Lifestyle evangelism

Introduction:

Let’s start with a music video. Play the Fruit of the Spirit VBS song video.

Chip Ingram: A Christian family is a witness:

I once heard a message by Chip Ingram where he talked about how the Christian family is a witness. He talked about a neighbor who was going through a divorce. She was in the process of moving and Chip was in his front yard passing the ball around with his children. The woman came over to him and said, “I’m done with men. I’ve been married three times [I think it was 3], but if I were to get married again I want a man who is a dad like you.”[1] This had nothing to do with a normal attractiveness to him, but that he was a dad to his children. Being a Christian is a witness. Actually, being a Christian is a witness for or against Christianity. Allowing your patterns of behavior to be shaped by Christ makes you a witness. Either you are a witness in great kindness and behavior. Or, you are a witness because of the opposite. Sometimes we are a witness because Jesus has changed us so much. Paul Dyksorn once talked about how after he became a Christian he actually liked people. He didn’t like people before that. Jesus changes us and this is a witness.

We are lifestyle witnesses.

What Is Your Biggest Sin?

Three preachers were on a non-productive fishing trip when they began to discuss various topics to pass the time. One preacher said he thought it would be nice if they confessed their biggest sins to each other and then prayed for each other. They all agreed, and the first preacher said that his biggest sin was that he liked to sit at the beach now and then and watch pretty women stroll by.

The second preacher confessed that his biggest sin was that he went to the horse racing track every so often and put a small bet on a horse.

Turning to the third preacher, they asked, “Brother, what is your biggest sin?”

With a grin, he said, “My biggest sin is gossiping.”

Submitted by Van Morris, Mount Washington, Kentucky

[Bring up a house plant with an apply in it or hanging from it.] What is wrong with this picture? Apples don’t grow on house plants, do they? No.

Likewise, Jesus produces fruit.

Jesus said in Matthew 7:16

You will know them by their fruits. 2Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?[2]

We are known by the fruit that we produce. The Holy Spirit produces fruit.

My theme today is: The Church Has Left the Building Part III: Lifestyle Evangelism, Reflecting Christ in your life.

  1. Christians have different fruit.
    1. The fruits of the world are in Galatians 5:19-21: The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God[3]
    2. We are not going to talk about these today, but know that there is a major contrast between Jesus’ people and the world. That list includes who we are without Christ. People with these characteristics do not go to Heaven. They can’t this fruit is against God. This means we must be different.
    3. The fruit of the Spirit is in Galatians 5:22-23: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.[4]
    4. We are going to talk about these.
    5. Living this way makes us a witness.
    6. We talked about serving others, we talked about our relationships, but just think about our lifestyle. The patterns of our lives give off certain fruits. The fruit shows if we are an apple tree or a pear tree.
    7. The idea of “putting on” certain fruits is used more often in the New Testament: Col 3:12.
    8. Notice it says the “fruit” of the Spirit. This is singular. The Holy Spirit produces one fruit and it consists of these nouns: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The fruit is singular otherwise it would say “are” as in “Fruits are,” we can’t say, “fruits ‘is.’ No, it is one fruit that the Holy Spirit gives us.
    9. Many have written that it could say, “The fruit of the Spirit is love.” This love is defined by joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Let’s break them down with “mental or God-ward qualities, interpersonal or other-ward qualities and general or self-ward qualities.
    10. Mental or God-ward qualities (v. 22)
      1. “Love” (Gr. agape, self-sacrificing affection for others)
      2. “Joy” (Gr. chara, deep-seated gladness regardless of circumstances)
  • “Peace” (Gr. eirene, inner quietness and repose regardless of circumstances)
  1. Interpersonal or other-ward qualities (v. 22)
    1. “Patience” (Gr. makrothymia, forbearance even under provocation)
    2. “Kindness” (Gr. chrestotes, benevolence and graciousness)
  • “Goodness” (Gr. agathosyne, constructive action reaching out to others)
  1. General or self-ward qualities (vv. 22-23)
    1. “Faithfulness” (Gr. pistis, reliability, trustworthiness)
    2. “Gentleness” (Gr. praytes, acquiescence to authority and consideration of others)
  • “Self-control” (Gr. enkrateia, ability to master oneself)
  1. Let’s take a moment to apply.
    1. We all mess up. We will all be lacking in the Holy Spirit’s work one day. We will be lacking in one of the aspects of the fruit of the Spirit someday. Simply own up to it and apologize. Simply tell someone that you were unloving in a comment. Acknowledge to yourself that you are lacking joy. Acknowledge and ask God to help you with peace.
    2. We all lack on at least a few aspects of the Fruit of the Spirit. It could be patience, it could be self-control, it could be goodness, it could be faithfulness or you name it.
    3. Imagine the witness if Christians were more gentle.
    4. Imagine the witness of Christians were known as those having self-control. Imagine if people thought of us as not those that are flying of the handle and ready to blow. Imagine if people knew Christians had power under control. Imagine the witness if Christians had more control in eating alone. Think about self-control.
    5. Remember the Lays potato chip commercial that used to say, “You can’t eat just one!” We need self-control with our eating and I don’t know if that is as bad of a witness as a lack of self-control with our temper or with our sexual appetites. But we need self-control. Trust me, I can lose my temper as quickly as you can, I can eat as many dips of ice cream as you can. I am working on this, I am praying about this.
    6. Imagine the witness if Christians were known as kind.
    7. Imagine if Christians were known as faithful. We need to be faithful to God and to others. Imagine if we were known as faithful to our family.
    8. Humor Inspired
      1. A preacher, who shall we say was “humor inspired”, attended a conference to help encourage and better equip pastors for their ministry. Among the speakers were many well-known and dynamic speakers.
      2. One such speaker, boldly approached the pulpit, gathered the entire crowd’s attention, and said, “the best years of my life were spent in the arms of a woman that wosn’t my wife!” The crowd was shocked! He followed up by saying, “And that woman was my mother!” The crowd burst into laughter and delivered the rest of his speech, which went quite well.
  • The next week, the pastor decided he’d give this humor thing a try, and used that joke in his sermon. As he approached the pulpit that sunny Sunday morning, he tried to rehearse this joke in his head. It suddenly seemed a bit foggy to him.
  1. Getting to the microphone, he said loudly, “The greatest years of my life were spend in the arms of another woman that was not my wife!” The congregation inhaled half the air in the room! After standing there for almost 10 seconds in stunned silence, trying to recall the second half of the joke, the pastor finally blurred out, “…and I can’t remember who she was!”
  1. I am listening to a series of podcasts called “Presidential.” I am listening on my phone. They are made by the Washington Post. Turns out Warren Harding had an affair, actually many of them. Many, many years after his death many love letters were found. The family released them, I think to the Library of Congress, as long as they weren’t public for something like fifty years. I don’t know whether or not he was a Christian, but imagine if Christians were known as faithful.
  2. What a witness is a Christian dad who is faithful to his wife and his children.
  3. What a witness is a Christian mom who is faithful. I was listening to someone who wrote a book which included information about the founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger. I am not going to diminish that they may have done a few good things, not that that offsets that many babies murdered. But she was not faithful, she ran off on her husband many, many times. He was faithful.
  4. What a witness Christians can be when the fruit of the Spirit reigns in our life.
  5. Imagine the witness.
  6. People will ask us why we are different.
  7. Maybe you already get this. Maybe you are different and people have asked.
  8. But we can always grow.
  9. Funny think about fruit, though, it only takes one bad fruit to ruin others. One Christian who cheats on his wife does more damage than 10 faithful Christians.
  10. Okay, so, don’t diminish the witness that your lifestyle can be.
  11. You are a witness when you strive to love like Jesus.

Close:

On a recent visit to two California vineyards, author Margaret Feinberg discovered that vintners must adopt a long-term approach to their work. According to Feinberg:

The first year a vintner plants shoots of vines rather than seeds because these yield the strongest vines. At the end of the first growing season, he cuts them back. A second year passes. He cuts them back again. Only after the third year does he see his first viable clusters of grapes. Serious vintners leave those clusters on the vines. For most vintners, it’s not until year four that they bring in their first harvest.

For those growing grapes for winemaking, they’ll bottle their harvest, but won’t taste the fruit of their labors until year seven or eight. Most vineyards in Napa Valley won’t reach a breakeven point for their investment until year fifteen, eighteen or beyond.

Applying these insights to her spiritual life, Feinberg writes,

Sometimes I look at my own life and wonder, Why am I not more fruitful? And why does pruning have to hurt so much? Why does cultivating a healthy crop take so long? Yet those questions circle around the here and now. God’s perspective is much different. Like a good vineyard owner, he knows how to bring about fruitfulness better than I ever will. And he is patient with me, more patient than I am with myself … [Also], as we fulfill our callings … we must recognize that like the vintner’s, our fruitfulness will not come overnight. The first harvest of our labors may not come for three or five years.[5]

We are in process God is working on us as long as we let Him.

You are a witness in living like Jesus.

Do you know Christ?

Luke 9:23

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

[1] heard on Living on the Edge, Moody Radio. My summary.

2 Lit They do not gather

[2] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Mt 7:16.

[3] The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), Ga 5:19–21.

[4] The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), Ga 5:22–23.

[5] Margaret Feinberg, “Napa Valley on Leadership,” Q Shorts, http://www.Qideas.org

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Why Bad Things Happen to Good People?

 

Below is the sermon from today. One thing that I did not touch on: sometimes, actually I would say most all of the time, God is working in our struggles to develop us. God is building us up and conforming us into His image.

Introduction:

Today is once again, question and answer Sunday. We are going to focus on the question “Why do bad things happen to good people”? To help minister to this need think about the hymn: It is Well with My Soul.

Show video of the story behind that hymn

It is interesting that some of our dearest hymns have been written by people who have undergone great trials.

Why do bad things happen to good people?

My theme and application:

God is in control, even when life is falling apart, we can trust Him even when we don’t have answers.

  1. Let’s start by talking about why bad things happen.
    1. We can’t answer this entirely. We can try to reason, but we can’t answer why that car accident happened to you, or that terrible crime, or whatever it may be.
    2. I cannot answer why one person suffers from Alzheimer’s and another does not. I can’t answer why to these things.
    3. I can answer why bad things happen, we’ll come back to that.
    4. First look at this passage.
    5. Deuteronomy 29:29: The secret things belong to the Lordour God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.
    6. When a parent decides to move their family from one place to another that is very difficult on the children, though they cannot understand why.
    7. I have seen other examples of how children just don’t understand. I recently heard a story about a child who was injured and getting a shot to numb the pain of the stitches. The child was told what was going on and how it would hurt for a minute, but then it would feel better. The child still reacted negatively. The child later was mad at the doctor, and even at his father, for allowing him to go through the pain, but it had to happen.
    8. Recently Abigail endured Hand Foot and Mouth disease. She had blisters throughout her mouth and throat. She would wake up screaming in pain. We could not get her to eat popsicles though they would help the pain. She just knew it hurt, she would not understand what would help.
    9. Isaiah 55:8-9: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
      neither are your ways my ways,”
      declares the Lord.
      “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
      so are my ways higher than your ways
      and my thoughts than your thoughts.
    10. On an individual scale we must understand that God knows and we just can’t answer why something bad happened to me and not another.
    11. On an objective scale of why there is evil and tragedy, we can answer that.
    12. I want to try to answer this question as objectively as possible. Please understand, I don’t mean to be stoic and insensitive. I cannot understand how people go through what they do. I don’t understand how people endure the loss of a child or children and then write a hymn about it. I don’t understand how someone can watch their child die of cancer. I don’t understand how someone watches their spouse or relative go through Alzheimer’s. My heart breaks for these terrible situations. However, I am also very logical and my thinking is framed by a Biblical worldview and the Bible does answer the question of why bad things happen overall.
    13. In difficult times, focus on the other side of the hill. Many times while I am running I have to run up some steep hills. Many times I am thirsty while running up the hill, but I resolve not to take a drink until I get over the hill. Most always when I reach the top of the hill I get to run downhill, though you don’t know that by just looking at the hill. It is easy to focus on the hill, but it is better to focus on the other side of the hill. The other side of the hill brings relief as you have a beautify scene and can run downhill. It is similar with life, eternity is on the other side of our life.
  2. So, think about humanity freewill brings sin
    1. One person writes: What kind of world God would have made depends on what God values. According to Christianity, what God values above all is relationship. But for relationship to be meaningful, it must be freely chosen; for relationship to be freely chosen, there must be the possibility of it being rejected; and wherever there is the possibility of rejecting relationship, there is also the possibility of pain and suffering.
    2. The Bible affirms this truth from its very first pages. We find a story of people who are in intimate relationship with God, and who know what He has asked of them. But then they hear this voice in their ears, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1). And they begin to doubt God. They begin to doubt that He knows what’s best for them. They begin to doubt that He isfor Ultimately, they begin to doubt what He has actually said—his word. And then they sin.[1]
    3. When sin entered the world God pursued them. God made them clothes. If you read more of those first few chapters of the Bible we see that the plan of salvation is already set in place.
    4. However, we also read that sin brought death.
    5. All of the world’s history can be summed up like this:
      1. Creation
      2. Fall
  • Redemption
  1. Restoration.
  1. We are currently living in a fallen world. We are redeemed but we are waiting on God to make things totally right.
  2. Romans 8:19 and following talk about all of creation waiting for restoration.
  3. God created a world pure and good and God said that they could eat of every tree in the garden but NOT the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2:17)
  4. We focus on why they could not eat of the fruit of that tree, but think about this: they could eat of every tree in the garden they wanted to, except that tree.
  5. That tree was our freewill.
  6. Our ancestors ate of the fruit of that tree and that brought the fall.
  7. Now, we freely choose good and evil.
  8. We all die because of sin.
  9. We all hurt people because of sin.
  10. We are all effected by this indirectly and directly. But now, we all are effected by at least 6000 years of human/world history falling apart. The earth is falling apart, crime is increasing and it all goes back to the fall.
  11. But this is also the goodness of God.
  12. I know that seems weird, how is God good in bad things and evil?
  13. He is good because those bad things still represent God giving us freewill. Without sin there is NO freewill. God did not create us as robots.
  14. But also even in bad things God is good because He will restore everything. He will make everything right. He will redeem the world.
  • We need to know that God suffers with us:
    1. One writes: A sixth response to the objection from suffering I take, somewhat ironically, from Friedrich Nietzsche. He wrote:
    2. “The gods justified human life by living it themselves—the only satisfactory [response to the problem of suffering] ever invented.” Nietzsche is actually writing of the ancient Greeks here, and in his bias he doesn’t make the connection to Christianity. But as a Christian, I am very pleased to agree with him and then point emphatically to the cross where Jesus died. The night before his death, as Jesus wrestled with what He knew the next day would bring, Jesus said to his friends, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow, to the point of death” (Matthew 26:38). Think about it. The God of the Universe, the Creator of all things, saying He is overwhelmed with sorrow, even to death….If you’ve ever experienced deep depression or thought about dying, Jesus is right there with you. There is no depth of agony and helplessness we can experience in this life that He doesn’t understand. At the Cross, we see the absolute uniqueness of the Christian response to suffering. In Islam, the idea of God suffering is nonsense—it is thought to make God weak. In Buddhism, to reach divinity is precisely to move beyond the possibility of suffering. Only in Christ do we have a God who is loving enough to suffer with us. The loving parent is not the one who never allows suffering in a child’s life. The loving parent is the one who is willing to suffer alongside their children. And in Christianity this is exactly what we find.[2]
    3. I am married to a woman with Multiple Sclerosis (M.S.). I see her suffering. She was diagnosed at 21 years old and it was a relief and made sense. But each day is a struggle. Each day Meagan does not know if she will have weakness and/or pain. A few years ago Meagan went for some three months with vision issues to the point of not being able to drive. When Meagan was diagnosed with M.S. I thought, “Okay, maybe she will have trouble walking.” I know, easy for me to say. But it is not just that. There is intense pain as well. But, for me, I could easily question why her, but I cannot question why there is M.S. M.S. exists because of the fall of humanity in the Garden of Eden and so does M.D. and Alzheimer’s and cancer and autism and rape and tornadoes and everything else that is bad.
    4. BUT some day God will restore all things. Revelation 21:1-4: Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,”for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.
    5. In the book, “The Case for Faith” Lee Strobel interviews one scholar who notes that the people who believe there cannot be a God because of all the troubles are not the ones going through trials. The people going through the trials have the stronger faith. It is the Americans who generally are not facing the trial who struggle.
    6. I could name a few, I already have with the hymn writer of It is Well With My Soul. But what about Jon Erikson Tada? She has been a quadriplegic since 1967 and she has composed and sung songs, she has painted and written books. She has a large ministry distributing wheel chairs all over the world.
    7. A. Carson shared about a man who has had all kinds of illnesses and when I asked how he is doing he says, “Nothing a good resurrection can’t take care of.”

Close:

Think about the hymn, ‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dw2iiQo7apE

How does one write that?

How is it that people with the most trials write the best hymns?

 

Peace in a storm

Good Morning,


A pastor had been on a long flight from one place to another. The first warning of the approaching problems came when the sign on the airplane flashed on: Fasten your seat belts. Then, after a while, a calm voice said, “We shall not be serving the beverages at this time as we are expecting a little turbulence. Please be sure your seat belt is fastened.” 


As he looked around the aircraft, it became obvious that many of the passengers were becoming apprehensive. Later, the voice of the announcer said, “We are so sorry that we are unable to serve the meal at this time. The turbulence is still ahead of us.” 


And then the storm broke. The ominous cracks of thunder could be heard even above the roar of the engines. Lightening lit up the darkening skies, and within moments that great plane was like a cork tossed around on a celestial ocean. One moment the airplane was lifted on terrific currents of air; the next, it dropped as if it were about to crash. 


The pastor confessed that he shared the discomfort and fear of those around him. He said, “As I looked around the plane, I could see that nearly all the passengers were upset and alarmed. Some were praying. The future seemed ominous and many were wondering if they would make it through the storm. 


And then, he suddenly saw a little girl. Apparently the storm meant nothing to her. She had tucked her feet beneath her as she sat on her seat; she was reading a book and everything within her small world was calm and orderly. Sometimes she closed her eyes, then she would read again; then she would straighten her legs, but worry and fear were not in her world. 


When the plane was being buffeted by the terrible storm when it lurched this way and that, as it rose and fell with frightening severity, when all the adults were scared half to death, that marvelous child was completely composed and unafraid.” The pastor could hardly believe his eyes. 


It was not surprising therefore, that when the plane finally reached its destination and all the passengers were hurrying to disembark, the pastor lingered to speak to the girl whom he had watched for such a long time. Having commented about the storm and behavior of the plane, he asked why she had not been afraid. The sweet child replied, 


“Sir, my Dad is the pilot, and he is taking me home.” 


There are many kinds of storms that buffet us. We have all known such times, but let us
remember: Our Father is the Pilot. He is in control and taking us home. Don’t worry.

Have a wonderful day. Chaplain Jim Melick

 

Do you know Christ?

Luke 9:23

 

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

[1] http://rzim.org/just-thinking/if-god-why-suffering/

[2] http://rzim.org/just-thinking/if-god-why-suffering/

Relational Evangelism

Introduction:

Relational evangelism:

Think about your relationships. We are all influencing other people for good or for bad. You are, we are, influencing other people.

When we think of the phrase “Relational evangelism,” the operative word is “evangelism.” If we are not sharing the Gospel with them then we really do not love them.

If we think about Phil. 2:5-11. Jesus died for our need, but what was the need? We needed salvation. He gave Himself up for us. Who are we giving ourselves up for?

I was researching this message and I was reading from the book Becoming a Contagious Christian and I was encouraged. I was encouraged because the best fertile ground for sharing the Gospel is NOT door to door evangelism, or “cold” calls. There is nothing wrong with those types, but the best fertile ground is in your relationships. If you want to be used of Jesus, be a friend. But don’t stop there. Be a friend and share Jesus with the friend.

Becoming a Contagious Christian says:

The fact is, all of us experience discomfort when someone outside our circle of friends tries to influence us about personal, significant matters. We all naturally gravitate toward people we already know and trust. Friends listen to friends. They confide in friends. They let friends influence them. They buy from friends — and that’s true of both products and ideas. So if we’re going to impact our world for Christ, the most effective approach will be through friendships with those who need to be reached. We’ll have to get close to them so they can see that we genuinely care about them individually and that we have their best interests in mind. Over time, that will earn their trust and respect.

Let’s read Luke 5:27-32:

After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, 28 and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.

29 Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. 30 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”

31 Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

Theme: Build relationships and share the Gospel.

  1. Let’s talk about the passage.
    1. Jesus talks to Levi, who is also called Matthew, and says “follow me.”
    2. The man immediately follows Jesus. There are no questions asked. It could be that they had conversations previously. He drops everything and follows.
    3. When he decided to follow Jesus there was no turning back.
    4. Verse 29 shows this to be true. He was a new believer and what did he do? He decided to share this with others. He decided to have a party. We now call these parties “Matthew parties” after him.
    5. We would think he would invite the religious people to his party in order to communicate, “I am now one of you,” but that is not what he did. He invited the other tax collectors.
    6. Tax collectors were known as thieves in those days. They were known as sinners who held allegiance to Rome. The tax collectors would take from other people extra money that would not go to taxes.
    7. But Matthew invited them over.
    8. What else did Matthew do? He invited them to his house.
    9. Matthew was willing to sacrifice his own home and pretty much have them over for a barbecue.
    10. This is an evangelism principle called “barbecue first.” We are to get to know them as we share the Gospel with them and they will listen more.
    11. I look at this and think, “I must be willing to host others, non-believers in my home for the Gospel.”
    12. So, these people are now all at Matthew’s house and you know who else is there? Jesus is also there.
    13. Jesus was later called a sinner because He ate with them, so what. He didn’t care.
    14. Jesus is there and they are all telling jokes, they are eating and they are drinking. Jesus was later called a glutton and a drunkard for eating with these types, but He didn’t care, He wanted to minister. (see Matthew 11:19)
    15. I don’t know what type of jokes Jesus was telling, but I think He had a good sense of humor. Maybe He said, “Why do cows go to math? Because they need a cooooow-culator…”
    16. They are partying. They are getting to know each other.
    17. Sometimes this is tough.
    18. Guess who is coming to dinner. In Star Trek VI The Undiscovered Country there was an awkward moment when Captain Kirk invited The Klingons to dine with his senior staff.
    19. Play clip of Kirk inviting the Klingons to dinner.
    20. Do we have many non-Christian friends?
    21. We are the church and the church leaves the building every week and one of the best ways that we are to be the church is in our relationship.
  2. Where do you find people?
    1. Suppose that you want to build relationships with non-Christians, but you wonder where to find people.
    2. Think about ways to get together with people you know. Are there relationships that could go deeper?
    3. People you used to know, are there relationships that you can reconnect with?
    4. People you would like to know, are there people that you can connect with but just haven’t?
    5. What about having a block party?
    6. What about having just a few neighbors over for dinner?
    7. There is also the ability to strategically shop at the same places and go inside at the gas station. Talk to the people who are at the cashier’s station. Build that relationship.
    8. Have a holiday party
    9. Have a “pie” party. This is a party where you invite people over and then they all pick up a pie on their way home from work.
    10. Go golfing with others
    11. Share everyday activities with others.
    12. Watch the game together.
    13. Make sure that you are looking to transition to spiritual conversations.
      1. Don’t wait too long to tell people you are a Christian.
      2. Don’t get drunk even if they are.
  • If people share something ask if you can pray for them.
  1. If people are commenting on scenery give credit to God.
  1. Health clubs are good opportunities to meet people.
  2. Sporting events are good opportunities.
  3. Be creative.
  4. God will use your relationships.
  5. Most people come to know Christ through relationships.
  6. You are the church, pretty soon the church will leave the building, be the church in your relationships.

 

Close:  

From Becoming a Contagious Christian

Mark learned this lesson the hard way. It happened a few years ago when our church was putting on a week-long presentation that combined contemporary music and drama to communicate Christianity to people who don’t normally go to church. He had bought four tickets for the Friday night performance, and along with his wife, Heidi, had invited another couple. But that couple cancelled at the last minute. Now it was the day of the event, and they were holding two extra tickets with no one to bring. Mark drove home from the office that evening, and as he turned into his driveway, he saw the young couple who lived next door walking on the sidewalk in front of his house. They weren’t married, had shown no inclination toward spiritual interests, and he only knew them by their first names. Still, he figured, why not give it a shot? “Hey, Scott!” he called out. “I was wondering if you two are busy tonight. You see, I’ve got these extra tickets to a concert at our church.” He quickly tried to dispel any stereotypes they might have and to convey that this would feature music they’d really like, that there would be professional-quality and up-to-date drama, good sound and lighting, and so on.

 

And then he asked if they would like to go. Push the pause button for a moment. If you think along the lines I do, you’re probably admiring the confidence Mark showed in forthrightly explaining this opportunity and inviting a couple he’d barely even met. It was the kind of thing a lot of us think about doing but find it hard to muster the needed courage. The only problem, as he found out, was that it was probably too bold and too quick. It risked the possibility of scaring them away not only from this, but also from future chances for interaction. Scott glanced shyly at his girlfriend for a moment and then looked at the ground. Somewhat awkwardly he finally said, “Um … thanks anyway, but I don’t think we’ll go this time … but, well, if you’d ever like to get together in the backyard for a barbecue, let us know.” As they walked away, Mark thought to himself, “Why didn’t I think of that? In fact, that’s the very thing I’ve been teaching in my evangelism seminars for years: you’ve got to barbecue first!”

 

As they walked away, Mark thought to himself, “Why didn’t I think of that? In fact, that’s the very thing I’ve been teaching in my evangelism seminars for years: you’ve got to barbecue first!” It’s so important that we make investments in friendships — what I sometimes call paying relational rent — in order to gain the person’s trust and respect, as well as to earn the right to talk to them about spiritual issues. Interestingly, Mark did follow up later with Scott. After a few weeks he called him and suggested that the four of them see a movie and then go out for dessert afterwards. When the night came, Mark and Heidi decided that they would not bring up topics related to church or Christianity. They knew they’d already gone too fast, and they determined to “barbecue” several times with the couple before even thinking about trying to steer the conversation into matters of faith. But to their surprise, that same night in the restaurant, Scott himself asked some questions of a spiritual nature![1]

 

So, my encouragement to all of us is that we build relationship with non-Christians and share the Gospel in the relationships. Don’t push it, but do wait for the opportunity.

 

You are the church, pretty soon the church will leave the building, be the church in your relationships.

 

Do you know Christ?

Luke 9:23

 

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

 

[1] Hybels, Bill; Hybels, Bill; Mittelberg, Mark; Mittelberg, Mark (2008-09-09). Becoming a Contagious Christian (p. 98). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

Don’t Mess with Biblical Truths

Every week I post my sermon manuscript to my blog, but this is an extra. I used to write on other things more often, and I would like to write more, but because of time I haven’t, so here is one for you to think about.

Recently, I was talking with someone who challenged or compromised certain orthodox Christian beliefs. It was no surprise that he would compromise these views, but it got me thinking.

If we compromise belief in the exclusivity of the Gospel, it has a cataclysmic effect on the every other part of our eternal hope. It changes the churches gathering into purely another club. There is NO eternal hope. I want to substantiate that claim here.

Further, if we compromise the claim for the inspired, infallible value of the Scriptures it also has cataclysmic effects on everything else including salvation. Without a firm belief in the Bible we have NO hope of salvation. It was commented something to the effect: “People are torn between whether the Bible is an inspired and inherent book or if the Bible is an inspired book about life…” That quote is a summary. It was also commented that there are two kinds of churches. There are churches that focus on the the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) to go and make disciples. Then there are churches that focus on the greatest commandment, being love (Matthew 22:36-40).

These are not in contradiction. My belief in the Gospel and my love for other people convicts me to share the Gospel. It is hatred, at least indirectly, to not share the Gospel. It is negligence to not share the Gospel. This could be likened to child abuse. It could be likened to saying that you love your baby while you intentionally leave your child in a car on an eighty-degree day with the windows up in the sun. No one who loves their child intentionally does that.

So, salvation overall must fit together like a puzzle, you cannot take one part out. So, salvation is exclusive through Jesus, but this is because Jesus said it is, but more than that. We can lump Biblical history into creationfall and redemption. We also know there is a future consummation

Creation:

God created all of humanity good: Genesis 1:1 and 31.

Fall/rebellion:

The first people, Adam and Eve, had freedom to live in friendship and trust with God, yet chose to rebel (Genesis 3:1-7). The one trespass led to broken relationship with God. We all died spiritually (Romans 3:1-20; Ephesians 2:1-10). Romans 3:23 talks about how we all sin and fall short of the glory of God.

Redemption:

God chose to redeem us. He chose to save us. He would have been perfectly just to leave us the way we were. But 1 Corinthians 15:3 shows that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures. John 3:16 is a key passage about this as well.

 Consummation:

God will restore all things (Romans 8:21; 2 Peter 3:7-13; Revelation 21). (some of the previous material regarding creation, fall, redemption, consummation was summarized from: Wayne A. Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House, 2004. pages 442-445)

But if we believe in universalism, compromising the exclusivity of the Scriptures, then we also compromise the holiness of God.

Lev. 20:26; 1 Peter 1:16 talk about the holiness of God. But we also see that in the worship plans of Exodus 19 and the building of the Tabernacle in Exodus 40.

Because of the holiness of God we have a sin problem and our sins separates us from God.

The Bible teaches that we have a sin problem:

The Bible even says that we have placed a separation between God and us for the fact that we have sinned (Isaiah 59:2).  The Bible also says that because we sin we have to pay by death (Romans 6:23).  God tells us that God will punish those who don’t know him and they will be punished (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9). God says that He is unchanging and that He won’t change His mind (1 Samuel 15:29). He already declared that He will not let the guilty go unpunished (Exodus 34:7b) so, because we committed the crime we must face the consequences. God can’t tell a lie, or He wouldn’t be God (Numbers 23:19).

Going back to the beginning comments:

To distort one doctrine means that our Theology, meaning study of God, is totally compromised because of the holiness of God. Because God is holy we need Jesus. Furthermore, our orthodox, not just recent, study of salvation is messed up. Our study of salvation, soteriology, is skewed when we distort or change any doctrine.

For example, If we start saying that certain things are not sin, then we are playing God ourselves. It gets to the point where we have to ask, is there a sin problem at all? It can get to the point where we must wonder, do we need a sacrifice at all? But the Bible teaches that we do need a sacrifice. We sinned against a holy God.

Another example, when we start believing in universalism, that means that all people end up in Heaven, or end up in Heaven in the end, we REALLY compromise the justice of God, the holiness of God, the wrath of God (mentioned over 700 times in the Bible), we even compromise the love of God. Realize that the love of God corresponds with God’s wrath on sin. Sin hurts people and sin hurts God; therefore, there are consequences. This is loving. If we start believing in universalism that means that God is not holy and we have not sinned against Him. But starting in Genesis the Bible teaches that we need blood to cover sin. How do we deal with sin? Jesus took care of my sin.

So, to be clear, just messing with our belief in salvation, changing this to universalism, changes my Theological beliefs by compromising the holiness of God. Then we must get rid of Leviticus.

Rob Bell must have realized this. He was an influential pastor and then wrote a book called Love Wins. This book seemed to at least infer all people go to Heaven. But Bell did not stop there. Now, he seems to have compromised other orthodox Christian beliefs.

I have only written about how soteriology and theology connect, but they all connect. Condoning homosexuality (notice I said condoning, this is not to say not to love all people. We must love all people regardless of struggles, or sexual orientation) has ramifications that distort theology as well. When we consider that the Bible pictures the sexual union of a man and a woman as a refection of Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:21-31). In theology we can talk about God creating humanity as male and female (Genesis 1:27; Matthew 19:4). It takes male and female to reflect God. God created two sexes. When we start attempting to change the Bible or the purpose of humanity we are changing Theology and we are messing with our view of God in greater ways than we may realize.

Lastly, when I references certain sins, this is not to say that we do not all have temptations and struggles. But Christians are called not to live-in sin (Living-in sin means that one has given over to it and they do not care. They are condoning it, as if saying, “I’m a liar.” One can struggle with sin, meaning they fall to it, but are trying to overcome it.). If we live-in sin, than did we really repent and turn to Christ to begin with. Christ calls to to turn from our sinful ways and follow Him. That is Luke 9:23. Repentance means turning around. I am not meaning to lack compassion, grace or understanding. But having compassion, grace and understanding does not mean condoning or changing definitions. Actually, condoning sin lacks grace, because the Truth is we will all stand before a Holy God some day and we need to be ready (2 Corinthians 5:10). Some say Christians who stand uncompromising on truth are unloving. That is not true. Actually, those who stand uncompromising on Truth are loving God first (Matthew 22:36-40) and even loving others more because they are not allowing them to live in self destructive behaviors.

Some thoughts for reflection.

In Christ,

Pastor Steve

Serving with the Heart and Mind of Christ

Introduction:

When I was in college I was sitting in chapel when the President of the University shared a story which I will never forget. There was an adult book store opening in a community and there were many Christians outside protesting. They were standing with their signs when a group of Christians entered with mop buckets, brooms and cleaning supplies. They came into the book store and said, “We are here to serve you, we want to clean for you.” The store owners were shocked. All the other Christians were protesting and now this group wants to work for free! Surprisingly, if I recall the story correctly, that store was shut down eventually, but not because of the protest. The owners became Christians because of service. Why can’t we serve with no strings attached? Too often we are not known for service. Or, maybe we are known for service when we are a group of Christians, but why not individually?

 

Tony Campolo tells a true story of a Jewish boy who suffered under the Nazis in World War II. He was living in a small Polish village when he and all the other Jews of the vicinity were rounded up by Nazi SS troops and sentenced to death. This boy joined his neighbors in digging a shallow ditch for their graves, then faced the firing squad with his parents.

Sprayed with machine-gun fire, bodies fell into the ditch and the Nazis covered the crumpled bodies with dirt. But none of the bullets hit the little boy. He was splattered with the blood of his parents and when they fell into the ditch, he pretended to be dead and fell on top of them. The grave was so shallow that the thin covering of dirt did not prevent air from getting through to him so that he could breathe. Several hours later, when darkness fell, he clawed his way out of the grave.

With blood and dirt caked to his little body, he made his way to the nearest house and begged for help. Recognizing him as one of the Jewish boys marked for death, he was turned away at house after house as people feared getting into trouble with the SS troops. Then something inside seemed to guide him to say something that was very strange for a Jewish boy to say. When the next family responded to his timid knocking in the still of the night, they heard him cry, “Don’t you recognize me? I am the Jesus you say you love.”

After a poignant pause, the woman who stood in the doorway swept him into her arms and kissed him. From that day on, the members of that family cared for that boy as though he was one of their own.[1]

So, today I begin a sermon series titled, “The Church has left the building.” This is important because the church is not a building. The building is simply a facility. In fact, I know of a church which has been growing rapidly that has been portable for some twelve years. They have not owned a building.[2] But we are all the church and as part of the church we represent Christ wherever we are. Today we will talk about serving or should we say, “Service with a smile.”

 

My theme and challenge:

Serve others with the heart and mind of Christ.

 

Let’s read two Scripture passages:

 

Matthew 22:37-39:

 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.[b]

 

Philippians 2:3-4:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

 

  1. Serving with the heart and mind of Christ begins in our thinking:
    1. In looking at the Philippians 2:3-4 passage I have note in one of my Bibles: 5 tn Grk “not according to selfish ambition.” There is no main verb in this verse; (“be of the same mind”) is implied here as well. Thus, although most translations supply the verb “do” at the beginning of v. 3 (e.g., “do nothing from selfish ambition”), the idea is even stronger than that: “Don’t even think any thoughts motivated by selfish ambition.”[3]
    2. The Christian is to think about others. It begins in our thinking.
    3. Twenty-five years ago, when the New York Yankees were the dominant team in major league baseball, the manager would say to the rookies, “Boys, it’s an honor just to put on the New York pinstripes. So when you put them on, play like world champions. Play like Yankees. Play proud.” In similar fashion, the apostle Paul is attempting to inspire and to motivate the believers at Philippi by challenging them to walk worthy of the name by which they are called.[4]
    4. I like that story. We are reflecting Jesus. We are Jesus to other people. Walk worthy of the name we represent.
    5. The following is a true story. Granted, it happened several years ago. But I wonder how often such scenarios unfold. Two pastors were at lunch together. The older pastor paid for their previous meal, so the younger pastor picked up the tab for this meal. The younger pastor paid cash for the meal, so his older friend asked if he had included a tip. He said he forgot the tip, so he put some cash on the table. As they were departing, the younger pastor said he forgot something, and returned to the restaurant. The other pastor saw him through the window. The younger man went back to the table, picked up the cash, and put it in his pocket.
    6. What a sad story. The other pastor went back later and apologized and also gave a tip. We as Christians are to reflect Christ.
    7. This starts with our thinking. My thinking must not be about me first. I must perish the “me first” thinking.
    8. In preaching this passage I know that many, if not most, if not all of our congregation are pretty good at serving others. However, we all need reminded all the time. I know that I do. I also need reminded that I first must change my thinking.
    9. The passage says, “‘In Humility’ value others above yourselves.” It starts with a mindset.
    10. As Paul writes about this he gives an example and that is Jesus. Jesus valued us and that is why He went to the cross. Later in verses 19-20 Paul gives the example of Timothy who also valued the welfare of others.
    11. So, I ask all of us and I ask myself as well:
      1. How is our mindset?
      2. When we serve others is it because we love them or we are just duty bound?
      3. Do we look down upon certain people as “below” us?
      4. What about racial issues? Do we love others of different races and do we want to serve them as much as our own race? I have recently become more aware of something called “White privilege.” It is true that when I am running down a certain street I do not have to worry about being stopped by the police purely because of the color of my skin. Or, I do not have to think about training my children to be prepared to be looked upon differently because of the color of their skin. I have read articles written by African American Pastors and they write about having to teach their children to dress differently because of the perceptions based off of their skin color. Please know, I am not criticizing the police for these things or making judgments, but I am saying that we all have certain perceptions based off of first impressions of others and we must try to limit and eliminate them as quickly as we can. The first step is recognizing them.
      5. Another application is really not action oriented, but word oriented. Do we try our best to communicate love through our words and non-verbals? Sarcasm can be humorous or it can cut like a knife.
    12. I want to say something about loving others. A major goal is real love shares Jesus with people. If we really love them we make sure we share Jesus with them.
  2. Serving with the heart and mind of Christ ends in action.
    1. A woman wanted a pet so she bought a parrot. She asked them at the pet store if it will talk and they said yea. She takes the parrot home and put it in its cage and it didn’t talk. After a while she goes back to the pet store and says, “it doesn’t talk.” They said, “Did you buy it a mirror. It must look at itself in the mirror and then it will talk.” She gets a mirror and the parrot still doesn’t talk. She goes back to the pet store and they said, “Did you buy it a ladder? Once it has a ladder it will talk.” She gets a ladder and it doesn’t talk. She goes back to the pet store. They said, “Did you get it a swing? When it swings it will talk.” She gets a swing and it still will not talk. After a few weeks it dies. She goes back to the pet store and says that it dies. They said “did it say anything before it died?” She said yea it said, “Don’t they have any food at that pet store.” [5]
    2. So, we want to make sure that people are receiving the basic needs. We want to make sure they have food.
    3. But these actions are not always material thinks. I know that some of us on some days do not have a penny to spare, but that is not to say we cannot love other people.
    4. Listen to this from Taylor Swift when she was eighteen years old:
    5. “I wrote that about the scariest feeling I’ve ever felt: going to school, walking down the hall, looking at all those faces, and not knowing who you’re gonna talk to that day. People always, How did you have the courage to walk up to record labels when you were 12 or 13? It’s because I could never feel the kind of rejection in the music industry that I felt in middle school.[6]
    6. We can love people by befriending them and I am going to talk about that later this month in relational evangelism.
    7. But, I believe there are little ways I think we can help people.
      1. Praying with and for people. We will never know how much of a difference this will make.
      2. Sharing the Gospel with someone. You know that is a free gift you can share with another person?
      3. Bibles: give one away.
      4. Help people with meals. There are many times that our congregation serves people by helping them with meals during hard times.
      5. Visiting shutins and those in the hospital. Our caring committee can use your help. This is an easy thing for young moms to do. Take your children with you and visit a senior saint. Or, visit some of your own family members.
      6. Volunteer at the Alliance of Churches office.
      7. Volunteer at the Alliance Community Food Pantry.
      8. Sew for someone, teach someone to sew. Teach someone to cook. Help out at the Alliance Pregnancy Center.

 

Close:

An Elderly Woman Reaches Out to Homesick College Students

Daniel Meyer tells the story of an elderly woman who heard a sermon in which she felt God encouraging her to look for ways in which she could use her particular gifts and situation to minister to the needs of others. She thought about her gifts and realized that she’d been told by others that she had the gift of hospitality. She lived alone in a small apartment near a large university and had afternoons free. She pondered the needs around her and the people who tugged at her heartstrings. To her mind came the students nearby who were so far away from home. It was then that an idea both strange and simple suddenly arose. She got a stack of three-by- five cards and wrote on each one the following words: “Are you homesick? Come to my house at 4:00 p.m. for tea.” She included a phone number and address and then posted the cards all around campus.

After a slow start, homesick students began trickling into her house each week for tea. When she died ten years later, eighty honorary pallbearers attended her funeral. Each one of them had been a student who, once upon a time, found a hot cup of tea, a sense of home, and the gospel of Jesus in the hospitable heart of this faithful servant.[7]

Do you know Christ?

Luke 9:23

 

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

 

[1] Anthony Campolo, Who Switched the Price Tags

Swindoll, Charles R. Read in Swindoll’s Ultimate Book of Illustrations & Quotes. Thomas Nelson. Nashville, TN 1998. Pages 6-7

[2] Grace Chapel in Minerva, Ohio

[3] Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Biblical Studies Press, 2006), Php 2:3.

[4] Bill Hybels, “The Certainty of Suffering,” Preaching Today, Tape No. 164.

[5] Chuck Swindoll

[6]– 18-year-old country music star Taylor Swift speaking about the inspiration for the song “The Outside”, Entertainment Weekly, February 8, 2008, pg. 42

[7] Daniel Meyer, Witness Essentials (InterVarsity Press, 2012), p. 186

Preparing for Sunday morning worship, Restoring relationships

Introduction:

This is the last sermon in the “You are the Church” series. We have talked about preparing for Sunday morning worship. We have talked about being here now, meaning being present when we are here. We have talked about being fed and feeding yourself. We have talked about congregational praise. We have talked about being the church throughout the whole week. So, now we come back to Sunday.

 

Back when I was an associate pastor my senior pastor told me, “I want you to know that right now you preach periodically, but it can get draining when you preach every week.” He would say, “Sunday’s just keep coming.” Every week I work on a research paper for you and present it to you. It is my God given task and I will be judged for how I do this. I will be held accountable to God for how I handle this book we call the Bible. If I misrepresent the Bible and use it incorrectly, woe is me. I am sure that I have actually. Pray for me with this. That is actually one way that you can prepare for Sunday morning worship, pray for me as I present the Scriptures to you. Pray for me as I stand between God and His people.

 

I don’t want to neglect to mention that we have other singers and musicians that need prayed for as well. Preparing for Sunday morning worship ought to mean that you pray for them. We have Christian Connections teachers and others involved on Sunday morning. Pray for them. We believe that God speaks to us, so we must pray that He will.

 

So, today I will talk about the 3 R’s of discipleship which we ought to take care of before Sunday morning worship.

 

Repentance

Restitution

Reconciliation

 

My theme and application today is: You are not ready to worship if you are not right with others. This can be intentional or by ignoring a problem with someone else.

 

Let’s read Matthew 5:23-24:

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

 

  1. Background: Let me tell you what is going on.
    1. Listen, right here Jesus is talking to the Pharisees and they thought they had everything all together. But that was not the case. In this passage Jesus is telling them you can have it all together, but someone else is angry with you.
    2. Look what Jesus say, “leave.” Jesus says to leave.
    3. Can you imagine? You arrive early here at First Baptist. You sit down to worship. Then you realize that someone is angry at you or maybe there is a barrier in a relationship, maybe a misunderstanding. So, what do you do? You get up and go in the parking lot and call them. Or, you go to your house, but you work it out. You apologize. You try to clear it up.
    4. Jesus is saying that you are not right with God when you are ignoring a problem with someone else.
    5. It could be that you have tried to make things right with someone else, but they won’t work with you. I don’t think that is what Jesus is talking about in this passage.
    6. I am sure, in a group of people this size, some of you have barriers in your relationships with your children and you have tried to work it out.
    7. I would ask, have you tried in humility? Have you tried to own up to your faults and apologize?
    8. I am sure that some of you have tried that and they still won’t accept it. They still won’t reconcile.
    9. You can try other things. You can try a mediator, a counselor, a group called Peacemakers, but sometimes you exhaust all your options.
    10. If that is the case I don’t think Jesus is addressing you.
    11. I think Jesus is talking about people who are ignoring problems. 1 John 4:20: Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sisteris a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.
    12. In this case Jesus is talking about worship, making an offering to God.
    13. Jesus says to seek reconciliation while you can.
    14. If you look at the next few verses Jesus talks about the time coming where you are turned over to the judge for your crime and then you cannot do anything. The judge throws you in jail. Back then they had debtors prison. So what is envisioned is that you have failed to pay a debt and you realize that so you make that right prior to worship. Otherwise, you are thrown in debtors prison and you can’t pay a debt if you are in prison.
    15. What this means is if you ignore a problem with someone, then your relationship with Christ is hindered, even broken. Maybe you don’t know Christ. You could die tomorrow; we are never promised another day. Then you die and go to hell and you can no longer fix that relationship. Fix it while you can.
    16. You are not ready to worship if you are ignoring a problem with someone else. We love God and love people.
    17. Preparing for worship means loving others and we do that through: repentance, restitution and reconciliation.
  2. Repentance: first we repent.
    1. Repent means to apologize and turn around.
    2. You come to worship and you realize that what you said to your wife was wrong. You said the eggs and bacon and pancakes and grits that she made you was terrible.
    3. You apologize, but say the exact thing later in the day. She makes steak and potatoes and you say they are just terrible. You say that she is absolutely a terrible cook. Were you really repenting? No. You were sorry, but you were not repenting. Further, you are now cooking your own meals.
    4. You need to realize, we need to realize, that we may need help being respectful and loving.
    5. Mercedes will say she is sorry, but she does the same thing later. BUT she is four years old. We are adults.
    6. Further, it is not enough to say we are sorry, we must ask for forgiveness. When we ask for forgiveness we ae humbly acknowledging failure and giving the person the ball. We teach Mercedes this. We tell her to say she is sorry and to ask for forgiveness.
    7. You are coming to worship and you are fighting the whole way to church. You sit in the parking lot and think, “What do we do?” Apologize and agree to take responsibility and work not to do it again.
  • Restitution: So you repent, but you must make restitution.
    1. This goes along with forgiveness.
    2. Give them the opportunity to help you make it right.
    3. In Luke 19:1-10 Zacchaeus gave half his possessions to the poor and paid back four times the amount to people he had cheated. In Philemon 9-18 Paul  tells Onesimus to return to his master; Paul will pay all his debts.
    4. That is restitution.
    5. Restitution is generally, restitution is ___paying___ back something of material value that has been taken ___wrongly___ . It is a way to “___settle___ the ___account
    6. Restitution:
      1. is consistent with biblical teaching
      2. helps release us from the effects of past sin
  • weakens our prideful nature; brings forth humility
  1. helps remove stumbling blocks from other people’s paths
  2. reduces our tendency to repeat the same sin
  3. demonstrates the sincerity of our repentance
  1. We are not ready for worship when we are ignoring repentance and restitution with someone else.
  1. Reconciliation: we must reconcile with others.
    1. Reconciliation is more important, even more important, than giving.
    2. In this passage Jesus is saying that this is critical.
    3. Like restitution, reconciliation “settles the account.” However, it is in the realm of ___character  Bitterness is the ___cancer___ of human relationships.  It grows where ___unforgiving___ spirits dwell.  It also prevents us from receiving the forgiving ___grace___ of God (Matthew 6:15).
    4. Reconciliation involves:
      1. Confrontation (Matthew 5:23-24; Galatians 2:11)
      2. Compassion (Ephesians 4:31-32)
  • Concession (sometimes) (Romans 14:1)
  1. You are not ready for worship without pursuing:
    1. Repentance
    2. Restitution
    3. And reconciliation.
  2. Notice that I said pursuing this. This may take time, but you have to at least try. If you are ignoring problems with a brother or sister then you are not ready to worship.
  3. Follow Matthew 18:15-17: Talk to the person alone. Then bring someone else with you, then bring another person with you.

Close:

So, preparing for worship means that we must seek a right relationship with others. Having a barrier with another means we have a barrier with God.

This week prayerfully commit to healing a relationship. Or, at least try. You are not responsible for their reaction. You are only responsible for your attempts to make things right. Pray first.

What does this look like? Just call the person up and see if you can go to Bob Evans for lunch or invite them over. When you meet ask openly if you have offended them in any way. Go from there. Pray. Pray. Pray.

 

Let’s celebrate together

 

Do you know Christ?

Luke 9:23

 

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)