Today is Sunday, June 26th, 2022, and welcome to St. Joe Community Church. Today's message is entitled, "Jesus calls the first disciples" and was delivered by Bill Wallace, who serves the church as an elder. For more information, visit www.stjoecommunitychurch.org, click on the sermons tab and find today's broadcast. So now let's open the Bible, get a notepad and pen and prepare to hear from God's word. Here's Bill Wallace.
Let's look at Matthew 4:18-22, "As he was walking along the Sea Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter and his brother, Andrew. They were casting a net into the sea, they were fishermen. 'Follow me,' he told them, 'and I will make you fish for people.'" Verse 20, 'Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.'" Peter and Andrew responded to Jesus call immediately. Verse 21, "Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother, John. They were in a boat with Zebedee their father, preparing their nets and he called them. Immediately they left their boat and their father and their fishing business and followed Him." I had in [unclear01:47] fishing business and that's my notes.
So, to note that James and John responded to the call of Jesus, immediately. Here we have Jesus [unclear02:03] going door to door [unclear02:08] boat to boat. And He had this impact on these four guys, four fishermen. When He spoke, they responded immediately. And He interrupts their lives, their fishing business, all this stuff when He says, come follow me. They didn't spend the next four days talking to their financial guy of can I afford to do this. They left their business and their families and they responded. Let the word immediately sink in. Just ponder that for a moment, because there are moments in our lives that Jesus calls us to do something immediately and we don't. He may call us to become a Christian; we need to respond immediately. Nobody is guaranteed one more second on the face of this earth. If God is calling you to become a Christian, do it today, do it now because there are no guarantees.
Jesus may have called you to do something special to a special need or to some unusual need, and you haven't responded immediately. Maybe Jesus has called you to anything that he wants you to do - do it immediately. And I'm sorry, I'm going to make mention of my wife. Last night, Lynette and I were talking about this and she says, be sure to tell people, don't run ahead of God. Don't run ahead of Him and make a mess of it. But when he calls you to do something, respond with yes, because we do get ourselves into a jam sometimes when we run ahead of God, we're going to do this great thing and it falls flat on its face. Respond when He says to respond.
Maybe He's called you to a new location, to a new vocation, and you said, ""Nope, the cost is too high." When we were asked 1991 to come to Fort Wayne, to New Haven to open up a plant, I turned them down flat for months. I was not interested in coming. And then I heard a message by Dr. Charles Stanley, and I knew immediately that I had to respond. I called the guy who was going to be my boss, Wayne Tyner, the next day, and I said we'll be there. The only problem is the relocation package I need that's so I can pay the mover. I got the check the next day. And I asked him, "Well, how'd you do that because nothing moves that quick in the company I work for." He said, "I've had the check written for a month, I was just waiting on you to say yes." So from the time I said yes, to the time we got here was nine days, but the response was immediate. Nine days is pretty quick. And that's what, 31 years ago.
So maybe he's calling you to do something entirely different. There's a young man in our church who is entering medical school. He can't just hang up a shingle tomorrow and says, Dr. So-and-so MD. Wrong - Indiana frowns on that. He's got years of preparation ahead of him, school, icky-squishy stuff, but he responded that he feels like that's what God's calling him to do. We have a young lady going to a nursing school right now. She's gone this entire period of time for specialized training because it takes time to be trained to do what they're going to do. But their response was yes. So, what is God calling you to do? Whatever He has called you to do respond immediately and let Him take care of the details.
All right, let's look at chapter five and six. Chapter five, six and seven, we note that as the Sermon on the Mount. And as I was looking at this message and preparing it, I always thought that the beatitudes were the only story in the Sermon on the Mount. Nope, there are 22 different stories. 22 vignettes in the Sermon on the Mount, all of which would make great sermon material. But today I want to focus in the rest of our time on chapter five, verse 21-26, and if time permits, chapter six, verses 1-4.
Matthew 5 - what I'm about to speak about is about two matters of the heart; two things we need to address in our lives. I am speaking to me, you get to listen. In Matthew 5:21, you have heard that it was said of old, you shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment. But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, you fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. Brothers and sisters in Christ, you fool and you idiot have become in current culture, the calling card of everybody who disagrees with us. There's nothing that shows the love of Christ when we call someone who disagrees with us, you fool, or you idiot. We lose our testimony at that point and we need to address it in our own lives.
What are some good reasons to be angry with my brother? I am 67 years old, and in the last six years, I have never seen a more hateful, vitriolic time than I see now because we have lost our eternal perspective. My opinion and your opinion matters more than scripture, whatever scripture says, and we need to adjust our thinking. We argue over politics, who I did or did not vote for. We argued for months over mask mandates. We argue over guns. And as of Friday, we now argue over Roe versus Wade. None of those have eternal perspective. All of those affect our ability to evangelize because we come off as mean, bitter, harsh, unloving, and we call ourselves Christians. We are the ones that have to change our perspective to match the testimony of written scripture.
I'll give you two quick examples. A pastor, thankfully not ours, stated he would throw out anyone who dared wear a mask in his church. Where's the love of Christ in that? His opinion became more important than love thy neighbor. Another pastor recently stated from the pulpit that the government ought to kill every homosexual. I don't see that anywhere in scripture. Where is the foothold to evangelize if that's my platform? Where is the love of Christ to a lost and dying world when that's what I stand for? And after the first message this morning, we were talking, and I said, I'm sorry, but those guys may call themselves Christian, but they do not speak for me. They do not speak for me.
If you are hateful toward a segment of society, don't associate yourself with Christ, because Christ loved us enough to die for us. Hang on that. Remember that, because the world out there thinks we are bigots and hateful and mean, and we need to change how we approach a lost world. How in the world - how can we witness to a lost world when somebody [unclear13:33] is killing somebody because they don't believe the way we do? We lose our footing.
So, what's the remedy for anger? Verse 23 of chapter five says, "Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift before the altar and go your way. First, be reconciled to your brother and then come and offer your gift." As I read that, I looked at that word immediately, and I read as immediately. It says, "Get up from where you are and go immediately and reconcile." We are to reconcile, not ridicule.
I recently took a trip to Arkansas to see my mom, but I had offended one of my brothers about a year ago, and I wanted to go make it right with him. He had called, he was mad over the Biden administration of the handling of Afghan refugees. And my response was thirst and unloving. I ask him, 'Are you mad because it's Biden that's doing this?" I ask him, "Do you really even care?" I ask him, "Can you even find Afghanistan on a map?" And then I ask him, "What are you and your church doing to help Afghan refugees?" That was my last conversation with my brother. For over a year, he wouldn't answer my text, he wouldn't answer my calls, he wouldn't answer emails, so I purpose that I was going to go see him and apologize when we went to Arkansas.
On the day that I was going, I didn't know how I was going to be received or if I would be received, so I took some armor with me. I took my mom. And while we were there, I apologized. I told him my answer was wrong. Whatever his purpose was in being so mad, my answer to him was wrong and unloving. And we stood there probably 45 minutes talking about that and other things. And we had a good visit, but I did not have any guarantee that he would even let me out of the car, so that was hard. If you've got some relationship that you need to reconcile with, it's not going to offend me one bit if you get up, walk out and make a phone call, because God says, Jesus says reconcile, and then bring your gift to the altar. It's that simple.
Verse 25 says, "Agree with your adversary quickly while you are on the way, lest your adversary delivered you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer and you be thrown in to prison. Assuredly I say to you, you will by no means get out of that [unclear17:50] until you have paid the last penny." I made a note here because I think this passage ties in really well to Matthew 5:43-47 about love your enemies. Love your enemies. Look that up and tie those together.
Now, lastly, the last portion of scripture I want to talk about this morning is titled in my Bible, do good to please God. Verse one of chapter six says, "Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men to be seen by them, otherwise you have no reward from your father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you ask the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Surely I say to you, they have their rewards. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let the left hand know what the right hand is doing. Let your charitable deed may be done in secret, and your father who sees in secret will reward you openly." Give in secret and let God bless openly.
Let me give you a couple of examples and I'm going to tread lightly. Recently, Lynette and I were given an opportunity to give in an unusual manner, to bless somebody in a manner typically we didn't do. And we talked about it, we couldn't agree and I dropped it. Well, I had been on a week long consulting project and I was tired, I was exhausted, I didn't have time to think about that. I came home and on Friday we sat down and we updated our budget, which is the thing we always do during the week. And after we'd finished, I got up to leave the table and she said, I got one more thing to talk about. And she said that thing, here's how we can do it.
And our conversation with something like this, I told her, I said, "I thought you didn't want to do it. You weren't bought into it which is okay." She said something to the effect, I trust your heart. And we gave to that opportunity. Shortly thereafter, probably not even a couple of weeks, we had another opportunity to give in a similar, unusual manner, and we couldn't agree so I just dropped it and left it alone. And Jerry Jones, John Moody, and I had been to a conference in [Chagrin Falls to Allister Beck's21:34] Church. We had a great time. We left on Wednesday about noon, and I bet I hadn't been in the car 10 minutes. And one of the guys I work with out of Indianapolis calls me, and I'm going to, "Okay, this is not going to be good." And I told him, I said, "Troy, I'm driving. And I'm in the car with friends." Friends was the Q word not to use firehouse language. And so, he told me that one of the projects that we had scheduled was pulled from the schedule. And I said, "Okay, that kind of stuff happens."
And after all that happened, I began to wonder if my stinginess, my lack of generosity had affected the company. And I just told God. I said, "Look, if the fact that we didn't give because we weren't in a hundred percent agreement; if it has affected the company, don't hold them responsible, hold me responsible." Because the other guys I work with have families and kids and all that stuff, and I didn't want to be responsible for that kind of thing. And I said, "God, if it's my fault, then judge me, don't judge them; they're innocent." I don't know. I still don't know to this day, if it was because I wasn't generous that the project got pulled or what. I know the circumstances surrounding it, but something just keeps eating on me in the back going, you need to evaluate this. I want to be open to generosity, but I also want to be in agreement with my wife. God gave her to me as my advisor. So until God gives us clear direction. We're not moving. It's that simple. I want to listen to God and give, I want to listen to my advisor, so I've got a quandary; it's nobody's fault but my own.
Now, Dr. Charles Stanley has this statement, "Obey God and leave the consequences to Him." So, I want to give you a couple of hints, tips, whatever of ways to give anonymously. If you look at our economy, right now it's not very good. Gas prices are high, the markets in decline, and God says give. Lord, have you checked my 401k lately? It's taken a punch in the gut right now. And he says, give. Here's some tips: give a gas card, give a larger tip at the restaurant, give by paying for the car behind you at a fast food restaurant. I learned that one from Kevin Hunter years ago, because we were behind him one day at a fast food drive through, and when we got up there, the lady said it's already been paid for. I go, "What? I've never heard of that before. And it was driving me nuts trying to figure out who would've done that.
A short time later we're at another drive-through after church on Sunday. And I can see Kevin's suburban about two cars in front of us. When I got up there, she said, "Sir, your food's already been paid for," and it was Kevin all along. So I learned from that and I've started trying to practice that. That day I called him and said, thank you. Where are we eating next week? That kind of stuff encourages people. Just give. Look for ways to give. I can't say that I've always been faithful in giving like I should. Many years ago, Lynette and I were in San Diego and we were having a good time, but we went to the ATM late one night, I got some money out, and just as I stepped back from the ATM, this young lady with the teenage kid shows up and says, "Sir, can you help?" And I just kind of blew them off. I got in the car and Lynette says what was that all about? And I said something. She said, "Well, what are you going to do?" And I said, "Well, I've got three fives. I'll just give that to them." Never once did I say God how much do you want me to give?
There are others who would say, "Well, don't ever give them cash." I didn't have anything else to get them. And I got outta the car, gave them the three fives. That switched my conscience, but it wasn't in obedience to God. And as we left, as we pulled out of the parking lot, I saw this young lady and this teenager go into a restaurant like a Danny's or something like that, I guess, to get something to eat. And as I pulled away, I'm thinking to myself, I blew it. The next morning as I stood in the room looking over the mountains, I'm just pondering. And God says, "You blew it last night." I said, "I know, give me another chance. Give me another chance."
There are times we will be called on unexpectedly. I challenge you to ask, Lord, how much? Not, how about how much. I believe with all my heart, the only way to get out of a bad economy is for Christians to give, give immediately and leave the consequences to God. Luke 6:38 says something like this, "Give and it shall be given to you. Good measure, press down, shaken together and running over into your lap." Some versions will say bosom, but that's what I want, is running over into my lap, but it starts with give. Look for ways to give. Look for ways to bless. And whatever God tells you to do, do it immediately.
As we wrap up today, I just want to give you some key points; obey and respond to God's call immediately. If He's calling you to salvation, do it today, don't put it off. If He's calling you to reconcile; do it today. If He's calling you to give; do it today. Whatever you do, obey immediately.
Let's pray. Heavenly father, you gave me this awesome opportunity. I pray that you spoke through me and that they heard you because I need to hear you too. God, you've given us so much in this church. You've given us generous, loving people. Help us to practice that love, that evangelistic spirit for others, and that giving spirit, help us to practice it immediately. Tender our hearts God, to what you're saying, because so many times it gets drowned out by stop. Thank you. In Jesus name, amen.
Thank you for joining us today here at St. Joe Community Church. And please consider this your formal invitation to join us personally each Sunday for morning worship services. We meet every Sunday at 8:30 and 10:30 AM. The 10:30 services broadcasted live from the St. Joe homepage, www.stjoecommunitychurch.org. Even better, we'd love to have you visit the St Joe family in person at 2,900 North Anthony Boulevard, located just a few blocks south of the Purdue Fort Wayne University campus on the Northeast side of the city. Thanks again for joining us today and we'll see you next week. Bye for now.
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