INFLUENCE - Share

Pastor Terry Inman

4-1-12

 

The last three weeks we have been talking about our Influence, our affect or impact on the people around us.  As the people of Harbor Light we are called to guide our friends through storms and into safe harbor. Of course we know, that a safe sanctuary is a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.

We have talked about the influence of prayer and care. Today we will talk about share.  Sharing is contributing to others what you have been given.

“In your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” 1Pet. 3.15 (NIV)

Make sure you are completely committed in the core of your being to Jesus as your Christ (Savior) and your personal Lord. (Master). Jesus did not come just to save our lives he came to rule our lives. If he is really in charge we will be ready and willing to share our hope with His help!  

Luke the physician was a great storyteller. In chapter five of his gospel he details how Jesus recruited his first disciples. They were fisherman, Peter, James and John. Levi an unpopular tax agent was also invited to follow.    

Jesus preferred the small fishing and farming villages around the lake shores of Galilee. He was raised there. Most of his teaching and his miracles were performed there. The prophet Isaiah predicted this. 

In the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan — The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.”  Isa. 9.1-2 (NIV) Jesus influence was intense here in the dark. 

Predominantly poor, rural Palestinians populated this territory. The Judean Jews considered this ethnically mixed region, backward and shadowy.

These peasant farmers and fishermen flocked to hear Jesus on the hillside over looking the Sea of Galilee. They were the “poor” that heard the “good news”. They were the heartbroken that he healed. They were bound that were set free. They were the sightless that could see. These people were attracted to the light. They came in masses to listen to him.    

It was better than going to the beach on a campout. On this particular occasion the crowds were getting so large that Jesus borrowed one of the small boats just in from the daily fishing expedition.

Offshore a few yards every one could see him. His voice carried across the natural acoustics of the water. It was a platform for fishing lessons. 

I’m sure there were many fishermen calling it a day, cleaning their catch, salting them down and then washing and mending their nets. This story focuses on Simon later called Peter. It was his boat that Jesus boarded.    

After the teaching Jesus told Simon and his partners to try one more catch. He suggested they cast their nets in deep water. I’m sure Simon felt like telling him to go jump in the lake. They were already fished out.  

Peter registered his doubts but in deference to the teacher he was willing to give it a try. I can certainly identify with that. I’ve been fishing a few years. I’ve tried about everything. I have had a measure of success but I have to admit when it comes to reaching the un-churched for Jesus Christ right now they just don’t seem to be biting all that well.

In the early 70’s my friend Les met Jesus in our Nebraska living room on our way to play golf.  Les is a businessman and a fervent fly-fisherman.  

One day we were on the Yellowstone River. He was nailing them while I was trying to untangle my line and get the right fly tied on. It took me forever. Finally he came over grabbed my pole and said, “Inman if your going to catch any fish today you’ve got get your fly in the water”.

In the American church we have the best fishing gear. We have the latest fishing manuals. We even have professional fishing guides but we don’t seem to have the right fly in the water when and where the fish are biting.

Last Sunday I preached three Sunday morning services to 6.700 adults. There was an average of 16 people a service that came forward weeping as they committed their lives to Christ for the first time. The folks that did the real fishing were the ones who brought them to Church.

Somebody influenced them to come where they could hear and respond. For us those statistics would be around six or seven a Sunday coming to Christ. That doesn’t seem like a lot but it would fulfill what the book of Acts says was happening with the early church. “The Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:47 (NIV)

I am asking you to bring your family and friends so they can experience the live changing love of God this Easter Sunday and every Sunday! We are asking God to give us a powerful influence on the people around us.

Now there is something I want you to see in this fish story. When the disciples did what Jesus told them to do they caught so many fish their nets couldn’t hold them. They had to call for help. They needed partners!

The catch almost sunk both boats. Peter was so ashamed of his skeptical attitude that he fell at Jesus knees and essentially said, “Get outa here Lord; I am such a sinful man!”  That was probably his conversion. Luke says Peter and his fishing buddies were totally astonished at the incredible catch. They had probably never experienced anything like this this before.

Jesus really wants to help us learn to effectively rescue our families, friends, co-workers and neighbors. His methods are unconventional they are supernatural.  We can give it a try, we may catch a few now and then but I believe he wants us to do it His way and see what happens.

This miracle was not just about fishing. This was a sign of something that was about to totally change their lives and their profession. While they’re still trying to keep the boats afloat, Jesus says, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.”  Now put your self in this guys sandals.

One day you’re just a simple fisherman doing what you know how to do day in and day out. Get up in the middle of the night and go to work. Load the boats. Then try to beat the other guys to the best spots.

Get the tandem dinghies in the right position to cast out the huge drag net. Now slowly pull the net across the floor of the lake in shallow water until you think you have a good catch.

Then get out of the boat with all hands on the nets and start pulling like a tug-of-war with all your might. Dump a few fish in the boat and then start all over again until it gets light then hall it all to shore. Routine mundane!

What I like about his story is that Jesus didn’t pick a few talented religious leaders to be his team. He chose simple hard working guys! In fact he dignified their profession. He called fishermen and tax collectors. He said, don’t be afraid don’t be intimidated you’re going to catch men!  

Now these are macho seadogs. They weren’t born yesterday. Peter reminds me of Popeye the sailor man. He was all mouth but he couldn’t always deliver what he boasted he could do. Popeye needed spinach! Peter needed Jesus! So do we. What they were about to do was scary.

They were going to have to leave their little fishing village. It was their comfort zone. Luke says, they left their familiar nets and followed Jesus. They were about to come out of relative obscurity and be faced with huge crowds following Jesus. They would fish for multitudes. They were about to see things they could never imagine in their wildest dreams.

That supernatural catch of the day was only the beginning of a whole new life that ultimately led to the cross. Peter buckled under fear. He denied he ever knew Jesus. He failed but then he was totally restored.

This was the second time Jesus helped these fearful fishermen with a miracle catch. Over a fish fry the resurrected Lord gave Peter another chance. Three times he challenged him to love him and lead his sheep. Peter got the message. This fisherman was destined to fish for men!

The “fear factor” is the number one reason we find it difficult to share our faith with our friends. We have all the right gear but we can’t seem to get our net in the water. Let me ask you, how many conversations about Jesus have you had with your non-believing friends recently?

I’m not trying to make you feel guilty. It’s pretty scary. Catching men is not all that easy. It’s leaving home, its leaving the familiar, its leaving our comfort zone. We don’t do miracles we just do our job. In fact talking about Jesus at work is risky. Jesus says, “Don’t fear” let’s go fishing! 

So how do we deal with the fear factor? We get the faith factor! Jesus said, “follow me”, and I will make you fishers of men. That’s why we have been talking about praying, then caring, and then sharing.

Prayer is where the confidence comes from. Prayer is where we get our directions. Prayer gives us compassion and changes the atmosphere.

Prayer reveals his plan, “throw in the net deeper, right now, right over there. We have to learn to hear his voice. He will tell us what to share and when to share and how to share. Prayer is where the power comes from.

Peter was fervent but fearful until he was filled with the Holy Spirit. On the day the Spirit was poured out he stood up and boldly shared his faith. He was empowered to communicate intelligibly and confidently.

Talk about a big catch. The bible says after Peter’s first public testimony. “Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.” Acts 2.41(NIV)

So back to my favorite passage on sharing our faith, Peter says,  “In your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” 1Pet. 3.15 (NIV)

First we can prepare ourselves with prayer. Prayer expresses the Lordship or leadership of Jesus in our witness. We pray for the people we care about. We pray for the people our “Lord” brings into our daily path. 

Second we can prepare our own story. Think about what your life was like before you experienced Jesus. How to did you come to the decision to give your life to him? How has it affected you? How have you changed?

We can also prepare ourselves by learning some simple scriptures that communicate the core of the good news. It doesn’t have to be a formula but a simple track to run on will help guide you and your friends to faith.

If you’re not all that good at memorizing scriptures and gospel presentations just try this one… “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3.16 (NIV)The gospel is all right there!

Share your story. Then share His story. Help them make it their story. Lead them in prayer. Here’s a simple prayer of commitment to Christ.

God I know you love me. I know I have failed you. I am a sinful person. I believe you sent your son Jesus Christ to die on my behalf. I believe he rose again to give me new life. I receive your forgiveness and new life now. I will follow you and put you in charge of my life. I want to please you and with your help I will be the person you created me to be. AMEN

After the fishing miracle here in Luke five, Jesus healed and cleansed a leper. Friends brought a lame man to him that He forgave and healed. Then Jesus invited a notorious sinner, a tax collector to follow him. Jesus and his disciples accepted an invitation to a huge party at Levi’s house.

The Pharisees accused him of eating and drinking with all these sinners. He said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5.31-32  

So let me ask, who really needs Easter Sunday you and I, or our unsaved friends? Let’s intentionally catch a net full of people. Let’s share the Resurrected Lord Jesus Christ with anyone we can influence to come.