Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Jun 2 2019 - Psalm 66 – Shout with joy all the earth

Psalm 66 is a psalm of thanksgiving beginning with a call for all the earth to "shout for joy to God" (v. 1). The focus then narrows to celebrate what God has done for his people Israel (v. 6). Finally the focus narrows again to the thanksgiving and testimony of an individual believer (vv. 13-20).

The people of Israel had experienced God's saving power when he had dried up the waters of the Red Sea, enabling them to escape from the pursuing Egyptian army by crossing the sea on dry land (v. 6). They had witnessed a similar miracle when God had stopped the flow of the Jordan river so that the Israelites could walk into the Promised Land on the dry river bed. These redemptive acts of God were celebrated by his people, particularly at Passover time and during the Feast of Tabernacles.  They would remember and celebrate the way in which God had rescued them from slavery in Egypt, provided for them during the years of their wandering in the wilderness and had given them possession of the land he had promised them:

For you, God, tested us;
    you refined us like silver.
You brought us into prison
    and laid burdens on our backs.
You let people ride over our heads;
    we went through fire and water,
    but you brought us to a place of abundance. (vv. 10-12)

They would look back with thanksgiving. But God's acts of salvation were not confined to the past. The psalmist celebrates what God has done for him (or her) and is eager to tell others of how God has been good to him. His praise of God thus becomes testimony to others:

Come and hear, all you who fear God;
    let me tell you what he has done for me.
I cried out to him with my mouth;
    his praise was on my tongue.
If I had cherished sin in my heart,
    the Lord would not have listened;
but God has surely listened
    and has heard my prayer.
Praise be to God,
    who has not rejected my prayer
    or withheld his love from me!  (vv. 16-20)

We who have been saved from sin and condemnation through the Lord Jesus Christ have even more cause to come before him with extravagant praise and thanksgiving. We will want to rehearse what God has done for us in our times of praise together, making use of songs and hymns which remind us afresh of what God has done for us in Christ. What are your favourite hymns and songs and why? Nor do we want our testimony to God's goodness to be shared only with those who have already experienced God's saving power (as in v.16). We want all the world to hear of the saving power of our God. We want vv. 1-4 of this psalm to become a reality as all the earth sings of the glory of our God and makes his praise glorious. How will you share your testimony with those who have not yet come to know God's salvation for themselves?

Lord, help me daily to appreciate afresh, more fully and more deeply what you have done for me in the Lord Jesus Christ. Fill me with songs of praise and thanksgiving. Help me by your Spirit to bear testimony to your saving power through the words I speak and the character of my life so that others may come to know your salvation and join our songs of praise to you.

Jun 2 2013 - John 21:1-25 – Feed my sheep

Jesus had been raised from the dead and appeared at least a couple of times to the disciples. But now they do not know what to do with themselves. Peter tells them, "I'm going fishing" (John 21:3), and the other disciples who were with him replied, "We'll come too." So they go out for a night of fishing, but catch nothing. Nothing that is until, in the dim and misty light of dawn, a figure on the shore calls to them and tells them to throw out their nets on the right side of the boat. Now they have a huge catch which they cannot pull into the boat; they have to drag the net behind them as they row to the beach where Jesus awaits them.

The natural tendency of these first disciples was to return to the life they had known, to the routines with which they were familiar. But those routines prove fruitless; Jesus alone can give success to the work of their hands. And this remarkable catch of fish, caught at his command, is a foretaste of the harvest that they will yet secure with his help. He calls them to go fishing for people (remember Matthew 4:19).

We are no different from these first disciples. We so easily fall back into the patterns of life with which we are familiar rather than following Jesus out of our comfort zone and into the work he has for us to do.

Having provided his disciples with a cooked breakfast on the beach, it is now time for Jesus to give Peter a grilling. Peter had denied Jesus three times. Three times Jesus now challenges him with the question, “Do you love me?” Jesus does not ask Peter if he is ready now to follow him even to the point of death rather than run away when trouble comes. Jesus does not ask Peter if he is ready now to speak of him before others rather than denying him. He asks Peter whether he loves him. This is the fundamental question  – a question of supreme importance for Peter and for us.

Each time, when Peter expresses his love he is told, “Feed my sheep.” Peter is forgiven and called now to show his love by following in the footsteps of his master, in life and in death, and by telling others of Jesus.

This cannot have been an easy experience for Peter. He must have felt ashamed, embarrassed and put on the spot. So, when he catches sight of the disciple whom Jesus loved he asks the question, “And what about him?” Jesus’ answer is, in effect, “You mind your own business. You are to follow me.”

We need continually to hear the same words of Jesus. We find it so easy to identify the ways in which other Christians fall short of all that they should be. We point out such failings to one another (though more rarely to the person concerned). We complain loudly of the way in which others have behaved towards us. We need to hear the words of Jesus, “Mind your own business. Follow me.”

Our business is firstly that of our own discipleship, to be diligent in walking closely with Jesus. Out of that close walk we are then to encourage others in following Jesus – to feed his sheep. Jesus command is still “Follow me... Feed my sheep.”

Lord Jesus, help me to follow you and labour for you in the fishing-work of the kingdom. Help me to feed and encourage others rather than trying to enlarge my own reputation by highlighting their behaviour. Help us then to labour side by side in the work of the kingdom, knowing the task is too great for any one of us to accomplish on our own.

Peter Misselbrook