Matthew 13: 47-50 ‘Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
‘Have you understood all these things?’ Jesus asked.
‘Yes,’ they replied.
When my pastor asked me to preach about the kingdom of God, from one of these parables, I naturally leaned to the parable of the pearl and the parable of the treasure. Partly because I’m a girl and we all like our bling and partly because when I was a child I played a lot of treasure hunting games with my friends. So I get the treasure thing.
I went fishing once.
My dad was a banker and used to go fishing to bond with his farmer clients.
You would trapse out to a farm, then out through the muddy, stinky paddocks, to find the river. Then you would stand there all day and fish.
I went once, as I said.
I used my brothers rod. His baby rod.
I don’t think I bothered to put worms on the lourer, because, yuck how gross.
On my 3rd put in I caught a fish.
A 5 pound trout.
I reeled it in and it was very exciting. I caught something.
But then reality set in. I had to kill the fish. Touch the fish. Hold the fish. Take the fish home.
Give me treasure any day.
So it was interesting that my heart leaned towards this parable about the net and about catching fish.
I know nothing about fishing. I know nothing about fishing at sea. I am allergic to fish and sea food so I don’t even eat the catch.
Be a Good Fish
There is a final day of judgement
This is how it will be at the end of the age. V49
End of time
Definitive point of history
so we cant read the parable about the net without thinking about judgement and about eternity.
It seems to paint it pretty black and white that there are those that will be accepted, the good fish, and those that will be rejected.
Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:11-15
Now we would sometimes like to think that God is a nice God. Nice. Safe. Tame. That He fits within the parameters of how we think and feel.
“God does not ask me to like His ways, understand nor even defend His ways, and all that He allows to transpire on Earth and in my life. He does however, ask me to trust His Character & remain loyal. The implication being that one day my loyalty and confidence in God’s character will be vindicated in spite of cirumstances that accuse Him. At present though, my perspective is very limited AND God’s ways are on a scale beyond my understanding (wasn’t it Einstein who said, the finite cannot grasp the infinite…). In light of my limited options, I have elected therefore, to bank on His character.” Sy Rogers
I cant explain to you why there is a final judgement but I can tell you the good news. That you can be a good fish.
That you can be one of the chosen.
That you can be in the lamb’s book of life.
Because it’s not about how good we are, but about Jesus Christ and believing in Him.
The reality is the only difference between the accepted and the rejected is whether our name is in the book. It’s not by how good we were, how many poor people we fed, or old ladies we helped cross the road, whether we don’t swear, keep to the speed limit, tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. It’s not about how nice we are or how many times we go to church. The reality is that without Jesus – without His saving us –we deserve that wrath and punishment. We are the bad fish without God’s grace. By nature and by behaviour we are the bad fish.
It’s all about what Jesus did on the cross to pay the penalty and judgement we deserve and its all about us being born again – changing citizenship from the world to the kingdom of heaven, changing species from bad fish to good fish.
God himself was pleased to live fully in his Son.And God was pleased for him to make peace by sacrificing his blood on the cross, so that all beings in heaven and on earthwould be brought back to God. You used to be far from God. Your thoughts made you his enemies, and you did evil things. But his Son became a human and died. So God made peace with you, and now he lets you stand in his presence as people who are holy and faultless and innocent. Colossians 1:19-122
By faith we have been made acceptable to God. And now, because of our Lord Jesus Christ, we live at peace with God. Romans 5:1
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
While we were still bad fish Jesus died for us, taking upon Himself all the wrath and punishment that we deserve.
God because of the imputed righteousness of Christ to me and his wrath absorbing death on the cross and his resurrection now sees me as perfect and spotless and holy, not because i am but because HE IS ~ Matt Chandler
Now I know I’m prob preaching to the converted here – but I want to make sure we all know – there is no way in ourselves that we can change our scales or dna makeup to become a good fish.
We are rotten to the core! We’re worse than we can imagine.
But because of Jesus Christ – because of His life and death and resurrection – HE TRANSFORMS US into a good fish, He makes us born again, He makes us citizens of the Kingdom of God, He writes our name in His book. The good news is that God is more than capable, that He’s already done everything we need for Him to do. He’s already secured in Christ everything we long for.
My first point and objective for this morning is for each of us to pause for a moment… pause and think… am I really a good fish? If the net enclosed around me right now, would I be accepted by God? You can know for sure for sure for sure. Because its not about how good we can be or about earning it or about meeting a checklist of qualifying qualities… its all about the power of God making us alive on the inside and stamping that seal of approval that says YOU ARE MINE on us.
Have you ever “given your life to Jesus”? have you ever said “yes, Jesus you will be Lord?”, have you ever had that moment where asked God to forgive your sin and accepted His salvation.? I cant explain what that would have felt like or how that would affect your life. But for myself XXXXXXXX
And I know for sure. I know I’m a good fish.
Be A Good Fisherman
If you’re sitting here and you can say with confidence, yes I’m a good fish, good. But this shouldn’t make us sit back on our easy chair, contentedly sighing “I’m good. I’m chosen.”
Because the net at the end of the age isn’t just filled with the good fish. Its filled with bad fish too. Rejected fish. Fish that are separated away, called wicked and then thrown into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Those fish are our friends. (makes me think of nemo)
They’re our family. Our workmates, our classmates.
And this is in no way to guilt us into frantic fishing… but hopefully it will remind and stir us back into action, to consider ourselves on active duty.
Dont Give Up Doing Good
God is the fisherman, we are the fish, but in Luke 5 we see that God calls us to be fishermen as well.
One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding round him and listening to the word of God. 2 He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. 3 He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.
4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.’
5 Simon answered, ‘Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.’
6 When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7 So they signalled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.
8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, ‘Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!’ 9 For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.
Then Jesus said to Simon, ‘Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.’ 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.
What an amazing passage. Peter has this radical encounter with Jesus, Jesus calls Him and peter then leaves everything to follow Jesus, to become a fisher of men.
I love how God talks in our language. God often speaks to me using songs. Or Lost. Or pop culture geeky stuff. Jesus was speaking Peters language right here. Peter was an experienced fisherman. He had probably fished with his father from the day he could walk.
Peter knew fishing. He knew how to catch a good fish. He knew when the fish were biting. He knew the bait.
XXXXXXXXXXXXXX fishing show illustration
It’s interesting in luke 5 to read how Jesus instructed the weary unsuccessful fishermen to try again.
Galatians 6:9 says Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Don’t give up. Don’t give up talking to people about jesus. Don’t give up doing good things. Don’t give up making the right choices. Don’t give up serving God. Don’t give up believing Him for harvest and changed lives and lived out dreams.
Don’t give up because God is faithful and He keeps His word.
my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me void, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:11
Peter had a choice to believe Jesus and trust Jesus and obey Jesus and put down the net, even though in reality PETER was the expert fisherman. Fishing was in his blood. Fishing was probably ingrained into the pours of his skin! Who was Jesus? Some random stranger on the shore? A rabbai?
Do you hear what peter is saying? “though I’m tired form working all night, though I am weary, though I don’t think you know much about fishing, Jesus, though it makes no sense in human terms, because you say so, I will do it.”
How many times have we found ourselves in peters position and NOT responded in obedience the way peter did? Sometimes we ignore it because we’re tired, or busy, or because it was inconvenient or because I didn’t really believe Jesus would work a miracle or because his request made no sense in human terms.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Sometimes when God calls us to do something it seems implausible, inconvenient and impossible!
But that’s not an escape clause.
So how – when the going gets tough how do we keep going?
- You might be praying for a family member or friend… and cant see any results or change
- You might be believing for an opportunity to step out and live your call, you keep serving at entry level faithfully but are still waiting
- You might feel called but don’t know how you’ll get from HERE to THERE
- You might be believing for a prodigal son to come home
- You might be worn out with the season of life, wondering if things will ever get easier
- You might be struggling with on going health issues and want to see breakthrough and health
- You might be weary of the mundane mechanics of rubber meets the road life
- You might be busy in your dream role, living out your call, but finding it challenging and people unresponsive
- You might be seeing God do amazing things in your friends lives but find it difficult to feel His presence
Don’t get weary in doing good. Don’t get weary in believing, in hoping, in praying, in serving, in worshipping, in trusting.
God doesn’t work to microwave timing. He works to HIS timing. At the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. At the proper time. Not our time, but HIS time.
The key is to not give up, to keep pressing in, to find an internal strength based on the promises and faithfulness of God that keeps us motivated that keeps us refreshed and motivated.
Sometimes you need to change perspective – see life from His perspective – from His promises.
“He is the God of the multitude and the God of the individual…He will not overlook your tiniest need.”
He sees you and He knows you, He has called you and purposed you. That call you’re leaning towards – its HIS. Those kids you want to come back to Jesus – they’re HIS. Those people you pray for – HIS TOO.
But He calls us to partner with Him and He EMPOWERS us to serve with Him and I Can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40
Refocus your attention on God. Get His vantage viewpoint. Pray and worship. Listen for His voice. WAIT on the Lord.
Refocus on the harvest of what you are doing. Those people that you’re praying for… will see miracles in their lives. The people you’re leading and serving at church are having their lives changed.
When I got saved I talked to my sister about Jesus and she told me to never talk to God again….
A few months ago tony and I got a fb message from someone we used to know, they asked if they could come round “to talk to us” – they had been out of our lives and XXXXXXXXX for about 9 years and XXXXXXXXXX now at bible college
Never give up on someone, because you know what. God is at work. He never gives up on us or them. It may take time…
I often find that if I am wanting to give up that I need to refuel my spirit. Just as we need food to keep our bodies going, and fuel to keep a fire going, and fuel to keep a car going… we need fuel to keep our spirit going.
Your fuel might be conversations with other people who spark you. It might be reading books that inspire you. It might be worship. Of course the Word of God is supercharging
Often in this time of weariness – this time of discouragement – this time of refocusing and refuelling the enemy can pounce on our vunerability and make us want to not only give up but to pull back… to step back or to drop out. Don’t listen to him. REMAIN where you are, continue to press through, continue to do good. There is a harvest coming, but don’t give up! Remember how philippa talked about the disciples on the road to Emmaus a few months ago – they gave up and they got out, heading to Emmaus, instead of remaining in the upper room where Jesus appeared to them after His resurrection.
In the midst of the PROCESS between the promise and the fulfilment sometimes you just have to resolve to stand up, to press in and to move forward. No matter how long it takes and not matter how hard it is.
That’s how guys get to the top of mt everest. That’s how gold medals are won. That’s how great marriages are made. That’s how great ministries are forged.
Sometimes you’ve just got to make a decision to be a victor not a victim, to be an overcomer, not overwhelmed. Sometimes we’ve got to make that decision to walk by faith, trusting in God, while all around us are challenges and obstacles.
never never never give up on those hard and frustrating moments of waiting of God and pressing into Him, because one day you will live in the fruits of those moments!
God calls us to be fishers of men. To live our lives in such a way that it demonstrates the reality and goodness of God to those around us. So that they too will come to know God and His saving power, that they too will be transformed inside out and become good fish.
The gift of salvation is not something we could ever earn, but its not something we should keep secret either.
“…think of the gospel as a stone landing in a pond. The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus are the cause of many ripples; they are the epicenter of God’s work in the world. The first ripple is our personal reconciliation to God. Matt Chandler
Then the other ripples that ripple outwards are the results of God at work in our lives as we live as witnesses and ambassadors, as fishermen in the world. In essence, we are reconciled to reconcile.
This morning the challenge is… the encouragement is this:
firstly, make sure you’re a good fish, make sure you have peace with God.
Secondly, be a fisherman. Use your life to demonstrate the reality and goodness of God
And thirdly, don’t give up. Don’t give up. At the proper time, at the God ordanined time, you will reap a harvest. Don’t give up.
notes from my message at church this morning