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Devotionals

Fishing

Those who grew up during the “Depression” (August 1929 to March 1933) and lived through the Second World War (1 September 1939 to 2 September 1945) knew what survival was all about. Both periods were extremely hard financially, emotionally and relationally. During these periods people would have to supplement their income or create an income to feed the family and have a roof over their heads. The remarkable thing is that such people, because of necessity, found ways to generate an income and cut corners to ensure the family had the bare necessities.

I am certain that if you know such people (especially from the Depression, should they still be alive), they would be able to relate story after story about hardship and survival … and succeeding! I recall how as a ten year old, dad took me fishing to Kalk Bay Harbour one weeknight. He had learnt where, when and how to fish to put food on the table. Together we caught a sugar bag full of fish. After cleaning the fish he shared the catch with neighbours because without refrigeration the fish would have gone rotten. In this way we had a meal for two days, as did the neighbours. Fishing has been a means of income for men and women, almost forever.

Jn 21:1 Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias. It happened this way: 2 Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. 3 “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. 4 Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. 5 He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered. 6 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. 7 Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. 8 The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. 9 When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” 11 Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish.

When fishing there is often failure. If you have been fishing, be it with a rod from the harbor or rocks or with a fishing trawler, you will know that you don’t always catch fish! (3 “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.) It’s hard and even depressing when you fail to make a catch, especially when you are fishing for food or an income.

When fishing it’s always great to have a friend with you. It can be very lonely and depressive without companionship after being out fishing all night. Even though there were five disciples fishing, without a catch they were likely miserable. It’s hard work casting a net from a rowing boat. Between the rowing and hauling in the net its hard work … very frustrating when you don’t make a catch.

Jn 21:4 Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. 5 He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”

Although they were not aware of it, there was a friend waiting, to encourage and bless them.

When fishing you need to exercise faith. You go out with a purpose so you need to have faith you will achieve your purpose … catching fish! This friend … stranger … speaks:

Jn 21:5 He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered. 6 He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.”

Rather extraordinary … but in faith they do as this friend suggests … and guess what?

When fishing expect a find. When you fish with the right motive for the right purpose, exercising faith, you may expect a find.

Jn 21:6 … When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

At that moment they did not know who this friend was … but in listening and doing as He said they were successful.

When fishing there is nothing nicer than a fish braai. Fresh fish over the coals eaten steaming hot with your hands is nothing short of a delicacy … yet the experience is amplified when you enjoy your braai with a good friend or with good friends. Look what happened here:

Jn 21:7 Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!”

Re-read verses 7-13. What an experience … fellowshipping with their “friend” Jesus around a braai fire eating hot fish and hot bread for breakfast. A sunrise beach breakfast.

Meditate upon these five points and think about fishing for men (souls). Often our evangelistic efforts seem to be a failure. This is when it’s good to have a friend with you to be your comfort when there are no visible results. You prayed, you prepared but no catch! Then you realise you need to exercise faith and be expectant, trusting God to show you where to cast your Gospel net. He knows the place! And once you receive a positive response to the Gospel … your fellowship and union with Jesus is far more delightful than an early morning fish braai for breakfast!

O Lord, Sovereign God who knows all things. Show me how to fish for souls and direct me where to cast the Gospel net so that my evangelism might be productive and fruitful, harvesting souls for Your eternal Kingdom. Lord, there cannot be a greater privilege and honour than being able to fish for souls for Your Kingdom. Amen.

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