Reading: John 21:1-11
[a] Virtually every newspaper and magazine, has now got a section on astrology! They will tell you your fortune - they say - by the stars.
[b] Some of the individuals involved in this aspect of the supernatural, make no bones about it! They tell you straight, that they are witches, and other practitioners of the occult! The power they use is the devil’s power, and often people become enslaved in such things. It becomes a binding religion to them!
[c] Astrologers, are a part of the wider New Age Movement, which admits that evangelical Christianity, is a thorn in it’s flesh. Some of it's authors, have suggested that the earth needs ‘cleansed’ of Christians.
[d] But better than that, they believe it’s going to happen very soon! They tell us, that at the New Millennium, we entered the ‘Age of Aquarius’! Maybe you remember the song some years ago.
We are told that previously we were living in the ‘Age of Pisces’ which is of course the sign of the fish. During the persecution of the early Church, the fish was, as we know, the secret sign amongst believers, in order to recognise one another.
New Agers believe that as the bell of the New Millennium tolled, it was tolling the death of Christianity!
THEY COULDN'T BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH!!
WE AWAIT THE COMPLETION OF CHRISTIANITY, WITH THE RETURN OF CHRIST, AND THE RAPTURE INTO HEAVEN OF EVERY TRUE CHRISTIAN!
[a] Do you know any fishermen? We knew plenty when we lived in Peterhead, which was the biggest white fish port in Europe!
But I don’t particularly mean those who have earned their living on the boats! I rather mean the week-end fisherman; you know the one who’s always telling the story of the one that got away!
What a size it was - why if they’d actually caught it, they probably wouldn’t have taken it to the wife to cook, but rather to the taxidermist - had it stuffed and mounted on the wall!
[b] When we were on holiday in Ireland one year, we went to the small fishing village of Kilkeel, and went to the pier to see the boats unloading.
[c] My wife, along with our son Phillip and daughter Joy, took a walk along the pier, and a few minutes later, I saw this little party returning, having been given some of the day’s catch.
There they were in great difficulty trying to walk along holding on to these very very slippery fish - rather unsuccessfully I might add! It reminded me of something out of a Laurel and Hardy movie - and was just as funny!
[d] Many of us enjoy some fish for dinner or tea, and I suppose it is so common place, that many people are inclined to forget that it is a food that is still hunted, often in the face of great danger on the high seas, so that we may sit down and enjoy it on our table!
[a] I suppose in a sense it is a very pungent topic, due to the fact that in recent years, we have seen the horrendous harm that mankind’s contamination of the sea, is causing to the marine life!
[b] There are so many ways, in which mankind is destroying this planet which has been entrusted into our care!
Even some of the recent climatic changes, have been blamed, at least partially the removal of rain-forests by greedy business-men and the whole balance of nature has been upset!
[c] As these rain forests are destroyed throughout the world, there is an inability in the planets natural ability to cope, with increase in the level of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases which the industrialised world produces in such huge amounts, through burning fossil fuels, and fumes from vehicles!
[*] Add to this the heat rise in polar regions due to the ozone layer in the upper atmosphere being destroyed due to the build-up of gas used in the world’s aerosols - and you can see why certain scientists are becoming very alarmed indeed!
[e] As some countries, perhaps the best known, being Holland are at sea level or below it, already, it spells catastrophe in the not too distant future!
Some scientists believe that many recent hurricanes, were probably formed because of the extra carbon dioxide build-up in the atmosphere.
[f] When you think about it - what a mess man has made, and is making of this world!
[a] Now I spoke about ‘Fishy stories’ at the beginning! In our Bible reading, although fish might all have scales, surely, by the laws of nature, this one doesn’t weigh up!
[b] Thank God, that as He created the laws of nature; He is not at all limited or bound by them!
[c] All night they had toiled and caught nothing!
Jesus said, “Cast your net on the other side of the ship!”
[d] They obeyed, and caught such a draught of fish that their net just about broke with the weight!
[e] The FIRST TIME, they were working on THEIR OWN initiative, and according to their own plans!
ON the SECOND OCCASION, they were acting on the INSTRUCTIONS OF THE SAVIOUR!
[f] Surely that must tell us something important about our lives for God!
IF WE TRY AND DO IT OUR WAY, WE WILL FAIL!!
If we try to do ANYTHING in OUR OWN WAY instead of God’s way, then like the disciples - we WILL FAIL MISERABLY.
[h] Lets face the fact, THEY DIDN’T EVEN CATCH ONE FISH!! There are too many of us, who in the words of the song say, “I’ll do it MY WAY!” And bear the consequences of failure!
[*] If we allow the Lord to guide and direct our lives, then spiritual failure can be left behind.
[a] When Jesus called His disciples, He immediately gave them a vision of what He was calling them to!!
It was not simply a vague call to become religious, or start attending church at the Synagogue!
It was not simply a call to lead better lives!
It was not even simply a call to follow Him!
[b] The vision Jesus gives to His prospective disciples, is that they were to become FISHERS OF MEN!!
[*] During the first and second centuries, the symbol of Christianity was the fish. A present-day Christian decided that a fishhook would be the proper emblem for a soul-winner to use for winning people to Christ, so he had a little golden fishhook made to be worn on the lapel of his coat. When people asked him what it meant, he told them that he was a fisher of men. A little newsboy from whom he bought a paper one day said to him, "Mister, do you belong to a fishing club?" "Yes, I do," said the Christian, "and I think fishing is pretty nice, don't you?" "Oh yes," the little fellow replied, "Do you ever catch any big ones?" "I have caught 250 pounders," replied the man. "Go on!" said the lad in disbelief. "Yes," said the Christian, "I have caught a 250-pound fish." "Those sure are big," marvelled the boy. Then leaning over, the Christian said, "Sonny, to tell you the truth, I would rather catch small fish than big ones." He exclaimed. "No!" "Yes, about your size." The little boy looked down at himself as if he were thinking, "I am not so small." Then the Christian told him that he was a fisher of men, seeking to win souls, and that if he would believe on the Lord Jesus Christ he would be saved. The newsboy took him at his word and came to Christ. Here was a fisherman for Christ who used a gold fishhook on his lapel to catch souls with. You may have some other kind of hook. It makes no difference as long as you catch fish.
[c] No doubt you’ve seen the advert of a few years ago, aimed at those not paying their television licence, where all these people are fished out of the sea in a fishing net - with the warning, “We’re going to catch you!” The disciples were, if you like, to be fishermen, catching men in the fishing net of the kingdom of God!!
[d] Do you have that picture of yourself this morning?
Do you see your main object in life to be the winning of other lost souls into the Kingdom??
YOU MAY HAVE OBEYED THE CALL, BUT ARE YOU FULFILLING THE MISSION??
“FOLLOW ME AND I WILL MAKE YOU FISHERS OF MEN.”
[e] Jesus makes no bones about it (In fact you could say. this fish is well boned),
He is saying very bluntly that every Christian should be a soul winner!!
AND IN HIS STRENGTH - IN HIS ABILITY - UNDER HIS GUIDANCE - WE CAN BE!!
[*] There are those who mistakenly seem to think that winning souls is for the privileged few with that 'special gift'! NOTHING COULD BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH - "FOLLOW ME AND I WILL MAKE YOU FISHERS OF MEN!" That's what Jesus says to each of us! AND HE MEANS EVERY WORD!
A few years ago, many in one of our congregations, were greatly blessed and encouraged by one of our young people. Now although he was only 16 years old, he had a real burden for souls!
He looked forward every week to selling the War Cry in the pubs, because of the opportunity to witness. On one such week, he was seen leaning over a waste bin along with a distressed soul, praying with them! Every week, he didn’t need much encouragement to give his testimony, and tell of the opportunities in school, his part time work, and elsewhere, to tell people about Jesus. In fact, his enthusiasm, made many of the rest of us feel quilty!
He was a young man who had a mighty baptism in the Holy Spirit, and found that in God's power, he could do all the things necessary to win souls.
Even at such a young age, I felt confident in giving him the opportunity to preach at meetings for me.
He is now in the ministry, and has lost none of his zeal for the Lord, and burden for souls.
[f] Are we completely at the Lord's disposal for the REAPING, if you like, of the GREAT SPIRITUAL HARVEST OF THE SEA OF THIS WORLD!!
[a] Maybe we feel, inadequate and weak, and feel someone else could do it much better then us!
IT’S A LIE OF THE DEVIL! For God says He purposefully chooses the inadequate and weak things - then ALL OF THE ABILITY, AND THEREFORE ALL OF THE GLORY BELONGS TO GOD!
[b] After all, in our Bible reading, these experienced fishermen, who knew all there was to know about the lake, and the fish that lived there - and obviously used every possible technique in their repertoire - weren’t even successful a tiny bit!
IT WAS ONLY WHEN THEY DID WHAT JESUS TOLD THEM THAT THEY WERE SUCCESSFUL!!
[c] Speaking about inadequacy, what could be more inadequate to feed five thousand people than one little boys lunch - how utterly ridiculous!!!
YET JESUS TOOK THOSE TWO FISH AND FIVE ROLLS AND MULTIPLIED IT UNTIL FIVE THOUSAND MEN, PLUS ALL THE WOMEN AND CHILDREN WERE SATISFIED! Then they lifted TWELVE large baskets of leftovers!!
[d] Yet it couldn’t have happened at all, if that little lad had been unwilling to yield to the Saviour the little he had there in his lunch box!
[e] I wonder when he went home and told his parents that his lunch had fed 5000 people, did they think he was giving them one of those ‘tall fish stories’. Lets face it, if he was your son, would you have believed him??
[f] If you and I are willing to yield to the Lord, everything we have and everything we are, THERE IS NO LIMIT TO WHAT HE CAN DO WITH THAT COMMITMENT!!
[b] We’ve mentioned, how that so often we follow our own leading, instead of that of the Lord, and end up failing miserably like the disciple’s out fishing all night!
[c] The Lord has called us, to be fishers of men, to catch men, women, boys and girls from the sea of sin that engulfs this world, and sweep them into the kingdom of God!
[d] We cannot leave the work hoping someone else will do it because we feel inadequate, because, as we’ve said, it is not our own knowledge, or ability or expertise that matters, it is simply living close to God, so that we come to hear His leading for our lives!
[e] God can do ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING with you or me, if we simply, like the little boy with his lunch, give the Lord everything we've got!
[f] Perhaps, as we've listened to the message this morning, we feel that we've been holding back a lot from the Lord!
It could be, we feel that now is the time when we should be making that deeper commitment.
Sing Song in prayer, “I'll not turn back” (27 in Happiness & harmony)
Song 832 (TUNE 452)
Prayer Song no 579 in Songs of Fellowship
Song no 12 in Songs of Fellowship
COLLECTION & ANNOUNCEMENTS
Song no 658 in Songs of Fellowship
Chorus "Lord use me, here am I use me"
BIBLE READING John 21:1-11
Song no 27 in Happiness & Harmony
Song 952 (TUNE 354)