Pray Persistently (Luke 11:5-8)

Pray Persistently (Luke 11:5-8)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, October 14, 2018 

John Ortberg, in The Life You’ve Always Wanted, tells about the time that Tony Campolo, the college professor, popular speaker and author, was about to address a college chapel service. Several men from the school gathered with Tony for a time of prayer before he spoke. They circled, knelt, laid hands on him and began to call out for God to bless their speaker.

Campolo shared that his men prayed a long time, and as they prayed, they grew tired and started leaning more and more on Campolo. The prayers were earnest, but their weight was getting too much to bear.

On top of that, one guy was not even praying for Tony. He was praying for someone named Charlie Stolzfus.

“Dear Lord, you know Charlie Stoltzfus. He lives in that silver trailer down the road a mile. You know the trailer, Lord, just down the road on the right hand side.”

Why was the man praying for Charlie? Tony was the speaker, not Charlie Stoltzfus. In addition, the Lord already knew where Charlie Stotzfus lived.

“Lord,” the man continued, “this morning Charlie told me he’s going to leave his wife and three kids. Step in and do something, Lord. Please bring that family back together.”

Finally, the prayer time ended, they had a great chapel service, and Campolo headed home. Just as he was merging onto the Pennsylvania Turnpike, he noticed a hitchhiker on the side of the road and decided to give him a ride.

As they rode along, Tony introduced himself. The man stuck out his hand and said, “My name is Charlie Stoltzfus.”

Campolo could not believe his ears. What are the chances . . . ?

At the next exit, Tony left the interstate and turned the car around. As they returned to the interstate, Charlie said, “Hey, mister, where are you taking me?”

Tony said, “I’m taking you home.”

“Why?”

Campolo said, “Because you just left your wife and three kids, right?”

The man was stunned. “Yeah. Yeah, you’re right. I did.”

He moved over against the door and never took his eyes off of Campolo. Then, when Tony drove right into the guy’s yard, that really did it.”

Charlie’s eyes bulged out. He said, “How did you know I live here?”

“The Lord told me,” Tony said. (He didn’t explain how the Lord told him).

The trailer door threw open and Charlie’s wife ran out. “You’re back! You’re back!”

Charlie whispered in her ear what happened. The more he shared, the bigger her eyes got.

Campolo then said with real authority, “The two of you sit down. I’m going to talk and you two are going to listen!” And he laid it on, and they listened.

That afternoon, Campolo helped those two receive Jesus Christ as Savior, and that was the start of the healing of a marriage.

Now, was that coincidence that Tony Campolo happened to pick up that particular hitchhiker? Or did God answer the praying man’s petition to “step in and do something?”

James 5:16 reads, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” Prayer unlocks divine power, heaven’s blessing, and God’s answer. How many of our coincidences are really answered prayer?[1]

Today I end the sermon series on Scriptures that I have been convicted to pray. I began the sermon series talking about spiritual leadership in the home. I want to end the series talking about persistent prayer.

Today my theme is:

Pray persistently

Please turn to Luke 11:5-8 and let’s read the passage:

Then He said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and goes to him at midnight and says to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and from inside he answers and says, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs.

  1. In context Jesus has been teaching on prayer.
    1. The disciples saw Jesus praying frequently and so right now they had asked him to teach on prayer.
    2. In verse 1 it mentions Jesus praying and then the disciples asked Him to teach them to pray.
    3. Do people know you as a prayer warrior?
    4. Now, be careful, you do not pray to be seen by others. However, do your children and grandchildren know that you have a life of prayer?
    5. Jesus taught the disciples what we call the Lord’s prayer and then He gave some illustrations.
  2. Persistent prayer is emphasized.
    1. See verse 5, how would you feel if a friend came to you at midnight?
    2. A few years ago, I read an interesting book titled, “Night in Times Past.” The book talked about the way we view night and how it has changed because of electricity. Electric lighting has changed everything. In the past people would have sleep cycles. They would go to bed early and then they would wake up in the night and actually do something and then go back to bed. So, being up at midnight may not be as uncommon as we think. Still, the family is asleep.
    3. Look at verse 6: this neighbor has had a friend come and he has no food for him. Hospitality was very important in the middle east and still is very important. This neighbor has had a friend come over and has no food for him.
    4. Remember they had no hotels like we think of them. They have no 24 hour stores or restaurants.
    5. But verse 7 shows the neighbors reaction: he answers from inside.
    6. The door is shut, the children are in bed.
    7. The doors had elaborate locking mechanisms and it would not be easy to open the door.
    8. The kids are in bed. One source says: All the family was sleeping (on mats) in the same room, and an attempt to open the bolted door would have awakened the whole family.
    9. Now, I don’t know how old his kids were, but suppose they are babies. When you have a baby in the home and asleep you want to harm anyone who wakes the baby.
    10. But verse 8 is key: because of the friends persistence or some translations say “shamelessness” or “impudence” he will get up and give him what he needs.
    11. This term translated “persistence” or “shamelessness” or “Impudence” has the idea of a “lack of sensitivity to what is proper.”
    12. This is a parable about prayer. Jesus gives this as an example. This is an example of how we are to go to God.
    13. How are we doing with prayer?
  • Applications:
    1. Let’s think about this in the sermon series.
    2. This series has been about praying Scriptures.
    3. When we pray are we praying spiritual prayers?
    4. When we pray are we praying for physical, felt needs, or for spiritual needs?
    5. What is more important that we pray that our children have an education or that we pray that they know the Lord?
    6. I encourage you to make sure you are praying for spiritual needs:
      1. Pray that your descendants know Jesus.
      2. Pray that they are active in the church.
  • Pray that they are in the Word.
  1. Pray that they pray.
  2. Pray that they are active in the spiritual disciplines.
  3. Pray the Bible for them. Pray that they live the Bible.
  • Pray the passages which I have preached on.
  • You may have other passages you have been convicted to pray, awesome, keep praying them.

Here are some tips from the book, “A Praying Life”:

If you are not praying, then you are quietly confident that time, money, and talent are all you need in life.

Here are seven simple suggestions for how you can spend time with your Father in the morning: 

  1. Get to bed. What you do in the evening will shape your morning. The Hebrew notion of a day as the evening and morning (see Genesis 1) helps you plan for prayer. If you want to pray in the morning, then plan your evening so you don’t stay up too late. The evening and the morning are connected.          
  2. Get up. Praying in bed is wonderful. In fact, the more you pray out of bed, the more you’ll pray in bed. But you’ll never develop a morning prayer time in bed. Some of my richest prayer times are at night. I’ll wake up praying. But those prayer times only began to emerge because I got out of bed to pray.          
  3. Get awake. Maybe you need to make a pot of coffee first or take a shower.          
  4. Get a quiet place. Maybe a room, a chair, or a place with a view. Or maybe you do better going for a walk. Make sure that no one can interrupt you.          
  5. Get comfortable. Don’t feel like you have to pray on your knees. For years I was hindered from praying because I found it so uncomfortable to pray on my knees.          
  6. Get going. Start with just five minutes. Start with a small goal that you can attain rather than something heroic. You’ll quickly find that the time will fly.        
  7. Keep going. Consistency is more important than length. If you pray five minutes every day, then the length of time will slowly grow. You’ll look up and discover that twenty minutes have gone by. You’ll enjoy being with God. Jesus is so concerned about hanging in there with prayer that he tells “his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up” (Luke 18: 1, NIV).

We tell ourselves, “Strong Christians pray a lot. If I were a stronger Christian, I’d pray more.” Strong Christians do pray more, but they pray more because they realize how weak they are. They don’t try to hide it from themselves. Weakness is the channel that allows them to access grace. I’m not referring to well-known Christians. An interviewer once asked Edith Schaeffer, author and wife of evangelist and philosopher Francis Schaeffer, “Who is the greatest Christian woman alive today?” She replied, “We don’t know her name. She is dying of cancer somewhere in a hospital in India.”[2]

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://www.thecitizen.com/blogs/dr-david-l-chancey/03-27-2012/prayer-really-works-when-we-take-it-seriously

[2]Miller, Paul (2014-02-01). A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World (p. 50). NavPress. Kindle Edition.

 

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Pray for a Sanctified Mind (Phil. 4:6-9)

Pray We and Our Children Sanctify our Minds (2 Corinthians 10:5; Philippians 4:6-8)

Praying Scripture Series

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, October 7, 2018

 People’s biggest fears are public speaking and death.

Jerry Seinfeld says people would rather be in the casket at the funeral than giving the eulogy.

I am a worrier. I can worry about anything and everything. I realized the day after Mercedes was born that God gave us children to help us learn how to trust in Him. And if you don’t have children, I know that God gives us parents to help us learn how to trust in Him. This is because we all have to care for others. We grow up and then eventually we help care for our aging parents, or aunts, or uncles, or close friends. I am a light sleeper and there have been many nights in which I am going in to check on the children. It would be great to be content. I think the Bible helps with that.

Mark Twain said: “I’ve lived a long time & worried a lot & most of the things I’ve worried about never happened.”

A problem with worry, or let’s call it anxiety, being anxious can steal our peace away from us. Being anxious can keep us from rejoicing.

I want to read Phil 4:6-8 and I believe you will see that God gives us a way to sanctify our minds. I have been preaching on convictional Scriptures. I have been preaching on Scriptures that I have been convicted to pray for myself and my children. Today, we come to a couple passages dealing with the mind.

My theme today is:

Pray We and Our Children Sanctify our Minds (2 Corinthians 10:5; Philippians 3:10; 4:6-8)

Read text: Phil 4:6-8:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. 

Paul tells them not be anxious but to pray giving their request to God with thanksgiving

When Paul was writing this letter, he was under house arrest. There were guards around him. We know there were guards because he says so in chapter 1:13 and following.

Paul is writing this to the Philippians who were persecuted for their faith in Christ.

The city of Philippi was a Roman colony. They were very Roman in culture; they probably even spoke Latin which was a little rarer at this point.

By this point in Paul’s life he had already been shipwrecked, beaten, stoned and so much more (Acts 14; 2 Cor 11)

I think Paul could have had a lot to worry about. I think Paul could have been concerned about many things.

In the previous few verses (verse 5), Paul tells them to be gentle or let their gentleness be known to all. Again, Paul doesn’t say let people know you are gentle when things are going well and people are nice to you. No, let your gentleness be known to all.

Prayer with thanksgiving is what they need to do. That is the cure for anxiety.

However, the Philippians did face persecution, but what did Jesus say about this:

Matthew 5:44: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you

Matthew 5:11: Jesus says that we are blessed when persecuted for Him

Acts 5:41 the people leave a persecuting situation rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer for Christ

Not to be anxious is difficult. Like I said, I worry a lot. But Paul gives an antidote to anxiety and even to the time we are spending being anxious.

The antidote is prayer and Paul tells us how to pray.

Paul actually lists 3 types of communion with God in this passage: 1) prayer, 2) supplication or petition, 3) thanksgiving.

We pray in everything. Not in some things but in all things. And we pray with petitions. This petition means that we have a list of needs that we are giving to God.

Please understand: all prayer is not petition. Some prayer is just listening to God, worshipping God, praising God. But in this case Paul says: pray and give your list to God. But Paul also says do this with thanksgiving. Tell God what you are thankful for.

But you know we usually forget the most important. We usually put the physical, felt needs in front of the spiritual.

We have salvation in Christ. We have the Holy Spirit as our comforter (John 14). Jesus said not to fear the person who can harm our body but the person who can harm our soul (Matt 10:28).

About the year 125 A.D. a Greek by the name of Aristeides was writing to one of his friends about the new religion, Christianity. He was trying to explain the reasons for its extraordinary success. Here is a sentence from one of his letters:

“If any righteous man among the Christians passes from this world, they rejoice and offer thanks to God, and they escort his body with songs and thanksgiving as if he were setting out from one place to another nearby.”

—J. G. Gilkey[1]

Having been banished, Cyprian suffered martyrdom in Carthage in 258. When the sentence of death was read to him he said, “I heartily thank Almighty God who is pleased to set me free from the chains of the body.”[2]

Paul says they will have peace from God that passes understanding as a guard

This is not a peace as the world needs. This is not a peace from war. This is an inner peace which we receive spiritually.

This peace will guard our hearts and minds. I think by saying that Paul is saying that the peace will guard our whole person.

The term used for guard is a military term. This type of guard has to do with a soldier on wall guarding a city.

The peace of God will guard us and the peace of God is guarding us in Christ Jesus

Sanctify your mind for Jesus.

Paul had said, not to be anxious, but pray. Before we move on, come back to that word, “anxious.”

Looking at the Greek this has to do with an anxious concern, based on apprehension about possible danger or misfortune[3]

To look at anxiety I looked at some notes from a seminary counseling class. This is what I found: Annual survey of counseling center directors show that anxiety is now the most influential emotional and physical (spiritual?) variable on college campuses since 1996. In general population, 30% of persons have or have had an anxiety disorder – the most common of all psychiatric illnesses. With subclinical features, this number easily moves to include the majority of our population.

The brain doesn’t know the difference between stress. Whether you are standing in front of a dog that is about to attack the brain does the same thing as if you are sitting in the office with a lot of work to do. Cortisol is a chemical that is released to give power during stress. Too much of this causes you to gain weight. This also causes memory issues. This causes brain cell death. This is why diet in itself may not help with weight gain. One must exercise and or do something else in order to decrease stress.[4]

Robert M. Sapolsky, Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers: is a book about dealing with stress. You can see that stress can cause anxiety and anxiety can cause drastic problems. Paul says do not be anxious about some things??? NO!— Don’t be anxious about anything!

Now, let’s move on. Look at verse 8:

“Finally, brethren…” Paul gives a nice loving address calling them “brothers.” That Greek word can actually be brothers or sisters.

Paul is about to tell them what to think on. Now, follow me here, the cure for anxiety and the cure for worry is to pray, but then it is to change our thinking.

I pray that I can live this passage. I pray that my children and descendants can live this passage.

I said, “sanctify our minds.” What does that mean? “Sanctify” means to “set apart for a purpose” or declare holy, or “consecrate.” We need to set apart our minds for God and for His glory and His purpose.

Listen, it will be much easier to pursue God when you declare your mind His. It is much easier to keep from sinning when you declare your mind His.

In 2 Cor. 10:5 Paul says: We aredestroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ

Think about that, take every thought into captivity, now that is powerful. That is sanctifying your mind.

So, think on things that are:

True

Honorable

Right

Pure

Lovely

Of good repute

Anything of excellence and anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

Conclusion:

I am not saying that this is easy. I believe it is difficult to take our thoughts captive, but don’t focus on what not to think about, focus on what to think about.

A love that can never be fathomed;

A life that can never die;

A righteousness that can never be tarnished;

A peace that can never be understood;

A rest that can never be disturbed;

A joy that can never be diminished;

A hope that can never be disappointed;

A glory that can never be clouded;

A light that can never be darkened;

A happiness that can never be interrupted;

A strength that can never be enfeebled;

A purity that can never be defiled;

A beauty that can never be marred;

A wisdom that can never be baffled;

Resources that can never be exhausted. [5]

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)

Pray

[1]Tan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : A treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers. Garland TX: Bible Communications.

[2]Tan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : A treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers. Garland TX: Bible Communications.

[3]Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Vol. 1: Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament : Based on semantic domains(electronic ed. of the 2nd edition.) (312). New York: United Bible societies.

[4]PC510 pastoral counseling notes. Asbury Theological Seminary, fall 2009

[5]Tan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : A treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers. Garland TX: Bible Communications.

Pray that We and Our Children Are Ready for Persecution(Matthew 5:10; Acts 5:17-42; 2 Timothy 3:12)

Pray that We and Our Children Are Ready for Persecution(Matthew 5:10; Acts 5:17-42; 2 Timothy 3:12)

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Praying the Scriptures series

Did you know:

It is illegal to read the Bible in the public schools of Illinois, but a law requires the state to provide a Bible for every convict! Don’t worry, kids, if you can’t read the Bible in school, you’ll be able to when you get to prison![1]

This brings up the idea of persecution for Christian faith. I recently read a series of articles on persecution in the early church. A few years ago, Dr. Witherington commented and reposted another scholar’s comments on a book by Candida Moss about persecution in the early church. I have often thought about persecution. I have thought about how we can stand strong when one is inflicting pain because of our view of Christ. Sometimes we can simply think that they wish for us to deny Christ and that may be true, but from what I have read usually things come up differently than that. Usually a church is meeting and worshipping the Lord, then all of a sudden, government authorities barge in hurt many and put others in prison. Some of you have read and heard about something that Francis Chan shares in his book Forgotten God. He shares about a few Christians, one of whom is a pastor, and they are all taken prisoner in the Middle East. Yet, they are Americans and eventually the Americans came to rescue them. During their time of persecution, at least one of them is killed. After they are rescued and sent back to America they said that they would have rather been in the Middle East under persecution because the Holy Spirit was so strong there. Clearly, many are persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ and God is present with them. Jesus said in Matthew 5:10:

“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven…”

Jesus also said in Matthew 10:19:

 But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say.

We are going to look at one of many passages in the book of Acts dealing with persecution. In this passage, notice how the disciples boldly proclaim Christ and are obedient to God. Notice also how the disciples proclaim that they must obey God and not human laws. As we look at this passage, I hope you are encouraged by the way God took care of them in persecution. I also hope that you are encouraged to also obey God and not human laws. I hope your Christian faith is so important to you that you will live it and share it no matter what the consequences and I hope that you can rejoice with the disciples even in persecution.

Let me set the context. In the verses prior to today’s section the Bible talks about the many signs and wonders happening through the apostle. Verse 14 even says that multitudes of new believers were constantly added to their numbers. So, the Lord is doing many things through the early church. I believe strongly that God’s Spirit is still at work in amazing ways.

God is still active and what we need to know and be aware of is that the more you step out into faith to follow God, the more you will see amazing things through the Holy Spirit. You will not see miracles if you are not following the Lord.

So, God is at work in the early church and some of the Jewish leaders are not at all happy about this. Let’s get into the passage. This is a long passage, so I will break it up into sections in order to talk about it.

My theme today is: Pray that We and Our Children Are Ready for Persecution

  1. In verses 17-21 we see the apostles imprisoned and miraculously released, let’s read the section and then I will share a few thoughts.
    1. 17 But the high priest rose up, along with all his associates (that is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with jealousy.18 They laid hands on the apostles and put them in a public jail. 19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the gates of the prison, and taking them out he said, 20 “Go, stand and speak to the people in the temple the whole message of this Life.” 21 Upon hearing this, they entered into the temple about daybreak and began to teach.
    2. What an amazing passage! Doesn’t that just excite you? As we look at the rest of this passage you will see even the great irony in this passage. But now notice that the Jewish High Courtis not happy with what is going on in the new Christian faith. I am calling them the Jewish High court, but we have at least two major groups. We have the Pharisees who accepted our whole Old Testament. They accepted the Ten Commandments and the books about them, they accepted the prophetic books. They also believed in the resurrection. Paul, the apostle, was a Pharisee. Then we have the Sadducees. They were much smaller and they were politically tied to Rome. They didn’t believe in the resurrection. In reality, Jesus’ resurrection meant that they were no longer in power. If the resurrected order is taking place that means that the Sadducees and their ties to Rome are no longer in power.
    3. The Bible says that they were filled with jealousy so they took the apostles and imprisoned them. Now, it appears that they took all of the apostles, all twelve and imprisoned them.
    4. The Bible says that they were put in “public jail.” This could mean that they were in a public jail or that they were publicly put in jail. They may have wanted everyone to see this.
    5. Okay, so at night an angel from the Lord let them out and told them to go and speak to the people the whole message of the Lord. Interesting that the angel did not tell them to flee or anything else. They were to go back to the very place where they were taken prisoner. So, they obey.
  2. In verses 22-26 we see some very ironic events. Let’s read them.
    1. 22 But the officers who came did not find them in the prison; and they returned and reported back,23 saying, “We found the prison house locked quite securely and the guards standing at the doors; but when we had opened up, we found no one inside.” 24 Now when the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests heard these words, they were greatly perplexed about them as to what would come of this. 25 But someone came and reported to them, “The men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people!” 26 Then the captain went along with the officers and proceeded to bring them back without violence (for they were afraid of the people, that they might be stoned).
    2. So, the people were guarding an empty jail cell. I find that funny.
    3. The people who were supposed to be in power, were clearly not in power at all.
    4. In verse 24 the chief priest heard about this and he was very perplexed. This means literally that he was in doubt. He didn’t believe it. But then he finds out that the people who were put in prison had not fled, but they were now teaching.
    5. It is fortunate for the guards that they were guarding a Jewish prison and not a Roman prison. Later in Acts 12 an angel lets Peter out of prison and Herod has the guards put to death for losing a prisoner.
    6. By the way, back then you went to jail until trial, that was all. They didn’t have long term prisons with cable television as we do today. After trial you were sold into slavery, beaten, killed or released.
    7. Then, notice in verse 26, the ones in charge were worried that they would get stoned bringing the apostles back.
  • Now in verses 27-32 we see the apostles’ response.
    1. 27 When they had brought them, they stood them before the Council. The high priest questioned them,28 saying, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. 31 He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.”
    2. In verse 28: they say, we gave you strict orders not to teach in “this name.” Notice they will not say the name of Jesus.
    3. Then in verse 29 Peter is once again the spokesperson for the group. He says they must obey God and not man. What does that mean to you? How much does the Gospel mean to you? So, put yourself in the place of the persecuted. Say that you are a school teacher and you hold a Bible study in your room and then after a while you are told you can no longer do this? Suppose that you are a school teacher and a student brings up the Christian faith and he is interested in how you become a Christian, do you share with him? You could not do that because you would be fired! Is your job worth this person’s eternity? Suppose that church is illegal and so a church meeting is happening in a home, do you attend? That is what they face in other countries.
    4. In the book of Acts we see that it is so very important to share the Gospel with people. They must follow out the great commission. Jesus is eternal life.
    5. So, now Peter shares about Jesus to this group. He shares the Gospel. Verse 31:
    6. Peter says that they are witnesses of these things and so is the Holy Spirit.
  1. In verses 33-42 we see the ruling:
    1. 33 But when they heard this, they werecut to the quick and intended to kill them.34 But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the Law, respected by all the people, stood up in the Council and gave orders to put the men outside for a short time. 35 And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you propose to do with these men. 36 For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a group of about four hundred men joined up with him. But he was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. 37 After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census and drew away some people after him; he too perished, and all those who followed him were scattered. 38 So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God.” 40 They took his advice; and after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them. 41 So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His  42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.
    2. Gamaliel was the one who trained Paul. He was a brilliant scholar revered for a long time after this and he says, if this is of man, it will diminish and he sites two examples. But he says if this is of God, you will be fighting God. Wow!
    3. But notice the end of this passage: The disciples leave rejoicing that they were counted worthy of persecution. This is right after they were beaten 39 lashes. This is how that was done:
    4. It consisted of thirty-nine lashes, often referred to as the forty less one (cf. 2 Cor 11:24). Based on the provision for forty stripes given in Deut 25:3, the practice had developed of only giving thirty-nine in the event of miscounting, preferring to err on the side of clemency rather than severity. It was still a cruel punishment. With bared chest and in a kneeling position, one was beaten with a tripled strap of calf hide across both chest and back, two on the back for each stripe across the chest. Men were known to have died from the ordeal.[2]
    5. Lastly, the disciples still every day, in houses and in the temple, were teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.

Close:

2 Timothy 3:12 says:

Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

The birth of a healthy baby girl is usually a joyous occasion. But when Meriam Ibrahim gave birth to her daughter, Maya, on Tuesday, May 27, 2014 it triggered a two-year countdown to her execution.

On May 15, the 27-year-old Sudanese doctor was sentenced to death for apostasy by a Sudanese court. In addition, she is to endure 100 lashes for the crime of committing adultery—with her Christian husband. The judge ruled that the lashing would be carried out after she had recovered from delivering her baby and that her death by hanging would occur when her baby reached age two, so she would have time to nurse the infant.

During her trial, the judge asked the young woman three times to recant her Christian faith, but she refused each time.

That was recent. In fact, I read that over 100 million people are persecuted right now. A few years ago I read that the Bible is illegal in 52 countries.

But Christianity is growing in these persecuted countries. Figure that out.

Jim Elliot wrote, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” We must be prepared to do this.

Jim Elliot wrote that and then he was martyred for Christ.

I am not going to ask you about commitment, that is implied.

I am going to ask you about prayer. Pray for the persecuted church.

Pray for the church in America, yourself, children, this church that we can be strong witnesses.

Others, do you know Jesus, why would people go through this for Jesus?

For life everlasting, that is the answer. We are always trying to live longer, but we never will, not on our own.

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)

Pray

 

[1]Tan, P. L. (1996). Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times. Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc.

[2]Polhill, J. B. (1995). Acts(Vol. 26, p. 174). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

Pray that we and our children are evangelist part II (Romans 1:16-17; 15:20; 2 Timothy 2:10)

Pray that We and Our Children Are Evangelist, Part 2 (Romans 1:16-17; 15:20; 2 Timothy 2:10)

Prepared and Preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, September 23, 2018

Praying Scripture Series

THE TREE TRUNK THAT TRUMPETED LIFE AND TRUMPED DEATH By Pastor Rick Sams

  The most popular tourist attraction in Herfordshire County, England is a graveyard. People come from all over the world to see a grave of a woman buried over 200 years ago.

  Lady Anne Grimston was a proud, wealthy, and obstinate woman who lived for this life alone.

  Toward the end friends tried to encourage her to think about what comes after we breathe our last. She would not. She believed there was nothing beyond: “It is as unlikely that I shall continue to live as that a tree will grow out of my body.”     

  She went so far as to make a challenge to Heaven, saying: “If, indeed, there is life hereafter, trees will render asunder my tomb.” [Allegedly there is the same kind of story about a local man and snakes on his grave. Can anyone confirm?]

  Lady Anne Grimston died, was buried, and forgotten. But not quite. After many years the thick marble slab over her grave was found ajar. The builders put it back and forgot her again. 

  But once more the marble slab tilted to one side, and in the middle was a crack, with a tiny bunch of leaves bursting through. The crack was sealed with cement and the slab returned to its original spot. A few years later the marble was again lifted up, the crack opened wider than before, and the trunk of a tree emerged from the opening.

  Workmen repaired the increasingly crumbling tomb and installed iron rails and rods to hold everything together. But the young tree would not be tied down. It kept making its way, breaking the masonry, destroying the walls of the tomb, and tearing the heavy iron railings out of the ground.
Today, growing right from the heart of Lady Anne Grimston’s grave in St. Peter’s churchyard is one of the largest trees in England. Because of that tree the site is a mass of twisted metal and crushed marble.

For over 200 years an old tree trunk has trumpeted: “life trumps death.”

  “Whoever believes in me will have eternal life…For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it…But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name…And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know you have eternal life” (John 3:16; 5:21; 20:31; I John 5:11-13).[1]

There is life, eternal life, and I hope that we all desire that our neighbors, friends and family know Jesus.

As you know I am preaching on Scriptures to pray. Today, I wish to talk about some Scriptures to pray having to do with evangelism.

Today, my theme is:

Pray that We and Our Children Are Evangelist, Part 2 (Romans 1:16-17; 15:20; 2 Timothy 2:10)

I want us to look at Paul’s passion for the Gospel and pray that we have the same passion.

Let’s Read Romans 1:16-17:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.”

  1. Let’s not be ashamed of the Gospel.
    1. Are you ashamed of the Gospel?
    2. Notice Paul’s words here. He is not ashamed of the Gospel.
    3. Why is he not ashamed of the Gospel? Why are you ashamed of the Gospel?
    4. He is not ashamed of the Gospel because“it is the power of God for salvation.”
    5. There is nothing else that gives the power of God for salvation. There is no salvation in any other way (Acts 4:12). The only one who can give us salvation is the Lord. For salvation we need the power of God. In the Gospel of Jesus Christ we have the power of God for salvation.
    6. There is no salvation in money.
    7. There is no salvation in possessions.
    8. There is no salvation in work.
    9. There is no salvation in knowledge.
    10. I know the NFL said they own Sundays but there is no salvation in sports.
    11. There is no salvation in fashion.
    12. There is no salvation in decorating.
    13. There is no salvation in American patriotism.
    14. There is no salvation in food.
    15. There is no salvation in good works.
    16. There is no salvation in anything, but by the blood of Jesus.
    17. Paul is not ashamed of the Gospel because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 
    18. Salvation through Jesus is opened to all, first to the Jew and then to the Greek. This was Paul’s way of saying that anyone can be saved.
    19. Verse 17: For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous manshall live by faith.”
    20. God’s righteousness is revealed from faith.
    21. Let’s take a moment and think of some applications:
      1. We must be also eager to preach/proclaim the Gospel.
      2. We must not be ashamed.
        1. We must not be ashamed at school.
        2. We must not be ashamed at work.
        3. We must not be ashamed in public.
        4. We must not be ashamed on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.
        5. We must not be ashamed at church.
        6. We must not be ashamed with our family.
      3. We must have a Gospel mindset, always praying and thinking of opportunities to share.
      4. We must recognize that the Gospel represents the Power of God. We must be compelled to worship our Mighty Savior.
      5. We must recognize that God’s righteousness is revealed. We are only righteous by faith in Christ. We are only right before God by faith in Christ (Eph. 2:8-9). This must compel us to worship.
    22. Let’s talk about Romans 15:20 and the
      1. We call them the unchurched today. In Paul’s day they would be simply those who have never heard the Gospel. In today’s day people who have not been to church in more than five years have been called unchurched. This is quite common.
      2. I don’t like to blame the world for being sinners because that is who we become without Christ. If the world does not know Jesus they are going to sin, live in sin and want to condone sin. My biggest problem is when the church tries to become like the world. The church is to evangelize the world and change the world, but far too often the world is becoming like the church. Most persecution in America happens within the church. I feel that I have faced that.
      3. The world needs Jesus. Do we believe that?
      4. Raise your hand if you believe the world needs Jesus.
      5. Eternity matters.
      6. I remember being a child and hearing my World War II veteran great uncle share a joke. He said a priest came to talk with a parishioner about the hereafter. She was upstairs and he saw nuts on the table. So he decided to help himself to some nuts. She eventually came down and he said, “I hope you don’t mind I helped myself to some nuts.” She commented back, “That’s okay, I already licked the chocolate off of them!”
      7. The priest in the story was there to talk about eternity. Eternity matters.
      8. Values have changed and they have changed because the foundation for those values was Jesus, but not anymore. They don’t know Jesus.
      9. A study showed that millennials, which are those born after 1981, no longer view premarital sex as sin. But where do they get that? I know of baby boomers that don’t see any big deal with this. I once talked with a choir director, who was retired, and he said, “I view sex outside of marriage as wrong for teenagers but not for my age.”
      10. If we want to know where things are heading look at Europe: In Europe parents can go to jail for spanking their children. There was a real case in which they took children from their parents because the parents spanked their children. Yet, there was no evidence of any abuse at all.
      11. Yet, sometimes, many times, we go after the sin(s), but not the cause. They need Jesus.
      12. I was listening to a representative of Voice of the Martyrs speak and he commented on a persecuted believer. A husband and wife were confronted by militant Islam. A man had a military weapon in a Christian’s face and when the husband did not renounce Christ the man shot him right in the face in front of his wife. Amazingly, he lived. When the Voice of the Martyrs representative was speaking to him he was missing part of his face. Listen to what he said. He said if he saw the man who shot him he would forgive him. He would forgive him because he was blinded by the devil (paraphrased).
      13. People don’t know any better, they need Jesus.
      14. So, back to the passage. Paul is saying in this passage that he does not want to build upon someone else’s foundation.
      15. Paul had experienced people messing up his foundation. Paul planted the church in Corinth and then others came and messed up his work. They harmed his foundation (see 2 Corinthians).
      16. Paul wants to take the Gospel to the unchurched, to those who never heard.
      17. Listen to Paul in Corinthians:
      18. 1 Cor. 9:19: For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more.
      19. Listen to 2 Timothy 2:10: For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus andwith it eternal glory.

Dr. Tennant of Asbury Theological Seminary said that there was a study showing that 7 percent, just 7 percent, of the millennials claim Christ. If that number is less than 5 percent, we are considered an unreached people group in mission standards. I have heard another statistic that said that 15 percent, just 15 percent, of the millennials are Christian.

So, right here I have 15 popcorn kernels. These 15 kernels represent the Christian millennials. Then I have another zip lock bag with 85 kernels, these represent the non-Christians. The fields are ripe unto harvest. These non-Christians are your children’s friends, your grandchildren and their friends. They are the people you see at the store. They are the mechanic who works on your car. They need Jesus. Without Jesus they die and face God’s wrath. We will all end up in a graveyard eventually. My daughter has asked me a lot about graveyards. We were running and she asked me about the graves she sees, but she will excitedly say, “But I know Jesus so I go straight to Heaven!” Then, “Daddy, you’re a pastor so you go straight to Heaven.” I told her I have no special privileges. Paul was convicted to take the Gospel to those who have not heard. Though I talk about the millennials and have, maybe God has convicted you to take the Gospel to your neighbor who has never heard. The young adults, the millennials, are a large group who need Jesus, but not the only group. There are many baby boomers and busters who need Jesus.

There are many who have an improper understanding of the Gospel. Many think we are saved by works. They need to understand God’s grace. So, an application:

Let all that you do be about the Gospel.

You are on the frontlines of the Gospel. Many times, we think the pastors and missionaries are the only ones on the front lines. This is not true at all. In Acts chapter 8 Stephen had been stoned and the Christians flee (Acts 8:1). Later the church in Antioch forms and grows, but get this, we don’t know who planted the church in Antioch. It was not Paul or an apostle. It was the lay people. Most of the churches in history were started by lay people.

God has given you a sphere of influence. God has given all of us a sphere of influence. These are people who are in our lives and we are called by God to represent Jesus to them. We are called to share Jesus with them.

Francis Chan and David Platt were in a video talking about the Gospel. They talked about how we may say we love our neighbor or family member, yet we don’t share the Gospel with them. Francis Chan said, “Maybe you don’t love them as much as you think you do.” That stung for me.

I pray that all of us can be like Paul and desire to take the Gospel to those that don’t know Jesus.

Pray that you and your descendants live these passages.

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](SOURCE:http://www.traditioninaction.org/religious/h010rp.LadyGrimston_Galitzin.html

 

Pray that we are evangelist

Pray that We and Our Children Are Evangelist, part 1 (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8)

Prepared and Preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, September 16

I heard a story about D.L. Moody.

D.L. Moody was getting on a train and the train was crowded. A man moved over to give D.L. Moody space to sit. Moody sits down and looks at him and asks, “Are you right with God?” The man says, the only person I would talk about the spiritual with is D.L. Moody.”[1]

Now, just think about that a minute. D.L. Moody was so known for sharing the Gospel that people were opened to talk about the Gospel with him.

D.L. Moody once shared to a critic:

It is clear you don’t like my way of doing evangelism. You raise some good points. Frankly, I sometimes do not like my way of doing evangelism. But I like my way of doing it better than your way of not doing it.” [2]

In this sermon, or any sermon when I say “evangelical” what I mean is “one who shares the Gospel.”

I want to submit to you that the church across America has NOT been evangelical. Even the most conservative churches across America have not been evangelical. We criticize the methods people use in evangelism, but we do not share the Gospel anyway.

We are quite comfortable to let people go straight to hell.

Please understand, I do not want to be too “preachy” or critical. I do not want you leaving feeling bad. I love you, all of you. I love you and I love God and I am supposed to love everyone, and this means I have to declare the truth about the Gospel.

I have been preaching on Scriptures that I have been convicted to pray for myself and my descendants. Today is a two-part message on praying Scriptures about evangelism.

Please listen to my disclaimer:

I know you may believe you have heard me preach and teach on sharing the Gospel before. That is true. You will hear me preach the theme of sharing the Gospel again and again and again and I hope eventually we are all preaching this theme in our lives.

As I talk about evangelism today, my main focus is your sphere of influence. I am NOT talking about sharing the Gospel with strangers, though that is a good thing. Plus, we all should be trying to get to know people and then share the Gospel with them.

 My purpose is to challenge you to pray evangelically and have an evangelism mindset.

  1. The high importance of sharing the Gospel.
    1. Sharing the Gospel is a command from Jesus. He commanded us to share the Gospel with others.
    2. Matthew 28:19-20: Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
    3. This a command from King Jesus.
    4. You do not make disciples unless you talk about Jesus with people. Also, disciples make disciples. In other words, we could think we are doing everything Jesus asks of us, but if we are not making disciples we are missing something very important. If we are not making disciples we are also in sin, or if we are not sharing Jesus with others we are definitely in sin.
    5. Next year’s vision for Bethel will include a heavy emphasis on evangelism. Why do you think that is?
      1. Evangelism is commanded by Jesus.
      2. The United States is the number one mission field for many countries.
  • Bethel needs to grow.
  1. But most of all people need the Lord.
  1. Mark 16:15: And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.
  2. Let’s look at one more Scripture about evangelism for today.
  3. Acts 1:8: “…but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
    1. Notice the Holy Spirit empowers us to share the Gospel.
    2. We make the Holy Spirit’s empowerment too much about us and too little about God’s Kingdom.
  4. Evangelism begins with Prayer.
    1. Dwight L. Moodyshares:The Christian on his knees sees more than the philosopher on tiptoe. God sends no one away empty except those who are full of themselves.”[3]
    2. Pray these passages. This sermon series has been all about Scriptures to pray. Pray that you live out these passages.
    3. Pray about sharing the Gospel.
    4. Pray for opportunities.
    5. Pray for the Holy Spirit’s lead.
    6. Pray that your children value sharing the Gospel.
      1. If you or your descendants do not value sharing the Gospel you may not really know the Gospel.
      2. If we really know Jesus it matters when others do not know Jesus.
    7. Look at Paul’s prayer in Eph. 6:19: and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel…
    8. In the New Testament they spoke out boldly with the Gospel:
      1. In Antioch Pisidia, Paul and Barnabas “spoke out boldly” when the Jews publicly reviled them (Acts 13:46)
      2. In Iconium, they were also vigorously opposed, “so they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord” (Acts 14:3).
      3. In Ephesus, Apollos spoke “boldly in the synagogue” (Acts 18:26).
      4. In Ephesus, Paul taught in the synagogue “and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God” (Acts 19:8).
      5. In Caesarea, when Paul was imprisoned, he spoke “boldly” to King Agrippa (Acts 26:26).
      6. And the last thing we know about Paul is that, while under house arrest in Rome, he went on “proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance” (Acts 28:31).[4]
  • Applications: have an evangelism mindset.
    1. The devil does not want you to share the Gospel and will work against you in this way. The devil will make you think about anything other than sharing the Gospel.
    2. L. Moody shared: “I believe Satan to exist for two reasons: first, the Bible says so; and second, I’ve done business with him.”[5]
      1. The devil will make you think that it is good enough just to be nice to others and maybe they will ask about your faith.
      2. The devil will make you think someone else will share the Gospel.
  • The devil will make you think that all you have to do is invite them to church and then they will hear the Gospel.
  1. The devil will make you think all you have to do is serve people and they will ask you about the Gospel.
  2. The devil will make you think that you do not know them well enough to talk about the Gospel.
    1. I know the devil works this way because he does it to me.
    2. Seriously, the devil does this to me as well.
  3. Suppose you know someone with cancer. Suppose that you know there is a cure for cancer. Now, let’s apply all the excuses the devil gives us for not sharing the Gospel to not sharing about the cure for cancer.
    1. It is good enough just to be nice to others and maybe they will ask about your cure for cancer.
      1. Why would they ask?
      2. Do they know that you have the cure?
    2. Someone else will share the cure for cancer with them.
      1. Maybe, but why not you?
      2. Why make them wait for someone else?
  • All you have to do is invite them to church or a seminar and they will hear about the cure.
    1. But you know the cure, why wait for the seminar or church service?
    2. They know you and they trust you.
  1. All you have to do is serve people and they will ask you about the cure for cancer.
    1. Again, why would they ask?
    2. Do they know that you have the cure?
  2. You do not know them well enough to talk about the cure for cancer.
    1. When someone is giving something away that is good and free does it matter?
    2. Would you hesitate to give away something else that is free and good?
  3. Do we desire that we are obedient to Christ?
  4. Do we desire that our descendants are obedient to Christ?
  5. Do we desire that we are loving?
  6. Do we desire that our descendants are loving?
  7. We are not being loving to God and our fellow man when we do not share the Gospel.
  8. We could make the case that we are being hateful when we do not share the Gospel.
  9. Refusing to share the Gospel is a sin against God and our fellow human beings.
  10. It is a sin of omission to NOT share the Gospel.
  11. It may be a sin of commission to NOT share the Gospel because we are not being obedient to Christ.
  12. In the beginning of this sermon I shared, “even the most conservative churches across America have not been evangelical. We criticize the methods, but we do not share the Gospel anyway.”
  13. I want to prove my point, when was the last time you used your words to share the Gospel in verbal or written form?
  14. Again, it is not my goal to make you leave feeling bad. I love you, and we are also to love everyone else and when we do not share Jesus we are hateful.
  15. What did I mean by “evangelism mindset”? What I mean is that every day you are thinking about the high importance of the Gospel.
  16. I believe when we pray these Scriptures and when we are thinking about the Gospel you will eventually end up sharing the Gospel.
  17. Your actions will follow what you are thinking and meditating on. If I do not want to eat ice cream I should try not to think about it. If I sit in my chair thinking about ice cream all night, eventually I will end up eating ice cream.
  18. So:
    1. Meditate on the Word of God.
    2. Meditate on your relationship with Christ.
    3. Meditate and think on how important it is to share the Gospel with others.
    4. Think about who you know that does not know Jesus and pray for them daily. Pray for opportunities to share the Gospel with them. Don’t pray that someone else shares Jesus with them. Pray that God will use you.

Close:

Greg Stier is founder of Dare2share ministries. As a youth pastor I heard him speak to youth pastors on multiple occasions. On one occasion he challenged us to write a letter to our family members sharing our faith in Christ. Greg has been a writer, pastor and Promise Keepers speaker. He is all about sharing the Gospel. Greg was saved as a teenager and he came from a really rough family. Still, as a teenager he wrote a letter to his relatives about his faith in Christ. One by one his family members were saved. Many of them were in jail, but God saved them.

I am going to challenge you today. I challenge you to write a letter. I will do it as well. This week go home and write a personal letter sharing your faith with someone. It can be something like this:

Dear aunt __________,

At church my pastor talked with us about the high importance of sharing our faith. I already thought this was important but for various reasons I have not talked about my faith that much with you. However, I would like to share with you how Jesus has impacted my life and encourage you to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. Here is how I came to know Jesus as Lord and Savior:

Insert testimony here:

Life before Christ

How I met Christ

How Christ has changed my life

I would like to talk with you more about Jesus. Even if you are not ready to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, I would still like to talk about Jesus. I may not be able to answer all your questions, but we can consider them together.

Let’s pray.

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]Jack Hibbs shared this on his radio message.

[2]D.L. Moody to a critic

“Real true faith is man’s weakness leaning on God’s strength.” Dwight L. Moody. https://www.kevinhalloran.net/d-l-moody-quotes/

[3]https://www.kevinhalloran.net/d-l-moody-quotes/

[4]This list is from: https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/lord-make-me-more-bold

[5]https://www.kevinhalloran.net/d-l-moody-quotes/

Pray for the Fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23)

Pests—bugs and rodents—even the thought of them makes our skin crawl. But pests find their way into everyone’s home at one time or another. The question is, do we hate these pests enough to do what it takes to get rid of them? One survey says that depends on what sort of pest is in the house. Researchers found that people will dish out their hard earned money for an exterminator—meaning they are really serious about getting results—when the following pests are in their home:

Twenty-four percent of adults—that’s one in four—will pay an exterminator to kill spiders.

Roughly the same number, 27 percent of adults, will pay to annihilate ants.

With the next pest the percentage jumps to just over half, as 56 percent will pay to banish bedbugs.

The same percentage, 56 percent, will pay to get rid of rodents. (That’s mice and rats. This is getting creepier and creepier!).

Fifty-eight percent will pay to kill cockroaches. (Maximum creepy!)

And then the number jumps again when we talk about the bug that can bring the house down: termites. Eighty-seven percent of adults—that’s 9 out of 10—will pay to terminate termites.

Notice that except for termites, almost half of adults will live with some very unpleasant creatures rather than pay a professional to ensure the pests are eradicated. This survey also showed that many people are willing to endure a certain kind of pest, but not others.

Take that concept to a spiritual dimension and the same thing holds true. Many people are willing to live—or feel they have to live—with spiritual ants, spiritual spiders, spiritual bedbugs, spiritual cockroaches, spiritual mice, spiritual rats, or spiritual termites. Some sins we tolerate in ourselves; others we won’t.[1]

Why do we do this?

As Christians we are called to walk in the Spirit. We are called to live by the Spirit and we know this by checking to see if we have the fruit of the Spirit.

Today, my theme is that we pray that we and our descendants will have the fruit of the Spirit.

[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.

  1. Christians have different fruit.
    1. The fruits of the world are in Galatians 5:19-21: Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry,sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, cdisputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.[3]
    2. In his bookThe Obedience Option, David Hegg illustrates what he calls “overwhelming faith.” Hegg was talking to a young man who claimed that he couldn’t stop his pattern of sleeping with different women. The young man knew it was wrong, but he also claimed that his sexual lust was inevitable. Therefore, it wasn’t his fault, especially since God had created him with such strong desires and urges. Finally, Hegg interrupted the young man and said, “Suppose that I came into your room and caught you and your girlfriend as you were just starting this ‘inevitable’ process.” Suppose I took out ten one-hundred-dollar bills, and told you that they were yours if you [stopped]. What would you do?” When the young man quickly said that he’d rather have the cash, Hegg asked, “So what happened to the irresistible force of lust?” Then Hegg concluded: We both realized a very simple truth: one passion may seem irresistible until a greater passion comes along …. If we take this principle into the arena of righteous living, it comes out like this: the only way to overcome a passion for sin is with an overwhelming passion for righteousness. This overwhelming passion for righteousness is actually a mindset that the Bible calls faith. Here is a helpful definition of this kind of overwhelming faith: Faith is a life-dominating conviction that all God has for me through obedience is better by far than anything Satan can offer me through selfishness and sin.[4]
    3. We need to let the Holy Spirit in and let God’s ways push out the ways of the world.
    4. We are not going to talk about the fruit of the world 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.
    5. We get rid of darkness by letting light in. We get rid of sin, by letting the Holy Spirit in.
    6. The fruit of the Spirit is in Galatians 5:22-23: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.[5]
    7. We are going to talk about these.
    8. Living this way makes us a witness.
    9. The idea of “putting on” certain fruits is used more often in the New Testament (Col 3:12.)
    10. 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.
    11. 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.
    12. Mental or God-ward qualities (v. 22)
      1. “Love” (agape, self-sacrificing affection for others)
      2. “Joy” (chara, deep-seated gladness regardless of circumstances)
  • “Peace” (inner quietness and repose regardless of circumstances)
  1. Interpersonal or other-ward qualities (v. 22)
    1. “Patience” (forbearance even under provocation)
    2. “Kindness” (benevolence and graciousness)
  • “Goodness” (constructive action reaching out to others)
  1. General or self-ward qualities (vv. 22-23)
    1. “Faithfulness” (reliability, trustworthiness)
    2. “Gentleness” (acquiescence to authority and consideration of others)
  • “Self-control” (ability to master oneself)
  1. Let’s take a moment to apply:
    1. One writes: My five-year-old daughter, Barbara, had disobeyed me and had been sent to her room. After a few minutes, I went in to talk with her about what she had done. Teary-eyed, she asked, “Why do we do wrong things, Mommy?” “Sometimes the devil tells us to do something wrong,” I replied, “and we listen to him. We need to listen to God instead. To which she sobbed, “But God doesn’t talk loud enough![6]
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. Imagine the witness if Christians were more gentle.
    5. Imagine the witness of Christians were known as those having self-control. Imagine if people thought of us as not those that are flying off 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.
    6. 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.
    7. Imagine the witness if Christians were known as kind.
    8. 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.
    9. I was 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.
    10. What a witness is a Christian dad who is faithful to his wife and his children.
    11. 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. She was not faithful, she ran off on her husband many, many times. Despite her unfaithfulness, her husband remained faithful.
    12. What a witness Christians can be when the fruit of the Spirit reigns in our life.
    13. Imagine the witness.
    14. People will ask us why we are different.
    15. Maybe you already get this. Maybe you are different, and people have asked.
    16. But we can always grow.
    17. Funny thing 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.
    18. Okay, so, don’t diminish the witness that your lifestyle can be.
    19. You are a witness when you strive to love like Jesus.

Close:

One writes:

Henri Nouwen once said in a Leadership journal interview:

I cannot continuously say no to this or no to that, unless there is something ten times more attractive to choose. Saying no to my lust, my greed, my needs, and the world’s powers takes an enormous amount of energy. The only hope is to find something so obviously real and attractive that I can devote all my energies to saying yes. One such thing I can say yes to is when I come in touch with the fact that I am loved. Once I have found that in my total brokenness I am still loved, I become free from the compulsion of doing successful things.[7]

The fruits of the Holy Spirit are, it seems to me, largely fruits of sustained interaction with God. Just as a child picks up traits more or less simply by dwelling in the presence of her parent, so the Christian develops tenderheartedness, compassion, humility, forgiveness, joy, and hope through “the fellowship of the Holy Spirit”–that is, by dwelling in the presence of God the Father and Jesus Christ his Son. And this means, to a very large extent, living in a community of serious believers.[8]

One person writes:

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.[9]

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]Craig Brian Larson, editor of PreachingToday.com; source: Anne R. Carey and Keith Simmons, “Calling the Exterminators: Critters that bug us most,” USA Today Snapshots (May 22-25), 1A; based on survey of 1,253 adults by Global Strategy Group for Orkin

2Lit They do not gather

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

cRom 2:8; James 3:14ff

[3]New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update(La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Ga 5:19–21.

[4]David Hegg, The Obedience Option (Christian Focus, 2011), pp. 27-28; submitted by Van Morris, Mt. Washington, Kentucky

[5]New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update(La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Ga 5:22–23.

[6]Jo M. Guerrero, Christian Reader (Sep/Oct 1996)

[7]Terry Muck, “Hearing God’s Voice and Obeying His Word,” Leadership Journal (Winter 1982), p. 16

[8]Robert C. Roberts in The Reformed Journal (Feb. 1987). Christianity Today, Vol. 32, no. 10.

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

Pray for Help to Serve and Sacrifice (Phil. 2:3-4)

There is a book called: Same Kind of Different as Me.

This book is a true story that follows two people’s paths in life until they meet up.

One person was raised in a middleclass white family. He grows up and becomes very successful and very wealthy.

The second person is a poor uneducated black man. He grew up as a modern-day slave. His parents worked a farm and he did too. He experienced heavy racism. Eventually this man ran away. However, he never had been educated. He lived homeless and learned how to fend for himself.

Eventually the wealthy white man, now married, is convinced by his wife to begin helping at a homeless shelter. They had committed their life to Christ and she wanted to go deeper. He was willing to give money, but she wanted to do more. So, they start helping at a homeless shelter. She then says that she wants to take one group from the homeless shelter to dinner and a play.

Now the relationship grows between this wealthy man and woman and this uneducated poor black man.

The wealthy white man asks to take the uneducated black man out to breakfast. At breakfast the black man asks, “Why are you doing this?” the white man says, “To be your friend.” The black man says, “I like to fish, but I notice when white people fish they catch and release. I don’t want a ‘catch and release’ friendship.”

Well, this wealthy husband and wife decided to do more than give money and because they did they touched many lives. One of those lives was that uneducated black man. Later on, they formed a friendship that will last the rest of their lives and has lasted the rest of her life, as he was there for the woman’s death.  The wealthy white man and the uneducated black man published this book together.

What I just shared with you is an example of Philippians 2:3-4 in action. That is the passage I wish to talk about today.

Today, my theme is:

Pray for help to serve and sacrifice. Live out Philippians 2:3-4.

Read with me the passage:

Philippians 2:3-4:

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of 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 a note in one of my Bibles: 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 thinkany thoughts motivated by selfish ambition.[1]
    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.[2]
    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. 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.”[3]
    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 things. 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 [ask], 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.[4]
    6. 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.
      5. Visiting shut-ins and those in the hospital. Take your children with you and visit a senior saint. Or, visit some of your own family members.
      6. Sew for someone, teach someone to sew. Teach someone to cook.

Close:

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.[5]

Think back to the story I shared at the beginning of this sermon. Remember the story about the wealthy white man helping at the homeless shelter. I challenge you to go the extra mile in service. Serve, even during inconvenient times. That is what Jesus did. That is the example in the rest of this passage.

Phil. 2:3-4:

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 

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

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

[3]Chuck Swindoll

[4]– 18-year-old country music star Taylor Swift speaking about the inspiration for the song “The Outside”, Entertainment Weekly, February 8, 2008, pg. 42

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