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Are You a Fisher of Men?

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The Outdoorsman's Bible

"Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against you." Psalm 119:11 Have you ever really thought about what the Bible has to say about hunting, fishing, and the great outdoors? You may be surprised that God's Word has much to say about these things and that wise and sustainable consumptive use of the natural resources with which God has so richly blessed us is not only acceptable to God but is, indeed, sanctioned by Him and is part of His marvelous plan for us on this earth! God's design was for us to interact intimately with His created world so we might be constantly reminded of His own nature, and of the fact that we are unique among all creatures because He made us in His own image! Right after God made man and woman and placed them in the Garden of Eden, he assigned to Adam and Eve their first jobs. Genesis 1:28 describes this assignment, when "... God blessed them, and God said to them, ' Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.'" God's plan for us includes close contact with His created world, and he assigned us to be not only users, but also stewards, of the natural world. He provided the wonders of the natural world for us to enjoy, for us to manage and for us to be reminded constantly of His very existence and His infinite love for us.

In the following paragraphs we have identified for you some scriptures that talk about hunting, fishing, and the outdoors things we love to spend time doing. You can print the following paragraphs if you desire. We hope you will take a few moments in a quiet place, a deer stand, camp, fishing pier, your den, or wherever it is you spend time reflecting on the wonders of God's creation, to look at God's Word, the Holy Bible, from an outdoorsman's perspective. As you do, prepare to be drawn into God's presence!

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Hunters

"So the boys grew. And Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field; but Jacob was a mild man, dwelling in tents." Genesis 25:27

In Biblical times, hunting was primarily a means of providing food for the family table. Esau became a skillful hunter by studying game trails, feeding areas, and other signs in the wild, but it didn't just happen overnight.

It takes time and effort to develop the skills to harvest a bull elk, long-bearded gobbler, a trophy whitetail or a limit of mallards. Many novice hunters have all the right equipment but don't know how to use it properly. All the equipment money can buy is useless unless we understand how to apply it to our efforts.

Life can be like learning to hunt. God says in II Timothy 2:15 "study to show thyself approved unto God..." Good hunters must become skillful, prepared and diligent. The ultimate "hunt" in life is seeking a relationship with the greatest huntmaster of all, Jesus Christ. He is not hard to find, but we must seek Him. Matthew 6:33 tells us "Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you as well." God desires us to seek Him every day. When it comes to seeking God there are no closed seasons and, unlike the wild game we pursue, God wants us to find Him through a relationship with His Son Jesus!

If you feel like hunting....I Chronicles 16:10-12; 22:19; 28:8-9; II Chronicles 7:14-15; 12:14; 15:12; 19:3; 31:21; Psalm 34:10; 31:14; 40:16; 42:1; 63:1; 70:4; 119:2; Proverbs 8:17; 28:5; Isaiah 34:16; Jeremiah 29:13; Hosea 10:12; Amos 5:14; Matthew 7:7-8; John 5:30; Acts 17:27.

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Fishermen

And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, 'Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.' They immediately left their nets and followed Him." Matthew 4:18-20

Fishermen were among the first people Jesus recruited to help Him during His ministry here on earth. He seems to have had a special affinity for fishermen. He seems to have known they could understand what He meant when He called them to become "fishers of men."

In that day fishermen were common people of modest means. The fact that Jesus could use ordinary fishermen such as Peter and Andrew to do God's work demonstrates He doesn't necessarily need celebrities, superstars, or people of great means to accomplish great things. He simply needs people who are willing to let Him play vital roles in His work. But like any good fisherman, we must be sure our lines are fresh, the knots are strong, and our hooks are sharp! Be sure to sharpen your hooks in God's Word.... Zechariah 4:6; Matthew 17:20; 18:3-4; 19:26; John 11:40; Hebrews 4:12; 13:21; II Timothy 2:15; 3:17; James 4:6.

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Fish

"And He said to them. 'Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.' So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish." John 21:6

All of us have experienced the inevitable drought in our hunting and fishing pursuits. You know the deal....days spent in the stand or blind without seeing or hearing anything, or hours of casting without so much as a strike! These can be discouraging times. But experienced hunters and anglers know there are two ways to break such a drought....either patiently wait for something to change or proactively change tactics or even move to another place.

Jesus' disciples had fished all night and had nothing to show for it. They were mired in a drought, bone-tired, and ready to hang up their nets. But Jesus calmly instructed them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat, where success was just one more cast away!

Sometimes in life we need to stop and listen to God...He often wants us to adjust our routines to be more in line with His plans for us. In fact, drawing alongside God and aligning our lives with His will for us almost always requires an adjustment on our part. But like the tired fishermen on that dawn long ago, listening to and following His directions always has its rewards! God says that drawing near to Him always results in a relationship that is real and personal. When we are obedient to Him, we can truly experience His grace and power in our lives, and we can see Him do things through us that we could never do on our own! Which side of the boat are you fishing on?....II Chronicles 7:14; Psalm 46:10a; 48:14; 58:11; 95:7; 100:3; Job 37:2; 37:14; Matthew 6:33-34; Luke 5:6; Acts 5:29; Philippians 2:13; 4:13.

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God's Creation

"Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth..." Ecclesiastes 12:1a

God provides us the opportunity and the privilege to "exercise dominion" over every living creature on the earth and He provides all of His creation to support us and to provide food and sustenance.

In addition to the provision of food and fiber that we are provided in these resources, we also are given the ability to simply enjoy interacting with these same resources in a hands-on, up-close and personal way. Simply put, the outdoor experience provides a wonderful venue and basis for understanding the might of The Lord and to instill in our very hearts and souls an appreciation of His wonderful love for us.

As you head to the waters and the woods, stop and observe. Watch the ducks cup their wings, marvel at the white nose and ears of the hill fox squirrel splattered onto the sea of red and black hairs, listen to the honking geese overhead after dark, wonder how the whitetail can mysteriously appear and then disappear before your very eyes in an oak flat, watch the owl swoop silently past your blind just before daylight, and shudder as the coyotes play their "song dog" symphonies in the distant darkness. Enjoy the outdoor celebration of the Creator's works....both in the form of the wondrous natural beauty that surrounds us, and in the form of His Son who born into humble means, fulfilled His Father's plan and now reigns as King of Kings.

Yes, teach your children to hunt, and be with them as they do it. Teach them to savor time spent in this temporary outdoor "gift shop," where all the things the Owner of this "store" offers are free, but priceless! Instill in them a love and respect for the creation. But more importantly, use lessons and blessings gleaned in those experiences to come to know and to experience, in a personal way, the greatest gift of all time, the eternal Jesus Christ. Psalm 19:1-6; 65:6-13; 93:1; Isaiah 6:3; 16:19; 28:18; John 3:16; 14:27; Acts 1:8; 2:38; Romans 1:20; I Corinthians 3:10; Ephesians 2:8-9; James 1:12; 4:6.

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Do You Know God?

Perhaps the comments contained herein the Outdoorsman's Bible have provided you a clearer understanding of not only the wondrous joys God created and provides for us in the natural world, but also greater insight into the very nature of God Himself.

As outdoors people, we should realize and fully understand that the hunting, fishing, and outdoor adventures we cherish are given for our enjoyment but can in no way provide true fulfillment. Our outdoor pursuits provide trophies for the den or cabin wall, but these and the satisfaction and joy they afford are only temporary. Trophies on the wall, and the memories they bring to our minds, can add pleasure to our days but cannot truly provide fulfillment in life. True fulfillment can be found only in a personal relationship with God's Son, Jesus Christ.

We all know what it's like to "miss the target," whether we are shooting at game or casting to a lunker's hideout. A miss never results in a trophy but usually to frustration and disappointment. Did you know the word used in the Bible for "sin" literally means "to fall short of the target," or "to miss"?

Romans 3:23 "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God"

In our lives, missing the target, or sin, always ultimately results in frustration, disappointment, and failure. Sin has a price, but God desires to freely share His eternal "trophy" (a relationship with Jesus) with each of us.

Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

God not only shows His love for us through the beauty and wonder of His outdoor creation but ultimately through His Son, Jesus. Although the created world cannot fulfill us and make our lives complete, Jesus can!

Romans 5:8 "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

God offers us a free gift we can neither earn nor deserve. He offers us a relationship with Jesus, which is the greatest trophy we could ever imagine. Unlike trophies for which we work hard in life, eternal life through Jesus is available only as a free gift from God; we can do nothing to qualify for it.

Romans 10:9,10 "That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."

All you must do to receive this eternal "trophy," an eternal life through a personal relationship with His son, Jesus Christ, is ask God.

Romans 10:13 "For whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved."

If you do not already know Jesus in a personal way, He tells us He is waiting and available. God, Himself, desires a personal relationship with you through Jesus. Perhaps you now recognize your need to know Him.

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You Can Respond Right Now!

How do you answer the question "Do you know God?" If the answer is "no", or "I'm not sure," but you'd like to be able to say enthusiastically, "YES!" then the Good News through Jesus Christ is that you CAN know Him!

Simply share the following prayer with God in your own words:

"God, I admit I am a sinner and that I need You. I ask You to forgive me of my sins and to give me freedom from eternal death. I believe Jesus died on the cross and that He rose from the grave to forgive my sins and restore my relationship with You. I now invite Jesus Christ into my life to be my Lord and Savior. I give You my life. I want my life to count for You. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me. Amen."

If you prayed this prayer, or something similar, confessing your sins and asking Jesus to forgive your sins and to become Lord of your life, we rejoice with you! Or perhaps you were already able to say "Yes, I do know God!" In either case, we want to leave this simple message. As hunters and fishermen, we desire to share our passions for outdoor activities with our children, family, friends and, sometimes, even strangers. In the same way, we should desire, as children of God, to introduce others to the Creator. Time spent outdoors, considering the wonders of an almighty God, sharing how God reveals Himself through His creation, is a good way to lead others to Him!

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Laurel Montana 59044