July 19, 2017
Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“He tested me, ere He entrusted me.”
1 Timothy 1:12
“I’m so grateful to Christ Jesus who has given me strength. He went out on a limb, you know, in trusting me to His service…I was treated mercifully…Grace mixed with faith and love poured over me and into me. All because of Jesus.”
“If the vessel is to be enlarged for spiritual understanding, be not affrighted at the wider sphere of suffering. The divine capacity of sympathy will have a more extended sphere, for the breathing of the Holy Spirit in the new creation never made a stoic, but left the heart’s affection tender and true.”
Today’s Study Texts:
“Jesus 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.”
“Hearing and Doing”
“God, take me by Your hand, I shall follow dutifully, and not resist too much. I shall evade none of the tempests life has in store for me.”
An Interrupted Life
After an unsuccessful night at sea trying to catch fish, do I think I would have followed the instructions of a “stranger” on the beach to try and throw my net out again?
“We are able to obey, to give ourselves in glad response to God in person after person, in situation after situation, because we know God has promised to be there for us, that God’s great (power) underlies all these. With that revelation, in that confidence, we know whom we must obey.”
“Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt in every situation you believe to be the will of God.”
20th Century from
Through Gates of Splendor
The morning sun reflected shimmering light on the watery sea. Boats dotted the shoreline as the weary fishermen came back after a long nights task was done. But for one sea-weary group of fishermen, their night ended the same way it began – with empty nets. The entire story is illuminated by the pen of H.V. Morton in his book, In the Steps of the Master. He gives us a terrific word-picture of the method of fishing he witnessed still taking place on Galilee today: “The commonest net, the net which is said to be cast, is like a circular cone of fine mesh. The open circular edge of the cone is weighted with pellets of lead all around. The net is skillfully and beautifully cast into the sea and drawn toward the fisherman.” As Morton describes two fishermen he saw at work – “one was casting the net some distance out in the lake; the other was watching from the shore.”
This is exactly how John describes the scene when after a long night of hard-work, the empty nets spoke volumes. Then from a shoreline view-point, a stranger called out with this advice, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some fish.” It was this very scene author Morton witnessed when he observed that one fisherman repeatedly hauled his net into the boat with nothing in it. And then, his companion on the beach shouted to his friend that he could see fish on the left side of the boat and he needed to cast the net in that direction.
In his book, And He Had Compassion author and pastor William Barclay makes this observation: “The caster of the net is often too close to see where the fish are, while the person farther away can see them and direct the cast.” Then Pastor Barclay continues with these insightful words, “Jesus with His skilled and clear-sighted eyes saw exactly where the net should be cast and when His friends obeyed Him the net was filled.”
The one verse we are studying today, John 21: 6, holds within it two tremendous lessons for you and me – this very day. First of all, put yourselves in the boat with the disciples. They had toiled all night long. They were weary and empty. If I’d been in their place, I think I would have thrown in the towel and said, “I’m going home and get some sleep.” But when this stranger on the beach said, “Throw that net of yours on the right side of the boat – you’ll find fish there,” the disciples decided to try again. They persevered. They didn’t give up. Their night of failure didn’t deter them from trying again at the advice of the Man on the shore. This is a lesson I really need because when things don’t work out exactly the way I want them to, I find that sometimes, I’m sad to admit, I feel a nagging thought in the back of my head start making noise like a rattlesnake shaking its tail! And the evil words of the tempter get louder, “Why keep trying so hard? Why not give up? What good is it to work so hard with so little to see for all that you’ve tried to accomplish?”
I know many of you have run into a hurtle like this in your own life. Maybe you are thinking about all the effort you put into your kids only to have one of your children follow a wayward path. Or maybe you have been one of those individuals who worked so hard all your life, only to see everything fall apart financially, through no fault of your own, and you simply feel like you can’t go on another day. Or maybe you’ve battled health issues day after day and sometimes casting out the net takes more strength than you have. Let me just point out that the disciples could have easily ignored the Man on the beach and said to each other, “We’ve tried to fish everywhere and this guy simply doesn’t know what He’s talking about.” But they didn’t!
And this brings me to the second point in this verse. Not only did the disciples persist by casting their net again, they also obeyed the words of the Man on the beach down to the last detail. As we found out in past studies, the word “obey” means to listen and to hearken. To obey is another way of saying that I listened and I acted. This is exactly what the disciples did on the early morning so long ago. They listened to what Jesus said and then they acted on His words – they obeyed. And immediately their net was filled to overflowing. As Joseph Stowell penned, when you “place (Jesus) at the center of your life and lovingly surrender to all that He is and all that He requires, then let whatever blessing comes from that commitment be your unexpected blessing.” Be it a full net of fish or a full life of blessing – Jesus will fill you to overflowing. You can count on it!
‘Move,’ Says the Spirit
‘Move,’ says the Spirit,
‘and respond and grow,
leave the past behind you,
there’s yet more to know.’
‘Move,’ says the Spirit,
‘and begin to love.
You have worth and value
to the Lord above’…
‘Move,’ says the Spirit
‘be alert and speak.
Give God’s gracious message
to the poor and weak.’
‘Move,’ says the Spirit,
‘at your Lord’s command.
He gives strength and power
for the work in your hand.’”
Joyce M. Firth
“What an honor for me in God’s eyes! That God should be my strength!”
The Message Bible
(A poem from a group of despondent fishermen, led by Simon Peter who returned to his old job and told his companions, “I go a-fishing!”)
“Have our dreams all perished,
Hallowed visions of the past!
Have the thoughts we fondly cherished
Been too beautiful to last?
Must we bury now with sorrow
Golden hopes of golden years:
Dreading that each coming morrow,
Only will confirm our fears?
‘I go a-fishing!
Take the night-boat from the shallows,
Trim the sail and launch the net,
Let us to our former calling
On our own Gennesaret.
I had dreamt for other endings
To these three most blissful years,
But, if hope must be surrendered,
Then, through breaking heart and tears,
‘I go a-fishing.’
Long they plunged amid the darkness,
Slow the shades of night withdraw,
Till the sun in regal splendour
Climbed the heights of Gadara.
Vain had been their midnight labours,
Hours were spent in fruitless toil,
Morn had come, and yet had brought them
No reward of gleaming spoil -
Caught they nothing.
Who is this? A lonely stranger,
Speaking from the shell-strewn shore,
‘Cast your net and ye shall find them.’
Lo! At once a wondrous store!
‘Tis the Lord! The Risen Jesus;
Tis our Master, hear His voice!’
In the rapture of the moment,
They believe, adore, rejoice!
Ends their night-watch.
Once before the net had failed them,
But this wondrous final ‘take’
On the beach at morn was landed:
Not a mesh was found to break.
Parable to all Jesus’ toilers – though
Midnight strained and baffled oar –
Safe at last, their freight forever is
When brought to heaven’s shore!”
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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