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Monday, April 20, 2009

Geno with fish
Geno with prize catch
(Not a doctored photo!)

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"A Fishing Story (Part 2)"
(Today's message is a follow-up to Friday's post.)

"They went out and got into the boat; and that night they caught nothing.  But when the day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. So Jesus said to them, 'Children, you do not have any fish, do you?'  They answered Him, 'No.'" (John 21:3-5).

Cell phone camerasToday cameras are everywhere; we have instant cameras, disposable cameras, time lapse cameras, cell phone cameras and so forth. We're accustomed to seeing scores of people at any large event videotaping or snapping photos. We also have the ability to manipulate photos so that they very realistically convey something altogether different than the original photo. This can be fun and harmless but increasingly this manipulation is used for wrong purposes and can be used as a tool of deception.

Fishermen have long enjoyed taking photos of their prized fish catch and my friend Geno sent me today's photo after reading Friday's message. In fact if you google the phrase "man holding fish" you will get 2,460,000 photos in the image search!

I used to enjoy fishing when I was younger but I need to be reeling them in pretty regularly to fully enjoy the experience.  Problem is, I was never very good at getting them to bite so it's extremely rare that I go fishing.  Anyone who's ever been on a fishing expedition knows the frustration that Peter and the other six disciples must have felt after fishing all night and catching nothing.
This is one of the few post-resurrection stories that we have recorded in Scripture and I believe the NASV captures the essence of how Christ approached the disciples the next morning: "Children, you do not have any fish, do you?" Of course the resurrected Lord knew they had a long, dismal, and unproductive night!

Jesus had some specific fishing advice for the disciples even though at this point they did not recognize Him.

"Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some."  This advice didn't make much sense. Surely they had plied the waters through the night and fished from both sides of the boat. I just wonder if Peter had recalled an earlier occasion when the Master had some similar fishing advice.*

But this time Peter didn't hesitate and the result was a great catch of 153 large fish. It's always been interesting to me that they counted them and this specific authenticating count is included in the Scripture account.  Perhaps there was a count given after every fishing trip so that fish could be sold at the market.  If only cameras were available at that time we could look at the photos of this fishing story as the disciples excitedly snapped photos of each other that captured their excitement at the bulging net of large fish.

Let me issue a spiritual lesson and fresh challenge to our readers today.  Let us, like these disciples, obey the voice of the Lord when He speaks to us, instead of arguing, "It didn't work before!"  Or "That's not what the experts recommend!" 

Yesterday we sang the great hymn, "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty" written in 1680 by Joachim Neander.  Years earlier he was a scoffer who ridiculed worshippers, but after his conversion he became the associate pastor of the very church he had ridiculed.  As he grew in the Lord he began to write songs and in verse 3 of "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty" he issued a challenge I leave with you today:  "Ponder anew what the Almighty can do…"  If your hope needs restored or if God is writing a new chapter in your life, ponder His miraculous ways and trust Him for what He wants to do in you today.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

A Prayer from Brooksyne's heart:  Father, as You awakened me in the night with the recurring thought, "Ponder anew what the Almighty can do" it brought me to my knees in prayer.  There are so many ways that You influence our lives through Your teaching, Your healing, Your companionship, Your provision, Your guidance, and Your everlasting hope.  I pray for our readers today that You would revive their hearts as they ponder Your mighty works, Your miraculous ways and follow Your leading.  Just as the angel told your servant Mary, "Nothing is impossible with God" who are we to limit Your power or wisdom through our vain thinking or lack of faith.  We want to fully trust You to guide us according to Your will.  Amen. 

An additional study note: Several years earlier during His earthly ministry Jesus had been teaching from Peter's boat and when He had finished speaking, he said to Peter, "Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch" (v.4). 

Peter and his friends had worked all night with no success.  They were likely now weary from the long night and the morning of teaching.  They didn't want to go out again and Peter forthrightly expresses his feelings, "Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything."  But he added, "But because you say so, I will let down the nets."

Do you recall what happened next?  "When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break!  So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink." (This account is found in Luke 5:1-11).

Note regarding doctored photos: On Friday I shared a photo of three outhouses for sale near New Holland PA.  I added the Papa bear, Mama bear and Baby bear to each outhouse!

Men's Breakfast
Several years ago I joined some friends for breakfast at an "Old Country Buffet" restaurant.  Red is a colorful World War 2 vet with a huge white beard. I took a photo and edited it using an inexpensive software program and my limited skills so that we all had Red's face and beard.  Can you identify the real Red?  (The actual photo is here.)

Weber family at lake
This last summer we visited our friends the Miller family near Peoria Illinois and their daughter Katie, a professional photographer took this photo. It illustrates the capabilities of high end photo editing software and the ability of skilled users!  Here's Katie's photgraphy site.

Mount Pleasant 2009 Bible Quiz team
Ester and her Bible Quiz team
Yesterday afternoon we attended a Bible Quiz meet and watched Ester and her team for five quizzes.  Bible Quizzing is an excellent ministry that teaches young people the discipline of studying and memorizing the Holy Scriptures.  We had the ministry in the church we pastored in northern PA about twenty years ago. I salute the dedicated adults who work faithfully with the students week after week in this ministry all over the country! Nancy Martin and Angela Buckwalter are the  Bible Quiz coaches for Ester's team and they pour their hearts into this ministry. Today I had a leading to thank Nancy and Angela as well as Chris Mansfield and Chris Muhlhammer, who worked with our quizzing team many years ago.

Bernie ElliotBernie Elliot is a friend of ours and a long-time regular reader of this series.  He is a National Bible Quiz Coordinator and an enthusiastic proponent of the values of Bible quizzing!

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources
Click on the link to open and play.
In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.

"Praise To The Lord, The Almighty"  Video   Fernando Ortega  In V. 3 you'll hear the phrase we included today in our message, "Ponder anew what the Almighty can do..."  May it stir your heart today!

"Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus"  Video  Yesterday we ended our service with this song and it illustrates our need to have a growing trust in the Lord!  This arrangement is sung by "Casting Crowns".

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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