Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered. He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. (John 21:1–6, NIV 1984).
My Musings – They had seen the risen Christ, but went back to fishing, their old way of life. The life they lived before Jesus changed their lives. Catching nothing in the literal sense, and catching nothing in the Spiritual sense either. Casting their nets on the wrong side of the boat. “Fishing” in the wrong lake, for the wrong kind of catch.
My Advice – Most of us are not in full time ministry, so we do have to make a living in the secular world. But we are changed, and our old way of making a living is no longer the way we make a life. Do not go back to casting your net on that side of the boat. It’s been fished out.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35–39, NIV 1984).
My Musings – We are all experiencing separation these days. Separated from jobs, daily necessities, appropriate healthcare, family and other relationships, to name a few. How comforting to know, for those who are in Christ Jesus, that there is nothing “in all creation” that can “separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Not now (“the present“) or ever (“the future“). Thus far in this pandemic, many have already faced death. As the days go by, many more will have to “face death all day long.” But again, “neither death nor life…will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Sadly, there are many that do not have this assurance because they are not “in Christ Jesus.” For this reason, it is important that while the Church has had to retreat in “shelter in place” and “social distancing” that “it” finds creative ways to connect with those who do not share its hope. And “it” means you and me.
My Advice – Who do you know who needs hope? Do they see in you the hope that they lack? Does it make them want to have that same hope? Pandemic or not. COVID-19 exposure or not. None of us know how much time we have left. So let’s be the light in the present darkness, lighting the way for others, as once upon a time others lit the light for us.
“They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.” (Acts 5:40–42, NIV 1984).
My Musings – Imagine being flogged and ordered not to speak in the name of Jesus. Many people around the world today, and throughout history, have not had to imagine this (and even worse things). For people like me, who have yet to face this, it is humbling. At least it should be. For what we face is mere inconvenience (ridicule, rejection, disrespect) in comparison.
Next, imagine not only continuing to teach and proclaim the good news that Jesus is the Christ but also rejoicing (feeling or showing great joy or delight) for being counted worthy (important enough) to suffer such disgrace (strongly and generally disapproved of) for the name. All the while knowing that even more (or worse) is to come. Also humbling, as all too often we grumble over our “inconveniences.”
My Advice – Be worthy of disgrace for His name. Because it is the name before all other names.
Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, son of Simon. As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. “What you are about to do, do quickly,” Jesus told him, but no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the Feast, or to give something to the poor. As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night. (John 13:26–30, NIV 1984).
My Musings – “And it was night.” Deeds or darkness, prefer the cover of darkness. Light reveals, darkness conceals. Light illuminates, darkness obfuscates. That is the true nature of light and darkness. If only it were that simple. Unfortunately, Satan masquerades as an angel of light. He quotes (misquotes, takes out of context) scripture. So while we are to be as “innocent as doves” we must also be as “sly as a fox.” “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” (2 Timothy 4:2–4, NIV 1984).
My Advice – Do not let anyone deceive you. That time is here. Darkness cannot extinguish light, but it can scatter it, diffuse it and dilute it. “But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:5, NIV 1984). Keep your “lamps” filled with oil and their “wicks” neatly trimmed.
“Now those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, telling the message only to Jews. Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.” (Acts 11:19–21, NIV 1984).
My Musings – The Western world has largely been spared of such persecution, but it is interesting to note that while the devil intended to obliterate the Church, his devices were thwarted by God and actually served to grow the Church.
What are some of the things we encounter in the Western world that can also serve to spread the Gospel of Christ? Have you ever lost your job? Did you ever consider that God might be moving you to a new one to serve such a purpose? Has your family ever had to relocate causing you to enroll in a new school, forcing you to make new friends? Did you ever consider that these new friends might need to hear the Gospel and God has chosen you to be His herald? Did your first choice for college not work out and you had to “settle” for another? Did you ever consider that there might be those there that might only be receptive to the Gospel from someone like you?
My Advice – Persecution like that experienced in the 1st century is breaking out around the world at an increasing rate. It may soon be where you live, if it is not there already. Light is more noticeable the darker it gets. Don’t hide it. But even if it is not yet quite that dark where you live (where God may have moved you), does not mean that you cannot shine for the Master. You have the best news that anyone could possibly share with another.
“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:10–11, NIV 1984).
My Musings – Last week, you might recall my blogs regarding a flat tire leading to re-connecting my brother with a long-lost friend and sharing the Gospel. If so, then you know that encounter did not work out the way we had hoped it would (yet). Well, over the weekend the story took a new twist. While grocery shopping I spotted another old friend (Ken) from High school that I had not seen in probably 10 – 15 years. As we talked, he told me, “say, I hear you ran into Ron at the car dealership the other day. I also hear he and your brother spoke on the phone.” Strange, don’t you think?
My Advice – One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the people crowding around him and listening to the word of God, he saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. 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. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” 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.” When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. (Luke 5:1–6, NIV 1984). Sometimes, when you let down your net, it comes up empty. And then again, you never know. “It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Continue to pray for Ron, and now Ken as well.
Then Felix, who was well acquainted with the Way, adjourned the proceedings. “When Lysias the commander comes,” he said, “I will decide your case.” He ordered the centurion to keep Paul under guard but to give him some freedom and permit his friends to take care of his needs. Several days later Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was a Jewess. He sent for Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus. As Paul discoursed on righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, “That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.” (Acts 24:22–25, NIV 1984).
At this point Festus interrupted Paul’s defense. “You are out of your mind, Paul!” he shouted. “Your great learning is driving you insane.” “I am not insane, most excellent Festus,” Paul replied. “What I am saying is true and reasonable. The king is familiar with these things, and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner. King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do.” Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?” Paul replied, “Short time or long—I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.” (Acts 26:24–29, NIV 1984).
My Musings – Putting off reception of the Gospel to when we “find it convenient” is a dangerous gamble. As “short time” becomes “long” the heart can become hardened toward spiritual things and repentance and confession becomes harder and harder. Such appears to be the case with Ron (see February 6, musing “The Turn of the Screw”). He says he really does not believe in God as too many people suffer, especially children. I remain hopeful, that since Ron has a soft heart for others, especially children (a soft spot for Jesus too), his heart will soften and God “will remove from [him his] heart of stone” and give him “a new heart” and “a new spirit.”
My Advice – Prayer changes things. Please continue to pray for Ron, and others like him.
Want to become a Christian? See my blog series “The Born Again Experience.”
Want a closer walk with Christ? See my blog series “Got Spiritual Milk?”