Push the boat out a little-and gain a lot

‘Jesus, ‘saw at the water’s edge two boats’   Luke 5:2 

The vessels were anchored on the edge bobbing  up and down, floating steadily where the lake begins. Onboard the IMG_1336disciples were cleaning their nets and carrying out maintenance for tomorrow’s fishing.

They thought that their day had finished. Like the manager who shuts down her PC and leaves the office to catch the train home. Or the shop floor worker finishing a night shift to clock out through the factory gates.

But the disciple’s duties for the day hadn’t ended . The nets may not be fully repaired, the poop deck’s unbrushed, and the boat’s crewe are contemplating going home.

But Jesus decided to go fishing.

And so it is.  You may think that your day is done. You may assume your work is over. You may have shut down, clocked-out and disengaged.  This is the point at which Peter had arrived. His day was over.

In fact, Peter was at this point on more than one occasion in his life and career. When Peter denied Jesus three times, make no mistake about it; Peter thought his day was done. Yet after denying the Lord three times Peter was restored by Jesus, John 21:15-25. Sometime later he went on to preach a sermon and led three thousand people to Christ, Acts chapter 2.  Peter became the fisher of men that Jesus promised he would become. Jesus made Peter into a successful evangelist.

Do you think your day is over? Peter had finished for the day so he thought and returned to the shore.  He’d returned to the water’s edge ready to go home. He had no idea that Jesus was about to prosper his maritime business. Peter didn’t think for one minute that he was on the edge of netting a huge record breaking catch. He didn’t know he was about to see a great miracle out on the lake. Peter didn’t know that he’d soon be going out to sea and haul in a huge pile of fish. He was totally unaware that he was on the edge of a fantastic blessing.

Likewise, does God not surprise us? We may think our day is done. Yet we’re probably on the edge of a very great blessing. Perhaps something spectacular is pending in your Christian ministry? Maybe something exciting will start in your life before the night is over and the morning comes?  Maybe you’re only one hour away from a perfect answer to prayer? Twenty-four-hours from a financial windfall after years of economic struggle? One week away from an awsome job promotion? A month away from a full recovery to excellent health? Who knows? Like the disciples in the boat you too may be on the very edge of a wonderful adventure.

To be on the edge of blessing is an exciting and thrilling place to be.  But its not the place to stay.

“Jesus got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore” Luke 5:3 

Peter couldn’t remain on the edge of the shore if he wanted to experience his miracle. Staying on the edge wasn’t enough to get the blessing. The edge was close. The edge was just a few minutes sailing from deeper water. You can be very close to something and still not reach it. You can be close to a blessing and still not receive it.  For example the Bible tells us about a man who came very close to becoming a Christian.

King Agrippa was on the threshold of giving his life to Christ. Agrippa said to the Apostle Paul.

‘You almost persuade me to be a Christian’ Acts 2:28 

Agrippa was on the edge of a conversion. He was on the edge of sins forgiven. He was on the edge of receiving eternal life. He was on the edge of the Holy Spirit coming to dwell  in his heart. But that’s where Agrippa stayed. He didn’t reach his blessing. He missed out  and remained on the edge.  Agrippa was so close, yet he failed to make it to that awesome life changing moment.

It can be the same with us.

We can be on the edge of God’s blessing and still not obtain it. We can be on the brink of success and fail. We can be near to a breakthrough and fall short of our goal. Living on the edge only, is living below our privileges. If he wanted to Jesus could have easily stayed  at the water’s edge. Jesus might have said to Peter,

‘gather the crowd around the shore line and I’ll preach to them from the stern of the boat’.

It was the easiest thing for Jesus to do. The boat-deck is ideal for preaching a sermon. A mass of people nicely seated around the shore with excellent acoustics. Jesus and the disciples ideally positioned in the boat with no crowd control issues.But this did not happen.

Jesus got into the boat and said to Peter,

‘Put out a little from the shore’ 

This scene is prophetic. This is the very first open air preaching that’s recorded in Luke’s Gospel. Until now Jesus always preached in the synagogue. We have every reason to read between the lines of what Jesus asked ‘put out a little‘. It’s a simple request but it’s also an enacted parable. Jesus clues in the crowd about the change process.

Jesus stepped out of the synagogue for the first time to teach the people in a boat. It’s a first and a sign of things to come. Jesus is ‘putting  out a little’ in his own ministry. He no longer bases himself in the synagogue. Jesus delivers his message on a different stage. In fact he progressed from the boat to eventually preach on a mountain Matt 5.1 and preach in a house Luke 5.17 and preach in a desert Mark 8:1 and minister in a cemetery John 11.38. We take these scenes of Christ preaching for granted now. But up until this point in Luke’s Gospel Jesus had only preached in a synagogue. Now he changes his approach and Jesus starts to minister from a boat. He himself pushes out a little. He pushes out a little by engaging a different audience. He pushes out a little in mission. He pushes out a little in God’s purpose.

Are you staying on the edge or are you pushing out a little? If you push out a little its possible to gain a lot.

In its first year the Gillette Company sold only 51 razors and 168 blades. Not a big turn over. But the Gillette organisation pushed out a little in that first year. The Coca-Cola Company managed to sell only 400 bottles of coke in its first year. Not a huge chunk of the soft drinks market. But Coca Cola pushed out a little.

What little thing can you do for Jesus today? What small task can you do for the church this week? What modest contribution can you make to the world? The little things we do are the basis for the great things we accomplish.

Sometimes we suffer from edge syndrome. We’re almost ready for a special occasion, all most not quite. We’re about to get our life sorted, nearly there. We’re about to make an important decision, soon. We’re almost ready to forgive someone who hurt us, almost ready to break bread with them. We’re just about to step out in faith, very soon.  As soon as the Lord confirms what he wants. Edge syndrome. Nearly there. In close proximity. Only a short distance away.

We give a little love. Show a little courage. Make a small commitment. Demonstrate a measure of kindness. Help out a little. Yet remain in the shallow dimension of God’s will.

But look how far God wants us to go! 

  ‘When Jesus had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and let down the nets for a catch” LK 5:4

 At one point they were on the water’s edge. Then they put out a little into the water. Now Jesus reveals his true intentions and asks Peter to ‘launch out into the deep’.

Sometimes we set our targets to small and our boundaries to narrow. Our expectations of what we can do with church are sometimes limited. Our belief about what God can do in our life are sometimes restricted. Our future outlook is sometimes small-minded. We are afraid to launch out into the deep.

Jesus challenges us. Launch out into the deep. It’s by launching out into the deep Peter experienced a miracle. As we further ourselves in God’s will, we too will experience miracles. Nobody matures on the edge. Nobody’s fulfilled in the shallows of God’s purpose. Notice that,

Peter was very vulnerable when launched out into the deep

When they had let down their nets verse 7 says

‘They caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break’

The huge catch of fish was a blessing. But with the blessing was vulnerability. This vulnerability is shown in the breaking of nets. What’s the point of having a huge catch of fish if the nets are going to snap and the fish get away. The point of blessing was also the point of breaking. Blessings and breakings co-exsist.

Breaking points are always present where there are miracles.  Breaking points are always present where there is growth in character. What is a breaking point? When something has reached breaking point it’s reached the limits it can cope with.

The net reached maximum fish take. It couldn’t cope with anymore fish. But it’s not the breaking point of the net that’s important. It’s the breaking point in Peter’s character. This incident out in the deep had an impact on Peter’s moral fiber. It changed Peter’s personality.  Peter experienced a profound sense of unworthiness.  Verse 8 says,

When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!’ Luke 5:8″

Some us maybe experiencing a breaking point that is changing our Christian character. God blesses us but in the blessing there are some breaking points. We may be at a breaking point in our career, or a breaking point in our family circumstances or a breaking point in our health. Perhaps there’s a breaking point in our relationships. Maybe were at a breaking point in our in finances. Breaking points often co-exsist with blessings.

The word break, where the verse says that ‘the nets began to break’ means to break as to ’tear asunder’.

Sometimes when God deepens our faith our heart feels as though it’s being torn asunder. It’s not unusual for Christians to experience breaking points in every area of their life. And it’s at our breaking points we are made strong. It’s at our breaking points miracles occur. It’s at our breaking points we learn to trust in God alone. It’s at our breaking points we repent of our sins. It’s at our breaking points we learn from our mistakes. Without the breaking there would be no blessing.

If you’r re at a breaking point in your life I would encourage you get a friend to help you through it. Talk to someone about it. If you don’t have a friend get some professional help, if you don’t think professional help works get some extra prayer cover. Don’t be slow to ask for help.

Find a Christian counsellor https://www.acc-uk.org/find-a-counsellor/search-for-a-counsellor.html

Peter got into deep trouble in deep waters. What did he do? Called on his friends to help.

So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them’ Luke 5:7

When Jesus takes us out into the deep we will need assistance from like minded brethren. As we go further into our Christian experience we’ll need the support of fellow believers.

But there’s good news.  Although the nets were at breaking point they didn’t actually snap. The ropes didn’t fail. 153 fish didn’t escape. The nets held firm under the pressure. The grace of God enables us to hold firm under breaking points. The Holy Spirit knows how much we can cope with. The power of God’s word and the depth of God’s mercy  sustains us under any temptations, afflictions or fiery trials.

There’s a well known verse of Scripture which says

A bruised reed he shall not break and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out’ Mathew 12:20 Isaiah 42:3

 Troubles are unavoidable. But God will not let us be overwhelmed by the heartaches. We will feel immense pressures but God will not allow us to sink under those pressures. None of us will have a pain free life, but Jesus will give us the strength to stand up under the hurt and the heartache.

Peter got over his deep sense of unworthiness. The disciples coped with the ruptured nets and the boats didn’t sink. It looked as though it was all falling apart but because Jesus was with the disciples in the boat everything held together. Be encouraged,

‘No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear’ 1 Corinthians 10:12

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