A daily, Bible-based perspective of hope, encouragement and exhortation.
Monday, April 19, 2021
We drove through this conifer forest near Wellfleet PA on the outer cape, a view we don't expect on Cape Cod but more like Northern PA.
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Message summary: Peter became a great fisher of men and in some ways we are all his spiritual descendants, a result of his faithful fishing.
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“’I’m going out to fish,’ Simon Peter told them, and they said, ‘We’ll go with you.’ So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, ‘Friends, haven’t you any fish?’ ‘No,’ they answered. 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” (John 21:3-6). “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19).
We returned home from several days on Cape Cod yesterday afternoon. We didn't have the kind of weather we had hoped for as it was cold and rainy most of the time, not suitable for biking. But we had a good and safe time exploring from our van and reminiscing from the years we lived in New England during the 90's.
Being essentially an island, (separated from the mainland by a canal*) Cape Cod has various fishing opportunities from deep sea to bay to the 1,000 freshwater kettle ponds, many stocked with trout. I am not an avid fisherman but my first ocean fishing experience was off Cape Cod about 25 years ago. A young man named Brian who attended our church was a very avid fisherman and invited me to join him in fishing for striped bass around the Elizabeth Islands in his very small boat, which was surely barely seaworthy. It was cold drizzly weather similar to what we experienced on our recent trip and was not my most pleasant memory as he kept wanting to fish just a little bit longer while I was soaked, cold, and emotionally done with the outing! (Note: Photo is of commercial fishing boats in New Bedford harbor, not what I was on!)
Another far more famous fishing story took place 2000 years ago and is repeated often even to this day since it was recorded in Scripture and included a miraculous intervention. It took place shortly after Christ’s resurrection.
The apostle Peter, for some reason, had a hankering to go fishing and told the other disciples, "I’m going out to fish". The other disciples said, "We’ll go with you". It's more fun to fish with other people isn't it?
They fished all night and caught nothing. That must have been a hard, discouraging fishing trip. Anyone who’s ever been fishing knows the frustration the disciples experienced in the daily text. Early in the morning Jesus stood on the shore but they did not recognize Him, possibly due to a morning mist, because of the distance, or because this was only His third appearance since He rose from the dead. He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” Of course the resurrected Lord knew they hadn’t caught anything, but thoughtful conversation is often begun by asking a question! It was the "disciple whom Jesus loved" (John) that recognized His voice and told Peter "It it the Lord".
A seasoned fisherman knows that he must cast his line in all directions to find where the fish are biting. When I’m fishing from a boat I’ll try fishing from the back, each side and even the front if I can get there. Surely during the course of the night the disciples had moved about trying to cast their nets in various places in search of fish.
But Jesus had some specific and unusual fishing advice: "Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some". Now surely they had tried this already but Peter didn’t hesitate in obediently responding to the voice in the distance. His obedience resulted in a great catch of 153 large fish (v.11). It’s always been interesting to me that they counted the fish they caught that morning and the total number is included in the Scripture account. What an authenticating detail this is! Real fishermen keep track of how many fish they catch, particularly keepers, as well as the weight and these fish were whoppers!
The disciples, upon landing, saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. The disciples warmed themselves around a camp fire with Jesus teaching them biblical truths up close and personal. The Lord provided a very inviting setting for some hungry, wet, and chilled fishermen and it was even more appealing after they laid an extra layer of fish on the hot coals for an indulgent men's fellowship breakfast. The disciples indulged on both the physical and spiritual food Jesus provided them that morning. I have a feeling the disciples involved in this fishing story talked about it everywhere they went, especially the men who did the cooking!
Have you ever worked hard in some form of Christian service and not "caught" anything? We may serve in some form of ministry for Christ that, at least for a season, seems to be going nowhere. We’re not "catching" anything. When we don’t see receptivity or growth it is very discouraging. But we need to stay faithful and listen to the voice of our Master and learn from the disciples’ fishing trip.
We need to trust and obey. There will be discouraging times and mysterious delays in our service for the Lord. I am sure there was for the disciples and other early followers of our Lord as well. Notable leaders throughout church history had these experiences as well. Charles Spurgeon looked back upon dark hours in his own life and said, "I bear willing witness that I owe more to the fire, and the hammer, and the file, than to anything else in my Lord’s workshop. I sometimes question whether I have ever learned anything except through the rod. When my schoolroom is darkened, I see most."
When they first met, Jesus had said to Peter and his brother Andrew, “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). Peter indeed became a great fisher of men and in some ways we are all his spiritual descendants, a result of his faithful fishing. And now we are all called to be fishers of men.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, it is during times of discouragement or bewilderment that I find myself more attentive to Your instruction. And sometimes, the direction I feel in my spirit, either directly from Scripture, in prayer, or counsel from a mature believer may lead me to an action that is counter to that which I would otherwise do, like the disciples who were told to cast their nets back into the same sea after they had no results earlier. My heart is more absorbing of the truths You want to convey when I walk in faith and obedience while leaving the results to You. Help me to always remember that You are the Teacher and I am the student. I welcome the wisdom of the Master to guide me into all truths, and sustain me in the moments of silence and waiting. Amen.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Fishers of Men" Video Christian Edition I recall this song from childhood but am blessed by this men's choir version.
"Fishers of Men" Video Rhonda Vincent (Another song with the same title)
Some photos from our trip to Cape Cod
The Nauset Lighthouse is in Eastham, Massachusetts on the Cape Cod National Seashore.
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We made a point to drive by several lighthouses during our trip.
Fun fact: The lighthouse design on each bag of Cape Cod Potato Chips is a visual tribute to this lighthouse. On a rainy Friday we drove by the Cape Cod Potato Chip factory (here on Google map) and wanted to take a tour but it was closed due to high production and also covid-related. It does not seem to be a very large factory but they sure put out the chips across the country, at least as far as where we live. We often purchase them here in Lancaster County. Herr's and Utz Potato Chips, from our neck of the woods were easily available wherever we drove on the cape.
The coast of Cape Cod is dotted with many small inlets and harbors, this one in Harwich along Nantucket Sound.
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This house in Chatham, MA had a matching dollhouse with the very same design and colors sitting beside it!
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The former Chatham, MA train station is now a railroad museum but like many of the attractions on the Cape was not open for visitors yet. One of the rail trails we had planned to ride starts near this station. All day on Saturday it would start to clear up so I would talk about getting the bikes out of the back of our van, and then it would start raining again!
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