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. 15 After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.” “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him. 16 Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.” “Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said. 17 A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.—John 21:10-17 (NLT)
They had caught 153 fish in one haul, talk about an abundance! Jesus came that we might have abundant life (John 10:10). This was the third time they had seen Jesus since the Resurrection, so they knew who He was. Now, Jesus asks Peter a simple question. “Do you love me more than these?” Peter answers “Yes, Lord, you know I love you”. Jesus then said to Peter “take care of my sheep”. It is as if Jesus is saying to Peter, do you love me enough to leave these other disciples to go and feed my sheep. The third time Jesus asks He uses a different word for love that is asking Peter how deeply do you love men? Jesus says for the third time, “Feed my sheep”. The question for us then is this: Do we love Jesus enough to leave family, friends and home to feed His sheep? We come to the same question that we must ask ourselves everyday. Are we willing to give up everyone and everything to follow Jesus? 23 Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. 24 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.—Luke 9:23, 24 (NLT)
31 It was the day of preparation, and the Jewish leaders didn’t want the bodies hanging there the next day, which was the Sabbath (and a very special Sabbath, because it was the Passover). So they asked Pilate to hasten their deaths by ordering that their legs be broken. Then their bodies could be taken down. 32 So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the two men crucified with Jesus. 33 But when they came to Jesus, they saw that he was already dead, so they didn’t break his legs. 34 One of the soldiers, however, pierced his side with a spear, and immediately blood and water flowed out. 35 (This report is from an eyewitness giving an accurate account. He speaks the truth so that you also may continue to believe. 36 These things happened in fulfillment of the Scriptures that say, “Not one of his bones will be broken,” 37 and “They will look on the one they pierced.”—John 19:31-37 (NLT)
One would think that after all the things that the leaders had just done, that a body on a cross on the Sabbath would be of little consequence. But, we can only guess that that would have offended their piety. When the legs of those hanging on the cross were broken. the full weight of the body was pulling down on the arms and torso making it more difficult to breathe. This caused the person to expire more quickly due to a lack of oxygen. By the time the soldiers came to the cross that Jesus was hanging on, He was already dead, so they didn’t break His legs. Instead they pierced His side with a spear causing all the fluids to run out of His body. This fulfilled more prophecy concerning the death of Jesus. Just as a sacrificial lamb had to be completely bled out before it could be sacrificed, so was Jesus. He gave up everything for us- His royalty in heaven, His life, His very last drop of blood. What are we willing to give up for Him?
5 If any of you needs wisdom to know what you should do, you should ask God, and he will give it to you. God is generous to everyone and doesn’t find fault with them.6 When you ask for something, don’t have any doubts. A person who has doubts is like a wave that is blown by the wind and tossed by the sea. 7 A person who has doubts shouldn’t expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 A person who has doubts is thinking about two different things at the same time and can’t make up his mind about anything.–James 1:5-8 (GW)
God has promised to fulfill our every need. If we need wisdom, we need to ask, but when we ask, we must believe that God will do what He has said that He will do. Jesus told His disciples that they had “little” faith and that is why they could not do certain miracles. We must have faith and doubt is the opposite of faith. As long as we have doubts, we will change our minds anytime anyone tells us “God is not going to do that for you”. Make a decision based on what you know, not what you feel. Feelings are unreliable and can be used by satan to bring us down. Study the Bible asking God to guide you and give you insight into His Word. Then you can be sure that what you ask for lines up with His Word and He will give it to you. Why would He not do that? After all, He has already given His most precious procession as a ransom for our souls. 31 What can we say about all of this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 God didn’t spare his own Son but handed him over to death for all of us. So he will also give us everything along with him—Romans 8:31,32 (GW)
16 Come and listen, all you who fear God,
and I will tell you what he did for me.
17 For I cried out to him for help,
praising him as I spoke.
18 If I had not confessed the sin in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened.
19 But God did listen!
He paid attention to my prayer.
20 Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer
or withdraw his unfailing love from me.–Psalm 66:16-20 (NLT)
God wants to bless us all the time. He gave us His Son, so why would He withhold any good thing from us? For this to happen, we must stay “prayed up”, instantly repenting for any sin that we do, whether it be intentionally or unintentionally. When God’s Spirit brings conviction, we must agree with God that we have committed a sin and ask His forgiveness. He is always faithful to forgive us. Then we must thank Him and praise Him for that forgiveness. God inhabits the praises of His people. He is within us, with us, surrounding us. He will never leave us nor forsake us. His mercies are new every morning. Let your first words every morning be praise and thanksgiving. Your attitude will be sweeter and your day will go more smoothly.
4 When the Lord your God expels these people in front of you, don’t say to yourselves, “Because we’ve been living right, the Lord brought us here to take possession of this land.” No, it’s because these nations are so wicked that the Lord is forcing them out of your way. 5 It’s not because you’ve been living right or because you’re so honest that you’re entering to take possession of their land. It’s because these people are so wicked that the Lord your God is forcing them out of your way.–Deuteronomy 4:4-5 (God’s Word)
We are blessed to live in a beautiful country where we are free to travel from the Pacific Coast to the Atlantic Coast without having to stop at any border stations. We are also free to work, play, and worship without police or military interruption. We are free to accomplish most anything we have the ability and the desire to do. But, just as the children of Israel became full and fat in the land of Canaan and forgot Who it was that gave them the land, we are guilty of the same sin. We have done absolutely nothing to merit being born and raised in a country established on Judeo-Christian principles. God established this nation and has maintained it because we have been a nation “under God”. When we, as a nation, depart from those ways and turn to wickedness, God will discipline us just as surely as He disciplined the Jewish people when they disobeyed. We have been blessed because we have always blessed Israel. If that doesn’t remain true, we will be a cursed nation. God’s Word is true and He will not be mocked.
6 Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. 7 You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” 8 And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. 9 As the Scriptures say, “They share freely and give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will be remembered forever.–2 Corinthians 9:6-9 (NLT)
We have just gone through the Christmas season. A season well known for giving gifts. How many of those gifts were given to family and friends who had no need for anything more than they already had? It is a good tradition to continue to show appreciation for those close to us. But, as Christians, we should feel a deep desire to help those around us that are less fortunate. It is an extension of God’s love that He showed to us when He sent Jesus as our Savior. We were poor, wretched, and blind, but He gave His all for us. We should not limit our giving to a season. Those around us need more than 2 meals a year. In God’s mathematics, giving does not subtract from our supply, in the end it actually increases our abundance. 38 Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back. Luke 6:38 (NLT)