It All Depends: Changing the Picture You Fit Into
Rev. Marvin Yoder loves to help others successfully fulfill God’s will for their lives, and he is thrilled when he can help people “hit a home run” in accomplishing exactly that! Marvin has rejoined the Rhema Bible Church staff as an associate pastor and the Rhema Bible Training College faculty as an instructor.
Prior to returning to Rhema, he planted and pastored several churches in Illinois. Before planting those churches, Marvin served for nine years in various positions at Rhema, including as dean of Rhema Bible Training College. Marvin graduated from the school in 1984 and has traveled extensively, both nationally and internationally, as an itinerant minister. He has also authored several books and study guides.
In his free time Marvin loves to write, go treasuring hunting, and play golf. He also enjoys taking back-road vacations with his wife, Leah. They have three children: Christina Ann, Nichole Joy, and Audrey Danielle.A boy asked his father if he could go with him on a fishing trip. His father replied, “It all depends.” What the father meant was that granting the boy’s request depended whether the boy could meet the various conditions required to deal successfully with everything on the fishing trip.
The word “depend” is a conditional word meaning that a desired result is contingent upon someone or something meeting certain conditions. So how does this word “depend” relate to our Christian life and ministry? Having the life and ministry God wants us to have is not totally up to God; it is dependent or contingent upon our response to His will.
Sometimes God tells people things they don’t feel they can do or accomplish. Perhaps they looked at themselves, their surroundings, and their resources and concluded they don’t have what it takes to do what they heard God say. And if that is all they looked at, they may be correct!
A Picture of Getting Nothing
In ourselves, apart from Jesus, we cannot do what God tells us to do! Jesus said, “. . . without Me you can do nothing” (Jn. 15:5). The word nothing means zero, zilch, or not any. Not one thing! The word nothing also speaks of something being barren or empty. To get a better grasp of the idea of having or accomplishing nothing, let’s look at two incidents in Peter’s life.
In Luke 5 after Jesus uses Peter’s boat to speak to the crowd, He tells Peter to launch out and let their nets down to catch fish. Peter replied in verse five, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing . . .” Peter and his crew worked all night, which was the prime time to catch fish, and yet they didn’t catch even one fish. Their ship remained barren, containing no fish whatsoever!
In John 21:3, after Jesus was crucified, Peter said, “I am going fishing.” The language here suggests Peter and some others had decided to go back into the fishing business. They spent the whole night out on the water and “that night they caught nothing.” (v.3). Their fishing plans amounted to exactly zero . . . not even one fish! Their boat stayed empty, having no fish in it!
What can we learn from these two incidents? In the first incident, Peter was not connected with Jesus, and didn’t know anything about the power of God. Therefore he had no way to overcome his natural circumstances, and his efforts resulted in nothing. In the second incident, Peter acted on his own plans instead of God’s plans. This brought Peter zero results. Peter was going the direction he thought best, but it brought him nothing. C.S. Lewis said, “To walk out of His will is to walk into nowhere.” [i] In both incidents, we can clearly see that Peter was not depending upon God and what God could do as he labored, and he came up empty-handed!
A Picture Of Abundant Supply
One meaning of the word depend is “to place reliance or trust” [ii] in something. What does it take for us to depend on God? What happens when we depend on God? How do our experiences in life change when we depend upon God? Let’s look again at the same two incidents in Peter’s life that we looked at before.
In the incident in Luke 5:4-6, Jesus said this to Peter, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch” (v.4). When Peter heard what Jesus said, he replied, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net” (v.5). Then Peter went and obeyed what Jesus said, and to their surprise, “they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking” (v.6).
In John 21:6, Jesus said, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” Peter and his guys heard what Jesus said and, “they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish.”
These incidents became real turning points in Peter’s life. His life took on a whole new focus of depending upon what God told him to do. His circumstances turned around for him, so that he didn’t end up with nothing. Instead he ended up with an abundant supply!
The results of what Peter did changed when Peter depended (relied, trusted) on what Jesus said. This resulted in Peter becoming connected with God and experiencing a supernatural supply from God above and beyond what his natural circumstances could bring him. His dependence on God allowed him to go on to become one of Jesus’ main disciples, become one of the apostles of the Lamb, write several books of the Bible, and be one of the leaders in the Early Church.
Which Picture Do You Fit In?
Here we have two pictures of Peter. One picture is of Peter pursuing his own ideas, and living with whatever his natural circumstances gave him, which gave him nothing. The other picture is where Peter connected with God and depended upon what God said to him as he went about his work. This enabled him to receive an abundant supply and have his life forever changed!
So how can we move from the picture of having nothing to the picture of abundant supply? Here is what we can learn from Peter to help us change the picture we live in:
- Jesus’ instructions to Peter changed his life and his circumstances! Peter went from doing his own things based on his own ideas to depending upon what Jesus said while he worked. It works the same way for us. Are we connected to God and what He tells us, or are we consumed with our own thoughts? Lee Strobel said, “If Jesus is the Son of God, his teachings are more than just good ideas from a wise teacher; they are divine insights on which I can confidently build my life.” [iii] Our dependence upon God will develop and increase as we read the Word of God and allow it to influence us as we work.
- Peter’s response enabled him to depend upon God! Peter immediately yielded to what Jesus said by saying, “nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net” (Lk. 5:4). In other words, Peter responded by depending on what Jesus said. Are we yielding to what God tells us, even when we don’t know how to do it, and depending upon God to perform what He told us? Remember, whatever God tells us requires a response of faith, believing in what He has said and can do. Responding by yielding to God’s plan will enable us to be fruitful in our labors.
- Peter’s dependence upon God caused him to receive what God said! By depending upon God, Peter went from having nothing to receiving an abundant supply! Peter’s dependence allowed God to perform His Word in his life! This does not mean that Peter did nothing and God did everything. Rather, Peter’s dependence upon God as he labored enabled him to receive a greater supply than he did by depending upon himself. This is a picture of what God wants for us. Our dependence upon God as we work will enable us to move from our current circumstances to far more than what we could ever achieve in the natural!
Are we focused on our own plans, or are we listening to what God tells us to do? Are we responding agreeably with God to do what He said? To depend upon God is just as vital and necessary for us today as it was for Peter. Putting our trust in God and relying on what God can do changes our lives and our circumstances and opens up a whole new world of experiences for us.
Relying upon what God promised to do in our lives enables us to be fruitful, causes our labors to be profitable, allows us to receive supernatural supply, and positions us for miraculous things! To the person who depends upon God, Jesus said, “with God all things are possible” (Mk. 10:27). As we move with God and trust in Him, we “can do all things through Christ who strengthens us” (Phil. 4:13).
In the end, can we do what God tells us to do, and receive what He has promised? Do we have what it takes to accomplish God’s plans for our lives and ministries? Can we tap into more than what our natural circumstances provide? My response to those questions is, “It all depends! It is all contingent upon whether you are depending upon God and what He can do as you go about your daily life.”[/vc_column_text][image_separator][vc_column_text][i] https://www.deseretnews.com/top/817/0/Top-100-CS-Lewis-quotes-.html