Delivered at First Presbyterian Church, Winder, Georgia May 2, 2021

Guest Speaker, Rev. Jeremy B. Stopford, from Norwich, NY

Today’s “Special”:  Show and Tell of One’s Faiths

The Kindergarten Teacher gave a special “show and tell” assignment for the next morning: bring in objects that best represent your religion or faith. The next morning she called on Johnnie: “I’m Jewish. This beanie is a yamulche worn by all faithful Jewish men and boys.” Then little Susie raised her hand. She came forward and said, “I am a Roman Catholic. These are my rosary beads with which I pray.” “Thank you Susie. How about you, Billy. Billy also came forward and said, “I am a Presbyterian, and this is a casserole dish.”

Intimacy – we all have our definitions of it, we all know its abuses, we all know its wonderful uses.

Illustration: There were 2 pictures on Facebook this past week – perhaps you saw them. The first was of a young man when he first got his new puppy. They looked young. They looked like new friends. They look like there was a wonderful trust between them, but there was also an anticipation of all the uncertainties that were to come. The second was the same man and the same animal, but now taken 15 years later. The pup was now an older dog, quite graying around the muzzle and fur. And the man – he too was graying and older looking. But now there was something special – they looked close. Happy. United for life. What we call “intimacy”.

In Galatians 2:9 Peter, James, & John are called “pillars” – “support, monument.” From the 12 of these disciples, to the 3, to the 1 (John, “whom Jesus loved”).  This is intimacy. How did they get there?   PRAYER   

First, the CALLING OF the 3 INVOLVES PRAYER (Luke 6:12-16)

The Savior is about to call His disciples – so He peruses the countryside,  posts flyers on every telephone pole, has an interview session set up, and then picks the 12 best candidates.  That’s how WE might do it. Why, that might be also how we might go about calling a PASTOR!!!

How did JESUS call His followers? He prays all night FIRST! Luke 6:12-13 read, “ Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. 13 And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles…”

Martin Luther said, “I have so much to do today, I must spend 4 hours in prayer”. Today’s generation is SO BUSY, so TV/cell phone/machine oriented. We just don’t have time to be still before the Lord!

In John Chapter 17, our Savior prays at the Garden of Gethsemane. Did you notice verse 20: ““I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word…” – Jesus is doing the same today. He is praying for US to make a difference for eternity in the lives of those He has wisely placed around us!

So after He has been praying for US, are we intentionally making a difference for eternity in the lives of others? Why not this day PRAY FOR THEM as Jesus prayed for US!

Second, the CALLING OF the 3  INVOLVES PEOPLE AS PEOPLE  (John 1:29-31, 35-42)

All true salvation necessitates a proper view of Jesus (1:29-31)

First Jesus prayed (Luke 6), then He uses people where they are. He uses WHO?

How would you define the “JOB” of a Pastor? Have you read Ephesians 4:11-12 lately? “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the [a]edifying of the body of Christ…”. WHO is accountable for the “work of the ministry”, according to the Apostle Paul here in Ephesians? The Pastor? NO! The pastor’s primary job is to train the people to do the work of the ministry! The Pastor can be only in ONE place at ONE time! You the congregation can be in 30-50 places at ONE TIME!!! So as much as the Pastor does in the week, how much MORE can be done if the WHOLE BODY of faith works TOGETHER to…DO THE WORK OF THE MINISTRY!

One of Scripture’s most wonderful words is “COME”! The Lord Jesus invited those who were seeking true faith to follow Him and…”COME AND SEE!”. See also Matthew 11:28-30 and Revelation 3:20. I officiate many funerals for those whose loved one had no church, no vocalized faith. How would YOU comfort the family? I almost always at the service quote or read Matthew 11:28-29: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Jesus didn’t invite people to a church or to a religion. NO! He invited people to HIM! To “come and see”. To “learn of Him”. And when the seeker finds that Jesus is worthy of their eternal trust, they will trust Him as their Savior! And then they will learn to trust Him for the every day walk of life!

The Beatles, back in the 1970’s or so, had a song called “Eleanor Rigby”. The chorus was “I look at all the lonely people…where do they all come from…where do they all belong?”

Jesus would ask us:  do we see people as people, or just faces?

Third, the CALLING OF the 3 INVOLVES PERSONALITIES (Mark 3:13, 16-17)

What did He do first?  Went up to the mountain and prayed (v. 13)

Simon (“that hears; that obeys“) becomes “Peter” (“rock”; “stone”)

James, John He sees them as “sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17) – an indication of their explosiveness – sometimes to talk before they think; sometimes wanting to act with fire for the Lord. In Luke 9:51-56 they wanted to call down fire upon a city which did not trust Jesus. Jesus wisely admonished James and John (Luke 9:56), “For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.”

Jesus not only sees people as people, He sees them as unique servants with proper places in His kingdom. See Paul’s instruction in Romans 12:1-8. God has given each of His children “gifts” in which we can WISELY serve Him where He WISELY puts us!

Fourth and finally, the CALLING OF the 3  INVOLVES PURPOSE (Luke 5:1-11, esp. vs. 10-11)

See Luke 5:1-10 – can Jesus be a better fisher than experienced ones? In Luke’s account, these seasoned fisherman had unsuccessfully fished all night. In the morning, they were ready to give up, put their nets away. They had been working in their own strength.

THEN JESUS MET THEM! He said, “go out again and cast out your nets.” Simon explained their lack of success, but then added, “nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.” Some 153 FISH came into the nets. From that lesson, the seasoned fisherman Peter said to the Savior, ““Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!”

See Luke 5:10b, 11 – God has a purpose for His changing hearts. The Savior wisely shared with them, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.” 11 So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him.”

CONCLUSION What lessons did we learn today:

#1  All decisions should be first preceded by prayer

#2  The Lord’s work requires seeing people as people

#3  The Lord sees the big picture in what He will do with His saints

#4  The Lord’s greatest purpose is eternal

Have you entered into this intimacy?