What Now? 5

John 21:12-13

A few weeks back I was part of a lecture series for church leaders. During the lunch break a needy person entered the church looking for financial assistance. I don’t know if the pastor gave the man money or not, but I do know the man was invited to join this gathering of leaders at lunch.

It did not matter who the man was. It did not matter what his reasons were for asking for money. He was invited in to be part of the kingdom of God.

Jesus has helped some of his disciples catch a large haul of fish, so many the net nearly broke as they brought it in. If that were not enough to show the disciples who was with them, he does more to show them who he was. What invitation does Jesus offer? What did Jesus do?

The disciples may not have realized at first that Jesus was the man on shore directing their fishing efforts. But once they caught so many fish they knew who it was. The Bible says that they dared not ask him who he was. They may have been embarrassed that hey had not recognized him right away. Or they may have been embarrassed that they were fishing and not out doing ministry.

Regardless of what was going on with the disciples, Jesus remained constant. He invited them to himself. He welcomed them at a meal he had prepared. He broke bread for them and shared some fish.

Even if we have strayed from our faith a little, if we have allowed ourselves to become lax in our efforts, still Jesus invites us to be with him. He desires that we find new strength and new energy in his presence.

Jesus will break the bread with us, a reminder that he was broken for our salvation. He will share his bread with us; he will share himself so that we might be equipped to be in ministry.

Jesus will share more than the bread. He offers us fish. We are also invited to be in communion not only with the Lord but with all those who have been brought into God’s kingdom.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you be sure to respond to Christ’s invitation?

What Now? 4

John 21:4-6

My father loved to fish. He had a tackle box filled with lures and weights and spools of line and all other manner of fishing gear. He had a collection of rods and reels to choose from, and when I was young he owned his own outboard motor. To my recollection he never caught many fish. But that was okay; he just enjoyed fishing. It relaxed him.

Many of the disciples of Jesus were fishermen when he called them into ministry. But to them, unsuccessful fishing was not okay. It was bad business.

After the crucifixion and resurrection Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, James, John, and two other disciples were all out fishing one night. Who is on the shore? What did he ask? What was his instruction? What was the result?

I am constantly amazed at these disciples. They have been with Jesus in his ministry. They saw the crucifixion and the resurrection. And after all these profound experiences they go out fishing. It seems they have forgotten what they were supposed to be doing.

But Jesus comes along and gives them some instruction. They have had a bad night of fishing – they caught nothing. But Jesus has them drop their net on the right side of the boat, and that results in a huge catch of fish.

The story has many lessons. It serves as a reminder that these disciples were called from a life of fishing for fish to a life of fishing for men. Jesus wanted them to preach and teach and gather believers into the kingdom of God.

It also shows that we need direction from our Lord so that we might be successful in our ministry. Jesus was able to direct these disciples and give them success. He told them to put their net on the right side – the correct side.

We can be like the disciples. We get excited about our faith from November to May, but then when the enthusiasm of Easter and Mother’s Day is over we often go off fishing. We forget that we are called into ministry.

We must remember what we have been called to do. And as we focus on our ministry we must ask the Lord for direction, so we know where to cast our religious nets to bring believers into the kingdom.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you keep your net on the right side of your boat?

What Now? 3

Matthew 4:18-20

Often times at church events we make certain that we don’t do all the work to prepare. It may seem the wrong thing to do, but it is actually a good thing to ask others to help. We might wait until people arrive before we begin setting up tables or setting out materials. It is important to make others feel included in what you are doing. It makes them know they are part of what is going on.

As Jesus began his ministry he gathered some followers to be part of what he was doing. Who did he see? What were they doing? What did Jesus say? How did Peter and Andrew respond?

Most are familiar with the calling of the first disciples. Jesus is walking along the Sea of Galilee and sees two fishermen. He is knowledgeable in fishing. It takes some effort. It takes patience. It requires certain knowledge and skill. And when you fish you are often working in the unknown – you can’t always see what lies beneath the surface.

Then Jesus makes a clever request. He asks them to be part of his ministry. Their lives will change. They will still be fishing – trying to gather together – but they will be after people and not fish.

To be in ministry requires the skills of fishing – effort, patience, skill, and the ability to deal with the unknown. It simply deals with much more important concepts. Fishing for men involves saving souls, leading people out of the depths of despair and hopeless into the joys and hopes of God’s kingdom.

We may not be fishermen. We may have other jobs. But we are called into ministry with the Lord. We are all called to help bring the lost into that profound relationship with God that brings peace and love and salvation.

The disciples were able to drop what they were doing and follow Jesus. The question is, are we able to stop what we are doing and turn our attention to the work of God?

DAILY CHALLENGE: What will it take for you to be a fisher of men?

What Now? 2

Acts 4:33

The song “Switchin’ to Glide” has the lyrics, “Nothing matters but the weekend, from a Tuesday point of view.” The message seems to be that we can anticipate easier times to come once all the hubbub and worry of life is over. We can often take that approach. We go through all the worry and work of things that require our attention and we look forward to the times when we can take things easy.

Unfortunately that same attitude can pervade our faith life. As spring grows warm and sunny our attention is focused on all the things that are now before us and we forget about all the excitement of our religious past.

The faithful followers of Jesus had sat fairly idle for weeks until the Holy Spirit came upon them on the day of Pentecost. Then they were filled with the power of God and compelled to move forward in their faith. What was going on with the disciples? What were they doing? What did they have?

The time for being idle was over. The early church was at last moving forward. This single verse sums up the work being done. The disciples were preaching to the community, sharing the good news of Christ and his resurrection, and therefore the message of salvation.

They did not do their work meekly. They had power from God. They were bold. They were effective.

This group of believers who had fallen into inactivity was now very busy. The result was that much grace was upon them. We can assume that their lives were blessed by this grace, and we can also assume that they had much grace to bestow on others.

We must be like the early believers. They had been with Jesus in his ministry. They had witnessed the crucifixion. They had experienced the resurrection. And at first that seemed to offer them no motivation. But eventually they came alive in their faith and went to work.

We must not allow ourselves to fall into apathy or laziness. Our faith should be alive in us as well and we should be about the work of sharing the news of Christ.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What does it take to breathe life into your faith?

What Now? 1

Acts 2:1-4

This is the time of year when we begin thinking about graduations and proms. It is a time when these young people we have watched grow from childhood enter into adulthood, our young men dressing in suits and ties, our young women wearing beautiful formal gowns.

This is also a time when we can think about our own graduation in our faith. Acts 2 records what is considered the birth of the church. Who was there? What did they hear? What did they see? What did they do?

The followers of Jesus were gathered for the religious observation of Pentecost – the fiftieth day since Passover. It had been just about seven weeks since the resurrection of Jesus. We don’t know exactly who were numbered in the comment “they were all together,” but Acts 1:15 indicates that these followers – including the eleven remaining disciples – was about one-hundred and twenty.

These followers had not accomplished much since the resurrection. Jesus had appeared to them over the course of forty days following the resurrection, and they had only managed to select a twelfth disciple to replace Judas. But they were waiting for something from God (see Acts 1:4).

That is when the sign came. A great wind filled the house and flames appeared to land on each of the believers. They were filled with the Holy Spirit and given the ability to speak in other languages. The early church was born.

Now these followers were given ability. The Holy Spirit of God was with them. In fact it had filled them and they were given the power to go out and do ministry.

We can look back on the past few months and realize that we have celebrated Christmas, Holy Week, Easter, Mother’s Day and baptisms. We have received teachings from the Bible. Looking back and then looking at ourselves now we can ask “what now?”

We must be like the early followers. We must realize that our work in faith is not ended but just beginning. We must see that we are filled with the Holy Spirit and we have the ability from God to go out from our homes and our churches and be strong in ministry, teaching about God’s salvation and living as examples of Christ’s love.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What will be your next move in faith?