Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

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17. From disappointment to delight – Part 1

John 21:1-14
Later, Jesus appeared again to the disciples beside the Sea of Galilee. This is how it happened. 2 Several of the disciples were there—Simon Peter, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples. 3 Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.” “We’ll come, too,” they all said. So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night. 4 At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was. 5 He called out, “Fellows, have you caught any fish?” “No,” they replied. 6 Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it. 7 Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore. 8 The others stayed with the boat and pulled the loaded net to the shore, for they were only about a hundred yards from shore. 9 When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them—fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread. 10 “Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught,” Jesus said. 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore. There were 153 large fish, and yet the net hadn’t torn. 12 “Now come and have some breakfast!” Jesus said. None of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Then Jesus served them the bread and the fish. 14 This was the third time Jesus had appeared to his disciples since he had been raised from the dead.

Last time in our series “Living in the reality of the Resurrection” we saw how Jesus can take us from disciples of doubt to devoted disciples. Not only can Jesus deal with our doubt but we will see that he can also deal with our disappointments. At some point we all have to deal with disappointment, because disappointment is universal. All of us are predisposed to discouragement. It’s also recurring, being discouraged once does not give you immunity to the disease. It’s also highly contagious and can spread by contact. Discouragement comes in many different forms, from financial and physical to friends and family. So, the question becomes how do we deal with disappointment? It’s here in John 21:1-14 that we discover how Jesus deals with our disappointments. The story starts with the:
1. Mess – Vs 1-3
It’s here in John 21 that we see the disciples trying to deal with their disappointment in their own strength. But their story actually started over a week before when after the Passover meal the disciples followed Jesus to the Mount of Olives and on the way, He told them, “You will all fall away” But prideful Peter responded, “Even though they all fall away, I will not.” Jesus turned to Peter and prophesied, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” Again, Peter proclaimed his pride as he said: “No!” Peter insisted. But we know the rest of the story, how Peter denied the Deity and the disciples scattered like sheep. It was not their finest moment! Three days later Peter is told that the tomb is empty, and that Jesus has been raised from the dead and he runs to the Tomb to discover that it is empty, scripture says that he “went away, wondering to himself what had happened.” (Luke 24:12) Then Jesus shows up while the disciples are living behind locked doors to free them from fear so that they can follow Him. Yet instead of following here we find Peter going fishing, why? Because from Peter’s perspective he had failed as a follower of Christ. From His perspective he had turned out to be a disappointing disciple. So, he decides to deal with his disappointment by going back to what was familiar, fishing. Peters way of dealing with disappointment was to go back to his old familiar life. He chose what was comfortably familiar over conviction because he was looking for a feel good instead of looking to God. When we fail one of the ways we try to deal with the disappointment is to look for a feel good. As a result, Peter let disappointment dictate what he would do instead of the Deity. Instead of following Jesus he followed his failure. Failure causes us to turn from faith to the familiar. Instead of rejoicing in the resurrection Peter chose to dwell on his disappointment and failure. He figured, I’ve failed at being a follower of Christ, BUT I know how to fish. I’m not good enough for God so I will just go back and pursue my past. But notice that Peter’s decision to pursue his past and do things in his own strength didn’t just affect him it infected everyone around him. You see Peter’s decision influenced the other disciples to disobey and turn from following to fishing. What you model will mold those who are following you, including your family and friends. What Peter modeled was that pursuing a feel good was more important than pursuing the Father. Are you trying to deal with your disappointment by going back to your past and pursuing the things that used to make you feel successful? Instead of following your feelings I want to encourage you to follow the Father. Or you will be in danger of being a crowd follower instead of a Christ follower.


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16. From Doubt to Devotion – Part 3

John 20:19-29
19 That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. 20 As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! 21 Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” 22 Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” 24 One of the twelve disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), was not with the others when Jesus came. 25 They told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.” 26 Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!” 28 “My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed. 29 Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”
As soon as Jesus responds to this doubt disciple with an invitation to touch His wounds we see Thomas:

4. Recognition Vs 28
Christ’s invitation to Thomas to touch and test was never taken up, there was no need. Thomas not only recognized Jesus but he responded with the words, “My Lord and my God.” All it took was an authentic moment with the Master for him to go from doubt to devotion. We are all individuals and while our circumstances may differ we all need to make this journey from confusion to conviction so that we can confess our conviction. What about you, are you living under the conviction of the cross or the cloud of confusion? Are you convinced that Christ rose from the dead and conquered sin and death or are still dogged by doubt? Thomas didn’t just believe He boldly proclaimed his belief. There are many of us who call ourselves Christians but instead of confessing our conviction we are living as secrete saints. While we claim Christ as our king our lifestyle doesn’t reflect our love for the Lord. But for Thomas his skepticism was replaced with submission and surrender. When Thomas said My Lord and my God, he was declaring that the Messiah was his Master not doubt. What voice are you going to listen to, the voice of doubt and fears or the voice of your Father. Thomas was saying I’m not just convinced I’m committed. One of the reasons many of us live limited lives is because we are living for self and not the Savior. When it comes to Christ many of us are living lives like doubting Thomas not devoted Thomas, we are not really convinced so Christ remains a convenience instead of a commitment. But if He really rose from the grave then He is God and our response will be to submit to His supremacy. If there is one thing that Thomas teaches us it’s that when it comes to Christ there is no halfway house, you are either going to live a life of doubt or one of devotion. The other disciples had already had their encounter with Jesus, but they couldn’t believe for Thomas; he had to make that decision for himself. Each of us have to hear the words of Jesus for ourselves, “stop doubting and believe!” How do we know Thomas believed, because there was a change, not in his circumstances but in his life. Today many of us want Christ to change our circumstances, but He didn’t come to change our circumstances, He came to change us. As a result, Thomas went from worry to worship. Instead of asking Jesus to change your circumstances why not ask Him to change you. Instead of trying to use prayer to fix your problems start using it to focus on Jesus presence. When you do instead of being junk focused you will be Jesus focused? Prayer moves us from being focused on the problems to being focused on His presence, and when we are focused on His presence it puts our problems into perspective. It’s here in the midst of the recognition that we have the:

5. Reminder of Jesus – Vs 29
As He speaks this startling statement “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.” Jesus was preparing his disciples and us to follow by faith because soon he would ascend and return to heaven. His ascension would put Him beyond physical sight, yet he would still be visible to the eyes of faith. Today we can’t see Him, we can’t touch Him. His resurrection appearances are no longer in human form, but they are just as real to those who seek after him and hear His words and works as they study the scriptures. For Thomas seeing was believing, but for future Christians believing is seeing! The story of Thomas is a moving example of how God dealings with a heart drowning in doubt. His words to doubting disciples today are the same as they were to Thomas two thousand years ago, “reach out … stop doubting, and believe.” What about you, are you a doubting disciple or a devoted disciple?