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“One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”

Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”

When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.

When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.

Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.”

The Lord needs many kinds of workers and for many purposes. But there is a core of character which will be found in the more useful ones.

In spite of his weaknesses, the Apostle Peter had qualities that made him useful to Jesus in ministry. What did Jesus see in Peter that morning on the Sea of Galilee that persuaded Him to “sign on” the fisherman as a fisher of men?

As we read through the passage of Scripture above, we can clearly see the kind of workman Jesus can use to spread the Gospel.

First, He will use a working man. The men had worked all night long, working at their trade as fishermen. In spite of that, the catch was inadequate. They failed to attempt to go out further and let the nets down. But that was Jesus’ command to them. And, they were successful as Jesus said they would be.

At first, Peter balked at Jesus’ order, but when the catch was great where Jesus directed them to cast their nets, he fell to his knees, humbled by the presence of Jesus. And here, in verse 10 Jesus cautions Peter to not be afraid. At that, He called Peter not a fisher of fish, but to become a fisher of men.

Here is the lesson Jesus taught those He called to service: If a man cannot see work to be done in the world, he will not be able to see work to be done in the Kingdom of God.

There is a discouraging tendency for folks to feel that if one is “religious” he should not be expected to work. West Virginia Restoration preacher, Myron Taylor insisted that a preacher needs to work at his ministry. And, especially at his sermons, he said, “like a miner under a landslide.”

Secondly, Jesus can use an Orderly Workman. In Paul’s instruction to his young helper, Timothy, in 2 Timothy 2:15, he says, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”

James issues a similar warning about the teacher’s tricky tool – the tongue. See James 3:5 “…..the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts”; and in verse 6 “the tongue is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body.”

The story is told of a preacher, new at the church, who borrowed a paintbrush. After using the brush, he cleaned it and returned it in the same condition as it was when he borrowed it. The wife of the owner of the brush examined the brush and said, “You will pass. My husband said we would know a lot more about our preacher when the brush comes back.” The preacher was found to be an orderly workman.

The third kind of workman God can use is a Respectful Workman. The workman is never too busy to help another person in need of assistance.

The fishermen, though weary and discouraged by their unfruitful night of fishing, were still willing to lend their boat to Jesus’ presence.

Notice that much of Jesus’ ministry took place informally “as He passed by.” He sought out workers who could catch the opportunity of the moment to minister to those in need. The follower of Christ will give the “cup of cold water” to another because of Jesus and in His name.

Jesus also looked for workmen who knew and trusted in Him. These were workers who accepted the Lord’s authority. As we think about it Jesus’ instructions to the fishermen, we see experienced fisherman working their trade, and along comes this carpenter telling them how to fish”!!

But, they recognized that He was no ordinary carpenter. They saw that they had no choice but to do as He commanded them: “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.”

The fishermen would accept responsibility and each would do more than their share in obedience. This is evidenced in Peter’s reply to Jesus’ command to cast their nets out into the deep water, “…..because you say so, I will let down the nets.”

Show me a businessman who will take Jesus’ directions in the conduct of business and I’ll show you a workman who can be trusted to accept the Lord’s authority in the Church.

A fourth type of effective workman Jesus seeks out is the Meek Workman. Meekness is often mistaken for weakness, but that assumption is far from reality. A meek workman is one who is aware of his relationship with God. Peter acknowledged the power and the purity of Christ. He showed his appreciation for the miracle of provision. Confronted with what he saw in Jesus, Peter did not need anyone to accuse him of weakness and sin, but recognizing, knowing the power of God through Jesus Christ, said,” I am a sinful man.”

Then, Jesus is looking for workmen who are able to choose wisely. Jesus selected the best in preference to the good. Using Peter as the example here, he left an honorable and profitable calling when the Lord invited him to something better.

Masking wise choices is an ability sorely needed by all of us amid the multitude of opportunities, both profitable and destructive. It is vital that we ask not, “what is wrong with this opportunity”, but we should ask, “What is right with it?” Is this the best investment of my time and energy?

Finally, Jesus constantly seeks workers who are conscious of the now,.. that is, the urgency of the task.

The fishermen's immediate change in lifestyle and occupation probably seemed hasty to their friends and families, but consider these facts.

There was sufficient evidence there before them. The validity of the lord’s claim was established. Look at the boat! It is full of fish! This man is the authority. And so, there was nothing to be gained by delaying their decisive action. That same decisiveness would be required in their work. Consider the answers to those who would forbid them to preach as recorded in Acts 4:18-20: “Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

Paul refers to this urgency as he spoke to the church I Corinth – “Now is the time of God’s favor. Now is the day of Salvation.” – 2 Corinthians 6:2

So, we must frequently ask ourselves, “Am I the kind of workman (or workwoman) God can use? The answer may depend upon my answer, now, to the question Peter and his partners answered that day, “Is Jesus the kind of Lord I want to follow? Is He? Now?

Gary’s Wednesday Word

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