Catching Plenty of Fish For God

Catching Plenty of Fish For God
by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.

Summary for the internet reader: A wildly successful night catching salmon in Alaska reminded me of some biblical fishing ventures.

Plenty of fish were in Alaska's Kenai River that day. But Pastor Jim Feeney's 62-pound king salmon was one of the trophies! In this Bible study Jim looks at some biblical soul-

Jim caught this 62-pound king salmon in Alaska’s Kenai River.

Alaska’s remote Goose Creek was deserted as my friend Jim and I arrived with four excited children. We were early, a full five hours before the midnight opening of the king salmon season. We propped up our fishing rods on that wilderness river bank, spaced a few feet apart. That reserved the prime fishing spots for the midnight opening.

Looking into the clear water of the pool at the bend of the river, we saw fish — plenty of fish! Large king (chinook) salmon were thick in the pool. After what seemed like an eternity, the midnight opening arrived. Casting in the still-bright Alaska summer night, we struck it rich! Within 30 minutes we had three large king salmon on the bank. More cries of “Fish on!” could be heard up and down the river.

A thrill-of-a-lifetime fishing trip? For sure! Interestingly, fishing imagery occurs frequently in the New Testament. In their catching plenty of fish, Peter and his friends used fishing nets, not a rod, reel, and line as we did on that remote Alaskan river. But how and what these biblical fishermen did offers insights for us in gathering souls for the Lord.

Today we will focus our attention on two portions of Scripture: Luke 5:1-10Luke 5:1-10
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

5 1 And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret, 2 And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. 3 And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon's, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship. 4 Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. 5 And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. 6 And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. 7 And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink. 8 When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. 9 For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken: 10 And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.  

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and John 21:1-11John 21:1-11
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

21 1 After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed he himself. 2 There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples. 3 Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing. 4 But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. 5 Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No. Children: or, Sirs 6 And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes. 7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher's coat unto him, and did cast himself into the sea. 8 And the other disciples came in a little ship; dragging the net with fishes. 9 As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread. 10 Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught. 11 Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken.  

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. (It would be helpful for the internet reader to take a few minutes now and read those verses.)

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Luke 5:5Luke 5:5
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

5 And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.  

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Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything….

(1) Perseverance!

•• They fished all night without success. They were ready to give up. But Jesus encouraged them to make one more cast of the net.

•• Drawing in the net for souls is a lifelong process. I know of a lady in Portland, Oregon, who saw her husband saved after 56 years of praying for his salvation.

•• We have to “walk the walk” and “talk the talk” in a godly way before family and friends for a lifetime. In that space of years, some will come into the kingdom.

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Luke 5:5Luke 5:5
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

5 And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.  

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

(2) Obedience to the Lord’s Leading

•• Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men (Matthew 4:19Matthew 4:19
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.  

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).

Jesus is a great “fish finder”! To borrow the old saying, there are “plenty of fish in the sea” — spiritually speaking. And Jesus knows where every lost soul is and whether they are ready to be “caught” in the Lord’s harvest.

•• Gathering in the catch is far too difficult for me to do or to figure out. That’s why I need Jesus to make me an effective fisher of men.

•• [Luke 5:5Luke 5:5
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5 And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.  

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, KJV
] “At thy word I will let down the net.”

•• Acts 8:29Acts 8:29
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

29 Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.  

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“The Spirit told Philip, ‘Go to that chariot and stay near it.’ ”

•• To draw in the net, we need to pray, Jesus, make me a fisher of souls. Tell me where to cast the net.”

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Luke 5:9Luke 5:9
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

9 For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken:  

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For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken.

John 21:2-3John 21:2-3
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

2 There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples. 3 Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing.  

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Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

(3) A Corporate Effort

•• “Body ministry”, with each doing his specific task.

•• Some cast the net; some row the boat. All are needed! All contribute to “the catch.”

•• The Great Commission is a continuum of many people over many centuries. You’re on it somewhere.

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Luke 5:6Luke 5:6
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

6 And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake.  

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When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.

John 21:11John 21:11
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

11 Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken.  

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Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153 [of them]…

(4) Expect occasional large harvests.

•• The church I attended in Alaska had grown to 200 people in twelve years. Then in just one more year it grew to 400, and the year later to 800! And indeed many of those coming in were new converts, not just church swappers. On occasion, God will grant sudden, large harvests of souls.

• As happened to Peter and his partners in the boat, sometimes God will put plenty of fish in a short time into the soulwinning nets cast by “fishers of men”.

•• The apostle Paul found himself shipwrecked on an island populated by heathen people. No matter. The apostle boldly went and successfully ministered healing to the island chief’s father. This became a catalyst for a major healing revival on that island.

•• Expect these occasional “bumps” in normal growth.

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John 21:6John 21:6
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

6 And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.  

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He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

(5) Sometimes the catch is on the “other” side of the boat — that is, a change in methods or strategy.

•• Abbott Loop Community Church offered to the public an evangelistic drama ministry last week [1995]. The result? — 1,000 decisions for Christ! A “new” method. Be open, be flexible, within bible guidelines, in casting your net for souls. Not often, but occasionally, you will find plenty of fish in the nets with just a few casts into new waters.

•• The Protestant “Missionary Movement” is only 200 years old. Yet Protestant churches arose fully five centuries ago, but were seldom involved in missions work for their first three centuries. Then William Carey and others decided to throw the net on the other side of the boat, and these fishers of men drew in nets full of new converts in foreign lands.

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So the net is drawn in, catching plenty of fish, and the kingdom of God is populated, when:

1. Christians persevere in casting the net.

2. Christians seek to hear the specific voice and leading of the Lord.

3. “Body ministry” is functioning — each doing his or her part.

4. Faith is growing for large catches of souls.

5. We are willing to be open and flexible to the Lord leading us in different ways from our past comfort zones.

Preached at Medford (Oregon) Christian Center, May 3, 1995

A related sermon on effective soulwinning is our Fishers of Men.

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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of the Zondervan Corporation. All rights reserved.

The “NIV” and “New International Version” trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society.

© 1995, 2006, James H. Feeney, All rights reserved.
The author grants permission to copy this material
for
noncommercial purposes intended to further
the spread of the Word of God. If you copy this material
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Website owners: If you find this sermon outline on catching plenty of fish as the Lord’s “fishers of men” helpful for your website’s purposes, you are welcome to post a link to it entitled Plenty of Fish in the Lord’s Fishing Nets“. The URL is http://www.jimfeeney.org/catchingplentyoffish.html

Additional Pentecostal online bible studies and free sermons on speaking in tongues, divine healing, gifts of the Holy Spirit, divine inspiration, traditional marriage, pro-life vs. pro-choice, apostles and prophets today, and more may be linked to or viewed at Online Bible Studies and Free Sermons by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D. (http://www.jimfeeney.org).

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