The Next Chapter

The Next Chapter
Matthew 4:12-22
Pastor Lester McCorn

Scripture Lesson:
12 When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee. 13 Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali— 14 to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah:
15 “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,
 the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan,
 Galilee of the Gentiles—
16 the people living in darkness
 have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
 a light has dawned.”
17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
18 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him.
21 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

Lesson Excerpt:

Chapters are important markers in a story that make up the story. There are twists and turns that make up the story. There are always chapters that are painful in a person's life. The painful experiences, obstacles, and situations of people in transition are apparent to us. In today’s scripture, Jesus Christ was preaching the good news of the gospel. John the Baptist is the one who was chosen by God to pave the way for Jesus Christ. In his work, John the Baptist became a great leader and had people that drew in towards him because of the messages that he preached. There was something peculiar that drew people to him. John the Baptist became public enemy number one to the empire because he spoke the truth of the gospel. Nevertheless, he held fast to the word of God.

Because of John the Baptist’s pursuit of God’s will and purpose for his life, he was captured and thrown into prison. John the Baptist was a threat to the king and to the kingdom. The people's (followers) hearts were heavy and they were in limbo because their leader was in prison. While John the Baptist was in prison this could be called the limitable stage. According to the Free Dictionary, being in a limitable stage means to be at a “point, edge, or line beyond which something ends, may not go, or is not allowed.” The people were in a limitable stage. They were in between life and death. For example, during heart surgery a person is in a limitable stage. During surgery the doctor removes the heart from the body and takes steps to keep the person having the surgery alive while they work on the heart. This is a limitable stage because the person is between life and death. There are times in our lives that are like this. The limitable stage is an uncomfortable stage to be in. A lot of us presently feel that we are in a limitable stage. Our national leader’s time with us has ended and there is now a new national leader whom many are concerned about. The limitable stage is necessary. We can't get to the next chapter of our life until we go through the limitable stage. This is what Psalms 23:4 means which the scripture says, “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.” God will be with me us when we go through our limitable stage.

God does some of his best work when we go through the limitable stage. There is a man named Jesus. Jesus had to go through a limitable stage. We all have to go through this stage in our lives. It prepares us for God’s mission, will, way, and purpose for our lives. God is raising up some people who can handle what's coming down the pike. People are beginning to stand for the truth and the light. All of us are more emotional than we are logical sometimes. Phobia will happen in life. Especially when there is something before us that we can't handle well that comes before us in life. We also have paralysis. It delays us in our pursuit of our purpose and destiny. There is pain. Pain is real. All of us have pain from disappointment and we must embrace the reality of our pain. There is a balm in Gilead to heal us. Moreover, we experience perplexities in life. We can't understand what is going on and why we are going through certain challenges in life.

Yet, in the midst of this, here comes Jesus who gives us glory. God will help us move to the next chapter. Sometimes we are obsessed with the last chapter in our lives. It's time to move to the new chapter in life. I must turn to God to make room for the greatest blessings. I must take the old experiences and put them in their proper place… lessons for life. This is when we discover and learn how to deal with disappointments and heartaches we experience in life.

It is important to note that not everyone gets out of the limitable stage at the same time. Therefore, we must be patient with people. Be a confidant, comforter, pray for them, and intercede for them. In today’s scripture, Jesus recognizes that he needed some men to be on his team. He was looking for men that were available to go beyond the ordinary. Are we ready to move beyond where we are to the next stage of our life? There is a poem called, “The Day After Tomorrow” that reminds us that we need to “forgive the wrongs, ease the sufferer’s pain,” and realize that “today is here.” So before you throw in the towel, lose hope, and give up, remember that God brought us a man named Jesus. We must remember that after every fall and every failure, we have the opportunity to get up and rise. We will still rise in spite of the situations we experience in life.

Three points a new chapter can do for us are:

• A new chapter tells us to move forward. God has given each of us a new chapter. Because of his grace he is giving us a new chapter and telling us to move forward. Don't allow doubt, fear, negative people and situations, and low self-esteem to hold you down. It will be difficult. Others will try to remind you of the past. Remember that you have a new chapter and you have to move forward. How many books are there on your shelves that you never finished? We need to get to the end of our story. God is not through with us yet. God has given us a new chapter and it is time for us to move forward. Jesus' arrival was a sign to the people that God had given them a new chapter. Our story is still being written and we must move forward.

• Turn the page. A new chapter allows us to turn the page. We must stop living and looking in the past chapter so that we can in a spiritual sense turn the page of our life. We must advance forward. Turn the page on the past. Turn the page on the hurts in life. Turn the page on the obstacles. Turn the page on the disappointments. God is trying to write a new story for you and for me. Let’s turn the page so that God can write the next chapter of our stories on a new blank page. Also, leave some pages intentionally blank throughout your story. This allows you to come back to that page and take note of what God has done or is doing in your life. God is still ordering the steps for each of our lives. Turn the page and allow God to perform miracles in your life. When you turn the page you hold yourself to the mighty hand of God in your life.

• Embrace the whole story. Each chapter in our lives is just a part of our story. All the chapters of our lives make up the whole story for each of us. The hard and painful chapters are getting us in line and in sync with the will, way, and purpose of our lives. We have to lose some people, places, and things. Sometimes people do mean things to us. What they meant for evil, God will make it for good. Jesus shows up, he comes out of the wilderness, and gives us life and we have it more abundantly. Don't limit yourself to the past chapters of your life. God has given us another chance. God looks past our faults, failures, and sees our needs. God is still writing a new chapter in each of our lives. It is okay to look back every now and then, highlight or put a bookmark in the chapter so that we realize and remember what God has brought us through. Just know that it is a reminder that God is not done with our lives. The new movie, “Fences,” is a story that was written by storywriter, August Wilson. The story is what makes the movie. In other words, we are nothing without a good storywriter. The name of our storywriter is Jesus. When others see our lives they will be blessed. This is our story. You’ve got a story. I’ve got a story. God has a story for each of us. He is working things out on our behalf. Old things are passed away and all things have become new. We have a new chapter of our life. Amen.