Steven Furtick - The Momentum Of A Decision
We welcome you right now. Please be sure to let us know right now in the comments or the chat where you're joining us from. It's significant. Then our prayer teams can start praying for you by name that God's presence would reach you in a powerful way. I also wanted to announce to you what they didn't tell you on Fox News or CNN. This is the year of the Lord's favor. Breaking news! The Lord is good, and his love endures forever. Just to give you a preview, we're going to finish with favor. The Lord spoke that to me. He said, "Finish with favor". I'll preach about that in coming weeks. That's what Jesus did. He said it's the year of the Lord's favor.
Yes, there are blind eyes that need to be opened. Yes, there are lame who need to walk. Yes, there are poor who need to be helped. It has always been this way. But this is the year of the Lord's favor. Everybody has an opportunity to participate in this and believe with this because we're receiving a year-end offering. We set the date for December 13. You can give anytime up until then. You can go to elevationchurch.org. The best thing to do if you really believe everything you have came from God is to set up a recurring gift of a tithe. That's our way of saying to God, "I trust you and I thank you" all at the same time.
Listen. You get to thank him and trust him with the same act of obedience, and that's a powerful thing. Elijah, I've been tithing since 16. So, for every $50 on a beat you sell, $5 is God's. Really, it's all his, but we return that top part back to him. If you do it, it'll make room for him to prove himself in your life. I promise you that. How many have experienced that and can testify?
I know it's like, "Well, this has been a hard year". Yeah, it has been a hard year. I'm not going to make it harder by stopping trusting God. That would be a really weird thing to do. So we're just going to move forward, expand God's kingdom. The offering is centered around the word favor. I just called it the Favor Offering 2020. We always choose a word. You can find out how to give there and give above and beyond. Holly and I are going to give our gift on December 13. I challenge you to do the same all over the world. How many are grateful for the givers who make it possible for these gospel messages to go out? Thank God for you! All of the givers, God is doing great things through you, and God is about to speak a great thing to you. How many believe that? Say "Amen". You have great faith to say "Amen" before you even hear my Scripture.
Today, I want to take one verse of Scripture, and I'll launch from this verse. It's a very powerful verse found in Luke, chapter 5. Thank you, God, for this little message. Help me to communicate it in a way that will make a difference in somebody's life. In Jesus' name, amen. Luke 5:11. One verse. I promise you that doesn't mean the sermon will be shorter. This is the verse: "So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him". You probably need to hear that another time to let it sink in, just the magnitude of what they did. "They pulled their boats up on shore, left…"
I don't want to say it, because I don't want to do it. I don't want to leave everything. I mean, I want to leave some things, the stuff I'm tired of. I want God to take that away, but I guess I'd better preach how it says it in the verse. "…left everything and followed him". I want to speak to you today about The Momentum of a Decision. God, you're already doing such an awesome work in this place. I can feel it, and I believe it's happening everywhere that someone is connected to this word, whether it's by Wi-Fi signal or whether it's in a campus with a building that says church on it or anywhere in between. Speak your word. We're listening, and our answer is "Amen". In Jesus' name.
Oh, Holly, I forgot to tell you. I had this interesting conversation with Jennie Lusko. After Holly did her Reflect sermon, some of her friends who were here came over to the house, and they were roasting hot dogs and s'mores by the campfire. I don't eat the s'mores. I'm a health food kind of guy, so I ate hot dogs and sausages. It's the low carb lifestyle. You wouldn't understand. Jennie wrote a book last year, and I thought the title of the book was so great. I knew the story behind it, so for me, there's even more power, because I've watched her and her husband Levi live it. They pastor a church in Montana. You've met them before. They've been here before.
Her book was called "The Fight to Flourish". It's a great title. In fact, that's what I asked her. I said, "Jennie, how did you think of that title"? Because I'm a title guy. I spend just… you can ask my family… notepads trying to get a title for each sermon. So I'm a title guy. I said, "I feel like that title The Fight to Flourish is a whole sermon in itself. I feel like you could charge $14.99 just for the title and not even have to write the book". I said, "When did you decide to call it that"? Awkward silence. She goes, "Hmm. I don't really remember". I said, "Well, try to remember. I'd really like to know. I'm really interested. Were you sitting outside? Were you sitting inside? Were you with a group? Did somebody else suggest it to you? Did it go through some other titles and you chose that one? Were you watching Rocky and there was a flower on the table and you went 'Fight to Flourish'? What happened"? She said, "I really don't remember".
She went all the way back, and she went through the chain of events that led her to write the book. Of course, the book was written about how they lost their daughter Lenya who went to heaven suddenly about eight years ago. She never set out to write a book, but somebody had suggested to her that God could use what she had been through and the way she trusted God through it to help them through what they're going through. Of course, you're resistant to something like that at first, and that makes sense, but she eventually did it. She walked through that, and she knew exactly where she was when someone said, "That needs to be a book," and she knew exactly where she was when she decided to begin. She went through all of that, and she gave me the chain of events, but she couldn't remember the moment of decision when she said, "I'm going to call it The Fight to Flourish".
She remembered when she saw the cover and she thought, "That's how it needs to look on the cover," but she couldn't remember when she made the decision that that's what it was going to be called. That was interesting to me, because she went back through all of these events, but she couldn't remember the exact moment of decision. She remembered, "Well, this led to that, and that led to that, and that led to that, and this was painful, and this was purposeful, and this I knew in my heart, and this somebody else said, but even though I can remember the events that led to it with clarity, I don't really remember the moment of decision specifically".
I thought that was kind of interesting. There's a difference between an event and the decision. One thing I like to teach, since everybody now likes to be offended all the time… It's our national addiction. We are addicted to being offended as a nation, and if you're offended I said that, wouldn't that just finish my point? "Well, I don't think…" Okay. One thing I taught years ago (it seemed to help people, so I thought I'd put it in this sermon up front) is that offense is an event. That's something that happens to you, and it's a real thing. Offense is an event, but offended is a decision. Notice what we just did. We just separated the event from the decision. Somebody doing something to me that they shouldn't have done might be something I didn't choose, but my response to that is a decision.
The momentum of a decision. Beginning to separate this out is probably important if we're parenting teenagers, because unless you understand what led to the decision, you will always try to correct the behavior. I was praying for one of my kids one day, and I was like, "Why do they keep doing that"? It was like the Lord said back to me, "I don't know. Why did you do the same thing when you were their age"? I was like, "Oh! Right. It's called puberty". But isn't it easy to explain somebody else's decision as unwise while justifying your own as completely warranted? I'm really good, and I think I should get a professional job at breaking down other people's decisions.
You know, "They shouldn't let their kids do that. They shouldn't spend that. They can't afford that. Why would they go there? Why would they say that? Why would they think that"? I am so good at diagnosing your decisions, but I have to be honest. There are some things I do that if you press me for it, I really can't tell you why or when. For instance, I can't tell you when I became a cynical person, but I just know that I am a lot. I never woke up one day and was like, "Thursday, March 14. This is the day". I didn't make a declaration of cynicism. People don't make a declaration of depression. "I think today I'll go into a deep state of depression". It's not a decision. You don't really remember exactly when you started feeling this way. Maybe you could trace back some events, but it's a different thing to understand the decision.
That's why we have to be a student of how God works in our lives to understand that every decision has a parent called an emotion. Every emotion is a descendant of a thought. If I don't deal with the thought that created the emotion, I'll try to make a different decision only to be overpowered by something that is deeper than what I am dealing with at the surface of my decisions. Then I'll know why I bought a Peloton and turned it into a coat rack for my sweatshirts. When I decided to buy the Peloton, I was in a certain state of mind. I was in a certain state of guilt and condemnation. (This is not a real illustration about me. I'm just using it. I heard this from some people.)
You make a decision, and you make the decision in a certain state of mind, and then you encounter a challenge, and the decision you made in the state of mind where you saw clearly, the decision you made in the state of mind where that better part of you, where the Spirit of God lives and rules and reigns and knows what's best for you, gives into something deeper in you that pulls you back into stuff. Every decision has momentum. I am not a scientist, nor the son of a scientist. There are people and books that can tell you the mechanics of decisions you make. They can tell you why you pick this over that, and they can tell you about the neurology. I can't. But I chose Luke 5:11 because where I live in the Scriptures, that seemed to me like a very dramatic decision to leave everything and follow Jesus.
What does it mean to follow Jesus? For the people who did it right here, I'll show you exactly what it meant. It was simple. See? That's what they did. For us it's abstract. For them it was physical. He's not describing a spiritual decision here. It's just a physical one. They left everything. That doesn't mean they left their way of thinking. That just means they left their boat, their nets, and their fishing supplies. They left their bait, but they didn't necessarily leave their beliefs. At some point, they set out, and they followed Jesus. I kind of wish it was this clear for us, that following Jesus was as simple as… Come here. You be Jesus. Won't that be fun? Just for a minute. No pressure. Just walk. That's all he did.
I think I could follow Jesus better if it was that simple. I mean, this is not so hard right now. Following Jesus for me is not a physical decision. Physical decisions are sometimes easier, but to be a disciple… This is a passage about the calling of the disciples. You know them. You love them. They're famous. They're dysfunctional. They're crazy. They're stupid. They blow it. They don't understand that Jesus is going to the cross, so they try to stop him from going there. That's who he chose as his disciples. This is how he called them, and this is what they did. "They pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him".
There's a hymn we used to sing called "I Have Decided to Follow Jesus". I have decided to follow Jesus I have decided to follow Jesus I have decided to follow Jesus No turning back, no turning back. It's great. Singing it is one thing. For most of us, to sing that, all it costs us is breath. For the people who did it in this Scripture, it cost them their boats. I want to show you in the Scripture… This is really, really insightful to me, and I can't possibly show you everything that's in this text because… Well, honestly, when they followed him, it led to so much more than they could know in that moment.
When they started following Jesus… I want you to think about it, because some of you have stopped following Jesus, and some of you are just starting to follow Jesus, and some of you are in stride trying to decide. So everybody needs this message. As they followed him, although it sounds very dramatic what they did on the surface, there was a chain of events that led up to the decision, and then there was a chain of events that this decision set in motion that would be very powerful.
Think of all of the amazing things they would see because of this decision to follow Jesus. Think of what it must have felt like to be there when blind Bartimaeus for the first time started to describe colors and sights and objects and shapes. Think of what it must have been like to see a man come through the roof, and you didn't even know what Jesus was going to do, whether he was going to fuss at him for destroying property or… Oh, surprise! He healed him. That's what he wanted. He wanted the kind of faith that would break through a barrier and do whatever it takes to get to his presence. Think of how amazing it would have been for them to see a woman who was caught in the act of adultery, but instead of stoning her, the only one who had the right to punish her instead sent her away with a new reality of who she was. Think of all they saw because of a decision to leave everything and follow him. They didn't know when they left everything that they would gain everything.
In fact, by human calculations… I know this is going to be controversial, and somebody is going to get offended when I say it, but I studied it, and if you get offended, you're the one it's for anyway. Listen to this. From a human perspective, this is a dumb decision. I'll tell you why. Because the boats they left were full of fish, and fishing is what they did for a living. So, Luke 5:11, from a strategic standpoint…I'm not talking about a spiritual standpoint…is the dumbest decision that Peter, James, and John (that's who they are in the text) could have made to pull their boats up on shore. This is their transportation. This is their vehicle for their commercial activity. This is their life. This is their way of life, and they walk away from it to follow somebody who hasn't even proven that what he said is true yet.
By any rational decision-making analysis, this is dumb. At the very least, it's a little quick. You don't have to do it with no net, do you? That's a phrase that means you don't have any safety net, any backup plan. They followed Jesus with no net. They left everything. That's dumb. "Isn't that disrespectful to the Bible"? It's just a practical fact. That's a dumb thing to do. What gave them the confidence to make such a bold decision?
Now, in order to understand this decision or your teenager's decision or Jennie Lusko's decision or the decisions you're making right now, the ones that are sabotaging you and the ones that are causing you to succeed… In order to understand those decisions, you kind of have to work backward. This is why we keep trying to change and can't change; keep trying to pray, can't pray; keep trying to get up at 5:00 a.m., can't get up at 5:00 a.m. So then we try 4:30, like that's going to fix it. Just get more dramatic. "I'm going to do it. This is the time".
Maybe that's just my personality. I relate to Peter in the text, because when I did decide to do a low carb lifestyle, I just did it. I didn't go shop. I didn't plan. I didn't stock the pantry. I just turned to Holly and said, "I'm fat, and I'm done". I don't think I ate a carbohydrate for 18 months. If I went to preach somewhere where they were doing barbecued chicken, I'd sneak the chicken in the bathroom and wash the barbecue sauce off the chicken, because I have problems, because something is wrong with me, and I understand that about myself now. That's not how you're supposed to do it, but that's how I do it. That's how I do stuff. The craziest things I do… I just do it. Just do the thing, you know. Around the campfire with the ladies…
I have to be honest. I hadn't talked to a group of four ladies in a while until after Holly's Reflect the other day. Ladies talk about different stuff. Some of it is not mentionable on a worldwide platform for the gospel, some of the things they were talking about around the campfire, but I hung with them. I sat around the fire, and I talked with them, and we started telling marriage proposal stories. Mine is really embarrassing, because I had an elaborate plan to do something really special for Holly, but I wanted to do it so badly once I bought the ring… Because I took all my money. I mean, I left $5 in the bank account from the ATM and took it upstairs to level 3 of this pawn shop of a guy I could trust who was up there, and I got a ring, and I asked her dad.
I wanted to propose that day, so I ended up taking her to Pizza Hut. I didn't propose at Pizza Hut, because I feel a really, really strong hatred from all of the ladies in this church right now. But I took her to Pizza Hut. I proposed. I wrote a song. I did it. I had to do it. Once I realized I could do it, I had to do it. I didn't have time to wait around. So, I relate to this kind of decision. "I just can't eat Cheetos anymore. Look at me. Look at how I look. I can't do this anymore. I have to do something different".
How many of you are like that? Like, just this ability… I can feel the rest of you judging us. "There's wisdom, Pastor Steve…" "Pastor Steve" is the name I use when I'm making fun of somebody. I know there is wisdom, but there's also in here an impulse to make a decision, and I think we'll understand more why they made the decision if we understand the events that led up to it. I think we'll understand more why they did something so dramatic if we understand the context, so I want to go all the way back to verse 1, and I want to read this Bible story that is called "Jesus Calls His First Disciples". That's the headline of it in my Bible.
How did the disciples who decided to follow Jesus and leave everything they knew before that, that they depended on before that, everything that was familiar before that…? How did they decide to do it? When you understand the events, you can understand the decision. When you understand the difference between the two, you can understand that an event doesn't have to define the rest of your life unless you allow it to. God gives you the power to make a different decision. You don't have to be a drunk for the rest of your life. You don't have to be mean and hateful for the rest of your life. You don't have to be pessimistic the rest of your life.
So how did they do it? Why did they do it? I want to understand the events, and then maybe I can understand the decision. It starts like this. The decision to be a disciple. I will say one more thing before I read this. Giving your life to Christ is one decision, and many have done that, and many will do it today. I'm going to give you the opportunity to do that at the end of my message today. But deciding to receive God's grace and deciding to be his disciple are two different things. One is an event. It's something God does. It's by grace you're saved through faith, not of works. That's not decisions you make that earns God's grace. Then it's not grace. That's what God does. But to follow him… This is a decision.
The Bible says, "One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret…" Sea of Galilee may be more familiar. Same thing. Same body of water. It's where Jesus ended up basing his ministry, and this is where it started. "…the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God". So, no social distancing going on in Luke, chapter 5, verse 1. They're pressing in on him, and he needs a little space so his voice can amplify. It's a very practical need. "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…" That's the name of Peter before he was called Peter. His name was Simon. Jesus gave him the name Peter, Cephas (petros, rock).
"Simon answered, 'Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything.'" "Besides, we're professional fishermen. You're a good preacher, and you were doing good with that sermon, but the time to catch fish has already passed. It's fine that you're using my boat to preach, but telling me how to fish is something different". Do you hear the attitude? "We've fished all night but caught nothing". "'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 signaled 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 fish for people.' So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him".
Now that you've heard the chain of events, do you understand the decision a little bit better? I do. It helped me. As someone who is drawn to dramatic decisions…40-day fast, 30-day fast… I've done both of those. I haven't done it in a decade, but I did it one time. I just have to be honest about that. I haven't done it in a long time, but I'm down with that. As somebody who wants to go deeper in God… I want to go deep. "God, do something deep". God has been speaking to me lately that the deepest things he will do in my life start shallow. I know this sounds like a contradiction of everything you would normally hear in a pulpit, because we want a deep sermon, a deep word from God, one we can't understand so then we don't have to obey.
But when I was reading the text, I was drawn to verse 11. I was like, "Yes, Lord! I want to follow you wherever you lead. Though none go with me, I still will follow. Yes, Lord! I just want to go into the unknown. I will follow you, Lord. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death". The Lord was like, "Kid, you haven't even read your YouVersion Bible plan. Start shallow". That's about the deepest thing you could do. Leave everything and follow him. But notice in the verse. It's in the verse. It's in the Bible. I don't understand everything about decision-making science, but I understand something about Scripture. I understand a little bit about Scripture. It said that the boats were at the water's edge. The crowds were coming around.
In verse 3, he got in a boat and asked him to put out a little. I stopped when I read the word little. I realized that before they left everything, they did a little thing. The reason we keep on deciding to do stuff, and then we go from deciding to disruption to denial… It's a cycle. Deciding to disruption to denial. The reason sometimes is because we stay too deep. I want to give you a story I never had the guts to share before right now, but something about this year has made me a little bolder. I don't know if it's just that I think Jesus is coming back next Thursday and it doesn't matter anyway, so get me out of here. Whatever.
I feel a little conspiracy theorist rising up in me this year. I don't know. I never had all that before, but it's coming now. Anyway, when I was going through a period of criticism… And I'm not going to live in it, because God knows. It was about this time in 2013. Many were in the church. It was weird, because it was more criticism than we had ever experienced as a church. It kept coming. That's all I want to say about that part. I lived in fear for six months. To really tell you the extent of it, let me tell you the text I sent to Chunks after about three months of it. I said, "If anything happens to me and I don't make it, you've got Holly and the kids. Right"? I wasn't suicidal. I just didn't know if I could keep day after day after day… I was trying to preach through it, and I didn't know if I could or something bad would happen. I didn't know what bad would happen, but…
So, during that time… That'll make you pray, and it'll make you pray deep things. "Lord, I need your peace. I need your vindication. Many of the things they're saying are not true, and they're twisted. I don't want to keep having to deal with this, so, Lord, deliver me". When I tell you what brought me peace, you are not going to be satisfied. While I was praying the deep prayers… I found some prayers in the Psalms where David was praying stuff like "Smash my enemies' heads against a rock". I found some great Scriptures during that time that I never saw before. Very meaningful to me. But my answer wasn't on my Bible app. It was on my Twitter app.
When I decided to delete Twitter… I know that sounds shallow, but that little… I don't even know if people use Twitter anymore, because I haven't really been on it in seven years. They put stuff out. That's not me. That's somebody on a computer somewhere putting Bible verses out in my name. I can't go on there. I was telling my friend, "It's like when I deleted all this stuff…" Now, I'm going to tell you what God is going to speak to some of you through this sermon today. He's going to tell you to delete something that is defeating you. You think victory is so deep. The battle is the Lord's, but the app is yours. The brain is yours. The decision is yours.
When I deleted Twitter… I told my friend, "It's like I thought there were mountain lions in my yard waiting to attack me, and then I saw it was just squirrels". I thought, "I can't survive it" because I was surrounded by squirrels. I know it sounds so silly. I prayed. I said, "God, I can't tell them to do that. There's a lot of stuff going on in people's lives. I need to go to the book of Revelation. The mark of the Beast, 666, the number of the Beast". God said, "Some of the things they're praying for me to deliver them from I have given them the power to delete".
Can I preach a shallow sermon? Jesus didn't call them to leave their boats. He called them to push out a little. It's a little decision. I was talking to a friend about depression. They said, "Have you gone for a walk today"? I'm like, "You don't hear me. It's spiritual warfare". They said, "No. I said walk, not war. You're trying to be so deep. You don't need God to give you the victory; you need to go get some vitamins". I'm not saying the problem isn't deep. I'm saying that sometimes the solution is so simple. "Lord, give me a simple solution". Not just what they did. "Put out a little bit from the shore".
Hey, leave a little bit of space. What one thing are you willing to do differently with this addiction that's so deep in your life that you don't think you'll ever be free from it? Will you do a little thing different? That little event, that little thing, led to something so massive Peter would be the one who would preach the Holy Spirit into the earth in Acts, chapter 2. If you read his sermon in Acts 2, you'll be like, "This dude is deep". He didn't start deep. He started shallow. I don't want you to think it's always that deep. It was a little decision. How many believe that's a little decision? "Just put your boat out a little bit and let me use it for a few minutes while I teach". That's a little decision. "I think I'm going to watch Elevation Church today".
That was a little decision, but God can do a deep thing with a shallow start. I think if I were the Devil, I'd try to get you so overwhelmed with something that felt so deep that you wouldn't do something so simple. I think that's his strategy, but God's strategy was very simple. Remember, these are the ones Jesus wants to use. It's a little bit of a trick, because he's asking them to carry him in the boat, but he really wants them to become boats so the gospel can go out through them. It's really a picture of the purpose he has given them. This helped me. He put out a little bit, and then Jesus preached, and then (verse 4), "When he had finished speaking…" First the word. "…he said to Simon [Peter], 'Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.'" "Now let's go deeper. Put out a little. Now put down the nets. Don't try to do too much at first. Don't leave the boat yet. I need it right now. Put out a little. Put down the nets".
I think this is really powerful. I don't think it's a small thing. I really don't. The more I study it, the more I realize that every decision that others see contains millions of little decisions that were invisible. "How could they do that? Why would they make that decision"? There were a million little decisions. When they said, "I do," they never thought there would be a time when they didn't. I remember early in our marriage getting in a fight with Holly on the phone, and one of us hung up on the other one. I don't know which one hung up on the other one. I really don't remember the details of this. Maybe conveniently. But I remember one of us hanging up, and I remember talking about that and saying, "We're never going to do that again. We're never going to hang up the phone on each other in the middle of a conversation again". Because nobody walks away from someone they gave their heart to all at once.
Decisions have momentum. So, today I hang up on you; five years later I hate you, because I put out a little. See, this works both ways. Nobody decides, "I would like to be straddled with an addiction that will follow me to the grave". Nobody decides that. What I do decide sometimes is "I don't want to feel the way I feel, so if I do that, I won't have to feel this". The decision has momentum. Isn't it a horrible thing for somebody who's 11, 12, or 13 years old, that they can look at something on their phone, and out of curiosity they can see something that will take them into a place that will wrap them with something that will limit them the rest of their life from being able to be free mentally? Nobody decides, "I want to have something that masters me the rest of my life". That's not the decision. But decisions have momentum.
I was impressed by what they did. "Push out the boat and let down the nets". These are the nets they just got done washing. These are big nets. One guy said they were 25 feet in diameter. So, it takes a long time to clean them, and they're made of linen, so if you don't clean them, they're going to rot and they're not going to last very long. I thought it was cool that they were just fishing. They didn't go out that day to decide to follow Jesus. They went out to catch fish. Can we talk about daily decisions for a moment? This is what they did every day. What do you do every day? This is not what they did on Christmas and Easter. This is what they did every day. This is not what they did on New Year's Eve, like the calendar is going to change your habits.
The point of the illustration is this is what they did. What do you do? Just by being there. I'm telling you, this is Bethsaida. This is a fishing village. Bethsaida means house of the hunt. But they fished. They were fishermen. They were from Bethsaida. That's where Peter was from. So, guess what you do when you grow up in a fishing village. You fish. It wasn't deep. It wasn't a decision. Peter didn't go to a job fair, take an Enneagram and a Myers-Briggs, ESTNJ, LMNOP, ADD, ADHD. None of that. We want deep. "I want a calling from you and a purpose in my life. Deep calls to deep". He went fishing, and he caught nothing. Can you make a positive decision even after you've experienced a negative result? This is what amazed me.
See, when I get on a roll, I can do amazing things. When I get on a roll, it's like, Boom! Knock them down. Boom! There's another one. Boom! Another one. Boom! Another one. I don't mean to bring DJ Khaled up here with me on the stage, but I feel like sometimes I can get in a zone. This is not the situation. This is not the event. It was after the event of a failed night of fishing at the point where they were vulnerable because they were exhausted that they did what he said anyway.
2020 has been a year for us to have to learn how to do what we know God has called us to do anyway and to know that we can have a feeling and not act on it and make a different decision, have a temptation and not act on it. Do you know how grace is the power to cover your sin? It's also the power to change your decisions. Just because you're frustrated doesn't mean you have to make decisions that create more frustration. When they did what Jesus told them to do, when they obeyed the Word of God… That might mean a lot of different things for a lot of different people. That might not mean anything having to do with a fishing net, but it could. It could be a career thing.
I always get scared when I preach like this that people are going to take Luke 5:11, quit their jobs, leave their boats, and follow him. I'm going to tell you something. If you leave your boat without a backup plan in this economy, it's going to be a minute before you're going to leave your apartment, leave your house too, because they are not going to take the message of the Lord as a mortgage payment. So, you'd better be very careful that you put out a little bit from the shore. Praise him. Glory to his holy name. And the 24 elders said "Amen". Decisions have momentum. Right?
So, you put out a little bit from the shore, put down the nets. Boom, boom, boom. And their nets were breaking, but the nets were not the only thing that broke in that moment. When I obey the Word of the Lord, it breaks the flow of frustration. "We fished all night and caught nothing". Frustration. When he put down the nets, not only did the nets break, because God blessed them so much because they were just obedient. Not only did the nets break, but so did the flow of their frustration. So did the flow of their failure. So did the flow of their fear. You do not think your way out of the flow of fear, failure, and frustration by thinking deeper about it. It broke the flow when they did something different. I'm going to have to talk to people differently. I'm going to have to manage my thought life differently. I'm going to have to manage my time differently. I'm going to have to manage my money differently.
We hear the truth, and we still won't tithe. It would break the flow. It would break the flow of everything that comes to me is for me, and it would open me to receive the blessing of God. We hear the truth, and the Word of God speaks from our boat. Jesus gets done speaking, and we still won't drop the nets. I heard the Lord say, "Drop it". That applies to every offense you've been carrying. Drop it. That applies to every empty net that's in your life, where you've been failing and carrying the failure around of fishing all night and catching nothing and what you did last week, even the fight you had before you clicked on this YouTube video, and even the stuff you looked at online before you came to online church today. I heard the Lord saying, "Drop that".
Sometimes we don't drop the net because we're so busy. We're so caught up in the discouragement. It's really hard to drop the net when you're drowning in disappointment. I make good decisions when I'm in a good flow. "Oh, this worked, and that worked, and this did good, and that did good". That is not the occasion in Luke 5. That is not why they left everything and followed him. He got in their boat at a bad time. How annoying is this? He came in their boat as a distraction.
You say, "Well, Pastor Steve, the Lord is never a distraction". It was for Peter. He was trying to wash his nets. He was still dealing with a night of coming up empty, and God was trying to fill him in that moment with not only fish but faith. None of this was really my message. I'm so sorry I tricked you into thinking I was preaching about Peter's decision. It would be irresponsible for me to tell you Luke 5:11 and not tell you Matthew 26. When they followed him with the first step, they never knew what the next step would bring. They never really understood Jesus even though they were attracted to him. They never really understood why he came even though they were willing to follow him wherever he went until he went to the cross and Caiaphas put him on trial.
Look at Matthew 26. It said they left everything and followed him, but there were some things they didn't leave…their concept about what the Messiah would be, their concept about what the Christ would be, their concept of what it would mean to follow God. They left their nets and their boats, but look at what the Bible says. "'All this has taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.' Then all the disciples deserted him and fled". Receiving grace is a one-time decision. Following Jesus is a moment by moment… Like, "Am I following him in this moment? Is this his thought? Am I walking in peace right now"?
That's what we mean to say you're a disciple. There's a difference between the event of becoming a Christian and the decision of being a disciple. You don't make the decision of discipleship once. You make it daily. I'm preaching to somebody who stopped following. I needed you to know that decision doesn't mean God can't use you. I also wanted you to know the disciples who started the movement of Christianity made the same decision you did. Since you're wondering why Jesus chose Peter, I think I'll tell you. Because he knew he would do something dumb. He knew Peter would cut off Malchus' ear in the garden. He knew Peter would do something dumb. He knew Peter would speak up and blurt out "You are the Christ"! He knew Peter would do something dumb. He knew Peter would drop his nets after they were clean and put up for the night. He knew Peter would do something dumb.
I know a preacher never told you this before, but do something dumb for God. I don't mean something that's contrary to wisdom. I don't mean burn down your life. I don't mean any of that. You know I don't mean do something unbiblical. I don't teach that. But do something that seems dumb but is really what God is using to take you deep, because sometimes the dumbest stuff on the surface leads to the deepest stuff later. It would be dumb for you to forgive them. Do it. It would be dumb for you to trust God and keep praising him although your body is sick, but do it. Do something dumb. It would be dumb for you to sit and listen to a sermon for two hours on the weekend, but do something dumb. It would be dumb for you to believe that God is still good while you're going through hell. Do something dumb.
That's why he chose Peter. He said, "I need somebody who will be dumb enough by the world's standard to do what I say and not care what anybody thinks about it". Are you dumb enough? The message of the cross is foolishness to the world, but it is the wisdom of God, the power of God. I want to tell you the reason he picked Peter and the reason he chose you and the reason you can have confidence to know that there is no decision you can make that will predate God's purpose for your life is because he knew you would do something dumb. You did something dumb, and you learned from it, and you grew from it. You did something dumb. Peter denied Jesus, just like the other disciples. The only one who stayed was John. Peter did something dumb, and now, if God's purpose for Peter depends on Peter's decision, it's over.
Do you feel like that? "I screwed it up". Do you know what we do? We go through things, and they're painful. We don't take the opportunities, and we weren't there like we should have been there, and we go back and say things that make absolutely no sense, like, "If I knew then what I know now…" You didn't, but now you do, and now you have different wisdom. Right now, in this moment, you have wisdom from that painful experience. You have wisdom from that dumb decision. I was talking to one of my good friends the other day, and he was beating the crap out of himself. He was saying, "I should have done it differently. I would have done it differently. I could have done it differently. I coulda. I woulda. I shoulda. I'd have done it differently". I said, "You would have, and you will, but don't judge yesterday's decisions with today's wisdom. That's only going to paralyze you, and the momentum of shame will carry you to an even deeper place of despair".
How many have experienced this? I said to my friend, "You are literally…" This was a deep pain. This was not he wished he would have bought $2,000 of Zoom stock at the beginning of the pandemic. This was much deeper than that. I said, "You would have done it differently, and you will do it differently, but you are using today's wisdom as a weapon to beat yourself up for yesterday's decisions". God doesn't want you to do that, because in the wisdom of God, he chose you knowing you would do something dumb. Do you believe that?
I want to help you believe that, and I want to help you from Luke, chapter 5, verse 3, where the Bible says Jesus saw at the water's edge… Isn't that a beautiful image? I'm on the edge. I could do it this way. I could do it that way. I'm making a decision. Jesus got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon. He hadn't even changed his name yet, but he chose his boat. That's his old name. He hadn't even grown yet. He hadn't even done anything right yet. In fact, we find out later in this story that Peter said, "I'm a sinful man. Go away from me, Lord". Some of you have been doing that. "Not me, Lord; I'm not a good person. Not me; I'm not a good parent. Not me; I'm dumb. I don't know what I'm doing. Not me. Anybody but me".
That's what Peter said. This was the revelation I got: Peter's destiny didn't begin with Peter's decision. It said there were two boats. That means Jesus chose. Do you see? This is a fishing village. There's way more than one boat available. And how did he choose it? I wonder. Did he go "Eeny, meeny, miny, moe"? I'm picturing Jesus. Jesus is choosing, "Whose boat do I want to preach from? I'm launching a ministry. Not only am I launching a boat; I'm launching a movement. I'm launching the gospel. Whose boat? Here's a boat. There's a boat. Eeny, meeny, miny, moe. Catch a disciple by his boat". I felt like God was saying, "I knew what was in Peter when I got in his boat".
He got in your boat. He knew where I was broken when he got into my boat. He knew what I didn't know when he got into my boat. He knew where I would fail when he called me to follow. So, it wasn't my decision that started this. He got in the boat. See, we thought it started when Peter let down the nets. No. We thought it started when Peter let out a little from the shore. No. You thought it started when you were born. No. He said, "Before you were born, I formed you. I knew you. I knew the good stuff, the funky stuff, the weird stuff, the perverted stuff, the twisted stuff, the genetic stuff. I knew your dumb stuff, and I got into your boat. It's you I called, and it's you I chose. I know whose boat I'm stepping into".
See, the momentum depends on who made the decision, and if you think you chose God, then it is dependent on you. But when you get a revelation that Peter got much later in his life… It took him years. He went back fishing in John 21 and didn't catch fish again. He never really got it, but he still preached. Why? Because Jesus knew his condition before he called him. I don't think there's anything more important than this to teach you about the grace of God and the life of faith. God's decision predated your dysfunction. He knew Peter was a cussing mess when he got into the boat. He knew he was an impulsive idiot when he got into the boat. He knew you were predisposed to these emotions when he got into your boat, when he came into your heart. He saved you by grace.
I just want you to know that. Where it starts determines where it stops. If God's purpose for your life stopped with your last bad decision, it would be over for all of us. Peter said something later in his life that I think he learned in that boat. This Scripture came to me right before I came out. It was the last thing God gave me, and it's the last thing I want to show you. He said in 2 Peter…. He went on to write some of the Bible. That's pretty cool that God picked him as an author of the Word of God while he was cleaning empty nets. We get so arrogant, and we get so crazy we think something we brought to God drew him to us. No, no. He chose you before all that, before the achievement. Put all of those trophies back in the basement. God doesn't need any of that.
I didn't even know where this Scripture was. I had to look it up. It said, "No prophecy ever had its origin in human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit". That's powerful all in itself. No prophecy has ever had its origin… It doesn't start with the human will. It didn't start when they left their boats. It started when Jesus stepped in. The momentum of that decision can carry you through any season of your life, any failure, any setback, any shame, anything you can name. He took it all to the cross, buried it all in the grave, and there's a resurrection that can happen if you realize no prophecy ever had its origin in the human will. The way I saw it… I asked them, "Do you have anything I can show the people"?
I want you to get this wherever you are in the world. You've been praying for momentum in your life. You have been very, very stuck and frustrated and in a state of disappointment this year, and the truth is some of us are drowning in it. We fished all night. We fished all year. We've caught nothing. Nothing is changing. I just said, "Give me something heavy on the stage so I can leave them with an image". I know how you are. You're like I am. We'll forget everything, but sometimes if we see it, we can get it. It hit me.
I need somebody who's not very strong to come here. You'll have to identify yourself. I'm certainly not going to point at you. I mean, I need you to be really weak. I need you to be like you haven't seen a gym since COVID started. You haven't seen a gym since Y2K. That's who I need right now. Do y'all remember Y2K? Like, you have not seen it. I mean, like, you really aren't strong. Who's the weakest person in this section? I wish you were all here so I could do a whole poll. Who is the physically weakest person in the room? Is it you? Like, for real? Okay. Come here. Everybody in the room, stand up. I'm going to show you this. I need you to just follow my instructions. Thank you for volunteering.
I chose you because you said you were weak. I chose you because I said, "Eeny, meeny, miny, moe. Catch a tiger by the toe. If he hollers…" I could make a whole Christian song out of it. "If he sins, I won't let go. Eeny, meeny, miny, moe". I could do all this stuff. This is what I do. Remember how we'd say, "My mama told me to pick the very best one"? I know this is so simple and so silly, but sometimes it's the shallow stuff that sticks with us. How did he pick Peter? I heard, "My Father told me to pick the very worst one, the weakest one, the most impulsive one," and he got into that boat. That gave me hope, because I make dumb decisions. It's not my decision or my good decisions I'm putting my faith in. Not as a pastor, not as a parent, not as a husband, not as a man. It's his decision. Give that one good push.
All you're allowed to do is push it as hard as you can with one push. Don't keep your hands on it. Three, two, one. Who's the strongest person in the room? I mean, the strongest person in the room. I need the strongest person in the room. I'm going to have to select somebody if somebody doesn't volunteer. In fact, give me three strong people. Notice I didn't just say "men". I am very, very politically correct, y'all. I don't want to offend anybody. Give me the three strongest people. All three of you, come on up. I wanted to remind you of this. Line up. When I say "Three," all on one side, I want you to push it as hard as you can with one push. You don't get to lock out. You don't get to do anything, but I just want them to realize… You can be there for a backup in case we do it.
I heard the Scriptures say, "At the water's edge was a boat," and I was thinking about all of my dumb decisions and how prophecy and the word of God over your life don't originate with the will of man. I was thinking about the momentum of the decision. So, what I thought about is how far it goes depends upon how strong you are when you started. So, on three. One, two, three! Push it! Look at that. Oh, look at that! It's all right, because I wanted it to fall. It's all right, because I planned for it to crash. It's all right, because I set it up for the illustration. I knew it would fall when I called them, and I knew it would break when I chose it, and I knew what was in it when they pushed it.
So, the question is… Who started this? Who brought you into the earth? Who chose who? I don't think you chose Jesus. I think he got into your boat a long time ago. If I'm the one pushing it, eh. If it's Peter's decision, if it's Peter's prophecy, if it's human will, it stops when I sin, but if you understand that no prophecy, no word God spoke over your life, no assignment he gave you, nothing he put you to do, started with you… I hear the Lord saying the momentum is not based in your decision; it's based in his. Clap your hands and give him praise. A simple thing. Clap your hands. A deep praise; a simple thing. A simple illustration. If he started it, no one can stop it. Sometimes I tell God, "It's your boat. You made me. You know me. You chose me. I guess you knew what was in my heart when you got into my boat, so use me, Lord. I want to go deeper in this season".
I want to call you right now to make a decision to receive his grace. Bow your head and close your eyes. The presence of the Lord is in this moment, and the presence of the Lord was in the moment before that. It'll be in the moment after this. This is a moment of decision for someone, to place your faith in Jesus Christ. The Lord spoke to me to do the invitation myself today, which I don't always do. He said there was someone who needed to stop trying to save themselves and stop trying to earn his love and stop trying to fix their life on their own but to receive his grace. Let him in your heart. It's by grace through faith.
Right now, I want to pray a prayer with you, and I'm going to close my eyes and bow my head. I just want us to think it's just you and me and God. No crowds. No distractions. The Bible says everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Will you make this your day to leave your boat, your nets, your old way of life, and be a follower of Christ? God has already decided what he thinks about you. He demonstrates his love toward us in this, that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. He wants to get into your life. He wants to come in and take over.
So, right now, if you'll pray this prayer with me, I believe God will hear and he will enter your heart and take your sin away. The Bible says you will be born again from above. I want you to repeat this prayer after me. Everyone praying together for the benefit of those who are coming to God or coming back to God, who have stopped following or who have never started following at all. This is your moment of decision. Repeat after me.
Heavenly Father, I am a sinner in need of a Savior, and I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of the world, and today I make Jesus the Lord of my life. I believe he died that I would be forgiven and rose again to give me life. I receive this new life. This is my new beginning.
On the count of three, if you prayed that prayer, raise your hand. One, two, three! If you're watching online, put it in the chat. Say "I receive Jesus". We want to celebrate with the angels. That's the best decision of your life. God made that decision a long time ago. You are accepted. You are chosen. You are predestined. You are his child. Come on, let's give him praise on every location all around the world! Thank you, Lord.