Sunday, June 13, 2010

Lessons from the Seaside

We can learn a lot about our relationship with God by studying the life of Peter. His journey with Jesus is a study in contradictions.

In Matthew 14:28-30 In the midst of a raging storm, he impulsively climbed out of his boat at the invitation of Jesus to walk on water, only to divert his attention and sink like a stone.In Matthew 16:13-19 we read about His affirmation, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” brought him high praise and the prediction he would someday lead the church. But we can read from Matthew 16:21-23 he soon fell from that great height, to receive a sharp rebuke.  Then in John 18:10,17, 25-27 after risking his life to defend his Master against a cohort of soldiers, he denied knowing Jesus to the rabble huddled in the courtyard at His trial. But, after Jesus’s death and resurrection, a seaside reunion with the risen Lord changed everything. Peter learned that being a disciple requires one primary qualification: a willingness to follow.

A lesson we learn is the futility of our labors on our own.
Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing. John 21:3.
The disciples had just had an experience of a lifetime. They had watched their leader die! They were very sad until the truth of His resurrection became truth to them. They were at a point where they didn’t know what to do. These few men who were followers of Jesus didn’t know which way to turn. I think maybe that they had a long discussion about what to do and finally Peter said, “Well. I don’t know what you fellows are going to do but I going fishing. They all said “We are going, too!” This was not anything new to these fellows! That had done this before. They liked to fish. They fished for a living.

Let me share some things that I see in this story:

It was night.

Do you ever feel sometimes in your Christian walk that it’s nighttime? That what you are doing is a waste of time? These men were doing what they knew how to do and it became nighttime. They were working just as hard as they knew how to work.

You might say to me, "Pastor, I pray and I believe God and I go to church. I read the word. I witness and yet I feel like I’m working in the dark. I can’t see any results. I can’t even feel God!" Maybe you have nights like Job did.
So am I made to possess months of vanity [futility] and wearisome nights are appointed to me. When I lie down, I say, When shall I arise, and the night be gone? and I am full of tossings to and fro unto the dawning of the day. --Job 7:3-4.
We need to remember that the night will end and the morning will come! Don’t jump out of your boat just because it’s night time, because the morning will come!

They were catching nothing.

Not only was it night but all of their efforts produced nothing! Cast after cast was made, and time after time the net was drawn in and nothing in it but tangle and mud. Maybe this is what the book of Ecclesiastes meant.
Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun. --Ecclessiates 2:1.
Now these fellows were not lazy, they stayed with it until morning.

When I go fishing and I don’t catch anything, I am soon ready to go home. I don’t stay with it very long at all.
Do you ever feel like that what you are doing in the kingdom is useless or vanity? Well, just keep on keeping on because God is watching and He will come through for you.

We need to understand that failure and disappointments happen in the most successful Christain lives. Alexander MacClaren said: “Christain work is often done with no results at all apparent to the doer, but be sure of this, that they who learn and practice the wholesome virtue of persistent adherence to the task that God sets them, will catch some gleams of a presence most real and most blessed, and before they die will know that their labour has not been in vain in the Lord, 'They that sow in tears shall reap in Joy.'”

The morning came.

Morning always follows the night! Isn’t that a revealing statement? On towards daylight as they are pulling the net out of the water for the last time, they hear a voice from the shore, "Have you any meat" This was not just a question, "Have you boys caught anything?" It was a statement that says anything that is big enough to occupy our thoughts and our efforts is large enough to be taken into His thoughts no matter how small! All of our toils and all of our anxieties, touch a chord that vibrates in the deep and tender heart of our Lord! This tells me that our Lord is interested in our poor fishing and our disappointments! This question was not just to find out how they had done fishing but it was meant to evoke the answer of “NO!” The consciousness of my failure is the pre-requisite to my appeal to Him to prosper my work under His direction. In order to find His help there must be a confession of our failure, of our inadequacy and a confession of His great power!

Then came the guidance of the Lord.

I want us to see something very important here and that is that the fisherman still did not know that it was Jesus talking to them. Look at verse 4:
But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus.
Now I have a question for you. What caused the fishermen to do what the Voice said from the shore if they didn’t know who it was? Maybe there was something about the Voice that caused them to obey, maybe they thought that the person on the shore saw something in the water that caused Him to say, “Cast your nets on the other side.” We can’t know for sure but what ever the reason, we know that they obeyed by faith.
We walk by faith and not by sight!
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. --Hebrews 11:1.
Faith means believing the invisible word of God! His command is followed by swift, unanswering, unquestioning obedience which turns to great blessings.
They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes. --John 21:6.
The next thing I see is the revelation of the Lord.

Right in middle of pulling in the net full of fish, it dawned on John who it was on shore.
Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord! --John 21:7
The next thing we hear is that tempestuous Peter jumps into the water because he could not wait to visit with the Lord. After a night of toil and having catch nothing, the Lord is revealed to them.

I think that the Lord was there all the time. I think he saw them in the night working hard trying to catch some fish. After all he is Omnipresence. After all he gives us His grace! We need to remember about His grace. Grace is divine favor!

He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength as our labors increase;
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials He multiplies peace. 

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun. 

Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing;
The Father both thee and thy load will up bear. 

His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again. 
--Annie Flint

His grace is always ready for us even when we can’t see Him! I think the Lord sees us when we are trying so hard to serve Him with little results and He is waiting for the right time to reveal Himself to us.
Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher's coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea. --John 21:7
 (Some think that is was about 100 yards to the shore.) Then the other followers bring the boat load of fish to the bank.

Then we hear the words of Jesus, “Come and dine.”

Now think about this: As they came upon Jesus the first thing you see is a fire and upon the fire is a fish.
Somewhere Jesus had gotten a fish and bread somehow he had built a fire.
As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread. He said, “Bring of the fish which ye have now caught.” --John 21:9-10
Now, listen! Bring the thing that you have done! Bring the prayers you have prayed! He can use what you have. Remembering that He gave us what we have! You may not feel that what you have is of importance to God but it is!
And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living. --Mark 17:41-44.

Little is Much When God is In It
In the harvest field now ripened,
There's a work for all to do.
Hark, the voice of God is calling,
To the harvest calling you.

Little is much when God is in it.
Labor not for wealth or fame.
There's a crown and you can win it,
If you go in Jesus' name. 

Does the place you're called to labor
Seem so small and little known?
It is great if God is in it,
And He'll not forget His own. 

When the conflict here is ended
And our race on earth is run,
He will say, if we are faithful,
"Welcome home, my child, well done.
Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise. --John 21:13.
God gave them a boat load of fish and now he is using what they had done to bless them with. Jesus not only provided the food but he served them also. There are rewards in serving the Lord.

When we come to the end of our fishing trip, when we work hard for God all our lives, when we come to the shore of heaven , there will be a great feast for us.
And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great. And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God. --Revelation 19:6-9.

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