Tuesday August 4, 2020
Fishing For People
1 One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. 2 He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. 3 He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.
4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”
5 Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
6 When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7 So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.
8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” 9 For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.
Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.
As the fog of pandemic continues, our vulnerability to wander and lose sight of our purpose increases. Lost in the restrictions of all we can’t do, is the persistent message of the gospel that never changes and sets the faithful aside for ministry regardless of circumstances. Keep the faith brothers and sisters. Never give up encouraging one another. Remember the hope you have. If you’ve stopped fishing, now is the time to cast out your nets…or, for my bass fishing friends, your Alabama Rigs. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV). In the chaos, fear, and discontent that marks so many lives, the truth of Jesus Christ is our firm foundation. Especially now, in the midst of fatigue and weariness, hear Jesus’ words again, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” We’re already in deep water my friends. Will you let down your nets for a catch?
In the fall of 2019, Francis Chan spoke to the student body of Azusa Pacific University where he shared his family’s recent decision to move to Southeast Asia. For those of you who might be unfamiliar with Chan, he’s the founding pastor and former teaching pastor of Cornerstone Community Church in Simi Valley, CA. He’s the author of the book Crazy Love among others. Hear him describe the inspiration for the decision to move away from the U.S:
“I feel like I’ve been fishing in the same pond my whole life and now there’s like thousands of other fishermen at the same pond, and our lines are getting tangled and everyone’s fighting over stupid things, and one guy tries some new lure and we go, ‘Oh, he caught a fish, let’s all try his method!’ And it just feels like, what are we all doing here?”
“What if I heard of a lake that’s like a five-mile hike away, and no one’s fishing it. And they’re saying, ‘Man, the fish are biting — just throw a hook in there and they’ll go for it!’ Man, I’ll make that five-mile hike if I love fishing,” Chan continued.
“What would keep me at that same pond? I’ll tell you what would keep me at the pond is I built a house on the pond, and all my friends have houses on the pond. And we don’t even fish that much, we just go out, and we hang out, and we talk, and we play, and I don’t want to leave my friends.”
Friends, I’m not suggesting you should consider God is calling you to global mission work unless you’ve sensed that he is. Chan’s description of the U.S. as a mission field is true in so many ways, but now COVID-19 has revealed more about the state of the church in America. The U.S. is quickly becoming a larger and deeper pond full of resistant fish with fewer men and women fishing. In fact, many fishermen are giving up the trade and becoming fish again.
Coming out of the pandemic, the church may be smaller but she’ll be stronger. To grow stronger, we must throw away our artificial lures and fish with live bait…the real thing. We are the fishermen and the bait. Our method and our message has to be clear and consistent. God won’t do through us what we haven’t allowed him to do in us. If we aren’t moving with the Holy Spirit and proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ and submitting our lives to His Lordship, then any program we try, new ministry we want to create, or highly produced worship service, will ultimately fail. Are you fishing? What are you using to fish with? Where is God calling you to fish for people? Is there someone specifically God has put on your heart to minister to?
Prayer for Today
Holy God, give clean hands and a pure heart. Smash our idols and direct our lives toward your Kingdom. We want to lift your name high above everything that competes for our allegiance. Help us remain faithful through this season. Lord, inspire us to share the beauty of your love with others. Give us success in our disciple making work. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
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