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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
With much technological advancement has come the feeling that we can conquer anything we want and achieve any goals we set for ourselves. The truth is that achievement apart from God’s will is not going to bring the satisfaction that we desire. The Lord has given us boundary lines and a field for our lives, and if we desire to live a fulfilling and meaningful life, it’s important to discover God’s boundaries and the territory He has provided for us. …
One of the lies that people have come to believe is that they are not enough and that they need to use whatever means necessary to change themselves. The humanistic philosophies have not helped this mindset as they continue to propagate that man can do life without God and that he has the power to define or re-define himself whichever way he desires. …
At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:1-4
As I shared in the last devotional, the spiritual conversion begins by becoming born again and accepting Jesus as our Savior and Lord. Jesus told his disciples that they need to become as little children. This is a conversion of our souls and how we operate in life. As our spirit man grows and we subject our minds, emotions, wills, and bodies to the leading of Holy Spirit, our soul is converted and becomes less complicated.
For years, we developed habits that benefited us in getting our way and in protecting us from pain/harm. It is not easy to let go of those habits. Becoming child like is a difficult process for many. Letting go of taking care of “number one” is hard and feels like foolishness to the carnal man! Our tendency is to question things, think critically, and be goal oriented. It requires much faith and self-denial to surrender those habits at the cross!
Jesus stated that the conversion will bring out a child like spirit. A child like person operates completely opposite of the carnal man. A child is trusting and does not ask questions about the future. They are not into analyzing facts and figures. They are not agenda-driven and don’t make long-term plans. Children are present focused and ask questions out of the wonder and curiosity of learning about their environment not out of suspicious or distrust.
This is a reminder of my family and our road trips together. There was a great likelihood that my son would fall asleep on the road trips regardless of the length of the trip. This is always a picture of a child like faith to me. He was comfortable and confident of his father’s driving and his sense of direction. He had no need to question it or wonder when we were going to get to our destination. So he was able to rest and enjoy the ride until we got there. What a blessing it would be if we could do that with the Lord on our journey of life!
Our carnal soul is in continual enmity in having faith in God! Those who think are smart, crave information! We cannot rest until we have all the details, so we can evaluate things for ourselves. We have this insatiable desire to lean on our own understanding. That may make us feel good, but we are blocking faith by trying to see how things will work out. Our emotions is another aspect of our soul that has to come under the control of the Holy Spirit. We get impatient and frustrated when we are not getting our way, but who says that our way is the right way!? For some, their will is compelled to action, even though they don’t know what they need to be doing. So they run restlessly trying to make something happen. The truth is that being yielded to the Holy Spirit will save us so much time and anxiety, and it will help us with our relationships with others as well.
For a period of time, Adam and Eve had child like faith and were able to walk with God without questioning Him or doubting Him. This was a state of bliss. God had told them not to touch the tree of good and evil, and they did not question God’s motives. However, the serpent planted a new thought in their minds about God’s motives, and he questioned God’s integrity. When they came into agreement with those thoughts, they opened themselves up to the world of suspicion, distrust, and analysis.
Jesus knew that walking by faith will not make sense to our carnal minds. If we were to analyze it, it could lead to stress, unbelief, and anxiety, and we would not be able to maintain peace and joy in our hearts. The only way we can walk successfully with the Lord is to remain child like. We need to be converted in our spirit and soul. Jesus told His disciples that these kinds of people are the greatest in the Kingdom of God!
Do you have child like faith? Are you more child like in your faith today than you were five years ago? Ask the Lord to show you how to develop a child like faith. It’s helpful to be in relationship with those who have child like faith and to learn how they walk with God. This kind of faith will bring peace and joy in your heart, and it will take you on your journey lighter and more dependent on Him!