Message Scripture:

“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. And when he had gone a little further thence, he saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the ship mending their nets. And straightway he called them: and they left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, and went after him.” – Mark 1:16-20 (KJV)

Introduction:

Good Evening Everyone!

I am excited to get to work on message two of our Lent series in which we find ourselves counting down to Resurrection Sunday. I am writing this following a long day at work, and am definitely relying upon the Holy Ghost to help me tonight. I think that the first message of this series set a pretty good tone for where we are going through the rest of Lent. The most important thing about Lent isn’t the laying down or giving up of things…it’s the desire to draw near to God that is most important…but it’s so important that we shouldn’t wait until the 40 day countdown to Resurrection Sunday.  We should always, always be actively pursuing God’s presence, Amen!?!

Tonight’s message is titled “At Once”, and it comes from the passage of Scripture that Jesus is calling His disciples to come and follow Him. The King James says “straightaway” to describe what they did, but it’s words like “immediately” and “at once” they left what they were doing behind to follow Jesus not even knowing yet what was in store. He simply said He would make them fishers of men, but didn’t tell them anything about the journey they were about to walk with Him.

So, let’s see what the Lord is wanting to speak to us tonight, and ask Him (as always) to help me write this message and give those who are going to read it ears to hear and hearts that will be receptive and respond to what He’s about to speak to us this night through this message, Amen!?!

“At Once”

As much of a fan as I am of the King James Version of the Bible some times I have to look to other translations of the Bible to really get a grasp on what God is wanting to talk about and the direction He’s wanting to go in a particular message.

Such is the case with tonight’s message as “straightaway” really doesn’t help us to understand the immediate nature the disciples left behind all they were doing to do just what Jesus had commanded them to do…which was follow Him. They didn’t ask for time to put their equipment away, they didn’t ask for time to bid their loved ones good-bye, and they didn’t have time to do anything other than obey Him and leave everything they knew behind to follow Him.

It’s not too hard to figure out where the Lord is going with this message tonight, is it!?!

There are many of you who know God is calling you to leave behind whatever lifestyle you are participating in to follow after Him. Listen, I’ve often said if you don’t like what life is like following Jesus you are free to return to the misery you were in before He called you to follow Him…but give Him that opportunity to show you how much greater life can be walking with Him.

Of course, I know there are a lot of you that are living pretty comfortably right now that are content to stay where you are, but God’s been trying to get you to lay all that down to follow Him. It takes great faith to do like the disciples did, and blindly follow after a man who simply asked them to come without giving any details.

Read the Scriptures. He simply said He would make them fishers of men. He didn’t give them a five-step plan as to how they were going to do all He was calling them away from what they were doing and the lives they were living to do.  He didn’t tell them that He was calling them to walk with Him towards the Cross. He didn’t tell them anything about the journey they were getting ready to embark upon…He simply said “follow me and I will make you fishers of men.”…and the Bible says they followed Him at once or immediately.

Many of you, like me have delayed doing what God has wanted you to do for a decade (maybe longer), and I’m guessing this message is saying the same thing God said to me several years ago. It’s time to get serious about being serious with God. It’s time to (as they say) poop or get off the toilet. It’s time to put up or shut up. It’s time to stop being a spectator and start being a participant in bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to earth. It’s time to get out of your comfort zone…and into a place where you have to be completely dependent and reliant upon Him to lead and guide and walk you through what He’s calling you to do…just as He did the disciples.

In order to really get all that I believe God wants to talk about tonight I’m actually going to have to add the commentary from the devotional that this series was inspired by, and so here’s what the devotional writes…

We live in an instant world. Instant messaging has revolutionized the way we communicate. Email, Facebook, Skype, tweeting and blogging, have become indispensable to our fast-paced life. Our society relies on fast food, breaking news and instant noodles. Waiting for a letter is almost a thing of the past.

Yet we have much to learn about instant obedience from some weather-beaten fishermen with rough hands. Jesus’ personal authority is such that he simply gives the order to ‘follow me’ and they leave behind family, possessions and security, even though they don’t know where they are going. There is no argument, no delay, no excuse, only immediate compliance with Jesus’ words.

Jesus still expects the same from us today. The urgency of his mission requires an immediate response. His authority is so great that when we hear his call there is no option but to follow him, trust his provision and joyfully serve – at once.

There’s no denying that we live in a fast-paced, fast-food, microwave, instant gratification society.  In an instant we can find out just about anything we want simply typing in search terms like “7 Hebrew Words for Praise”, and you’ll be taken either to this blog or the e-store that I’m selling the book through. That’s literally how the majority of people have found Christlike Ministries NWA. For the latest news we often check Facebook and Twitter before we even see it on the television or hear it on the radio. In fact, if it takes too long to get our McDonald’s order we’re tapping our fingers on the steering wheel wondering what’s taking so long…after all it’s supposed to be fast-food and the emphasis is supposed to be on FAST.

Listen, I’m not pointing fingers here. I do it myself. If I know I have something coming in the mail you will find me checking the mail every single day, and it’s usually then that I realize that there’s a different mail person because they’re not there at the usual time. We are all extremely time oriented, and we expect just about everything to be as instant as sending and receiving an email.

How many of you (like me) sign up for something, get told you’ll have a confirmation email, and if we don’t instantly see it we refresh the page until we see it. And, if it’s not there in a few refreshes we go right back to where we were to send a new confirmation email because the first one didn’t come fast enough. Don’t shout me down y’all. I know I’m not the only one that does that.

So here’s the question that’s coming to my heart right now as I type:

Why aren’t we that instant in responding to the call of God on our lives?

Look. Matthew, Mark, Luke, James, John, Peter, they were already examples to us before they actually became examples. The first thing they did in responding to Jesus instantly was an example to us as to how we are to respond to Him, but so many of us are like those that Jesus called afterward.

So many of us tell Jesus that we have other things to do that are more important to take care of before we follow Him, but how prideful of us is it to believe that!?!  How foolish is it of us to believe that we can procrastinate anything that God’s calling us to do like He owes it to us to wait us out. He owes us nothing, and yet we treat Him as though what He’s asking of us is an inconvenience…how many of you are tired all that and are ready to say “Lord inconvenience me!”!?!

I’m sure that the man who built the bigger barns had no idea that once he was done building those barns and putting all his crops away that the very next blink of his eye would be the moment he would meet the God that was ushering him into eternity.  God called that farmer a fool, and I think it’s worth saying that if we think that we can just put God off until tomorrow we are just as big a fool as the farmer in that parable. None of us are promised the next breath let-a-lone another day, but we think that God is going to be like “okay, I’ll check back with you tomorrow” instead of saying “let all those things take care of themselves and come after me.”. Following Him still and always does and will cost us the denial of self.  That’s the cost of discipleship, friends…laying down our will for His.

Friends, we need to follow the disciple’s example and respond to Jesus immediately. Yes, friends, I said “WE” because I’m just as guilty as anyone else of putting off things till tomorrow in my pride taking for granted that God’s granting me another day of life. There’s a reason they say not to put off until tomorrow what can be done today…because tomorrow is promised to no one.

Listen. God expects us to respond to Him the same way the disciples did. He’s not asking or calling us to do something because He thinks it might be convenient for us to do so because there are a lot of times He’s going to call us to do things that aren’t convenient or comfortable. How many of you know that once the disciples got into what God was calling them to do…it wasn’t always very comfortable or convenient!?!

So, why should we expect that everything God is going to call or anoint or ask us to do is going to be comfortable or convenient!?!

I can assure you that everything God has asked me to do hasn’t been comfortable or convenient. Much of what He’s asked me to do has required me to adopt that new motto of mine to obey Him and trust Him with the results. There’s a responsibility that comes from being in ministry that you don’t have when you’re sitting on the sidelines, but it’s also one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done.

Not from the materialistic standpoint, but the relationship that I enjoy with God today has grown because much of what God has asked me to do has required me to completely trust and rely upon Him. You see, when God calls you to become a fisher of men without telling you all the details that’s the first test, and you won’t get the rest of the details until you pass the first test.

If you’re not willing to follow Him the moment He calls you He’s not going to give you the rest.

Think about a few moments in Scripture with me.  What if Abraham wouldn’t have obeyed God immediately and packed his belonging and go.  God didn’t tell Abraham where He was sending him, He didn’t give Him a 10 point presentation of why he should go, and God didn’t even tell him the route to go. God simply said “pack it up and go”. As Abraham went God began to fill him in on the rest, but God didn’t give him the details until Abraham obeyed the first thing God told him to do.

Many of you are wondering what to do next, but you haven’t done the first thing God said to do. If you want to find out what’s next go back to the first (or last) thing God told you to do, start doing that, and I’ll bet you that God will start filling in some of the details.

This is one of the things I’ve learned over the course of my life and ministry. God doesn’t grade on a curve.  If you don’t do the last thing He spoke to you to do then He’s not going to give you the next step until you complete the first step which is obeying the last thing He told me to do. God won’t tell you steps two, three, four and five if you haven’t obeyed His first step. That’s just real talk, friends.

Think about the disciples. What if they hadn’t tossed aside everything they were doing to follow Jesus? What if Moses wouldn’t have heeded the call of God to lead His people out of the bondage of Egypt? What if Noah wouldn’t have started building the Ark? What if you would do the last thing God spoke to you to do?

In fact, this is a really good place to close this message because the questions that are coming are about to deal with the very things we’re talking about right now. So, let’s wrap this message up right here, and see how we can take what God’s just talked to us about and go deeper?

What God is leading us to leave behind is never better than what God has in store. Obey God and trust Him with the results.

In Closing:

Let’s once again take a moment to get alone with God.  Let’s reflect upon what He’s just spoken to us by asking the Holy Ghost to reveal the answers…the real answers in our hearts to these questions…

  • What have you left behind to follow Jesus? Why is it worth it?
  • In what areas of your life is Jesus calling you to ‘instant obedience’ at the moment?
  • What does it mean for you to leave behind family, possessions and security?

Let’s Pray:

Father, I am sorry for those times when I have responded to your word with arguments, delays or excuses. Please forgive me and help me to obey quickly, joyfully and immediately. Thank you that the joy of knowing you and that the hope of glory far outweighs anything that I may have left behind. Thank you for making me into a fisher of men. In Jesus’ name. Amen

Final Word From Pastor B:

So far I believe the first two messages of this series have really set us a sincere tone as to where God wants to take us in our relationship with Him. As I think a little bit about the questions I come to realize that nothing I’ve had to leave behind to follow Jesus was really worth bringing with me. I know that God is really wanting me to begin to put Christlike Ministries NWA out there in my community, but the reality is the finances to do that aren’t there.

That’s why God lead me to write the “7 Hebrew Words for Praise” series as a book. It’s discouraging to see so little financial support, but that is why I’m forced to work a job and soon two jobs. In addition to having a ministry I have a family to help support as well, but y’all seem to think I’m asking you to sow money into Pastor B’s bank account. I can’t force anyone to support the ministry all I can do is let y’all know that if you sow financially into Christlike Ministries NWA the money doesn’t go to help Pastor B live a better life. It goes directly into the ministry either by helping to keep it online or eventually start doing things in the community in the name of Christlike Ministries NWA.

These days I deal mostly with the obstacles that the devil puts in front of me instead of what the Lord wants me to lay down. I’ve come to realize that anything God wants me to put behind me is never better than what God has planned for me. I also know that God will always make a way where there seems to not be one. So, when God says that He’ll take care of my ministry and family as long as I take care of doing what He’s called me to do, and while it gets discouraging at times I know that’s the enemy attempting to get in my way again.

Anyways, I’ve said all that to get to the point of saying thank y’all for joining me again tonight as we have 45 messages to go. I’m really enjoying these messages. I really enjoy writing again, and I hope that y’all are enjoying reading what I’m writing again. For now, it’s time to thank you all for your prayers, patience, and being part of the Christlike Ministries NWA Family.

Good Night & God Bless ~ Pastor B

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