Sunday, January 24, 2010

It's a New Year!!! Is there a New You?

Wow! Praise the Lord, O my soul! It's been weeks since I've posted something in this blog. I know some of you who regularly check the Cookie Jar might have already been disappointed for not seeing anything new. I do apologize because I was in the middle of settling down in a new job and a new apartment. 

Well, anyway, time really has flown by so fast! It is now the year 2010 and we're in the last week of January. Happy New Year, by the way. I remember trying to start writing on a post specifically for the New Year but never really gotten to the point of finishing it. Anyway, I'm just going to try to catch up on everything in this post. 

It's been quite a while since I've shared my thoughts with you regarding a certain topic that I come across with in my bible reading. I'm reading the gospel of Matthew again and has gone through the first few chapters already. There's so much that I wanted to share with you all but at this point I'd like to focus more on a sermon I heard from a pastor in Grace Community Church in Humble, TX. 

This was a story of a man called Zebedee. I was so blessed listening to the sermon online as it was such a reality to most of us today. It was what the pastor called "The curious case of Mr. Zebedee." 

If you haven't heard of Mr. Zebedee, he is actually a person mentioned in the bible. He was, in fact, one very significant person to consider because he was the father of James and John. The first few called to be the disciples of Jesus. Zebedee was the father of two of the three apostles who belong to the "inner circle" of Jesus. 

Here's the story of Mr. Zebedee and his sons in Matthew 4:18-22 when Jesus called his first disciples...

"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. And he said to  them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 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. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him."

Zebedee and his sons were fishermen in their days. The family's fishing business was also quite successful as it was mentioned in the gospel of Mark that Zebedee had hired servants and they owned two boats at the time. When Jesus saw them, they were "mending their nets". Meaning, they already had a good catch earlier that day because their nets needed to be mended. Fishermen only mend their nets after a big catch which could have torn some portions of it.

What's amazing about Mr. Zebedee, though, was this. He was there when Jesus spoke to them by the Sea of Galilee. He has heard the voice of Him who brings salvation to men. He has heard and seen Jesus standing there and personally inviting them to follow him. He was there when Jesus called out to them! But what we see in their story was a father that's left in the boat as his two sons immediately left to follow Jesus.

Zebedee must have been too preoccupied with the fishing business and must have been consumed by the idea of managing his hired servants. The family's business needed someone to take care of it, after all, it's really been doing so well recently and stopping now to do something else will not be a good move. Mr. Zebedee was more focused on his career and his business that he neglected to hear the call of the Savior. He could have also left the boat and his hired servants and followed Jesus if he wanted to, but he didn't. What he decided on was to stay and take care of what's more important to him. 

That's the only thing you'll ever read about Zebedee. The rest of the story were mostly of his sons. His sons who followed Jesus wholeheartedly. His sons James and John who dedicated their lives to the Savior. The rest of it were of his sons who made it big in life by following Christ! 

John became the apostle that Jesus loved. Both him and his brother James made it to Jesus' inner circle of 4, that is - Jesus, Peter, James & John! How marvelous it is to know that they have become great and have accomplished much not because they decided to become prominent businessmen just like their father Zebedee, but because they have not thought twice about leaving everything behind to follow Jesus. 

None of the two knew what they would become as they followed Christ. They both only knew how to fish, period, yet they were never afraid to let go of what they've been used to the moment Jesus called to them. They have no idea about the career change they're going to have but they have given their entire lives to him, trusting wholly in His provision, His care, His sovereignty, His power, His majesty, His glory! The bible speaks more of the miracles and powers that these two brothers have encountered first hand while they walked with Jesus than the accomplishments of a prominent fisherman named Zebedee.

Zebedee, who was left in the boat with his hired servants missed it entirely. The book of Proverbs tell us these:

"He who pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor." (Proverbs 21:21)

"Humility and the fear of the Lord bring wealth and honor and life." (Proverbs 22:4)

"Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle." (Proverb 23:4-5)

Are we like Zebedee, too? Are we more interested in things of this world that even when we hear our Savior call to follow him we decide to stay behind? Are we more preoccupied with getting the business running or our careers going that we become disinterested in the Righteousness of God?

May we think about the curious case of Mr. Zebedee and learn not from him, but from his sons' ways. There is much more to life than the hustle and bustle of making ends meet or building a career, or saving for that dream house or planning for a future here on earth. 

Listen... the Shepherd is calling... our Saviour stands before you with an invitation to follow Him. Are you going to keep doing what you've always been doing? Are you going to decide to stay behind because you're not interested in Him? Listen... it is eternity calling... 
Take heart,  for He's overcome the world... Take heed, and let not your hearts be hardened. 

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