2021 Graduation Sunday

May 24-28


Living an Extraordinary Life: God’s Plan is Better than Your Plan

And when He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at Your word I will let down the nets.” – Luke 5:4-5 (ESV)

Clarence Darrow, the great criminal lawyer of another day, had among his friends a young minister. This seems strange, because Darrow was usually thought of as an atheist or agnostic. They were talking one day and Mr. Darrow became reminiscent. He talked of his career and some of the famous trials in which he had been the lawyer for the defense. Then Mr. Darrow asked, “Would you like to know my favorite Bible verse?” His friend said, “Indeed I would.” Mr. Darrow said, “You will find it in Luke 5:5. ‘We’ve toiled all the night and have taken nothing.'” He added, “In spite of my success that verse seems to sum up the way I feel about life.” (Dr. William R. Pettrigrew)

In Luke 5, Jesus calls the Apostle Peter to come and follow Him. But before He does, Jesus gave Peter a living example of how much more he would accomplish following God’s plan for his life than his own. Peter “toiled all night” and came up with nothing. Jesus with a word provided more than Peter and his nets could even contain.


It’s possible for us to work all our lives and still feel a sense of emptiness. As our graduates prepare for the next stage of life, it’s so important for all of us to remember Proverbs 16:9, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.”  When have you experienced the frustration of planning without God? Where do you think God may be leading you next?


Praise God for having a plan for your life. Thank God for caring about the details and directing each step.


Living an Extraordinary Life: Trust God

And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”  – Luke 5:4 (ESV)

Steve Blankenship wrote, “One New Year’s Day, in the Tournament of Roses parade, a beautiful float suddenly sputtered and quit. It was out of gas. The whole parade was held up until someone could get a can of gas. The amusing thing was this float represented the Standard Oil Company. With its vast oil resources, its truck was out of gas.” (Your Father Loves You, James Packer)

We can all relate to a gas shortage with the recent shutdown of the Colonial pipeline. Our nation relies on gas for power. The church relies on God for power. In Luke 5, Jesus wanted to teach Peter to rely on Him. In Luke 5:4, Jesus gives two commands. The first command is to “put out into the deep.” The second command is to “let down your nets.” Jesus told them where to go and what to do. This was risky and required faith. It may have even seemed like Jesus was setting them up for failure. But He was setting them up for success.


As you prepare for graduation or the next season of life, you may feel God is telling you to “put out into the deep.” Proverbs 3:5-6 says you should, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” There will be scary moments in your faith journey. In those moments, you have to reflect on God’s proven track record. Where is God currently asking you to exercise faith and trust in Him?


Praise God for all the times you remember Him getting you through a situation that required faith. Thank God for His promise to not abandon you in the deep places of life.


Living an Extraordinary Life: Perseverance

And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” – Luke 5: 4-5 (ESV)

When I was young, we used to go camping at the Lodgepole Campground in Sequoia National Park. The campground was named after a type of pine tree. Now, the lodgepole pine is specifically created by God for the opposition. Its pine cones are not easy to break to let animals and birds gather the seeds as with some of the other pine cones. Do you know when its seeds come out? They come out under extreme heat. My cousin, Don, and I used to love to sneak pine cones into the fire so they would pop and make people jump. But notice the real significance here. Lodgepole pines are designed by God, the intelligent designer, to reseed the forest after a fire. The seeds are dormant until they are needed after a crisis. The extreme heat brings about the release of the life-giving seeds so that the reforesting can begin. (author unknown)

In Acts 5, the Apostle Peter was in a tough spot. He’s worn out from fishing all night. Jesus’ command didn’t make sense. But Peter said, “nevertheless” or  “at your word.” He had doubts but he obeyed anyway. God would use this difficult experience in Peter’s life to bring about great blessings and an extraordinary life for Peter.


There will be difficult seasons in your life. However, Galatians 6:9 reminds you, “let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” Is God asking you to not lose heart about a situation you are currently facing? Claim Galatians 6:9 and confess “But at Your word” and obey Him.


Praise God for the promise of reaping the benefits of not losing heart. Thank God that there are no wasted trials in your life.


Living an Extraordinary Life: Astonished

And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats so that they began to sink. … For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, – Luke 5: 6-7,9 (ESV)

Have you heard the cliché: “They are who we thought they were”? Normally quiet, former Arizona Cardinals coach Dennis Green first uttered this trademarked phrase during a swear-filled, post-game tirade. When he was asked what he thought of the Chicago Bears after his team dropped a 20-point lead during a Monday Night Football game, Green responded “they are who we thought they were.” Green exclusively owns the right to use the phrase for sports merchandise, but the clip is a sports media standard that is used when teams fail to take advantage of their opponent’s obvious flaws.” (CNN/famous.phrases)

In Luke 5 Jesus proved, He is who we thought He was. Jesus provided so many fish that day that the nets began to break and the boats began to sink. This was likely the single greatest catch of fish Simon Peter had ever witnessed. Luke 5:9 says, they were “astonished at the catch of fish.” Jesus used this “astonishing” catch of fish to prepare Peter for the astonishing life He had for him.


When we place our faith in Jesus, we will eventually realize, He is who we thought He was. Ephesians 3:20-21 says, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”


Think about a few occasions when you have been astonished by the work of God. Praise God for those occasions that come to mind.


Living an Extraordinary Life: Humbling Privilege

But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” …and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” – Luke 5:8,10 (ESV)

S.I. McMillen, in his book None of These Diseases, tells a story of a young woman who wanted to go to college. So she got an application from the college of her choice. But her heart sank when she got the application. On the application, it asked, “Are you a leader?” She was honest and conscientious, so she wrote, “No.” She sent the application back believing that she would not be accepted. Within a few weeks, she received a response back from the college. It read: “Dear Applicant: A study of the application forms reveals that this year our college will have 1,452 new leaders. We are accepting you because we feel it is imperative that they have at least one follower.”

When Simon Peter realized he was in the presence of God he was immediately humbled. Then Jesus calmed Peter’s fears and invited him to become a follower. Peter understood that it was only by God’s grace he was able to be a part of Jesus’ plan to reach the world.


As you begin to understand who Jesus is and how unworthy you are, there will be a natural sense of humility that comes over you. And then as you realize God wants to use your strengths and weaknesses to serve Him and reach people, you will sense it’s a great privilege. When was the last time you got on your knees as an expression of humility before God?


Spend some time praising the holiness and power of Jesus. Then spend some time expressing gratitude to God for choosing you as His follower and ambassador.