Monday, February 15, 2016, 3:54 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Fear Not, Little Flock.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Luke 5:1-11 (ESV). On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon's, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him. The Deep “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” If Jesus were to say to you today, “put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch,” not literally, but figuratively speaking, what do you think he would be telling you? Jesus was telling these fishermen to put out into the deep water. When I think of “deep water,” I think of the idiomatic phrase meaning a difficult or a troublesome situation. The word “deep,” also can mean something serious, extreme, intense, or extending far from the surface. When I think of “surface,” I think of superficial, external only, appearance only, or a façade. So, to go deep would mean to go far beyond pretense, or to go way beyond the meaningless, and the casual, to the profound, weighty, meaty, and significant. The culture in much of today’s church here in America is far from “deep” these days. They want church to be fun, exciting, entertaining, non-threatening, casual, and relaxed, and for the gospel to be presented in like manner. Words such as “sin,” “hell,” “damnation,” “judgment,” “repentance,” and “obedience” are out, for they offend people, and they make them feel uncomfortable. The goal of the church seems to be, rather, to make its “customers” comfortable, happy, and entertained so they want to come back. The gospel is presented in such a way as to suggest that Jesus died on the cross just so we could escape hell, if hell is even mentioned at all, and so that we can go to heaven when we die. They tell people if they just repeat certain words in a prayer that they now have their ticket into heaven, no matter how they live their lives from this point on, and that nothing can ever take that away from them. Jesus/God is painted as all sugar and spice, who just “loves on” people, meaning God makes us feel good inside, even in our sin. Many today are preaching a false grace gospel which gives free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse, and that God smiles on them and delights in them in their sin. So, God is calling out to his church to go “into the deep,” i.e. to preach the full gospel message of salvation from sin, and to walk in the Spirit, in holiness, in righteousness, and in the power of the Spirit of God within them. He is calling to his wayward church to repent of her sins of idolatry and spiritual adultery, and to take sin seriously, as well as to take God and his word seriously. The Bible teaches that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. It teaches us that salvation means we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with him in newness of life in Christ Jesus, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” It also teaches us that God’s grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “NO” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for his return. Believe His Word! If we obey our Lord, and we “put out into the deep,” we will begin to live like we say we believe. Maybe we will believe in Jesus Christ for the first time ever, because we just now realized that our salvation from sin is not just an escape from hell, but it is deliverance from slavery (bondage) to sin, and it is freedom to walk daily in Christ’s righteousness. We will repent of our sins, die with Christ to sin and self, and we’ll now walk according to the Spirit and no longer conduct our lives according to our sinful flesh. We are not perfect, but we are obedient in lifestyle, and our desire is to live for our Lord and to please him in all ways. By the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, and we are no longer conformed to the ways of this sinful world, but we are transformed of the Spirit of God in the renewing of our minds so that we live holy lives, pleasing to God, which is our true worship of him. Yet, when we do “put out into the deep,” and we get serious about God and our walks of faith, and our witness for him, we will face difficulties and troubles, because we will be hated, rejected, persecuted, ostracized, forsaken, falsely accused, betrayed, beaten and killed for our faith in Jesus Christ, and for our testimonies of his saving grace, as well as for the message of the full gospel. We will be called haters, bigots, intolerant, extremists, and the like, and even in the church we will be cast aside as those the leadership is being taught to “filter out” and to “discourage participation,” for they have been warned against folks like us who have “strong convictions.” They don’t want us in their churches because we might tell someone the truth about the gospel, and it might make them uncomfortable. Persecution of “serious” followers of Christ is on the rise, and it is in America, too. For a Catch “…and let down your nets for a catch.” “And Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.’” How, metaphorically speaking, might we let down our nets for a catch today, in the context of “catching men” (human beings)? We first of all have to have “put out into the deep,” spiritually speaking, in obedience to our Lord. We have to be walking the talk, instead of just talking the walk. We do this by conducting our lives in accord with (in agreement with) and in the power of the Spirit of God living within us. Then, we obey our Lord in sharing the full gospel message wherever he places us, or wherever he tells us to go with his message. For me, he told me to write what he teaches me from his word and to place it on the internet, and so that is what I do. Right now the internet is open wide for the gospel, though not everywhere, and not indefinitely. I believe we are already beginning to see censorship in some places, even on websites which claim to be “Christian” in nature. For you, he might have another place where he wants you to take the gospel message. All of us should be living the gospel, and we should be letting our lights shine before all people, no matter where we are. We should pray for divine opportunities to share Christ with others, and we should make ourselves available to the Lord to talk about him to whomever and wherever he leads us. It saddens me greatly to see so many people who call themselves followers of Christ on various websites or social media sites acting no differently than the people of the world around them, and spending all their free time on what is shallow, surface, and has no eternal value whatsoever – just fluff. So many who call themselves Christians think their job is just to make people laugh, to entertain them, and to make them feel good about themselves, even if they are lost and are bound for eternity in hell, without God, and without hope of salvation from sin. They need to answer the call of God to “put out into the deep and let your nets down for a catch.” God wants us to get serious about him, about obeying his word, and about sharing the full gospel message with other people so that they can come to know Jesus Christ, too. We will face trouble, hardship and difficulties along the way, for sure, but our Lord will be with us, and he will carry us through. He will give us all we need to keep telling others about Jesus and salvation, and he will give us the strength we need to endure to the end. Amen! Fear Not, Little Flock / An Original Work Based off Luke 12 / February 10, 2016 Fear not, little flock, Your Lord’s always near. Jesus will come and Wipe every tear. Trust in His mercy, Rest in His love. He’ll give you comfort From heaven above. Our precious Redeemer, Jesus, our friend, He will be with us, True to the end. He will not leave you, Faithful He’ll be. Believe His promises, Rest on His knee. Our God, and provider, He knows our need. He’ll not forsake you. Follow His lead. He’ll love and comfort you To the end. Know, on His Word, You can always depend.