Robert Morris — Relevant Fisherman
So this first one, I'm gonna take acronyms, use this acronym, but then I'm gonna take analogies every week for each of these four — and I'll preach all four of these messages. So the first one is called, "Relevant Fisherman". I'm using fisherman in the generic sense, so, you know, man or woman, but a relevant fisherman. If you remember, if you wanna look, Matthew 4, and then we'll be at John 21. Jesus comes and calls some disciples, and we're going to use this analogy of fishermen, because several of His disciples were fishermen, and actually, probably more than you think.
So Matthew 4:18 says, "And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter," so that's one person, Simon Peter: "And Andrew his brother," so there's two. Simon and Andrew: "Casting a net into the sea". Notice, they were casting. Okay? I'll just share with you just a little history, so you understand about fishing in a moment. Casting a net, they were casting: "For they were fishermen". Now, please understand, they were not recreational fishermen, they were commercial fishermen. They fished for a living. This is what they did for a living. "Then He said to them, 'Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.' They immediately left their nets and followed Him".
Notice the word immediately. I will come back to it all the way at the end of the message. Immediately. The Bible, the Holy Spirit, made sure and put the word immediately in there. "Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother," James and John: "In the boat with Zebedee their father..". Remember, James and John are the sons of Zebedee. Remember that for another verse. They're the sons of Zebedee. Who are the sons of Zebedee? James and John. James' name was actually Jacob, but King James, when he translated the Bible, wanted his name in the Bible, so he changed it to James. I hope I didn't disappoint all of you that are named James, that your name is not in the Bible; But all right. It is in the New King James — it's in the King James.
James and John: "Mending their nets," notice the word mending. They weren't casting, they were mending. It's because there are two types of nets. "He called them, and immediately..." again, the word immediately: "They left the boat and their father, and followed Him". So casting and mending, there are two types of nets that they use, even to this day. A casting net is about 15-feet in diameter, it's circular, and it's a very fine mesh, and you're in the shallow water. I've actually done this when I've gone deep-sea fishing. We go into the shallows first to catch your bait, and they taught me how to do it. Well, you throw it out like this, and it spreads out, and falls down, and then you pull it, and it comes together, and you catch small bait fish, and then you go out and fish for the bigger fish.
The reason that they were casting their nets, and Jesus could talk to 'em, is 'cause they were in shallow water. See what I'm seeing? And then, you have another time where He tells them to put out to the deep. Okay. James and John though were on the shore, mending their nets. That's a bigger net, that's about 300 — normally, this is from history, 328-feet long, eight-feet wide. And they would drag that, or lay it out in the boat, and then begin pulling it in, and that's how they would catch the bigger fish. So it just shows you two different types. We still use those nets today. They'll use netting to catch bigger fish, and they'll still use the casting of the nets of the smaller ones. All right?
Now, so we've got four of the disciples, four of 12, being fishermen. I believe, though, and many theologians believe that seven were fishermen. We know Nathanael and Thomas were fishermen also, and some would believe that Phillip was. But I'll show you why I believe there were seven, and why other theologians believe this as well. John 21, do the math with me and count. John 21:2 says: "Simon Peter," so again, that's one person: "Simon Peter, Thomas," so that's two: "Called the Twin, Nathanael," that's three: "Of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee," so who are the sons of Zebedee? So now, we've got five. Everyone with me on the math? Peter, Thomas, Nathanael; the sons of Zebedee, James-John: "And two other of His disciples were together". So how many do we have? Seven. "Simon Peter said to them, 'I'm going fishing.' They said to him, 'We're going with you.' They went out and immediately..". I just love the word immediately: "Got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing". Jesus shows up, throw your net on the other side. They were actually in shallow water, 'cause He could talk to 'em, so it was really an incredible miracle, they caught 153 in their net.
All right. So there were seven then. So for sure, we know four were fishermen, but most believe, again, Thomas and Nathanael were also. That'd be six, but then there's another disciple here. There are seven. When Peter said, "I'm going fishing," in other words, he's saying, "I'm going back to what I was doing before this. My job's over". You know, the boss died. I'm going back to what I was doing. And there are seven of 'em, and they said, "Well, we're gonna go back to what we were doing, too". In essence. "We're gonna go back to fishing, too". So it's very possible, we don't know conclusively, but seven out of 12 disciples were fishermen.
So the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, before Jesus came, they're having this conversation in Heaven, and they say, "Okay, let's see. You need some disciples, let's do 12". They like the number 12. I don't know if you noticed that. There are 12 tribes, 12 stones, 12 foundations, 12 gates, 12.000 out of each 12 tribes, which makes 144.000. 12 disciples — okay, so for some reason, we'll ask when we get there, "Why do y'all like the number 12 so much"? I don't know. But they like 12. So they decided on 12 disciples, but how did they choose that half of 'em, and maybe over half, would be from one particular occupation, and why did they do that? I think it's because they wanted to use their skills to reach people. These guys knew how to fish. Jesus said, "I'm gonna now take the skill you have and teach you to fish for people. You're gonna learn to catch people".
So I'm gonna tell you, there will be some deep parts of these four weeks, but they're gonna be some practical parts. I'm gonna show you very, very practically how to fish for people, so we're gonna take some practical points. Everybody okay with that? So here's number one: put bait on your hook. Okay, so in the natural, can you imagine a guy who has a hook, but he has no bait on it? Okay. So you need to put bait on your hook if you're gonna catch people for the Kingdom of God. What is bait? Bait is any story about God's goodness. That's bait. Any story about God's goodness. Could be your testimony, how you got saved. Could be how God healed you of something, could be how God delivered you of something, set you free from something. Any story about God's goodness.
Psalm 34:8 says: "Taste and see that the Lord is good". And the New Testament says we have a taste of the good things to come. Can I just tell you something that maybe you've never even thought of? A taste is real. We have a taste of things to come on this earth, but a taste is real, it's not imaginary. "Taste and see that the Lord is good". A taste is real. In other words, if I showed you a picture of banana pudding and I described it to you, that's one thing. But if I had some here, and I gave all of you a spoonful of it, that's real. Are you following me? You taste it. Please hear me. Here's what God says. Taste and see. You can taste God on this earth. In other words, let me say it another way. You can experience God on this earth. We don't just describe Him to people. We can give people a taste of how good God is. We have tasted, haven't we tasted? We have tasted the Lord, and we know that He's good, and they're — bait tastes. You could — there's a taste to bait.
Now, I have a son named James who's a fisherman, I've told you about him before. He has fished his whole life. When kids watch cartoons, used to be cartoons were just on Saturday morning. For you younger people, there was not a Cartoon Network. Cartoons were on Saturday morning, but fishing shows were Saturday morning. Okay, James never watched cartoons, he watched fishing shows. And he knows how to fish, but he's a little overboard sometimes on fishing, I had been with him, this has happened two different times. I was with him one time, and he picked up some bait — now, it was not a worm, but it was a — like, a little square thing of something, and literally, he went like this. "Yeah, it's good".
Okay, now. I'm gonna shock you. Artificial — they have now made where you can spray on artificial bait, so that it tastes good, so when the bass grabs it, he doesn't spit the worm out. I'm teaching y'all something. Some of you are saying, "Who cares. I don't even care what you're telling me right now". Okay. But I was with James one time — I'm just telling you a funny story. I was with James one time, and he's spraying it, and I say, "What are you doing"? He said, "Makes the worm taste good". And then, he went like this. "Want some"? I said, "Son, I don't even know how to respond to... You just asked me if I wanted to taste fish bait. I don't even know if you're a son from my loins by what you just — I don't understand this".
So, okay, so. But a taste is real. Now, hear me on what I'm about to tell you. Every person in the world, even if he won't admit it, would like to know God. I can guarantee it. I guarantee it, and I know it from scripture. It's because God has put the desire in every person, and even Atheists who tell you that they do not believe there is a God, deep down inside, if they get sick, or if one of their loved ones does, and there was a possibility that there was a God that they could know personally and have a miraculous encounter with, they would seek it. I can guarantee you there's a desire there, even if they won't admit it. Because God put it, it's innate, it's in us. You know, dogs bark, it's innate to dogs. Who teaches 'em to bark? You know, God put it in 'em. Cats are lazy — I'm sorry. I'm sorry, I'm sorry. It's innate. It's innate in every human being.
I want to know God, and I'm telling you any story of God's goodness. Okay? And you don't have to have a bad story to have a good story. Let me blow that myth away right now, because we saw living truth of it. Yes, I came out of drugs and immorality and all that junk. People say it's a bad story. They say it's a good story. No, listen to me. Your testimony is not how bad you were. Your testimony is how good God was to you. That's your testimony. You know, I got saved at 19. I was addicted to drugs. Debbie got saved at nine, she was addicted to bubble gum. It's true, you ought to hear her testimony, and she says, "I was up to six sticks a day".
One time in our 20s, I was asking her about her teenage years, and I couldn't believe that she was never even tempted to do the things that I did. The reason I couldn't believe it is you gotta remember, I was lost, so I wanted to do those things. You see? And I thought, well, every teenager does. And she said, "I never..". and here's what - I said, "You never never at all? You never even were tempted to do the things I did"? She said, "I never had a desire to do it". Here's what I realized. When you get saved, God changes your desires. So He changed mine after those teenage years, but He changed hers before those teenage years. So the same grace that got me out kept her from ever going in. It's the same grace. She's got a good story, too. Just share your story.
Steve Dulin, one of our elders, when I met him — he has two daughters, and when I met him, his youngest daughter, her eyes were crossed, and they were praying for God to heal her eyes, and they were seeking medical help as well, and things like that, and she wore certain glasses for that, but they were praying. She woke up one morning, and she was healed. Her eyes were healed. I'm talking about overnight. And so, Steve wrote an email to all of his clients. He owned a construction company. Not just his employees too, his clients. And he told the story of her eyes being healed. Nobody wrote back mad, 'cause a kid's eyes were healed. Nobody wrote back, "You're trying to cram your religion down my throat". Nobody did. As a matter of fact, many people said, "Wait, that's great. Great news". And he said, "If you wanna talk further about it, I'm available". And we got pictures, we got pictures of yesterday and today. God did this.
Did you know that several people accepted Christ from that? All he did was put bait on the hook. You follow me? And bait is any story about God's goodness. Here's number two: put your hook in the water. Okay, same with the guy that doesn't have bait on his hook. Can you imagine a guy puts bait on his hook, but he doesn't put it in the water? Okay, here's the practical of that. Learn to tell your story. Learn to tell stories. People have said to me, you know, "Pastor, you've got a good story". No, I've learned to tell it well. And it doesn't matter who I'm talking to, if I'm talking to a church person, I say something like, you know, "I was raised in church, but I was miserable until a miracle happened to me in a motel room". They say, "What do you mean"? And then, if I'm talking with someone who's addicted to something, I say, "I was on drugs and addicted until a miracle happened to me". "What happened"? See? Just learn to tell your story in a good way.
Remember, I was telling you about James, so we're talking about putting your bait in the water. In other words, some of you have stories, but you're not putting it in the water. You're just not telling anybody. You say, "Well, I'm just not that way. I don't tell stories". Yes, you do. We all tell stories. We tell 'em all the time. We tell about what God's done. We tell about something that's happened to our life. So think about this, all right? So I'm talking about fishing, okay? So I've told you about James, my son. I showed you these pictures a few months ago, but again, we got 30.000 to attend, 90.000, so you might not have seen 'em. Let me just show you a couple pictures. A guy in our church took James fishing, and he caught that fish, and then he caught this fish, and then he caught this fish. He caught eight of 'em like that, and then here's a picture of him, he's teaching, passing on. That was the fish his son caught when he was only two or three, or three-years-old, he's five now.
So he knows how to fish. Okay? And he watched these fishing shows growing up, and so, we went to Colorado one year, and I said, you know, "We can go trout fishing". And they were young. When they got older, we took 'em, you know, fly-fishing. When they were younger, I found this place, it was a trout pond, and it was stocked. And I thought, well that'd be good for the kids, you know? And I really didn't think — and you had to pay for everything you caught. Okay. But I really didn't think that my son from Texas would know a lot about catching Colorado trout, so I wasn't too worried about it, you know? And I thought all the other kids would do it, too, and so, we got into the fishing store to get some bait, and James walks around, he looks at the bait, and looks.
He comes back, he puts some on the counter, and the man behind the counter said, "Oh, I'm sorry, son. Those won't work". And I looked down at my son, and my son went... So I said to the guy behind the counter, "Well, we'll just take these". And he said, "Well, those are good baits, but they won't work this time of the year". And I looked down at James, and he... So we walk outside, and it's like a big square. You know, a couple of acres. And everybody is lined up like an L on these two sides, 'cause these two sides are woods, they have reeds going down to the water, and all. And James, I watched him. He stood for a minute, and he walked around, and he had go through some woods, through some dirt, got over there, where nobody else was fishing. First fish, caught a trout about like that. First cast.
The men, they're fishing on the bank. They looked at this kid. He picks this — throws another one, catches another one. These men start kinda heading over where this kid is. And then, they say, "Well, what kind of bait you're using there"? You know? And then, they go in, buy the same bait. And I was just enjoying it, and then I thought, wait a minute, we got to pay — he'd run up $100 before I could stop him. But you can't catch fish if you don't put your bait in the water. Are y'all following me? You gotta put your bait in the water, where people are. You gotta talk to 'em, you gotta learn to tell your story, so your bait is your story. Any story about God's goodness. But putting it in the water is telling it, actually speaking it out, talking. And if you don't talk to people, you're never gonna win someone to Christ, even though God's done a bunch of things in your life. So you might say, "Well, I don't know how to do it". That's why we've got classes to teach you how to tell your story. If 91.000 people tell their story this year, we're gonna see a harvest like we've never seen at Gateway.
So here's point number three, again, it's pretty simple: fish where the fish are. So let's say you put bait on your hook, and you put it in the water, but the water you put it in is a swimming pool. Still in the water, say, "Pastor, I put it in the water". It's the wrong water. Okay? Listen to me. If you only tell your story in the four walls of the church, you'll never catch any fish. Now, it's good to tell our stories in church, because it encourages one another, and that's good, so tell your story in group, tell your story in class. That's great. No problem with that. It also helps you practice with smiley faces, all right? So it's great.
So please don't stop doing that, but if you never tell your story in the workplace, if you never tell your story at the kid's ball games with other parents, where you're sitting there, talking, and you tell your story in such a way, you're not trying to cram religion down your throat, you're simply telling 'em what happened to you. It's all you're doing. And again, you tell stories anyway. We all do. We tell stories, we tell stories about our children, we tell stories about our grandchildren. We show pictures of our grandchildren. Just think about how we — oh, I don't even know how that got up there. Look at that, it's just — but since it's up there, I'll tell you a grandchild story.
Elaine, her three kids are on the end, so Addie, her oldest, just a few weeks ago, this is just a funny story. She's four-years-old, and Elaine said to her, "Addie, I need to talk to you. All day, you've been having a problem listen. Momma's been trying to talk to you, and you're not listening, and you're not obeying, and I need you to start listening and I need you to start obeying". Addie said, "Mom, stop whining". And Elaine said, "I was floored. I said, 'Addie, I'm not whining. I'm trying to talk to you.'" She says, "You're whining". Let me just say it. So Debbie had the greatest one. She said to her, "Yeah, so, how do you like raising yourself"? Isn't it — for you grandparents here, isn't it fun watching your kids have trouble raising their kids? Isn't that a blast? I mean, it's a blast. I'm watching Debbie — you'd be watching, his kids are just running all over the place, and he's chasing 'em, I'm — it's great. No, no, run that way. He'll never see you.
We tell stories anyway. Think about all the stories we tell. All I'm asking you to do is to tell some stories about God's goodness in your life. You got plenty of 'em. God healed my marriage. You know, we almost got divorced, and God healed our marriage. How did God heal your marriage? Well, let me tell you. Just tell the story. There's something in every person who wants that — see, the title of the series is real. I'm not asking you to be fake. I'm just asking you to tell a real story about God, and God'll do the rest.
Now, let me go back to the word immediately. It says they immediately left their nets. Okay, grammatically, it could say, "They left their nets and followed". Immediately, I know some of you don't wanna hear this or don't care. It's an adverb, it's simply telling you how they did it. It could say, "They left their nets and followed". But it says they immediately, why? Why would the Holy Spirit — when He's prompting the writers of scripture, why He would prompt them to put the word immediately? Here's why, I believe there's an urgency. I believe we need to feel the urgency of winning people to Christ, witnessing, sharing our testimony.
Awhile back, it was the weekend after Thanksgiving, Pastor Tommy Briggs shared that week, if you remember. He shared the message. And he said, "I feel strongly about two men that need to give their lives to Christ". He found out later that there was a man in the hospital that watched that message on the internet, and his wife shared how he had made a decision, but was not at peace with it, but how he fully then gave his life to Christ. And 13 minutes later, he passed away. 13 minutes. Immediately. And let me just say, if you're here, you have no promise of tomorrow. If you haven't given your life to Christ, you have no promise of tomorrow. There is an urgency that we need to share the gospel to people.
We never know how much time someone has when we're talking to that person, and just like that man that only had 13 minutes left, Pastor Tommy Briggs had no idea. He was simply putting the gospel in front of someone who needed the gospel. Jesus has called us to be fishers of people, and I wanna encourage you, put this on your heart, put this on your mind, everywhere you go. We are on this earth to tell the good news of Jesus Christ to every person we meet. Will you pray about someone this week that you can share the gospel with, that you can simply put the good news of Jesus Christ in front of their face, and let them see how wonderful He really is?