In the previous articles we went line by line through John the twenty-first chapter and talked about Peter’s miraculous restoration to ministry as the Lord supernaturally visited him while He was fishing. We talked about leadership, about the sign of fruitfulness (or lack thereof), and we talked about the value of having the eyes of our hearts opened to quickly discern when the Lord walks into the room! In today’s article, as we finish the reading of this passage in John twenty-one, we’re going to supernaturally, by the spirit, begin to draw some practical insights from the story of Jesus restoring Peter to his call.
As I’ve stated before, in both my messages and my writing, these interpretations that I often draw from the scripture are not necessarily the orthodox ones that you would find in the halls of higher biblical education today. These are what I call “rhema words” or “present prophetic insights” which I feel the Spirit speaking to my heart about at this time, for the church of Jesus Christ. Keep that in mind as we proceed, and keep your heart open to what the Lord might show to you afresh from the power that is the word of God!
SEVEN PRACTICAL PRINCIPLES FROM THE STORY OF JESUS RESTORING PETER
So here’s some practicality for you in the story of when Jesus restored Peter in the final chapter of John’s gospel. Let’s continue reading and gleaning together!
12 “Jesus said to them, “Come and eat breakfast.” Yet none of the disciples dared ask Him, “Who are You?”—knowing that it was the Lord.
13 Jesus then came and took the bread and gave it to them, and likewise the fish.
14 This is now the third time Jesus showed Himself to His disciples after He was raised from the dead.
15 So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”
16 He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My sheep.”
17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.
18 “Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.”
19 This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me.”
Here are seven practical principles drawn from these scriptures to help anyone get back on track with their destiny & their call once they’ve had a season of crisis which got them off track.
- Define Your 1 Divine Purpose With Love & Fruitfulness
- Define Your 1 Divine Purpose with 3 Goals
- Use the Power of Repetitive Words to Reinforce Your Divine Purpose and Co-Create Your Life With the Lord
- Do Everything Else Before Breakfast
- Get a Clear Vision for the Future
- Set Genesis Deadlines
- Identify Distractions You Are Most Vulnerable to and Come up With a Productivity Plan to Overcome These Distractions
Let’s begin with the first one.
- DEFINE YOUR 1 DIVINE PURPOSE WITH LOVE & FRUITFULNESS
Jesus began to restore Peter with one simple easy command giving him the opportunity to be obedient right where He was, which was followed by an immediate sign of fruitfulness, ultimately helping Peter to see the wisdom and blessing in returning to his rightful place of labor in the kingdom (which was preaching and prayer (Acts 6:4)). Once Peter began to move in the right direction and fully engage with the Lord, the Lord clarified Peter’s “divine purpose” to him when He commanded him to feed the sheep. Peter’s divine purpose was not to be a fishermen laborer on the coast of Galilee for the rest of his life, it was to be a fisher of men. Peter’s divine purpose was more aptly defined as “feeding sheep''. He was not only called to be a part of pioneering the gospel at that time in the same way that Paul was (for Paul was a Missionary Apostle sent primarily to the Gentile world), but He was called to be mature in the Lord, deep in the Word and the Spirit, and to feed the church quality meat which would strengthen them in the faith to faithfully follow the Lord through all of the hardships which would befall them. He was called to help the church to “endure til’ the end” (Matt.24:13). What a high and noble call!
I would suggest that there are two tests which can really help someone to narrow down what their divine purpose is: The Love Test & The Fruitfulness Test.
THE LOVE TEST
The love test is revealed in Jesus’ three questions to Peter and his three responses to Peter when Peter affirmed his love for the Lord. Jesus asked three times, “Peter, do you love me?”, and all three times Jesus basically gave the same response when Peter said yes. He said, “feed <or> tend to my sheep”. Simply put: you find your divine purpose in what you love. If you love it, if you share love in your heart for God and love for what you do, then it’s a pretty good indication that that’s what God created you for! Isn’t God good?! It’s not what religion has taught for centuries. Religion teaches that the more miserable you are in doing it the more godly it is. But our God is a good good God. Whatever He calls you to He gives you faith for, and faith always works by love (Gal.5:6). Faith is the engine of Heaven’s power that runs on the fuel that is love and desire, a love and desire that God invests in our hearts! As you rekindle the flames in your heart for your first love in God you will often find that the same flames ignite passion for your calling and mission in God. If your work passes the love test; if you love your work so much that it doesn’t even feel like work most of the time, then it’s a pretty good indication that you’re touching the thing that you’ve been created for.
Now I would like to add a sensitive note to this line of thinking in light of those who are reading this now who don’t necessarily love what they do but do it because of the people they love. There are millions of people across the world who are fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, and out of their great love for their family and because they’ve chosen to be responsible adults, they strap on the work boots and do what is necessary to take care of the ones that God has made them responsible for. I want to say that I totally get it and I totally believe that this is admirable, godly, and right in the eyes of the Lord. We don’t live in a perfect world and many of us have to do what we have to do in order to make ends meet and fulfill our god-given obligations based on the choices we’ve made. But here’s what I would add to this.
First of all, I don’t believe that anyone has to stay where they’re at, no matter what choices they’ve made in the past and what Has brought them into their current situation. Obviously (using an extreme example) if you’re in prison for a crime you’ve committed, you're going to have to stay right where you’re at and work within the system of justice. Because your choices will be limited (depending on the length of your sentence) until you’re released, obviously this affects things. But for most people living in a functioning society, you do have choices and you don’t have to stay where you currently are. If you can grow within, if you can expand your mind and heart, if you can begin to exercise the power of your faith right where you’re at, I honestly believe with all of my heart that there are no limits on the things you can do, the things you can accomplish, and the life you can build, even if it takes some time and patience. That’s the first thing. I reject any thought and tear down any alternative way of thinking that would seek to amplify a person’s inability based on their circumstances or environment. You are not a victim of your circumstances or a product of your environment. You are a product of your thinking, the words you speak day after day, and the choices you make. That’s it. There is story after story after story, in scripture, in history, and from the day we’re living in now, of people who had absolutely nothing and had everything stacked against them who rose up to do the most improbable impossible things. This is a testament to how we have been created in the image and likeness of our Creator and how He has breathed his breath and inspiration into each one of us. If you would only believe nothing would be impossible to you no matter where you’re at currently (Mark 9:23).
The second thing concerning this that I would like to say is that if you do decide to continue working a job that you don’t necessarily like and you don’t necessarily feel passionate about, because it pays the bills and takes care of your family, then I’m not going to judge you. That’s your choice and the Lord knows your heart. I don’t. I would just say that purpose can be found outside the area of one’s j-o-b. You don’t have to find your passion in the structure of the workplace in order to be fulfilled.
For some people they are called to teach, and although that calling might be more ideally walked out having the title of an actual teacher, drawing a salary from an institution of learning, maybe something happened and you’re not able to serve in that capacity anymore where you’re at. I’m here to tell you there are other ways to teach! Teaching is one of the most basic and most widespread callings that so many people hear the Lord giving them in their hearts because there is so much value in the collective wisdom and knowledge that the Lord has gifted to the church and the world, that God wants to keep passing down as an inheritance to our children’s children. God wants everyone to be discipled, mentored, and shown how to do things. God wants us to be shown how to do things better. We need teachers in every walk of life, in every sector of society, for every situation, to show people a better way. Teachers show us how to improve. They help people learn skills and traits which will make their lives and the lives of those around them better! So if you’re called to teach, don't worry so much about the title, just serve in the function you’ve been called to serve in and leave the rest to God! Just teach!
What I’m saying is that many people miss their calling because they get stuck on job titles or corporate positions. God cares much more about function than He does about titles. That’s why the apostles usually opened their letters and epistles emphasizing their function over their titles! No matter what you do for work, no matter what you do to pay the bills, find something that fulfills you, something that you love to do that honors God and helps others, and do it with all your heart! If you get to do it full time and make good money at it, that’s a bonus!
THE FRUITFULNESS TEST
The second test in determining one’s calling is what I call the “fruitfulness test”. Many times your divine purpose will be connected to fruitfulness in one way or another. Look where you're most fruitful because that is usually a pretty good indication where you’re called. This fruitfulness can manifest in a few different ways.
As I’ve stated before in a previous article, I would say in many cases the sign of fruitfulness is shown in your work and the thing you spend your time doing full-time. Many people experience fluctuations in occupational fruitfulness based on their relation to the call of God on their lives. Like Peter, the further he ran from the call of God the more he fished all night catching nothing. This lack of fruitfulness is one of the things God can and does often use to get our attention, to help us find our way back to our call.
But, as I’ve just stated above, sometimes this test of fruitfulness does not manifest in the work you do for money, but rather in the thing you do to fulfill a purpose which honors God and helps other people outside of your j-o-b. This can be fulfilled through serving in your local church, volunteering at a shelter, or coaching little league while you impact the lives of young people who need strong leadership and the essential life lessons that things like team sports provide. The sign of fruitfulness in this way would manifest in effectiveness at your craft rather than in monetary blessing and provision connected to an occupation. In either case look for fruitfulness to be connected to your true calling and purpose. We were born to be fruitful and multiply with the Lord (Gen.1:27-29). Fruitfulness is always connected to the call!
We will continue discussing “practical insights” into Peter’s restoration to ministry in tomorrow’s article!
In His Service,
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