Building Grace Beyond Ourselves Week 4: Breakthrough

Sermon Transcript

[Video]

[Chip]: I remember back when we first started the church. We had big dreams and visions. We’d get together and talk about God doing great things and the church growing. But, at times, it was really just sort of talk. And then to look at what has happened over the last several years, the growth, to think that, you know, there’s probably around 1,500 people that call us home at this point is absolutely incredible.

I remember sitting down with a pencil — I didn’t even have a pen, I had a pencil in the room. And I got a sheet of paper. I pulled it out of the drawer and I wrote down, “We are to reach the unchurched by being intentional neighbors that reflect Christ.”

And I remember coming back, I was — to be honest with you, I felt a little vulnerable to get up in front of the church and say, “Hey, guys. For the last couple of years, I haven’t really told you what we’re doing, because I didn’t know myself.” And that was a real vulnerable moment, but I look back at that time when I got up and said, “Hey, this is what Grace is all about,” we exploded from that point. You know, we’ve tried to live that out in everything that we do. We really want to reach the unchurched by being intentional neighbors that reflect Christ.

And I think that everything that we do around here, that’s really in our DNA now. And it was just great to look back on those times, being in a hotel room and just crying out to God, going, “God, what are we supposed to do?” And then to see Him act and to do that stuff, it’s so encouraging to be a part of that.

[Female]: From six years ago when we relocated to Florida, we found this little church called Grace Community Church. I felt like Grace Community Church was a hot mess at the time. To see Grace Community Church relocate to Lakewood Ranch because Pastor Chip had a vision and God knew what was best for me, that was just such a joy of seeing how God has moved just not only in my family, but in the lives of so many people in Lakewood Ranch.

[Chip]: The people of Grace come from all kinds of different backgrounds and cultures and socioeconomic categories. I mean, it really is a melting pot of people. I think the people here at Grace are what make us unique, because they are chomping at the bits to get into ministry. You know, and don’t get me wrong. I think that we do a lot of great things. I think our worship is experiential. I think people genuinely feel the presence of God. I think people are challenged by the things that I preach out of the Scripture. I think having a professor as a pastor and vice versa makes for a unique service. But, I think, by and large what makes Grace so unique is that this whole congregation has really rallied behind our vision. They really believe this is a local church that wants to reach the unchurched by being intentional neighbors that reflect Christ. Everybody here at Grace loves to serve, loves to get out and do ministry, loves to tell people about Jesus. And that just makes for a very unique experience here in Lakewood Ranch.

[Male]: Through Main Street, through the music that we all love and enjoy, I said, “Let’s go check this out. Let’s go see what’s going on.” The mission statement that this church has, being intentional neighbors that reflect Christ, was amazing to me. I saw that mission statement and I said, “Wow. That’s the kind of church that I want to be involved in.”

[Chip]: You know, one of the things that makes us unique as a church is that where a lot of churches just hope and pray that people will come through the doors and show up on the weekend, we’ve done the exact opposite. We have gone out into the highways and the hedges. We’ve gone out here to Lakewood Ranch’s Main Street and we have proclaimed the Gospel in such a non-traditional way that what it’s doing is it’s bringing people in that were burned by religion and didn’t go to church anymore. We’re seeing them come in. And we’re also seeing people that never went to church start coming in.

Grace, we really are seeing our vision come to fruition. We’re really reaching the unchurched by being intentional neighbors that reflect Christ. We’re experiencing Acts 2 in our midst as we go out into places like Lakewood Ranch. I mean, we’re not doing it traditionally where we’re hoping people will come to us. We’re taking the message out to them. And because of the good will that we have in this community, we’re seeing God at to His church. And listen, I want to continue to see those people add, which means we need more space for them.

Over the years, as we gathered as a church and we talked, and we prayed, several opportunities came up as to where we could go in the future, but none of them seemed to work. But this one here, absolutely incredible the way things have happened. We literally are about a mile from where we gather right now. Not only that, but God’s heard our prayers. We really wanted to stay in the Lakewood Ranch area because of all the things that we do. And third, He’s created a thing that truly is financially feasible for our church.

This is a defining moment for our church. Let’s seize this moment. Let’s truly reach the unchurched by being intentional neighbors that reflect Christ. Let’s build Grace beyond ourselves.

[End Video]

Well, good morning to everybody, and, also, good morning to those who watch via the internet and the mobile app. I’ve never done this. I’ve built a building in the professional world, but I’ve never built a building or done a campaign as a pastor. So, bear with me as I try to work through this weekend and try to do what I feel like the Lord has laid upon my heart to the best of my ability, because this has been a different experience for me and for the staff.

And I can tell you this: We’ve done everything that we can possibly do to make this as transparent as we can. We’ve tried to be as open and as honest as we can possibly be. We’ve tried to do a building campaign that was not what we had experienced, maybe, in our previous church experiences. We really wanted this to be great. And if you’re new here today, I know you’re probably thinking, “Oh, man. I walked in on the campaign pledge weekend.”

But let me put you at ease, because I really do have something for you as well. But I want you to know that if you’re new or you’ve maybe been coming for a little bit, we’ve just grown. We’ve grown to the place where this building is starting to feel its limits. We’re starting to feel constricted. We’re starting to see some of the issues that churches have when the space is just not big enough for the crowds that come. And we’re seeing that ebb and flow where we’ve been just growing and continuing to grow. We’re starting to see this back and forth sort of rubber band that anybody who’s been in the situation that we’re in is experiencing.

And so, I just want to say up front here, because I want to get this out of the way. In a few minutes, we are going to bring our pledges up. And I want to make sure that everybody understands this. There’s an envelope on everybody’s chair. If you have already turned in your pledge card, you do not need to put anything in the envelope. Just have the envelope because we are going to bring this up and give them to the Lord. What we don’t want to do is for you to repeat your pledge card, because you don’t need to do that.

So, if you’ve already given us a pledge card, you do not need to do it. You can just bring your envelope. That way you don’t feel left out because you’ve done that. If you have not turned in your pledge card and you want to do as much, you can put it into the envelope and make sure that it’s in there. And you don’t have to lick it. I don’t like the taste of envelopes. Maybe you do. But you can put that there, and that way it keeps it confidential. There will be very few eyes that see this, and I want you to know I don’t look at anything at all on who’s giving. I just do that because it’s just what I want to do as the pastor. But we’ll bring these up.

And I just want to go over this real quickly with everybody so that we’re all on the same page. This is the card. This is sort of just an idea of what you can give. We’re not asking you to follow the thing. We’re just saying this is what it is. And then, on the back of the card — and this is the most important thing — is the total commitment for a two-year period, but this first line here is your firstfruits offering. Many of you all are going to give a firstfruits check so that we can try to get a jumpstart on purchasing the land. That would go here. You can put that check in the envelope, if you want, with your pledge card if you’re doing that, or you can just turn in the pledge card.

So, that being said, we’re going to do that in a few minutes. But what I get to do right now is something that I really am excited about, and I know that there is this card that’s in there. I’ll talk about that in just a second. But I get to do something that I’m so excited about. I’m going to get to show you the first — we got this on Friday this week, so we haven’t been holding back on anybody. This is the first rendering, real rendering, of what the church would look like if we, in fact, get the land and build this building. This is what the church would look like. And I can tell you this: I took it home and I put it on the kitchen island for Mindy and the kids to see it, and they were just — I was stunned when I saw it, and I sort of hand an idea of what it was going to maybe look like.

They were stunned. The kids were stunned. And it was funny, last night I went to Blaze Pizza and I had somebody from the church say to me, “When you told me that it was going to be stunning, I was thinking, ‘Yeah, whatever.’” She said, “I want you to know it was stunning.”

So, ladies and gentlemen, if in fact we go forward, this is roughly what Grace Community Church would look like right down the street about 0.8 miles from here. This is the building that we would put on that piece of land, and I hope this gets you excited.

How about that? Come on. I got the question last night, “Why is the convertible Benz up here?”

I don’t know. I didn’t do the rendering at all. Here’s a closer shot. And what’s funny is there was the debate last night, “What does the tag say?” So, I had to go home and get on my computer and do pinch and zoom. It says, “EverMotion.” I have no idea why it says that, but some people thought that it said, “Evolution,” and I’m going, “No. That would probably — somebody would probably lose their job on that one.”

Right? But, that being said, this is an idea of what the church would look like. I think it’s very Lakewood Ranch. It is a tilt wall building, so it looks a lot more than what it is. It’s just really done aesthetically nice, and I think that would be an awesome place to have.

So, all the being said, I knew this weekend I was going to be a little bit at odds as to what to do, because this series, I knew the first three messages that I had, I knew they were going to be right. I know talking about legacy was good, having a passion and having open hands. I felt really good about those three, but I’m going to be honest with you: I had no idea what to say this weekend. I just didn’t have any idea.

So, my prayer was sort of going like this: “God, I know that we need a breakthrough. God, we need a breakthrough. If this is what You want for us, we’re going to have to have a breakthrough.”

And, for those of you all who know me well, you know I don’t do this very often. I don’t talk like this very often. I really felt like the Lord just spoke to me and said, “Listen, Chip.” I actually felt like He said, “Son,” but He said, “Listen, son,” — He’s from Kentucky.

So, He said, “Listen, son. The Church and the building of the church, that’s my department. You’re to be a pastor and to equip my people. The people that need breakthrough are my people. Don’t worry about the church thing. I’ll take care of that. You trust me.”

And when I say that, I’m not saying He said He was going to take care of that and we’re going to get it. He just said, “You’re going to have to just trust me, whatever happens. But your role, son, is to be a pastor and to equip my people, and they need a breakthrough.”

So, I know that this is not normal. I know that most people would talk about how we’re going into a promised land and this is the time to really give and all that stuff. I’m not going to do that. I want to talk to you about a breakthrough for you. If you’re here today, you’re not here by accident because I’m going to preach a message to you about breakthrough. These two things are not together. This we were going to do no matter what. This was coming this weekend no matter what. We all know this was going to happen.

This is completely different. And what I don’t want to do is somehow put these two things together. I know on TV they’ll tell you if you put money in and your breakthrough card in, life happens. That’s not what we’re doing here. This is separate stuff. This is what it is. But this right here, at the end of service, I’m going to have you also write down something that you need a breakthrough, or something maybe God speaks to you during this message — a breakthrough. And we’re going to bring both of these up. They’re not together. If you want to put them in your envelope, you can, but I would tell you not to because, as a staff, we’re going to pray over every single breakthrough card. This we knew was going to happen, but this is completely different from what we’re doing.

So, I want to talk to you about breakthrough. In the Gospels, Jesus goes to Capernaum. When He goes to Capernaum, He heals a man in the synagogue and then He goes out of the synagogue to where Simon Peter’s mother-in-law is at, and He heals her. If you’ve ever been to Israel with me, we go to that synagogue and we see the place where it was at. And it’s right along the Sea of Galilee. And so, Jesus, at this particular moment, people are sort of excited about what He’s doing. They’ve seen Him enough to know that He’s a miracle worker. They’ve heard Him enough to know that He speaks differently than anybody that they’ve ever heard speak.

And so, we’re going to pick this up here in Luke 5 and go through a couple passages of Scripture. And I want you to follow along with me, because this is a rich passage of Scripture.

It says, “On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret,”

Now, the lake of Gennesaret is the Sea of Galilee. It’s also called, in other passages of Scripture, the Sea of Tiberius. All the same thing. All referring to the same body of water. It’s not a sea. If you’ve ever been to Israel with me, you know that. It’s a big lake is what it is. And so, He’s standing by this lake. And what’s really cool is when you’re in Israel, you can stand looking at the Sea of Galilee and you can see from nine o’clock on a clock to about one o’clock on a clock. This is where almost all of Jesus’ ministry took place along the coast here of the Sea of Galilee.

And so, Jesus has been in Capernaum. People know who He is. They’re wanting to come to Him because He’s changing people’s lives. And so, the crowd now is pressing in on Him. They want to hear the Word of God. He was standing by the lake, and so He’s sort of getting up closer to the water, and then Luke tells us this:

“He saw two boats by the lake,” — there were two boats that were there — “but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets.”

So, what had happened was the fishermen had gone out in the evening to fish. They had nets that they would put down in the evening that the fish couldn’t see. They didn’t use these nets during the day because the fish could see these nets. And so, what they had done is they had gone out and fished, both boats were there. There’s a partnership here. There’s two people that have some boats and they’re working together. And the fishermen have come off the boats and they’re cleaning these nets. Their livelihood. I mean, this is their livelihood. This is the way they make their living. They’re cleaning these nets and, all of a sudden, this is what we’re told.

“Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land.”

Now, a lot of times in Scripture what’s not said is heard by the first century readers, and a lot of times we miss hearing a lot of things because we don’t fill in the blanks like we should normally fill in the blanks. Here’s what’s going on here. I mean, Simon is with some other people and they’re cleaning nets. You know, if you’ve been out all night fishing, which we’re going to find out he’s been out all night fishing, he’s tired. He’s ready to go home and get in bed and sleep for a little while. And we’re going to find out in a minute he’s caught nothing. He spent the whole night out fishing, he’s a professional fisherman and he’s caught nothing.

He’s cleaning his nets. He wants to get these nets clean because they’re his livelihood. He’s taking good care of them and he wants to get them clean and he wants to go home. All of a sudden, Jesus shows up. Now, he knows who Jesus is. It’s not that they’re unaware of who He is, but they’re not like totally devoted at this point to Jesus. They’re still fishing. They know who Jesus is and they’re sort of following Him, but they’re not really as fully committed as they will be at some point in their life. And so, all of a sudden, Jesus walks up, and He gets into Simon’s boat.

That’s pretty fresh, isn’t it? I mean, just to walk into his boat? He just walks in and He says, “Hey, can you put me out a little bit from the land? Could you do that?”

Now, let’s be honest here: He’s cleaning the nets. The last thing he wants to do is have to get up and stop cleaning the nets, because he’s tired, and put Jesus out in his boat. And who knows what Jesus is going to do? It’s like, “Dude, I want to go home and sleep.”

And I don’t know about you all, but when I get to cleaning, man, I am into cleaning. I love to keep things clean. I had somebody walk into my office last night and they were like, “Man, your office is meticulous.”

I’m like, “That’s because I am OCD so bad I alphabetize it. It’s CDO.”

That’s just the way I am. I mean, everything. You get in my car. “Man, your car is clean.” I’m just a neat freak. It’s because my dad trained us that way. My dad was a dentist. And, you know, dentists, they breathe too much of that gas, so they’re half crazy. And so, if you went into my dad’s office at the house and he had this and you turned it like this, he’d come have a family meeting.

“Who moved my clicker?”

Like, “Dad, seriously?”

“Yeah. You moved my pencil. Who moved my...”

I mean, my dad was meticulous. So, I guess I got that gene or somehow got that. But, you know, if I’m like Peter and I’m there cleaning my nets, the last thing I want to do is get up and put somebody out in a boat. But that’s what Jesus asked. He says, “Hey, can you put me out a little bit from the land?”

Because what Jesus is going to do is He’s going to use that boat in a naturally acoustical way to teach the crowd. So, it says here, “And he sat down and taught the people from the boat.”

He taught the people from the boat. I don’t know if this works better here. I don’t know if this is — hold on for a second. The TV’s sort of half messed up. Can you all see that? It seems like it’s at a slant, but it’s better than it was, maybe. I don’t know. Anyway, He sat down and taught the people from the boat. So, He sits in the boat and He starts teaching the people from the boat. We don’t know what He said. It’s not recorded. We don’t know how long He went. It’s not recorded. Nothing is. But He sits down in the boat. Peter’s got to push Him out in the boat. Peter probably goes back. If you’re being honest, Peter’s thinking, “How long is He going to use the boat? Man, I just want to go home. I want to get these nets clean.”

He’s teaching people from the boat. And so, as He sat down and taught the people from the boat, and when He had finished speaking, this is what He said to Simon:

“Thanks for letting me use your boat.”

Right? Y’all need to read the Bible. It’s not in there. I’m telling you. Some of y’all would be like, “Oh, that’s nice of Him. Jesus is a nice guy.”

He didn’t say that. This is not what He said. He didn’t say, “Thanks for letting me use your boat.”

Here’s what He said: “Let’s put out in the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”

You’ve got to know at this moment, as if Simon wasn’t already a little bit probably agitated that Jesus is using his boat while he’s trying to get the nets clean, so he can go home, now Jesus goes, “Hey, I’ve got a great idea. Let’s go fishing.”

Right?

“Let’s go fishing.”

Simon’s like, “You’ve got to be kidding me. We’re going to go out into the Sea of Galilee and we’re going to let down these nets? Do You notice I’m cleaning these nets, which means they’re going to get dirty again, which means I’m going to have to come back? This is like an all-day thing. And we’re not going to catch any fish because fish don’t get caught during the day with these nets. They see the nets. They run from the nets.”

And so, Peter, in the nicest way that he can, puts up a little bit of resistance.

He says, “‘Master, we toiled all night and took nothing!’”

“I mean, we’re professional fishermen, Jesus. I mean, we did this all night and You want us to go out again?”

And reluctantly, and I’m sure it was reluctantly, here’s what he says: “‘But at your word I will let down the nets.’”

“I’ll do it. I mean, I’ve seen enough. I know that You’re — I’ll do it.”

I don’t think he’s thinking anything at this point other than, “I’m going to go do what Jesus asked me to do because I’m sort of following Jesus and it’s probably the right thing to do. But, my goodness, this is crazy. I mean, this is an exercise in futility.”

Luke says, “And when they had done this,” — when they had obeyed what God had asked them to do — “they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking.”

So, all of a sudden, they’ve gone out. I’m sure Peter’s sitting there going, “This is an exercise in futility,” they throw over the nets that the fish are going to see. And, all of a sudden, there’s all these fish in the nets and the nets are starting to break.

‘They signaled to their partners...” — that’s why there were two boats there — “...in the other boat to come and help them.”

They’re like, “Guys, we’ve got so much fish. Can you bring the other boat, because we need some help?”

“And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.”

Their nets are starting to break because there’s so many fish. Their boats are starting to sink because there’s so many fish. I mean, it’s just absolutely — I mean, it is a holy mackerel moment. You know what I’m talking about? Except it would be more like a holy tilapia moment because that’s what’s in the Sea of Galilee. They call them St. Peter’s Fish, but it’s tilapia.

“And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it,” — this is the miracle.

When he saw the miracle, he thought to himself, “Man, this catch is going to bring bank, and I can get that house I wanted.”

Right? Y’all need to read your Bible. It’s not in there. No. I want you to see what he says, because this is huge. I want you to see what he says.

“But hen Simon Peter saw it [the miracle], he fell down at Jesus’ knees, and he said, ‘Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.’”

He had a moment. He had the Isaiah moment. When Isaiah saw the Lord, he realized how unclean he was. He’s a prophet of God. I mean, you can’t be more in the godly ministry side in the Old Testament than being a prophet. You’re speaking the very words of God. And what’s the very first thing Isaiah says when he sees the Lord?

“My lips are unclean. The words that are speaking Your words are unclean.”

See, he doesn’t just see what’s going on, he sees the Lord. He sees past the miracle. He sees past all of that and he falls down and he’s probably thinking, “Man, here I was. I was upset that He wanted to use my boat. In my mind, I went ahead and reluctantly decided to go out and fish. I cannot believe that I had all of those things going on in my mind when I was standing here with Jesus, and this guy can do whatever He wants to do.”

He just has a moment where he says, “Man, Jesus,” — and he’s not like the crowd who wants Jesus to stay. He realizes he has no claim on Jesus. He realizes, “Man, this is Jesus,” and he realizes his state compared to the state of his Master.

“For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of the fish that they had taken, and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon.”

So now we realize that Simon Peter, James and John, they’re all in this business together of fishing. And this is Jesus working with these three that will become the three closest disciples of Jesus. All of a sudden, we’re seeing how impactful this moment was. And He says to Simon, “Don’t be afraid. You’ve got fear going on. You’re afraid. Don’t worry about this right now, because from now on you’re going to be catching men. This is what you’re going to be doing, Simon. You’re going to be catching men.”

“And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.”

They left their boats, they left their nets and they left all the fish and followed Jesus. This was a moment. This was a huge, breakthrough moment for all of these disciples, but specifically Simon Peter. It was a game-changer for him. And this passage is so rich. I mean, I could spend a lot of time on this passage, but what I want to do is this: I want to give you a couple of real, serious points here for breakthrough in your life. This is for you. It’s not for your neighbor. It’s for you. And if you take notes, write these down because these are things that you can think about and pray over this week, and, hopefully, over the next few weeks, and maybe even over the next few months, but these are areas that will bring breakthrough in your life. I promise you.

And many of you, it’s going to speak to you. And some of it’s going to be uncomfortable. Some of it’s going to be challenging, but just listen to what these are, because I’m telling you God wants to bring breakthrough in your life.

The first one is this one: Breakthrough happens when we refuse to only hear the Word of God, but instead start to obey it. And you know, what’s interesting is there’s a whole movement in America right now that just wants to hear the Word of God. Just, “Oh, God, tell me how much You love me. Tell me how much Your grace is. Tell me how awesome You are. Tell me all these things.”

But what happens is nobody’s doing the Word of God. And let me tell you something: You can do all kinds of gymnastics with the Bible, but the one thing you cannot do is somehow come away from this book and not act like God wants you and me follow Him, and to do His Word and to follow what He’s asked us to do, and to live lives that are ethical and moral, and live lives that are pleasing to God. In fact, God’s calling right now saying, “Listen to that man. He is telling you the truth right now.”

But what happens is when we read passages of Scripture — and we call this, in the academic world, a pericope. A pericope is a passage in the Bible that is a unit. Luke 5:1-11 is a unit. And what Luke has done, Luke contrasts a group of people with Simon. The crowd has come to hear Jesus. They’ve come for what they can get from Jesus. They’ve come because Jesus makes them feel good, or the possibilities are for Jesus to make them feel good. But Simon is not like the crowd. Luke says, “The crowd was pressing in on Him to hear the Word of God.”

To Luke, that’s not what we’re supposed to be doing is hearing the Word of God, nor is it in James. James says, “Don’t be simply a hearer of it. Be a doer of the Word of God.”

And, oftentimes in our lives, what we don’t want to do is do the very things that God has asked us to do. We’re like the crowd. But Peter is different. Peter actually, when he hears the word, does what God has asked them to do. He does what Jesus has asked them to do. And his breakthrough comes not because he’s all full of massive faith. It’s not because he’s got his whole life together, because none of us do. Honestly, he does it sort of reluctantly. He’s like, “Okay, I’ll do it. I really don’t want to do it, but I’ll do it. I’m going to do it because it is Your Word and that’s what you’ve asked me to do.”

And can I tell you something as a pastor? I sit across tables from people on a regular basis. I talk to people on a regular basis that when I drill down at some level and ask them, “Okay. You’ve got problems in this area, you’ve got problems in that area, you’ve got situations here going on and you’ve got this stuff,” when I sit down and ask them, at some level I go, “Well, what does Scripture say about this issue?”

And what I find, as a general rule, is when there’s all kinds of problems and all kinds of angst and all kinds of fear and all kinds of confusion, it’s simply because there’s a disconnect from what they’ve heard and what they’re doing. Either the Word of God is true or it’s not. And I can tell you one thing: Everybody else can sell the Word of God out, but your pastor, Chip Bennett, is not going to sell the Word of God out. I believe, with all of my heart, that God has spoken through His Word. And I believe that His Word is something that we should follow because He knows better than I know. And, oftentimes, our breakthroughs are limited because we hear rather than obey.

Second point that I would say: Breakthrough happens when we let Jesus have use of the things most important to us. There’s a big uh-oh moment. I mean, look, let me be the guinea pig here. There’s things I’ve held onto. There’s things in my life that, I mean, Jesus, You can touch any of these areas in my life. You can’t have this. You cannot have my clicker, because I like my clicker. And it’s mine. Right here. I’m putting it in my pocket. Okay? You can’t have me — no. I’m just joking. But there’s been plenty of things in my life before that I’ve not wanted to give up.

But sometimes the breakthrough that we’re looking for isn’t there because we’re not really giving Jesus everything. And can I say something, too? That’s even your theological understandings of Him. It’s even your interpretations. Sometimes you’ve got to turn that over. Sometimes that’s even an idol. I’ve found people that make grace an idol. I’ve found people that make law an idol. I’ve found people that make the end times an idol. All things that we can talk about, but there’s so many of these. What is it? A car? Is it a house? Is it a relationship? Is it a dream? Is it a future husband or future wife?

Sometimes we’ve got to say, “God, You know what? This is all Yours. It’s all Yours.”

And we see that here with Simon. He got into the boat which was Simon’s. It was Simon’s boat and he said, “You know what, Jesus? You can use it.”

That was his livelihood. That was the way he made a living. And he said, “Jesus, You can have use of it. It’s Yours.”

I mean, we know what happened here. If Simon would’ve been reluctant to give Jesus that boat, he would not have had, probably, the situation that unfolded if he would’ve been unwilling to give Jesus the things in his life that were important to him.

The third thing is breakthrough happens when we realize trying to find meaning in life outside of Jesus leaves us with empty nets. I mean, listen, maybe you’re here today, you walked in here, you’re not quite sure about who God is or whatever, you’re not quite sure about what God wants for your life or whatever, let me say this to you: The only true life that we find is found in Christ. In Christ alone. And let me make it very clear: There’s nothing that you and I can do to earn our salvation. There’s nothing that we can do to get God to love us more. You can’t pray enough, give enough, serve enough. It’s not that.

You’re saved by grace through faith, and that not of your own doing, it is the gift of God. And it’s not of works, lest any man should boast. But I can tell you this: As great as that offer is and as awesome as that offer is, we, as a general rule, will try to find life in every other place but in Christ. Paul says it this way: “Christ is our life. He is the way, the truth and the life.” John 14:6.

I mean, what happens is, and you see the disciples, Simon says, “We toiled all night and we’ve taken nothing.” But when Jesus got involved, and when Jesus was a part of what was going on, things changed dramatically. Maybe your breakthrough is simply saying, “God, I’ve been living my life my way. I’ve been doing it my way. But, today, I’m tired of the empty nets, I’m tired of the dirty nets, I’m tired of taking nothing after a night’s worth of work. Lord, I want You to be in my life. I want You to be my Lord and Savior. I want You to save me. Lord, I know I can’t earn it. I can’t deserve it. But, Lord, I give You my life.”

Maybe that’s the breakthrough that you’re looking for in your life today. Maybe just simply hearing that Jesus loves you, yes, we know, for the Bible tells us so. Maybe that’s what you need to hear. Maybe you need to hear, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever would believe in Him would never perish but have eternal life.”

That’s the Gospel. The Gospel is, “While I was yet a sinner,” — Romans 5:8 — “Christ died for me.” He died for you. If we don’t have Jesus in our life, I promise you we’ll have empty nets.

Fourth, breakthrough happens when we experience Jesus rather than the miracle. This is so huge that we get this. It says, “When Simon Peter saw it.” He saw the miracle, but he saw past the miracle. He saw the miracle-worker. And here’s the question. This is a tough on. Am I at the point in my life that I want to see Jesus more than I want to see my circumstances change?

See, a lot of times in our lives what we want is we want to be like the crowd. We want to come to Jesus so He’ll change our circumstances, so that He’ll give us something that we’re looking for. And what God wants you and me to do is to look past that. The breakthrough comes when we see Jesus. The breakthrough comes when our eyes are on Him. Because when our eyes are on Him, it doesn’t make a difference if there’s a storm or if there’s not a storm. It doesn’t make a different if life’s going good or life’s going bad. It’s like Paul said to the Philippian church. He goes, “You know what? I’ve had it good. I’ve had it bad. I’ve been naked. I’ve been clothed. I’ve had food. I’ve been hungry. But I can tell you one thing. I’ve learned the secret of contentment, and that is that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. As long as I’ve got Jesus, I don’t need anything else. Jesus plus nothing equals everything.”

And fifth, breakthrough comes when fishing for men is more important to us than our own economy. They left everything and followed Him. And that’s my heart. I believe — listen — with everything within me. I believe with everything within me here that we want to create mature believers here at Grace Community Church. We want to have great community. We want to have great groups when we have groups together. We want to have great men’s ministries and great women’s ministries. We want to have all of those things. But can I tell you something? When a church loses sight of its major focal point, which is going out and fishing for men and women, the rest of the things break down.

The number one goal of the church will always be to go and seek and save that which is lost, because that is the heart of our Father and that is the heart of our Lord Jesus Christ. And whether we get there or not, I don’t know, but this here is simply a tool. It’s a tool to continue to do the ministry that God has called us to do. That’s all it is. It’s a tool. And I’ve had people say to me, “You know, you should say when. You need to be a man of faith. You shouldn’t say if we do this. You should say when we do this.”

I’m going to be honest with you. I come from a persuasion because of reading Scripture, and you know I teach systematic theology for a living. I mean, the bottom line is I believe, like Psalm 115:3 says, “Our God is in the heavens; he does whatever he pleases.”

I don’t believe it’s my goal to try to faith myself up to control God so if I’ve got the right faith, God will do what I want Him to do. That puts me in control. My prayer is, “God, whatever You want for me, whatever Your will is, that is what I want for my life.”

That’s why I say “if.” It’s not because I lack faith and it’s not because — God could make that happen right now. We could drive up there right now and that building could already be built. God can do those things. I don’t doubt whether or not He can do it, but I’ll tell you what, I want to make sure that I, and as the pastor of the church, this church is always doing the things that God wants us to be doing. Nothing more and nothing less. I want this church to be smack dab in the middle of the will of God. Amen?

Okay. So, here’s what we’re going to do. It’s okay. Anyway, pledge cards. We’re going to turn the lights off — turn the lights on, I mean. If you need to fill this out, you can do that now. You can fill out the pledge card. But, if you would, please put them in here. Again, if you’ve turned in your pledge card, you just need to bring the envelope. We’ve already got your pledge card. This is completely separate. I believe God is speaking to some of you about some areas that you need breakthrough in your life. I want you to write this down, put it down separate. We’re going to take all the breakthrough cards and we’re going to pray over them as a staff. But pledge cards, we know what we’re doing here.

Here’s what I want you to do. The band’s going to play. I want you to bring these as an offering. I want you to say, “God, here’s my pledge. I believe in the local church. I’m giving because this is what I want to do. This is between You and me.”

I’ve never asked you for a penny. I’ll never ask you for a penny. All I’m asking you to do is to ask God what God wants you to give. Because it’s not about what I want you to give. It’s about what God says. There’s that. And then I want you to bring this and I want you to say, “God, I need a breakthrough in my life for this area.”

I want you to bring these up. We’re going to put them in the buckets as the band sort of plays in the background. As you go back to your seats, why don’t you remain standing because we’re going to sing a song to get us out of here. And let’s just take a moment here and have a word of prayer, and then we’ll bring our pledges up and we’ll bring our breakthrough cards up, and we’ll just ask the Lord to minister to us.

Dear Heavenly Father, the prayer of this church, my prayer, the prayer of the staff has been consistent this entire time. Lord, we only want what You want. If You want us to move forward with the land and the building, then Your people will speak, and we will know. And Lord, it will be abundantly clear. And Lord, if it’s not what You want us to do, then Lord, we ask You to tear it down. Make it not feasible at all. Because, Lord, we don’t want to do anything other than what You want us to do. And Lord, if that’s meeting in a tent with porta potties out in the forest, then Lord, we’ll do it. But Lord, we just want what You want for us.

And then, Lord, I want to stop for a moment and I want to pray over Your people and, Lord, ask in the mighty name of Jesus that You would bring breakthrough in people’s lives this weekend.

Lord, I pray in Jesus’ name, in the power of God that, Lord, You would set some people free in areas that, Lord, they feel like they need a breakthrough in for Your glory and for Your honor. So, Lord, as we bring our pledges forward and our breakthrough cards forward, we bring them to You. Lord, we give them to You. We lay them before You and ask, Lord, that You would bless both of them for Your glory and for Your honor. In Jesus’ name, and everybody said, “Amen.”

Let’s close our eyes and bow our heads and let’s just close in prayer.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for this time and thank You for the process that we’ve had. I believe many of us have grown closer to You and we’ve learned to trust You more. And Lord, at the end of the day, we simply just want what You want for our church. Lord, we’ve tried to do everything that we can as open and as honest as we can do. We’ve done everything that we can do. At this point, we lay it in front of You. And Lord, You do what You do. It’s Your Church and You’re the one who builds it. So, Lord, we rest in that.

And then, Lord, for Your people. Lord, I feel honored and privileged every week to get up here and share out of Your Word. It’s humbling, but it’s also, Lord, scary at times. And Lord, I just pray that as a church You would help us to always keep the main thing the main thing. I pray, Lord, that in everything that we do, it would ultimately all come back to being about Your Son, for His glory, for His honor. For the glory and honor of Jesus Christ.

And so, Lord, I pray for the people here at Grace this morning, that You would minister to them, Lord, that they would know that they serve a God that is a God of breakthrough. And I pray, Lord, that there would be breakthrough in people’s lives this weekend, for Your glory and honor.

So, Lord, I pray that as we leave today that You would watch over us and protect us, that You would lead and guide us, and that You would bring us back safely to when we meet again. And Lord, help us to continue to stay focused on what You’ve called us to do as a church, to be a church that’s going to reach the unchurched by being intentional neighbors that reflect Christ. We love You, we thank You, we praise You. In Jesus’ name, and everybody said, “Amen.”

Give the Lord a big hand clap. Tell Him you love Him. God bless everybody. See you soon.

John Flowerree