How many of you consider yourselves fishermen? Ok not just fishermen, but fisher “ladies” also. I know that there are some ladies who like to fish to. I love
to fish when I get the chance.
A few years
ago, while we were visiting my family in Florida, my brother invited my son and I to go fishing with him. He took my son out in his new boat to fish for ‘Reds’. Now this portion of the St. John’s River
in Jacksonville is one of the best fishing areas for Reds. It’s a place where fishermen from all over come to fish. Now as my brother and son were out on the boat I stayed on the dock to do some fishing from there. After several hours brother and son returned from their foray into the river. Now Reds have to be a certain size to be able to legally keep. If I recall correctly, they have to be at least 18 inches long. Well
after several hours they came back and son was very proud as he landed a Red that was just over 19 inches. He was ready to head home and have my brother grill it up. Now
I haven’t been slack in my fishing either. I caught my fair share of “keeper”
also. Remember that Reds have to be at least 18 inches to keep. The one that I caught was about this big (arms shoulder wide narrowing to fingers about 1 ½ inches apart). Yep, that’s a keeper. I wanted
to have it stuffed and mounted but my wife wouldn’t let me.
Now the best thing about that day wasn’t
the size of the catch or how many we caught, we just had fun fishing. I wasn’t
just sitting there with my line in the water and not getting any bites or not catching anything. How many times have we gone fishing and not even had a nibble. The
only thing that happened was the worm that was being used for bait drowned.
I usually have a lot of fun fishing and I like
to tell my fair share of fish stories. Even youngest son has the caught the fishing
bug and is already telling his fish stories,
fishing is a hobby not a profession. There are many people who make a living
at fishing but I’m not one of them. I have had several chosen professions
over the years since I graduated from high school. I spent twenty years in the
military as a professional soldier and now I work in the professional field of human services with Social Services. Almost every adult has chosen some type of profession in order to provide for themselves and their families. Many retire from one profession and then take up a new one. This morning I would to talk with you about a profession to which each and every Christian is called to
and one which can be a dual profession with the one that we are currently following.
Please open your Bibles to Matthew chapter 4 and begin reading with me at verse 18.
Here we read, “As Jesus was walking beside the Sea
of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew.
They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fisherman. ‘Come
follow Me’, Jesus said, ‘and I will make you fishers of men.’ At
once they left their nets and followed Him.”
There are a lot of things that are happening
in this verse and this morning we are look at three separate parts of this verse. There
is a call, what we are called to and the result. So let’s take a look at
the first part – the call.
was out taking His stroll along the sea shore when He sees a couple of guys, Simon and Peter, fishing by casting a net into
the lake. When He sees them Jesus calls out to them. Scripture says that Jesus said, “Come, follow Me.” There are two adjectives here. Now
to refresh your memory, adjectives are action words and there are two of them here and what I want to do is break them down
into two parts. The first is the word “come”. Jesus told them to “come”, to stop what they were doing and come over to Him. Throughout the Bible we read of those who are called. The
prophet Isaiah heard the call and responded. Isaiah 6:8 says, “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And
who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!” When Isaiah heard God’s call
he responded by saying here I am, send me. And God used Isaiah in a mighty way.
We know what
happened when Jesus called the Apostle Paul into His service on the road to Damascus. A bright light shown from heaven and blinded Paul.
In Acts chapter 5:8 Jesus tells Paul, “Now get up and go into the
city, and you will be told what you must do.” And Paul listened
to Jesus’ instructions and followed them and I am so glad that he did because look at how God used Paul. What an impact on the world God made through Paul.
Now I am not saying that the call you hear from
God will be like that of Isaiah or Paul, so dramatic, but like them you need to respond.
You can’t just sit around and not heed to call because if you do you will miss out on the most exciting adventure
you will ever experience. God might not want you to be another Isaiah or Paul
but God does want to have you in His service. Isaiah and Paul had a turning point
in their lives when God called them.
The call is made by Jesus and when Jesus calls you it’s a turning point in your life as well. When you hear the Lord’s call you have to stop
what you are doing and you need to leave behind your old way of life.
Just as they
heard Jesus calling them when you hear the call of Jesus you have to respond. We
need to stop what we are doing and heed his call. Now I don’t think that
you have to literally do what Simon and Andrew did by walking away from their fishing nets and their livelihood but there
may be some things in your life that needs to change. It may be how you live
your life or what you are or are not doing. Whatever it is when your answer God’s
call something will change.
When I was in
high school I was not the nicest person to be around because I was always getting into some type of trouble. Since I was the youngest, the “baby” you could say that I was not given as much strict guidance
as my older brothers and sisters especially since I was raised by my grandparents after my mothers passing when I was fourteen. In high school I got into all sorts of mischief and had to get bailed out of jail
by my grandmother. It was bad enough to have my grandmother bail me out of jail
but what made matters worse was that my grandfather was the Chief of Police and my older brother was a policeman. When I was eighteen Jesus came calling and when I answered I had to make a change. I had to stop living my life for me and live it for God. And
the change did not happen overnight. I fell down a lot on the road that Jesus
set me on but He didn’t give up on me. He kept picking me up and walking
along the road with me. And I am still falling down a lot and Jesus goes right
on picking me up and pointing me in the right direction.
Jesus will do
the same thing for you. When you answer the call He will put you on the path
and will pick you up every time you stumble and fall. God is faithful and true.
Scripture tells us so. 1 Corinthians 1:9, God,
who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.” He will always be there with you and never let you down.
Remember there were two adjectives. The first was when Jesus said “come”. When Jesus
called Simon and Andrew He did not just call them to stop what they were doing. There
were some additional instructions. He said to them “follow me”. And they did just that. But what did
He mean when He said “follow me”? I don’t think it was to follow
Him to the local donut shop for coffee and donuts. Nor was it to just physically
follow Him through the dusty streets and roads of the region although that was probably a small portion of it. Jesus meant that they were to become His followers, to learn from Him, to become a part of Him through
Just as Jesus told Simon and Andrew to follow
Him, we are called to follow Jesus.
But what does it mean to follow Jesus. What is a follower of Jesus? In this instance a follower of
Jesus is a disciple of Jesus. Jesus
called Simon and Andrew to become His disciples. Now just what does it mean to
be a disciple? Being a disciple is much more than just being a follower of Jesus.
Being a disciple means basically to be a learner. A disciple is a person who
follows the teaching of the teacher or master. A disciple is much more than just
a pupil in a classroom. A disciple is one who is an adherent of the master or
to put it simply he is an imitator of the teacher.
We, as Christians, are called by Jesus to be
imitators of Him. When we accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior our very lives
are changed. We were called to envelop ourselves in Christ. Ephesians 5:1 tells us to be imitators of God, “Be imitators
of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as
Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God”.
So if we are to be imitators of Jesus, to be
His disciples, where do we learn about His teachings and His life? As disciples
we learn from several sources. The
main source we learn from is God’s Word – the Bible. The Bible is
no only our love letter from God it’s also our instruction manual. You’ve
heard the expression that there is no manual on how to be a parent, or how to live life.
Well there is a manual for all of this and it’s the Bible. B-I-B-L-E
is Basis Instructions Before Leaving Earth. It gives us guidance on how to be
good parents, how to live life, how to act at work, and how to live like God wants us to.
Another source is from other more mature Christians. In Titus chapter two Titus is told by Paul that he must teach others. Verse one says, “You must teach what is in accord with
sound doctrine…” Titus was told to teach the older men, the
older women, the young men and so on. He was to teach others how to walk and
live their live to be in accordance with God’s word.
We have many; many mature Christians here in
our congregation with a lot of wisdom even if some of them may not realize it. Learn
form them. Learn from their example.
Prayer is another way you can learn about where
God leads. Prayer is nothing but a conversation with God. It’s nothing mystical. There is no magic formula that
you have to follow to get in touch with God. You have a direct line to God. It’s not like when you are calling the bank or some other business and you get
a computer generated answer machine telling you to press 1 if you speak English or 2 if Spanish. God hears our prayers. Paul tells the Thessalonians in his
final instructions to them in 1 Thessalonians 5:16 to, “Pray continually”. He didn’t say just at church at the beginning and closing or just over you meals
or at bedtime. He said pray continually – constantly. In other words, at all times – getting up in the morning, at meals, driving down the road to work,
at work, at play and so on. God does hear and answer prayers.
When Jesus called Simon and Andrew He first issued
the call and what they were called to. They were told to follow Him and Jesus
told them what He would do as a result of their following Him. He said. “I will make you fishers of men”. Jesus told them
that He would teach them how to fish for men. Just as Jesus called Simon and
Peter to change there profession from fishing for fish to fishing for men He is calling us for the same purpose. To fish for men – Jesus will make you fishermen. He will show you where to fish, how to fish and
what bait to use.
But what is a fisherman? What does it mean? As a fisherman you will do three things. The first is you feed the fish. When I go fishing at a lake or river or even deep sea fishing I lose a lot of bait. I put a worm on my hook, drop it in the water, and most of the time I just drown the
worm but sometimes the fish start to nibble. They tug at the bait making me think
I have a bite but all they do is steal my worms. I am feeding the fish but not
catching any. It’s like that in evangelism – talking to others about
Jesus. When you talk to them about Jesus and what He has done for you, you are
feeding the fish – planting a seed. Even if they don’t seem like
they are listening you are still feeding the fish.
When I took my little Alex fishing the first
time earlier this year he caught his very first fish and got so excited. He was
so excited that he had to pet that fish. He couldn’t wait to do fish again
and he kept on catching fish that day. It didn’t matter what the size of
the fish was or the type he just had fun catching the fish. He has now caught
the fishing bug and has his very own fishing pole. We as Christians will catch the fish when, every once in a while just like the ‘whopper’ that I caught in Florida with my son Chris, you are privileged to be present when a
person gives their life to Christ.
But just like fisherman who make their livelihood
from fishing or even fish for pleasure there are some points to consider. The
first point is that fishing can be dull sometimes.
If you don’t know where the best fishing
spots are or have the elaborate fish finders that are on the market sometimes you will just be sitting there and not get a
bite or a nibble. I usually call that time drowning worms because that’s
all I am doing. My worm is in the water but there is nothing there to take it. And that can be boring as all get out. We
need to know where the fishing spots are in our evangelism. We need to be out
were the people are. We need to get out of our comfort zone and talk to others
about our faith and what Jesus has done for us. We don’t evangelize on
Sunday morning in Sunday school or at worship because that’s normally where you find Christians already. Yes there are some who have not yet made the step of faith yet but the majority has and in Sunday school
class we come to learn more about how to walk and at the worship service we lift our praise to God. Where we need to be is where the fish are and that outside our houses and outside of our church doors. The best fishing spots are out in our community, at work, at school, even standing
in line at the grocery store. And sometimes the best bait is just a kind word
or even saying “have a blessed day” as you leave.
In the Scripture we read we saw that Simon and
Andrew were fishing together. They were working together to share the load and
hopefully bring in a good catch. We as Christian also need to work together to
spread the Good News about Jesus. It’s comforting to have someone along
when you are out witnessing because you can draw on them for strength and support and they in turn can provide additional
insight and knowledge in your witness.
Being a good fisherman requires skill. You need practice, know the equipment and which type of hooks, bait or lures to use and when to use them. It’s the same when you fish for men. Christian
fishermen need to know the word, they need practice and they need to know what to say and when to say it. And where do we get this type of training and experience? Right
here in from other Christians in classes offered in church. You learn more about
the God and His plan of salvation by reading the Bible. You get experience by
just doing it. Remember that you are not going to catch a fish every time. Sometimes all you do is just feed the fish.
Now probably the most important part of becoming
a fisherman for Jesus is that it requires faith. When a person grabs a fishing
pole and heads out to the lake, pond or river to go fishing, he cannot see the fish or know where they are. He just naturally takes it on faith that the fish are there under the water just waiting to be caught. And we need faith that Jesus is going to be there to support us when we go fishing
for men. We need to have faith that the Holy Spirit will teach us what to say
and when to say it. So just where do we get that faith. Where does it come from? Romans 10:17 says, “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ”. Faith comes from hearing the message.
What is the message? We find the summed up in John 3:16, For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but
have eternal life”. God knew that there was no way we could be
righteous enough to enter heaven so He sent Jesus to pay the penalty for our sins so we would not have to. Through the sacrifice of Christ we can now enter into the gates of paradise and be counted as children
of God. That’s the message and we hear of this message through the word
of Christ the Bible.
Most of us already have a profession. Some even have more than one and some have already retired for their profession. But Christ is calling us to a new profession. One in which
many Christians don’t participate or even feel called to but called we are. Just
as Simeon and Peter were called we are called. We need to be fishermen for Christ. We have heard the call of Jesus and now it’s time to follow and become His fishermen. Don’t just sit back in your comfortable surrounding and drown worms. Get out to where the fish are because drowning worms is not a good thing to do (and the worms really don’t
care too much for it either).