Called to be Fishermen of Men (Part IV)

As I was researching how fishermen fish, I came across an article that stated several factors in choosing the right kind of bait for fishing. Some of those factors are water temperature, water clarity, fish activity levels, and light levels. Interestingly, those factors have spiritual parallels to catching “spiritual” fish.

And as He walked by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.  Then Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” They immediately left their nets and followed Him. When He had gone a little farther from there, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the boat mending their nets. And immediately He called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went after Him. Mark 1:16-20

Jesus called His disciples to become fishermen of men. To be a good fisherman, one needs to determine the right conditions and discern what is required to catch fish successfully. Water temperature, water clarity, fish activity levels, and light levels have spiritual parallels to when someone is ready to come to Jesus.

Water Temperature

Just as water temperature could be a determining factor in using the right bait for catching fish, we also need to be discerning of someone’s spiritual temperature. If a person is cold and distant, there is no need to push ourselves on them. We can be kind and cordial until such a time that they want to get closer. On the other hand, someone who is warm and interested in spiritual things is going to be like a sponge. They are hungry, and thirsty for truth and have questions. We need to nurture those people and help them find answers to their questions.

Water Clarity

Sometimes we don’t have clarity as to where someone is spiritually, so we need to be careful not to make assumptions about them.  Just because someone is agreeable, it does not mean they are ready. Also just because someone is argumentative, it does not mean that they are being rebellious and resistant to spiritual things.  Stereotypes could turn people away from us and make them feel judged.

Activity Level

If individuals live a very busy life, they may seem interested, but they may not be ready. We can’t chase people around and hope that we can get a few minutes of their time. We do our part in remaining constant and consistent, and when the person is ready to slow down to work on issues, we can make ourselves available to them. Sometimes, people slow down only when they are in pain, and as soon as their pain dissipates they go back to their old pattern. Hopefully, we can help them see that changes to their lifestyle and busyness will be necessary if they want to get to know the Lord and grow in God.

Light Level

People need to be willing to come to the light of Jesus if they desire change. They can’t stay in the shadows or desire to remain in sin and still want to walk with Jesus. Jesus will give a clean slate for those who are willing to come to His light and accept His forgiveness for their sins. For without repentance there is no remission of sins. Salvation is a gift, but sanctification will cost them something. We can’t lure them into the Kingdom by making it look so easy or have them be disillusioned about the cost of Lordship.

The Fish Need to be Cleansed

When we have the privilege of seeing people come to Jesus, then the hard work of discipleship begins. There is much cleansing and sanctification that is in store for them. This will require us to roll up our sleeves and patiently help those who want to grow in Jesus.

We have many orphan Christians out there who may have accepted Jesus at one point in their lives, but they need to be discipled. We can’t catch the fish and then complain that they smell bad and stay away from them. We need to develop a fatherly and motherly love for people, so we can willingly help them. If they allow us to walk alongside them, we need to help them grow up in God and become mature children of God.

Being fishermen of men requires faith, patience, consistency, and discernment. All the characteristics I have shared in the last four devotionals can be developed by any of us. They are not just reserved for a chosen few or those with special gifting and talents in these areas.

Lord we pray and ask that you would  develop us as skilled fishermen, so we can be effective in evangelism. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Called to be Fishermen of Men (Part III)

Fishermen understand that to be successful in fishing, they need different kinds of baits depending on the type of fish they are trying to catch.  Similarly, when we try to reach people for Jesus we need to be sensitive to people’s needs and not assume that every person can be reached the same way. The Apostle Paul said that he became all things to all people, so they can be saved (See 1Corinthians 9:22b). …

False Security (Part I)

John the Baptist came on the scene declaring that the Kingdom of God was near. He preached a message of repentance and baptized those who confessed their sins. However, he had a different towards the Pharisees and Sadducees. He called them brood of vipers! He saw them as individuals who had false security in their state of spirituality! They should have been showing evidence of repentance by the fruit they produced rather than relying on their status or family history. It is easy to develop false security based on external factors but not have a close relationship with the Lord.  …

God’s Rest and Work (Part IV)

Moses told the people of God that the Lord had rest for them in the Promised Land but that they had to fight their enemies before they could enjoy the rest He promised them. Similarly, we have spiritual enemies that we need to fight against before we can truly experience the rest God has for us.

These are the statutes and judgments which you shall be careful to observe in the land which the Lord God of your fathers is giving you to possess, all the days that you live on the earth.  You shall utterly destroy all the places where the nations which you shall dispossess served their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree.  And you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and burn their wooden images with fire; you shall cut down the carved images of their gods and destroy their names from that place.  You shall not worship the Lord your God with such things. Deuteronomy 12:1-4

“You shall not at all do as we are doing here today—every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes— for as yet you have not come to the rest and the inheritance which the Lord your God is giving you. But when you cross over the Jordan and dwell in the land which the Lord your God is giving you to inherit, and He gives you rest from all your enemies round about, so that you dwell in safety…Deuteronomy 12:8-10

The Israelites had been through a long journey in the wilderness due to unbelief and disobedience. God had brought them out of Egypt to bring them into the rest He had for them in the Promised Land. However, they had work to do before they could enjoy this rest. They had to fight their enemies and dispose of false gods that their enemies worshipped.

Many of us come to salvation but still carry old mindsets, bad habits, and false identities that we need to deal with. Those old mindsets don’t automatically go away after salvation, but they require our effort to dispossess them and break down the strongholds that we have erected.

For example, some have learned to protect themselves by holding on to grudges and not allowing people to get close to them. As a believer, if we carry bitterness and forgiveness in our lives, we cannot experience the rest of God. The Lord’s Prayer teaches us that we are expected to forgive others regularly if we want the mercies and the forgiveness of God in our lives. The rest of God cannot enter a heart that does not let go of bitterness and unforgiveness.

Some of us have a tendency to get negative when things that don’t go our way. The truth is before complaining starts, we must have entertained negative thoughts and emotions. If we desire to experience the rest of God, we need to learn to hold every thought captive to the obedience of Christ and dispossess negativity and complaining that is part of the old nature. Instead, we are called to give thanks to the Lord. We fight negativity in our lives and learn to be content, which allows us to remain in the rest of God.

Furthermore, the above passage shows us that the rest of God and His inheritance are intertwined. If we truly want to experience all that God has promised us in His word, it will begin with entering His rest. For example, the fruit of the spirit is every believer’s inheritance, but it requires our cooperation with God, and it also needs His rest in our lives. Just as in nature, it takes time and patience to see good and tasty fruit developed,  we cannot develop the fruit of the spirit by striving. We partner with the Lord in our growth, but, at the same time, we rest in God and are being patient with the process of growth.

Sometimes we look for Promised Land as if a particular location, job, relationship, or church can change everything for us. While in some cases that may be true, in many cases, it is more about the internal work we need to do to be at rest in God while at the same time fighting the spiritual enemies that want to steal our peace and identity amid the Promised Land that God has given us.

Do you have a healthy balance where you can rest in the Lord and at the same time are intentional in fighting your spiritual enemies and allowing God to grow you and use you?

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God’s Rest and Work (Part III)

Salvation and being born-again opens the door to the rest of God. When we accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord, our spirit man comes alive, and we come to a place of rest in God. However, as we begin to walk with God, the circumstances of life can push us to lose our peace and rest. The good news is that Jesus provided a solution for maintaining our peace and rest in life. He told us that we can be yoked with Him. …

God’s Rest and Work (Part I)

God’s rest and work go hand-in-hand. It all begins with the Lord inviting us to enter His rest. As the Lord grows us, He shows us the good works He has for us. The good works bring life and fruitfulness when they’re done God’s way and in His time! On the other hand, when the works are done in our way or our timing, they produce dead works and create issues.

Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Genesis 2:15-17

And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. Genesis 2:21-22

The Lord created the heavens and the earth and placed Adam in a garden with plenty of food for him to enjoy. Up to this point, Adam did not have to toil or work, but the Lord made everything that he needed available to him. Furthermore, God knew that Adam needed a helpmate, so while Adam was sleeping, the Lord provided a wife for him. Adam didn’t have to search for her or beg God, but God provided what Adam needed.

The Lord gave Adam and Eve the responsibility of manning the garden and becoming fruitful. Then God rested on the seventh day (See Genesis 1:28-31). Adam and Eve had the opportunity to live in the rest of God and do the assigned work without toil or struggle.

The rest of God was present in the life of Adam and Eve and the garden, but there was also the presence of freedom and choice. Adam & Eve could have chosen to live in the rest of God and continue to follow God’s mandate in subduing the earth and multiplying. However, once they decided to use their freedom to disobey God, their eyes opened to the evil of insecurity and inferiority, and subsequently, God’s consequences began to play out in their lives.

The garden was the place where the rest of God and our freedom were supposed to coexist. Adam and Eve had plenty of trees to choose from and to enjoy. However, because of man’s disobedience to God’s boundaries, the rest of God collided with their freedom, hence, the separation of man from God. In effect, the Lord was telling them that the day they partake of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they have chosen to be their own God, and He was not going to be part of it.

Whenever we choose the knowledge of good and evil, we choose unrest, anxiety, and stress, which are the opposite of the fruit of the spirit. This in turn causes people to try to control others and/or their circumstances to alleviate their stress by doing a lot of dead works and walking in carnality.

The truth is that once we open the door to the knowledge of good and evil, we become confused with all the messages we receive. The devil is the father of lies and knows how to deceive people. Good and evil coexist, and many times people are incapable of differentiating between them appropriately, which leads to confusion and division in relationships and society as a whole.

The effect of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is present all around us. We have opened doors that should have never been opened. We have permitted vises in our lives that the Lord never sanctioned. We have exposed ourselves to too much evil in what we watch and/or listen to and wonder why we are so angry, frustrated, and suspicious. Some have questioned the authenticity of the Bible and as a result, they have lost their footing in a very confusing world. Others have tried to counsel people out of sin rather than communicating to them the importance of repentance. When evil is committed by someone we love, some of us justify our actions as if God’s precepts don’t apply to our special people. Some people have been considered unclean because they did not meet the religious standards of a chosen few and did not follow their preferences. All of this evil masquerades as “good” creating unrest, confusion, and frustration leading people to dead works to clean up the messes created.

How do we rest in God and do the good works the Lord has for us!? I will share this in the next devotional.