Most of us have probably gone to the bank of a pond or stream, picked up a stone and thrown it into the water to see the ripples spreading out. I liked finding a flat stone and try to skip it over the surface to see how many times it bounced. When the surface of the water is still and that pebble falls, ripples form and spread out. As the pebble hits the surface of the water a release of energy occurs. This is a natural affect. Under certain conditions that little ripple spreads out and on reaching a distant extremity, can start to return and that little wavelet bounces back because of one of God’s laws seen in physics. The surface of still water has certain qualities like a meniscus or surface tension.
The events that led to the First World War were triggered by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. It has affected the whole world ever since. There was a rippling affect that led to massive destruction, the deaths of many thousands of people and horrific injuries to the minds and bodies of countless others. Today we have the coronavirus pandemic emanating from China that could sweep over the whole planet.
We are influenced today by one man who invented the telephone, the first men to fly in an airplane, the first person who discovered penicillin, or electricity and more. All that it takes is for one person to wonder and imagine...
There is nothing you cannot do with your imagination and creative ability because we are created to be like God—fashioned after His image and likeness. The results often depend very much on us and that is why I said that our individual behavior, words and actions do affect others and it can have an influence on someone we may never meet in person.
Depending on certain circumstances and conditions, the outcome may be good or not. We have the power to bless others or withhold the blessing. We have the ability to give someone else hope and the desire to continue in life. Conversely, our own activities or lack thereof could lead to someone wanting to quit altogether and what I find most interesting is that God had given us the choice to do either.
Sometimes we may wonder why we are here—what is our purpose in life or what can little old me do. Jesus spoke about this in Matthew 5:13, saying-
He was calling us salt—a mineral composed primarily of sodium chloride (NaCl). It is essential for life in general, and saltiness is one of the basic human tastes. Salt is one of the oldest and most ubiquitous food seasonings, and salting is an important method of food preservation.
Salt was prized by the Hebrews and many other nations and become an important article of trade.
In a good state, it was valuable, but otherwise was all but useless and this was what Jesus said about salt-
We are meant to have a good and positive influence on other peoples’ lives. We are designed to inspire others and make them want what we have. People in a darkening world need direction and God wants us to be His lighthouses, showing the way. This too is what the Lord said-
Lighthouses are not hidden inside the 4 walls of a church building to be seen on Sundays for an hour or two, but standing out there in good weather or in foul weather doing what they are designed to do. If we do not shine naturally, peoples’ lives can be shipwrecked, so we are designed to have a ripple effect on others. If I do not have that saltiness, I do not want to be cast aside as Jesus said would happen. Even Job knew this saying-
What we do is important, even if we think otherwise. A very dear friend called me on the telephone to say happy birthday and it meant a lot to me. If nothing else, a simple matter of courtesy makes a whole world of difference. In our conversation on speaker, Marjorie and I shared with our friend how much we love and care and the response was emotionally reciprocated. We all need something like that. We can tell the other person how much we appreciate them, or miss them, or love them and often times it can be at a time when they need a simple touch like that. Old fashioned good manners can achieve great things. Thinking of the other person and letting them know you are without any catches involved can make the difference between wanting to quit and let go or continuing on and finishing the race.
The more I look at it, the more I am convinced that most of us do not want religious political correctness, but a working knowledge of God—to be loved and wanted and to be able to love in return. As I often say, what matters most is the experience we can have in a deep and intimate personal relationship with God. We are on this earth for a season, but have an eternal destiny that depends on our relationship in the here and now as to where we will spend it. Anyone can assimilate facts and information that may or may or may not be truth or really be beneficial, but not experience the manifestation of God’s personal love towards them.
Those of us in the ministry can often fall prey to the mechanics of the ministry. We can become too busy to stop and smell the roses and take a stroll with the Lord, hand-in-hand as it were, just for the sheer pleasure of enjoying each others’ company. Those of us in everyday life are not exempt.
We all need to love and to be loved. Sharing love is reciprocal. Husbands, when did you last tell your wife that you love her—when you demonstrate this love by the way you treat her and do things for her? It works the other way around of course. The greatest love story ever told is seen in John 3:16. This is most likely the first bible verse we memorize, but it is exceptionally powerful.
If anyone needed such a touch, Peter did. At a time when the Lord needed someone to stand by Him and render support, Peter failed miserably. During the Last Supper that was a Jewish Passover Seder, Jesus said that he would deny Him three times, which he did and the bible tells us that Peter wept bitterly afterwards. This was an exceptionally powerful emotional response akin to violent grief. Proverbs 18 speaks of this, saying-
When we are crushed in spirit, it can seem that there is no hope—nothing—nothing to live for—no reason to continue and when in such a state, we are very vulnerable. It was so strong for Peter that he in essence totally withdrew himself from all association with the Lord. All of his emotions were out of balance with feelings of guilt, remorse, failure and so on. The hurt and disappointment experienced was just too much to handle so he gave up.
Imagine how you would feel when everything that had given you reason to hope, every promise you were hanging onto, everything that you stood for and believed in was dashed to pieces before your very eyes.
Peter had found the Messiah. Actually the Messiah found him, but he did not yet know that. Everything that the Jews were waiting for was there. Prophecy seemed to be coming true.
The miracles Jesus performed were jaw dropping and the things Jesus taught were astonishing, but suddenly it was all gone.
Jesus was dead.
Everything he had hoped for and expected—the very thing that gave him hope and expectation no longer existed.
Have you ever been hurt and disappointed? Of course you have. We all have. There are times in our lives when we need that certain something and we might not even know what it is.
Perhaps something you have longed for did not eventuate.
You may have depended on some other person for something and they failed you.
What happens next it of vital importance. It could lead to total disillusionment in humanity, in religion, in marital relationships, in family life or other things and make us want to quit and hide as Peter did! I have touched on this elsewhere on other occasions, but this is of vital importance, because our eternal destinies can depend on what happens next.
Peter had denied Jesus three times. His big mouth got him into trouble more than once and we need to remember that in the bitterness of spirit, we can say things and do things that we could regret later. Some of them that are verbal may change your destiny! I am not talking about “faith confessions” or the “blab it and grab it” prosperity doctrines that have gone into excess, but about the power of our tongue.
What we say can set things in motion that will affect our life forever. This is not a nice sounding religious catchphrase.
Peter said things that could have changed his life forever and what happened to him affects us today. If the Lord had not intervened, we would not know about the events of the Day of Pentecost, about the 3000 conversions, about how the Holy Spirit came to the new converts in Samaria in Acts 8, about salvation coming to the Gentiles in Acts 10 and we certainly would not have the two wonderful Epistles in our bibles that he later wrote.
One man’s action could have sent ripples like pebbles landing in a pond that are still going outwards today. Obviously, this will lead me to say again that what you do and say, or neglect to do or say will affect someone else—not might but will.
In Acts 8, Philip was preaching in Samaria when the Holy Spirit told him to walk out of the revival meeting (how many preachers do you know who will do that?) and go out to Gaza in the desert. The Holy Spirit told him to go up to the man in the chariot which he did and heard the man reading Isaiah aloud! Sometimes we have to read and pray aloud (I believe that “silent prayer” is not prayer)! Philip asked him if he understood what he was reading, which of course he did not, so Philip explained to him. We have to be able to do that also. From this seemingly small incident in the life of one man, a leader of a nation was born again and baptized as a believer in Jesus Christ. There are three things to look at here.
There can be all kinds of variables here, but I hope that I have revealed a principle that is simply put this way. Each and every one of us can and does have the ability to influence others, like the ripples in that pond. The question is, “What kind of influence are we having?”
Peter was influencing the others, but his influence could have been disastrous. I say that because of what was said in John 21.
It is evident that this was not the first such time He appeared to them. In John 20, Jesus had appeared to the women after His resurrection, on the first day of the week inside the house and then eight days after that to them all. John said that Jesus did many other things that are not recorded. I will not attempt to say what they were as that would be foolish. Jesus spent 40 days with the disciples after his resurrection, speaking to them about the kingdom of God. What did He say? I cannot tell, but I am sure that what He shared is revealed somewhere, somehow in the bible. John summed it up by telling us that these things have been recorded for a purpose-
Despite everything that Peter had experienced in the time spent with Jesus, Peter had allowed something to happen to cause him to walk away. He allowed his mind to dictate terms, rather than his spirit. I’ve touched on some of the possible reasons, but to put this into present day context, things can and do happen us in life that often times do not make sense, or are not fair, or someone does something that hurts or offends. There are all kinds of scenarios that are both within and without the church and often times they are really so trivial it really does not matter, but we get hurt regardless. We cannot afford the luxury of allowing what someone else does or does not do to interfere with our own individual and personal relationship with the Lord. He does not change and He does not cause us harm, but people do and they can wittingly or unwittingly be like puppets dangling on the strings that the devil manipulates.
Sometimes what happens outside of ourselves can be like rubbing salt into a wound. It hurts of course, but if we hang onto the hurts and memories allowing the wound to fester so much it can mar our whole Christian life. The remedy is not to allow that to happen. We can forgive and forget. We can walk away. We can opt out of trying to prove that we are right. We can argue about things, forgetting that we can win a debate but lose a friend.
What can happen is like that stone thrown into still water. It makes a splash and creates ripples that go back and forth and in the process, get so angry or so hurt that we react incorrectly. The splashes we make can also do likewise to others.
Jesus never yelled back down at the crowd saying, “I’ll get even with you when I come back”. He asked the Father to forgive them and they heard it.
Those are the things that Peter had not really taken to heart yet and he had in essence done the only thing that anyone can do and that was to return to the things he knew and were familiar to him. It was fishing. Whatever motivated him, it led to a decision making process and this is the real point. We all have the ability to choose, so ensure you make the right one. Peter chose to revert to his old life which is probably all that he could do in his present situation. He was suffering all kinds of guilt complexes and hurting in the ways I described earlier and decided to go fishing, which is perfectly understandable. The only problem was that he took others with him. There is that ripple effect. Let us look at it in depth. When he said, “I go” this is a Greek description of having an effect on others amongst other things. It means to lead astray, to lead someone somewhere, to seduce and the like.
This reinforces my statements that what we do or neglect to do, can and does affect others. The outcome depends on what it is and the things that motivate us.
Therefore if we allow the Holy Spirit to be our motivator and allow the truth of the word of God to inspire us and make Jesus our focal point, we can be well on the way to continue to our promised place in God. Peter had not yet received the life changing experience of receiving the Holy Spirit, so we should have the advantage now that he did not have then.
If we are honest with ourselves, I am not sure how we would have responded if we were in his shoes.
The account reveals that they went out and immediately got into the boat. This was at night time and it opens up a range of questions, like where did they get it, whose boat was it or why was it so readily available? I suggest that it belonged to Peter. He had a wife and family and a fishing business with partners, so it is unlikely that he totally walked away from them and took the oath of poverty to follow Jesus that some people believe. The Lord stayed in his home and healed his mother in law, so we need to look more closely at such things than we do and not readily accept traditions of men that may not be true.
They got into that boat and caught nothing, but the Lord knew all about it and was working to a plan. When He asked them if they had caught anything, He knew of course that they had not and told them to put their nets out on the right side of the boat. I do not think that He was referring to the literal or physical side of the boat such as the port side or the starboard side, but something else.
The bible speaks of preferred positions or favorite positions when someone is at another person’s right hand.
Jesus is sitting at the right hand of the Father. The one who was loved most or the one who was the favorite was at the right hand side.
It seems to me that Jesus was telling them not to let their nets down on the right hand side of the boat, but in the preferred position.
Those fish could have been all around them under the water, but the disciples had to be given a special blessing or shown favor and when they received that—they caught the fish. In Christian ministry and service, we can labor much without any significant lasting results for several possible reasons. One is that we have not been specifically authorized or commissioned by the Lord for the things we are trying to do and this is where a significant number of churches are operating. Another reason is the timing factor. We might have the right vision and have been called and anointed by God for the task, but are trying to do it at the wrong time. Again, this is where many churches or ministries fall down. Using the fishing analogy, in Christian ministry such as evangelism, we could be trying to catch fish at the wrong time. The fish may not yet have arrived and we are trying to fish or evangelize prematurely, or they may have already been there and departed before we start. We could also be using the incorrect bait and tackle! There is a specific time and season in God and we must know what it is and act accordingly. Either the window of opportunity is open or it is not. We can act beforehand or totally miss the opportunity and that window closes.
Jesus was presenting them an opportunity and they took it, but only one man recognized the Lord and it was not Peter.
I see here that we can miss out an encounter with God by wallowing in self pity, feeling guilty, allowing any emotions to run riot in our lives and He is standing there momentarily, offering something to us, only to leave because we did not respond. He does that.
He arrived on the scene unexpectedly and offered them a miracle, but they had to respond to His offer!
When they did that in the way He instructed them, that miracle happened and so they caught a boat swamping, net breaking haul of fish, but that was the prelude. He provided breakfast and then rectified the situation Peter had created by his own creative words.
Peter verbally denied Jesus three times and so put in motion something that had to be undone or else...
Jesus got him to say that he loved Him three times and so broke an inevitable eternal cause and effect by his three denials. So too, must we ensure that we do not create ripples in a pond by our own actions or by our own words. Certain laws have been put into motion that will produce the end result unless the issues are addressed. We can cast a spiritual stone or pebble into that pond and the ripples caused could have eternal affects on others and, as it is in the natural as shown on page one, those things could bounce right back to us. Instead of that happening, may they radiate out and be a blessing to others.
There is a principle of cause and effect that influence us all—laws of reciprocity, or something more readily understood— the laws of sowing and reaping. In essence, we reap what we sow. It was a law that Jesus had to annul on Peter’s behalf, which He did of course, but there is another aspect that we need to weigh up that applies to everyone of us in everyday life.
I’ve touched on the spiritual side of this, so let me share on how it works for us.
Hunters often use some form of decoy to lure their prey. It can look innocent enough, but totally different behind the externals.
I love fishing. Anyone who has wet a line knows about using berley to attract fish.
We are creatures of habit. Everyone of us has habit patterns that we adopt in our lives, perhaps from childhood, that can have an affect on us do things in everyday life that affect us sometime in the future. Like a pebble, we throw something into a pond starting a rippling process that is inevitable.
This man was stressing out. Perhaps the problem was in his head, or his belief attitude. Why should a believer stress out? There is the possible cause. The affect was the pain. He had cast a pebble in the pond and the result was inevitable.
We tend to forget the natural—that our bodies are holy; the temples of the Holy Spirit. We must therefore nurture and care for this temple properly, especially as a gesture of respect for the Holy one who wants to dwell within us. This principle of sowing and reaping thus takes on more significance than we realize. By our own action or inaction, we can throw that berley out to attract things we do not want. We can inadvertently set traps for ourselves that are detrimental to our lives. Those habits, thought processes, beliefs, attitudes, treatment of others and everyday living can ensnare us emotionally, spiritually and physically. Like that man I mentioned, he suffered pain, because he was allowing himself to stress out. I do not know why, but he knew he was doing it.
Without getting onto psychosomatic issues, many of our problems are the direct result of our own actions. We have been throwing those pebbles and are suffering for it and praying may never work under such conditions. This includes our eating habits that are a subject I shall share at another time. In simple terms we can be the product of what we eat. Junk in...junk out.
The principles I have touched on as very real and work in every area of our lives. That rippling affect is real. We are a product of what we believe and how we live and are starting to see that our lives are to be completely balanced in every area of our lives.
This is not a personal opinion. The word of God encourages us-
This seems to be a good place to wind up. I am a preacher and we all know that you can’t shut a good preacher up. Anyhow, I love the Lord, His Church and His people, but I dislike religion. When I am asked what I do for a living and tell people I am a preacher, I add, “But I am not religious” and it opens up an opportunity to share, because people look at me inquisitively and ask what I mean. I can explain that I want a real God, one with skin on, someone who is as close to us we permit and one who is very interested in our lives and well-being. Generally speaking, most folk see what I am getting at and can relate to God, not the church they have seen or know. They do not want “churchianity”. They do not want more conspiracy theories, or the endless debates on end time apocalypse, flat earth versus ball earth theories, global warming and polar ice melting data etc. They may or may not be true, but folk want to know more about how to live in the here and now. Winning such arguments does not pay the bills. People want to know how to live and enjoy life.
As believers, we might not know all the answers, but we should be able to point them in the right direction in their journey.
What I have tried to so in my own bumbling way here is to present something that has tried to cover a lot of territory. My aim is to help people attain the level in life that God wants for us as individuals. I desire to see Gods people blessed and enjoying life to the full and to present a challenge to you to dig deep for yourself into these matters for yourself.
To sum up, what you do now will ripple out and effect others at some time, including the harvest of what seeds you sow.
Therefore, sow well and be blessed,