When he [Jesus] had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch" (Luke 5:4).
Then He [Jesus] said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men" (Matthew 4:19, Emphasis mine).
It can be scary to leave the place of the shallows to go into the deep, but that's where the big fish are. That's where we experience significant changes to our character and grow to be more like Jesus, and I think that is what all believers want. Many years ago, while working with my father on his commercial fishing boat on the east coast of England, the Lord spoke to me from the above verse, challenging me to leave my father’s fishing boat behind and follow Christ. I didn’t know anything other than being at sea. I just knew that I had to follow the Lord’s leading. My intellect, or it could have been the enemy, said, “What on earth are you doing?” “How are you going to earn a living now—you have never worked on the land, never worked in an office, who will employ you? You've only known fishing for a living."
I didn't know what I was going to do, but I had to leave my father's boat behind and push out into the deep to see what God would make of me. I began washing windows for a living—a humiliating time in my life, but learning to walk in humility was good for the soul, so I leaned into it and later became a painter and decorator. At the same time, I studied the Word of God, listening to teaching tapes while I painted. I started my own painting business to support my family while church planting. More than forty years later, I can testify that God is well able to make of us what He wants us to be.
When Peter responded to Jesus and went out into the deep, he caught a tremendous amount of fish. Afterward, the Lord called him to leave his nets and follow Him. You will never regret leaving the place where you are comfortable, to respond to Christ’s invitation; “Come, follow me, and I will make you....” The things of God come to those who respond in simple obedience. One might say, “How can I learn to minister like Jesus?” I would suggest that you respond to His call and do whatever he tells you to do. Jesus would say, "Come follow me, and I will make you to become...fishers of men." The primary way we develop a life of intimacy with Christ today is by spending time listening to Him and reading the Word of God, by prayer, and seeking to draw near to God. Surround yourself with others who are encouragers and lovers of God. He will make you into the person you are to be and direct your life into one of fruitfulness.
Some of you reading these daily devotions wonder how you can be fruitful and a fisher of men. I would suggest that you start where I started, gather two or three like-minded individuals and begin to share what God has done in your life, pray together and read and study the Word of God together. I invite you to use any of the free Bible studies on groupbiblestudy.com. There are now hundreds of studies in sixteen different languages with questions to discuss with your small group of friends. On the online studies, click the printer icon in the top right-hand corner, and it will open into a PDF format document so that you can print it easily. I’ve written these studies with you in mind. You don’t have to go to Bible school to lead a small group of people—start small. Small things done with great love can change the world. Step out of your comfort zone, push your boat out into the deep and see what God will do. You might be surprised at the abundance of fish you may catch. He who knows you best invites you to walk and work with Him. Keith Thomas