Emily Belle Freeman
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THIS IS MY JOY

AND MY GREAT REJOICING

Wise Men, Fishing Nets, and Sermons

Matthew 5:29 - Matthew 9:5

My mind is filled with wise men, fishing nets, and sermons.

Three different stories with lessons that are similar ––each story extending an invitation.

Remember the wise men from the east that came to worship the Lord?

They followed a star, spoke with Herod, and searched diligently until they found the young child.  Matthew tells us that after they worshipped the Lord they were warned of God that they should return to their “own country another way.” (Matthew 2:12)

The first invitation is that we must search diligently to find the Lord and to understand that as we worship Him the course of our lives will be changed ––we will be led to journey another way.

The second story takes place as Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee.

He saw two brothers casting nets into the sea…for they were fishers.  “And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.  And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.”  (Matthew 4:19-20)

Several other men were given the same invitation, and one of them, Philip, ran to tell his friend Nathanael, who questioned whether or not Jesus was the real Messiah.  Philip answered him, “Come and see”  (John 1:46)

This simple invitation summarizes the Master’s ministry.  His was always an invitation: come and see; follow me; come unto me.  He asked His followers to come, and then He showed them the blessings that followed the simple invitation:  water turned to wine; loaves and fishes multiplied; the lame walked; the blind saw; the dead would live again.

The invitation was always extended.

Acceptance was left to the individual.

They could do as the disciples ––who straightway forsook their nets and followed Him ––or they could continue the journey alone, completely missing the blessing of the wondrous sights they might have beheld.

The second invitation we are given is the same invitation that was extended many years ago to the fishermen of Galilee: set aside your nets and follow me.  But, will we be willing to leave behind our nets?

To truly answer this question we must first determine what fills our nets.

Sometimes it is the everyday challenges such as time constraints, demands from work or home, or feelings of inadequacy or fear that hold us back from developing a relationship with Christ.  We must learn to set aside these nets…even if it is just for a few minutes every day… to make room for moments that allow us to follow the Lord.

Two thousand years ago, two fishermen left their nets and walked away from everything that would hold them back from coming to know Jesus Christ.  Heeding the invitation, they followed the Savior and were blessed to experience incredible events, which burned an undeniable testimony upon their souls.

If we are willing to set aside our nets, we too can find opportunities that will allow us to come to know the Savior personally.  I testify the sacrifice is worth it.  The precious moments that will come as we cast aside our nets will allow us to discover something of much greater worth.

The last invitation is given in chapter five of the book of Matthew.

This chapter contains one of the Lord’s most famous sermons.

Today I want to focus only on the first two lines of that sermon:  “And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him…” (Matthew 5:1 emphasis added)

Close your eyes and picture this.  The Lord climbed the mount and once He was set, His disciples came unto Him. He left behind the multitudes and the crowds of people, and walked up the mountain to wait.

This sermon was meant only for those who were willing to ascend to it.

It was the choice of each individual.

The first sermon of the Sermon on the Mount is the realization that a true disciple must go to the Lord to receive the message ––to leave behind the multitude and go to Him.

This will not be the choice of the masses; but it is the choice of a disciple.  The pattern within the story of the Sermon on the Mount is clear ––the Lord’s disciples ascended the mount to Him, and then He taught.

The last invitation is to leave behind the multitude and go to the Lord.  It is within those precious moments that we will be taught.

Today we begin the New Testament.

Through the study of the four gospels we are about to be introduced to the Savior in a very personal way.

As we read the testimonies of Him, perhaps we could keep these three invitations in mind:

May we be prepared to journey another way, To set aside our nets, anything that is holding us back, to follow Him, And may we be willing to leave behind the multitude and go to Him, to His words, to receive His message.

Emily Freeman