Posts Tagged ‘Sea of Galilee’

Experiencing God Despite the Distractions

In the normal course of things a certain number of distractions are bound to come to each one of us; but if we learn to be inwardly still these can be rendered relatively harmless. It would not be hard to compile a long list of names of Christians who carried upon their shoulders the burden of state or the responsibilities of business and yet managed to live in great inward peace with the face of the Lord in full view. They have left us a precious legacy in the form of letters, journals, hymns and devotional books that witness to the ability of Christ to calm the troubled waters of the soul as He once calmed the waves on the Sea of Galilee. And today as always those who listen can hear His still, small voice above the earthquake and the whirlwind.

While the grace of God will enable us to overcome inevitable distractions, we dare not presume upon God’s aid and throw ourselves open to unnecessary ones. The roving imagination, an inquisitive interest in other people’s business, preoccupation with external affairs beyond what is absolutely necessary: these are certain to lead us into serious trouble sooner or later. The heart is like a garden and must be kept free from weeds and insects. To expect the fruits and flowers of Paradise to grow in an untended heart is to misunderstand completely the processes of grace and the ways of God with men. Only grief and disappointment can result from continued violation of the divine principles that underlie the spiritual life.

Certain Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, “Go away from here; for Herod wishes to kill you.” He said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘See, I cast out evil spirits and cure the sick to-day and to-morrow, but on the third day I must go on my way; for it cannot be that a prophet will be put to death anywhere except in Jerusalem.'”

Jesus left Capernaum and went into the land of Tyre and Sidon. Going into a house, he wished that no one should know that he was there, but he could not escape notice. Soon a woman whose little daughter had an evil spirit heard of him and came and knelt at his feet. Now the woman was a heathen of the Phoenician race. She begged him to drive the evil spirit out of her daughter, but he said to her, “Let the children of Israel first be fed, for it is not fair to take their bread and throw it to the dogs!” She answered him, “True, sir, yet the little dogs under the table do eat the children’s crumbs.” He said to her, “Because of this answer go to your home; the evil spirit has gone out of your daughter.” On returning home she found the child lying on the bed and the evil spirit gone from her.

Jesus again left the land of Tyre and passed through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, crossing the land of Decapolis. The people brought to him a deaf man, who also stammered; and they begged Jesus to lay his hand on him.

Jesus took the man away from the crowd, put his fingers into the man’s ears, touched his tongue with saliva, and looking up to heaven, sighed, and said to him, “Ephphatha” (which means “Open”). And at once, the man could hear and could talk without stammering.

Then Jesus told them to tell no one, but in spite of what he said the people kept telling about it, saying: “How well he has done everything! He even makes the deaf hear, and the dumb speak.”

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19

For most people I know, fishing is a hobby. Some approach it casually, picking up a pole and dipping a few worms in the lake for fun while they’re at a summer cottage. It’s an opportunity to relax, to enjoy the scenery, and to throw the occasional bluegill back into the water.

Others obsess on fishing. Equipped with the latest lures, a sonar fish finder, and an Evinrude-powered bass-boat, they look forward to early morning hours on the lake tracking down the big one. They’re saving up for that once-in-a-lifetime charter boat trip out into the open waters of the ocean for that trophy fish that will hang in the family room. Fishing is a passion for them, but it’s still just a hobby.

Unfortunately, we tend to bring those kinds of fishing thoughts into this Scripture passage. We think of Jesus talking to the disciples almost as if He’s chatting with them while they’re on vacation, enjoying a little fishing before they join their families for a nice dinner down at the dockside café. In that scenario, fishing is incidental to their “real lives” and the outcome doesn’t really matter all that much.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

For these men, fishing was literally a life-and-death matter. Empty nets meant empty stomachs. Their only means of eking out an existence lay under the waters of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus wasn’t asking them to switch hobbies, He was calling them to leave all that they knew and trusted to follow Him first and foremost.

So what about us? It’s possible that we may view God’s call on our lives as an invitation to add a hobby to our already busy schedule. We assume that we can make our careers and our leisurely pursuits a priority while doing a little “fishing for God” on the side when we get time. We may even study “fishing,” buy some fun “fishing” tools, and get a little more serious about it—but still relegate this call of Christ to “hobby” status rather than making it our first and foremost passion. Subtly, we convey the message that the outcome doesn’t really matter.

Thankfully, the disciples set a very different example for us. Instinctively they knew that Jesus was worth leaving everything. They knew that He couldn’t be put on a shelf until they had time for Him. They knew that they couldn’t pursue their own agenda and His at the same time. So they made Him—not their careers—their primary focus.

Jesus may not require that you give up your career, but following Him will ensure that you never see your career in the same way again. As a follower of Christ, everything in your life will be done in the perspective of advancing His cause. Friendships, family, salaries, career issues, dreams, and desires will all be seen in terms of how Christ can be magnified and how people can be drawn to Him. And the beautiful truth in all of this is that as you follow His call in faith, you will experience His joy, presence, and satisfaction in ways that you never could have imagined.

What are you waiting for? The disciples left everything to follow Jesus. Follow Him and be ready to watch as He uses you in ways you never could have imagined!


  • What “fishermen” were involved in bringing you to Jesus? Who shared the gospel with you?
  • How would you see the main ingredients in your life differently if you saw it all in terms of following Christ?
  • Assess your involvement in “fishing for men.” Are you— (a) not fishing at all? (b) fishing as a hobby every once in a while? (c) fishing quite a bit, but still as a hobby? (d) making fishing your primary passion in life?
  • What other priorities in your life sometimes get in the way of following Christ wholeheartedly?
  • What changes need to take place in order for you to follow Christ as the disciples did?

When Jesus again crossed the Sea of Galilee in a boat to the other side, a large crowd had gathered to meet him; so he stayed beside the sea. One of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, came up, and, on seeing Jesus, fell at his feet and earnestly begged him, saying, “My little daughter is dying; come, I beg of you, and place your hands on her that she may be cured and live.” So Jesus went with him, and a great crowd followed and pressed about him.

In the crowd was a woman who had suffered from hemorrhage for twelve years and had been treated by many physicians, spending all that she had, yet was none the better, but rather had grown worse. Having heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his robe, for she said to herself, “If I can but touch his garments, I shall be cured.”

Immediately the hemorrhage stopped, and she knew that she was cured of her disease. Jesus, knowing at once that healing power had gone from him, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” His disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet do you ask, ‘Who touched me?'” But still he looked for her who had done this, until the woman, frightened and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came forward and fell down before him and told him the truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has cured you. Go and live in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

While Jesus was still speaking, messengers came from the house of the ruler of the synagogue, saying, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Master further?” But Jesus, overhearing the message, said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Have no fear, only trust.”

Jesus would allow no one to go with him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. When they came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, he found a crowd of people weeping aloud and wailing. Entering, Jesus said to them, “Why are you making an uproar and weeping? The child is not dead, but asleep.” And they laughed at him scornfully. But he sent them out and took the father and mother of the child and those who were with him into the room where she was. Then, taking her by the hand, he said to her, “Talitha koumi,” which means, “Little girl, arise.” To the astonishment of all, the little girl (who was twelve years of age) got up at once and walked about. But Jesus charged them strictly to let no one know of this, and told them to give the little girl something to eat.

Herod seized John the Baptist and bound him, and put him in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, for John said to him, “It is not right for you to have her.” And although Herod wanted to put him to death, he was afraid of the people, for they believed John to be a prophet.

Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching God’s good news: “The time has come; repent of your sins and believe in the good news, for the kingdom of God is at hand.”

Leaving Nazareth, Jesus went to live in Capernaum, which is on the Sea of Galilee. As he was passing along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting their nets into the sea, for they were fishermen. Jesus said to them, “Come with me, and I will make you fishers of men.” And they at once left their nets and followed him. And going a little farther on, he saw James, the son of Zebedee, with John his brother, who were in their boat mending their nets. He called them, and they at once left their father, Zebedee, in the boat with the hired men, and went with him.

Then Jesus found Philip and said to him, “Come with me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the home of Andrew and Peter. Philip, finding Nathanael, said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote: Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” But Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip replied, “Come and see.”

Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him and said to him, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is no deceit.” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig-tree, I saw you.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God, you are the King of Israel.” Jesus replied, “Do you believe because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig-tree’? You shall see greater things than these!”

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” Mk 1:17 NIV

If you want to experience God’s blessing in a new way, get ready to leave your comfort zone. When Jesus called His disciples they were on familiar turf, doing what they knew best: fishing. But they couldn’t stay there and follow Him. Neither can you. The Bible records: “As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net…for they were fishermen. ‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will make you fishers of men.’ At once they left their nets and followed him” (vv.16-18 NIV). Notice, they had to leave the security of the familiar in order to fulfill their destiny. And in case you think you are too old to try something new, Abraham was seventy-five when he left the comforts of home to go out and establish a new nation. Your age is not the issue, your faith is. Understand this: today you are just one step of obedience away from the next truth God wants you to learn about Him, so you can’t afford to stay where you are. We all have a tendency to cling to the “tried and true.” The trouble with that is, when you are no longer being stretched you begin to shrink, you become complacent, you think you can handle things on your own, and you stop growing. That’s a dangerous place to be. If you feel restless at heart today and believe that God has more for you than you’ve been settling for, then it’s time to confront your fears, walk through them and launch out into a new experience with Him.