July 25, 2014
Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“He who has compassion on (you) will guide (you) and lead (you) beside springs of water. I will turn all my mountains into roads.”
Isaiah 49: 10, 11
“We all have mountains in our lives. There are people and things that threaten to bar our progress in the divine life. Those heavy chains, that uncongenial occupation, that thorn in the flesh, that daily cross – we think that if only these were removed we might live purer, tenderer, holier lives; and often we pray for their removal…(however), these are the very conditions of achievement; they have been put into our lives as the means to the very graces and virtues for which we have been praying so long…There is nothing in life which harasses and annoys that may not become subservient to the highest ends. They are God’s mountains. He puts them there. We know that God will not fail to keep His promise. ‘God understandeth the way thereof and knoweth the place thereof. He looketh to the ends of the earth, and seeth under the whole heaven’; and when we come to the foot of the mountains, we shall find the way.”
From Christ In Isaiah
F. B. Meyer
Today’s Study Text:
“Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples. Simon Peter said to them, ‘I am going fishing.’ They said to him, ‘We will go with you.’ They went out and got into the boat.’”
John 21: 2,3
“Back To The Boat”
“A Christian’s life should be nothing but a visible representation of Christ.”
In what way has God called me to witness for Him?
“My heart is full of Christ, and longs
Its glorious matter to declare!
Of Him I make my loftier songs,
I cannot from His praise forbear;
My ready tongue makes haste to sing
The glories of my heavenly King”
“O God, You claim me as Your partner,
tussling with me.
as I care to be vulnerable with you,
as I dare take risks with You.”
It would have been interesting to have been an eavesdropper on the conversations the disciples had after Jesus’ death. For beginners, these individuals had been quick to obey and follow Jesus when He called out, “Follow Me.” They didn’t hesitate a moment. For 3 ½ years, their dedicated allegiance to their Lord and Master was firm and faithful.
However, when confronted with the fact that their crucified and now risen friend and Savior was not going to be settling down on earth, there had to have been some discomfort and uncertainty. Just put yourself in the place of these followers who had committed themselves to Jesus’ earthly ministry. I have to believe that at some point someone must of asked, “What are we going to do now?” Frankly, it would have been a natural question. It didn’t take long for the bold-spirited Peter to say, “Hey, I don’t know about you guys, but I’m going fishing. I need to make certain my skills haven’t gotten rusty.” John states in our study text for today that in unanimous accord, all the other disciples, who were present, decided to play “follow the leader” and without hesitation they joined Peter and “got into the boat.”
I find this part of our story to be quite revealing for it really reflects a pattern which I’ve witnessed in my own life and maybe you’ll recognize the same behavior in yourself especially when the way forward is cluttered with the unfamiliar. For 3 ½ years the followers of Jesus had gotten up each day knowing exactly who they were going to be with. While they had traveled to a variety of geographic regions and met many people, some who were completely out of their comfort zone, with Jesus upcoming return to heaven – the future wasn’t stable. And this is where things get interesting.
It might be easy to pick on Jesus’ friends for falling back into their old jobs, their old pattern of making a living. But to criticize the disciples would only highlight my own hypocrisy for when in my own life, I’ve confronted roadblocks in my path, how easy it has been to slip into the ruts where I at least felt safe. My husband Jim and I had a lengthy discussion about this very issue a few days ago. When God’s call comes upon your life and you find yourself trying to balance what God’s calling you to do with the basic and substantial needs of daily survival, it can become very easy to slip into the routines of life that allow you to be comfortable as you “take care of yourself.” This is why I think Peter went back to his fishing boat. He knew what he was doing. He knew how to run that business. He knew how hard he had to work and how many fish he had to catch to have a decent profit margin. Simply put, he was an expert in the fishing industry and he was comfortable he could handle things in that world.
Jesus’ impending departure had turned Peter’s plans on end. I wonder how many of us would have responded to such an unknown future exactly the same way as Peter did. We look for the safe and secure. It’s natural. But interestingly enough, Jesus had other plans for His’ followers – and maybe, just maybe He has a new plan for you and me, too. Could it be that the questions we may face in our lives call for us to recognize Jesus at work for He has a way mapped out for your life and mine that breaks all the boundaries we’ve built around our comfortable, stable world. It is just a thought that came to my mind as I pictured Peter running down to his boat, cleaning up the gear, checking the nets and setting sail out into the open sea. As we will soon find out, Jesus’ plans for Peter were very different than Peter’s plans for himself. This calls for us to ask, “Is it possible that the job you had but lost is God’s way of opening a new door of opportunity that will make it possible for you to grab hold of your Master’s hand and strike out on a new journey that leads you into territory you never could have imagined?
Let me just offer you this perspective, if five years ago you had told me what I’d be doing today, I would have thought you were crazy. But God has a strange way of tipping over the boat of our lives, if necessary, and unsettling our routine when He calls out “Follow Me.” I love the words in our Thought of Encouragement by Pastor and Author F. B. Meyer. They are worth repeating: “When we come to the foot of the mountains, we shall find a way through.” God will make certain we do, even if we are headed back to our old boat and unused nets. He’ll get our attention any way he needs to in order for us to fulfill His purpose in our lives.
“Tender God, touch us.
Be touched by us;
make us lovers of humanity,
compassionate friends of all creation.
Gracious God, hear us into speech,
speak us into acting;
and through us, recreate the world.
Prayer of Intercession
“Loving God, sometimes even our praying bears the marks of our fenced-in views of the world.
Sweep across our hearts and minds and souls with the winds of Your Holy Spirit, that we may blow apart our preconceived views about who needs our care and Your justice.
Expand our praying as we bring people before You.
Remember all who struggle, Jesus Christ.
Gather them into Your abundant life, O God
Take the edges of our hopes and dreams out towards Your horizons, so that they embrace people we have never seen as belonging among us.
Remember all who struggle, Jesus Christ.
Gather us into Your abundant life, O God.
Place Your hands around us and lift us into heights of Your creativity which speaks daringly to the world, calling into sound questions which lie unspoken, and answers which break open the way we live together for the transforming of Your gracious community.
Remember us as we struggle, Holy Spirit.
Gather us into Your abundant life, O God.
We pray in the name of Jesus Christ.”
Liturgies for Daily Life
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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