Saturday, August 25, 2007

Matt's Messages - Go Fish!

“Go Fish!”
Back 2 School Sunday

August 26, 2007
Matthew 4:18-22

Well, it’s time to go Back 2 School.

Does anybody know what a “student” was called in Jesus’ day?

Someone who was a learner, a student, a follower of a teacher?

The word for it was “disciple.”

“Disciple” means a follower, a student, a learner.

And today, we’re going to look at the story of Jesus calling his first disciples. I invite you to turn with me to the Gospel of Matthew chapter 4.

We’ll probably get back to the book of Numbers next week, but this week, I sensed the Lord asking us to think about this:


Here’s the story [Matthew chapter 4, verse 18]: “As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. ‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will make you fishers of men.’ At once they left their nets and followed him. Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.”

Simon and Andrew, James and John. Two sets of brothers.

One day, they were fishermen, the next day, they were fishers of men.

The Gospel of John tells us that Jesus had a prior relationship with these men. They had followed him before as, perhaps, part-time disciples. But they had returned to their thriving business in Fishtown, Galilee.

But on this fateful day, Jesus approached them and called them to give up their nets and their businesses, and even (in priority) their fathers, and join Him in a great Kingdom task–fishing for men. V.19.

“‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will make you fishers of men.’”

Two things I want you to see this morning. Two things that Jesus requires of His students, His followers, His disciples.

The first one seems pretty obvious, but ironically, we ignore it a lot.

Jesus’ Disciples Follow Jesus.

Jesus said, “Come Follow Me.”

That’s a pretty clear call. And it’s a very personal call.

We aren’t called to follow Christianity. We are called to follow Christ.

Jesus’ Disciples Follow Jesus.

That means, what He says, goes.

[Get Out Binoculars]

Remember our re-focusing time last week?

God is telling us that we need to RE-FOCUS on God Himself [UP], on the Church [AROUND], and on the World [OUT]?

We asked some pretty pointed application questions last week. How are we doing at them?

The first question I asked was about Re-Focusing on God (from Matthew 22).

Do you have a regular appointment for one-on-one time with God?

How have you have done on that this week?

God wants to meet with you more than you want to meet with Him!

Do you have a regular appointment for one-on-one time with God? When is the next meeting going to be?

The next few questions had to do with re-focusing on the church (from Hebrews 10):

Are you regular in Sunday morning attendance? [Not just occasional, but regular.]

Are you connecting with other believers? [Not just on Sunday but in relationship with believers that helps you to grow and you’re helping others to grow.]

And: Are you serving the Lord in the local church? [What is your spiritual gift and are you using in the Body?]

Those questions, I think, are a matter of FOLLOWING.

Jesus’ disciples follow Jesus. And this is what Jesus wants.

Are we following Him?

A number of you told me this week about changes you are making to your personal lives and schedules to answer these questions. That’s awesome!

Are you regular in Sunday morning attendance?
Are you connecting with other believers?
Are you serving the Lord in the local church?

But what I really want us to think about today is that third area of re-focusing. Specifically, re-focusing on the world.

Because Jesus’ disciples don’t just follow Him generally, they follow Him in a very specific way in Matthew 4:19. They fish for people.

Jesus’ Disciples Fish for People. V.19

“‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will make you fishers of men.’”

[Get Out Fishing Rod]

Now, this is not how Simon, Andrew, James and John did their fishing. They used big circular nets that caught the fish in a big jumble and then they hauled it up onto the boat and dumped out their catch and then started again.

But this fishing rod is a visual reminder of our calling to be “fishers of men [people].”

We are called, not to go after bluegill or trout or salmon, but after people with the gospel.

Jesus’ Disciples Fish for People.

And this FISHING is not optional!

Sometimes I hear people saying that they don’t have the gift of evangelism or the gift of witnessing or that they aren’t “people-people.”

“I’m not a people-person. That’s not my gift. I’m not a talker.”

I would imagine that Andrew, James, and John might have said the same thing. They were fishermen, not salesmen! Of course, old Peter thought he could do whatever he wanted to do!

But this is not optional for Jesus’ disciples. Jesus’ Disciples Fish for People.

It’s part of the definition of a disciple.

If you aren’t a people-fisher in some way, shape, or form, you aren’t a disciple.

Of course, this isn’t something we do on our own. Jesus says that He will make His disciples fishers of men. It’s something Jesus does in us and to us and through us.

But we have to make ourselves available to Him. We have to follow and we have to fish.

So, my application for Lanse Free Church today is simply this:


If we are going to be disciples of Jesus Christ, we must be people who go after people with the love of Christ and the Gospel of Christ.

Go fish!

We need to go fishing.

The last application last week was focused on fishing for people.

I reminded us of Jack Kelly’s story from two weeks ago when he said that his church had knocked on literally 100,000 doors in 10 years.

And I asked this question: “Whose door do you need to knock on?”

Is there someone on your mind and heart right now that you can begin to pray for that they would come to Christ by Resurrection Sunday in March?

And I said, “Let’s do this: Let’s all think of someone that we want to reach out to like that. Or maybe a group of someone’s and we don’t know which person exactly it will be, but we’re going to pray and then get into their lives with the Gospel so that each one will win one to Christ.

And I said that this week, we’d have a way of writing down those people and focusing our prayers on them together as a whole church.

And that’s these [FISH CARDS].

Take out your FISH CARD.

Your FISH CARD says, “I’m praying for and hoping to catch...” and then there is a place for you to put their name or a group’s name. Let’s say you’re trying to reach out to guys who take their coffee break at the same time you do at work. Put that down. And then there’s a place for your name so that we know who is praying for and hoping to catch whom.

Can you fill one of these out today or this week? You can fill out more than just one card if you’re willing to both pray and fish for that person to come to Christ.

We’ve put a fishbowl out in the foyer to collect these. We’ll be praying for them at our prayer meeting every Wednesday night.

And we will be fasting for them, as well. I am personally going to take one meal a week off and dedicate it to praying for these people. And I invite you to do it with me this Fall.

Everyone is invited to pray and to fast. Kids, if your parents will let you. Everybody. If you can’t go without food, try going without television or something else.

And there are also these to give away [FLYERS]. These are flyers about the church and about Family Bible Night that’s going to start on September 12th. They aren’t the Gospel, but they are a means of connecting lost people to the Gospel.

Can I encourage every one of you to take some of these and give them to kids and parents in your neighborhood and invite them to come to Family Bible Nights this Fall? Maybe kids, you could take these to school with you this week and give them to your friends and enemies!

I’m going to stuff my pockets with them and give them away to kids that I meet.

I gave away 16 of them already this week.

We’ve got to go fishing.

Here’s whom we need to fish for:


I’ve asked 3 members of our church family to come up here and share about how they have reached out and are reaching out to the last, the least, and lost. And how it’s going.

Judy, Dan, and Anita. Would you come up here one at a time and tell your stories?


Are you willing to pray and to fast for folks like these?

It’s going to take some effort. It’s going to cost something to reach our community.

Simon, Andrew, James, and John had to leave their nets. James and John had to leave their Dad!

Jesus had to leave His Father! And we’re following Him on this fishing trip.

What are we going to have to leave to reach our community with the only message that can save them?

The Gospel! The good news of Jesus’ coming, Jesus’ perfect life, Jesus’ sacrificial death, Jesus’ victorious resurrection, Jesus’ call to repentance and faith, Jesus’ promise of eternal life to all who receive Him.

The Gospel! That’s what we need to hook our community on!

A few weeks ago, I ran a Google search on the demographics of our community.

The most recent census data shows that there are 7,700 people in the West Branch Community.

And that doesn’t count the rest of the Moshannon Valley or anywhere else that people in this room are from.

7,700 people in West Branch alone. We figure that there are maybe 1000 people, we’ll just round it up to 1,700 people in church right now in West Branch. That’s probably a high estimate

That means that there are over 6,000 people in a 10 mile radius of this church that aren’t following Jesus in church this morning.

They are out there and they need us to go fishing for them with the Gospel.

There’s a whole school of fish right down the street.

If you are going to West Branch this week, can I ask you to stand?

I mean students, staff, teachers, administrators. If you are going to West Branch this week, please stand.

Okay. If you are going to a Philipsburg School please stand.

Okay. If you’re going to a Clearfield School this week, please stand.

Okay. If you are going to Penn State this week, please stand.

It’s Back 2 School Sunday.

You folks are our missionaries to these schools. GO FISHING!

Go get ‘em! Don’t just go to school. Go Fish!

Okay. If you are going to work this week, please stand. Anywhere. If you are going to work, please stand.

You folks are our missionaries to those workplaces. GO FISHING!

If you are going to go anywhere this week [Wal-Mart, the Marketplace, the Soccer Field, the Pumpkin House], you are our missionaries to those places.

As you’re going, GO FISHING. GO FISH.

In May, our family went to Ocean City Maryland for our family vacation.

And on the last day, at the end of the board-walk, we toured the Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum.

Maybe many of you have done the same thing.

The museum tells the story, with historical artifacts, of the US Life Saving Service which eventually merged with another group to become the Coast Guard.

The men of the US Life Saving Service would go out to sinking ships and try to rescue people off of them. Over a hundred people could die on a sailing ship that broke up within sight of the shore.

It was very dangerous to be a member of the US Life Saving Service. They had a motto: “You have to go out, but you don’t have to come back.”

And while I was there at the museum, seeing what time and devotion and risk those men took to save people’s physical lives, I was moved, almost cried, to think about how little we work and risk to save people’s eternal lives!

We need to go fishing, brothers and sisters!

We need to go fishing!

Because Jesus’ Disciples Follow Jesus and Because Jesus’ Disciples Fish for People.