Summary: What do you expect to accomplish in your ministry now? What will capture your attention as you begin this new year? How will you carry out what has God called you to do? How will you maintain your focus in the face of discouragement?
Subject: "Keeping Focused in Ordinary Days"
Text: John 21:1-23
Introduction: What do you expect to accomplish in your ministry now? What will capture your attention as you begin this new year? How will you carry out what has God called you to do? How will you maintain your focus in the face of discouragement?
Do you remember how clear your vision was when you first started out? You just wanted to see people saved. You wanted to see them grow to maturity. Remember, it was before you were a founder, or pastor. Before you were a bishop or an apostle. I remember how simply my life was before all this! I keep focused by realizing that I am still in the race. There is still time to get back on course. There is still time to adjust; revise strategies and clarify the vision. How will you keep the vision in clear view with so many distractions? Many of us start out well but tend to lose our focus. Pressing needs and concerns cause us to abandon our goals and forget our dreams. We settle for a place on the sideline where ministry becomes a response to crisis rather than building the kingdom. (my foot verse exercise)
John’s gospel gives us insight about focus. Amazingly, John chose not to end his gospel with the ascension. How could he not want end on such a high note. It doesn’t get any better than having your Lord disappearing into the clouds, while the angels are saying, “This same Jesus is coming again in like manner.” No, John concludes with this fascinating story of a weary Simon Peter and several discouraged disciples on an unsuccessful fishing expedition.
It's easy to get lost and overwhelmed in the chaos, responsibilities, and challenges of life. Once overwhelmed, it's tempting to forget about the vision and leave the assignment which at one time was near and dear to your heart. I've found that it's helpful to keeping asking, "What's really important?" Reminding myself of the most important things helps me keep my priorities straight. We can quickly lose focus and get lost in the busy-ness of life. Keeping focus each day helps me keep my actions in line with my goals. Keeping focused proves to be challenging for almost everyone, but especially for those in ministry.
The faithful disciples of the Lord Jesus found themselves facing the same problem. Their lives had been filled with turbulence the last few days. The events were almost unbelievable, from the arrest of Jesus in the garden, the mocked trial with its guilty verdict, the betrayal by Judas and the denial by Peter. Peter, one of Christ’s inner circle, had been humbled by guilt and shame. Peter had fled weeping bitterly in anguish. The rest of the disciples had deserted their Lord and scattered in fear. Remember, after the crucifixion, an alarming report by the women proclaimed, “He has risen from the dead. He has risen as He said.” The disciples, slow in heart to believe found themselves hiding behind the closed doors of an upper room, when suddenly; Jesus appeared and stood in their midst, proclaiming, “Peace be unto you.” One can only imagine the joy of that reunion. The Bible records several appearances of the Lord Jesus as he showed himself alive by many infallible proofs.
What do you do when Jesus is not around? What do you do when Jesus is silent? Here in John 21, Jesus has not been seen for more than ten days. The disciples had received no word, no sign; not even a glimpse of him. They were called to be fishers of men, but now their ministries seem to be on hold. They lost focus. Their boredom turned to disappointment; their disappointment led to frustration, and the frustration led Peter to say, “I am going fishing.” The other disciples decided to go with him. John says, “And that night they caught nothing.” Amid their weariness, Jesus shows up and asked a question. If we are going to remain focused, we must make an honest assessment. Are you doing any good? If you are going to keep focus, we must
1. Reassess Our Actions. Be Quick to Make an Honest Assessment John 21:5 “Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No.”
Many times, when the Lord chooses to be silent, we have come up with our own plans. Instead of the plan blessing our lives, our failed plans add more frustration. Peter and the disciples went back to their old career. They went back to their old familiar place, doing old familiar things in an old familiar way. You say, “they went back to doing ordinary things, in an ordinary place and in an ordinary way!” Jesus reminds us in John 15:5, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”