July 28, 2014
Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“O Lord, how manifold are Thy works! In wisdom hast Thou made them all: the earth is full of Thy riches. So is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts.”
Psalm 104: 24-25
“As the tides change, as the winds veer from point to point on the compass, as the sand creeps across the coast, as the clouds cross the sky, there comes again and again this vibrant, joyous assurance to the spirit of God’s child: ‘Oh, Father, You are here! You are eternal! You are sure and steadfast! Against this glorious, scintillating backdrop of sea and sky and shore, You stand strong and steadfast. In You my confidence is calm and sure. In You my heart glows bright with hope. You are forever and forever.’”
Today’s Study Texts:
“Jesus said to them, ‘Children, you have no fish, have you?’ They answered Him, ‘No.’”
John 21: 5
“The strong and lively exercises of a spirit of childlike, humble love of God, give clear evidence of the soul’s relation to God as His child, which does very greatly and directly satisfy the soul.”
How would I have responded to Jesus if He called out to me, “My child”?
Keep us so close to Your heart that even our dreams are peaceful, and that we may see things…more and more from your point of view.”
Corrie ten Boom
“Jesus called over a child, whom He stood in the middle of the room, and said, ‘I’m telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God’s kingdom. What’s more when you receive the childlike on My account, it’s the same as receiving Me.’”
Matthew 18: 2-5
The Message Bible
Not long ago, one of my neighbor’s who is a dear Christian girl, sent me some “child’s perspectives” as she called the amusing stories spoken by young children. Here’s one that really caught my attention:
“A mother was preparing pancakes for her sons, Kevin 5 and Ryan 3. Their mother saw the opportunity for a moral lesson. So she asked, ‘If Jesus was sitting here, I’m certain He would say let my brother have the first pancake, I can wait.’ Kevin, the five-year-old turned to his younger brother and said, ‘Ryan, why don’t you be Jesus.’”
This example portrays exactly why I think Jesus loved children so very much. Often what comes out of a child’s mouth is what we as adults are really holding in our own hearts. But instead of blurting out what we are really thinking, we hold the thoughts inside, letting them fulminate.
Of all the words spoken in Jesus’ interaction with the disciples on the beach in the story found in the Apostle John’s record in John 21, none touch my heart more than the words, “Children, you have no fish, do you?” This wasn’t a put-down or a criticism. In fact, it was a kind observation that went to the very heart of the situation. To help me gain a clearer understanding of what Jesus was trying to convey, I checked out the Greek word used in John 21: 5 for the word “children” and it is “paidiõn” which means “a childling of either sex – male or female.” This can be a half-grown boy or girl. But in addition, this particular word also has a spiritual meaning attached which means an “immature Christian.”
Just put yourself in Jesus’ place for a few minutes. He knew that in a short time He would leave this earth and return to heaven. What’s more, He would be leaving in the hands of His disciples the gospel message which was to be carried to all the world. As He watched His followers struggle to catch a few fish and He witnessed that they came up completely empty-handed, I can’t help but wonder if the thought crossed His mind, “How will they handle the future.” We know that Jesus’ vision of what all His disciples would face was, without a doubt, clearly laid before Him.
So in the few moments Jesus had left, with a tenderness that should melt your heart and mine, Jesus asked, “My little children, you don’t have what you need do you?” It was obvious to Jesus that defeat had plagued His dear followers. He could see they hadn’t caught one single fish all night long. Frankly, if it was up to the disciples to provide the breakfast for everyone, they all would have been very hungry. But rather than “hammer” on the disciples for their failure – Jesus said, “My children, I see you don’t have what is necessary.” I have to tell you, these words are like a transfusion to my spiritual as well as physical being and I’ll tell you why. Those disciples, just like you and me, went out on the sea with the very best intentions. They even had experience on their side. They had planned ahead. Really – I can say without hesitation that they knew what they were doing when it came to fishing on Galilee. If you had asked me if they would succeed and catch a huge net of fish, I would have told you absolutely, “Yes!” But instead, they fell flat. In their own power and with their own skill on the line, they flopped.
However, Jesus didn’t get all over them. He didn’t humiliate them or get on their case or mock them because they didn’t catch one fish. Instead, He called them by a name that helped give them an identity – a relationship – a family. “My children” is what Jesus called them and it is what He calls each of us, too. Then He continued, “I can see exactly what it is you are lacking to accomplish the task before you!”
So often when I undertake a project, I mistakenly think that the result lies in my hands. It is my power, my talent, and my ability which will give the successful result that I want as the outcome for all my effort. And when after more than one attempt, I come up empty, feeling as though I have failed, Jesus has a very tender way of saying, “My child, I see that you don’t have all you need.” Believe me when I tell you, Jesus doesn’t let us falter or make us feel bad or leave us in a lurch. Instead, as His child, how could I hope to mature spiritually if every time I tried something, I was left to think I could do it all in my own power. And that I would always succeed – even without heaven’s help.
In his wonderful book, Fear No Evil: A Personal Struggle With Cancer, author David Watson opens up about his challenge and his tremendous insight really can illuminate your life and mine today:
“God never promises to protect us from problems, only to help us in them. If we leave God out of the picture, those difficulties might so strip away our sense of security that we feel vulnerable, anxious and afraid. On the other hand, those same difficulties could draw us back to God and so strengthen our faith. We might feel just as vulnerable, but we have to trust God because there is really no alternative; and then we discover that God is with us in the dark as in the light, in pain as in joy. When I was going through a traumatic time in my life, a friend of mine said, ‘You cannot trust God too much.’”
May these words go directly to the heart of whatever challenge you face today, even when you are holding an empty net with no fish and no power left to try again. Let me assure you, Jesus is calling out today, “Children, you don’t have what you need – come see what I have for you!”
“There is a divinity split over the earth that flows where we don’t see and clothes…in mantles of eternity. Though in our gray and stressed out world we miss the holy thing, still it shines, wove fast and deep in our dark humanity. And if one day we’d dare to glance into a child’s wide wondrous eyes, we’d see reflected, shining there, God’s bright inviting dance.”
Children of the Heavenly Father
“Children of the heavenly Father
Safely in His bosom gather,
Nestling bird nor star in heaven.
Such a refuge ever was given.
God His own doth tend and nourish,
In His holy love they flourish;
From all evil things He spares them,
In His mighty arms He bears them.
Neither life nor death shall ever
From the Lord His children sever;
Unto them His grace He showeth,
And their sorrows all He knoweth.
Praise the Lord in joyful numbers,
Your Protector never slumbers;
At the will of Your Defender
Every foeman must surrender.
Though He giveth or He taketh,
God his children never forsaketh;
His the loving purpose solely
To preserve them pure and holy.”
Carolina Sandell Berg
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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