Breakfast with Jesus (An Easter message)

Categories: Articles By Date, Easter

A little over a year ago my wife, Myrna, and I sat on the shore of the Sea of Galilee not far from Capernaum. This was a little sea town where Jesus had asked Peter to be one of His disciples at the very beginning of His ministry. As Myrna and I had our devotions, we could feel the presence of the Lord when the sun came up. We also knew that we were not far from where Jesus had a special breakfast with Peter not long before He ascended to heaven. Perhaps, Myrna and I were right on the spot where they had breakfast together, who knows?

The breakfast took place about 33 days after Jesus’ resurrection. It was a special breakfast because Jesus was going to tell Peter and the others something they needed to know that would help them the rest of their lives.

After the resurrection, Peter had only met with Jesus three times, and all within the first eight days of this incredible miracle. During the following days Jesus would spend most of His time with others who had been faithful to Him, possibly up to 500, as I Corinthians 15 indicates. Who were they? Not completely sure, but very well could have been those who Jesus helped, healed, or just ministered to with His words.

Nevertheless, the disciples were to meet Jesus at the end of this time on a mountain in Galilee, probably Mt. Carmel. From there they would take a four day walk to Jerusalem where He would ascend to heaven in their presence.

Before they got to the mountain to make their last long trek with Him, Peter and six other disciples ran into Him on the Sea of Galilee. Evidently Peter had decided during this absence from the Lord to go back home and start fishing again. Six other disciples joined him; most of them were fisherman like himself. When Peter and the others cast out their nets early one morning, they heard Jesus’ voice on shore. He was beckoning them to come ashore and join Him. They knew it was His voice, for they had heard it many times before. As they made their way to shore where Jesus had built a fire, Peter couldn’t wait and jumped into the water, clothes and all, to get there as soon as he could.

As they were all eating breakfast together, Jesus asked Peter some very probing, yet some very healing questions. In respect to Peter, you have to wonder what he was thinking about himself in regards to his spiritual life and the Lord. On the one hand he could bring up to himself some great memories and experiences He had with Lord. After all he had given up his fishing profession to follow Jesus and walked on water with Him, that is until he panicked and began to drown. He was even the first to identify Jesus as the Messiah when others stayed silent. And when they came to take Jesus, he took out his sword and began to fight. Peter also knew that he had denied Jesus three times during His greatest time of need, and had run and hid with the other disciples when Jesus was being tortured and crucified.

Perhaps during this fishing trip, which turned out to be the last for him, Peter was thinking about all of these things, particularly the failures. Maybe that is why he was out fishing again, saying to himself, “Well, back to fishing, at least I can do this, for I am definitely not qualified to be the kind of disciple Jesus wanted me to be.”

So, as they all gathered on shore and began to cook and eat their fish and bread, Jesus asked Peter in front of all, “Do you love Me?” Now there are a few words used in the New Testament for love, one is agape and the other is phileo.  This latter love speaks only of friendship, the kind you could have with many who shared your common interests. Agape, on the other hand, was a much deeper love, the kind that would cause you to do everything possible for another, even at the cost of your own life. This is the love Jesus had for the disciples and the rest of mankind when He gave up His life on the cross.

When Jesus said to Peter, “Do you love me?” He used agape love when asking His question. In response, Peter must have thought for a minute or two before answering, because he responded with phileo love. In other words, “Yes, Lord, I love you like a friend.” This might have surprised some of the disciples listening, because Peter seemed to always be the one who answered confidently and boldly, sometimes for the good, and sometimes not.  Jesus did not rebuke him for his answer, but simply said, “Tend my lambs.”

Then a few minutes passed and after eating a few more bites of fish and bread, Jesus asks him for a second time, “Simon, son of John, “Do you love me?” Again Jesus uses agape love in His question.  Peter begins to struggle within, and answers back, “I love you like a friend.”  Jesus once again does not rebuke him, but simply says, “Shepherd my sheep.”

Finally for a third time, Jesus says, “Do you love me like a friend, using phileo this time around. Peter really struggles now and begins to grieve, but in his struggle says, “You know I love you.” Jesus says one last time, “Then tend my sheep.”

Jesus knew Peter was troubled within, so what was Jesus doing with him during this time, and what was His message to him? I believe Jesus was restoring Peter, because in each of Jesus’ answers, “Tend my lambs, shepherd my sheep, and tend my sheep,” none of his responsibilities were removed.  In my interpretation, Jesus was saying to Peter, you are still the rock, and upon what you teach about me and the kingdom, I will build my church. I told you I would make you a fisher of men at the beginning, and a fisher of men you will be. In respect to your past failures, and even your inability today to love me as I love you, you are forgiven.  In time you will love Me and others as I have loved you. Count on it!

As breakfast ended, the other disciples knew that Jesus was not just talking to Peter that morning, but to them as well, because each went on to do great things for the kingdom before their lives were taken from them. And when they gave their lives up, they did so without any fear or panic.

Maybe you need a breakfast time with the Lord during this Easter celebration. If so He is waiting on shore with the campfire lit.

Scriptural References

(Read all of them this Easter)

Matthew 28, Mark 16 , Luke 24, John 20, John 21, Acts 1:1-11 , I Corinthians 15:5-7, Matthew 16

 

The Third Woman

 

The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy. Zephaniah 3:17

It may be that while reading this there is a crushing sorrow, bitter disappointment, or heart-breaking blow going on in your life right now, something you did not expect. In the midst of it you are seeking the Lord’s loving hand, help, and wisdom as you have done in the past. Yet there seems to be silence from Him this time around, and you wonder why? As your situation develops, for it seems to have gotten worse, the Lord’s silence almost becomes deafening. You ponder, over and over again, “What have I done and why is the Lord so silent?

But from God’s end He is fully aware of your heart breaking circumstance, and even though He is not doing with you as He has done before, that does not mean He doesn’t love or care for you any less.

In respect to this there is an old and beautiful story I ran across several years ago of a Christian woman who had a dream one night. In it she saw three other women kneeling in prayer, and as they prayed the Lord drew near.

As He approached the first of the three, He bent over her in tenderness and grace, smiled, put His hand on her shoulder, and then spoke words of encouragement and comfort.

Leaving her, He came to the next, but only placed His hand upon her bowed head, and gave her one look of loving approval.

With the third woman He passed almost abruptly by without stopping for a glance or a word.

While still dreaming, the woman thought to herself, “How greatly the Lord must have loved the first, and even the second to whom he gave strong approval. Yet to the third, there was almost nothing given to her at all, no outward demonstration of love, or a word.

The woman sought the Lord out and voiced her concern as to why there was a different response to each of the three women, especially to the last one. “What has she done to deserve Your silence,” she asked?

The Lord responded, “O woman! How wrongly have you interpreted Me. The first kneeling woman needs all the weight of My tenderness and care to keep her strong in the faith. She needs My love, thought and help every moment of the day. Without it she would fail and fall.

“The second had a stronger faith and a deeper love, and I can trust her to trust Me however things may go and whatever people may do to her.”

“The third, whom I seemed not to notice, and even to neglect, has faith and love of the finest quality, and she I am training, by quick and drastic processes for higher service. She knows Me so intimately, and trusts Me so utterly, that she is independent of words or looks or any outward intimation of My approval. She is not dismayed nor discouraged by any circumstances through which I arrange that she shall pass; she trusts Me when sense and reason and every finer instinct of the natural heart would rebel; she knows that I am working in her for eternity, and that what I do, though she knows not the explanation now, she will understand hereafter.”

The woman woke up from her dream, and realized that she was that third woman. She was greatly encouraged and rarely fretted again about God’s silence in her life.

Reference

This devotional was inspired by Streams in the Desert, Cowan, February ninth.

Rebellious Butterflies

Last summer my wife and I took our two youngest grandchildren to the zoo to see the butterfly exhibit.   Connor was about 3, and Elizabeth was eighteen months.  In order to get into the exhibit we had to be very careful not to let the butterflies escape.  So there were two sets of doors and a waiting area to go through to make sure none escaped.  When we finally got in with all the butterflies, they were everywhere, flying from one part of the enclosure to the next.  They were all very beautiful and seemed content with each other and us as well.  Aside from this there were plenty of leaves and foliage from which to feed, and the temperature inside was just right for them being not too cold or too warm.  The conditions were just perfect for these butterflies to thrive in, how could they want anything more?

Yet, at every instance there were a few who were always trying to escape, especially when the exit doors were opened.   I remember when we tried to leave some even clung to our clothing and we had to shew them off.   Had they been successful in fleeing in this way, they would have died soon after escaping according to the staff.  The conditions outside the enclosure would have been just too perilous for them.

In a way these butterflies reminded me of times when I tried in the past to escape the set of circumstances God had provided for me to thrive in with my faith. For whatever reasons, though, I grew tired of where I was in some of those circumstances and wanted to venture out. Had the Lord let me out as I look back, I would have been greatly harmed in my faith. But He didn’t, and because of that I grew in my walk with Him as planned.   Therefore my caution to you is to stay where you are until the Lord, Himself, has made it clear for you to leave.  And He will, but according to His own timing, when conditions are right, and when you are ready.  How do you know when this time comes?  The Lord will push you out when the time arrives as He did with the disciples who were sent to all parts of the world to preach the Gospel after the Lord made His exit.

Eventually the butterfly enclosure we visited last summer was closed and shut down. The season of life for those butterflies came to an end, but not before their time was up.  Eventually the Lord will move you on to other things and places, but not before your time in what you are doing and experiencing is up.  Enjoy what you have while you have it, don’t be so quick to rush out of what God has provided for you to thrive in.

Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. Philippian’s 4:11

There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1

Article 16 Russia’s amasses its forces to take over Israel

 

 

As discussed in the two previous articles on the end times, Russia will come down from the north to attack Israel. Included in its military force will be countries it has reclaimed or renewed a relationship with from the past, to name a few, the Ukraine, Georgia, Crimea, Lithuania, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Armenia, and Moldova.  Russia will also ally itself with other countries that were not a part of the old Soviet Union, primarily Iran. But the biggest alliance will come from many Muslim dominated countries to the south like Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Iraq,  and others in that region.

While attacking Israel, Russia will double-cross and destroy its southern alliances and take over their resources. It can be conjectured that the real reason for Russia attacking Israel in the first place was to actually gain control of the oil resources in that area of the world. Nevertheless, Russia enters Jerusalem with a vast army and in response the Israeli’s flee into the temporary protection of their wilderness areas.

Where is America or China in all of this? We will discuss that in a couple of future articles, and it may surprise you.

Next week I will share with you, according to the Bible, how Russia and its vast force fares in its battle to completely take over Israel, a little nation of only 8 million at best.

References

Lindsey, Late Great Planet Earth, page 78

Daniel 11:42-43


Article 15 Russia will attack Israel eventually

 

 

During the last days Russia will rule and dominate many of the nations north of Israel, either by overpowering some or making alliances with others. One of those alliances according the Scriptures is Iran, which was known as Persia in the Bible. Iran changed its name in 1935 and again in 1979. (Ezekiel 38:1-5)

What will Russia do when all of these contrived conflicts, mini wars, and alliances with other northern nations are accomplished? I am not completely sure, but what I do know is that according to biblical prophecy they will attack and try and take over Israel. Therefore if we are truly in this last generation before Christ returns then we will eventually see why Israel becomes such a Russian target.

As Russia makes its move toward Israel, it will ally itself not only with Iran and other countries around it, but also with powers to the south. These powers will likely be spearheaded by Arab and Muslim dominated nations. This is not surprising, because many of these nations, if not all of them, have a deep resentment and hatred for Israel.

What will happen to Israel when all of this comes into play? It’s not good as you will discover in next week’s article.

 

When will this Russian-Israeli conflict begin?   I don’t really know, nor does anyone else, for the only thing Jesus said in this regard was to take heed when wars like this and many other prophetic events begin to take place. If they do, or look like they are about to, then you will know that you are somewhere on the timeline of this last generation before He comes back.

The length of a generation according to the Bible could be as long as 100 years from Israel’s reestablishment as a nation in 1948. (Genesis 15:12) Or it could also be as soon as 83 years from this date, because this is the average life expectancy of an Israeli citizen today.  When Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place,” He could have been referring to Israeli’s last generation on earth before He returns. So, you do the math from 1948; 100 or 83 years from this date puts you in what decade of the 21st century?   Remember, though, you can’t know the exact day or hour of His return, but you can know the season of time in which this will happen. In fact Jesus implores you to know this season, and make plans accordingly.

As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” And Jesus said to them, “You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation.” Matthew 24:3-6

Other References

Dr. Jeremiah, Is this the End, pages 101, 214-2-16.

Ezekiel 38-39

Matthew 24 & 25

 

 

 

The Oak and the Vine

 

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.

Matthew 11: 28

The oak tree has long been praised for its legendary strength, longevity, and exceptional wood properties. Oak trees adapt well in the natural forests, the suburban yards and even in the inner cities of our nation.

At my wife’s childhood home there was a beautiful oak tree out in her front yard. On that tree were numerous green vines that made it looking all the more beautiful.

Even though the vines added to the attractiveness of this great oak, they also created a higher wind load on its trunk and branches during storms. During the dry seasons the vines would also compete with the oak for water. Yet, through the years, my wife’s oak tree never seemed to lose any of its strength or grandeur, even when she continually swung on its branches as a little girl.

In a parallel way, we are like the vines on a grand and majestic oak tree, in that we need God to help us survive the storms of this life. The tighter we can wrap ourselves around Him during such storms, the better chance we have to survive.

Of course we can pray that God will remove storms when they come our way, and sometimes He does. But for the most part He doesn’t because He knows we are at our best and most beautiful when we cling to Him, just as the vines did on that great oak.

Can we put too much of a load on Him when we do? Hardly, for like the great oak, God can handle every burden, fear, or anxious thought we have when storms come our way in this life. And when we are so thirsty for answers to the life dilemmas we face, without hesitation God allows us to quench our thirst through the Scriptures He provided just for us.

So, cling to God and drink of His Word, it will make you more beautiful and quench your thirst at the same time.

Psalm 63: 8 My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.

Isaiah 62 3 You will also be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.

John 4:14 Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.

 

 

Ripened and Ready

 

Be patient brethren… The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it. “Put in your sickle and reap, for the hour to reap has come, because the harvest of the earth is ripe.” James 5:7 & Revelation 14:15 (Combined together)

One of my hobbies is to grow tomatoes every spring. Usually I have been very successful, especially when I lived in Arizona.   But in Boise, Idaho, it has been a bit of a challenge due to the changing weather, I believe.  Nevertheless, I planted some tomatoes plants here a couple of years ago, but it seemed to take forever for them to grow and ripen.  After a couple of months of waiting I began checking them every day during the summer to see what was going on.  Then at the end of the summer none of the plants were ready.   As early fall began I decided I would just pick them anyway.  Maybe they were ripe but just didn’t look like it on the outside.  What a big mistake; they were not ripe at all.   As I was getting ready to toss them away in frustration, a neighbor came by and suggested that I lay them in a box, and then put them in the darkest part of the house, perhaps a closet.   I did, and then forgot about them.  A few weeks afterward, when going to get a coat, there they were.  I opened up the box and the tomatoes were all red on the outside, and quite ripe.  They were great eating!

In a parallel way, this is somewhat like what it is like when we ask for certain things from God in our lives and yet they do not come about when we expect them to. What we ask for is good, but like un-ripened tomatoes our prayers just sit there with little or no change.

Like a gardener, we do everything possible with our requests before God; we prepare the soil of our lives with faith, we plant ourselves where we believe He wants us, we water ourselves with His Word, and finally weed out our sinful habits.   Yet, still no answer from God, no ripened tomatoes in our asking so to speak.  So, we panic and freak out, and decide to take things in our own hands; the waiting is over as far as we are concerned.   However, in doing so, we have an answer to our prayers that is hardly ready, and very much un-ripened for eating as we discover.   We know we’ve made a huge mistake, one that seems rather irreversible.   As we get ready to toss away the prayer, God steps in and says, “Lay that prayer in a box, and let me ripen it without your help.  Meanwhile go and do something else.”  So we do, until one day we discover, almost by surprise, that all of our prayer has ripened and been answered.  We rejoice and praise God for answering that prayer according to His will, timing, and wisdom.  It all makes sense now!  It usually does when we let Him ripen what needs to be ripened.

Other Scriptures on waiting for things to ripen

Psalms 27:14 – Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.

 Psalms 37:7-9 – Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked devices to pass

Isaiah 40:31 – But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew [their] strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; [and] they shall walk, and not faint.

Article 13 Russia’s growing power

 

“Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door. Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” Matthew 24: 32-34

Even though Jesus said that we cannot know the hour or day of His return, He did say we can know the season in which it will happen. And when the signs of that season begin to surface, then He said to prepare ourselves for the end is not far off.

One of the biggest signs we have already talked about is the return of Israel as a nation and that happened in 1948. Another sign is the emergence of Russia becoming the most powerful nation in the world. Needless to say, Russia is very powerful today, but in this last generation before Christ returns, it will become even more dominant and unstoppable.

For the moment America, Europe, and China are keeping Russia in check, but that could change quickly, especially if America decides to isolate itself from the world and its problems. And in so doing turns a blind eye to Russia’s aggression. (Ezekiel 37-38)

I leave you with the words of General Moshe Dayan, Israel’s most celebrated military leader and hero of the 1948 Israel-Arab War, and 1967 Six Day War. “The next battle will not be with the Arabs, but Russia.” Dayan made this statement in 1968. He must have been reading his Bible.1

Footnotes

  1. Hal Lindsey, “The Late Great Planet Earth,” page 59

Article 14 Israel’s increasing wealth may attract Russia

In respect to Israel’s increasing wealth which is one of the benchmarks to be reached before Jesus returns, I read an interesting article by Martin Fletcher, a former NBC News Middle East correspondent and Tel Aviv Bureau chief. He wrote, “Israel is, after years of delay, finally pushing ahead with an ambitious strategy to tap offshore oil reserves that could transform its economy and, it hopes, its place in a historically hostile region. If all goes according to plan, Israel will not only become largely energy-independent, it will also supply neighbors that will have new reason to be friends.”1 Needless to say, such an oil and gas boom would not only make Israel wealthier, but an even greater target and temptation for other countries to invade and takeover it over.  Russia could be one of those countries in the years to come, at least that is what prophesy predicts in the Bible. (Ezekiel 38-39)

But aside from this recent oil & gas discovery and its potential, Israel is still an ever increasing and prosperous nation. Its economy for instance, has been ranked as number three in the world as the most innovative. With only 8.5 million people, Israel generates over 500 startup businesses a year. Europe with 700 million people generates only about 600-700 businesses. Israel has the most non-US Nasdaq-listed companies in the world more than China, India, Korea, Japan, Canada or the entire European continent. Israel is home to 17 billionaires and 88,000 millionaires. Out of the 500 richest people in the world nine are Jews.2

The point to all of this is that there are many signs that should come about in this last generation before Christ returns; Israel becoming a wealthy nation is one of them.

Ezekiel 36:8-11 8 ‘But you, O mountains of Israel, you will put forth your branches and bear your fruit for My people Israel; for they will soon come.9 ‘For, behold, I am for you, and I will turn to you, and you will be cultivated and sown. 10 ‘I will multiply men on you, all the house of Israel, all of it; and the cities will be inhabited and the waste places will be rebuilt. 11 ‘I will multiply on you man and beast; and they will increase and be fruitful; and I will cause you to be inhabited as you were formerly and will treat you better than at the first. Thus you will know that I am the Lord.

Footnotes

1. News about Aboard The Atwood Advantage, Martin Fletcher, Bing com/news, January 14, 2017.

2. Is This the End, Dr. David Jeremiah, page 224.

 

2016 The Thanksgiving President

“Thou gave Thy Son to die for me; and hast given me assurance of salvation, upon my repentance and sincerity to conform my life to His holy precepts and example.” George Washington

Thanksgiving is one of America’s most sacred holidays and began over 200 years ago. George Washington, one of our greatest leaders and Presidents, inaugurated this holiday. He did so because he felt, as a nation we needed to give God continual gratitude for all He had done to help us gain our freedom and independence.

George Washington certainly gave God His due during the course of his personal life. By his own statements, he felt God directly and indirectly helped him with every battle he fought, every military and political position he held, and Constitutional amendment he worked to pass.

It’s amazing with all that George Washington said during the course of his life, some historians painted him as a deist. A deist is someone who only accepts God on the basis of nature and reason. As a result they do not accept the Bible as God’s personal revelation to mankind, nor pray to, or accept Christ as Savior.

In my public school experience I was taught that George Washington was a deist at best. It was not until years later when I was a teacher myself and visited his home at Mount Vernon with my daughter, that I realized how false this view was of him.

As I walked from one point to the next around Mount Vernon, I was quite impressed with the words he left behind for all to read, words about God, the Bible, and Jesus Christ. This inspired me to study further and read more about Washington and his beliefs. In my quest I found excerpts from one of his journals, which had been out of print for years. Below are just two of his journal entries after one of the battles he fought in when he was 23 years old. Hardly a deist would you think?

Washington’s Monday Morning Prayers

“Thou gave Thy Son to die for me; and hast given me assurance of salvation, upon my repentance and sincerity to conform my life to His holy precepts and example. O God, pardon me for Christ’s sake, instruct me in the particulars of my duty, and suffer me not to be tempted above what Thou givest me strength to bear. Bless my friends and grant me grace to forgive my enemies as heartily as I desire forgiveness of Thee my heavenly Father.”

Washington’s Tuesday Prayers

“O blessed Father, let thy Son’s blood wash me from all impurities, and cleanse me from the stains of sin that are upon me. Give me grace to lay hold upon His merits; that they may be my conciliation and atonement unto thee that I may know my sins are forgiven, by His death and resurrection.” 1

Teachable Moment Application

At this Thanksgiving dinner when you sit down to eat and begin to pray for your meal, I suggest you include Washington’s Thanksgiving Declaration as a part of your prayer. It reveals a man who personally knew God and appreciated Him greatly.

 

Washington’s Thanksgiving Day Declaration

(October 3, 1789)

“Whereas, it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the sovereignty of almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and, whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors (signs) of Almighty God, especially to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness. Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November to be devoted by the people of these States to be the service of that great and glorious Being (God), who is the Benefit Author (Creator) of all the good that was, that is, or will be.”

Footnotes

  1. George Washington the Christian by William J. Johnson, Page 28.