John 21:4-6 (NIV) “Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. 5 He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered.
6 He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.
We are in the middle that none of us have ever experienced. The complete shut down and tragedy that this virus has caused will never be forgotten. But in the midst of the pain and loss this season has brought to many, there is something positive God is doing in His Church. Something that is preparing His Church to be at it’s best for our nation and those who are suffering. This is what I want to share with you today.
Abraham Lincoln said… “Give me six hours to cut down a tree and I will spend the first four hours sharpening the ax.”
Have you thought about what you would be doing right now if COVID19 never came? When I do, my mind almost immediately goes to a busy schedule full of meetings, phone calls, problem solving, event attending, future planning and strategy sessions plus everything in the life of my family and I begin to hyperventilate. Seriously, I get alarmed at how busy my calendar was and I hate to admit it, how much I was swinging a dull ax at times. Trees were coming down, work was being done, but wow was it wearing me out. How about you?
Take some time right now and think about it. How busy was your life with work, family and leisure before COVID19?
President Lincoln was right. It is always best to use the right tools, the right way, prepared in the right manner to cut down a tree. The disciples learned this lesson too, but not with an ax, Jesus used a net instead. The lesson comes in the midst of waiting, kind of like where we are now. Jesus has died and has been resurrected. He appeared to the disciples on several occasions, but they have yet to receive the power they would soon experience in the upper room. They are doing what they knew to do...fish and not doing a very good job at it.
The Church in America has felt like these disciples did. Our nets have been empty, but we have been working really hard. We have built big buildings, produced great productions that center around these big buildings and created a busy calendar to help us know when to gather in these big buildings. But current stats tell us that with all this hard work, our nets have not been very full. In fact, fish (people) are not swimming into the nets we cast.
How about you? Have you found that you have been working hard for results that are mediocre?
Jesus says in John 15:5 (NIV) “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” This is what the disciples were learning. They were getting the big picture before the big send off. If you want to be productive in the Kingdom, we need to stay close to Jesus. When I think about what Jesus says in John 15, I am sometimes ashamed of how much work I do for him, without him. Ouch! Marriage, raising a family and yes even my job as a pastor. It is so easy to rely on what I know or think I know instead of taking the time to abide in Jesus with prayer, worship and the Word. It is in these moments when I hear His voice call out to me and show me what and how to do it. This is when my ax gets sharpened and more work is done and less energy is spent.
Now more than ever we need revelation of who Jesus is and how to fish His way, on the side of the boat that is productive for the Kingdom and beneficial for our nation. Listen to this question from Jesus. “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” This is the question Jesus is asking us in this season? Are you accomplishing your mission with Jesus or without? Sharp ax or dull ax?
Application of today’s devotion...
Over the next two Wednesdays, I am asking you to join me to fast and pray for our local, state and national leadership during this COVID19 season. They get enough criticism and maybe at times deserved, however, what they need is our prayers. Families lives are at stake with their decisions. Fast a meal or fast social media pray with me, shut out the noise and listen to God’s Word. Remember to always consult your physician before fasting a meal. Sharpen your ax and fill up nets as we pray for our leaders. Thank you.