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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...




The Secrets of Soul Winning (Part 2)

By James O. Davis
Feb. 16, 2014

Synopsis of Part 1: To be a truly obedient disciple of Jesus Christ, we must participate in the Great Commission, Christ’s command to take the gospel to the world. This is not a task for which only the few are qualified. Christ himself enables believers from every walk of life to effectively become "fishers of men." Christians are a called people, they live with a commissioned purpose, and they carry out their mission in the strength of Christ’s communicated promise.

"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 [the Sea of Galilee] and saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. 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” (Luke 5:1-3, KJV).

I love how this story begins. People were crowding and pressing Jesus so closely He needed to create a small buffer zone in order to speak to them. He launched out in this little boat, sat down, and preached.

The rest of the narrative is equally amazing. Jesus instructed Peter how to bring in the greatest catch of fish in his life. That experience with a miraculous catch of lake fish nearly bursting Peter’s nets set the scene for how God would use that apostle during the formative years of the Church. “And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men” (Luke 5:10).

But go back to the opening scene.

Jesus not only mends our nets and equips us for mission; He is the One who attracts the fish. Jesus is the greatest attraction for the human spirit of all time. His warm and loving personality drew people to Him with divine intensity during His earthly ministry. Through the work of the Holy Spirit in Christians today, Jesus continues to draw hurting and lost people to His followers and to His presence within them.

The record-breaking and net-tearing catch of fish that launched Peter and several other disciples into a life-changing relationship with Jesus holds key truths for anyone who would follow the Savior today and become His “fisher of men.” Take a moment to read Luke 5:4-10, and then consider with me the following principles.

Launch Into the Deep

In verse 4, Jesus told Peter to launch out into the deep. The Savior had to convince the discouraged fisherman to forget about his own lack of results the night before and to move into new waters in faith. We have to begin our own pursuit of souls by launching out into the deep. Inaction will never bring results.

Without exception, all of the global game changers who are effectively serving the 21st-century church had to first launch out into the deep with the belief Jesus would empower them. From the most dedicated and experienced soul winner to the newest and untried, the same transition must take place.

All of us, naturally, want to play it safe. We want to hug closely to the common shore of our everyday routines for far too long. We have to learn to doubt our doubts and believe our beliefs once again. It is far too easy to merely talk about the desperate need of societal transformation from our own shore of predictability and safety. Too many of us have not “gotten in over our heads” in years. We are great at taking notes, but we will never learn what Jesus is teaching until we do what Jesus is saying.


Lean On Christ

While we are launching into the deep, we are forced to lean on Christ. We absolutely must depend upon Jesus. Peter said, “Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net” (Luke 5:5).

There are two important words in this verse. The very first is the word “we,” and the second is “nothing.” “Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing.” It is still true: Without Jesus “we” can do “nothing.”

Lock this third word into your memory: “nevertheless.” The difference between failure and success is that word “nevertheless.” “Nevertheless at thy word …

Great Commission discipleship is not about you going out and doing something for Jesus; it is all about Jesus doing something through you. That is why Jesus said, “You come after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.”

There’s a supernatural dimension to the Great Commission. Throughout the body of Christ where men and women are coming to Christ, it is due to the supernatural outpouring of the Holy Spirit in their midst.

We need to leave our argumentative spirit and prideful attitude at the feet of Jesus and say like Peter, “Since You have asked me to launch out into the deep, I will do so with all my heart!”

Up to that point, Peter had basically been saying in a roundabout way, “Jesus, You are a masterful teacher, but not a great fisherman.” Peter was about to learn the supernatural element to filling both boats with fish!


Let Down the Net

There comes a time in Peter’s life, as well as our lives today, when we have to let down the net. In evangelism, as in fishing, 99 percent preparation without actual fishing will have zero results.

Suppose you are a fisherman. You’ve come back from a fishing trip and are asked, “Did you catch any fish?” You say, “No, but I influenced quite a few.”

Fishing is not influence, but bringing back fish for a meal. We have to let down our net; we have to get outside the four walls of our churches; we have to lift up Christ, whether it is comfortable or not.

In Peter’s case, Jesus’ miraculous provision of fish created another challenge — a challenge that impinges on our lives of evangelistic obedience today.

The crux of the whole matter connects with two perceived problems in this story. First, Peter had fished all night and caught nothing. Second, once Jesus brought in the fish, Peter had so many fish he was about to lose them all and still have nothing. At the end of the day, if Peter did not ask for help he would lose the largest harvest of his life.

Peter immediately called for James and John to bring their boat. The net was beginning to break. A new crisis had emerged before them. If Peter was not willing to share the fish Christ had brought to him, he would lose the entire harvest. Peter, James, John and others began to “net-work” frantically to get the fish in their boats before it was too late.

Without exception, throughout the body of Christ, where there is great harvest it is because Christians have chosen to serve together. They serve with each other’s best interest in mind, for a harvest so large they cannot succeed alone. We must be willing for some of the fish the Lord used us to catch to end up in another person’s boat and eventually on another person’s table.

After this God-sized catch of fish, Peter pleaded for the Lord to go away. But Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid. From this day onward you will catch people.”

Peter saw the Day of Pentecost, where 3,000 were saved. He saw the great revelation of the gospel and outpouring of the Spirit among the Gentiles in the household of Cornelius (Acts 10). The Book of Acts reveals again and again that Peter and the other disciple fishermen made the greatest trade of all.

The story on Galilee’s shore ends profoundly and simply: “They left everything and followed Jesus” (Luke 5:11, NLT). James and John left their father, Zebedee, and their hired servants to follow Jesus. They left the greatest catch of fish sitting in their boat and followed Jesus. They left everything and everyone from their past in exchange for the amazing future in front of them.

God wants to use you in the greatest catch of fish ever in our generation. Your success will depend simply on how carefully you align your life to the purpose for which Christ came to the earth in the first place. Will you believe what Christ says? Will you do what He challenges all of us to do?

Will you follow Christ to be a soul winner?


Dr. JAMES O. DAVIS is founder of Cutting Edge International and co-founder of Billion Soul Network.

 

 

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