God has given us all a chance to live in this world. The world wants success. The world wants victory. The world wants freedom. So do we. When money is there we say we've got success. When we've attained a certain position we say we have victory.
1. No Success without failure
1 One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the people crowding around him and listening to the word of God,
2 he saw at the water's edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets.
3 He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.
4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch."
5 Simon answered, "Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets."
6 When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.
7 So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.
8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus' knees and said, "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!"
9 For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken,
10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon's partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, "Don't be afraid; from now on you will catch men."
11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.
Peter was a failure. But God caught him at the right time. Think about our lives. Now when did we become a disciple? Isn't it when we failed? Isn't it when our business did not go well? Is it not when we were looking for something better in our life because we have not done well before? Is it when we failed in our exams? Jesus looks for hungry people - Matthew 5. He looks for the poor people, He looks for the mourners, He looks for the meek people, He looks for the failures. Failures help people to look for Jesus. When we understand our failure, we understand we are sinners and that's exactly what God is looking for. That is why we became disciples.
When we understand Jesus better and so that we can understand we are sinners. Jesus said I have come for the sinners and the tax collectors. He said sinners and tax collectors are entering the kingdom of God. And that is what the kingdom is made of - tax collectors and prostitutes. Now that's a hard teaching. But that's what God says and that's what the kingdom is.
In Romans it says while we were still sinners Jesus died for us. We are capable of sinning and also making others sin. By making us disciples, God has protected us and protected others from us. A person who has humility understands I am a failure and I need help. A person can say I need help only when he understands he is a sinner. Peter was a man who went out fishing the whole night and didn't catch any fish but in the morning, with failure in his heart, he sees Jesus. And when he saw Jesus he said how hard he worked.
I know that's what we will also tell Jesus if we saw him today- I did everything right in the eyes of people, yet look at my life. God says try one more time. And that's exactly what the message is today- if you're a failure and you feel like a failure that's a good thing because Jesus tells you to try one more time. And that one more time - is it true and reasonable for you?
It is true and reasonable because you have tried one more time and that's why you have come back to this church. That's what Christopher was talking about - trusting in God when you fail in many areas. And when we do that, it says Peter caught a lot of fish. He was successful - not when he was alone but Peter and Jesus together - then he was successful. But in our hearts sometimes we wonder whether we can accept " I am a failure". It's not easy. We used to be that way but we have had so much success after becoming disciples that we are not thinking about our failures. We are grateful but yet we forget and continue to be failures. While we are sinners, even as we are struggling in our Christian lives, Jesus died for us. There is no success without failure. Secondly
2. No victory without surrender
12 "On one of these journeys I was going to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests.
13 About noon, O king, as I was on the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions.
14 We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, 'Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.'
15 "Then I asked, 'Who are you, Lord?' "'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,' the Lord replied.
16 'Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen of me and what I will show you.
17 I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them
18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.'
We look at Paul, one of the intellectual guys in the New Testament. Talk to Paul about surrendering. Surrendering? Me? No way! I am educated. I've taken lessons under Gamaliel. I'm leading a revolt against the Christians. I'm a Pharisee! Surrender? Me? No way! Some of us are asked to say sorry. Me say sorry? No way! Let that person say sorry. When was the last time you said what can I change? One of the problems.as the church becomes bigger or as the church gets older, we look around and ask what do you have to change? But as young Christians, as we surrender to God, we have in our hearts what do I have to change?
For Paul to be surrendered it took lightning. It took blinding of the eyes. It took three days of darkness. Just like many examples in the Bible who had to go through a lot before they surrendered. Jonah had to be stuck in the fish for three days. Jesus had to surrender to death for three days. What about us? What will it take for us to surrender to God? It is 3 months in hospital? 3 years of failure? Repeating a class in school? Surrender is not just surrender, it is surrenderING - it continues throughout our Christian lives.
God can use you when you surrender to him, when you continue to be like Jesus Christ. And the Bible expects us to go in his footsteps. And as we go behind him, we see Jesus surrendering to God continuously. But he had to go through many temptations. Finally he had to surrender to death, which is the biggest thing he had to surrender to in his life.
Paul was persecuting the Christians. When God called him he said you are appointed to preach the word and bring them out of the darkness into the light. To get them away from the power of Satan so they can be in the power of God. So they may have forgiveness of sins. That's what God has called you and me for - to bring people out of darkness. We cannot do that unless we surrender. Once on a board it is written that Love sees through a telescope but Hatred can only see through a microscope. When we surrender you're able to love people easily. If we don't surrender loving becomes hard because you analyze everything other people do. Victory becomes easy when you surrender to God.
Victory comes when you're in good relation with each other. The relationship with others needs to be victorious when we live in this church. Going to heaven we are all going to be together and we are going to have the same feelings, the same attitudes. We will have the same free will to do whatever in heaven. If you go there and see a person you don't like and have hatred inside your heart, you cannot be a part of heaven. Church is a training ground where you live in harmony- loving, surrendering to each other and caring for each other. That is how heaven will be a great place. And it says let it be done on earth as it is in heaven. There's no victory without surrender. Finally my third point
3. No freedom without sacrifice
23 Jesus replied, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.
24 I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.
25 The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.
27 "Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.
28 Father, glorify your name!" Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it, and will glorify it again."
That's a hard thing to learn. Sacrifice is a word we loved before but we don't love anymore. Jesus says the reason he came to the world is to sacrifice. How does he explain it? Even if a grain of wheat falls to the ground, it grows to become a plant.
There was a lot of sacrifice during the freedom struggle. There was a procession going on in Tamil Nadu. And as they proceeded they saw a lot of policemen coming forward. As they approached, all the people scattered, afraid of what was going to happen. Many of the people were carrying flags in their hands. The National flag was just then invented and they were holding it in their hands. One of those holding the flag saw a passer-by and putting the flag into his hands, he ran away. This passerby was very fearful but he had the flag in his hands and he saw the policemen were very near by. The policemen saw him and hit him with a lathi, on his head. He fell down but he did not let go of the flag. They beat him till he died. Even as he died he did not let go off the flag. Do you know who that is? Kodikaathe Kumaran - freedom fighter.
Sacrifice may not be that - he didn't want to do it but was pushed into it. You volunteer, you want to - and that's how God recognizes us. We often forget sacrifice is our future. Today's parents' sacrifice is our children's freedom. Brothers and sisters, if in the church we are not willing to sacrifice and live Christian lives, our children will never become Christians. As we sacrifice, our children get the freedom to do what is right- sustained because of our sacrifice.
There were many foreigners who sacrificed and came to India. Because of them we have formed the church and together we are worshipping God. Many of you were in KKC and now you're sitting here. And as you're sitting here, you're wondering why am I sitting in this place? It's because of you're family that was sincere for many years and that's why you're sitting here. If our church becomes traditional, if it becomes lukewarm, if we forget our sacrifices, one of our children is going to stand up and lead the movement and start becoming sacrificial and start doing what is right because God is looking for people who can start laying the foundations again and again and again.
As disciples we have the convictions to do what is right. Yet, we need to look at the Cross. Cross is the only way we can understand what God wants us to do. In the Cross you don't see success, you don't see victory, you don't see freedom. You can see failure, surrender and sacrifice. And God keeps reminding us about the Cross. As we surrender ourselves - look at the cross, as we sacrifice - look at the cross, as we are failures - look at the cross. And that is what will lead us to the next generation. At the cross, Jesus looks down at all of us and sees our failure, sees our being surrendered and sees our sacrifice and then gets fired up because we are following in his footsteps.
Today in your lives there may be many things which are not true and reasonable. Some of you may be sick, some of you have failed in your exams, some of your loved ones are in the hospital. Maybe you have a situation where you know that you're going to fail. Whatever the situation is, this is the right time for you to surrender to God. The joy should not come from success, victory and freedom. The joy should come from failure, surrender and sacrifice. It's temporary joy when you have success, victory and freedom. But when there is failure, surrender and sacrifice there is permanent joy. Peter remembered failure more in his letters. Paul remembered he was a sinner from the beginning till the end. So there is success where there is failure, there is victory where there is surrender, there is freedom where there is sacrifice. Let's look up at the cross.