God, You love me. I choose You. Help me be bold and courageous to share the Gospel with all people. May they also have the chance to choose You and live forever with You!

Series Focus: “Thy Kingdom Come”

Worms? No thank you. Time with my dad—even if it meant “fishing”—yes please! My most memorable fishing trip doesn’t stand out because of all the fish we caught; it is because of what we caught. We weren’t trying to catch him—but a cottonmouth sure wanted what we had. One minute I was wading in the water with my bamboo fishing pole, and the next, my dad was yelling and pulling me up on the bank with the ferocity of a bear protecting her young!

What happened? That venomous snake was swimming right into our fishing net to get our fish—and that net was floating a little too close to me. I will never forget the look of panic on my dad’s face as he rescued me from certain injury. Let’s just say that snake never bothered us again. I never saw the danger in front of me that day, but my father did.

Let’s get back to the water for a moment. Come climb into a fishing boat belonging to a man named Simon (Peter) and his brother Andrew. These men fished day after day for their livelihood. Using huge, heavy nets they would drag the waters in the hopes of catching as many fish as they could. Now, in these days, the Jewish people still had the Law of God to follow. And when the nets were brought out of the water, the fish had to be sorted into what was good and what was considered bad. Let’s look at Leviticus 11:9-12 (ESV) to have a clearer understanding of what was this meant:

“These you may eat, of all that are in the waters. Everything in the waters that has fins and scales, whether in the seas or in the rivers, you may eat. But anything in the seas or the rivers that does not have fins and scales, of the swarming creatures in the waters and of the living creatures that are in the waters, is detestable to you. You shall regard them as detestable; you shall not eat any of their flesh, and you shall detest their carcasses. Everything in the waters that does not have fins and scales is detestable to you.

Abiding by the Law meant fishermen would have been very careful in sorting the fish. Not one “bad” fish could be in the “good” pile. But then one day—Jesus arrives on the shore where these two are casting their nets. With one commanding sentence from Jesus, their lives change. Jesus called them to be His first disciples:

While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him.
(Matthew 4:18-20)

I doubt Peter and Andrew understood what He meant by “fishers of men,” at that moment. But something (or someone) drew them from the boat into the ministry of Jesus the Messiah. These men, along with His other disciples and followers, listened and learned from Jesus daily. As the number of followers grew, so did the persecution and inquisition. With every man who believed Jesus was the Messiah there were others who did not. Jesus taught His disciples about the Kingdom of Heaven over and over. In fact, it is mentioned 32 times in the gospel of Matthew. This was important to Christ. And this remains important! Why? Because there will be consequences for those who believe and those who do not. Good consequences and bad consequences.

 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 13:47-50)

It is true that our world is full of temptation, pain, and uncertainty; but we also have joy, kindness and hope. Terrible things do happen everyday. Miracles also occur daily. People we may never meet make choices, and the outcomes—good or bad—can still affect us. We may walk into muddy waters and not see the serpents lurking and waiting to attack. But the beautiful thing is, God can. He sees those dangers, pitfalls, sufferings and upheavals. Nothing gets past Him. He sees everything. And because of His love for us, we can ultimately be saved from the final fury of death. We have a Savior. But we must choose Him. And we must share the Gospel of Christ with anyone we can. Just like casting a net into the waters to catch fish, we must take the Gospel message and spread it into the world-that many would be drawn to HIM.

We have read His word, and His word holds all Truth. There will be a sorting out at the end of the age. Angels will come to separate the evil from the righteous. Who are counted as the righteous? Please do not miss this – Those of us who have placed our trust in Jesus as our Savior will be counted (sorted) as righteous—because of Christ’s sacrifice—and we shall be placed in good containers. You will not make it into a GOOD container because of anything you do.

As I look back upon my life, there are moments I would like to change, have a do-over, or just make a different decision. My dad was good at saving me from those outside dangers, but only Jesus could save me from myself. He saved me from the decisions I made that benefitted me but hurt others. The lies I told so I could hide my sinful behaviors. The days I went to church in the morning and off to do whatever my “flesh” wanted to do that same evening. Just like the cottonmouth, I didn’t see those dangers in the moment either, but my Heavenly Father did. And when He drags the net through this world in His perfect timing, I want to be found a faithful servant of the Lord Jesus. He deserves all the credit for any good deed I ever do.

Holding Fast to Hope,

Jen

Scriptures: Leviticus 11:9-12; Matthew 4:18-20, 13:47-50; Psalm 145:18-19; Joshua 1:9; Zephaniah 3:17; John 14:16-17; Matthew 25:23

Video will be posted on Friday following each Monday Morning Hope post.