Life Pandemic Part 4

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Well, kiddos, we have reached the fourth and final part of this amazing series on evangelism. You may want to refresh your memory by reading the recaps for the first three parts:

And now, the much anticipated part 4 of this series:

Power Evangelism

Our theme text for this series is Matthew 5:13-16:
"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.
"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Now let's take a look at what Jesus did when He was here on earth, in Matthew 4:23-24:
Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, and he healed them.

Jesus did two main things in his ministry on earth. If you read that verse closely, you can find them.

He preached and He healed.

He spoke the good news all over his region – pretty much all the time.

He demonstrated the good news by healing the sick, raising the dead and feeding the hungry.

Jesus lived a life in the power of God – naturally.
It was just who He was; He didn't have to do anything special or try to be someone he wasn't.

The disciples were there for all of it; they saw the amazing things He did. Then, Jesus sent them out to do the same:

Luke 9:1-6: When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He told them: "Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. If people do not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave their town, as a testimony against them." So they set out and went from village to village, preaching the gospel and healing people everywhere.

He gave them simple instructions. They had watched Him for around two years, it was now time for them to step out and do it!

So they went out and followed His example. They preached and they healed.

Now, obviously they weren't Jesus
They weren't God himself incarnate, they were just regular guys, probably really ignorant. They weren't even literate! They knew how to fish, and that's about it.

They were nothing special, but they were with Jesus, and they followed His example. His priorities became their priorities.

So, what do you think should be our priorities?

If Jesus did it, and He sent His disciples to do it, then it stands to reason that we should do it too, right?

It's easy to think, “Oh, that was back in Bible times. Now it's modern times, we don't need to follow that.”

It wasn't that Jesus' disciples were given special treatment – they didn't have special decoder rings or a magic wand.

They were just normal guys.

And because of that, we know that we are called to do the same things.

Changing a tire for someone is not too embarrassing or uncomfortable. Neither is being a friend to someone.

But stopping and praying for someone – that's weird. It can be uncomfortable, even humiliating! It takes courage to take that step.

But Jesus gave you His power so that you can walk in it and help people in need.

It's not religious hocus-pocus; it's simply walking in the power of God, naturally. Not with someone else's words, style or mannerisms. Just as yourself.

Here are some examples of this from the Bible:

In John 2:1-11 Jesus turns water into wine.
He didn't make a big show, He just quietly instructed people what to do

In John 4:1-26 Jesus tells the woman at the well her past.
This is an example of a word of knowledge. He didn't act like a TV psychic, he just conversationally spoke into her life.

In Acts 3:1-10 two of the disciples, Peter and John, heal a crippled man.
They quite simply told the guy to get up and walk. They didn't have to be weird or religious or put on a false front. They didn't even lay hands on him!

The formula is simple: It just takes you + the power of God.

Just be ready and willing to do what God wants you to do and allow the Holy Spirit to work through you.

There are lots of other religions and philosophies out there.

So what's different about ours? Our God heals the sick, raises the dead and changes lives. There's no other religion out there that even comes close! But people won't know that unless you show them.

Be like Jesus: share the good news and heal the sick. Walk in the power of God.

Take those steps – be natural, be who you are – but step out. Ask someone if you can pray for them.

When you come representing the power of God to someone's life and you step out & pray for them, God will back you up. He will show up and act in their life. You will be amazed at the things that will happen in their life when you pray for them!

If we're gonna change the world and not be just more ineffective Christians, we need to walk in the power of God.

Take the initiative and pray for people. Believe for miracles! Pray for people who are sick, mentally ill, emotionally wounded, worried, facing trouble at work or home.

Clint Rogers says, “The greatest miracle is salvation.”
Believe God for people to get saved when they see the power of God at work. It will not be an argument or discussion that will bring them to God, it's by His power.

Salvation is the greatest display of God's love and power, because it accesses the Cross and His love for us... it really is the greatest miracle!

In closing, check out the great commission in Mark 16:15-18:
He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well."

Jesus isn't talking just to the disciples here, He is talking to all Christians.

This is our commission, this is our call.

So what are you waiting for? Step out, be bold and believe God for miracles. You will see people's lives transformed as you take these simple steps!

Life Pandemic Part 3

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

If, by some chance, you've been living under a rock for the past few weeks, you might not know that we've been doing a series on evangelism for the past two weeks. If that's you, welcome back to daylight! Here are links to the previous parts in this series:

And since you've been living under a rock, you might not have heard about the recent flu-named-after-an-animal phenomenon we've been experiencing. Here is a summary of the two most famous types:

Avian flu – more deadly than regular flu, but less contagious
Swine flu – less deadly than Avian flu, but more contagious
(This will be relevant in just a moment)

We have a lot to get to in this recap, so let's get started right away in Matthew 5:13-16:

You are like salt for everyone on earth. But if salt no longer tastes like salt, how can it make food salty? All it is good for is to be thrown out and walked on.
You are like light for the whole world. A city built on top of a hill cannot be hidden, and no one would light a lamp and put it under a clay pot. A lamp is placed on a lampstand, where it can give light to everyone in the house. Make your light shine, so that others will see the good that you do and will praise your Father in heaven.

If you are a Christian and aren't spreading to others what Christ did for us, you are ineffective. You're like a flu strain that doesn't spread.

We need to share Christ out of contagion, not as a sales pitch! It should just naturally spread from you (like the flu, only in a good way... a very good way)!

So far in this series we've already covered why there's a need for evangelism and the servant evangelism approach. This week?

Friendship Evangelism

For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon.' The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and "sinners." ' But wisdom is proved right by her actions."

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.

Friendship evangelism was Jesus' example! It's how He did it, so maybe it should be how we do it too, don't you think?

When we were God's enemies (not by God's choice, but by ours), Jesus came and died for us!

Jesus left where He was comfortable to be our friend.

He left His friends, left His lunch table and joined us. And He didn't give up on us quickly. Even when the response of humanity to His sacrifice was to try to kill Him, He didn't give up on us, He stuck with us.

Friendship evangelism is what Jesus did for us – it's the next step up from servant evangelism.

Servant evangelism is based on short term interactions, but friendship is long term.

Friendship evangelism is not about you and it's not a sales pitch.

Here are some things you can do to reach out to someone who needs a friend.

1. Pray

Pray for your friends, your enemies, your pastors, your teachers. Pray for that bully at school.

Prayer makes a difference in their life and your life too. Pray before going to school or work. It makes a huge difference!

2. Keep a strong foundation

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

The point of friendship evangelism is not so that you can become like everyone else, but for you to influence others.

Not to be an influencee, but to have an impact on someone's life!

You need to have a strong group of Christian friends who can pray with you and support you. Befriend in twos if possible. You remember, the buddy system. First of all, it's less awkward having two people. Secondly, having another Christian there will give you a root system, a foundation.

Have a root system – be firmly planted with Godly friendships and the word of God. Don't be easily pushed over like a tree with no roots.

3. Look outside your world

Jesus didn't befriend people in heaven, He found people who were totally outside His world: tax collectors, sinners, even prostitutes. He reached out to them.

Look outside of your comfort zone – look to the outcasts, the lonely, the ones who don't have someone to talk to or to help them.

Have a listening ear, be involved in their lives. Be friends with people who are hard to be friends with – people who are annoying. Take an interest in them. It's not about you!

Look outside your world and be a light in the darkness!

4. Live the message

Be a real friend. Don't just preach all the time, be an actual friend! Be a real person, not a "Christian" person (only talking about God all.the.time).

Also, don't be an enabler. You know, the one who supports the other person no matter what and never challenges them on their destuctive behavior. "You have a problem with binge drinking? Oh, that's OK with me!"

The real friend is not someone who sees you doing destructive things and ignores it.

A real friend is someone who steps in and takes a stand when the person is doing something damaging. A real friend puts the person in front of the friendship.

Maybe they won't like you anymore aftewards, but you still need to take that stand. That doesn't mean you have to turn your back on them – tell them that you're there for them, but you don't support what they are doing.

Doing drugs, dating a jerk, hanging with the wrong crowd, drinking... there are plenty of destructive things people do. Don't support them in it.

The world is sick of people who say one thing and act another way. A real friend is always faithful – they are there with truth and there with love no matter what.

This is a long passage (click the link to read the whole thing), but definitely worth it:

Romans 12:9-21
Don't let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.

Many Christians get one of the two essential parts of friendship evangelism wrong:

Some shine, but don't go to dark places.

Others are go to dark places, but don't shine.

The dark is where light is needed most.

Shine your light in dark places! Bring light, bring hope and bring life to those who are living in the dark!

You can do it by being a friend