Thursday, May 3, 2012

Fishers of Men - the 419 series

The Miraculous Draught of Fishes, Jacopo Bassano, 1545
For all who are called to follow Jesus and become fishers of men, these are words of encouragement and strength. It’s a series of 4:19 verses from the Bible that I call the 419 series or "FM419" (Fishers of Men 4:19).

People Living in Darkness
The way of the wicked is like darkness; They do not know over what they stumble. (Pro 4:19)

The Lord loves those wicked people living in darkness and does not want them to perish. 

Becoming Fishers of Men
He calls His disciples to follow Him.  And all who obey the call, He will make fishers of men.  And He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." (Mat 4:19)

Unfruitful Hearers
"And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word, but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. (Mar 4:18-19)

The fishers of men cast the gospel net to bring men into the kingdom of God.  But they are also sowers who sow seeds.  Yet sometimes those seeds are sown among thorns, and those who hear the Word are unfruitful.  They allow the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word. 

Labor Until Christ is Formed
The fishers of men labor to see Christ formed in those who come to Him.  But often they do not continue to grow in the Lord.  They sometimes fall backward. This is what happened to the Galatians.  After they came to Christ by grace through faith, preachers led them astray.  These preachers told them they would not be justified by God, unless they did the works of the Law.  Paul wrote to the Galatians, “My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you.” (Gal 4:19).  He felt that he must labor once again for them like little children until Christ was formed in them. 

If you’re a fisher of men and those you care for have gone backwards, don’t give up on them or become discouraged.  Continue to labor to see Christ formed in them. 

The Time of the Lord’s Favor
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord." (Luk 4:18-19)

Now is the day of salvation.  Now is the acceptable time to come to Christ.  Later will come the day of vengeance of our God, but now is the time of God’s favor.  The Spirit of the Lord was upon Jesus and anointed Him to preach the gospel to the poor, release captives, give sight to the blind, and set the oppressed free.  His disciples are to walk as Jesus did, and do even greater things.  We must work while it is yet day, for the night comes when no man can work.

Prophetic Evangelism
When Jesus was speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well, He asked her to go call her husband. When she said she had no husband, He validated her answer and said that she had previously had five husbands. The woman said to Him, "Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. (Joh 4:19)

In sharing the gospel with people, we need the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit upon us.  We need the gifts of the Spirit in operation, so that we can demonstrate the power of the Spirit, confirming our message.  Just as Jesus told this woman everything she had ever done, the Spirit of Prophecy wants to be powerfully involved in our evangelism.

Obey God Rather Than Men
But Peter and John answered and said to them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; (Act 4:19)

Peter and John had been preaching, “there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved." (Act 4:12).  And the religious leaders of their city tried to stop them.  They were told to preach no more in Jesus name. 

The enemy hates it when we preach the message of salvation only in Jesus name.  He will try to stop us, and even use religious leaders to do so.  But we cannot fear men.  We must obey God rather than men, just as the apostles did.

Without Being Weakened in Faith
God had promised Abraham that He would become the father of many nations, and that his descendants would outnumber the sands of the seashore.  Even though Abraham was elderly and his body was as good as dead with respect to having children, his faith was not weakened. 

“Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah's womb;” (Rom 4:19)

In hope against hope he believed.  With respect to God’s promise to him, he did not waiver in unbelief.  Rather he grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, being fully assured that God was able to perform what He promised.

The fishers of men, who are following Jesus, also desire to have many spiritual children.  And this is the promise of God to them.  They are children of Abraham by faith and the same promise given to him applies to them also.  They are called to do greater works than Jesus Himself (Jn 14:12).

Fishers of men are often met with what seem to be little results.  They sow seeds but do not see the harvest.  Very few accept their message.  Yet they mustn’t waiver in unbelief.  They must not despise the day of small things.  Instead they need to give glory to God with their mouths, as well as their actions, and believe that God is able to perform what He promised.

Power of God
Paul told the Corinthians, “But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I shall find out, not the words of those who are arrogant but their power. For the kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power.” (1Co 4:19-20).

After Paul had laid a foundation in Corinth, other men came along, who were critical of Paul.  They were polished speakers and criticized Paul.  They won the hearts of people and drew a following among the Corinthians.  But Paul said that he would come and find out what power these arrogant preachers really had.  He knew that the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. 

There will be arrogant talkers today who criticize the fishers of men, but have no power to back up their talk.  We mustn’t allow them to discourage us.  The fishers of men today must not simply be talkers, but demonstrate the power of the Spirit.

Divine Provision
Another obstacle to the work of the gospel is provision.  The fishers of men have needs and so do their families.  They need to trust God every day to supply all their needs.  The promise of God to them is this: “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Phi 4:19)

The Father is rich, and He is able to supply all our needs as we go about spreading the gospel. 

Entrust Your Soul to a Faithful Creator
The work of the gospel is not easy.  There are many trials and hardships.  Peter knew this first hand.  When we suffer for the sake of the gospel, that’s the will of God.  “Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.” (1Pe 4:19).  Don’t quit, but commit your soul to God and keep fishing for men.  Keep sowing seeds, and making disciples.

Our Reason for Loving
“We love, because He first loved us.” (1Jo 4:19).  Jesus loved us while we were yet sinners.  He laid down His life for us.  And all those who follow Him should love others with that same kind of love.  We love others, including lost sinners, because He first loved us. This is always the heart of why we fish for men.

I hope that this "FM419" series has been an encouragement to you in your labor for the Lord.  Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. (1Co 15:58)

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Photograph of painting in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, USA by Alexander R. Pruss. The Miraculous Draught of Fishes, Jacopo Bassano, 1545

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, I recommend Give Me Children or I'll Die!Rescue Souls!, and Here I Am, Send Me. You are invited to visit the Home page of this blog, and also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."  

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.

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