It will be a very different one this year. The familiar tunes playing in my ear this afternoon have a melancholy pull—reminding me of Christmases past when so much of what I did to ‘get ready’ for Christmas was about the kids under my roof…This year everyone will not be coming home for the holidays. I will need sustaining joy not bound to circumstances!
Isn’t this the Christmas story in a nutshell?
I bring you good tidings of great joy! Unto you is born this day a Saviour— Christ the Lord—Jesus, my joy.* The life I now live I live by faith in this One who died for me so that He could live in me… This was the theme of the conference really—Jesus, our life—who calls us to Himself so that He can be our life.
We were reminded that in Jesus we have everything needed to live the Christian life. The call to follow Him is a call to that will ultimately transform us into His likeness as He lives out His life in us. Through the life of Peter we looked at the process by which this transformation takes place. How did Peter get from being a mere fisherman to being a committed follower of Christ--one of those who turned the world upside down wherever he went?
The first message in the series** was taken from the calling of the first disciples in Luke 5. We looked at six stages that characterize hearing God’s call to transformation.
It begins with being in the place of wanting to hear it. When the temporary satisfaction that distractions give is removed our ears are opened to hear what Jesus is saying. This is a good place to be. The crowd was ‘pressing in on him to hear the word of God…’
Secondly, we will hear the call of God when we realize it’s about Him and not primarily about what He does for me. “There is a profound danger of being more impressed with the activity of God than the person of Christ.” God calls us not primarily for what we will do or what He will do through us, but in order that we might know Him. Our calling is first and foremost to know Him.
Next, Jesus got right into Peter’s boat. If we are to be transformed by God’s call on our lives we must let him enter into our world, our very identity, all that matters most to us. It is here that we most need Him to make Himself at home.
At this point, our own bankruptcy becomes evident: “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing!” (Lk.5:5) We must come to the realization that without Him we can do nothing of consequence. And we must submit ourselves to His direction, not our own best notions.
At this point in Peter’s story, he obediently lets down his nets into deep water and a net-breaking catch results. Peter is overwhelmed by Christ’s greatness and broken before Him. "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord” is Peter’s response. He is convicted of his own unworthiness to have Jesus in his boat. Until we come to the point of seeing how good we are NOT, we will not know the dependence on God necessary to transformation. Not until we take our hands off ourselves and our abilities and put all we are and have at God’s disposal will we know the transformation to which we are called.
And finally, as the boats come to land, Peter and his fishing partners, James and John, leave everything to follow Jesus. The call of God to transformation is more than the passion of a moment of revelation. It requires a day-by day commitment to put all we are at His disposal and follow Him wherever He leads us. These fishermen have turned their backs on all they claimed their own. They have become followers of Christ and are being transformed into fishers of men. They will never be the same. They have responded to God’s call. This is the path of great joy!
Unto us is born this day a Savior—He is Christ the Lord! Let us be among those who leave our nets and follow this One who came to be our very life!
For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. (Col. 3:3-4 KJV)
May I add this link to a whimsical, fresh and ultimately exhilarating rendition of what the angels announced. It’s The Piano Guys latest. Enjoy!(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n543eKIdbUI&feature=em-subs_digest)
*And speaking of Jesus, the Joy of the world, I discovered Jerry Benjamin this morning in his excellent message entitled: “Christ is Our Joy”. I commend it to you no matter what your circumstances this advent season ( ;
Peter is the son of Ian Thomas, founder of Capernwray Missionary Fellowship of Torchbearers. Through Bible schools and conference centers worldwide its mission is to: “proclaim the transforming presence of Jesus Christ through Biblical teaching and practical training, equipping men and women for service in His Church worldwide."
Its various schools worldwide (one of which is His Hill, where our daughter is attending this year!) provide practical Christian education to develop personal spiritual growth, prepare people for an effective church life, and teach a working knowledge of the Bible.