doing was laying out the cost. He was saying, “I’ve got an amazing mission for you, but you’ll have to abandon everything to fulfill it. You’ll have to risk it all to carry out the mission I’ve planned for you. Are you willing?”
And the Bible says that there was no hesitation. No second guessing. No worrying or fretting. Jesus said, “Follow me,” and Peter and Andrew followed Him immediately. The Bible says, “At once they left their nets and followed him.” (Matthew 4:20, NIV)
They walked away from their family’s occupation. This was how their family survived. You think this might have created a little rift in the family? You think the next Thanksgiving might have been a little awkward?
But they didn’t just leave their income. Fishing was the life that they knew. They left everything that was familiar and comfortable to them. They left everything they knew.
For most of us, church as know it is a church that meets in their own building. And by the way, there are no imminent plans to sell our current building. This building is debt free, so we’ll keep offices here. It will be our home base for weddings and funerals. Our student ministry that meets on Sunday nights will meet here for now. If we can’t find a way to do it on site, all our baptisms will occur here.
But starting in November, our main service will occur off-site. This vision means that, for the interim period, we are leaving what we know. Most of you have never been part of a portable church. Guess what? I haven’t either.
But the church isn’t a building. The church is the people of God. That means that the church goes with us wherever we go. The church resides in our homes. The church goes to work and to school with us. And the church will go with us to the Holiday Inn.
It’s new. It’s different. It’s not what we’re used to. For many of us, it’s not what we know. But Peter and Andrew show us how to do it. When Jesus calls you to leave what you know, you drop everything and follow Him immediately.
Last week we showed a couple of video clips from a series I preached back in March. In that series, we talked about how God was calling us elsewhere, and even then we knew that a portable location was a strong option.
After that series, I got an email from Jason Steel. Jason is a member of our church. If you ever talk with him, you know he’s got the best accent ever. Jason is from Australia. His wife, Charmaine, is from Trinidad. And they, along with their little boy Justin, are members of our family here at ACC.
I asked Jason if I could read the email he sent back in March, and he said, “Go for it!”
Here it is…
I just wanted to drop you a line to tell you about my experience with a portable church. A little history…a few years back I had lost my way in my walk with Christ. I took up another religion and did not think I would go back.
Then I met this wonderful woman who is a Christian and would soon be my wife. To appease her, I said I would go to church. I knew what I knew and did not fear it corrupting my thoughts.
We went to a few churches which had little impact. I was starting to question how long I should keep going with her. Charmaine had another church she thought would be good. This church was held in a movie theater. I thought that sounded pretty good. I could start going and then when I didn’t want to go anymore, I could drop Charmaine off, go watch a movie, and then pick her up when it was done. Little did I know that God had other thoughts.
I was moved by the worship, inspired by the preaching and changed irreversibly by Jesus. The day before I was to fly to Trinidad to get married, I went to the pastor's house and was baptized in his hot-tub. So I can say that portable church worked for me. If you can get people in the door you have a real shot of changing people's lives.
I can tell you this…I really like that ACC is just around the corner from where we live. It is very convenient. But truth be told I would drive quite some distance to worship with our church. So I am with you portable church, permanent church, whatever.
Later on in his life, Peter asked Jesus a really direct question. In Matthew 19, the Bible says, “Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?” [We’ve left it all. We walked away from everything that was safe. We left everything we knew. What is going to happen to us? Listen to Jesus’ response.]
Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” (Matthew 19:27-29, NIV)
Following Jesus is hard. It requires us leaving the comfortable and the safe. It requires us leaving what we know in favor of the unknown. But Jesus unmistakably said, “If you give this up for me…if you sacrifice your comfort and abandon what you know…you WILL be blessed. In fact, you’ll be blessed 100 times over.”
There are going to be tough days ahead. We’re not wearing rose-colored glasses here. We know that there will be a cost. It’s going to be hard. It will require a lot from us.
But it will be worth it. When God blesses…when the nets fill up…when He uses us in even bigger ways to impact people for the gospel…when He gives us more ways to serve and bless others in His Name…it will be worth it.
It will be worth it because it’s not about us. It’s all about the nets. It’s all about the call. It’s all about the mission. It’s all about following Jesus.
Reggie Joiner said, “We need to stop acting like we signed up for something and start acting like we’re called to something.”
This isn’t a club we signed up for. This is a mission that we are called to. Jesus has called us to follow Him, and just like James and John, just like Peter and Andrew, we are dropping everything. We are going all in. We are laying it all on the line to follow Jesus.
Because we know that following Jesus isn’t part of the mission. It is the mission.
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