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Friday, February 15, 2008

Let's Go Fishing!

Two teams of fishing brothers—Simon Peter and Andrew, James and John—had worked hard all night on the Sea of Galilee, but the results were terrible. They had caught nothing. So they decided to hang it up. They were washing their nets when Jesus came along with a crowd behind Him Luke 5:2).

Jesus borrowed Simon’s boat so He could teach the crowd from a place near the shore (v. 3). The aquatic amphitheater would offer good acoustics and keep the crowd at a safe distance.

When He ended the sermon, Jesus instructed Simon to launch out into the deep and let down his nets for a catch (v. 4). Simon objected at first, stating that he and his fishing partners had toiled all night without catching a single fish, but obligingly he followed Jesus’ instructions (v. 5).

Good thing he did! Fish swarmed into the net, so much so that it strained almost to the point of snapping (v. 6). So Simon and Andrew signaled to James and John for help. Soon the men had filled both boats with so many fish the boats began to sink (v. 7).

The miracle caused Simon Peter to fall down at Jesus’ knees and confess his sinfulness. His sense of guilt prompted him to ask Jesus to depart from him (v. 8). Anyone conscious of his or her sinfulness feels uneasy in the presence of Deity. But Jesus came to Earth not to remain aloof from sinners but to draw them to Himself.

Jesus alleviated Simon’s fear and changed his vocation. From that point on, Simon would fish for souls (v. 10).
That day the four fishermen forsook everything and followed Jesus (v. 11).

Here are a few principles I fished from this event.

(1) Simon and Andrew and their partners were experienced, professional fishermen, whereas Jesus was a carpenter. Nevertheless, Jesus knew where the fish were. Even the training we receive in seminaries, seminars, and conferences does not guarantee spiritual results. We may toil to the point of exhaustion to attract men and women to Christ but do so in vain, and we may be as discouraged as the four Galilean fishermen were. We need to follow Jesus’ instructions. He knows where the “fish” are and how to catch them.

(2) Simon urged Jesus to depart from him, but Jesus wanted Simon to accompany Him as His disciple. The Lord enters into fellowship with sinful people and gives them the privilege of serving Him. We Christians are forgiven sinners, but we are still sinners. Do we understand and appreciate the privilege the Lord has given us to spend time with Him and to serve Him?

(3) The Lord doesn’t expect us to act as lone rangers in His service. He has provided help. James and John helped Simon and Andrew get the fish into the boats, and there are more than enough believers in our churches to seize the opportunities He gives us to draw men and women to Him. The task of winning the lost to Him is every believer’s task.

(4) The four fishermen walked away from a lucrative opportunity to follow Jesus. The incredibly large catch of fish would have led to enormous sales, but Simon, Andrew, James, and John left all that behind to pursue a path that would lead to eternal rewards. Daniel 12:3 promises that those who turn many to righteousness will shine like stars forever and ever.

The Lord may not call you into full-time vocational ministry, but He does want you to follow His leading full time wherever He has placed you. He can take the toil out of accounting, teaching, farming, selling, nursing, plumbing, or whatever you do, and give you joy and productivity in all your endeavors—if you follow Him.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Click on Amen

I corresponded with two of my writing students this morning. One lives in Chile; the other lives in England. After reviewing each student’s lesson and commenting on it, I attached it to my e-mail message, clicked on Send, and away it went. Almost instantly the attachments reached Chile and England.

Do we appreciate how quickly our prayers reach heaven? We don’t even need an Internet provider to convey our praise, requests, concerns, and intercessions to our heavenly Father. He promised, “Call to Me, and I will answer you” (Jer. 33:3). Maybe we should think of Amen as a Send option and contemplate what might happen if we prayed as often as we send e-mail messages?

I hope you have a prayerful day today.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Beyond Space

We achieved another successful space shuttle launch the other day. I say “we” because our taxes made it possible. But all is not well onboard. One of the astronauts is sick. So another astronaut had to perform a space walk in his place.

I have heard sick people complain about being under the weather, but astronauts are far above the weather when they orbit Earth. So what does a sick astronaut say? “I’m feeling above the weather”?

We can’t avoid sickness in this life, not even if we travel into space. But someday we will live beyond space. Thanks to God’s saving grace based on Jesus’ redemptive blood, we believers will live in Heaven, where we will never experience sickness, pain, sadness, or death (Rev. 21:4).

Some friends my age are battling pain today. A sense of their mortality seems to be settling into their thoughts, but God may be pleased to restore them to good health. Ultimately, though, all of us Christians will exchange our mortality for immortality. Far beyond space, we will have no further need of pain pills, eye drops, muscle ointments, crutches, walkers, braces, chemo, blood pressure pills, cholesterol reducers, aspirin, blood thinners, or snake oil. And we won’t have to find a substitute for our walk on the streets of gold.

“Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”