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Subject: The Lutheran Hour: April 10, 2016 "Breakfast with Jesus"

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Email Us button greenSermon Text for April 10, 2016 

"Breakfast with Jesus" #83-32

Presented on The Lutheran Hour on April 10, 2016
By Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz, Lutheran Hour Speaker
Copyright 2016 Lutheran Hour Ministries

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Text: John 21:1-14

Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, "Children, do you have any fish?" They answered him, "No." He said, "Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some." So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of the fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, "It is the Lord!"

Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia.

There are big questions in life, aren't there? And contrary to what some say, they do need an answer. The big questions are questions like: why is there so much suffering in our world? Why all the evil and pain? Why the hardship of hunger, homelessness, illness, war, and tragedy? Why the stress and the strain and the corruption? Why does God let it go on? 

Have you asked these questions before? During this era of history, the world is completely connected, if you think about it, but for good and for ill. If a tragedy happens on the other side of the globe, you and I can see news coverage almost immediately. If you want to find out about the latest political argument, you can watch it now on YouTube. If anything happens just about anywhere, cell phone photos and videos will most likely be posted on Facebook almost immediately. And here's my question; why do people enjoy posting other's embarrassments or mistakes? Think of that for a moment.

It's easy to get overwhelmed when you see so many horrible things happening all around the world. And it doesn't take long to ask, "Why? Why is it happening? Does God really want this to happen? Why doesn't He stop it?" You wonder about God's involvement in life. Is He close? Does He care? 

You may be asking those questions right now. And you may have good reason to do so. Some of you are hanging by a thread at this very moment, barely able to keep going. Hurt has taken your breath away. Worry may be paralyzing you. Tragedy might be immobilizing you and making you feel like just giving up. You may be wondering where God is in the middle of all this. Or you may have already given up on thinking that He is even in your life.

Jesus' own disciples felt that way. Their Master had called them to follow and they did. They gave up everything; walked with Him for three years. Jesus taught with authority, yes. He did things no one else could do, yes. He healed the sick. He cast out demons. He stilled storms. He fed crowds with only a picnic lunch in His hand. Peter said it best, "You are the Son of God." But now, that same Jesus died on a cross. Now He was gone.

At the end of the Gospel of John, we encounter disillusioned and forlorn disciples going back to their normal lives. The events unfolded this way: "Simon Peter, Thomas, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. Peter said to them, 'I am going fishing.' They said, 'We will go with you.' They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing" (John 21:2-3).

The professional fishermen went back to fishing. It was business as usual. Their adventure of three years seemed to be over-long gone. God wasn't involved in their lives anymore, they thought. So they hit the seas and they tried to catch something, but they came up empty.

It figures. That's the way it goes when you're running on fumes and down to your last dollar. For the disciples, and maybe for you, it seemed like more evidence that God was nowhere to be found. When you come up empty, you start to think God has abandoned you, or, even worse, that God was never really involved at all.

That's the way we feel sometimes. It happens when you come up empty in your relationships or when you come up empty in your goals for life. It happens when you try to have children, but can't. It happens when you try to make ends meet, but they won't. It happens when you're praying for healing, but disappointment and grief come instead. It happens when you think things are getting better, but then they come crashing down again. Is God really involved in your ordinary, everyday life? Sometimes you think the answer is no. You think you're all alone.

That's what a little boy in the Boston area thought. He was from Brazil. His family just moved to the United States-to a chilly Boston winter. The boy saw a frozen pond for the first time in his life. He was so intrigued by the glazed pond that he decided to try to walk on it. About halfway out, he fell through the ice. It was a startling shock. He crashed below the surface and started screaming for help. He was absolutely panicked and for good reason. He thought he was all alone.

But Adilson Almeida happened to be looking out his apartment window just then. He saw the boy thrashing in the icy water. He grabbed his friend, Ty, and the pair ran outside. A group of people followed. Ty broke through the ice and began to make his way toward the helpless boy. The people formed a human chain to pull Ty and the boy toward shore. Just when the boy thought it was all lost, that he was on his own, that no one heard him or cared about him, a strong and warm arm grabbed him and pulled him to safety. Almeida was relieved that the boy was okay. But he too was blessed. He said, "It was a present from God to save somebody else."

That was Jesus' response to you, too. He came even closer to save you than an outstretched arm. He lived your life, He died your death, and He gives you His life as a gift! Now that's personal. 

In fact, that's what makes Jesus so special. Salvation, for the whole world, yes, but personal life by faith, man to man, woman to woman; that's how Jesus delivers His Good News to you!

It happened that way to the disciples. As they labored at fishing and wallowed in their grief and disappointment, Jesus showed up. The Apostle John tells it this way: Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, "Children, do you have any fish?" They said him, "No." "Well, cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some." They did and they had this incredible catch; and the disciples said, "It is the Lord!" Listen to this. Peter heard that and then he jumped into the sea. The other disciples came in that boat, dragging that full net of fish, for they weren't that far from land, about a hundred yards off (John 21:4-8).

Jesus showed up. The Bible said that this was the third time Jesus was revealed to His disciples after His resurrection. He kept coming back. The disciples thought that Jesus was out of the picture of their life and not involved. They thought they were on their own in a pretty miserable life, but Jesus got personally involved with them. There He was on the beach, a present from God for their hope and salvation.

It is tempting to make God into what we see in the world around us. If the world is uncaring, perhaps God doesn't care. If we're too busy, perhaps God is too busy. If life is impersonal, perhaps God is impersonal. 

In our sin and brokenness it's hard to give God credit, isn't it? It's difficult to give Him the benefit of the doubt. You ask the big questions when life is confusing and chaotic: where is God? What's taking Him so long? What sense does He make? And in your frustration you can start to think that you're in this all alone, that it's up to you to figure everything out and just survive. 

Sometimes in your doubt about God's involvement, care, and presence, you rush ahead and you push Him out of the picture. How many times have you reacted to a difficult situation without stepping back to ask God for His help and wisdom? You jumped into an argument. You leaped into despair. You were quick to criticize. You went ahead without thinking. 

How often have you convinced yourself that God can take care of the big issues of life-the eternal stuff, but He's not available to handle your details? Think about it: have you felt God is too busy for your everyday prayers? Do you hesitate to bother Him with your small issues? It's easy and tempting to exclude God because you believe He is far away or because He's too big for a small life like yours. 

But Jesus wouldn't accept that for His disciples then and He doesn't want it for you and me either now. They were not in this alone, and life was not theirs to figure out and control. God was not far away; He was alive and very present. And Jesus, the Son of God, gave them a very personal response. What did He do? He cooked the disciples breakfast! Breakfast with Jesus. Wow! This is how it happened: When [the disciples] got on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish you just caught." So Simon went aboard and hauled the net ashore......Jesus said, "Come and have breakfast." Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so also the fish (John 21:9-13).

What would you expect Jesus to do after He died on the cross and rose from the dead? In our day and age, you might expect that He would show off a little bit. Maybe a dance in the end zone or calling for cheers from the crowd; perhaps a worldwide TV special or a viral video. Why not make the sun stand still or break the record for twitter followers? But what did Jesus do? He sat on the beach for breakfast with a handful of disillusioned people. What was Jesus showing about Himself-about the nature and character of God? Well, He was showing His determination to be involved in your ordinary everyday life. "Come and have breakfast." Those were the stirring words of the risen Son of God. Jesus just got personal. He was saying, "Look at me and let me show you Who God is. Let me show you that God is close and that God cares." 

But it's easy to miss Him, isn't it? These days, for instance, you can get apps for free for your phone. They're free because they're filled with all kinds of ads. Videos pop up when you're using them. Product banners scroll along the sides and through the middle. But these apps are tremendously popular. Do you know why? Well, because it doesn't take much for us to tune things out. There's so much coming at us nowadays that we have made ignoring an art. Let the ads scroll. It doesn't matter. We're very good at ignoring them.

We're also very good at ignoring God's reach into everyday life. That's why we need to hear Jesus' powerful words today: "Come and have breakfast." 

Here in John 21, Jesus is saying, "Pay close attention and learn about me for your life." You get to know God when you look at Jesus. And Who do you see? He cared about you so much, that He gave His life for you on the cross. He loves you so much that through His resurrection He gives you a life in which death and evil and misery will never have the last word for you. He forgives you of your sins. He gathers you in His arms to be your refuge and strength in times of trouble. He gives you personal attention when He says,"Call upon me in the day of trouble." 

His love for you is personal, even tailor made. He grows you up when you need growing. He listens to your complaints. Through the worst of times He surprises you with His best. Do you really know God then? Do you really know Him as He is? One author described Jesus as God with skin on. I like that. 

Take a close look at Him and you'll know how personal He is for you. He's the One Who knows your name and took you to be His own in baptism. He's the One Who takes time to make His home with you again and again through His Holy Communion. God is personal. God is close. The Almighty, Holy, and all-knowing God gets involved in the details of your life. He loves you that much. 

Not too long ago a man named Brett Kyle was driving his truck much too fast in Ventura County, California. Suddenly his truck skidded off the road, slid into a drainage ditch, and flipped over several times. The truck ended up on its passenger's side and burst into flames. 

All of this happened to take place in front of the home of famous actor Jamie Foxx. If you were a famous actor and a truck crashed down by the road in front of your estate, what would you do? You might hear the noise, maybe peek outside the window, maybe even call 911. Maybe you would send someone down there to check it out. What did Jamie Foxx do? He ran out of the house toward the truck. He opened his security gate and teamed up with a passerby to see if someone was inside. Instead of worrying about news coverage, autograph seekers, or personal image, he got involved. He got personal. The other man who stopped to help was an EMT. Together, they broke through the windshield and worked to cut through the man's seatbelt. 

They managed to cut through the seatbelt and pull Kyle to safety just seconds before the truck exploded into flames. Brett Kyle was injured, but he was alive. But Foxx said this. He said, "I don't look at it as heroic. I just look at is as...you just had to do something." One of the first responders commented, "It's rare these days that you find someone willing to jump in and help like that."

It certainly is. That's what is so amazing about the Savior God, Jesus Christ. That's what is so remarkable about Jesus saying, "Come and have breakfast." He jumped in. He gets involved. God loved you so much, He had to do something. And that helps with all of life's questions, especially when we're uncertain and unsure! 

You probably know the old ploy from kids when they try to divide and conquer their parents. You know how it goes: the kids are jumping on the bed. You walk in on them. "Get off the beds, kids. Stop jumping." Their response? "Well, mom said we could." It's an old strategy, isn't it? A candy raid is staged fifteen minutes before supper. Caught red-handed, the children say, "But, Dad said we could have a snack." 

What's a parent to do? You stick together. You say, "I know your mother. She doesn't make jumping on the beds part of her standard entertainment program." Or you say, "I know your father. His policy isn't to have you experience a sugar high before supper." When you know someone, you can be sure. That clarity, that knowing them, that's what gets you through the uncertain moments of life. 

When you know God, you can be sure of Him. Why is there evil in the world and in my life? Why does it go on? Doesn't God care? Well, I know God. He sent Jesus to die for my sin and all the evil and suffering in the world. He does care. I don't have all the answers, but I know He cares! When you know Him, you can be sure. You can get through the uncertain moments because you know they are only temporary because of Him. 

You will face many questions in life. There will be plenty of uncertainty. You'll never be able to figure it all out completely this side of heaven. But because of Jesus, God will always be closer than a brother. Through His Word, His gifts, He's right here, right now for you, with a personal love and joy that only He can give. When you dine with Jesus, that's a breakfast, lunch, and dinner that will sustain you with a powerful, precious, love and grace that only He can give. Count on it, today. Count on it forever.


LUTHERAN HOUR MAILBOX (Questions & Answers) for April 10, 2016 
Topic: How Can Faith Help Me With Being Kind?

ANNOUNCER: Now, Pastor Gregory Seltz responds to questions from listeners. I'm Mark Eischer. Today a listener says he kind of thinks of himself as kind of a curmudgeon, but his wife says "No, that's not right you're just kind of a grump." So he wants to know, how can faith help him be more kind? 

SELTZ: Mark, I like this because now we're getting down to the nitty-gritty how we live our lives; and I'm going to stay away from references to Snow White and her seven buddies, but this is good; we are talking about how faith does change how you live. 

ANNOUNCER: To be harsh, grumpy, downcast; we can identify with that.

SELTZ: I think you're right. We all get into moods, but sometimes these moods become habits that become hurtful.

ANNOUNCER: That's an interesting distinction. What would you say is the difference between a mood and a habit?

SELTZ: Well, let's be honest. We can be sometimes like little babies. When we're tired or hungry, when you've had a hard day or are under pressure, your mood can become foul. Some people get quiet. Some people get sad. Some people get angry or unkind. That's a mood. But if you persist in letting circumstances shape your words and actions, you now may be developing a hurtful habit. 

ANNOUNCER: Okay, like we get really good at what we practice a lot.

SELTZ: You do. I learned that on the basketball court. If you practice good things, you'll develop good habits. If you practice behavior that isn't constructive, you'll get good at being bad.

ANNOUNCER: That's why the Apostle Paul urged people to practice the godly things. He says, "What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me-practice those things, that the God of peace will be with you" (Philippians 4:8-9).

SELTZ: And just before that beautiful section, Paul urged his listeners to rejoice in the Lord always. He said I'll say it again, rejoice because the Lord is at hand. And then He makes this incredible statement,"and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, is going to guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:4-7). You hear the practices and the promises and the potential of a new way of living in Christ.

ANNOUNCER: So when challenges come, instead of practicing unkindness as a habit, God gives us something else to practice.

SELTZ: Yes, He gives us a new way, with an eternal resource. By grace, through faith in Jesus, we keep in step with the Spirit, not our own flesh. Now, this doesn't mean we're perfect, but it is a new way to live in Christ. Paul says, "through baptism, we walk in the newness of Christ's life." The pinnacle of this new life is living out that love of Christ in us to others.

ANNOUNCER: Those are lives that are characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

SELTZ: And remember the Bible calls those the "fruits of the Spirit." They're His gifts again in our life. God grows it in us through His Spirit by His grace. We can't even manufacture these things. These attitudes and actions are God's gifts. They bear witness to His presence in us. Think of it this way; being unkind, arrogant, judgmental, and harsh, actually quenches the Spirit of God and we don't want to do that. They are acts of our own flesh that the Bible urges us to resist so that we don't develop habits that push people away from a walk with their Savior. 

ANNOUNCER: How can our listener then grow in kindness through this walk of faith?

SELTZ: First and foremost, Mark, we need to start with the heart. Only God changes hearts, and He does this through His self-sacrificial love for us. The first step in changing any behavior is not to lean on our own strength and ability, but to fall before God in repentance and ask for His mercy and His grace.

ANNOUNCER: And the Bible gives great assurance. In Hebrews, chapter four, it says, "Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we might receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:16).

SELTZ: Absolutely, our salvation is by grace without works. But the Bible then says in Ephesians, chapter 2, we are "created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, so that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10). That includes kindness. 

ANNOUNCER: That in Christ, by the Holy Spirit, we are called to grow in that new life. 
SELTZ: Exactly. I would urge our listener to continue to be fed by God's Holy Word. I would urge our listener to walk with kind people so acts of unkindness could diminish and habits of kindness could develop. Being accountable in a community of faith is so important to the life of a follower of Jesus, so that we can practice and run the race of life faithfully.

ANNOUNCER: That through our kindness that we show to each another, the world will take notice and see Jesus. 

SELTZ: Absolutely.

ANNOUNCER: Thank you, Pastor Seltz. This has been a presentation of Lutheran Hour Ministries.

Action in Ministry for April 10, 2016 
Guest: Janell Lockwood

ANNOUNCER: You're listening to The Lutheran Hour and this is Action in Ministry. Today, Pastor Seltz, you showed us how Jesus deals with us on that everyday level of life.

SELTZ: That's right.

ANNOUNCER: Just when the disciples were discouraged, thought everything was lost; Jesus came, sat down with them, and had breakfast. 

SELTZ: You know, Mark, what I love is how we also get to engage in similar types of person-to-person encouragement here at Lutheran Hour Ministries. That's what we do. We try to bring Christ to you in a personal way to meet you at your place of need. 

ANNOUNCER: And today we're going to be hearing from someone who works sort of behind the scenes even as she serves on the frontlines of ministry. 

SELTZ: Right. Janell Lockwood has been working in our Response Center for five years?


SELTZ: Wow! Janell, thank you so much for joining us.

LOCKWOOD: Thank you for having me.

SELTZ: Tell us again what the Response Center is all about, what you and your crew do here at Lutheran Hour Ministries. I know you're kind of hidden away but you have such a great impact on people's lives.

LOCKWOOD: Yeah, the opportunity that we have in the Response Center is to primarily answer phone calls and emails with questions, looking for resources, looking for guidance, looking for help with anything that we deal with here at Lutheran Hour Ministries.

ANNOUNCER: And, what are some of the things you hear from our listeners and viewers?

LOCKWOOD: A lot of times we might get an email or a phone call asking about a copy of a sermon, something that touched their lives; that really meant something. They need a copy that they want to share with somebody. They may have heard about a resource that was promoted on The Lutheran Hour, whether it be a Project Connect booklet, a Bible study. So it's a great way that we're able to meet their needs; that The Lutheran Hour has maybe introduced them to a resource.

SELTZ: Well, do you mind sharing some examples with us?

LOCKWOOD: Sure. Sure. I received an email that said "This past February was the first anniversary of my husband's death from cancer, and I'm not sure if it was the loss or the financial struggles, but I sank into depression. I stopped going to church and the longer I was gone, the worse I felt. Recently I began to have suicidal thoughts. The only explanation for what happened next is the leading of the Holy Spirit. This morning I read the sermon for April 19. It made me cry, but most of all it gave me comfort and hope. Thank you."

SELTZ: That's so powerful. We don't even realize what people are going through and how the Word of God just comes right in and takes care of that. That's so cool! But what people need to understand is when they call or email, you have resources that you can put into their hands. They get a sermon, a devotional, we can engage them in a more personal way. Tell us more about some of these resources that we actually have for them. 

LOCKWOOD: I think the huge takeaway for a lot of people is when they do call us, we do have things that we can put in their hand to give them hope. A lot of people are asking for the resource of the Project Connect booklets; the anecdotal topical booklets that will give them words to their story that someone can validate what they are going through, then also to bring that down and root it into Scripture to give them a true hope in Christ. We also have great award-winning Bible studies that are video driven that can be done in individual personal study or a group Bible study that are very...the fact that they can be kind of surface and topical, but if you want to dig deeper, it allows that. It allows a seasoned Bible studier to get deep into the Word of God.

SELTZ: So you can see it. You can touch it. You can taste it. You can't smell it, can you? There are a lot of resources and you were just telling us another story right before you came in. Can you share that with us because that was about these resources, right?

LOCKWOOD: Exactly. There was a mother who had shared with us that her 22-year-old son has been in jail since 2015 in June. She says he is a confirmed member of the LCMS but she is having difficulty in locating any resources for help, hope, and encouragement. She said he does have a pastor that visits him but she was asking if I could lead her to any information that she could share with her son. So I was able to give her resources, a video Bible study, also Project Connect booklets that were of many topics she could use herself and also for her son. Also, ideally, we can mail those to her but we're also trying to keep up with technology and all these are free and downloadable. 

ANNOUNCER: If you would like to find out more about these resources, in just a moment I will give you the number you can call. I'll also give you our website address, but we want to give you also the opportunity to share how God has worked through these resources to make a difference in your life. So, if you have a personal experience of that, we'd like to hear from you as well.

SELTZ: So they'll be able to call in and share some of that with you, Janell, and your team, right? 

LOCKWOOD: We would love that.

SELTZ: Wow. We really have a treasure here that we want to share. In fact we have a treasure in you and all the folks that really answer those phones. We give God glory for that. Janell, thank you so much for being here with us today.

LOCKWOOD: Thank you. 

SELTZ: That's our Action in Ministry segment today to bless, to empower, and to strengthen your life in Christ for others. 

ANNOUNCER: For a list of available resources, go to lutheranhour.org. Look for the link that says Action in Ministry. If you've been blessed by a resource that you received from us and you would like to share your story, call 1-855-john316. That's 1-855-564-6316. Our email address is info@lhm.org. 

Music Selections for this program:
"A Mighty Fortress" arranged by Chris Bergmann. Used by permission.

"With High Delight Let Us Unite" From The Concordia Organist (© 2009 Concordia Publishing House)

"I Am Content! My Jesus Ever Lives" From The Concordia Organist (© 2009 Concordia Publishing House)




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