Discipling the “Ordinary”

Scripture: Mark 1:16-18, Luke 2:21-28, James 2:1-9
Date: 02/08/2014 
Lesson: 6
"Christ's death was the great equalizer: it showed that we all are sinners in need of God's grace. ... Sometimes, though, in our soul winning, we forget that crucial truth, and we especially seek to win those who might be deemd "honorable" or "great" in the eyes of the world."
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Welcome to Sacramento seventh day adventist church, right here in Sacramento, California. We're so glad that you are tuning in. Whether you're listening on radio, watching live at our web site at 'saccentral.org', or on the various television networks - however you're joining us - a very, very special welcome. We always start our program singing your favorite hymns and you've sent them in and we have over 20,000 song requests that have come in over the last few years and we're still working our way through them and every week we get more. And we're so excited to hear from you.

So today, it's no exception - we're going to sing two of your favorites. The first one 'anywhere with Jesus I can safely go' - #508 - so pull out your hymnals, those of you at home, and join us here at central singing #508. We'll do the first, second and fourth stanzas. This request is from robert in belize, lyn in germany, James in italy, alex in hungary, francis in sri lanka, Isaac, junior, rebecca, patel, and nayia in the netherlands - and there was a whole list more from around the world. It was very exciting.

I just can't name everybody but we're going to sing your favorite - #508 - 1, 2, and 4. Thank you so much for sending in that request. If you have a favorite that you would like to sing with us on an upcoming program, it's very simple. You just go to our web site at 'saccentral.org' and click on the 'contact us' link and any song that's in the hymnal is there for you to choose. Our next song is #83 - 'o worship the King' - and this is a request from guado in belgium, Jacob in iceland, Ezra in kenya, and odermaat in switzerland, and there were a whole bunch more names as well, for this one, from all over the world.

We'll do the first, second, and fourth stanzas. 'O worship the King'. Would you bow your heads with me for prayer? Father in Heaven, we come before you and we worship you - our redeemer and our friend. Thank you so much for blessing us with the Sabbath, for blessing us with life and health and strength - we're here today - I know there's many who are not and I just pray that you would be with them wherever they are, however they're feeling, and that they would sense your presence with them right now. Father, we come before you with grateful hearts.

We're going to open up Your Word and study together, and I just pray that your spirit will be here and you'll bless our speaker. In Jesus' Name, amen. For the past 15 years I've had the privilege, every Sabbath, of introducing our speaker and today, an era comes to an end - it feels like that. Introducing Pastor Doug Batchelor who is our senior pastor - for today. Next week he's our guest speaker.

Pastor Doug, if you would bring us the lesson study, we would love to have you as our senior pastor one more time up here. Pastor Doug, at this time, will be bringing us our lesson study. Man, thank you. Thank you to our musicians and yes, while it is true today sort of Marks the point when I will no longer be the senior pastor of this wonderful congregation, they've been nice enough to say that I can come back for a little while and continue to teach the Sabbath school lessons. So it's not like I'm really leaving and - at least not yet.

So we're just going to study the word today and pretend that no one said anything a minute ago. Our lesson today - we're continuing in our study dealing with the subject of discipleship and today, in particular, we're talking about lesson #6, where it deals with the subject of discipling ordinary people. And we have a memory verse. The memory verse is from Mark chapter 1, verses 16 through 18. I hope you'll say it with me - Mark 1, verses 16 through 18.

You ready? I think this is the King James version, "now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And Jesus said unto them, come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men. And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him." You know, one of the things that we notice right away about the ministry of Jesus is that he attracted to him just regular people. It wasn't like he had an entourage of the world's great politicians and writers and musicians and generals, Jesus really built his church of the rank and file. But through, what we would call ordinary people, he was able to totally transform the world.

Sometimes you can't really recognize that some ordinary people are really great people but in every other way they seem to go about their lives like everybody else. The man who started wal-mart, sam walton, just drove a pick-up truck around town. There's a lot of other people that they might have some unusual gifts or rare abilities - who knew that Peter would be such a great preacher while he was out fishing? But Jesus recognized that these ordinary people had gallons - had unique talents that, when combined with the Holy Spirit, that remarkable things would happen. You know, I shared this little amazing fact with you earlier in the year, but I was touched by it and I thought I'd go ahead and - some of you maybe heard this during the church service but you didn't hear it - some of you didn't hear it so I'm going to read it. Tibor rubin - tibor rubin - born in paszto, hungary, one of six children of a shoemaker.

During the german effort to wipe out the hungarian jews, in 1943, the 13-year-old child was transferred to the infamous mauthausen concentration camp in austria. His parents and two sisters perished there. Rubin was liberated two years later by American troops and he said when he saw them liberating the - the prisoners, the pows in the camp there - he thought that the American gis were the heroes - they were the supermen of the world. He was so thankful and he couldn't think of anything better that he could do with his life than to be an American soldier. So he finally was able to come to America in 1948 and in 1950, after learning enough english to pass the army's entrance examination - barely enough english - rubin joined the cavalry just in time for the korean war.

A few months later he was private 1st class rubin, fighting on the front lines in korea with 1st company, 8th regiment - the first cavalry division. Now, according to lengthy affidavits submitted by nearly a dozen men in rubin's company, the hungarian volunteer found himself under the thumb of a 1st sergeant - a soldier who consistently volunteered rubin for the most dangerous patrols and missions. According to official army reports, rubin's bravery fighting during the chaotic early months of the conflict, earned rubin two commendations for the medal of honor by commanding officers that were later killed in action. But not long before this 1st sergeant ordered rubin to a mission - and, according to testimonies, rubin had to secure a route of retreat for his company by single-handedly defending a hill for 24 hours against wave after wave of north korean soldiers. He also, at one point, was able to capture 20 men single-handedly.

Eventually, he ran out of ammunition and he was out there on the hill by himself and he was wounded and then captured and taken - put in a chinese prisoner of war camp. His fellow soldiers say that this 1st sergeant was extremely anti-semitic and he was hoping to get rubin killed by giving him the most dangerous missions, but he never complained and he took them. In the concentration camp, as he began to heal from his injuries, all the other soldiers were starving and he became the source of encouragement for all of them. He would sneak - one of his co-gis said everybody was out for himself, just trying to stay alive, but rubin was the rare exception. According to the soldiers whose lives he saved - this is in the pow camp in china, almost every evening he would sneak out and steal food from the chinese and north korean supply depots, knowing if he was caught he would be shot and killed and he would break back into the pow camp to feed the other soldiers when he might have tried to escape.

Despite heroic actions and recommendations of dozens of soldiers, ruben received nothing except - from the army - except his regular discharge. For the intervening 30 years after his separation from active duty, he and his wife, they raised their family in garden grove, California. Nothing came of it until eventually some research was done and, I think, 60 years after the fact, he received the highest honor that Americans can get, which is the medal of honor. Now, this man who just lived a normal average life, five-star generals are supposed to stand when he enters the room, as well as the president. And you would never know by seeing him all these years that here was a hero of war who had done all these gallant things, who had survived two pow camps.

One at 13 and one when he was a u.s. Soldier and done all these heroic things and he just lived all of his life and none of his neighbors knew. You know what, I think that we forget sometimes that in God's eyes, nobody is really ordinary. the Lord wants to save everybody and he values every soul in a great way. Let's go to the first part of our lesson, 'humble beginnings'.

Oh, you know what I forgot to tell you? With every lesson we also have an offer. And for lesson #6 we're offering this book called 'Christ's human nature'. Sometimes people forget that Jesus - people on the street didn't know who he was. That's why they had to get Judas to identify him. He looked like other people.

'Christ's human nature' by joe crews - we'll send this to you for free. Just call and ask for it, it's offer #703. Here's a phone number - -study-more - that's -788-3966. We'll send you the book 'Christ's human nature'. Alright, 'humble beginnings' - somebody look up for me Luke 2 - we gave out some verses and I don't know who has this.

Luke 2, verses 6 and 7. Hold up your hand if you've got that. Did you really get that mrs. Batchelor? Alright, get a microphone to her. She did.

She came to hear me teach. "And so it was, that while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn." He wasn't in a palace. Jesus was not born in the presidential suite or even his own house, but as a wayfarer - a pilgrim, so to speak. He was born in something that was the equivalent of a stable - places where they fed the cattle - and not placed in a beautiful bassinet, but in a trough that holds grain where they feed the cattle.

So Jesus sets an example for us of coming into the world with very humble beginnings. Going back, again, someone look up Leviticus 12, verse 8 - Leviticus 12, verse 8 - we gave that to somebody and if you have that verse - if you've got Leviticus 12:8, hold up your hand. Somebody over there have it? Oh, okay, I didn't see. Leviticus 12, verse 8, "and if she is not able to bring a lamb, then she may bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons - one as a burnt offering and the other as a sin offering. So the priest shall make atonement for her, and she will be clean.

" If they're not able to bring a lamb - why? They don't have enough money for a lamb. Now, does that tell you something about Joseph and mary? Did Jesus have brothers and sisters? He did. It names the boys - there's four boys - and I - one was James, one was Jude, and I can't remember the other two names - Joses - there's one more I can't remember. It doesn't name his sisters - Simon - and he had at least two sisters because it says 'sisters' - he could have had five sisters, we don't know. Were they older or younger? Probably older from - Joseph probably was married before he married mary.

Another reason we believe that - you notice that when Jesus begins his ministry you don't ever hear from Joseph again. He had died at that point and he was probably older than mary and the other reason is they were probably mary's step-children because when Jesus is on the cross, Jesus commits the care of his mother to - his brothers and sisters? Or to John the apostle right? It would have been very odd not to just assume that her regular children would take care of mary, but they were her step-children. Now, the reason I'm saying that is they had a big family. Even when Jesus came along they were struggling to put food in the mouths of their children and when Jesus was finally born, they could only make the very minimal offering for the firstborn - firstborn for mary. Alright, someone look up for me John - still talking about the humble beginnings of Jesus.

Look up for me the Gospel of John 1:48. Who has that verse? John - did we get that? Did somebody get that? Alright - over here - hold your hand up. John 1, verse 48. We'll bring you a microphone. When John the baptist began his ministry, did he go to the universities of Jerusalem? Did he go to a parliament building? Where was it that he introduced Jesus as the lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world? John - it tells us in chapter 1, verse 23, "he said, 'I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness: make straight the way of the Lord,' as the prophet Isaiah said.

" You know, usually, if you're going to inaugurate a president - anyone know where george Washington was inaugurated? It wasn't Washington, d.c., They hadn't even named it yet. He was inaugurated in New York city. Did you know New York city was the capital of the United States beore Washington, d.c.? And there's a church - the church is right at the foot of the world trade center - is where it used to be - st. Paul's church is where george Washington - I think he went there right after his inauguration but they had a service there and that church is still there today. Isn't that interesting? But you think you'd find some historic, grand, visible spot and it was out there by a river surrounded with scrub and sycamore trees where Jesus was introduced as the lamb of God.

Very ordinary, humble place to do something like that. And now someone's going to read John 1:48, please. "Nathanael saith unto him, 'whence knowest thou me?' Jesus answered and said unto him, 'before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.'" So here you find that the people who are following Jesus are pretty average people and nathanael's out praying under a tree. Jesus is baptized in a river. It seems - these are such average things.

It's not the way that the world would want to make a big introduction and to launch a new program. When we were in New York doing the 'net 99' program, thirteen, fourteen years ago, and we were in the manhattan center, several companies came to launch their companies. This is back when the dot-com boom was happening and this one company - you know, I can't even remember the name of it, but they spent several million dollars on the address for their company and now it's out of business. But just for the web domain address - it was something dot com - and they said someone else owned it and they paid several million dollars for that name. And then they rented this big manhattan center and they had all the media there and they had this big release and they had balloons falling and all this stuff to introduce this company that's now defunct.

And when Jesus is introduced as the Messiah, it's like a camp meeting. It's just, sort of, you know they're out by the river and 'master, where are you staying? Come, you can camp with me tonight. I'll show you were I'm staying.' And that's how he sort of launches the church. Very simple way to do things. Alright, go with me to Matthew :29.

Oh, you knoq, this was actually going with that first one. "Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your father's will." A copper coin is a penny and the very poorest of the poor would offer a couple of sparrows and - but Jesus is saying here, 'even sparrows' - does The Father watch the little brown sparrow? We have this dvd - nature dvd - on birds. It's actually very good - and done by bbc - and they talk about sparrows are much more complex than you think. Sparrows actually have rank and all the little sparrows you see flitting and twerping and popping around and hopping on the ground, it was showing how that they exert themselves and they take over certain territories and the different sparrows, based on their age and size, have different rank. And they're much more complicated and important than you think.

But for us they're just, you know, little dirty sparrows. But God says, 'I watch even the little sparrows and I make sure that they're fed and not one falls to the ground without my knowing.' And God cares about them. Does he care about us? Mark 6, verse 2, "and when the Sabbath had come, he began to teach in the synagogue. And many hearing him were astonished, saying, 'where did this man get these things?' And what wisdom is this which is given to him, that such mighty works are performed by his hands! Is this not the carpenter's son, The Son of mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon?'' - There's his brother's names - "'and are not his sisters here with us?' So they were offended at him. But Jesus said to them, 'a prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives.

'" Now, Jesus' beginning - did everyone in the town look upon him as just one of the citizens? Good person, yes, they couldn't think of anything he'd ever done - no crimes - they don't remember him ever - no scandal connected with Jesus' Name but, you know, when - the idea that he would have been the Christ just took them as a surprise. Why? Because he went through life working like everybody else. He went through his chores. He conducted himself as a normal person. And I think sometimes we forget that Jesus was one hundred percent human and he was one hundred percent divine.

And that's a really confusing combination for us. By the way, I recommend that you read this book 'Christ's human nature' because I think sometimes - how many of you have seen paintings of Jesus in the manger and he's glowing. He has a halo. And when Jesus is the child in the carpenter's shop - there's many famous paintings where there he is and he's got this like solar disc around his head and lights of beam - beams of light are emanating from his head. Do you think he really went like that through his neighborhood? The only way the shepherds knew that there was something special about this child is because the angels told them.

The wise men knew because the Lord told them - the star led them - otherwise, they wouldn't have known who he was. He just seemed ordinary. And in his own town - they were one of the last ones - when he came among his own people in his own town they didn't know who he was. They didn't recognize him because God uses normal, humble instruments. You know, you probably would have recognized Elijah as a prophet because he was wearing the hairy robe with a leather belt.

That was sort of their uniform. But most of the other prophets and people that God had in the Bible, they looked like everybody else. Not everything a prophet says is a prophecy. They're people too. You can read in the book 'desire of ages' page 72, "the parents of Jesus were poor and dependent upon their daily toil.

He was familiar with poverty, self-denial and privation. This experience was a safeguard to him. In his industrious life, there were no idle moments to invite temptation. No aimless hours opened the way for corrupting associations. So far as possible he closed the door to the temptor.

Neither gain, nor pleasure, applause nor censure could induce him to consent to a wrong act. He was wise to discern evil and strong to resist it." And he worked like everybody else - and, by the way, that kept him out of trouble too. But he had an ordinary life. You know, I like this passage that you read in 1 Corinthians , verses 26 through 29. You might want to look this one up.

Corinthians chapter 1, verses through 29. When you become part of a church family, churches are made up of just ordinary people. Yeah, there might be a couple of extraordinary folks that come to a church, and I understand in Washington, d.c. That whenever the president attends church - lately, the last couple presidents - sometimes they don't attend church because it's such a security nightmare. On occasion, when the president attends church, the attendance goes up.

People find out the president's coming. But most of the time the body of Christ is made up of just regular bricks. We are bricks in the temple of God. And it may not seem ornate. It may not seem extraordinary or unusual - precious to God but - notice what he says: 1 Corinthians 1, verse 26, "for you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty," - there's some wise.

There's some mighty. But - "not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in his presence." I always marvel at that story in the Bible when everybody in the city of samaria is starving and they need a miracle and God finally reveals that there's an abundance of food and that the assyrian army has fled - the people in samaria had been beseiged - and who does God reveal it to? Four lepers. God just - it always strikes me that he's willing to use very humble means to bring this exciting message to people. 'Not many wise, according to the flesh, not many mighty are called, but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the things that are wise.

' Now you might want to look to your right. You might want to look to your left. You might not. But you're probably surrounded by some ordinary people. You might be sitting - to one of them you're married to.

And but God seems to be able to do great things through those people. Have you ever noticed that Jesus said to the apostles, 'you'll be brought before Kings and rulers. Do not take thought ahead of time of what you will say for it will be given you in that moment what you will say.' And when the disciples had to defend their faith at the sanhedrin - when the supreme court - they were so bold and they were so articulate that the rulers all looked at each other and said, 'where did they get this learning? They must have been with Jesus. How do they know these things? How could they be so sophisticated and so powerful and profound in what they're saying?' God was able to do it with the Holy Spirit through ordinary people, right? God - and that leads us to our next day - 'transforming the common' - 'tranforming the common'. John 2, verses 1 to 3 - the Gospel of John chapter 2 - and someone look up for me Gospel of John 20, verse 7.

Who got that one? Hold your hand up if you got it. Right up front. Okay, let's get you a microphone. In a minute we'll get to you, jonathan. Alright, I'm going to read John , verses 1 to 3, "on the third day there was a wedding in cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.

Now both Jesus and his disciples were invited to the wedding. And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to him, 'they have no wine.'" Now you notice that here, Jesus, he's introduced as the lamb of God. You think that he's going to get his followers to run ahead of him like some kind of presidential security and he's going to hop on a chariot and go up to Jerusalem and be enthroned in the temple or something like that. But, instead, after this big announcement they said, 'now what are you going to do?' He said, 'well, mom invited me to a wedding I guess I'll go.' So he goes to a wedding of some relative in Galilee and he's just there at the wedding like everybody else, but God does something - he uses that wedding as a context to do a remarkable miracle. It says they ran out of wine.

So what does Jesus do? There were six stone pots - very common - filled with water - also common. They sometimes put the water in the stone pots because they didn't get hot during the day. - The stone helped them keep their cool temperature. And Jesus said, 'pour - pour out' - he said a prayer or waved his hand or whatever he did he says, 'you go pour out what's in those stone pots before the people.' And he did a miracle. He turned the water into wine.

Now what kind of wine was it? How do we know it was grape juice? Would Jesus make booze for a party? I mean, what usually happens when people drink too much at a party? Do good things happen? Or do bad things happen? Do people say wise things or do they say foolish things? And does the Bible already say how God feels about strong drink? That wine is a mocker and it's raging? And at the last supper when it says that Jesus said, 'I will not eat of this fruit of the vine again - I will not drink of the fruit of the vine til I drink it with you new in my father's kingdom.' So there's new wine and there's old wine. Jesus said, 'you don't put new wine in old wineskins.' What kind of wine was his Gospel, the new or the old? It was new so it had to be fresh grape juice that he made. And they said, 'you saved the best for last.' Now, unfortunately, in our culture, we say, 'you got any good stuff?' And we mean, 'do you have any strong, old stuff?' But you could get fermented grape juice any time of the year because once it's got alcohol in it, it could stay like that indefinitely. It's a preservative. You could only get the fresh stuff during the harvest.

And so that's why they said, 'you've saved the best for last'. But here, he was able to take something that was common and work a miracle. He turned this water in these vessels into something that was used in his covenant. You and I are vessels, right? He's the potter, we're the clay. And he's able to work a miracle with what's on the inside.

It might just be water. It might be very common and he's able to make it something rich through his spirit and that's turning the water into wine. We accept that new covenant. Something else I think is interestng - you've heard me say this many times - first miracle in Jesus ministry is this: he turns water into pure new grape juice at a wedding, right? One of the last things that happens before Jesus dies on a cross is they offer him sour wine in a sponge - fermented. He tastes it and he turns away.

His wine - that new wine is a symbol of the blood of Jesus that washes away the sin of the world. First miracle he gives to us his blood - this grape juice - at a wedding. The last thing that happens is he takes ours. We've all sinned. It's like he's taking the bad and he's giving us the good.

It's almost like a blood transfusion that happens in the life of Christ. Do you see what I'm saying? First miracle - he's offering us the pure and the good. Last thing is he's taking our bad. And he gives us to begin with, we give him at the end and then he dies. Last thing that happens and then he dies.

And so, it's just like an analogy of the Gospel. But he does it with something very common. You can also see Matthew - I haven't forgotten it - someone's got John there - Matthew 15, verse 35, "so he commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. And he took the seven loaves and the fish and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to his disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitude. So they all ate and were filled, and they took up seven large baskets full of the fragments that were left.

Now those who ate were the four thousand men, besides women and children." There's another need for a miracle now. People have run out of food and they say to Jesus, 'what are we going to do?' He says, 'well, what do you have?' 'Well, we dug around a little bit and all we have is this boy's got a lunch here where he's got five little tortillas and a couple of sardines, but what are we going to do with that?' Nobody would have ever thought twice of it. It's something that you might see - who knows, it might have been in a picnic basket. It might have been wrapped up in a rag that his mother gave him. I mean it was probably just completely ordinary.

But have all of us around the world today heard the story of what happened with those ordinary things? When Jesus took it into his hands and he blessed it and he gave it back, a miracle happened. Thousands were fed as a result. Someone look for me - I gave it to you already - John 20, verse 7 - I think we're ready for you. "And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself." Now this is, I think, a great example - when Jesus rose from the dead and Peter and John ran to the tomb they didn't know if the body was stolen. They didn't know if the Romans had evicted him and put him in the pauper's grave.

They didn't know if the high priest had done something. They didn't know what had happened. The women said, 'well, we've seen angels' but Peter and John, maybe they're more suspicious. When they get there, they don't see the angels - when Peter and John first get to the tomb. But what made John believe that Jesus had actually risen? Do you remember? We were just reading that.

"The handkerchief that had been around his head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself." When he saw that he believed. Why? If you're stealing a body do you take the time to fold the wrapping? But what about Jesus? Jesus was so careful and gave such faithful attention to even little detail, that only Jesus would have said, 'resurrection!' - Instead of just throwing it aside he went, 'let's fold this thing up here and put it down.' That's the way mary taught him and they knew that. And they looked at that - a little ordinary thing like that that he had folded the cloth that had been around his head instead of tossing it aside and said, 'only Jesus would do that.' And that, to them, was a clue that he had risen. Little things mean a lot. Matter of fact Jesus, talking again about his attention to detail, go to John 6, verses 12 and 13.

After the people finished eating, when the bread and the fish were multiplied, Jesus said to his disciples, "'gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost.' Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets" - I don't think these were small baskets - "twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten." Now why did Jesus do this? Any of you ever go to a restaurant and say, 'that was good food and it was expensive. Can I have a doggy bag?' And you take some home? I'm not too proud to do that. And sometimes it's even better the next day, right? Absolutely. And Jesus is going, 'hey, a lot of these people are hungry.' And the other reason Jesus said that - the people who had seen the miracle - others wouldn't believe it - he said, 'take some of it back to your villages with you when you go. Take these twelve basketfuls and spread it around and say 'this is - it was real bread.

Here is some of it. He did it with five loaves, now look at what's left over.' And I don't know, maybe there were fragments of the fish too. And so as they took the extra food back to their various towns, the story of the miracle spread where they went. So those little ordinary things make a big difference. 'A flawed fisherman's calling' - this is a good story.

Luke chapter 5 - Luke 5, verse 4 - this is the story of Peter's calling. And after Jesus got done teaching from Peter's boat, "he said to Simon, 'launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.' 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.' And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking. 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." Now, can you imagine how big a catch that must have been? These are two boats - keep in mind, these boats are big enough that all of the apostles could fit in one boat because there's other stories where all of the apostles - twelve of them and Jesus - got in one boat. So thirteen men could fit in this boat, right? And it tells us that these boats - not one, but two boats - were so full of fish that they were at risk - it was up to the gunwalls - they were at risk of sinking.

You know, I've sometimes mentioned, when I read this story in the Bible, what boat was Jesus in when he was teaching? Peter's boat or James and John's boat? Just - it's in there. Peter's boat, okay? Do you think James and John were jealous? Maybe. They might have said - Peter, you know, he said, 'no, no, get in my boat, Lord, my boat.' 'Yeah, we'd rather have Jesus preaching from our boat but how many boats were filled? Both boats. Sometimes I've seen churches come together for an evangelistic meeting and the evangelistic meeting might be in one of three churches, but if all those churches work together, the Lord can fill all three churches, even though the meeting was held in one church. And so, all the boats are filled.

And when they saw this miracle - now, can you understand what a big miracle this is? Peter's been fishing all his life - he's never seen a catch like this. Not only that, it wasn't supposed to happen. It was the worst time of day to do any fishing. They would fish at night where they'd hang a lamp off the back of their boat and the fish were attracted to the light and then they'd net them. Here it is daylight, the fish have nothing to attract them - except the light of the world is in Peter's boat - and so he says 'this doesn't make any sense.

It's a miracle.' And so when he sees this, Peter suddenly realizes only a divine power could gather those fish to his boat. That he is in the presence of the God man. And Peter, when he saw it, he fell down - instead of saying, 'let's go sell the fish, he fell down at Jesus' knees - they haven't even taken the fish ashore yet - he says, "depart from me for I am a sinful man, o Lord." Was Peter telling the truth? He was. He proved it was true later in his ministry when he denied Christ, right? Peter knew how to swear and curse. Peter was probably your run-of-the-mill ordinary galillean fisherman.

The Bible even says he had a galillean accent. Probably, you know, a little more crude. Wasn't so good to articulate things and he said, 'I'm a sinful man' - "for he and all who were with him" - Peter, John, James and andrew - all of them - they "were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken; 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.

'" Can God do wonderful things through ordinary people? When you're baptized - does God promise to give the Holy Spirit to just some people or everybody? And we all get different gifts. The Bible says in acts chapter , 'repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of the Lord and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit for the promise' - ths is a promise here - 'the promise is unto you and your brethren and as many as the Lord God will call.' It says be baptized and you will receive. Did Jesus get the Holy Spirit at his baptism? Are you supposed to wait until you feel goosebumps or electricity before you believe you have the Holy Spirit? Or do you believe it because God said it? If you repent and confess your sins, God says that 'he is faithful and just to forgive you your sins and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness.' Are you supposed to wait until you feel like you are forgiven, or do you believe it because he said so? So if he says he gives you the Holy Spirit, do you believe that? And then he will manifest that spirit through highlighting different gifts in your life you may not even know that you have yet. Did Peter, when he was growing up on the shores of Galilee and they'd talk among themselves and say, 'so what are you going to be when you grow up?' Peter said, 'well, dad's a fisherman. I think I'll be a fisherman.

' 'Oh, you don't think you want to be an itinerant preacher or a great evangelist?' 'Oh, what do you mean? A rabbi? Me? No.' I mean, if you had told Peter that, would he have ever guessed it? 'You're going to write books, Peter, and you're going to be an orator.' 'What?' He never would have dreamed it. When you give yourself to the Lord there's no telling what he can do with ordinary people, right? There's another example: John , verse 3 - now Jesus has - just to show you how ordinary these guys are, this is after three and a half years, this is after Jesus ascended to heaven. From the time Jesus ascended to heaven until the Holy Spirit was poured out, there was about 40 days - actually it's 50 days - no, no - 50 days from the resurrection. It was 40 days that - from - let me see here - 40 days he appeared - ten days after he ascended before pentecost. So anyway, my point is they had some down time before the holy spirit was poured out from the tme Jesus was crucified.

And at one point they're waiting because Jesus said, 'don't go out preaching, teaching until you receive the gift of the holy spirit and the disciples are, you know, maybe they're just carving sticks. I don't know what they're doing. They're praying a lot. And Peter said, 'I can't take this sitting around anymore. I'm going fishing.

' And they said, 'good idea. We're going with you.' That's a loose paraphrase. "They went out and immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing." - Now they've gone up to Galilee. There's another little lake they may have gone to north of that - 'but when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Then Jesus said to them, 'children, have you any food?'" - That was just a common greeting.

He's saying, 'if you caught anything could you share some?' - "They answered him, 'no.' And he said to them, 'cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.'" - And they thought, 'you know, we vaguely remember someone telling us how to cast our net and it worked well. Let's try that again.' They still don't know it's Jesus. - "So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish." - They actually had to paddle ashore and drag it ashore. Peter couldn't even wait. He dove in the water.

He realized it was Jesus and he swam to Jesus. And they get there and what's Jesus doing? He's got a little campfire and he's baking - he's already got bread there and he's got fish. He's cooking breakfast for everybody. Just such an average outdoor thing and it was in those environments that he revealed himself to the disciples. Jesus is walking by the sea of Galilee - I know I have some of these verses out of order - and he saw two brothers, Simon and Peter, called andrew, casting a net into the sea for they were fishermen.

And he said, 'follow me and I'll make you fishers of men.' Now he took ordinary people - he didn't say, 'as soon as you follow me you'll become.' He said there was a process. 'Follow me and I will make you.' As they followed Jesus, he transformed them into fishers of men. You see what he's saying there? And wonderful things happened. Go under the section under 'heavenly evaluation' - 'heavenly evaluation'. Luke chapter 12, verse 6 - and it says, "are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins?" - I already quoted this - "and not one of them is forgotten before God.

But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than sparrows." So alright, let's establish this: are people worth more than sparrows? Are there variations of value among the creatures that God made? Does it work like this? You've got humans, then animals, then rocks. Are animals worth more than rocks? You all agree? Why? Alright, now let me break this down for you a little farther. Is it worse to kill a mosquito or a sparrow? Is a sparrow of more value than a mosquito? Now if that sparrow is eating your corn you might feel differently. But is a dog - is it worse to kill a dog or a mouse? If you trap a rat - you toss it in the garbage can - would you feel the same way about a dog or would you feel worse? So in your minds - I think most people I've asked usually agree with me - in your minds you recognize that there is a value of life and it's not just based on size, it's usually based on intelligence.

Obviously, a dog is more intelligent than a rock - though you have had dogs that you've wondered about, right? And so who was made in God's image? People are worth a lot more. Humans are worth - humans made in the image of God are - there's something sacred about human life, right? That's why we even respect people that are buried because these were creatures that were made in the image of God and you're respectful of the form of someone when they pass away. But we're in a culture now when they're telling you that a spotted owl or a kangaroo rat or a tree might be worth as much as a human because we're all part of that circle of life, you know? The circle of life - just you all kind of go - you might come back as a mouse or a cow or a tree. In the world today, this idea of valuation doesn't go over very well. Let's face it, people in our culture, they don't have very much problem aborting a baby.

And some of those very same people will tie themselves to a tree before it gets cut down. Or they'll risk their lives to save some, you know, vulture egg or something. So they're - we're really mixed up with values. But God tells you that you - oh, by the way, I didn't mention that verse. 'How much more then is a man better than a sheep?' And then under the last section it talks about a 'classless society'.

Let's look at some verses here. Someone look up for me Romans 2, verse 10. Who has that? Right here. Let's get you a microphone. Hold your hand up so he can see you.

Talking about a classless society. Acts chapter 10, verse 34 - we'll start there. "Then Peter opened his mouth" - this is after Peter preaches the Gospel to cornelius. You remember the jews, back in the time of Peter, they sort of thought the gentiles were, you know, they're not quite at the strata of the jews because they're unclean. They're dogs.

Those are the words that they used. And God said to Peter, 'don't call any man common or unclean, right? In acts chapter 10, verse 34, "then Peter opened his mouth and said: 'in truth I perceive'" - after this vision that God gave him - ''that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears him and works righteousness is accepted by him." So God says, 'whoever'. God has made of one blood all nations. God wants 'whosoever' to be saved.

I think we're ready. Go ahead, read for us Romans :10 - 11. "But glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God." Paul has to repeat these statements many times in his teachings because it took awhile for him to break through and explain that, yes, while it is true God first delivered the Gospel and the truth to the jews, he also wants the gentiles saved. God wants everybody to be saved.

That's why he says the jew first - it doesn't mean the jews are worth more, it means that the message first came to the jews. You can even read in job, for instance, chapter 34, verse 19, "yet he is not partial to princes, nor does he regard the rich more than the poor; for they are all the work of his hands." This principle is not a new testament principle. This principle - job is the oldest book in the Bible. Did you know that? It goes all the way back to the beginning. Read James - do another one - James 2, verses 1 to 4, "my brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality.

For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, 'you sit here in a good place' and say to the poor man, 'you stand there,' or, 'sit here at my footstool,' have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become Judges with evil thoughts?" Now, in principle, we know that's true, but I still see it's true that if we know a person is a person who is famous or a person who is extremely wealthy, and they suddenly come into a congregation, folks sort of fall over themselves a little bit - to shake their hand or give them attention, make sure they're taken care of, bring them to the front of the line and, while they might have a homeless visitor and they won't get the same treatment. You know what I'm saying? We all - we all, sort of, kind of gravitate - it's just our fallen natures. Galatians chapter 3, verse 28, "there is neither jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus." God saves everybody who - whosoever comes to him the Lord is willing to save. And so, you know, I think maybe I'll close - I'll just tell you an interesting story george vandeman used to tell. There was a very famous jeweler named harry winston and he was - he was famous for buying some of the most expensive gems in the world.

You've heard of the hope diamond? Harry winston is the one who owned the hope diamond, I think, for ten years and he was so wealthy he could afford to donate it to the smithsonian institute where it is today. I saw it there once. Well, he was getting ready to take delivery in New York city somewhere outside of tiffany's - this is years ago - and he was getting ready to take delivery of one of the most famous gems in the world - this enormous jewel that had been owned by several monarchs and traded and disappeared and lost and captured and refound. He bought it and it was exquisite and all these people gathered on the street. They wanted to see this delivered and they were looking up and down the street.

There were reporters there and they wanted to know if he'd give them a glimpse of it. And so he was out - a beautiful spring day - in front of this diamond store in New York city and the news was there and the crowds were there and they were looking up and down the street waiting for this carriage to arrive that was, you know, escorted with this jewel and the armed guards and all and, well the poor postman, he was trying to do his route and he couldn't get up the sidewalk because this crowd was blocking the street. And so he said, 'excuse me. I've got to get - could you please let me'. And they said, 'who do you think you are? Why do you think you're more important?' And they wouldn't let the guy through and he just kept pushing his way through saying 'look, I'm on official business.

I've got to get through.' And finally they let him start to dissect the crowd and when he got in front of winston he handed him a brown package and then he kept going through the crowd. Winston held up this little brown package tied with string and he tore it open and there in a common box - he opened it up - was the gem. It had come through regular mail. And everybody just was shocked that something so valuable would have been delivered that way and - george vandeman used to love to illustrate - he'd say, 'you know, when Jesus came into our world, nobody really expected that God, this priceless gem, would be in such a common container.' But it's also true when the Lord looks down at each one of us, what the world might see as just a common container is so precious to God that God, basically, emptied the treasury of heaven to pay a ransom to redeem you. So how common are you if God was willing to empty heaven to pay for you? Does God care about ordinary people? And did God take someone like Moses who was the child of a slave and someone like Ruth, and the Messiah would come through, and he takes an orphan girl in persia and she becomes queen? And he takes a shepherd boy, on more than one occasion, he becomes king or, in Joseph's case, prime minister.

God loves to take ordinary people and then he does extraordinary things. So when we're discipling others, let's not forget that everybody is precious in God's eyes, amen? I want to remind you, in closing, our free offer, for anyone who would like it - and we just do ask that you read it and share it with someone - is 'Christ's human nature' by joe crews. We'll be happy to send that to you. Just call -788-3966. Ask for offer #703 when you do.

God bless. We'll look forward to studying together again next week.

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