MY SOUL FINDS REST IN GOD ALONE; MY SALVATION COMES FROM HIM. HE ALONE IS MY ROCK AND MY SALVATION; HE IS MY FORTRESS, I SHALL NEVER BE SHAKEN. (Psalm 62: 1 – 2)
WECOME TO OUR SUNDAY MORNING WEB-WORSHIP.
OPENING HYMN (CH-25) – ONLY ON GOD do thou, my soul, still patiently attend; my expectation and my hope on Him alone depend.
He only my salvation is, and my strong rock is He; He only is my sure defence: I shall not moved be.
In God my glory placed is, and my salvation sure; in God the rock is of my strength, my refuge most secure.
Ye people, place your confidence in Him continually; before Him pour ye out your heart; God is our refuge high.
To Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, The God whom we adore, be glory, as it was, and is, and shall be evermore. Amen.
LET US PRAY:
ALMIGHTY AND ALL-LOVING GOD, we come to worship You – to proclaim Your greatness, to acknowledge Your power, to recognise Your sovereignty, and to declare Your goodness. We come with grateful hearts to praise You – for Your love that surrounds us, for all the blessings of our lives, for the wonder of Your world, and for the hope of our faith in Christ. Respond to us, we pray – touch our hearts with Your living presence and fill our lives with Your grace, so that our love for You may grow, our faith be deepened, and our service strengthened. Lord of all, hear our prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ, our Saviour. AMEN.
THE OLD TESTAMENT READING: – PSALM 24: 1 – 5.
THE EARTH IS THE LORD’S, AND EVERYTHING IN IT, THE WORLD, AND ALL WHO LIVE IN IT; FOR HE FOUNDED IT UPON THE SEAS AND ESTABLISHED IT UPON THE WATERS. WHO MAY ASCEND THE HILL OF THE LORD? WHO MAY STAND IN HIS HOLY PLACE? HE WHO HAS CLEAN HANDS AND A PURE HEART, WHO DOES NOT LIFT UP HIS SOUL TO AN IDOL OR SWEAR BY WHAT IS FALSE. HE WILL RECEIVE BLESSING FROM THE LORD AND VINDICATION FROM GOD HIS SAVIOUR.
THE NEW TESTAMENT READING: – LUKE 5: 1 – 11.
ONE DAY AS JESUS WAS STANDING BY THE LAKE OF GENNESARET, WITH THE PEOPLE CROWDING AROUND HIM AND LISTENING TO THE WORD OF GOD, HE SAW AT THE WATER’S EDGE TWO BOATS, LEFT THERE BY THE FISHERMEN, WHO WERE WASHING THEIR NETS. HE GOT INTO ONE OF THE BOATS, THE ONE BELONGING TO SIMON, AND ASKED HIM TO PUT OUT A LITTLE FROM SHORE. THEN HE SAT DOWN AND TAUGHT THE PEOPLE FROM THE BOAT. WHEN HE HAD FINISHED SPEAKING, HE SAID TO SIMON, “PUT OUT INTO DEEP WATER, AND LET DOWN THE NETS FOR A CATCH.” SIMON ANSWERED, “MASTER, WE’VE WORKED HARD ALL NIGHT AND HAVEN’T CAUGHT ANYTHING. BUT BECAUSE YOU SAY SO, I WILL LET DOWN THE NETS.” WHEN THEY HAD DONE SO, THEY CAUGHT SUCH A LARGE NUMBER OF FISH THAT THEIR NETS BEGAN TO BREAK. SO THEY SIGNALLED TO THEIR PARTNERS IN THE OTHER BOAT TO COME AND HELP THEM, AND THEY CAME AND FILLED BOTH BOATS SO FULL THAT THEY BEGAN TO SINK. WHEN SIMON PETER SAW THIS, HE FELL AT JESUS’ KNEES AND SAID, “GO AWAY FROM ME, LORD; I AM A SINFUL MAN!” FOR HE AND ALL HIS COMPANIONS WERE ASTONISHED AT THE CATCH OF FISH THEY HAD TAKEN, AND SO WERE JAMES AND JOHN, THE SONS OF ZEBEDEE, SIMON’S PARTNERS. THEN JESUS SAID TO SIMON, “DON’T BE AFRAID; FROM NOW ON YOU WILL CATCH MEN.” SO THEY PULLED THEIR BOATS UP ON SHORE, LEFT EVERYTHING AND FOLLOWED HIM.
Every fisherman has fishing stories, as I have mine, but this is one of the most unusual fish-stories ever told. It begins with the fish that could not be caught, and it ends with a group of fishermen being caught together with a huge number of fish. Jesus was preaching by the Lake of Gennesaret and the crowd, as they were listening to His Words, was pushing Him backwards toward the water. Jesus saw Peter’s boat close by, stepped into it, and asked him to push out a little way from shore. Jesus used the boat as a pulpit, and most probably the Christian symbol of the church as a boat, comes from here. When he finished His preaching, he surprised the fishermen by saying, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”
- – EXHAUSTED RESOURCES.
These expert fishermen had toiled all night doing all they could, but their knowledge and experience were not enough. They were trying to do the job they had done many times, but now they had to acknowledge failure. I wonder, how many of them, as they listened to Jesus’ preaching remembered the Words of Psalm 24,-The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for He founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters (v. 1-2).
How many times do we work and struggle, only to feel that all has been in vain? We try with all our might to be good neighbours, good citizens, and Christians, only to end up with tired bodies and empty nets, like those fishermen. Peter, as well as all the others, had to learn that life without Jesus is always frustratingly fragmentary. It took Peter a long time to learn what Jesus was trying to teach him in that fishing boat; then, he discovered that life is more than human wisdom, and power, and financial security. Peter had to discover that proper LIFE comes only to those who believe in Christ by heart and soul, and give themselves fully and unreservedly to God. That is what he meant when, a year later at the gates of the Temple in Jerusalem, he said to the crippled beggar – “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, Peter helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them (Peter and John) into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God (Acts 3: 6-8).
- – A PECULIAR COMMAND, – Put out into the deep water …
Fish were caught near the shore, not in the deep. They were caught at night, not in the daytime. Yet Jesus told the men to go out to the deep waters and let down their nets. Here, the carpenter was telling the experienced fishermen how and where to catch fish. Peter reminded Jesus of their long night of toiling and catching nothing, but I can imagine that not all fishermen would have been so polite in their thoughts; we all know something about “professional pride,” don’t we? In spite of that, Peter suddenly felt something special, and humbly agreed to Jesus’ command. The Word of the Lord touched his heart.
- – RELUCTANT OBEDIENCE, – Let down the nets for a catch …
As a fisherman, the nets were part of Peter’s life, and from then, he did with them what Jesus commanded him to do. Our nets are our different talents, abilities, personalities, intelligence, experience, and trainings. Our nets are whatever we have at our hands to make our lives worth living. We may be as experienced at living as Peter was at fishing. We may know all the ins and outs financially, intellectually, and socially. But not having Jesus beside us, we may toil through all the nights of life, and at the end we come up with empty nets. If we trust Jesus enough to follow His command and let down our nets into the depth of life as He says, we will pull on board more treasures and blessings than our little boats can carry. We will have to look around for someone else’s boat to share the overflow. In Psalm 23 we learn that David had launched out into the depth of faith, confessing that,- The Lord is my shepherd; who anoints my head with oil; and … my cup overflows. Surely, he had to find someone else’s empty cup to catch the overflow of God’s goodness and love during all the rest of the days of his life.
- – A HUMBLE PRAYER,-Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man! Peter had doubted the Lord, so his confession was in order. He sensed his sinfulness in the presence of Jesus. The nearer to the Lord we walk, the keener we will be aware of our sin. Peter’s sin was that of attitude: he felt that he knew things better than the Lord, and therefore asked that the Lord might depart from him. Imagine this scene: – a time of breath-taking excitement even for the most experienced fishermen. They suddenly came upon a shoal of fish such as they have never seen before. Every man is shouting in excitement as they strain every muscle pulling the nets. The fish are sliding and flopping into the boats by the dozens. The fishermen are all wet and knee-deep in fish. Then a shout, – “Look out, the nets are splitting; don’t let the big ones get away!” Another cries, – “The boat is about to sink; we are taking in water …” And … in all this excitement Peter suddenly falls to his knees among the squirming fish and pours his heart out to the Lord. He just decided to pray! … If someone really wants to find God, he can pray anywhere, he can confess his sins no matter what the environment. Every Christian ought to be prayerful in the church, but thank God, we can draw near to our Lord wherever we are. Jesus will never leave as, as he never left Peter, but because of his right attitude, was ready to use him as a disciple and apostle to others. Acknowledging our sinfulness is in fact the only attitude that can secure God’s forgiveness for us. Later, Jesus was telling the Pharisees that He did not come to the people who thought they were so righteous that they needed no repentance, but to the sinners. When we feel as if we should not be in the presence of Jesus because of our sin, we can be certain that this same Christ will not leave us alone, but will use us, as He used Peter, TO FISH FOR MEN spreading the GOOD NEWS, – 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).
GOD WANTS TO USE US, through Faith, Hope, and Love in Christ,– to preserve His Creation and create beauty,- to make another smile, – to be a healing presence in someone’s sorrow,- to bring justice to the oppressed, – to console those in difficulty,- to bring peace and joy to others,- to help those in need, – to laugh and enjoy life, – to do good, and turn from evil,- to forgive those who have hurt us, and most of all… to LOVE.
When all will be well again, after this Coronavirus Pandemic, and many people will sadly grieve, or rejoice, and boast, and celebrate, let us still pray as true fishers of men, that God will continue to grace us with HIS LOVE and COMFORT, to spread that LOVE to others during all the ways of our journey towards eternity. AMEN.
LET US PRAY:
GRACIOUS LORD GOD, we do not know what life will hold, what trials we may be called to face, what challenges may lie before us. We cannot say whether we will taste laughter or tears, pleasure or pain, success or failure, delight or disappointment But what we do know is that, come what may, You will always be with us, supporting us in times of trouble, and strengthening us in our moments of need. For that assurance we praise and thank You. Help us to respond to Your loving kindness as Peter did, and make us also fishers of men in a world that is crying out for help and healing. Reach out, Lord, to all who are troubled by the Covid-19 Coronavirus pandemic, and answer their fears, their hurt, their emptiness. Bring them true and lasting inner contentment through the ONE who can meet our deepest needs, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Help their families, friends and colleagues, as they struggle to come to terms with their feelings, to turn to You to see not the illness but the individual You love. Where there is sickness and disease, bring Your healing. Where minds are disturbed, give peace. Where there is pain and suffering, grant relief. Where there is yearning for meaning, offer guidance. Through Your healing touch, grant true wholeness, deep within. Be with Her Majesty, our Queen, with her government and parliament, and with all those whose decisions affect the lives and well-being of people everywhere. Still the storms in our world – of injustice and intolerance, of manmade and natural disaster, of hatred, bloodshed, and war. Through Your divine power, reach out wherever life brings turmoil and calm the waves, bringing true and lasting peace; rest for our souls. Bless Your Christian Church Universal and our Church of Scotland within, to find all the appropriate ways of bringing Your Message to Your children everywhere. We pray for the presbyteries and congregations of our land; be with our own church here in this place, with all our sisters and brothers from other churches and with our loved-ones, wherever they are. Hear us as we name all those for whom we are concerned of, quietly in our hearts … God of Grace, hear our prayers, through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.
THE LORD’S PRAYER: – OUR FATHER, WHO ART IN HEAVEN …
CLOSING HYMN (CH-79): – JUST AS I AM, without one plea but that Thy blood was shed for me, and Thou bidd’st me come to Thee, O Lamb of God, I come.
Just as I am, though tossed about with many a conflict, many a doubt, fightings and fears within, without, O Lamb of God, I come.
Just as I am, Thou wilt receive, wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve; because Thy promise I believe, O Lamb of God, I come.
Just as I am – Thy love unknown has broken every barrier down – now to be thine, yea, Thine alone, O Lamb of God, I come.
Just as I am, of that free love the breadth, length, depth, and height to prove, here for a season, then above, – O Lamb of God, I come.
MAY OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF AND GOD OUR FATHER, WHO LOVED US AND BY HIS GRACE GAVE US ETERNAL ENCOURAGEMENT AND GOOD HOPE, ENCOURAGE YOUR HEARTS AND STRENGTHEN YOU IN EVERY GOOD DEED AND WORD. AMEN. (2 Thessalonians 2: 16)