Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.”
Hebrews 13: 15
“I believe that when we begin to pray with thanksgiving, we are upon the eve of receiving the blessing. God’s time to bless you has come when you begin to praise Him as well as pray to Him. God has His set time to favor us, and He will grant us our desire…when the due season has arrived…the time has come when you begin to bless the Lord.”
Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Today’s Study Text:
“He said to them, ‘Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some. So they
cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish.”
From Heaven’s Viewpoint
“Jesus showed Himself to (the disciples) seasonably. ‘When the morning was now come,’ after a fruitless night’s toil, Jesus stood on the shore. Christ’s time of making Himself known to His children is when they are most at a loss. When they think they have lost themselves, He will let them know that they have not lost Him!” (Praise God for these words of promise!)
Has there been a time in my life when because of the view I had of a particular situation, I didn’t see the entire picture clearly enough to make a wise decision?
When I look back on my life, am I able to see times when God stepped in and wisely deterred my steps from going off His path for me?
“In all things discern the providence and wisdom of God, and in all things give Him thanks.”
Teresa of Avila
“The Lord God will not be outdone in generosity.”
Leonard of Pt. Maurice
“If our circumstances find us in God, we shall find God in our circumstances.”
As we “take the plunge” into the unknown of a new year, not a one of us can predict what will happen in our world or even in our own personal lives.
I’ve found that often, just when I think I’ve got everything together, life delivers a curve ball. And believe me, I got knocked off my feet several times in 2017 by some curveballs that actually left me in bed, trying to recuperate faster than my body wanted to.
This is when I’m so thankful for the time Jesus spent with His disciples. Encouraging them in their daily walk to rely on Him – always. Thankfully, the Biblical record left to us by four of Jesus’ followers, gives us courage to face our future – even when it appears bleak and foreboding.
And so I find it appropriate to follow Jesus’ beloved disciple as he tells us about a perplexing situation he and some of Jesus’ other followers ran into, just when they thought they had things under control. And I’ll add, it was nice of John to share this story for it doesn’t make me feel so lame and unworthy when I fall flat on my face thinking I can do it on my own – whatever the “it” may be.
As the Apostle John records in the early morning hours, a group of his friends found themselves with an empty net, heading toward the beach when a voice called out, “Drop your net on the right side of your boat because that is where the fish are.” Obviously, the night fishing had proved to be a total disaster.
Interestingly, it was from a viewpoint on the shore that the distance and height above the sea made it possible for Jesus’ perspective to take in all the surrounding landscape as well as the seascape. And what He was able to witness, affected the advice He chose to give to His poor, discourage friends.
As we consider this beach experience, there are several which we must not overlook and the first of these particular points has to do with the word “providence” which is defined as: “Care and preparation before hand. Foresight. Prudent management. Divine direction.” It is the phrase “divine direction” that we witness at work on Galilee’s shoreline.
Having visited many of the historic sites in what is referred to as the “Holy Land,” my husband Jim gave me a brief geographic tour of what the landscape was like on that early morning. It is quite likely that Jesus’ view of the disciples in their fishing boat was one where He was actually looking down on the boat as well as the sea. From this vantage point, Jesus was able to see where the fish were residing. In the United States we have a saying, “they can’t see the forest for the trees.” Sounds a little strange but when you consider thousands of acres of forest land as seen from high above, being able to pick out one specific tree appears to be impossible.
This is really the lesson we can take away from the disciples experience for they were so close to the water it may well have been impossible to see exactly where their nets should be placed. To get a huge catch of fish seemed impossible. They simply didn’t know where to put the net. That is until Jesus, for His “perch” on the beach gave them specific instructions. As Bible commentator, Matthew Henry explains, “Christ manifest Himself to His people (that means you and me!) by doing that for them which none else can do, and things which we look not for. As a mercy to them; for the seasonable and abundant supply of their necessities. When our ingenuity and industry fail, the power of Christ comes in for our relief. Christ takes care that those who leave all for Him should not want any good thing. When we are most at a loss, “Jehovah-jireh” provides.” I could read this every day!
From the higher view, Jesus saw what to the disciples was hidden. As I read this experience, recorded by the disciple John, I got to thinking about God’s heavenly view in relationship to my own earthly perspective. Whenever I find myself reflecting on God’s providential or divine leading in my own life, I can’t help but think about the car accident Jim and I were in which turned our lives upside down. And yet, out of that experience, God’s ability to take a long-view – heaven’s view –brought a little Garden into reality. But here’s what I’ve been able to look back now and recognize. A prayer ministry was not the focal point of my original “Garden” endeavor. Prayer was to be a sideline. However, this wasn’t heaven’s view from above for God knew that in hard times, His children would desperately need each other’s love and care. He could see down the road and He knew that by linking hearts in prayer for each other, His children would form a strong bond that would carry them not only through the rough seas, but also when their own nets were empty and they needed the compassionate encouragement of friends they had never met.
The beach view – the heavenly view is a view that in the end brings us to our Father’s home where praise will forever linger on our lips as we glorify our Father for eternity. I love the words recorded in Psalm 27: 13, 14 where the Psalmist states: “I would have fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord…for He shall strengthen my heart.” So often, when we look at our empty nets, Jesus is looking at the great catch in the sea. We too frequently see the “bad luck” while on the shore Jesus only sees the blessings.
Poet and hymn-writer J. Danson Smith writes about what he calls “Postponed Blessings”:
“We deem them as denied us – things which come not our way,
Things we so much have wanted, for which we, urgent, pray;
We cannot tell the reason, the answer is not given;
Nor why the things so wanted are granted not from heaven.
We reason and we question, conjecture and conclude;
We come to rash assumptions, which never can do us good;
We deem God hath denied us: resigned, we mutely sigh,
Indulge in morbid broodings as months or years go by.
But things which seemed denied us withheld may only be
Till times for their enjoyment reach suitability;
Postponed – to yet be granted, - withheld to yet be given
Are multitudes of blessings to reach us yet from heaven.”
When life is tough and your hard work has left you with only an empty net, look at the Man high above you on the shore. Follow His advice, for His viewpoint is higher than yours. And in His incomparable wisdom, He knows exactly where your path leads. In the words of Matthew Henry: “Christ is often nearer to us than we think He is, and so we shall find afterwards, to our comfort.”
“God often takes a course for accomplishing His purpose directly contrary to what our narrow views would prescribe. He brings a death upon our feelings, wishes and prospects when He is about to give us the desire of our hearts.”
The Loom of Time
“(My) life is laid in the loom of time
To a pattern I do not see,
While the weavers work and the shuttles fly
Till the dawn of eternity.
Some shuttles are filled with silver threads
And some with threads of gold,
While often but the darker hues
Are all that they may hold.
God surely planned the pattern:
Each thread, the dark and fair,
Is chosen by His master skill
And placed in the web with care.
Not till each loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly,
Shall God reveal the pattern
And explain the reason why.
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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