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Perhaps you are one of those zealous Christians (like myself) that wants to see the world realize that Jesus is the door that opens to eternal life with God. You hand out tracts, preach through your letters, talk to people about God, but you see very few results. You try to love others, your faithful to church, you love your enemies, and do good to those that hate you, and pray for people every day. You have forgiven every one who has done something against you, you stay away from evil, you read your Bible every day, but the world does not seem to care about what you say. They do not want to hear it!
Jesus taught us how to “fish for men” and be successful. Now, this does not mean that everyone will listen to you. Noah preached for many years and the only people who listened were his family.
1 Peter 3:20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.
2 Peter 2:5 And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;
Isaiah preached and the Israelites did not like it because he was preaching of God’s judgment. They wanted to hear good prophecies and not bad prophecies. They did not want to hear that God would punish their wrongdoings.
9 That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD:
10 Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits:
11 Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us.
Some of the sins in Isaiah’s day were bribes, oppression, lies, and premeditated murder.
15 He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil;
16 He shall dwell on high: his place of defence shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure.
Jeremiah was also very unpopular when he preached.
8 Now it came to pass, when Jeremiah had made an end of speaking all that the LORD had commanded him to speak unto all the people, that the priests and the prophets and all the people took him, saying, Thou shalt surely die.
9 Why hast thou prophesied in the name of the LORD, saying, This house shall be like Shiloh, and this city shall be desolate without an inhabitant? And all the people were gathered against Jeremiah in the house of the LORD.
Some of the sins Jeremiah warned about were adultery, swearing, and crooked church leaders.
10 For the land is full of adulterers; for because of swearing the land mourneth; the pleasant places of the wilderness are dried up, and their course is evil, and their force is not right.
11 For both prophet and priest are profane; yea, in my house have I found their wickedness, saith the LORD.
Now we understand that not everyone will listen to us zealous Christians, but what about the Great Awakening. What about the apostles turning the world upside down when they preached the gospel. Is this not possible today?
Yes, it is possible if we do what God tells us to.
Simon Peter, James, and John were busy cleaning their nets. They loved to fish but were still discouraged because after fishing all night long, they had caught nothing. Through the hazy morning air merged an excited crowd of people approaching the fishermen’s two boats docked at the shore. These people were following Jesus.
1 And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret,
2 And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets.
3 And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship.
Jesus asks Peter to launch out and fish some more. Reluctantly, Peter agreed.
4 Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.
5 And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.
6 And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake.
7 And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink.
8 When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.
9 For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken:
The instructions now change from fishing for fish to fishing for men.
10 And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.
11 And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.
Jesus was not only teaching Simon, James, and John. He was teaching all Christians that if we wait for God’s instructions, God provides the blessing.
Jesus had to teach Martha this very same lesson. Martha was so worried about serving Jesus she would not stop to listen to what Jesus was saying.
38 Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.
39 And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.
40 But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.
41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:
42 But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
If we would like to be successful at fishing for men, we cannot try to reach people on our own without God telling us where to go, who to look for, and what to say. God knows the hearts of men; He knows what people are thinking. He knows where people are in need. Even if we are rejected like Noah, Isaiah, and Jeremiah, we know that God is doing His work which will be most effective. If we want to be successful in preaching, let God be the boss and tell us where to go and what to do!
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