CLEANING FISH

Andy Hollifield 6-7-17
Matthew 4:19 And he saith unto them, Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.

How in the world are you supposed to catch men? Just like you catch fish. You throw out a bait that they can’t resist and sometimes you may have to work it a little and other times you just sit and wait. Occasionally, you might feel just a little bump on the line. That is when the fish is checking out the bait to see if it’s good or not. Eventually, maybe after getting just a little bit at a time, they will take it all at once. Sometimes, they just take it right when you throw it out in the water.

That is the same way you catch men. We have the bait that is appealing to their soul. It is God’s word. Our testimony is casting the word out to them, just telling them what he has done for us and will do for them. Sometimes you may have to mention something to them about what else the Lord has done for you. That is when you’re working the bait a little. They will sometimes nibble a little by asking you questions about various things. That’s when they are bumping the bait and checking it out. When they do that, just like a fish, you know they are interested. Then later, when you least expect it; BAM! The Holy Ghost deals with their heart and they take it all at once and repent and accept the Lord.

I know that is kind of over simplifying the whole process of conviction and repentance unto salvation. Jesus used the term “fishers of men” because he knew his disciples could understand it because they fished for a living. As any fisherman knows, the first thing you need in order to catch a fish is that the fish has to be hungry. Then you need a bait that will appeal to him. And finally, your timing has to be right. If you jerk too slow or too fast to set the hook you may drive it away. You have to set the hook while the fish is nibbling the bait, then you reel him in keeping steady pressure on the line so as not to give him a chance to get off the hook. It is the same way with dealing with a lost soul. You just show him God in your life, give God glory but don’t be overbearing in talking to them, don’t be judgmental of what they are doing other than just to stand on God’s word and when the Holy Ghost deals with their heart enough, they will come to the Lord. All we can actually do is throw out the bait in our lives and let the Lord do the catching.

One mistake we often make in fishing for men is that we try to clean them before we catch them. We try to get all legalistic and put a bunch of do’s and don’ts on them that God don’t put on them in order to get saved. He said in Romans 10:9-10
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. (10) For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

That is the only requirement that God put on anyone to be born again. That being said, I know that there are sometimes things that people need to quit when they accept the Lord but God will use the same Holy Ghost that he used to draw them to salvation, to convict them of the things in their lives that need to change. He does not need us to beat them over the head with the bible to get them cleaned up. If we take the time to remember when we were lost, we behaved according to our nature. Ephesians 2:2-5 is a very good scripture to keep in mind especially when we start trying to “clean fish before we catch them”. It says, (2) “Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: (3) Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. (4) But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, (5) Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;).

It is plain to see by those scriptures that we all were at one time lost and undone in our sin. The things we done that were contrary to the will of God were done according to our nature. The word nature is used 12 times in the bible and all of them refer not to trees and animals and creation, but to the nature of the flesh. In 2 Corinthians 5:17 the bible says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new”. We cannot expect folks that have never been born again to behave as veteran Christians.
All of that being said, let me encourage you to remember where you were when the Holy Ghost began to deal with your heart? What all were you involved in before God made a new creature out of you? I was saved when I was 8 years old but in my teenage years, you wouldn’t have known it. When I think back to the life that I lived, I am even more thankful for the mercy and longsuffering of God. I fell far short of even resembling what a Christian should be. I was trying to live contrary to my new nature and could not fit in anywhere. I couldn’t fit in at church because I was living out of God’s will, and I couldn’t fit in with the world because I didn’t belong there. In church, I felt the same way I did when I brought home a bad report card and I knew dad had seen it but he hadn’t said anything yet. Just the dread of knowing it was coming and I would have to give an account for myself was always the worst part. Remembering my past and where I have been helps me to be less judgmental of folks that don’t know any better. I knew better and 2 Peter 3:9 is a verse I am very thankful for. It says “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance”. I am thankful that the Lord waited and wooed me to repentance. He drew me with his love even after he had saved me and allowed me back in fellowship with him even though I didn’t deserve his forgiveness.

I hope this has been a blessing to you. I personally believe that if we look back at our past, even after being saved, we will be far less likely to try to clean fish before we catch them. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

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