Summary: In order to fish for men, believers must learn the importance of following Christ

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The Secret to Fishing

Luke 9:23-26

Billy Bob and Jethro decided to go fishing on a cool spring day.

They arrived at the lake early in the morning and dropped in their lines in the water.

After fishing for a few hours, Billy Bob caught dozens of fish while Jethro hadn’t even got a bite.

Jethro asked, "Billy Bob, what’s your secret?"

Billy Bob answered, "Mmu motta meep da mmrms mmrm."

Jethro asked, "What did you say?"

Billy Bob answered, "Mmu motta meep da mmrms mmrm."

Jethro again asked, "What?"

Billy Bob spit into his hand and said, "You gotta keep the worms warm!"

As disciples of Christ, we have been called to be fishermen.

When Jesus called his early disciples, he exclaimed:

Matthew 4:19

19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”

The one requirement Jesus insisted to be fishermen of men is that we follow Him.

And the same call comes to anyone wishing to be his disciple today. In fact, until you learn to follow Christ, will you ever find fulfillment in your lives.

Henry Ward Beecher, a preacher who led the antislave movement in the 1800’s, once commented, "The strength and the happiness of a man consists in finding out the way in which God is going, and going in that way too."

However, what does it mean to follow Jesus? Do we mysteriously follow Jesus walking behind him in a trace?

And do you ever wonder why we are not catching more men and women for Christ, even though we believe we’re following Him?

Well, there’s a catch (pun intended)!

In the same way that Billy Bob discovered that fish bite better if you keep the worms warm, believers will also discover that unbelieving men and women are searching for Christians who not only say they are Christians, but back it up by their actions.

Jesus even admits that being followers of his require action on our part. In fact, these actions or disciplines are found in Luke, chapter 9, verse 23:

23 Then he (Jesus) said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

The crowds had gathered to hear every word that came from Jesus mind. They were intent on following Him. Some believed Him to be the Christ, the Messiah. In private, Jesus asked Peter who the crowds say he was, Peter responded,

Luke 9:19

“Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.”

What about you Peter, asked the Lord,

Luke 9:20b

Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”

So Jesus goes back to teaching the crowds:

Luke 9:23

23 Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me . . . ,

“If anyone would come after me,” is the perfect definition of what it means to be a disciple of Christ. “To come after or behind me,” means to that you’ve agreed to attach yourself to Jesus as his disciple.

Many of you this morning have agreed to be disciples of Jesus Christ. But perhaps you need to be refreshed on what is required of all of Christ’s disciples. Verse 23 provides us with three disciplines or actions of any disciple.

First Discipline: Deny One’s Self

Luke 9:23

23 Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself..

“he must deny himself.”

“To deny one’s self” in the Greek literally means to turn one’s self off, to refuse to have companionship with, to disown one’s self.

Jesus doesn’t beat around the bush. He says it clearly and precise: “If you’re going to follow me, you must disown yourself, turn yourself off!

In our society at large today, there aren’t many professed Christians who are living a life of disownment.

Denying one’s self is much, much more than just not doing certain things.

Boiled cabbage

I can say to self, for instance, “Billy, I’m going to deny myself of eating boiled cabbage for the next six months, and I would pass with flying colors, why? I don’t like boiled cabbage in the first place.

But that’s easy: but stuff like not watching television for a month, or not eating sweets for a week, are more difficult.

And yet, denying oneself does not mean just stop doing one activity in your life.

. Jesus’ requirement is he wants all of you – Denying oneself means denying all of self.

What makes denying self really difficult is that we humans are naturally self-centered. We fight every inch to have our own way.

But Jesus calls for complete self-denial

R.C. Lenski

Bible scholar R.C. Lenski illustrates the meaning of self denial this way:

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