Read John 21:1-14

I’m going out to fish.” (John 21:3)

Everything was going wrong! Even the disciples’ fishing had become 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.

Dealing with failure

They caught nothing.” (John 21:3)

The majority of people experience failure in some form, from very early on in their lives. Here are some typical 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 can 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 anyone else 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; Isaiah 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 instead of following our old ways of thinking and acting.

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 television, magazines, the conversation of friends and colleagues, 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.

The wonder of a renewed mind

How can we change our way of thinking and allow our minds to be renewed?

  1. We must see ourselves as a success in our mind’s eye.
  2. Seeing differently changes our inner selves.
  3. The inner self changes the outer self - our words and actions.
  4. The outer self changes the external circumstances – thus illustrating a spiritual law.
  5. "See it" and "it" has our attention.
  6. 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.)
  7. Our mind is our control centre, so we can choose whether to be controlled by God's word or the world. (Romans 12:2)
  8. Be led. Do not resist the leading of the Holy Spirit through God's word.
  9. 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 advice, guidance and teaching. Over time, we begin to develop new ideals and attitudes. More than that, the apostle, Paul, says (in Romans 12:2) that we are transformed so that we can prove for ourselves the perfect will of God. We ourselves can know the will of God 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 enemy 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. (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, the amazing nature of its fruit and what it might mean for her and Adam. The enemy concentrated her thinking on the apparent benefits for them and made her question what God had said to them previously. This led to her doubting God’s goodness and love, eventually causing her to act of her own volition and to eat the forbidden fruit. If only she had taken hold of her mind, trusted in God's declared love and goodness and thanked Him for what she already had, what a different outcome there would have been!

Renewed vision means renewed lives

God wants us to see ourselves as He sees us. He sees us - through Jesus - as perfect, pure and holy. In fact, we have the mind of Christ Himself. (Philippians 2:5) This is what it means to have our minds renewed, so that we can see who we have already become in Him. Every one of us can overcome the enemy with the words: “It is written...

Having failed on their all-night fishing trip, the disciples return to land, where they meet Jesus who offers them some advice. Despite not having recognised Him for who He was, they follow His advice. Immediately, they are back on track again. Jesus will move in to any situation when we allow Him to. Where we have failed, He will give good advice and build us up again. It will not help to question Him or say: “I don’t know if You are right.” We just need to heed what He says and obey it to see what a difference He makes. what was 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 of their boat! 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.

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