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Go Fish Study Guide - Week 1

PRAYER FOR THE WEEK:
Lord, there are times when I can really relate to Peter’s lament: “Lord, we’ve worked hard all night and caught nothing.” Sometimes it seems as though everything I try “comes up empty.” Yet you commissioned me, and all of us, as fishers of people for your Kingdom. So help me fish for people each day as your Spirit works through me to be your physical presence in my corner of the world. Amen.

MONDAY, Aug. 8th - Ezekiel 40:1-4, 47:1-12
Before Jesus’ day, Israelites showed little love of the sea or water-related activities. But they saw fish as a part of God’s creation (Genesis 1:20-23). Ezekiel was exiled in Babylon, a mighty city with reliable, secure fresh water from the Euphrates River. In Ezekiel’s vision of a new Temple, a vast river flowing from it would extend fishing clear to the bleak Dead Sea area.
• Ezekiel wrote, “There will be great schools of fish, because … wherever the river flows, everything will live” (verse 9). How has immersing yourself in the river of God’s love helped you to thrive?
• Babylon was one of the most powerful cities in the ancient Middle East. The symbol of a river larger than the Euphrates coming from the Temple in a rebuilt Jerusalem promised Israel water and food in a desert area. It stood for God-given life and security. In what ways does God offer you security in an insecure world?

TUESDAY, Aug. 9th - Luke 4:31-32, 4:38-5:3
The “Sea” of Galilee is a large lake, about 11 miles long and 7 miles wide. It’s nearly 700 feet below sea level in northern Israel, with the Jordan River running through it. Jesus spent his youth and early ministry in Galilean fishing towns like Capernaum and Gennesaret.
• Luke showed that Simon Peter knew Jesus before Jesus used his fishing boat. He had seen Jesus restore his mother-in-law’s health. But Peter’s life, like ours, was a journey in faith, not a one-time event. In Luke 5 we’ll see him learn more about Jesus. In what ways have your faith and trust in Jesus deepened as you spend more time with him?
• Archaeologists have confirmed many Bible places and people. They’ve found, many believe, the walls of Simon’s house near the synagogue in Capernaum. How do such historical finds help to make Jesus more real to you? In what ways can you make his living presence with you today just as real?

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 10th - Luke 5:4-7
If you were fishing today with a professional bass fisherman would you expect to tell this expert how to fish? That’s what Jesus seemed to be doing with Peter, a professional fisherman. But Peter trusted that Jesus was more than a carpenter and rabbi.
• Several commentators note that when Jesus preached from Peter’s boat, Peter was fine. When Jesus said, “Row out further, and drop your nets,” Peter balked: “Wait—this is my business.” In what ways are you tempted to limit Jesus to the “religious” part of your life, and to put “no trespassing” signs in other areas? When Jesus asks to come into every part of your life, will you say, “Okay– ‘because you say so’”?
• In gospel stories like this one, Jesus provided in “over the top” ways. We may have a lot or a little in this life, but God’s gift of grace and eternal life is extravagantly generous. What are three things you are “honest to God” really thankful for, deep in your soul?

THURSDAY, Aug. 11th - Luke 5:8-11
Simon Peter already knew Jesus (see Luke 4:38). But as he and his partners pulled in the sudden, astounding catch of fish, Simon Peter realized that Jesus was much more than he had ever imagined. He was convicted that he was in the presence of God (his words echoed Isaiah 6:5). After that, nothing could ever be the same.
• “When Simon Peter saw the catch, he fell at Jesus’ knees.” “Peter and those with him were overcome with amazement.” “Jesus said to Simon, ‘Don’t be afraid.’” How did a wonderful thing (the huge catch of fish) make Peter afraid? Have you ever felt a sense of inner awe or fear when God’s presence became more real to you? What does Jesus’ reply—“Don’t be afraid”—tell you about the kind of relationship he wants with you?
• When Jesus called you, did you need to leave anything behind? Jesus doesn’t ask most of us to “leave all” for him, but he does ask for hearts willing to do so. Are you willing to use all your spiritual gifts and resources in the great “fishing” work God calls us to?

FRIDAY, Aug. 12th - Acts 18:5-11
The good news of Jesus spread. The apostle Paul joined Peter, Andrew, James, John and other early Christians in the kind of “fishing” Jesus called them to. They never felt they could do the work on their own, apart from Jesus’ presence. In the pagan city of Corinth, Paul had a vivid, reassuring vision of Jesus, one that upheld him for 18-months of preaching and ministry.
• Synagogue members “opposed Paul and became abusive.” So he “left the synagogue,” but “Crispus, the synagogue leader, and his entire household believed in the Lord.” In what ways did God gift Paul so that he could win over the leader of a group who had abused him? In what ways do you see God at work blessing others through your gifts? Do you value what God is doing through you, whether it seems “big” or “small”?
• Jesus said to Paul in a dream, “Do not be afraid … I am with you.” How does it change your outlook on difficult, scary situations to have a sense that Jesus is with you, rather than being all alone? Where do you need God’s comfort and courage right now?

SATURDAY, Aug. 13th - Acts 26:1-2, 9-23
At one point, Peter described the way he and his partners responded to Jesus by saying, “We left everything we own and followed you” (Luke 18:28, Common English Bible). Paul, defending himself against charges of causing a riot in Jerusalem, bore witness to the same radical kind of obedience. The evidence suggests he was a young man on the rise, one who could have expected influence and comfort as a religious leader in Jerusalem. But then he met Jesus—and after that all that mattered was that he was not disobedient to that heavenly vision.
• God had a vision and a mission for Paul. God has equipped you for a unique mission as part of God’s great mission (Jeremiah 29:11, Romans 12:1-8). To what extent have you already listened for and heard God’s call on you? In what ways can you keep “tuning in” to God’s vision for you? What heights of freedom, joy and purpose do you believe you’ll have as you can say, “I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven”?

FAMILY ACTIVITY:
Read Matthew 4:18-20. Discuss what Jesus meant by the words, “I will make you fishers of people.” As followers of Jesus today, how can we be fishers of people?
Create a list of ways to help others grow to know, love and serve God and become deeply committed Christians. Cut out one paper fish for each member of your family. On each fish, write the words in Matthew 21:19. Draw pictures, write words, create a collage or place stickers on each fish representing ways each person can be a follower of Jesus and help others become one, too. Display the fish throughout your home as reminders to lead others to Christ. Pray and ask God to help you as you fish.