Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

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Jesus calls his first disciples – Matthew 4:18-22

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Jesus calls his first disciples – Matthew 4:18-22 – 04/27/2016

Matthew 4:18 (ESV) While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21 And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

This is a series in the Gospel of Matthew which looks to visit the text from the Gospel of Matthew on a line by line and verse by verse teaching and Lord willing we will get through the full book of Matthew, this is part of a New Testament bible study series that you can read all other studies in this section on this link.

Let’s start our bible study in verse eighteen of chapter four.

V18 While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen.

We are introduced to Simon Peter and Andrew in this gospel at this account, Andrew was responsible for introducing Peter (John 1:35-42) and Jesus and I would say that in his own way Andrew was somewhat of an evangelist. Peter we know as the dynamic disciple who always said a lot and his actions didn’t always back up the grand words he said, no more so than when he denied the Messiah on the night of crucifixion.

We see them doing what their trade was, they were in their local area “by the Sea of Galilee” and they were doing what their profession was “casting a net into the sea” so he saw these men who were busy in the work that God had blessed them with, they were not lazy men and they were willing to do the blue collar work, willing to put in the hours and remember Jesus could see the hearts of the men he was speaking to so he knew what these men were made of…but chose them anyway! Isn’t that a comfort when you are feeling less than dynamic?

V19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

  • Follow me – Jesus asked them to follow him, there was no great exegesis given, Jesus did not break down complicated biblical hermeneutics, he said two words! How simple but also so awesome!Jesus was being very cultural at the idea that he would have disciples who would learn from him in a rabbinical format, many of the rabbis of that day had followers, this is where the comparison would end as Jesus discipleship would be much different than sitting at the feet of any of the other Jewish leaders, these folks would be learning from the Law breather himself. What an education!
  • I will make you fishers of men – I have a friend who when he goes out to speak to people about Jesus advises that he is “going fishing” and before I realized what it was he meant I just thought he was spending a lot of time on the riverbank. He had the right heart that it was his job to go out and speak to whomever God put in his path.

In a sense they were being asked to leave their fishing behind but in a much greater sense they were being asked to use their previous skills in order to make a catch for a much more worthwhile captain!

V20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him.

The response was wonderful, they knew they would be leaving their businesses behind to follow Jesus and often times there will be an element of leaving your old life behind. I have no idea whether they were good fishermen but I am assured that a good fishermen could be wealthy enough to have more than one boat and have a regular distribution business going on there.

What is prohibiting you from following Jesus 100%, is it finances? Is it your personal goals? Is it your desire to amass personal “stuff?” We should see the disciple’s example and learn from that and do it also in the timescale that they did. Right away!

V21 And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them.

Again he sees more able bodied fishermen who were again busy in the occupation that God had blessed them with (mending their nets) and he seeks out two brothers and he calls them also. Have you ever wondered if you are being blessed or not being blessed by God. Have you ever looked at your diligence in the small things? How are you in a job that you may or may not like? Are you diligent? Do you represent the Lord well?

We do know from the gospel of Mark chapter one verse twenty that Zebedee was one of the fishermen we spoke about earlier that did well because he could afford to have servants on his boats. Zebedee had employees so those boys probably had quite a good life and Jesus asks the same question of them and let’s see their response…

V22 Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

They too left the fishing industry and their family immediately and left a situation where they were guaranteed a meal every night to go with this holy man called Jesus, as we learned throughout the gospels that Jesus never owned a house, did not have a dwelling and they weren’t to know it but these men were to become the first twelve people who would follow Christ, literally Christian although they would never be called as such and the ones who followed him would all (with the exception of Judas Iscariot) profess his resurrection and most would pay for it with their lives.

So what would you give up for Jesus? This could be a good barometer of your faith.

Lord willing, in our next article in Matthew we will start in verses twenty three through twenty five of chapter four studying when Jesus began ministering to the crowds. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
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The ACTS Files – The beginning of the mission – The disciples look to replace Judas Iscariot

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The ACTS Files – The beginning of the mission – The disciples look to replace Judas Iscariot – Monday 11/23/2015

This is a series in the Book of Acts which looks to visit the text from the Book of Acts on a line by line and verse by verse teaching and Lord willing we will get through the full book of Acts, this is part of a New Testament bible study series that you can read all other studies in this section on this link.

Acts 1:12 (ESV) Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. 13 And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. 14 All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.

When we last looked in on the disciples Jesus had just ascended into heaven and Luke spares no details to advise that the historical account picks up exactly when that finishes. We see this in the location that they returned from the mount and they travelled back to Jerusalem which was a short distance away as it is described as a “Sabbath day’s journey away” being still in the Jewish culture they would not be permitted to take certain elongated journeys that would involve a work like endurance.

You also have to remember that these guys are not rich guys and often times walked everywhere so that again would reduce the distance as they would not be on any mode of transportation and there is no boat mentioned so you would have to assume that they went by land and walked.

Obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ

We could learn something from the disciples obedience here because by doing so they followed Jesus words when he said in the last article…

Acts 1:8 (ESV) But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

And they went where the lord had told them to go (Jerusalem) as soon as he ascended to heaven. We also could learn something about their desire to get on mission right away, how often have you dear Christian procrastinated even although you knew the Lord was pointing you clearly to go in a certain direction. I know I have and I have lamented over my actions when I have thought about it. These disciples knew that Jesus was who he said he was, no longer were these men quiet followers but they were maturing into the trailblazers they were going to be.

They also knew that they had to be in Jerusalem because that is where the Holy Spirit was going to come upon them, and sometimes our obedience to God would be as simple as being ready, willing and available to be in the right place at the right time in order to be used by God.

They went together

Christianity is not meant to be a solo sport and often times God gives you people who are on the same mission as you to co-labor with and this is no different. The thing that strikes me about this passage is that they were all in this together. The common faith or common bond that they shared knowing that Jesus was in fact the Messiah united them and gave them a unity that pastors for years have tried to replicate.

The fact that they were in one accord and on the same mission allowed them to be mobilized in great numbers (we read in verse 15 in the next article we do in this series that the number was 120) and the God we serve is a big God, he can work in a small number or large, but we as humans do sometimes require validation that we are on the right path and as it states in Proverbs 27 that iron sharpens iron and I know the blessing and the benefit of having people who are on the same mission as me being able to mentor me and conversely I have had the benefit of being used in others’ lives to help them maintain a closeness in their relationship with Jesus.

For me this was like the “perfect church” a family of families that were on mission together and moved together as one to move the needle and show the love of Jesus to a world that thought they had crucified Jesus. Today we could learn so much from this in our churches today, I am not going to blast todays church but even myself as the most ardent defender of the church system we have today, we could do so much better to utilize people and have everyone involved using the gifts that God has given them.

They were ready for the Holy Spirit

These were not the disciples of when Jesus was alive, Peter had a hugely humbling experience of running his mouth saying he would die with the Lord and then being humbled a few hours later by denying him three times. There was no arguing or bickering over who was number one in the group and who should sit where in paradise.

What was different? Was Matthew any less the Roman collaborator? Was Simon any less of a Zealot? Was Peter any less a sufferer of “foot in mouth” disease? No, however they had seen the risen Lord, they had confirmation in their eyes and hearts as a personal living witness that Jesus had done what he said he was going to do and risen from the dead!

Again we could learn so much here about our assemblies today, I am sure there are people who meet with me on a Sunday that are more conservative theologically than I am, some could be replacement theologist, some could be Calvinist, some could be more Pentecostal than me but these are not what bind us as brothers and sisters, it is our common faith that Jesus is our Messiah.

They prepared in prayer

Like I said previously, they were in one accord and devoted themselves to prayer, they knew the climate outside, the Romans were still in charge, the Jewish leaders were not going to like their message and they tried to crucify Jesus for that message so what would they do to them?

They strengthened themselves in the same way that Christ did the night he was betrayed in Gethsemane, we read the following in the Gospel of Matthew chapter 26…

Matthew 26:36 (ESV) Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” 37 And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” 39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” 40 And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? 41 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” 43 And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44 So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. 45 Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”

What an example given directly from Jesus through his disciples to us and it is as relevant today as it was then. We will go through things that we will not be able to handle and challenges that we will have to tap into the fount of eternal wisdom, James chapter 1 tells us where we get wisdom from…

James 1:5 (ESV) If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

If we require something to do the will of God he will supply it for us, we do however have to have faith. The disciples prayed in faith in the upper room that night and we read on in the next article of our Book of Acts series what happens next. I prefer to do it to the best of my ability and leave the results up to God.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to
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Columbus, was he a just a biblical scholar, an explorer or just a man of great faith?

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Columbus, was he a just a biblical scholar, an explorer or just a man of great faith?

Isaiah 40:21 (NKJV) Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? 22 It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in. 

Today in the US is Columbus Day and they celebrate the man who was looking for the Indies and came across the Americas. There has been a lot written about the Portuguese mercenary sailor who petitioned the King of Spain to sponsor and fund his journey to the Indies with tales that he could bring back a bounty of riches from the Indies.

This was not a popular opinion in that day with some Catholic theologians who still preached that the earth was flat and you could sail off the end if you went far enough, hence why Columbus had issues finding someone to fund his expedition. He was right in the idea but where he fell short was the measurement of the world, seasoned sailors were of belief that the earth was not flat a belief that Pythagoras popularized before the days of Christ. The bible as stated above does state long before telescopes or exploratory sailings that the earth is a circle, it is spherical and that it was created by the one who knows it best, God!

Which is why I laugh when I hear atheists call Christians “Flat earth society” or decriers of science because in many ways the scientific community is catching up to what the bible has been stating for many years.

I do wonder where Columbus got his unshakeable faith that the world was round despite what the people who were controlling the money of the Crowns of Europe were telling him, I have never met the chap and have very little literature to tell me if this is the case or not but it may just be possible that he had heard this prophet in Isaiah, written a good length of time prior to the birth of Christ, it is a good question and may be the case, however I wish we as Christians had such unshakeable faith at times.

Jesus said all we need is a mustard seed faith, a mustard seed one of the smallest seeds that grows into the tallest of plants! Let’s look at two examples of faith from two disciples Phillip and Andrew…

Mark 6:30 (NKJV) Then the apostles gathered to Jesus and told Him all things, both what they had done and what they had taught. 31 And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. 32 So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves. 33 But the multitudes saw them departing, and many knew Him and ran there on foot from all the cities. They arrived before them and came together to Him. 34 And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things. 35 When the day was now far spent, His disciples came to Him and said, “This is a deserted place, and already the hour is late. 36 Send them away, that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy themselves bread; for they have nothing to eat.” 37 But He answered and said to them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said to Him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give them something to eat?” 38 But He said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” And when they found out they said, “Five, and two fish.” 39 Then He commanded them to make them all sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in ranks, in hundreds and in fifties. 41 And when He had taken the five loaves and the two fish, He looked up to heaven, blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to His disciples to set before them; and the two fish He divided among them all. 42 So they all ate and were filled. 43 And they took up twelve baskets full of fragments and of the fish. 44 Now those who had eaten the loaves were about five thousand men.

They werein a pickle huh? They had real need that 5,000 men required fed, and Jesus knows the hearts of the guys he is working with and knows who still needs work and his disciples first reaction was to move the problem away and send them away once the preaching was over, and as Christians we will often times choose the path of least resistance but will that bring glory to God? Jesus had other plans to show the power of the father.

We have two responses and if you do additional reading in the Gospel of John 6 verses 4-9…

John 6:4 (NKJV) Now the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was near. 5 Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” 6 But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do. 7 Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little.” 8 One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, 9 “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?”

Answer one is Phillip who saw it from the world’s perspective and was calculating what they DID NOT HAVE and how this could not be done, for me this was an astounding lack of faith in Jesus based on what they had seen at this point. Contrast this to Andrew who had that mustard seed of faith and stated what they DID HAVE  and despite not fully understanding how it could be achieved, he presented the loaves and fish to Jesus saying “from my perspective this isn’t much LORD but I submit these into your hands”.

How much more abundant would our lives be if we were like Andrew? If we had “faith like Columbus” that God could achieve heights in our lives that everyone had told us could not be achieved then many more modern day miracles would be achieved and God would be given much more glory! I am reminded of a story that involves the legendary preacher Charles Spurgeon…

Spurgeon was mentoring a young pastor who said to him, “I have been preaching for a few months now and no-one has got saved,” to which Spurgeon replied “Do you expect them to be saved?” and the young pastor replied “no” and Spurgeon replied “that is your first problem”.

We have to be real in our faith, be all in and allow God to work within us and achieve such heights that it is obvious that God did it, sometimes I believe that is why God uses us because he knows that despite our talents he will get the glory.

My exhortation to you is to have faith like Columbus, sail to the edge of your boundaries and allow God to work and do that work in your life.
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