Read John 21:1-14
“I’m going out to fish…” John 21:3
Everything was going wrong! Even the disciples’ fishing was now a disaster. (It had been a thriving business prior to Jesus calling them to follow Him.) They were without their leader and had no direction. Nothing was going right in their lives. Peter had been feeling so dejected, lost and confused, that he had returned to what he knew best – fishing – and taken his friends with him. They might as well do something as nothing. Their efforts were humanly conceived and carried out in their own strength.
When we are feeling down about anything, lots of negative emotions can run around in our hearts and confusion in our heads. We need to be careful who we share it with and be watchful not to draw them down with us. This is particularly relevant when talking about things in our church gatherings. If we don’t like something that is happening, it’s easy to become disillusioned, sharing with anyone that will listen. This is wrong. We like people to think we are “spiritual” and that God has shared things with us. Maybe He has, but it is for us to be responsible and pray, not to spread it all around for other people to be disturbed about it as well. God does not want to share His heart with anyone who uses it for the wrong purposes, so He tests our hearts. He will not share with us until we learn to use the information for His purposes.
“…they caught nothing.” John 21:3
The majority of people experience failure in some form, from very early on in their lives.
Some causes of failure
- Making the wrong choices.
- Responding to circumstances too quickly, Romans 8:5-8.
- Taking our eyes off the Lord.
- Having the wrong centre for our lives, Deuteronomy 5:7.
- Spending very little time in prayer.
- Responding to fear.
How we use these experiences
- They can help us to grow up and enlarge our characters.
- They can help us not to make the same mistake twice.
- They can encourage us to become humble.
- They can remind us that God can still work despite us!
How to deal with failure
- Say sorry to the person involved, James 5:16.
- Confess where we went wrong to God, 1 John 1:9.
- Refocus on God before making a decision, Malachi 3:7; Mark 12:30-31.
- Deal with the problem.
- Make a decision to turn and avoid repeating the same mistake, Nehemiah 9:38.
- Renew our minds. Isaiah 26:3; 55:6-8.
- Watch our speech, Matthew 12:34-37.
- Move on and don’t dwell on past mistakes, 1 John 1:7.
We know we have grown when the situation turns up again and we react by the power of the Holy Spirit – not our flesh.
The start of failure is in our mind
Often, we do not even recognise it. “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7) We care little about guarding our minds and occupy our thoughts with TV, magazines, the conversation of the world, or the lives of our “soap” heroes and sports favourites. We then wonder why our circumstances do not change. We must change from the inside out, so we need to see ourselves as a success before we can move from being a failure.
- We must see ourselves as a success in our mind’s eye.
- Seeing differently changes our inner selves.
- The inner self changes the outer self: our words and actions.
- The outer self changes the external circumstances – thus illustrating a spiritual law.
- “See it” and “it” has our attention.
- What we are focused on flows like a river from our mind to our heart. Whether we like it or not, we become what we think about most. (Read Proverbs 4:20; Ephesians 5:26.)
- Our mind is our control centre, so we can choose whether to be controlled by God’s word or the world. (Compare Romans 12:2.)
- Be led. Do not resist the leading of the Holy Spirit through God’s word.
- Keep going. If God’s word is flowing through our mind for long enough, we will be transformed.
God’s word says that we are changed when we allow our minds to be renewed by its new ideals and attitudes. (See Romans 12:2 Amp.) It says that we are being transformed so that we can prove for ourselves the perfect will of God. His word also says that we can know the will of God for ourselves as we renew our minds! (Wow!) The transformation that God is talking about here is “metamorphosis”.
This is what happens when a caterpillar becomes a butterfly. Good news! We are changing into beautiful creatures – with new bodies, shining bright, flying and soaring with our Jesus.
If the devil can control the way that we see things, he can control these areas of our lives. If he can control our view of a situation, he can control the final outcome of that situation. (See Romans 8:6-7.) He did this to Eve. All he did with Eve was to get her to focus her attention on the tree. He knew that, as she focused on it, it would influence her mind and make her doubt God’s word, eventually causing her to act. If only she had taken hold of her mind and praised God for what she did have, what a different outcome there would have been!
God wants us to see ourselves as He sees us. He sees us through Jesus as perfect, pure and holy. We have the mind of Christ too. (Compare Philippians 2:5.) It becomes a matter of life to us to see who we are now because of Jesus. This is what it means to have our mind renewed so that we can see who we have already become in Him. Every one of us can overcome the devil with the words: “It is written…”
Having failed on the all-night fishing trip, the disciples return to land where Jesus comes in to the situation and gives His instructions – which they follow. Immediately, they are back on track again. Jesus will move in on any situation when we allow Him to. Where we have failed, He will give amazing advice and build us up again. It will not help to say to Him: “I don’t know if You are right.” We just need to obey immediately to see amazing liberty through Him. A disaster will turn into a joyful success.
Just one thing needed to be changed for the disciples to see failure turn into success. They just had to trust God and do what He said: simply fish from the other side! Often, we only need to make one small decision to see amazing, miraculous changes in our failures. The biggest mistake we can make after a failure is to stay down, speak lots of negatives things and wallow in self-pity. Simply trusting God leads us to obedience and is all that is needed to lift us up and change any disaster into a brilliant success.
Home challenges for Power Up! – No. 33: Winner or loser?
1. Share something that was particularly meaningful for you in the previous notes (No. 32)
2. Read the notes: “I’m going out to fish.”
a) Why do you think they went back to their old job?
b) Have you ever felt like going back to your old way of life?
3. Read the notes “…they caught nothing. ” Can you identify with the disciples’ sense of failure?
4. Have you ever failed badly but now see that God has used it for your good?
5. a) Are there any points made in the notes about our mind that you found challenging or helpful?
b) What are they?
c) Decide now to apply them over the next week.
Read John 21:7-23
6. What do you think Peter was remembering when he jumped into the water? (John 21:7)
7. Why did Jesus want to share a meal with the disciples? What does it prove? (John 21:13)
8. What are the three questions that Jesus asks Peter? (John 21:15-17)
9. a) What are Peter’s responses to the questions?
b) What instructions does Jesus give him?
10. What do you feel Jesus was really asking Peter by repeating the question?
11. What is Jesus telling Peter will be the way of his death? (John 21:18-19)
Read John 20:30-31 and John 21:24-25
12. a) Remembering all the amazing things that we have read about during our previous studies, what do you feel about what it says here?
b) Where do you go if you have any problems or doubts?
13. Which chapter, teaching, or testimony stands out for you over the module?
14. What has “Joy for Life” meant for you? Can you share something you have learned?