Yesterday I spoke about Jesus filling Peter's boat with fish. That happened right after a total "bust" of a night where he had caught nothing. This story is so pregnant with spiritual truth. It's worth taking time to "go deeper".
First, why did Peter have to experience the pain of working all night for nothing first?
I've seen that in my own life a lot; when I was in business, in ministry, in my personal life, etc. It just seems like God wants us to realize how fruitless we really are without his hand of blessing...not to punish us but to simply keep us humble...keep us aware that without him we truly are nothing...and we need to cling to him every moment.
Second, when you finally "get it" and start to cling to him every moment...suddenly you stop caring if you are "catching fish" or not.
You are so aware of God's presence with you that it doesn't matter as much whether you are "abounding or abasing" (as I think the Bible quotes Paul in the King James Version), that is, whether you are rich or poor, lots of friends or no friends, it's a sunny day or rainy day, etc. God is with you and that's all that seems to matter.
Third, as we work our way through a tough economy, it's good to see God's record in the Bible of caring for his people.
There's the story of Joseph and the famine in the book of Exodus...how God provided for his people through Joseph's wisdom. Then there is the story of the woman with Elijah. She's down to her last meal (notice again how God comes through at the last second) but God uses Elijah to miraculously provide for them both. There are the stories of Jesus feeding both the 5,000 and the 7,000 and each time there was food leftover. I'm probably forgetting a few, but you get the point; God takes care of his own. So don't hang your head right now if you are hurting financially because you might miss out on God's provision! Expect God to do something amazing. It might not be what you are looking for but he'll give you what you need to make it through.
Finally, God's abundance almost always is linked to our obedience.
Our action seems to release God's provision. Peter had to let down his nets. Joseph had to store the corn. The widow had to share with Elijah. The people with Jesus had to share what little they had. So, let me ask you, if you are in need right now what is it that God might be asking you to do to release his provision? That's been a tough question for me to wrestle with because I'm a "doer" by nature. I tend to try and "make things happen" on my own power. So, that's not what I'm talking about here. The opposite problem is when we do nothing and expect God to bless us. There's a balance in there some place. I hope you can find it!
If you missed the sermon I think it's worth downloading it. I personally got a lot out of the story and I got some good feedback as well.
Note: This is from my "Going Deeper" thoughts. I send these out on Mondays as a reflection on my Sunday sermon. If you'd like to get this emailed out to you drop me a note and I'll add you to the list.