When Your Hard Work Doesn’t Seem to Pay Off…

My dad’s favorite recreation was fishing.  After his busy day of preaching on Sunday he headed for Lake Texoma early Monday morning.  For him a day without fishing was a wasted day.  It was the way he relaxed.  So growing up in North Central Texas I spent many, many hours fishing with my dad.

If you’ve ever been around an evangelistic preacher who was also a fisherman, you know they have a lot of fish stories about big catches or the big ones that got away.   The more they tell them the bigger they get.  I could tell you all kinds of real fun fish stories.

Maybe you find yourself at times like the fishermen in Luke 5. They believed, worked hard, prayed and were still coming up empty. No Fish! No Catch! No Results! No Payoff!

If you’ve ever felt discouraged by your job, your finances, your health, or your family (marriage) then hopefully you will be encouraged today. We are going to talk about some truths that teach us lessons on what to do in tough times.

None of the fishing miracles that you’ve heard in your lifetime can match the one in Luke chapter 5.  This is the second miracle of Jesus so it’s very early on in his ministry. Let me give you a little background.

Four of the twelve disciples of Jesus were fishermen.  Peter and Andrew were brothers and James and John were brothers.  These four guys had a fishing business in northern Israel around the beautiful Sea of Galilee.

They’ve been out all night fishing on the Sea of Galilee.  They’ve caught nothing, nada, zero, zip.  The lake is in recession.  Nothing is biting right now.  They’re going through tough times in their job.  They are working hard, but catching nothing.

Jesus comes along and asks to borrow one of their boats to teach from. So he got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon Peter, and asked him to put out a little from shore.  Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.

In verse 4 it says this “When Jesus had finished speaking he said to Simon, ‘Now launch out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.’ [Remember they had just fished all night.] Simon answered, ‘Master, we’ve worked hard all night and we haven’t caught anything.”

Ever felt like this. Haven’t made a sale, haven’t closed a deal, haven’t sold a house, haven’t stepped up.  In fact, I’m out of work right now.  We’ve worked all night and we’ve caught nothing.  You can hear the discouragement in his voice.

Sometimes this happens in life.  Sometimes you give it your best shot and you still come up empty.  Sometimes you work hard, and you work long, and you’ve got nothing to show for it.  Sometimes you even do what you think is the right thing to do in your job, in your career, and you make a decision. You may even think God’s leading you to do it.  And it doesn’t pan out.  You go start this business and it falls apart.  All of these things where you think God is leading you in this way and it doesn’t happen.

Sometimes you hang in there with your marriage and you struggle.  Maybe you get some counsel and you read books and you really try to make the thing work, but you don’t see any improvement at all.  It just isn’t getting any better.

The fact is, this miracle has a lot to teach us because everybody’s fishing for something.

Sometimes we’re fishing for approval. Maybe you’re fishing for security. Maybe you’re fishing for significance.  “I want my life to count.” Maybe you’re fishing for a wife or a husband. Maybe you’re out of work and you’re fishing for a job.  “I need work.”  Everybody’s fishing for something.

This miracle teaches us what do you do when you come up empty.  When you’ve been fishing all night and you don’t see any results from it.  This is a very powerful miracle.  You need it to understand how to get through this recession.

When these fishermen, these four guys, did what Jesus tells them to do in this miracle they not only receive a miracle, but they’re blessed more than they can handle.  They actually have to share it with other people.  And their lives are changed forever.

Friends, that’s a fish story!  You’re not going to top that one.

Here’s the point: they caught more in ten minutes than they had caught in ten hours.  This is what’s called a miracle of acceleration.  Where God speeds up the process.  When you understand the principle of the miracle of acceleration, you don’t worry about timing.

You may go a month or two months or a year or two years without work.  It doesn’t really matter because God can turn on a faucet like that as quickly as one got turned off.  The fact is, God can do more in ten minutes in your life than you can do in ten years.  If you will do it the way he tells you to do it.

What makes the difference?  This is the point.  What makes the difference between working all night and coming up empty on your own, and having so much blessing in your life that you’re sinking from it.  There’s too much! So much blessing in your life materially you have to spread it around or you’re going to sink under the load.  What made the difference between emptiness and overflowing?

Jesus says in the book of Matthew “According to your faith it will be done unto you.” The disciples did four things.  They took four steps of faith.  We will take a look at these four steps of faith next week and see if we can learn how to make it through hard times.

This miracle teaches us what do you do when you come up empty.  When you’ve been fishing all night and you don’t see any results from it.  This is a very powerful miracle.  You need it to understand how to get through difficult times.

About Ron

Ron and Anne founded the first Christian Fellowship Church in Harlingen, Texas in 1982. Ron presently serves as its apostolic overseer. He travels nationally and internationally motivating and challenging people to be effective in their call and ministry to their local church, their community, and the marketplace.

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  1. “The fact is, God can do more in ten minutes in your life than you can do in ten years. If you will do it the way he tells you to do it”. – Amen.

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