Bulletin for February 10
Turning a Dead End into a Blessing, Luke 5:1-11
  • Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty!
  • Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty!
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        September 20, 2018 - 9:30 AM - 11:00 AM
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      • Psalm 138NRSV

      • Luke 5:1–11NRSV

  • I have discovered that sometimes hitting a dead end in life can be a blessing. If I didn’t hit a dead end back in Burma, I wouldn’t have come to the U.S. I remember those days, my home was searched frequently by a truckload of soldiers, sometimes at 2 A.M. after midnight. They knocked on my door and walked in with guns and rifles in their hands scouring every room. My father said at one point that it would be better for me to leave the country for the moment. I planned to escape the hardship for about six months and breathe some fresh air in the U.S. visiting my Aunt and cousins in California. However, that 6 months has turned into 28 years in the U.S. On the surface, it’s 28 years of exile, but in hindsight, that’s 28 years of blessings to count.
    My father didn’t want to come to America, until he was imprisoned by the Burmese government with serious false charges. I am sure you remember those days that our entire church prayed for him for his release. His imprisonment was like a dead end at the time. He was extremely disappointed and decided to migrate to the U.S. He enjoyed the blessing of living his last 15 years in this greatest nation on earth and seeing the grandchildren growing up.
    Trinity reached a dead end last year when we lost our property, but now we have survived and I’m sure God will help us thrive as well.
    I guess many of you would also have come to the dead ends of life, career, or relationships, and some may have been there more than just a couple of times. In hindsight, you might agree that those dead ends were blessings in disguise. Sometimes, it might not be so clear, but Christians are given the assurance of the blessings no matter what.
    Paul said, “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” (Ro 8:28). All things mean all the good things and the bad things of life; peaks and valleys of life; opportunities and dead ends of life. All things work together for the good for those who love God. If you love God, you will see that the ups and downs in life can be an exciting roller coaster ride.
    I don’t like roller coasters, especially when it’s going downhill, but I know we love to ride it because we know it’s fun. Why is it fun? Because it’s made to be safe. You are assured by the ride providers that they have made it safe. Of course in rare occasions, we hear the roller coaster accidents in the news, but in God’s kingdom there’s no roller coaster accidents.
    So, whenever you go through the peaks and valley of life, remember this verse, Romans 8:28, “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” (Ro 8:28). It says “We know …” because we have been assured that we will get there safely. When we know it’s safe, things become fun.
    Many religions look upon life as a sea of suffering; but for Christians, life is a safe and secure joyride because God will weave all your ups and downs in life into a beautiful tapestry.
    Peter would have never become the “fisher of men” or one of the greatest men that changed human history if he did not hit the dead end. The Roman Catholic church regards him as the first Pope. They believe every Pope in history is the successor of Simon Peter. Can you imagine that a fisherman became the world’s first Pope? Can you imagine what he would have missed if he did not follow Jesus when Jesus called him.
    He hit a dead end in his career. He and his friends were toiling all night long without caching a single fish. Can you imagine if he caught a bunch of fish and went home happily that night? Just because he did not catch any fish, it changed the trajectory of his life.
    Jesus was recruiting disciples and many people refused to follow him because they were not at the dead end yet. Jesus said to one guy, “Follow me,” but he said, “Let me bury my father first.” What it means is that he would follow Jesus only after his father passed away. Another guy said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” (Luke 9:59-62). This one put the same thing in a nicer way. By farewell, he meant he wanted to wait until his folks passed away. Even though these were filial duties of those days, Jesus knew they were just excuses.
    Now, when he called Peter, James, and John to follow him, the Bible said that they left everything and followed him. It’s quite dramatic. They left everything. Everything means their homes, their families, their careers, and their comfort zones. They would not have left their comfort zone without hitting the dead end. That’s why a dead end can be a blessing.
    Peter, James, and John might not have understood the extent of their blessings by hitting this dead end. They all suffered much as Jesus disciples. Peter was crucified upside down on the cross. That was a horrible ending. However, 2,000 years later, we looked back and billions of believers past and present have been counting the blessings of Peter.
    We know … that all things … work together … for good … for those who love God.
    How to turn a dead end into a blessing? We know that not every dead end turns into a blessing. There must be some conditions or attitudes involved to change a dead end into a blessing. We can draw three lessons from this scripture passage: Extend Hospitality, Expel Inferiority, and Expect Possibility.

    1) Extend Hospitality

    When Jesus saw Peter, Peter was obviously tired after toiling all night long without catching anything. He was washing the nets, closing the shop, and preparing to go home. Jesus was preaching on the shore, but the crowd was pressing on him to hear the word of God. Jesus stepped onto Peter’s fishing boat and asked him to put out a little way from the shore so as to create a distance between the crowd and him. Then Jesus sat on the boat and preached from there.
    Peter could have refused to fulfill Jesus request. After all, he was tired, hungry, and probably angry for his big failure. In spite of his dead-end situation, he extended his hospitality and let Jesus used his boat as a pulpit.
    This attitude coincides with the previous passage that we talked about last week, in which a gentile widow extended hospitality to Elijah during a famine and gave him her last bread that she intended to eat with her son and prepare to die of starvation after that because there was no more food available in that region due to the sever drought. She was at a dead end but her hospitality never waned. It takes a lot of courageous love and hospitality to give a stranger your last bread. That hospitality earned her and her son a blessing of surviving the three and a half years of famine.
    Hospitality is a hidden commandment in the Bible. God blesses those who has hospitality and punishes those who fail at providing hospitality. Abraham provided hospitality to three travelers and ended up entertaining angels. Those angels promised Abraham to have a son with Sarah, who was unable to get pregnant until then.
    When you hit a dead end, you are not up to extending hospitality to others, especially strangers. However, Peter extended his hospitality by letting Jesus use his boat as a pulpit. He ended up entertaining an angel, but someone greater than an angel. So, don’t fail to extend your hospitality even at the most unfavorable moment. You might end up entertaining angels or the Lord himself.

    2) Expel Inferiority

    But when Simon Peter saw it (two boatloads of fish), he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” (v. 8). When Jesus asked him to drop the net, he thought Jesus had a trick or two to help him catch a couple for fish, just enough for their breakfast. However, when he saw the harvest beyond his imagination, he felt he did not deserve it. He felt horrible for his doubt.
    He might be saying, “This is incredible. I don’t deserve this miracle. I don’t deserve this blessing. This is also unusual. I am a professional fisherman. I am a fish whisperer. I know this is impossible. The only way this is possible is that you are the Creator God himself. That’s right. I know who you are now. Go away from me, Lord, I’m a sinner. I don’t deserve you.”
    Many people suffer from the inferiority complex. Inferiority complex is different from humility. I did a research on the difference. Humility is a sign of love. A humble person is also humorous because they are happy. Do you know that the words "human," "humility," and "humor" came from the same root word “humus”? So, if you are not sure someone is humble or having inferiority complex, just look at their sense of humor.
    Inferiority complex, on the other hand, is a sign of hatred—either against themselves or against others. At this point, Peter hated himself for doubting Jesus, so he asked God to leave him. The humble person will embrace God, but the inferior person will expel God.
    So, expel inferiority, don’t expel God, and don’t lose your sense of humor.

    3) Expect Possibility

    Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” (v. 10b). Jesus changed Simon Peter’s fear into a great expectation of possibility. What Jesus means is “You see these two boatloads of fish and you think it’s incredible. But, this is nothing compare to what you will be doing if you follow me.”
    It’s similar to what Jesus says in John 14:12-14, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”
    Folks, you will do greater things. Expect possibility. You must not only believe that there is light at the end of the tunnel, you must also believe that the end of tunnel leads to a better tomorrow.
    At the end Peter, James, and John left everything and followed Jesus. That’s a big leap of faith. Why did they have so much courage to leave? It’s because they have great expectations. The Bible says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Heb 11:1).
    That’s a beautiful definition of faith—assurance and conviction. When you hit the dead end, keep the assurance and conviction that make your expect the possibility of a good outcome.
    This is how you turn the dead end into a blessing:
    1) Extend Hospitality
    2) Expel Inferiority
    3) Expect Possibility
    Until we meet again, keep cultivating a fruitful life. Amen!
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