15 December 2017

RPM part 7

Can I encourage you to read the entire passage before we focus on this month’s verse?

READ:

Verse 9:

For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken.

I like words. In many respects my job is about words and how you communicate truth through them. Verse 9 is a simple well structured sentence containing nineteen words. You could skim over it with ease, but there is one word, an adjective, right in the middle that stops me dead in my tracks… astonished.

What a great word that is. Astonished. It means: to fill with sudden and overpowering surprise or wonder; to be amazed or thunderstruck.

I wonder have you ever been astonished before; experienced an amazing occasion that left you spellbound, completely flabbergasted; a ‘jaw-hits-the-floor’ moment, leaving you lost for words?

There are a few times that come to my mind:

When Liverpool came back to win the Champions League final after being 3-0 down at half time; you could have knocked me over with a feather. Seeing the leaning tower of Pisa for the first time left a bruise on my chin from my jaw hitting the floor. My wife and I had been walking the streets trying to understand our map when we turned a corner and there it was; a stunning piece of architecture with all the foundations of a jelly trifle. Or the moment as a kid when I watched as David Copperfield made the Statue of Liberty disappear. There was a global collective of kids shouting, “How did he do that?”

The word ‘astonished’ occurs 34 times in the Bible, and 15 of these are in the gospels referring directly or indirectly to the ministry of Jesus. People were astonished at His teaching, astonished at His knowledge and astonished by His miracles. Mark chapter 5 says, “The people were astonished with great astonishment!” I like that. Mark uses a double intensifier so we get the picture. A cartoon-like image of a group of people mouths wide open and big eyes popping out captivated by the miraculous. In our text we find this word to describe the response to the catch of fish. Dr. Luke uses this same Greek word on two other occasions; once when Jesus cast a demon from a man and on the other occasion in Acts when Peter and John were used by God to heal the lame man. So what’s my point?

How often in your evangelism have you been left astonished by something you have seen God do directly or through his church? How many times have you seen a move of God that left you stunned, fixed to the spot and gobsmacked. I don’t know about you, but I desperately desire to see more of the astonishing work of God’s Holy Spirit in our church. I want to have astonishing Sundays in church and astonishing Mondays on the street; moments when we are amazed at the teaching, the response to salvation, the miracles, the sheer presence of God in our midst. I am hungry for that stuff. I read about it in books, I hear from friends, like healing evangelist Roy Todd who tells me of the miraculous signs and wonders he has seen in ministry. But I want to see it, touch it, even smell it (gutting that great catch of fish on a sunny day at the beach must have been a memorable smell!)

In all of our evangelism efforts we should believe more and pray more for the astonishing work of God. Isn’t it time that we stopped hoping for the ordinary and started expecting the extraordinary? Isn’t it time for us to stop doing all we can in our own strength and start listening to God and following his direction? Isn’t it time to pray more, pray harder and pray longer? Isn’t it time to change the mindset with which we approach evangelism in order to see our astonishing God work in His astonishing way? If I am honest with you, and with all due respect to the song writer, I don’t want to be a part of an army of ordinary people; I want to be a part of an army of extraordinary people. Let’s start expecting the unexpected.

PRAY:

Father, we thank You for the astonishing work of the cross and for the astonishing free gift of Salvation. We come to You as Your children, not greedy for more things but hungry for more of You. Father, we ask that You will pour out Your Spirit afresh upon us, our church, our community and our evangelistic efforts. We ask that each day as we endeavour to share You with others that You would grant us astonishing moments.

We ask this in and through the name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.

MOVE:

My son and I are football fans, but more often than not when we sit down to watch a match he misses the goals. Why? Well, he is only 6 years old, and like all kids he is easily distracted. Often when the goal comes, he is not in a position to see it. I think we can all be like that some times. Instead of praying and watching, we are distracted and in the wrong place (spiritually) to see God at work. Ask yourself if you are in ‘the right place’ to see God at work? What steps can you and I take in order to be closer God?

See you on the Lake!

Mitch

Mitch is an evangelist and author with Crown Jesus Ministries. For more information and contact details visit www.crownjesus.org or telephone 028 9073 8338