Dr. Michael Youssef with a word about following Jesus. Jesus said, follow me and I will make you fishers of men. To follow Jesus means that you are willing to abandon yourself to Him. To follow Jesus means that you are willing to be more concerned about Him and His kingdom and His work and His heart.
than your own world. Following Jesus is not adhering to a set of religious rules or guidelines. It requires willingness to give up everything for God's kingdom. Today on Leading the Way, Dr. Youssef continues his series called Divine Discontent.
Looking at when Jesus called His disciples to be fishers of men and what that means for Christians today. So listen with me as Dr. Michael Youssef begins. Many of you remember Sam Ayub who served as the chief financial officer of Coca-Cola for many years. Most often when he asks you for something, he would ask it in such a way that you could never say no. He developed that.
Somebody asked him, was that something he developed in the Middle East? He said, no, I learned it in New York. So Sam comes into my house one day and bangs on the table and he said, we are going fishing. I said, we're doing what? He said, we're going fishing. And immediately in my head, I mean all I know about fishing is that people with loads of time and patience and know-how, I guess, because all I see them standing there for hours, you know.
Fishing, that's my idea of fishing. And I said, Sam, but I realize of course there's no use trying even, although I did try, but he was not going to take no for an answer. Well, finally I said, Sam, where are we going fishing? He said, Canada.
Canada? Sam, I don't have this kind of time. I'm on the time frame. He said, I'm a trustee and I'm giving you time off. I said, all right.
Finally he walked out the door and he said, see you at five o'clock on Tuesday, whatever the day was, at the airport, flight such and such, don't worry about anything else, just bring your clothes. I've never fished before in my life. I know nothing about fishing. I tried to explain that to him. I said, Sam, do you understand that I never fish?
No, I don't care, just show up. So I showed up, we flew to Minneapolis, and from there we drove 300 miles into Canada, in the Canadian border. I was very apprehensive. I mean, I cannot tell you, I just felt it was just going to be a futile trip. I love Sam, I love to be with Sam, but I don't know how to fish, I don't want to fish.
I wish Sam hadn't gone to all this trouble and bought me a ticket and on and on and on and on. But my biggest fear, by far, is that we would get on the plane and Sam would say, we're going to be camping for three days. Well, Sam enjoyed camping. Now I've got to tell you something, those of you who don't know me, I am not made for camping. This body is not made for camping. The closest to camping I want to go is the Holiday Inn. So I was so worried about that, and finally we got to our destination, and it turned out to be a very nice fishing resort. I didn't know such thing existed. And when we got there, there were lots of people from everywhere, from Indiana, from Ohio, from all over the United States, and this is a very nice place.
It is a nice resort. I didn't know people were that fanatical about it, you know, that's alright. If you are, forgive me. I think it's alright for you. I said, okay, now it's not camping, but I bet tomorrow will be a whole new day. So we get up in the morning, and in the dining room they served a wonderful breakfast. I didn't eat much because I was worried I might get seasick in the lake. So the two of us get in a boat, and a guide, he's a Canadian Indian who knew those parts of Canada like the back of his hand.
I mean those guys, they're from there, they know the area, they understood all that needs to be understood, so that gave me some comfort. Then I saw the resort management loading the boat with all kinds of stuff, and I got a sneaking suspicion that we aren't going to come back for lunch. So we took off into some deep waters, and the guide said, here, we're going to stop here. There is fish here.
And boy, he knew what he was talking about. I mean the fish was asking us to catch them. So what do I do? I don't know which end is that thing, what do you call that, the rod? I don't know which end is it. He hands it to me. He said, just hold it this way.
Okay, I can do that. He took the hook, and he put the right bait on that hook. And he said, do you think you can throw it in the water? I said, I don't know.
It's too technical, but I try. And I throw the line into the water, and a few minutes, literally, two minutes later, he said, okay, now pull, pull. I said, what do you mean? He said, reel it in.
I said, how do you know? He said, you got a big fish. He said, you know this by looking at this line?
He said, yep. He said, no, just reel it in, reel it in. I said, reel it in, reel it in. And sure enough, it wasn't seaweed or old shoe or something. It was huge fish.
Now, I want to tell you something. I'll never forget that feeling I had at that very moment when I caught this big fish. No apprehension whatsoever about fishing. Where was my reluctance about going fishing?
Man, I said, okay, let's do this again. This is good. I'm good at this. What about my total ignorance of how to fish, and I've never done this, I've done the other thing.
What about my complaining and moaning and sulking? Well, it all disappeared at that moment when I caught the big one. When I caught that big fish, all of a sudden, I became an instant expert fisherman. I felt like I am an instant authority on fishing. I felt instantly that I have all the knowledge that needs to be known about fishing. Well, I've had a couple of humbling experiences since then, but that's all right.
I want to tell you about those. But at least for that moment, I became an expert. What's the secret of my success? Well, there were several things, actually, that had to take place. First, I had to realize that my apprehension and my fear and my uncertainty were stemming from the fact that I've never fished before.
And isn't that true that what we do not know is what really keeps us in our comfort zone? Well, since I hadn't been to fishing school, I thought, I don't know how to fish. Not only that, but I did not want to experience failure. I did not want to go fishing and stand there for hours like these dear people I see fishing and then have nothing to show for it. I didn't want to experience failure. But why did all of these apprehensions disappear the moment I caught the big one?
What happened to my reluctance and complaining? Well, you know what the answer is, don't you? Sam. That's what the secret was. Sam took care of everything. Sam ensured that I would become a success. Sam made sure that an expert was in the boat with us. Sam trusted that this expert would take us to the right place where the fish were. Sam trusted this expert will take us fishing and using the right bait and the right hooks and all the right things. That's why I've become a success.
Had I tried to do all this by myself, I promise you, I wouldn't know where to go, what to use and where. Everything would have been wrong. And I would have ended up in failure and disappointment and I would have never fished again. What made the difference? Sam. Sam made the difference. Now I want you to turn in your Bibles to Matthew chapter 4 verse 19.
I'm going to put it in context. Verse 19 comes in right after Jesus had called his disciples. After he called them and he said, follow me, he uses verse 19. Now, remember this, most if not all Jesus' disciples were professional fishermen. They were not hobby fishermen. These were fishing men for living.
Some of them had a lucrative fishing business, very successful fishing business. And Jesus said to them, verse 19, after he called them to follow him, he said, follow me and I will make you fishers of men. Now this is one of those messages that has only two points. Some of you heard me say this before when I was in seminary. In seminary one time I asked the professor, he said, how many points a sermon should have? He said, at least one.
Well, this is two. What did Jesus mean by following him in order that he may make them? And secondly, why fishers of men?
Two questions. What does it mean to follow Jesus? Well, in the context here of this passage, to follow Jesus means that you are willing to abandon yourself to him. To follow Jesus means that you are willing to be more concerned about him and his kingdom and his work and his heart than your own world. To follow Jesus means that you are willing to sacrifice what is near and dear.
Sometimes that's your strong opinion. Sometimes that means you're going to sacrifice your ideas. Sometimes that means that you're going to sacrifice your stubborn will that's standing in the way of following Jesus.
It means that you are willing to place him above your needs and your wants. You notice I said willing, willing, willing, willing? Because sometimes God does not necessarily ask you to do any of these things. But you've got to be willing.
And that's what he's looking for. I remember each preacher from yesteryear once said, he said, if you're not willing you can pray. He said, God, make me willing to be willing. And I prayed that many times.
Lord, make me willing to be willing. Look at the context. He just called these very successful fishermen. These very successful businessmen who had a profitable business. And he called them to follow him at least for a time and hand over the business to somebody else. He had just called these strong leaders to be his followers.
He had just called these decision makers to humble themselves and trust him completely. I want you to hear me right on this one. I don't want you to miss it. You see, we tend to forget that you're fishing pond, whatever it may be. There are people around you who are watching you. And they're watching you more than you even realize. They're watching everything. They're watching to see how you act. They're watching to see how you talk. They're watching to see how you react.
They're watching to see how you live. And if they see no bait to attract them, if they see no bait to allure them, If they know bait that they want. Listen to me beloved friends, if they see a person who claims to be a Christian, a believer in Jesus Christ, who is full of bitterness and anger and jealousy and envy and hatred and gossip and unforgiveness, if they see us doing some shady deals and not caring for the other person, if they see us being hypocrites indulging ourselves while we are criticizing others for doing the same thing, that fish will run away, will run away.
They don't want this kind of life, they got it all thank you very much. And so Jesus was saying, to be fishers of people you need to model him. Just as I had to trust Sam and follow his directions and instructions, just as I had to depend on Sam, just as I had to trust him, you and I have to follow Jesus completely and abandon ourselves to him and he's going to do the rest.
That's the thing, he's going to do the rest. You see fishing is not hard when Jesus is in charge. Whenever he's in the boat you can be sure you're going to be a success.
All you need to do is you place him first in your life, all you need to do is to emulate him in your life, all you need to do is copy his example in your life and he will ensure that you're a success in the business of fishing for Jesus. Why did Jesus then secondly say fishers of men? Why didn't he say hunters of men? Why didn't he say persuaders of men? Why didn't he say good salesmen sell the gospel to men? Why didn't he say teachers of men? Actually the answer is going to surprise you, it's so simple.
It really is, it's very simple. You see Jesus was speaking to fishermen, so he's speaking to them in the context of their life experience. He's talking to them in the context of their expertise in life, what they do for living. Had Jesus talking to hunters, he'd say hunters of men. He's talking to a group of salesmen, he'd say persuaders of men.
I think he would vary it depending on, he's talking to fishermen and so he's speaking to them in the context of their life because all they know is fishing. They grew up since little boys, that's all they know to do and so Jesus is saying regardless of where you are, regardless of what you do, take your skills and use them for my kingdom. Take your talents and use them for the salvation of the lost. Take your expertise and your experience and use them for my glory. That's what he's saying in your neighborhood, in your office, in your social club, in your sphere of influence, whatever it might be.
These are all your fishing ponds. God placed you there for a reason. Listen, this is something I learned from Charles Spurgeon. You know I was struggling as a young preacher and I began to read this great man who suffered from a lot of depression in his years of ministry, one of the great preachers of yesteryear in London. One of his chapters he was saying, don't ever forget that the childhood that you had was by God's will. The parents that you had and the grandparents, the homes you lived in, the schools you went to, it's all by God's will. God placed you in all these places so that you'll be you and not somebody else. God is not interested in duplicating people.
He's not interested in making copies. He's done all that he has done for you in placing you where you are today for one purpose. That is to be you and that Jesus might live in you. You don't have to go to a 10-year training school to be a good fisher of men. You don't need to learn a new skill. You don't need to change.
You don't need to be somebody else, no. Take what God gave you. Take where God has placed you. Take whom God brings to you. Take all of that and follow Jesus.
Just follow Jesus and he'll make you a success. Just as my reluctance in going fishing was based on my thinking that I have to know everything, I have to do everything, and I have to have all the facts under my belt as it were. So is so many Christians who are reluctant to witness for Jesus Christ.
It really is. They think that they have to do everything they have to know, everything. They don't realize God did it all and he's going to do it through you.
All you need to do, you throw the line in the water. Jesus already has put the bait on the hook and God is going to do the rest. Just as Sam set everything up for me, God has already set up everything for you.
He's taken care of all the details. Just invite them to the dinner. Invite them to LifeWorks. Invite them to the church. Invite them to your small group. Invite them.
They are waiting to be invited. Let me tell you this as I conclude, many years ago, an Italian recluse was found dead in his house. And when his friends went over to the house to try to sort out what they thought the few things that he had left behind, to their utter amazement they discovered 246 expensive violins hidden all over the house, 246 expensive violins. Virtually all the money that this man had, and he lived very frugally, all the money that he saved, he would save and go and buy expensive violins and then he stashed them away in his house. So misdirected, his devotions to that beautiful instrument. He robbed the world. He robbed the world of those beautiful sounds that the violins make because he selfishly treasured these violins. The world never heard the beautiful music that it could have been played. In fact, I heard it was reported that the first violin, the great Stradivarius, the great violin that's ever made.
It was not played for 147 years. Now beloved, I want to tell you something. Many Christians treat their faith like this man treated those violins. They really do. They hide the light and they hoard the treasures and they stash the great treasure. They don't realize that by not sharing the light, by not sharing the treasure, the most precious treasure of all, their faith. They are missing out on the joy of seeing others experience salvation. They are reluctant like me. They're reluctant to give away their most treasured possession with the result of their neighbors and friends continuing to live in darkness, continuing to live in poverty, spiritual poverty that is. Just like my reluctance to go fishing. They think that they have to do everything themselves.
They think they have to know everything. Well, in reality, all they have to do is follow Jesus. He said, follow me and I will make you fishers of men. You're listening to Leading the Way with Dr. Michael Youssef. Would you like to speak with a pastoral team member to help you learn how to be a fisher of men or perhaps to see how you can experience true peace? The place to begin is ltw.org slash Jesus, ltw.org slash Jesus.
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