Archive for June, 2019

Reaching The Lost

June 29, 2019

As Christians,we should be concerned with our attitude with the world around us,with what is expected of us. But sometimes our “holier than thou” gets in the way. As members of a church we should be concerned about how we interpret and carry out the command of Jesus when He says
“Go make disciples of all the world, ,baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”.

George Barna an observer and researcher on church ministry, says that before we step out in our evangelistic efforts (and this applies to each of us as well as the corporate thrust) :
1- We need to pray for those who have not known Christ, or who have not accepted the invitation to give their life to Him.
2- In talking to people in those categories, we must first love them, keeping in mind that they are all children of God.
3- Gently ask them if they have a church home. Get them talking about their experience with church
in their life. (four out of five “unchurched ” were formally involved in a church and in the words of many were “driven away” by some negative experience.
4-Confront that negative experience or experiences. Don’t try to explain it away, especially because we may not know all the circumstances. Do show them that you want them to have a good experience.
5-Share your walk with Christ and your experience with the local church. Mention the activities in your church they might be interested in. In your walk with Christ it is important to give them context as to your coming to a saving Grace in Jesus Christ.

David Brainerd once shared his burden for the lost when he said “I cared not or how I lived, or what hardships I went through, so that I could but gain souls for Christ. While I was asleep, I dreamed of those things and when I awoke the first thing I thought of was this great work”
Bill Bright, who authored the video “Jesus” said in his approach to saving the lost through the years “I am a rather reserved person and I don’t always find it easy to witness. But I have made it my practice–and I urge you to do the same–assume that when you are alone with another person for more than a few minutes, you are there by divine appointment to explain the love and forgiveness he or she can know through their faith in Jesus Christ.

No, we are not like the Apostle Paul or Bill Bright, “I cannot witness the way they did”.  You are right, God has made each of us unique and so God has given us each unique abilities to witness.

Jesus used three parables to Illustrate what we should do about the lost. The first: a shepherd lost one of his sheep and he left the 99 until he found the lost sheep. He rejoiced with his fellow shepherds. Next, he told about a woman who lost a valuable coin in her house. She cleaned and swept the house until she found it. Then she called all her friends together to celebrate finding the coin. The third parable is about the Lost son who went to the far country. He kept watch and when he saw the son return he had a celebration.

If you notice that the father did not go to the far country to find his son, he made a warm inviting home for him to return to. So in one way we search and another way we  attract. We want to have a warm inviting place for new people to come and experience the love of Christ with those in the local church.

At this point I should stop with this blog. There is so much more we can address when it comes to bringing the lost to Christ. Perhaps in another blog I will continue my thought process. All I can say now is:  share the love of Christ; shine your light in the world. Amen.

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Happy Birthday Church

June 9, 2019

In a departure, I was asked to put my Pentecost sermon on my June blog.. I am complying with that request…
We celebrate the Birth of Jesus and all the world pauses to celebrate Christmas. We celebrate His resurrection and most of the world recognizes Easter as a special day on the calendar.

But today is Pentecost and hardly anyone realizes it across many denominations. Yet this is the day the Holy Spirit came to the 120  hiding in the Upper Room and transformed them into joyful evangelists. The poet William Blake wrote a poem about Pentecost. Part of the poem says “unless the eye catch fire,God will not be seen; Unless the ear catch fire, God will not be heard; Unless the tongue catch fire, God will not be named. Unless the heart catch fire, God will not be loved; Unless the mind catch fire, God will not be known.”

All believers have God in their hearts, but not all believers have given their whole heart to God. The question is not, how can I have more of the spirit, but how can the Spirit have more of me. Take inventory. As you look around, do you see any resistant areas? Go down the list:
your tongue-do you tend to stretch the truth?
Your language-do you use profanity?
Grudges-do you keep resentments parked in your grudgarage?

I could go on but maybe you consider these questions to personal. Blame Paul, he asked these questions in Ephesians 4:25-31 look it up if you want to be reminded. Do your actions interrupt the flow of the Spirit in your life. Do you get off kilter and ignore or not listen to the spirit.? Keep that in mind and clean your house. Don’t give up. Luke 11:13 says “your heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask and continue to ask Him.”

Pentecost is also important because today is the birthday of the Church and God has given us a wonderful opportunity of being part of it. In fact we will have a birthday party after the service in the fellowship hall. It is interesting that some of the people who were passing by reached the conclusion that the apostles were drunk, which tells something of the joy and excitement that prevailed that day.In trying to put into words what that meant The California Gold Rush gives us a good example.
Growing up in California , I heard a lot of Gold Rush stories but this was a new one on me.

There were three prospectors who found a rich vein of Gold in the mountains of California. They realized what a great discovery they had and decided “we have a really good thing going as long as nobody else finds out about it” So they headed to town to file their claim and get the necessary equipment to mine the gold. True to their vows, they didn’t say a word to anyone. They filed the claim purchased the equipment and headed back to the hills to their claim site. But when they did a crowd of people followed them And why was that? They hadn’t said a word to anyone—the expression on their faces gave them away. Their faces were aglo in anticipation of the wealth that would soon theirs. People know they must have found something special.

You may have heard this before , but it also makes the point. A motivational speaker was asked about his most difficult speech. He answered,”well it was when I was asked to speak at a national convention of undertakers. My subject was  to explain to them how to look sad at a $10,000 funeral. You see, when there is joy on the inside, it is hard to keep it from showing.

Pentecost says that the early Christians discovered joy unspeakable in the Lord Jesus Christ. Again and again Paul writes “rejoice in the Lord, rejoice, I say again rejoice in the Lord” Pentecost is a once in history event when the Church was born. Let me share with you some of the things we learn on this Pentecost Sunday; One, the church was created by God. The Church is immortal, from the beginning of time, before the foundation of the world, And He promised that even the Gates of Hades would not prevail against it. So it was on the day of Pentecost the Church became a reality.

I don’t know how many of you might remember several years ago radio stations were running commercials for two major denominations. Both sets of commercials were saying about the same thing. “We have strayed from the principles of the Christian Church and we want you to know that we are returning to our roots and want you to come back to the fellowship”  That is interesting, because for many churches the temptation is to look at what is going on in the  world and they then try to get in step with it. But that is wrong! The church may never be  the most popular institution in the world, because most of the time the church goes counter to the popular culture. God wants the church he created to stand for the truth, to be unshakable in the presentation of the Gospel.

The next thing we learn from Pentecost is that the Church is to communicate the love of God. The theme of Pentecost is communication. When the apostles went into the city and began to share the Gospel, the Holy Spirit gave them the ability to speak in the tongues of the many people who came from around the known world. The purpose of the church today is to communicate the message–and one way we are doing that is translating the scriptures in different languages and trying to win converts from different countries. In addition,the Jesus Project has for years prepared a video on the life of Jesus and it is distributed around the world.

A few years ago I read an interview with the now late Charles Coulson.  He said that when he first got out of prison for the Watergate coverup crimes and professed to be a born again Christian a lot of people were mad at him. One state senator from Maryland came up to him at a prayer breakfast and called him every name in the book and accused him of saying he was a christian just go gain sympathy-telling Coulson that he was sure it wouldn’t last. Four years later he came back to the same prayer breakfast and again Coulson was one of the speakers. After the event the senator came up to him and apologized saying that when he had attacked him he was mad at some of the remarks about the senator and others in government but had since become a born again Christian. In our communication we cannot dilute the Word just because it may offend someone. It is the truth that will set us free

I’ll bet most of you have at one time or another watched a sporting event on TV,baseball games, super bowl, NFL games and have seen the giant sign  that reads “John 3:16” ( I see a lot of blank stares-but I know some of you remember.) A man named Rocken Roland Stewart is responsible for that .Stewart was a drunk-then he met Jesus and accepted Him as his Savior. He became a Christian and God healed him of his alcoholism. One day it occurred to him , if he could get into major sporting events and put the word of God before the people, it would be seen by thousands even millions. It has been many years now but Roland and his wife Margaret and a friend William James lived a spartan existance -They drove over 55000 miles a year in a beat up van using their money to buy tickets to sporting events so they could hold up the sign “John 3:16”

Don’t you wonder how man thousands of people in the time he was in stadiums, turned  their bibles to John3:16 and read “God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believe in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.—because of Rocken Roland Stewart. Maybe that is not your thing. The point is that there is a man who heard the command to tell the world. You see, when you and I are saved by the blood of Jesus and added to His family, then God expects is to do the best we can to communicate that message to the lost and dying world. That is the purpose of the Church.

The next thing we learn from Pentecost is that the church is to establish  a fellowship that is unique. Can’t you see those early Christians when they heard the Good News about Jesus? They shared something that has never been shared before. All of them know that they are guilty of many sins but now they have repented of their sins, have been baptized  and they have been redeemed.! And they all have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit. Have you noticed that the Holy Spirit didn’t give them the gift to tell the Good  News only to those only to those they encountered that had clean sandals , wore their turbans the right way, wore their beard in a neat way. God said  go make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit. The church that  he established is an inclusive church, not an exclusive church. Oh, I have and you have been in churches that the clothes you wore, the car you drove or the amount of money you put in the collection plate was the measure of whether you were accepted or not.

At one church I served, a young couple started coming to church… They were excited and so were we. A week or so after they had been coming a few times I called on them. The wife told me that they had visited another church and the “greeter” at the door upon observing that her husband had on jeans and a shirt said “maybe you folks are at the wrong church” She was almost in tears as she related the story to me. But that is not Gods church!—the people on pentecost  are part of a new society. They had come out of a world of selfishness and greed and dishonesty. Now they are part of a new fellowship where they can share things about themselves with others and know that the people will become compassionate and kind. In the fellowship you don’t have to question everything  you are being told. Now here were 3,000 changed people that God made different and made new…..they were “born again”.

The church must always be that  Most institutions are only interested in what they can get from you..But the church wants to give. Oh many will take advantage of you. But the church is where you can come and hear the truth and be ministered to and needs  will be met in your life.We are to be a different people, a different culture  an oasis in the middle of the desert, a shade tree on a summer day, a cup of cool water when you are thirsty, a place to come and know that you won’t be rejected,that you will be accepted and loved, brothers and sisters in the family of God.

I get the argument all the time that on Sunday morning , I can worship God on the golf course as well as sitting in a pew. I agree with that person to a certain extent..Of course we can worship God wherever we are. but as I tell them. they are missing out on being in fellowship with believers and having a better relationship with Jesus.

Pentecost tells us that the world changed after Pentecost because of the churches’ influence. And  it ought to be that way today. This morning, if you are lonely, tired or feel taken advantage of, then know that within these walls are  people just like you. So we can come without pretending, we can come to be ourselves  with all the warts and blemishes,scrapes and scratches and find love and acceptance because that is what the church is to be, the family of God.

Today, Pentecost Sunday, the birth of the Church let us all release the Holy Spirit in each of us and in this church. Let us in our bible studies and in our worship, give thanks for God’s gift of His Son and the Holy Spirit. For we are like a ship without a rudder, a train without an engineer or a car without a driver if the Holy Spirit is not active in our lives.

Let us today become a spirit filled church!!!!