Tag Archives: obedience

What a Surprise! A Free Cruise in Europe! Part 4

Linda and I have been given a free river cruise on a 90-passenger ship in Europe! Our friends, Jeff and Gina, founded Teeming River Cruises two years ago and their cruises are about 1/3 of the cost of Viking cruises; their website is here. We had a great time with them two years ago on their inaugural voyage.

I will conduct a Sunday service for the passengers and crew on August 25th. Please pray for God to guide me as I prepare for that service. I’ll be going over the wonderful story in Luke 5. Let’s look at that text one more time:

I don’t really have a title for my message yet and am open to your ideas! But we have so far looked at verses 1-3 and suggested that Simon Peter was —

I. Doing a Religious Teacher a Favor (vv. 1-3)

Peter had to be a bit proud of his helping Jesus out of an acoustical dilemma. Peter’s boat provided Jesus some distance from those who wanted to hear Him, and maybe added to the ambiance of the meeting.

But Jesus, although He had concluded His lecture, isn’t done speaking. He gives Peter a command: “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch” (v. 4). Peter and his companions are now challenged with …

II. Recognizing Who Jesus REALLY  Is! (vv. 4-10)

Jesus is invading Peter’s area of expertise by telling him when and where to fish! Simon Peter’s response is: “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything” (v. 5). Is there anything sadder than a fisherman who puts up his hands to describe his catch of fish and he has to make a big ZERO with his fingers? Zilch. Nada. Nothing. And now Jesus wants them to get their nets dirty again even though the fish aren’t biting.

Jesus has stepped out of His role as spiritual teacher and has entered Peter’s world of catching fish. And Jesus doesn’t say to him, “Let’s see if you can catch a few …” He says, “for a catch.” As if Jesus could guarantee success to these exhausted and frustrated fishermen!

Perhaps Peter doesn’t want to embarrass Jesus by refusing His request, and he agrees to do what Jesus told him to do. Don’t you just love Peter’s totally honest response: “But because you say so, I will let down the nets”? Against all reason, contrary to all sure evidence of a repeated failure, Peter obeys.

The Challenge: Where in your life is your “but because You say so”? What is Jesus asking you to do that can be done only by stepping out in faith and obedience? (to be continued)


Posted by on August 19, 2019 in Luke 5


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What a Surprise! A Free Cruise in Europe! Part 2

So, we’ve been given a free river cruise on a 90-passenger ship in Europe with a travel company founded by a Christian couple, Jeff and Gina! We had a great time with Teerming River Cruises two years ago. Their cruises are about 1/3 of the cost of Viking Cruises and their website is here.

The cruise two years ago gave us some great opportunities to share the gospel with the other passengers. I will be conducting a Sunday church service on August 25th. I have chosen Luke 5 as my text and want to begin thinking through it in these posts. Here’s that great passage:

A Few Preliminary Thoughts:

1. The text has to do with water and a boat and fish!  So it fits with the cruise experience.
2. We see that Jesus was teaching the people the word of God, but He had a very practical problem. The people were crowding around Him (v. 1), so He used Simon’s book to achieve a bit of auditory distance (v. 3).
3.”When he had finished speaking” (v. 4) — There should be a conclusion to a person’s sermon!
4. Simon Peter must have been proud that he could help out the wandering rabbi Jesus with His speech. But then Jesus leaves the role of spiritual teacher and takes on the role of master fisherman (v. 4).
5.This is an incursion into Peter’s area of expertise! His excuse: v. 5 – “We’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything!”
6. Where is your “but because you say so” (v. 5)? Simple obedience to Jesus which seems contrary to reason!
7. The supernaturalness of Jesus becomes evident by the catch of fish (vv. 6-7). As Creator, He knew where the fish were!
8. Fortunately, Jesus didn’t take Peter’s advice (“Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!”). Instead of abandoning him, Jesus enlists him into the business of catching people!

The Challenge for Today: Please pray for me as I work on this message. I want to make the best of this one shot I have of presenting the gospel to folks on board. Thank you!

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Posted by on August 16, 2019 in Luke 5


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Time for a Great C.S. Lewis Quote — on TRUST and OBEDIENCE!

“[To have Faith in Christ] means, of course, trying to do all that He says. There would be no sense in saying you trusted a person if you would not take his advice. Thus if you have really handed yourself over to Him, it must follow that you are trying to obey Him. But trying in a new way, a less worried way. Not doing these things in order to be saved, but because He has begun to save you already. Not hoping to get to Heaven as a reward for your actions, but inevitably wanting to act in a certain way because a first faint gleam of Heaven is already inside you.” (Mere Christianity)

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Posted by on August 8, 2019 in heaven


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Commanding Everything! Time for a Great Commercial!

If only everything in life listened to you! Yeah, that would be great, would it not?
No! Because we are not GOD! And catering to a person’s desire to have everything obey him (even something as simple as “Find the cat!”) is tantamount to defying man, right?

Technology can be great — but man still needs a Savior, right?

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Posted by on May 24, 2019 in deity


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Sign. Sign. Everywhere a Sign (A Bit of Humor) #2

You’ve got to love these signs! It’s dangerous to tell this guy how to do his job! Watch out for suicidal deer! Cheap price for an unused parachute. And children obeying a clear sign. Priceless.


Posted by on May 12, 2019 in signs


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Insight from a Blind Man — A Free Sermon Outline! (Part 2)

In this series of posts, we are giving away some of my favorite sermon outlines.  I’ve been preaching since I was about sixteen years old or so (that’s sixty-two years!) and have made every mistake in the book (I go over some of the most common mistakes in my booklet Ten Specific Steps You Can Take to Make Your Sermons and Preaching Better!).

We’ve begun to look at my sermon outline on John 9, the most extensively recorded miracle in the Bible. I won’t reproduce the biblical text for you, but my major outline points with a bit of explanation.  We’ve seen the first truth in this text and it is that —

I. Tragedy Has Its Reasons! (vv. 1-5)

Encountering this man “blind from birth,” the disciples ask Jesus for His explanation of this man’s tragedy.  They provide the Lord two possible answers (we do the same to Him, don’t we?), this man’s sin or his parents’ sin.  Jesus responds with letter ‘C’ — “This happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him” (v. 3).

The second truth that comes from this incredible text is simply —

II.  Obedience Has Its Reward (vv. 6-12).

It does not appear that Jesus engages this man in a conversation, but simply spits on the ground, makes mud, puts it on this man’s eyes, and tells him to go wash in the Pool of Siloam (v. 6).  And he obeys!  Perhaps he knew something about Jesus.  More than likely he didn’t know anything about this wandering rabbi, but something caused him to obey.  Without argument or hesitation.

We can only speculate about this man’s inner thoughts.  When you think about it, there is something quite healthy about desperation.  Or maybe resignation.  After a life of blindness, perhaps this man thought to himself, “What do I have to lose?”

The succinctness of the text is remarkable here:  “So the man went and washed, and came home seeing” (v. 7).  Wow.  Simple obedience — rewarded by God!  The great theologian Ray Charles, blind himself, once said, “My eyes are my handicap, but my ears are my opportunity.”  This man’s opportunity was to do what Jesus told him to do.  “And he came home seeing.”

The interrogations will soon begin.  But right now, this man is seeing.  For the first time.  A “work of God” done by Jesus because this man obeyed.  I wonder what works of God I might be missing by not jumping to obey?  (to be continued)






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Posted by on August 12, 2018 in john 9


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What Did Jesus Pray About? (Part 5)

Let’s continue looking at Jesus’ high priestly prayer in John 17.  We now read the following:

“I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.

There is so much in the Lord’s prayer here, isn’t there?  Several truths jump out at me as I think about the words He prayed.  Notice, first of all, that we are the Father’s gift to the Son (v. 6).  The Father “gave” the disciples (and us) out of the world.  Jesus sees us as a GIFT of the Father to Himself.  Second, notice the astounding statement Jesus makes about His disciples:  “and they have obeyed your word” (v. 6).  When?  Where?  When I read the gospels I see complaining, unbelief, dissension, lack of trusting Him to provide for them.  But He saw their hearts.

Please notice, lastly this morning, the undeniable connection between the Father and the Son (vv. 6-8).  Jesus often emphasized His relationship with the Father.  He spoke the Father’s words.  He was doing the Father’s work.  Everything He had came from the Father.  It was the Father who sent Him to the earth.  The unique unity between the Father and the Son was often highlighted by the Lord Jesus, to such a degree that it got Him executed!

A prayer for today:  “Lord Jesus, I praise You for Who You are.  For Your relationship with the Father.  For Your willingness to obey His Word.  Help me today to live as the Father’s gift to You.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.”  (to be continued)

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Posted by on October 20, 2017 in prayer


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Jonah: Belief Contradicted by Behavior (Part 25)

In The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis has Screwtape, an arch demon, instruct his nephew understudy Wormwood on “the painful subject of prayer.”  Samuel Chadwick, a Methodist minister, said, “Satan dreads nothing but prayer. His one concern is to keep the saints from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, he mocks our wisdom, but he trembles when we pray.”

There is, indeed, an eloquence to Jonah’s prayer in chapter 2.  His prayer is honest, passionate, thankful, personal.  His prayer is not mere words, but expresses his determination to do what God wanted him to do: to make good his vows to the Lord.

How is Jonah’s prayer received by the Lord?  God shows He accepts Jonah’s prayer by the act of regurgitation!  The Lord has the specially-prepared sea creature get close enough to land to spit out its human clump onto a dry beach.

But has Jonah’s heart really changed?  Or was his life (like ours) a collection of rebellions and capitulations, sometimes doing God’s will and sometimes running from it?

After a hot bath with lots of soap, Jonah has homework to do.  He must learn just enough Assyrian to speak the message God gave him to speak.  And no more.  (to be continued)




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Posted by on August 25, 2017 in Jonah


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Jonah — Belief Contradicted by Behavior! (Part 2)

We are working on the “minor prophet” Jonah in this series.  Not only does 2 Kings 14 refer to Jonah as an historical person, but the Lord Jesus as well testifies that he was not simply a “fable with a message” (as some critics have said).

In Matthew 12 we read: 38 Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.” 39 He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here. 

Jesus refers to “the sign of the prophet Jonah.”  It seems obvious that the Lord Jesus believed Jonah was real, his three days in the belly of the sea creature was real, and the repentance of the people of Nineveh was real!

We will eventually discuss Jonah’s being swallowed by (perhaps) a specially-created sea creature in a subsequent post.  But the point right now is that Jonah was real, historical, and served as a point of comparison for the Lord Jesus!

There were probably a number of aspects of being a prophet of God that were attractive.  Some were not.   And being called to go to the hated Assyrians with a message from God could not have been more unpleasant for Jonah.

We don’t know how “the word of the Lord came” to Jonah, only that it did.  It was undeniable and not open to debate.  But the certainty of the command does not automatically lead to an obedience to the command, and Jonah flees.  We will look at Jonah’s response in our next post.

A prayer for today:  “Lord, thank You for the historical nature of the story of Jonah.  Help me today to listen to Your Word — and to do what You call me to do.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.” (to be continued)

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Posted by on August 2, 2017 in Jonah


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Psalms of the Salter: Some Thoughts on Really Living for the Lord (Psalm 119): Part 6

ו Waw

41 May your unfailing love come to me, Lord,screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-6-49-59-am
    your salvation, according to your promise;
42 then I can answer anyone who taunts me,
    for I trust in your word.
43 Never take your word of truth from my mouth,
    for I have put my hope in your laws.
44 I will always obey your law,
    for ever and ever.
45 I will walk about in freedom,
    for I have sought out your precepts.
46 I will speak of your statutes before kings
    and will not be put to shame,
47 for I delight in your commands
    because I love them.
48 I reach out for your commands, which I love,
    that I may meditate on your decrees.

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Posted by on March 29, 2017 in trust


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