As the rest of the year lies before me, I don’t want to forget the things that God has taught me during these 21 days.
Sunday, January 23, 2022
By Cory Bragg, Journey Connections Pastor
“Simon Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. ‘I’m going out to fish,’ Simon Peter told them, and they said, ‘We’ll go with you.’ So they went out and got in the boat, but that night they caught nothing.” (John 21:2-3)
The scene is set after Jesus’ resurrection. Peter, Jesus’ lead disciple, is spending time with some of the other disciples by the Sea of Galilee. Around 3 years prior, this is the same location that Jesus had originally called Peter to become his apprentice. Now Peter, after all that he had experienced following Jesus, finds himself going back to what he did before he met Jesus…fishing. And not only does Peter go back to what he did before he followed Jesus…he fails. Why would Peter go back to his former way of life after Jesus trained him for something greater…from fishing for fish to “fishing for people” (Matthew 4:19)? Maybe it’s because he is going back to what is familiar? Maybe what’s easier? Maybe what he feels he is better at? Maybe it’s out of habit? Maybe it’s because Peter is still feeling guilty for denying Jesus 3 times before Jesus’ crucifixion? No matter the reason, what I love is that even though Peter might have given up on Jesus’ purpose for his life, Jesus hadn’t given up on Peter. Jesus shows up at the shore, extends grace, and reminds Peter of the greater life he has called him to.
I find it easy to connect with Peter in this story. I can sure mess up when it comes to following Jesus too. These past 21 days have been so good though…reading about Jesus’ life and ministry while he was here on earth. It’s been a powerful way to kick off 2022…spending time with Jesus, praying, journaling, and being challenged by Christ in so many ways to grow in my faith. As the rest of the year lies before me, I don’t want to forget the things that God has taught me during these 21 days. The ways He has challenged and invited me to greater things! I don’t want to go back to my “former ways”…but I want 2022 to be a year where I grow closer to Jesus and live with more purpose for Him. My goal for the rest of the year is to set aside 5 mornings each week to read my Bible, pray, and journal…even if it’s just for 15 minutes. My prayer is that by the end of 2022, I’m a different person than the year started.
“Heavenly Father, thank you for the past 21 days. Thank you for the ways you have challenged and called me to a greater way of living for you and your purposes on this earth. As the rest of the year unfolds, please give me the courage and strength to not go back to any ‘former ways’ of life you have encouraged me to leave behind. I commit the rest of 2022 to grow in my relationship with you and to trust in the plans you have for my life. Amen!”
Get to a place where you can focus and read the daily Scripture passage several times. From the passage of Scripture you read, highlight one or two verses that stick out. Write them down, and even consider rewriting the verse(s) in your own words.
Make some basic observations about the scripture you just read by asking these questions:
- Why was this written?
- To whom was it originally written?
- What is the author trying to communicate?
- What does the Scripture passage teach me about God and humanity?
After taking some time explaining the highlighted scriptures, begin to think about how they apply to your life. Ask yourself these questions and spend some time writing down your thoughts:
- What do these verses mean today?
- What does this verse(s) mean for my life?
- How does this verse challenge my thinking and actions?
- What changes do I need to make in my life as a result of this passage of Scripture?
Your response to the passage may take on many forms. You may write a call to action. You may describe how you will be different because of what God has said to you through the Bible verses. You may indicate what you are going to do because of what you learned. You may respond by writing out a prayer to God. For example, you may ask God to help you to be more loving, or to give you a desire to be more generous in your giving. Keep in mind that this is your response to what you have just read.