Gone Fishing

Many years ago I was reading through the Gospel of Matthew when the Lord spoke very clearly to me. In Matthew 4:19 Jesus said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” After I read that verse the Spirit said: “If you are not fishing, you are not following!” I thought, “How true. If we are not sharing Jesus with others and being a witness for Him where we live, work, and play then we are truly not following Him. We may think we are okay and still walking closely with Him. However, we are simply deceiving ourselves.” I still believe that.

When I reached the end of the Gospel of Matthew I again heard the voice the Spirit. I had just read, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20) God spoke and told me that I didn’t believe those words. After a brief argument trying to convince Him that I did believe His Word I stopped and listened. He said, “You don’t believe those words because, if you did, you would have a passport. Without a passport you cannot go into all the world.” I applied for and received my first passport. Within two weeks I was in Ukraine ministering the Gospel of the Kingdom.

You see, the purpose of the Church is not to meet your needs or heal all your hurts and woundedness. The purpose of the Church is to fulfill the Great Commission. To do that we need to be ‘fishing for men’ and telling them the Good News that Jesus saves. Jesus came “to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). We, His followers and disciples, are to complete that task that He started. We are called to go into all the world and fish for men. It is not an option, it is a command. It is not for special, anointed people. It is a command for every believer to obey. 

Again, as I read the Gospel of Matthew many years later God asked me two questions. Question one: “What business are we in?” I gave Him many answers – caring for the sheep, feeding the sheep, healing the sheep, teaching the sheep… But I knew none of them were the right answer. So, I asked Him, “What business are we in?” And He answered, “seeking and saving the lost!” I knew that but I had become so busy with the sheep I had in the local church I pastored that I was no longer taking the time to share the Gospel with the lost. 

The second question He asked me was, “How’s business?” And my truthful answer was, “It sucks!” Because people were not hearing the good news and people were not coming into the Kingdom. We had been “successful” and had grown a good sized church but had lost the passion of “seeking and saving the lost.” It had been a slow slide away from following Jesus and fishing – but the drifting had taken us a long way from where we had started (Hebrews 2:1).

That day I told the Lord that if He ever asked me that question again the answer would be different. And, since that day I intentionally look for opportunities to share the Gospel of the Kingdom. Being a witness does not happen by accident. It is always something we need to plan for, take time to do, look for open doors as we go through our daily activities. So, I schedule my day with ample time to say “yes” to opportunities as they arise. I live life aware of the urgency to share God’s love with those who do not know Him. Where they will spend their eternity is in play here. 

So, I have made many changes over the years to return to the purpose of the Church and the call upon every true believer. And, as we enter a new season in the physical it is a good time to think, once again, about what is occupying my time and my focus … and make more room in my day to be a witness to the resurrection and a disciple-maker. That is always the emphasis in the Kingdom and the call of the King on all of our lives. 

Been fishing lately?

It’s a New Season

In my nation it is the day before the children go back to school for the fall season. Summer is winding down and the weather feels like fall. The flowers are starting to show signs of the coming winter. The trees are slowly turning colours telling us that fall is here and winter is not far behind. As we change seasons – activities change as we wind down weekends away and begin to become involved in preparing gardens for the coming snow. Children will become involved in after school sports. A new season brings many changes in our social structure, our activities, and family life.

As the seasons change in the natural there are numerous changes in activities and events and the way we spend our time. It is the same in the church. As September begins there are many changes that churches go through – new activities, new programs, ‘back to church’ events to welcome those who have been missing most of the summer and those who have recently moved into the community. Churches go all out to regain the momentum that was lost during the summer break. It is a time for fresh initiatives and new hope. 

The Kingdom of God also goes through seasons. And, it appears that God takes advantage of the changes in the natural seasons to highlight changes in His Kingdom. So, as we move into fall we can sense a shifting in the spiritual realm – the Kingdom realm. We don’t need to guess what these changes are and the effect He is wanting these adjustments to make in the life of the believer and the life of the Church. God is not hiding what He is doing. In fact, He speaks loudly about the changes through His apostles and prophets.

In the Old Testament times He always spoke of changes that were going to happen through His prophets. Amos 3:7 states, “For the Lord God does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets.” In the New Testament – the Church age – God speaks about the changes through His apostles and prophets. 

Ephesians 2:20 “(The Church) built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone…”

Ephesians 4:11-12 “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ…”

1 Corinthians 12:28 “And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues…”

These changes should translate into adjustments in the way we “do church.” These changes should bring about adjustments to our church programs and activities. However, that is often not the case. I see two clear reasons why this is often the case. 

First, the local church does not believe in the present-day ministry of the apostle and prophet. Thus, they do not receive the revelation of the new season and the adjustments that are needed. They do not even recognize that we are entering a new season. So, for them, it is business as usual. 

Secondly, some churches become aware of the changing seasons and simply don’t respond. They feel safe, secure, and comfortable with things as they are. They are literally not interested in changing as change can be messy. People may leave. Adjustments will need to be made to our priorities and out schedules. So, they don’t welcome or receive what the Holy Spirit is now saying to the Church. 

In both cases God does not force Himself and the changes in His Kingdom upon these local churches. However, He also does not cancel His plans and the new season He is bringing upon His Church. He simply moves forward without these churches who don’t respond. Maybe they will join what He is doing later but, in my experience, that is not likely. He still loves them but He is moving forward with His plans and His purposes with or without them. 

The new season will arrive and changes in the Kingdom will happen. He will give everyone who calls on His Name the opportunity to hear about the changes and to respond. But, He does not force His will on anyone. We need to choose to respond if we want to continue walking in His perfect will for the Church (Romans 12:2) and be part of what He is currently doing through His Kingdom upon the earth.