ELISHA (PT.4)

“When Elisha returned to Gilgal, there was a famine in the land. As the sons of the prophets were sitting before him, he said to his servant, “Put on the large pot and boil stew for the sons of the prophets” (2 Kings 4:38 NASB).

One of the ways that the LORD God distinguishes Himself in a world of false gods is by way of compassion. Although there are thousands of false gods, worshipped out of fear of ill consequences, none of them can compare to the God Who loves us and cares for us in the midst our plight or problems. When Jesus looks upon us He sees us like sheep having no shepherd, scattered and harassed by life’s circumstances. He is full of compassion and does not distance Himself from our pain or need. He reassures us of His love and care for us. Speaking through the prophet Jeremiah, He declares, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore I have drawn you with loving kindness” (Jeremiah 31:3 NASB).   We see a demonstration of God’s loving kindness through the ministry of Elisha during the time of famine (Read 2 Kings 4:38-41).

 POISONOUS STEW

Elisha is making his circuit to Gilgal and finds the company of the prophets without food due to the famine in the land. He instructs his servant to put on a large pot and make some stew to feed them. One of the young men (apparently) in his eagerness to help with the meal gathered some herbs from a wild vine. He also gathered some wild gourds (“filling the fold of his cloak”), cutting them up in the stew (“no one knew what they were”). When they starting eating, they cried out to Elisha, “there is death in the pot!”  The prophet Elisha had them put some flour (meal) in the pot. And there was no harm.

This story has lessons for us today. (1) Know those who labor among you. Just because this servant was with “the company of the prophets” did not mean he was called to that ministry. He had no DISCERNMENT to distinguish what was a good plant and a poisonous gourd! Today, much passes in the Body of Christ for true MINISTRY when it is NOT. Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you how to distinguish (And avoid!) the “WILD GOURD” ministries that are in the land. They have put “death in the pot”. And without recognizing this, many just swallow what is fed to them as “Gospel”.

(2) God gave Elijah the solution. Have them put ‘flour’ in the pot. Flour is ground grain or “meal”. Meal is a type of God’s Word. We need the WRITTEN Word of God as well as the LIVING WORD of God. Jesus said, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life” (John 5:39-40 NASB).

YOUR PART

Elisha had the solution but they had to participate by putting the meal in the pot of stew. The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry”(2 Timothy 4:1-5 NASB).

 Timothy was to be faithful to proclaim the truth of God’s Word to save and deliver his hearers. “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12 NASB).

Give people the Word and you give them hope and Life. Give them NO Word and you give them NO hope nor Life!   Amos warned, “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord GOD, “When I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, But rather for hearing the words of the LORD” (Amos 8:11 NASB).

 HOPE FOR OUR HUNGER

The story of Elisha gives us hope. He reminds us that God will care for His own, even in midst of famine conditions. “The LORD knows the days of the blameless, and their inheritance will be forever. They will not be ashamed in the time of evil, and in the days of famine they will have abundance”(Psalms 37:18-19 NASB).

Ultimately, Jesus is the only answer for a “culture of death”. He is the true Bread sent of the Father and we look to Him for Life. Jesus said, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.'” (Matthew 4:4 NASB)

Finally, the apostle Paul exhorts, “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority”(Colossians 2:8-10 NASB).

(c) Copyright 2014, Walter Fletcher Jr. All rights reserved. This article may be copied and shared free of charge provided that it is not sold or altered in any way from its original content. Please address all correspondence to: Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com

ELISHA (Pt.3)

“Now there came a day when Elisha passed over to Shunem, where there was a prominent woman, and she persuaded him to eat food. And so it was, as often as he passed by, he turned in there to eat food” (2 Kings 4:8 NASB).

 

Elisha the prophet was what the Old Methodist used to call “A Circuit Rider”. Like his master, Elijah, he travelled back and forth to minister and encourage “The sons (school) of the prophets”.  Apparently, there was a “well to do” woman who lived in Shunem and discerned that Elisha was the ‘real deal’. “She said to her husband, “Behold now, I perceive that this is a holy man of God passing by us continually. Please, let us make a little walled upper chamber and let us set a bed for him there, and a table and a chair and a lampstand; and it shall be, when he comes to us, that he can turn in there” (2 Kings 4:9-10 NASB).

THE MINISTRY OF HOSPITALITY

I don’t hear much today about the “Gift of hospitality”(Romans 12:13).  I believe it will become a great opportunity and privilege to serve God’s people in this way in these days. It is interesting to notice how often Jesus and his disciples were invited to eat or stay as honored guests along the way of their ministry travels. Some of Jesus’ hosts were of questionable reputation. Others were recognized as good citizens in their region (See Luke 7:36-50; John 12:1-8). Nevertheless, wherever Jesus is welcomed for a meal and fellowship…that host home will never be the same. As a matter of fact, welcoming Jesus gives us strong encouragement to believe that the whole household gets in own the blessing!  Peter preached to the crowd saying, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” (Acts 16:31 NASB)  How often “Household salvation” is the outcome of welcoming Jesus in His servants in the Book of Acts.

PROMISE OF FRUITFULNESS

The Shunemite woman and her husband made a room for Elisha to be a regular, honored guest. Resulting in God increasing their joy by giving them a son! Sometimes we are rewarded with new life, new hope and new dreams when we forget about ourselves and reach out to help others. “And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward” (Matthew 10:42 NASB).   Again, the apostle Paul said, “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith”(Galatians 6:9-10 NASB).

THE CRISIS OF CARING

Sometime after receiving the miracle of new life, the child died.  What a strange and confusing (Unbearable) moment this must have been.  But, inspite of appearances, the Shunemite woman did not speak her grief nor a word of unbelief. She got on her donkey and headed for the man of God who had spoke the word of promise for the child’s birth.  And when Elisha knew of her sorrow…he did not accuse her of “some secret sin” being the cause of her son’s death.  No. He being full of compassion went to where she had laid the child to intercede for the child’s life.

HOPE RESURRECTED

“When Elisha came into the house, behold the lad was dead and laid on his bed. So he entered and shut the door behind them both and prayed to the LORD. And he went up and lay on the child, and put his mouth on his mouth and his eyes on his eyes and his hands on his hands, and he stretched himself on him; and the flesh of the child became warm. Then he returned and walked in the house once back and forth, and went up and stretched himself on him; and the lad sneezed seven times and the lad opened his eyes. He called Gehazi and said, “Call this Shunammite.” So he called her. And when she came in to him, he said, “Take up your son.” Then she went in and fell at his feet and bowed herself to the ground, and she took up her son and went out” (2 Kings 4:32-37 NASB).

CRISIS MIRACLE

The miracle of the boy’s life being restored was only part of the story. The lesson we can learn is that Elisha did not waver in the face of a real crisis. He trusted in the unchanging character of God (Regardless of how hopeless it may have seemed). It is easy to present yourself in the moments of success. But who wants to stand in the face of seeming defeat (or despair)?  And yet…that is when people need us the most.   Sometimes all that is required in the moment of crisis is to “Show up”!     Stay in “the moment”, knowing that “Jehovah-Shammah”, the LORD IS NEAR.

Never let the crisis dictate the outcome. “Behind every crisis…CHRIST waits to appear”! He knows all about your heartache, sorrow, tears (and fears) and still proclaims, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26 NASB).

 

(c) Copyright 2014, Walter Fletcher Jr. All rights reserved. This article may be copied and shared free of charge provided that it is not sold or altered in any way from its original content. Please address all correspondence to: Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com

ELISHA (Pt.2)

“As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind” (2 Kings 2:11 NIV).

 A LEGACY

Today as family, friends, leaders of nations from around the world both mourn the loss and celebrate the life and ministry of Dr. Myles Munroe. It is appropriate to pause to ask, “What does it mean when a great man has been taken suddenly from us? And further, what will we do with the LEGACY that was left in earth?”

A WHIRLWIND

It is appropriate that we are reflecting at this moment on Elisha. And, no doubt, the story of Elijah and Elisha is one of the best-known stories in the Bible. Elisha, the prophet, reminds us that when the prophet Elijah went up in a whirlwind and the chariot of fire he did not go with the mantle. The mantle was a symbol of his ministry. All that was in the mantle of Elijah was returned to the earth in order for Elisha to pick it up and advance the LORD God of Elijah’s purpose.

PURPOSE

LexicEN Lite Dictionary defines Purpose as: “An anticipated outcome that is intended or that guides your planned actions…the quality of being determined to do or achieve something”. Purpose is what we embrace to pursue our destiny. But our purpose cannot be embraced until our true identity is owned. It is what spurs us own to fulfill our destiny. Destiny awaits those who can recognize the moment, like Elisha; in seeing Elijah “going up” was not an ultimate loss but a gain. It was not the end of a relationship with his master but the extension of all the years in which he had served, “pouring water on the man of God’s hands”. It was his reward of the double-portion for him because he chose to stay close by Elijah’s side while others (“the sons of the prophet”) tried to separate him from “the master”(Read 2 Kings 2). But Elisha as a faithful servant proved that he qualified as a “faithful son”. He stayed close to Elijah and recognized that his true relationship was in the Spirit. This truth was revealed later to the apostle Paul; that true fellowship is a Spirit-Reality. “But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit”(1 Corinthians 6:17 NIV).

A SERVANT BUT NOT A SON

Elisha does not cry out for his master. Rather he senses the change and moment in the Spirit. He cried out, as Elijah is departing, “My father, my father!”(2 Kings 2:12).

Elisha as “a true son” of Elijah did not miss the moment nor it’s message. He saw Elijah “go up” but he also saw “the mantle fall down”(2 Kings 2:13-14). He wasted no time on that which seemingly was lost for he knew that the fellowship he had with his master was really an oneness of spirit. Yeshua (Jesus) assured his disciples as they were saddened by the thought of his departure back to the Father that they were not “orphans” in this world. “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you” (John 14:16-20 NASB).

STAND ON THE SHOULDERS

Myles Munroe, like Elijah, embodied the Spirit of the Father. He had a clear sense that his purpose was to inspire, train and impart a kingdom vision to the next generation. We must recognize that this moment is like no other moment. We must not squander nor bury our talents in the ground (Read Matthew 25:14-30). As Myles often said “Most of the wealth and potential of the world is buried in cemeteries…. Why? Because most people never used their gifts, talents or callings to make a difference the world while they lived”.

Recognized your God-given identity and call. Use the opportunities given to influence the course and destiny of a nation(s) for good and the glory of God. Embrace the word given through the prophet Jeremiah as a word for us (and through us) today, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV).

May the memory of the righteous life of Dr. Myles Munroe be sweet.

 

(c) Copyright 2014, Walter Fletcher Jr. All rights reserved. This article may be copied and shared free of charge provided that it is not sold or altered in any way from its original content. Please address all correspondence to: Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com

ELISHA (Pt.1)

“Now a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the LORD; and the creditor has come to take my two children to be his slaves.” (2 Kings 4:1 NASB)

THE NATURE OF THE PROPHET

The prophet Elisha is known and remembered not so much for his words as a prophet but for his DEEDS.   Let us remember that Elisha was the prophet Elijah’s successor (See 2 Kings 2).  Elijah had confronted the Baal prophets (Jezebel’s & king Ahab’s governmental appointees), praying down fire and rain on Mt. Carmel.  But Elisha is said to have performed twice the miracles that Elijah his master had performed (Consider John 14:12).

Sometimes the nature of a true prophet can be misunderstood.  A prophet is not a prophet because they can tell you what the future holds (A gift of prophecy can do that. And, sad to say, a “Fortune telling” spirit may do that).  But a true prophet speaks to the future in light of the present moment. This was true of Moses, Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, and Jonah, to name a few of the Hebrew prophets.  They spoke not only fore-telling words but forth-telling words.  Their words were primarily directed to the hearts and minds of the people of their day.

DROUGHT AND FAMINE

Through Elijah,the LORD God was acknowledged as the only true God in the land once again. But although God was back upon the conscience of the nation of Israel, they still must walk out the reality of the natural affects of the three-year and sixth month drought. The drought had created a lame economy resulting from the famine in the land.  Thus, we have the story of the prophet Elisha confronting the crisis situations in time of famine.  

THE WIDOW & HER SONS

Elisha’s name means, “God is salvation”. His very name embodies the message of the LORD God for His people.  When God calls someone, they become the message they are sent to deliver. Notice in 2 Kings 4, Elisha is confronted with human suffering due to loss (Read 2 Kings 4:1-7). The widow of a man of God is faced with an outstanding debt, which in that day would require that her two sons be taken from her to pay off the creditor.  What is she going to do?

WHAT’S AT HAND?

Elisha’s first inquiry was “How may I serve you? What do you have in your house?”(2 Kings 4:2)  Often the beginning of a miracle begins when we stop focusing on what we DON’T have.  It  begins by re-directing our focus,determining what we DO have…”What’s at hand?”.  Recall that Jesus fed the multitude by using a little boy’s lunch who was in the midst of the crowd. Give God what’s at hand and the miracle begins. The widow woman had some oil.  

EMPTY VESSELS

She was instructed to go to her neighbors and get “empty jars or vessels”. She obeyed. She comes home with her boys and shuts the door from the prying eyes of unbelief. Elijah instructs her to take the oil which she had and pour it into the empty vessels. She obeyed. And as long as her sons handed her another empty vessel the oil kept flowing! When there were no more vessels to fill…then the oil ceased to flow.  Oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. When He dwells in us we can pour out to others as long as they are available (See 2 Co 4:7).

PAY DEBT & LIVE ON THE REST

The prophet heard of the miraculous flow of oil and instructed the widow to “Go sell the oil, pay your debt and you and your sons can live on the rest”(2 Kings 4:7).

This story is recorded in the Scriptures to encourage our faith in time of crisis and need. God is still in the miracle business. He is able to do far beyond what we can ask. But you must go to Him and ask (Both for His help and plan). When we learn to give Him what we have, He’ll take it in order to make it more than it could be and all that it should be.

God has an economy that is “out of this world”. This story is not merely about God’s faithfulness to the widow and her sons. It is about God’s faithfulness to His servant, her husband, the man of God, who had died.

GOD IS NO MAN’S DEBTOR

  God is faithful and will not forget your faith and labor of love done in His name.  The apostle Paul confirms this when he wrote “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed; as it is written, “HE SCATTERED ABROAD, HE GAVE TO THE POOR, HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS ENDURES FOREVER.” Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness” (2 Corinthians 9:8-10 NASB).

 

(c) Copyright 2014, Walter Fletcher Jr. All rights reserved. This article may be copied and shared free of charge provided that it is not sold or altered in any way from its original content. Please address all correspondence to: Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com

FISHERS OF MEN (Pt.5)

“Then the Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go up and join this chariot'” (Acts 8:29 NASB).

THE WAY OF THE SPIRIT

“Put up your Book. Put up your tracts. Let’s go fishing!” These were the words I heard from the Lord Jesus. As a young believer, He began to show me that the key to sharing my faith was being attentive and available for the opportunities He placed before me. Please don’t misunderstand me. He was not saying that these “tools” were not helpful. Rather, He was teaching me a truth that I have never forgotten…In everything we do that bares fruit for the Lord He has already preceded us.  He loves the lost and the wayward individual more than we possibly can comprehend. They were made in His image (And albeit marred due to sin and rebellion) are cherished by a loving father longing for their return home. Jesus as the “Good shepherd” goes ahead of us preparing hearts for “divine encounters”. It has been my happy experience to see many put their trust in Jesus for salvation when they welcomed God’s message of love for them personally.

PARTNERSHIP

Becoming “fishers of men” is a partnership with the Holy Spirit Who knows our whole life history. He not only knows us (better than we know ourselves!) but He loves us with an everlasting love.  And He will take our unique capacity and prepare us individually to bring others to Christ. This is what we find in the story of Phillip in Book of Acts, Chapter 6.

SELECTED TO SERVE

Phillip was one of the seven men chosen to become one of those who served the new community of Jewish followers of Yeshua/Jesus. Their task was to see that none of the widows were neglected in the distribution of food or supplies. The thing that is astonishing is what qualified him to be selected for this natural and needed task. “Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task”(Acts 6:3 NASB). Being “full of the Holy Spirit and full of wisdom” was a requirement to minister in natural things.  God’s ways are higher than our ways.  The “natural precedes the spiritual”. So it was true for Phillip.

SPIRITUAL SERVICE

We read of God’s enlargement of Philip’s opportunity for ministry. Because of persecution many of the Jerusalem believers left the City. “Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word. Philip went down to the city of Samaria and began proclaiming Christ to them. The crowds with one accord were giving attention to what was said by Philip, as they heard and saw the signs that he was performing. For in the case of many who had unclean spirits, they were coming out of them shouting with a loud voice; and many who had been paralyzed and lame were healed. So there was much rejoicing in that city”(Acts 8:4-8 NASB).

God tested his servant and used the persecution for his promotion. Such is God’s way. From waiting on tables to becoming one who was a “fisher of men” in Samaria (Not forgetting that in John Chapter 4, Yeshua/Jesus had preceded him into Samaria ).

IN STEP WITH THE SPIRIT

Samaria was just the first “launch out for a catch” for Phillip.  The former deacon is now known(& honored) as “Phillip the Evangelist”(Acts 21:8).  God was pleased not only to honor Phillip with a willing servant’s heart but He also unlocked a servant’s heart with the gift to win the lost with signs attesting to his words.  God gave him a heart like his Lord, who was willing to “leave the ninety-nine and go after the one” lost sheep.

“JOIN THAT CHARIOT”

He left the great Samaritan revival to join himself to an Ethiopian Eunuch’s Chariot (Read Acts 8:26-39). The venue seemed smaller but the eternal consequences were larger. Historians tell us that as a result of the one conversion of the Ethiopian Eunuch that the message of the Kingdom of God spread wider and advanced with a greater speed than it had previously in its the spiritual infancy.

AVAILABLE TO GOD

This rapid advance did not take place because of a great apostle but because of a humble believer, who got his start by being honored to serve His Lord and the believing Jewish community by “waiting on tables”.  Phillip’s station in life was not a handicap. He proved that “God is no respecter of persons but a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him”(Hebrews 11:6).

Jesus’ promise is the same to anyone who will make him or herself available when He calls. They only need to be willing to follow Him as “fishers of men”. He said, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8 NASB).

(c) Copyright 2014, Walter Fletcher Jr. All rights reserved. This article may be copied and shared free of charge provided that it is not sold or altered in any way from its original content. Please address all correspondence to: Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com

FISHERS OF MEN (Pt. 4)

“Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught” (‭John‬ ‭21‬:‭10‬ NIV).

If you have ever read this account (John Chapter 21), You probably have asked this question: “Couldn’t Jesus have performed a miracle like he did when he fed the five thousand with a few loaves and a couple of fish?”  Why didn’t he here? After all, He is the risen Lord; Death did not have the last word over him. But I believe there is a reasonable answer implied in John’s telling of the story.
He discerned that Jesus wanted to announce something new to his disciples.  There was something new in the earth which had begun as a result of His resurrection.
NO DISTINCTION
There was to be no longer a distinction between Jesus and His disciple’s ministry (See John 12:23-24;14:12). It would ,from henceforth, be recognized as”One catch”… “One Ministry”.  His resurrection announced the new creation in the earth; “One head and One body” coordinated and functioning together. “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it”(‭Ephesians‬ ‭4‬:‭4-7‬ NIV).
RESTORATION
The reconstruction of the setting of the coals,fire and fish was for Simon Peter’s benefit.  Jesus was present to restore a fallen apostle. This fireside chat would mend and heal their broken fellowship. Recall that Peter had denied his Lord three times when Jesus was put on trial by the religious leaders of his day. Peter, who was called to be “a rock”, proved that his courage had been quite brittle in the face of personal identification (& potential death) with Jesus.
Our Lord’s love for Peter was manifest in the question He asked (3 times), “Simon, son of John, Do you love me?”(See John 21:15-17). To which Simon Peter answered, “Yes” to His Lord (3 times).  (John is gracious not to record it, but I cannot help but believe that Peter wept while affirming his love again for Jesus).
Restoration for Peter was not merely to receive forgiveness but to be made fully whole in the presence of the Master. It is God’s way of extending grace and mercy. Our healing from our failures means that we are put back together as whole people. In other words, forgiveness is an entry point for our full recovery.
A GREAT HAUL
Jesus recommissioned the apostle Peter saying, “Feed My sheep…Feed My lambs”(John 21:15,17). From that moment on Peter proved to be more effective than before his fall. We read of the effect of his message on the Day of Pentecost in Acts Chapter 2.  “Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation!” So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls”(‭Acts‬ ‭2‬:‭37-41‬ NASB).
Not bad, for one who formerly could not admit to a little maid servant that he knew Jesus. His message brought over three thousand souls into the kingdom of God with the “first throw” of his gospel net!
When Jesus says, “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men”, He means it.  Only HE can draw men to God. Only Jesus saves.
But when called by God,like Peter, our failures are no excuse.  With faith and gratitude for His mercy, we must take the same attitude as the apostle Paul (Once a persecuting murderer…Now a converted preacher!) “For I have an obligation to all peoples, to the civilized and to the savage, to the educated and to the ignorant….I have complete confidence in the gospel; it is God’s power to save all who believe, first the Jews and also the Gentiles. For the gospel reveals how God puts people right with himself: it is through faith from beginning to end. As the scripture says, “The person who is put right with God through faith shall live”(‭Romans‬ ‭1‬:‭14, 16-17‬ GNB).

(c) Copyright 2014, Walter Fletcher Jr. All rights reserved. This article may be copied and shared free of charge provided that it is not sold or altered in any way from its original content. Please address all correspondence to: Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com

FISHERS OF MEN (Pt. 3)

“Jesus called to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?” They answered him, “No.” He said, “Cast your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” So they did, and there were so many fish that they couldn’t haul in the net” (John 21:5-6 CEB).

 

EBOLA

Recently I, along with my wife, had the occasion to join with believers within our citywide region of Dallas for a simple prayer meeting. There were people from various Christian Faith backgrounds, the faces of which represented a variety of ethnic backgrounds coming together as participants (Including the Mayor of the City of Dallas) for a united prayer meeting. We came together to humble ourselves before God as the Church “visible” in light of the attention, the fear, the anguish and grief that Ebola has caused.

Although Ebola has left many within our City with questions and assessments of blame, the Church visible has taken the lead (As She should) to address the issue, first before God. God’s word is clear in this regard, “When I close the sky so that there is no rain or I order the locusts to consume the land or I send a plague against my people, if my people who belong to me will humbly pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:13-14 CEB).

God takes no pleasure in the death or suffering of people. But He will use suffering and pain to arrest our attention from our routine (& sometimes indifference) for a more eternal purpose. Recall the story that Luke highlights in the Gospel of Luke 13: “Some who were present on that occasion told Jesus about the Galileans whom Pilate had killed while they were offering sacrifices. He replied, “Do you think the suffering of these Galileans proves that they were more sinful than all the other Galileans? No, I tell you, but unless you change your hearts and lives, you will die just as they did. What about those eighteen people who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them? Do you think that they were more guilty of wrongdoing than everyone else who lives in Jerusalem? No, I tell you, but unless you change your hearts and lives, you will die just as they did” (Luke 13:1-5 CEB).

Perhaps, some, among the company of Jesus thought in telling him (As if he was unaware) of the cruelty and injustice of their Jewish brethren that it would provoke him to act. Surely they thought, this would get him to move with a decisive “Messianic” reaction against Rome’s oppression and abuse of power (The powerful government over the poor & weak citizen). They had long endured religious persecution for their faith at the hands of Rome’s mighty empire. And yet, what they got from Jesus, in that moment, was not a REACTION but a RESPONSE to the plight of their human suffering and misery. “Unless your hearts and actions change, you will likewise perish”.

THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE BOAT

Jesus chose, in that moment, to deflect and redirect their focus from the things of time to the things of eternity (He was always attune to heaven’s frequency rather than the events of time; knowing that heaven longs to invade our moments of history). Perhaps, there is an application, found in John’s Gospel, Chapter 21, which will help. We read the account by John of Jesus, now resurrected, standing on the shoreline of Galilee. Simon Peter and his fishing partners were frustrated because they had toiled all night with no catch (Once again). Notice that Jesus did not upbraid them for their carnal response and lack of faith or understanding of the significance of his suffering, death, burial and resurrection.

Rather, Jesus with the tenderness of a parent caring for their child, redirects their focus and energy. “Cast your net on the right side of the boat”. And guess what? The catch that had formerly eluded them in the darkness of night was caught in their net! It was such a load of fish; they had difficulty bringing the catch to shore. The redirecting of their efforts and energy by the creative word of Jesus made the night of difficulty worth the toil.

Beloved, May we not allow our focus to be diverted in this hour. At the same time, may we all join with continual prayer, compassion and sensitivity for those affected by loss, grief, fear and anguish of heart. Let’s ask the Lord God for His mercy and strategy to stop the spread of Ebola. May we arise in faith to believe that God will use that that was meant for evil for ultimate good.   At His command, let us “Cast our net on the right side of our religious vessels” for the greater harvest for which we have so often “labored and caught nothing”.

Jesus wants to make His Church to become once again “Fishers of Men”. In the light of eternity…Let’s go fishing!

 

(c) Copyright 2014, Walter Fletcher Jr. All rights reserved. This article may be copied and shared free of charge provided that it is not sold or altered in any way from its original content. Please address all correspondence to: Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com

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