Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“I had fainted, unless I had believed I’d see God’s goodness in the land of the living. Stay with God! Take heart. Don’t quit. I’ll say it again: stay with God.”
Psalm 27: 13, 14
The Message Bible
“Faint not! How great is the temptation at this point! How the soul sinks, the heart grows sick, and the faith staggers under the keen trials and testings which come into our lives in times of special bereavement and suffering. “I cannot bear up any longer, I am fainting under this providence. What shall I do? God tells me not to faint. But what can one do when (they) are fainting?” What do you do when you are about to faint physically? You cannot do anything. You cease from your own doings. In your faintness, you fall upon the shoulder of some loved one. You lean hard. You rest. You lie still and trust. It is so when we are tempted to faint under affliction…Dear child, when you grow faint in the fires of affliction, do not try to be strong. Just be still and know that He is God, and will sustain you and bring you through.”
“Stay firm, He has not failed thee
In all the past,
And will he go and leave thee
To sink at last?
Nay, He said He will hide thee
Beneath His wings,
And sweetly there in safety
Thou mayest sing.”
Today’s Study Text:
“That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord!’ When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea. But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off.”
John 21: 7, 8
“And let us consider one another; to provoke unto love and good works.”
Hebrews 10: 24
Do I sometimes feel as though I don’t have the talents or abilities to add anything to God’s family of believers?
“You must know that every (individual) cannot be excellent, yet (they) may be useful. An iron key may unlock the door of a golden treasure; yea, iron can do things gold cannot do!”
“Paul’s vision of the body of Christ is of a unity which consists in diversity, that is, a unity which is not denied by diversity.” James D. G. Dunn
As I’ve studied the Bible over the last eight years, frequently text-by-text, repeatedly I’ve come upon a story that when carefully read contains, hidden beneath the surface, a lesson which I’ve missed completely. And this story of “breakfast on the beach,” while familiar, is really a treasure trove of unearthed examples of Jesus’ vision of how His followers down through time should not only reach out to each other but also to a hurting world.
Our text today is one of those distinct passages of Scripture where we find Jesus giving us a glimpse into the behavior of those closest to Him when He walked the earth. Chosen by Jesus Himself, this unique group of men, in many ways, couldn’t have been more diverse in abilities and personalities. And the same could be said for the women who followed Jesus. Just look at Mary and Martha of Bethany – and they were sisters who lived in the same household yet they exemplified by varied interests and abilities.
I’d like to be able to claim that I had the insight to uncover some of the profound thoughts which have been left for us throughout Scripture, however, today’s spiritual awareness and the ideas conveyed come from the pen of Matthew Henry whose commentary, written years ago, has provided me with unparalleled insight into God’s Word. Interestingly, it was reading books by Pastor Charles Haddon Spurgeon which led me to Matthew Henry’s Volumes.
In reflecting on John 21, Henry offers this instructional perception:
“John was the most quick-sighted disciple. He whom Jesus loved was the first that said, ‘It is the Lord’…John told Peter particularly his thoughts, that it was the Lord…Peter was the most zealous and warm-hearted disciple. As soon as he heard it was the Lord (for which he took Johns word) the ship could not hold him, nor could he stay till the bringing of it to shore. Into the sea he throws himself presently, that he might come first to Christ…the rest of the disciples were careful and honest hearted. Though they were not in such a transport of zeal as to throw themselves into the sea, like Peter, yet they hastened in the boat to the shore and made the best of their way.”
It is with this background in mind that Henry offers, what I consider to be, a tremendous and vital observation which applies to you and me as followers of Jesus today: “How variously God dispenses His gifts. Some excel as Peter and John – very eminent in gifts and graces and are thereby distinguished from their brethren. Others are (more) ordinary disciples, that mind their duty and are faithful to Jesus…yet both the one and the other, the eminent and the obscure, shall sit down together in glory with Christ…some, like John are contemplative with great gifts of knowledge, and serve the church with them. Others, like Peter, are active and courageous. They are strong and do exploits and are thus very (valuable) to their generation. Some are useful as their church’s eyes, others as the church’s hands, and all for the good of the body. What a great deal of difference there may be between some people and others in the way of honoring Christ and yet both are accepted by Him. Some serve Christ much more in acts of devotion and others in extraordinary expressions of zeal, and they do well for both act unto the Lord. Peter should not be criticized for casting himself into the sea, but commended for his zeal and the strength of his affection. So must those be who, in love to Christ, with Mary, choose to sit at Jesus’ feet. Others serve Christ more in the affairs of the world. They continue in that ship, drag the net, and bring the fish to shore, as the other disciples here; and such ought not to be censured as worldly, for they, in their place, are as truly serving Christ even in serving tables. If all the disciples had done as Peter did, what would have become of their fish and their nets? And yet, if Peter had done as the other disciples did, we would not have this instance of holy zeal. Christ was well pleased with both and so must we be.”
This story really stuck a note with me for many years ago when Jim and I opened our advertising agency, some well-meaning Christian friends made the comment that we were “selling our souls to the world.” As you might well imagine, these words hurt us deeply. For in fact, through the years, by specializing in assisting non-profit organizations, we were able to use the abilities and gifts God gave us to see that many tremendously beneficial programs around the world had the necessary funds they needed to help those who were suffering. And what’s more, had we not run our company, we would never have ended up with a Garden that has been used by God to spread His loving kindness and bless hurting hearts.
Too often, I may pass over the fact that Jesus doesn’t just need somebody like me to help Him…He needs people like all of us, all with varied gifts…and varied personalities. Putting together the devotionals over the past eight years has driven the point home to me that indeed, we are all called by Jesus but He doesn’t want us to drop our abilities outside the boat…He wants us to come into His’ boat and bring our unique God-given gifts with us.
Having read the writing of hundreds of Christian writers during the past eight years, I’ve come to realize that just in the field of writing, there are such a wide-range of ways people share their words and what a tremendous blessing this is to all God’s children for whether it is the dedication and directness of Pastor Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s pen or the exuberance of Kathy Keay’s poetry or the worship-filled prose of Kathy Galloway, I know my heart has been blessed and expanded as their words from heaven help me understand and appreciate God’s Word even better. As author Jan Berry so delightfully expresses: “In the steps of Jesus we reach to our partners, touching and holding and finding our strengths…together we move into patterns…and rejoice to be part of the sharing of hope.” In truth – Jesus needs each one of us - yes, I’m so thankful He needs you and He needs me.
“Use your gifts faithfully, and they shall be enlarged.”
Lend a Hand
“I am only one,
But still I am one.
I cannot do everything,
But still I can do something;
And because I cannot do everything
I will not refuse to do the something
That I can do.”
Edward Everett Hale
Many years ago, my grandparents had a vinyl record, for those of you who remember when music was recorded in this fashion, which was by Tennessee Ernie Ford and it was a record of his favorite hymns. The poem below contains the words to one of those favorites and when I happened to uncover this poem, I thought how appropriately the words fit with Jesus loving view of how His followers down through time would use their gifts and abilities to care for and love each other.
“Lord, help me to live from day to day
In such a self-forgetful way
That even when I kneel to pray
My prayers will be for others.
Help me in all the work I do
To ever be sincere and true
And know that all I do for You
Must needs be done for others.
Let Self be crucified and slain
And buried deep, and all in vain
May efforts be to rise again
Unless to live for others.
And when my work on earth is done
And my new work in heaven begun
May I forget the crown I’ve won
While thinking still of others.
Others, Lord, yes, others
Let this my motto be;
Help me to live for others
That I may live like Thee.”
Charles D. Meigs
1846 - 1920
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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