MAY 19, 2014
From Failure to Faithful Follower
"And He said to them, 'Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.'" Matthew 4:19 (NASB)
If you've ever felt like a loser, I've got great news today! Jesus is looking for you, because He still transforms people who feel like failures into faithful disciples who change the course of history.
My life is the perfect example. I come from a family brutalized by drugs, a lack of education and criminal activity. My childhood friends laughed at my house because it was a disaster. And I didn't go to church growing up. I was spiritually lost!
I didn't even own a Bible my first few years in the NFL, but when the team would travel and stay in hotels, I noticed Gideon Bibles in the rooms. One weekend, I decided to steal one. It wasn't until I became a Christ-follower that I realized the Gideons intentionally place Bibles in hotel rooms so people can take them for free!
Did you know all of Jesus' disciples would have been considered losers by their culture? No rabbi (or teacher) in the first-century Jewish world would have chosen any of the 12 guys Jesus called to be His followers.
Let me give you some historical context to grasp the significance of Jesus choosing these men. For Jewish people, the education of their children was not only important, it was the key means of survival as the people of God.
Beginning at age 6, children would begin to learn and memorize the Jewish Scriptures. Those who were particularly talented would move up the ranks and apply to become followers of a particular rabbi. Those who didn't qualify would be encouraged to learn the family trade.
Jesus took the very opposite approach. Instead of waiting for the best of the best to apply to be His students, He went after the dropouts and asked them to become His apprentices.
Jesus dumbfounded the world and transformed the course of history through 12 individual "failures."
When Jesus called Peter to follow Him, Peter was shocked. The story of the day they met is in Matthew's telling of Jesus' life:
Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was 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. 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." (Matthew 4:18-22)
When Jesus called Andrew and Peter, they immediately dropped their nets and followed Him. Perhaps for the first time, Peter didn't see himself as a loser.
I wonder if Peter remembered back to the days when he'd realized he wasn't smart enough to be disciple-potential. Perhaps the day Peter met Jesus, Peter looked into the eyes of his father, who had taught him to fish, and no word was spoken. Perhaps the expression on his father's face conveyed pride and told Peter it was okay to go with the rabbi.
Can you imagine Peter and Andrew's daddy going home to their mother and saying, "Sweetheart, you will never believe this! A rabbi called our sons to follow Him. This rabbi believes in our sons. He believes they can be like Him!"
Andrew and Peter dropped their nets. They left their daddy and followed Jesus. And as they did, they left their former identity to find a new one, forged by the limitless love Jesus had for them.
As I look at my life and all the things God has done, I cry. How could I not drop the nets of my pain, my insecurities, my doubts and fears and follow Jesus, too?
Have you dropped your nets to follow Him? Or have you held back because you think you are unqualified?
The truth is, you're not qualified to follow Him. And neither am I. But Jesus is calling losers and failures — like us — to become faithful followers of HIS!
Dear Lord, thank You for removing the labels my past has given me. Thank You for seeing my potential and for calling me to follow You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
1 Thessalonians 1:4-5a, "For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction." (NIV)
Isaiah 62:2, "You will be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will bestow." (NIV)
Replace the labels of your past with the limitless power of God's truth and grace in your life. Order a copy of Limitless Life: You Are More Than Your Past When God Holds Your Future by Derwin L. Gray.
If you're ready to move beyond the limits of your circumstances, fears, negative labels and regrets, join our next five-week Online Bible Study beginning May 25, featuring Derwin's book, Limitless Life. Get the details or sign up by clicking here.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Have you ever put the label of "loser" or "failure" on yourself? How has Jesus replaced that label in your life?
Think about what "nets" you might be holding onto in your life. What positive changes could happen if you were to let go, and allow God's grace into that circumstance?
© 2014 by Derwin L. Gray. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Thomas Nelson Publishers for their sponsorship of today's devotion.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
630 Team Rd., Suite 100
Matthews, NC 28105
Originally published Monday, 19 May 2014.