Daily Devotional - 31 July 2020
“Jesus called out to them, ‘Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!’” (Matthew 4:19)!
Metaphorically, Jesus calls each person who chooses to throw their lot in with Him to ‘fish for people.’ But too many of us are novices, easily excited by the sight of ‘fish’ swimming around our baited hook, but quickly discouraged when they don’t automatically take the bait. We want to share about Jesus, but another’s willingness to listen often requires relationship. And building trusting relationships that pave the way for us to share our good news about Jesus takes time, energy and authenticity. By nature, humanity really is an impatient lot; there are some exceptions of course, but many of us do not care to spend the time needed to get good at ‘fishing for people.’
We get distracted easily. Our circumstances often pull our attention off of the task of reaching others, by putting our focus on things that are happening around us–circumstances that often threaten to overwhelm us in one way or another. Natural disasters, loss of job and illness all work to put our focus back on ‘me.’ But it isn’t just negative circumstances that have this ability; often as not, success can blind us just as quickly to the task at hand–we become busy making money, pursuing our career, completing our degree, planning for spouse and family...serving God. Yes, even our success in ministry can cause us to become so busy that we can’t remember the last time we took out our fishing pole to talk to someone who didn’t already know Jesus.
Which brings me to another distraction–the others around us who have also been called to fish. We compare gear, compare technique, compare the size of the catch...all the while leaving our own line unattended. In the family of God there exists a great variety of gifts and talents–to one God will give a net in which to haul great numbers of fish out simultaneously; He may place another in a section of the river where only a few fish can be found. Ultimately the size of the catch you reel in is not the thing that matters, but rather that you remain diligent to do the work God has set before you. We are not to be distracted by others and thereby neglect our calling.
Another distraction is found in the water. Among the ‘fish’ swimming about, are other swimming creatures–water snakes, leeches and even, sharks. Our concern for our own personal spiritual and physical safety can leave us wary of the waters in which the fish, too, swim. Which is why ‘fishing’ for people requires more than just hip waders, but a complete set of armour which enables us to take on the dangers found in the fishing grounds (Ephesians 6:10-18).
Jesus has made it clear that if we choose to follow Him, part of our commitment is to see that others are given the same opportunity. There is a very real danger that we will become distracted and neglect the work He has called us to. Pray that God will help you see the ‘fish’ around you and begin today to build relationships that are real, authentic and caring with others–the most irresistible ‘bait.’
~ Pastor Jane
Daily Devotional - Tuesday, July 28, 2020
“ For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16)!
There are many verses in Scripture which speak of our need to share the Good News. Those of us who have accepted the message that God has a plan to redeem this messed up world, Jesus is the key to our rescue and our future hope is placed firmly on staying in relationship with Him, are to be quick to share this Good News with others. We are not to hoard it, keeping it to ourselves; but too often that is exactly what we do. As I write these words, I acknowledge that I too am not innocent of this neglect. We go through life surrounded by people who do not have a relationship with Jesus, but we stay silent. Is it fear that silences us? Is it shame? Is it uncertainty? Perhaps if we looked at the situation from God’s heavenly perspective we could finally silence the voices of fear, shame and uncertainly rather than allowing them to mute our witness.
As I was thinking about how God might view our earthly situation, I pictured a sea filled with people struggling to stay above the water line–some cry out, but most stay silent, resigned to their fate that eventually they will simply sink and disappear below the water line. On the shoreline there are also a number of people, each with a life ring. Some of these have their ring laying on the shore beside them as they sit and watch the swimmers; some sit but with their backs turned to those who continue to struggle in the water. Some have inserted themselves inside their life ring as though afraid they could be swept back into the sea; others stand on the shore holding their ring, their confusion apparent–they don’t know what they’re supposed to do with it. There are a few however, too few really, who are casting out their life rings into the water towards the swimmers. Some swimmers simply ignore the ring, some appear put-off that this thing is in their way, but others reach out and cling to it for dear life. Those who have thrown their rings then diligently pull the clinging swimmers to shore. Once safe, these newly rescued individuals are given a ring of their own–their task is obvious; but they too must decide which group on the shore to join–the indifferent, the blind, the fearful, the confused or the casters.
God looks on and weeps, not simply for those who are floundering in the sea, but also for the neglect of the life rings on the shore. The ‘life ring’ that we as Christ’s disciples possess cost God a tremendous amount–God the Son became a man, limiting His powers, subjecting Himself to the authority of His human parents; He died, taking on the punishment we all deserved for our disobedience to God; He offers any who accept His free gift a ‘life ring’–rescue from the ‘sea’ of sin and our inevitable demise under its waters. It is then our obligation to cast our life ring to those still left in the sea. Not all will take hold, some may even resent our offer, but some will readily take hold...but can’t until it is cast to them. Paul’s words in Romans should motivate us, “ But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them” (10:14)? The answer is they can’t...not unless we work diligently to spread the Good News and get busy casting our life rings into the water for people who, whether they know it or not, are drowning within sight of their Rescue.
~ Pastor Jane
Daily Devotional - 15 July 2020
“But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them” (Romans 10:14)?
We are to be excited to share with others the great things Jesus has done. To use a current day metaphor, His should be the most shared ‘posts’ of all time! We should be ‘learning and living the Way of Jesus,’ meaning that others should be able to see Jesus reflected in our lives and hear from us directly how they can know Him too. However, there’s a problem. Too many Christians have insulated themselves from non-Christians for so long and to such a degree that we don’t even know any non-Christians or have the kind of relationship that would make someone willing to listen. How did this happen?
As followers of Jesus, who desire to live our lives faithful to His directions, we are cognizant of the fact that we still have too great a propensity to be unfaithful. We have read the words that discourage us from being ‘of the world’ and as a result have locked others out. In order to safeguard our own ability to keep in good standing with God–to live rightly–we have held others at arm’s length. The rationale appears sound, ‘if you don’t want to become contaminated by the world, you must not interact with the it.” However, there’s one huge problem. God has also called us to be ambassadors–citizens of heaven–quick to share about our new country of origin. We are to be actively engaging others. When we remove ourselves from relationships with non-Christians, we refuse to accept part of God’s terms–we are literally condemning others to hell by our lack of sharing. God forbid it! But, what to do? The simple answer is relationship.
We are not to befriend the world and adopt it’s sinful ways, yet we are still to intentionally mingle with people who don’t believe and act the way we do. Take Paul’s words for example,
“When I was with the Jews, I lived like a Jew to bring the Jews to Christ. When I was with those who follow the Jewish law, I too lived under that law. Even though I am not subject to the law, I did this so I could bring to Christ those who are under the law. When I am with the Gentiles who do not follow the Jewish law, I too live apart from that law so I can bring them to Christ. But I do not ignore the law of God; I obey the law of Christ. When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some” (1 Corinthians 9:20-22).
What was Paul’s advice? Find ‘common ground.’ We do not have to change and reject the Way of Jesus in order to disciple and build relationships with others; rather, we are to look for shared experiences and interests–connection points upon which to build a relationship. We cannot afford to maintain an ‘us’ vs. ‘them’ mentality–‘Christian’ vs. ‘non-Christian.’ God created every human being in His image and He wants every single one to have the opportunity to choose between accepting or rejecting a relationship with Him. Those of us who have accepted God’s terms need to recognize our own lostness without God–it is only Jesus in our lives that distinguishes us from others in God’s eyes.
Today, I would encourage us all to be intentional about building relationships–go beyond ‘Hi, how are you?’ Find common ground in order that you may be permitted to share the Way to Jesus!
~ Pastor Jane
First licensed for pastoral ministry in 1994, Pastor Jane Peck has served in camp and church ministries in three denominations, five provinces and in a variety of roles. Her most recent position is that of Pastor at Hope Chapel which she began in 2020. She is excited to see what God can and will do in the days to come!