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God's Nets

God's Nets poster

“Thou broughtest us into the net” —Psalm 66:11

That is a very queer text for a sermon on a life of Victory; but if you will see the truth I wish to bring to you, you will see that the way into freedom and victory is sometimes through a net. So I want to take some examples that God Himself has used, to show you how He brings us to victory. Many of you seek a life of victory, but you do not seek to know God’s way of bringing you into a life of victory.

When I started to lead singing I used to ask the audience to say “Hallelujah” and to smile, but I found out there was something better than that—to call their attention to a little thing in a verse, and when they caught that they began to smile themselves. You might tell people to laugh, but one cannot laugh unless he sees something at which to laugh.

You perhaps are like the old lady at the party. The crowd wanted to have some fun, and they said, “Let’s play faces.” “How do you play faces?” someone asked. “Why, we all make the ugliest face we can make, and we have judges and they go out and decide who made the ugliest face, and give them the prize.” So they started to play the game, and the judges went out, and after a time they came back and brought the prize to an old lady over in the corner, and to their amusement she looked up and said, I wasn’t playing.” They laughed, but she didn’t see what they saw.

You strive after victory and wonder why you don’t have victory. You cannot get victory by striving, any more than you can strive after a laugh. You see something, and that makes you laugh, and in this matter you see a truth and that gives you victory. It is getting the vision of all that Jesus is to you that gives you victory.

In the Pathway

My text is a very queer one, but it holds a secret passage into the life that is victory. It says, “Thou broughtest us into the net,”—not, “we slipped accidently and stumbled, and got into the net,” but God almighty threw them into the net and let them get into it until they were tangled and tangled and could not get out, and had to cry to God, “Lord, we cannot get out.” Then He said, I put you in there for a purpose, just so you would yell, ‘I cannot get out,’ and it was right in my plan and purpose to put you in that net.”

I preached to an audience some time ago, saying that there wasn’t a single scheme outside of the salvation of Jesus Christ and the program of Jesus Christ, not a scheme in the world that God hadn’t tried and set aside. In the grace of Jesus Christ, His death on the cross. His resurrection and kingdom plan, was the only scheme in the world that would work. A brother wrote me a letter and said, Mr. Rader, I cannot understand you. I don’t see why in the world you ever say that God tried a scheme, because God never fails.” I had given three illustrations that very night to prove my points, but that fellow—a Bible student—sat there and never saw the thing at all. When I explained it to him again afterwards, he saw it.

He had never seen that God Almighty tries things openly before men, not because God doesn’t know they are to be a failure. He knows from the beginning—but because men don’t know it, that is why they don’t trust God, because they don’t know other schemes must fail. He has to let folks try their schemes and make an absolute failure out of them, and then when they get down on their backs they will say, “Lord, I believe Your way is best after all.”

If God wasn’t proving other schemes a failure before men’s very eyes, there wasn’t any need of Jesus Christ coming over nineteen hundred years ago. He ought to have been born when Cain was born, unless God was to show man that by taking his own way, that every scheme man could concoct to save himself was absolute foolishness; and the only plan in the world that would bring success was Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God.

Only One Way

Jesus cried in the garden, “Father, if there be any other way”—but there was no other way. Every other way—environment, eugenics, culture, leadership, government, law—all had been tried, Jesus was the only way. God had to prove to man that he was a dead failure outside of God. God knew man was a failure outside of Himself. Don’t think God is experimenting on you at all, and trying to prove something to Himself, He knows the end from the beginning.

A fellow came to me and said, “Mr. Rader, don’t you think Jesus could have sinned?” Never in a million worlds could He ever have touched sin! “What was the use of tempting Him then?” I was asked. “Do you think God sent His Son down here to fall?” I asked. He allowed Him to be tested and tempted so you could see He couldn’t fail; and God put Him through all the temptations you are heir to, because He wanted you to see that He could not fail. God knows, Hallelujah, but wants to prove it to you.

If I had a great big steel beam here that I wanted to sell to the government, and that I would say would hold one thousand tons, and the government inspector would say, “No it won’t,” and I would say, “Prove it. Put on the thousand tons weight, and go to it and add even more,” do I expect that beam to break? No, I know it will stand the test, and, therefore, I ask them to test it. God knew Jesus could not fail, therefore, He put the test to Him, and He let Him be hungry and out in the desert alone forty days and nights hemmed in by the devil, tempted of the devil. God knew He would not fail, but let Him do that in order that you and I might trust Him and say, “He won’t fail.” Praise God I can trust my tested Saviour. He cannot fail.

Rest in Jesus

The Word says, “Thou broughtest us into the net.” Some of you are in trouble tonight. God brought you there, but you will never get victory in your life until you learn that God brought you there to lose confidence in yourself and depend upon Him. I don’t dare take anything from the devil any more. Whatever comes we must say, “Lord, the devil has nothing in me. Lord, I am Yours, all Yours, whatever You allow is best for me.”

You must enter into that promised land of rest in Christ Jesus, where all you need is already provided. He will have to run you into net after net, until you will believe Him when He tells you that “no weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper.” Oh, you must believe that He is greater than nets, if you are to delight in His companionship.

Do you always understand God’s dealings? There have been a thousand times when I could not understand for the life of me anything going on around me. I don’t understand, but if you ask, my friends, you will go down in defeat. Why? There is no reason why you should ask to understand if He is running the program. If you are running the program you can ask, but if not, why not step into the provisions of divinity and trust Him?

The reason why you don’t have joy is because you said you gave Him your life, but wouldn’t let Him run it. Once in a while you have gone to an altar and said, “I surrender all,” and you have surrendered everything but the program; and He said, “You stay right where you are, and I will work it out, and open doors and shut doors and the whole business;” but you have been irritated and fussed and fumed, and you never looked like a comfortable sofa to anybody, or a nice calm field where the sheep were lying down and the river running along, and the Shepherd leading you beside the still waters. They saw the unrest in your life and said, “I don’t want it.”

But there is a calm and sweet repose, a joy that Jesus gives. How does He give it? Right through this little door I am telling you about. He brought you into the net, and you have taken every last little burning that came your way, as from the devil, and when somebody with a rough disposition sand-papered you and came up against you, you cried to God and said, “Take that sand-paper away,” and He said, “My dear child, I will never polish you unless I shove that sand-paper up against you.” To polish is to remove the rough doubt that so mars us.

Take It from Him

He put me into the net, and when you take the net from God and say, “Lord, I won’t object to anything, the circumstances I am in today, my home surroundings, my business—I will take them from you. There isn’t anything that can beat you,” then you will be like a friend of mine in Pittsburgh. One day his Irish boss that hated and despised him said, “Look here man, you are talking too much about Jesus, and too little about business. I am going to fire you.” “Hallelujah,” he answered, “I didn’t know the Lord was going to take me out of this job so fast. Come on, let’s go up to the office.” “What are you talking about?” the boss asked. “You couldn’t fire me,” my friend answered. “If Jesus wants me out He will put me out, but you are nobody—you are a wart. I have a big Jesus, and if He wants me out He will take me out all right. Hallelujah.” “You big fool,” the boss said, “Go back to your work.” “Alright,” my friend shouted, “I guess Jesus wants me here still.” That is real victory, and that fellow never learned that by Irish wit, but by simply trusting in Christ and getting up before daybreak to tarry with God a little while. I never met him yet, but what he would say, ‘Mr. Rader, I was reading over in John.” or Jeremiah—he was always “reading over,” and finding something new all the time about the beautiful program that Jesus had arranged for him.

That is why you don’t have the victory. You think this life is going to be a flowery bed of ease, and do not realize that the trials must come, but if you will take them from Jesus, “prisons will palaces prove.” Suppose Paul had said, “Now Lord, I am your chiefest disciple. I saw You on the road to Damascus, and I have been caught up to the third heaven, and how dare You put me in this prison?” No, he said, “Come on Silas, let’s praise the Lord,” and they had a revival and the jailor was converted. The Spirit led Paul into that net, and in that net He showed that Jesus was greater than nets.

You want to be led out to win souls for Jesus Christ, and wonder why you haven’t any power in your life. It is because you won’t take the rubbing and are looking for the easy things. One of the greatest hindrances of our times is the bunch of evangelists and singers looking for a job, and writing here and there and everywhere. If they had this victory life they would start a street-meeting and have a revival before anyone could work one up If you loved souls you would go out and get them. All you see is the net, and not the Jesus that is greater than the net. I said to a younger singer at the Tabernacle, “What are you doing this summer?” He said, “I have written around and cannot get anything.” I said, “Stop that whine, trust God and go out after souls if you love souls. Take some preacher by the nape of the neck and go at it.”

Start Something

Oh, listen, saving souls is always in order. Go out in the byways and hedges and compel them to come in. Start something and if you are living in Him God will do something through your life. It doesn’t have to be big, and you don’t have to know what the outcome is going to be—just talk to this man here and that man there and the other. The great thing about Mr. Moody’s life was that he always had a revival. One time he was asked to come to a church and speak, I believe, to a group of ministers on “How to Win the Masses.” He went into a corner grocery store and asked a man for a box, and went out on the street and stuck Sankey up to sing, and then Mr. Moody started preaching, and they had a big crowd.

Mr. Moody said to the crowd, “You go and tell everyone you see to come back to the meeting in the Church, and Mr. Sankey will be there to sing, and I will preach.” The whole crowd marched into the Church, and when the ministers came out of the smaller room where they were meeting in conference, they had a living example of how to get the masses—go out and get them.

You are waiting for some great big ship to come into port, and think that is going to be victory. No, it is taking the very thing that is rubbing you tonight and saying, “I take it from you. You formed me and put me into this hard place, and I take it from You. You, oh Christ, are bigger than its hardships.” I like that little chorus of Mrs. Booth’s written in the very hour of death and great distress, “Sweeter than all is Thy great love to me.” He is able. He is sufficient. He is for you all the time. When you murmur you make out as if Jesus is not for you. Look at the examples of this little door into the life that is victory.

He Has the Plan

Take the Jewish people down in Egypt. God had told Abraham ahead of time what He was going to do, but the Jews, Abraham’s children, wouldn’t believe that God had the way all planned. But He planted Moses on the backside of the desert for training, and had the whole program fixed—the plagues for Pharaoh and all the rest: and just at the right time He brought Moses out. If those people had gotten the vision that God had a plan and a program for them, instead of murmuring and complaining, they would have gone sailing on and never opened their mouths once, but would have said, “God sent Moses, and He took us out and He will take us into Canaan, because He promised Abraham away back there, that He would give us that land.”

Why don’t you get into victory? Because you won’t believe that God, through your blessed Saviour, has provided a great life of victory in the Holy Ghost for you, and is leading you right through the hard things to land you into that life. The very hard things in the path of the Israelites were right in the way God Almighty had chosen and told Moses to go through. If you believe that God planned Jesus Christ’s advent into the world, “The Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world,” you must know that He planned everything you need.

I will never forget that night in New York City, in that upper room, when I took that promise, “Casting all your care upon Him, for He careth for you.” There is an electric sign in New York, of a little kitten with thread wound all around it; and whenever I saw it I would pull my hat down over my eyes, and the devil would say to me, “Old boy, you are tied up, and you will never get out. I have you tied hand and foot. I have ruined you, and I have got you.” I felt like I was in a mill, like Samson’s, grinding, with my eyes out. The devil discouraged me completely. I didn’t see any way of getting out, and yet I felt that somehow God had something for me: but the devil would show me my position, and the tangle and the mess I was in, and show me myself and say “Old Wobbler, you couldn’t stick if you had to,” and I had to admit that he was right. I could not stick. I would change my course and vary, and all he had to do was to point at my old path to dishearten me.

All the devil has to do is to get you to look at your old nature, and you say, “I cannot live this life. It is not for me.” If you go looking at that, my friend, you won’t get any victory: but when you say, “God has planned through my blessed Jesus, such a complete and perfect life of victory for me that it covers every part of my defeat, and God never left a thing undone that is necessary for me, and I will take Him, His blessed indwelling life to take me through. I don’t have to worry, because God has a program and knows where He wants me,” you can say, “Hallelujah, I am going through with Jesus.” How? On His program, on His will. How about guidance? All I have to do is to be yielded. I cannot fail in God’s plan if I am yielded to Him constantly.


Some people say, “Mr. Rader, how do you know when God wants you to do anything?” I have His Word. Somebody says, “How do you pray for this plan, or that or the other, and become sure that you have God’s mind?” I need nothing but His Word and Himself. What do I have to be sure of? Listen! God doesn’t have to tell me His program, and whisper ahead to me and tell me all He wants to do. What do I have to watch for? Just one thing, and that is, that I am absolutely yielded to God and will mind Him. Then I say, “Lord, you are the Big One, and it is up to You to grab me by the nape of the neck and shove me in where You want me.” I have never sought a place, and never have had to go out of my way a second to look around for a plan to push for Jesus. He just unfolds it. But there is one thing I must do constantly, wait upon Him so that I don’t hear any other perplexing voices. Oh, when you know it is not your life, but His that is victory, you will wait alone with Him until everything is still, oh so still. He says, “Be still and know that I am God.”

He brings us into the net to show us we could not run things: to show us that if we looked at the net there would always be a net. If we but look at the thing that ties us, we would always be tied. Some Christian workers say, “Well, if I were situated in a home like yours, or lived in such a such a place—if I just had circumstances changed a little bit, that is the kind of life I could live.” You think so. I tried to help a young fellow once, who began just like that. He said, “Mr. Rader, if I had another job I could make good.” I got him a job, and he held it three weeks and came around, and I said, “What is the matter?” He said, “Mr. Rader, that boss was the hardest fellow to work for I ever saw in my life.”

I felt sorry for him and got him another job, and kept it about seven days, and then he telephoned me again and said, “I am working with such a crowd of men that I don’t seem to get along.” I said to myself, “Old boy, you’ll stick now, believe me,” and I talked up to him—said, “I’m through.” “Won’t you lend me fifty cents?” “I’m through right now. You have got to learn to stick, and if you go around anybody else I am going to telephone them. You are going to stick and you are going through, believe me.” He is right there today. He stuck in that last place, and I know he thanks God today that I got off the business of helping, and let him get into the net so he would see himself that it was not other people’s fault, but it was his own fault. He was a “knocker” from morning till night. Nobody was right, and everybody had a chance but himself—the store was rotten, the boss was rotten, everybody but him was favored. He was always looking for an ideal situation. Oh, why insult Christ longer by believing that a net is bigger than He is?

Your Place

Some of you are looking for a situation. If you look at Jesus, and see the Holy Spirit in all His fullness, even “prisons will palaces prove,” and you will be kept in any situation, if you will let Him live within you His own life, instead of you living yours.

One young fellow wrote me from the city of Minneapolis and told me about his church, and said, “Mr. Rader, I am all balled up. There is this situation and that situation. I would like to come to Chicago.” I said to him, “I am coming up to Minneapolis soon to hold a little missionary conference, and if you will wait until I get there I will see what I can do, and will be glad to meet you.” He met me at Mr. Williams’ conference in the midway, and sat in the audience. Afterwards I talked with him, and I “smelt a rat” right away and said to myself, “Say, old boy, when God gets you boiled and baked and trimmed off to suit, you will feel like fitting into any little place He has. You are so small now you couldn’t fill anything, and yet you have the bighead and thing your place is not big enough for you.” He had a little church and there had been lots of trouble, and they hadn’t been giving anything, and he was looking for a slide on which he could slip out easy.

He preached a while, and then Campbell, the little missionary, began to tell of the joy of hardship for Jesus, of the kind of clothes he wore when he went to Africa in poverty, made out of stuff you make your mattresses out of, bed-ticking, with stripes running different ways because the pieces were not big enough to match up, and he looked like a walking barber-pole, going out among the natives dressed like that, and he said, “We shouted Hallelujah and went on.” When Mr. Campbell was through telling what a joy it was to serve Jesus in such things as that, that fellow couldn’t get to the altar quick enough, and he said, “Oh, God, I have had this and that and the other, and I am not worthy of anything. Get me into some kind of ticking, I need it.” He went back to his place, and this summer he had to make a contract with a fellow that owns the opera house, because the people could not get into the little place he was preaching in.

So if you will get Jesus and His victory, the net will prove to be only part of a glorious program, all planned by a pair of wounded hands. Then the littlest place in this world, my friend, is a great big place.

Look to Jesus

Paul might have said, “How in the world can a man preach the Gospel in prison with his feet in the stocks, Silas, my lovely singer, and myself we cannot blow our horns or anything.” But Paul saw Jesus, and he wasn’t even thinking about revival. A revival is really an aftermath—the principal business is to keep your eyes on Jesus, and then whatever you happen to do is all right.

My baby is no more conscious of her life or her pink cheeks or her hands than if she never had them. She is just full of joy, because life is bubbling up within her. In a few days or months that will not be true. She will go and do something, and somebody will laugh, and she will reach that self-conscious age, and after that she will try to be funny, and then all the beauty of it is spoiled. Many a man has lost that child-like power that God gives. Somebody told him that he was doing something, and instead of keeping his eyes on Jesus he got his eyes on the thing he was doing.

Your work ought to be the most unconscious thing you perform, and ought to be easy, because you have your eyes on Jesus, and He is your life, He is bubbling within. You won’t have to force yourself to go to this one and that one to help. His love persuades you and calls you. He is your life. He gets you into a net. What for? To show you He can get you out—to put you up against it so you will cry for His life.

Before and After

The Children of Israel complained about Pharaoh saying, “He has told us to make bricks without straw,” and they went to Moses, saying, “You are only getting us into more trouble,” all on the threshold of mighty deliverance.

I have seen people in revival meetings where the preacher had shown them about the deep things of God, and they had started in and responded and were going along, and God was just going to take them out into Himself, and the trouble began to come, and they would say, “I thought I was going to have a life of victory, and now look!” You doubt Him, when He is going to stop the mouths of lions and let you out into this glorious life, and you don’t believe Him, and you get scared and back up when God starts the drums and the marching of the armies. Mother’s face, or sweetheart’s face, or friend’s face comes up, and you begin to murmur and complain and say, “You are getting us into more trouble than before,” and you stop there.

But Moses went on with a strong hand, and God brought them out, but by explosives or arms, but God Himself led them out, just when they thought the thing was getting worse and worse and worse. He put them into a net. Were they murmuring against Moses? No, against God.

God let that thing come into your life—what for? That He might lead you out. If you would keep still and trust God, He would take you out—out into His Canaan Land of His full life.

They murmured against God, and God was working every minute for them. God brought them down to the Red Sea and got them into another net. I want to show you the nets God gets you into, until you won’t trust the arm of flesh, but will trust Him and say, “Lord, I am going to take it all from you, and believe you for the program and power and the life, and I am going to yield my life to you and keep yielded, and trust you every hour,” and He will take you through.

There they were, sea on one side, walls on the right and left, and the enemy behind. But after awhile God did business, and then you ought to have seen the poets come up and start to write, and they began to sing of their victory. When the old enemies were out in the stream sinking like lead, then they grabbed their timbrels and harps and commenced to sing, “Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the Lord.” They had been murmuring and saying to Moses, “You got us here, and now the army of Pharaoh has gotten us into a corner, and we will never get out.” But Moses said, “Stand still and see the salvation of God.”

But when the danger was over, then they sang their song, “I will sing unto the Lord, for He hath triumphed gloriously.” They became rhetorical, saying, “The Lord is my strength and my song, and He is become my salvation, my father’s God, and I will exalt Him.” (This sounds like Peter to me, before the cock crew.) “The Lord is a man of war: the Lord is His name. Pharaoh’s chariots and his host hath He cast into the sea: his chosen captain also drowned in the Red Sea. The depths have covered them: they sank into the bottom as stone. Thy right hand, O Lord, is become glorious in power: Thy right hand, O Lord, hath dashed in pieces the enemy.”

Yes—in three days from the time they were shouting “Hallelujah” on the bank, they ran up against another net, the need of a drink. They found a brook and tasted of the water and spit it back, and somebody else tasted it and spit it back, for it was bitter: and they began to murmur and complain and say, “Oh God, why have You brought us out into this thing? Here we are up against the bitter waters.”

God’s Opportunity

That path was God’s path, right through the sea, and right to the bitter waters. Here was their chance for our “Hallelujah, another chance for our God that took us out of the Red Sea to show His power.” That is the way you ought to live, and you know it. He has never failed you, but you have failed Him a thousand times, and He has taken you and your failure back and covered it with the blood, and brought you through. Praise His Name!

Oh, beloved, He put that bitter thing there to prove them. It was right in the path. And God lets the net come right there, that you might say, “thank God, this is only a chance for Him to work,” and yet there are some of you that are absolutely denied the joy, the glory of trusting Jesus, you say, because of circumstances. You will never live long enough to live past circumstances or bitter waters. If you expect to get to a time when all these things will be out of your path, you will not find it, but oh, you can find the life, His glorious indwelling life that can sweeten all, all, all the bitter waters.

Lord, how may I live this glorious life? Oh, this is the way: There is a life of victory, thank God, that when you come up against the bitter waters you will say, “Thank God, it is the way, Lord, I take it from you, it is up to you to make the bitter waters sweet, but I take them from you.”

His grace is sufficient. He took the bitter when He walked here and He now within us will take it and He will be our sweetness. There was the bitter cup He had to drink, and somebody might have said, “That is the cup of death, and the devil has something to do with it.” No, listen to Jesus, as He says, “The cup that My Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?”

Oh, reckon your way, your own understanding, your plans, your wisdom, your very self to be dead: and then take all from Him, for He can bear all, all, all for you. This life is not your life, it is His: it is not your yoke, it is His: and He says of His yoke, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” The nets only give you a chance to use His yoke to pull you through.