#12. They don’t know the Gospel clearly and rightly
There is an old saying, “If you don’t know the bad news, the good news is no news.” Not knowing or being only vaguely aware of how serious our sin is, we are out of touch with the bad news. Therefore, the good news of salvation and forgiveness of sin has little effect on us; it barely moves us. Because of this we are less grateful and less loving. And we are not likely to share the gospel.
The bad news is that “all have sinned and fallen short of God’s standard” (Ro 3:26). Because we have sinned we deserve death (Ro 6:23a). The bad news is that because of sin we are going to be punished with eternal damnation in the fiery pits of Hell. That is not an old wives tale to get you to do right. That is “the gospel truth”. But the good news or gospel message is that salvation is available for all who believe in Jesus Christ (Mk 16:15-16).
The word “gospel” means “good news.” The good news is that God loved the world so much that he sent his Son to die in our place (John 3:16,17; 1 Peter 2:24, 3:18). Jesus rose from the grave to demonstrate this love (Ro 5:6-8) and show that there is victory over the law, over sin, over death, and over Satan himself (1 Corinthians 15:54-58). The good news is that we can have eternal life by believing in Jesus Christ (Jn 3:36). Like the old spiritual song goes, “Ain’t That Good News!”
When we really understand the good news and the bad news of the gospel it makes a difference. We then will have the desire to share our faith so that others can have life too.
Romans 1:16 (NIV) For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.
PRAYER THOUGHT: Dear God, I praise you for the good news that Jesus Christ died in my place on the cross and that he rose from the grave to show that there is victory over sin and death. Lord, remind me periodically of the "bad new" so that I will stay on the right path and so that I will continue to share my faith story with others. In Jesus' name, AMEN!
REASONS WHY CHRISTIANS DON'T SHARE THEIR FAITH
There was a recent survey / forum on line discussing reasons why Christians don't want to share their faith. Some of the responses were people who were sharing their personal experience why others were just answering the question in general. But the comments were fascinating and I decided to share the top reasons why people do not share their faith with others. I'm going to start at the bottom of the list and work up to the number one reason.
#13. No mentors / They don't see the example from Church leaders. Here are a few of the responses:
“They don't see the pastors witnessing or the leaders Christians don't see the example.” -- Roberto Sierra.
“They never see their own pastors leave the desk, office or pulpit and set the example.” --David Woods.
“Because churches do not do much of street evangelism anymore or encourage evangelism.” --Jeanne De Pasquale Sparks.
A few years ago I was up for an evaluation to see if I deserved a merit raise in salary. One man said, “You only work two hours a week. I wish I could get paid as much as you and not have to work as hard.” The man really thought I only worked when he saw me at church. He was unaware of the fact that I put in 60-80 hours a week. He didn’t see the time I spent in people’s houses sharing the Word of God. I invited him to follow me for a week but he declined.
Most ministers do a lot of ministry and evangelism behind the scenes. I realize that there are a few bad apples but that is the exception and not the rule. If you want to learn how and see an example on sharing your faith ask your Pastor or Elders to talk you with them when they call on the lost.
The real issue is who the example should be. Jesus is the ultimate model of evangelism and discipleship. He met people where they are. He invited them to come along side of him. He started letting them participate in his ministry. Then he commissioned them and set them lose to continue the work.
Paul used Jesus as an example in everything he did. He told the believers at Colossae to “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1 NIV).
If you are waiting for an example to come along before you get to work you will never get to work. Jesus is our example. He is the way, the truth, and life (Jn 14:6). So get off your duff and follow Jesus.
“Every Christian is a minister,” says Doris Price, “That do not mean you have to stand up in a pulpit, but that you should minister to your family, friends, and people you come in contact with. The Word of God said ‘take my word to the end of the earth’, that is a command.”
Jesus said, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (John 13:15). At the time he was showing an example of service to others by washing the dirty feet of his disciples. Jesus set an example for us in righteous and godly living. We need to follow his example and stop making excuses.
PRAYER THOUGHT: Dear God, You have provided everything I need to walk in faith. You have given your Holy Word. You have given your Holy Spirit. You have given Spiritual gifts. You have given the Fellowship of believers. And you have given abundant and eternal life through Jesus Christ. You have also given your Son, Jesus as an example of righteousness and holiness. Help me to walk in his footsteps everyday. Give me the courage to share my faith. In Jesus' name, Amen
FAITH IN ACTION:
10 - I Will Share My Faith
Text: John 9: Various
Everyone has a story to tell. This is our testimony. The Bible is filled with people who reached out to others simply by telling their story (Jn 1:40-45; Jn 4; Ac 22:1-21, 26:1-23). One of the most dynamic testimonies is recorded in John 9. A blind man is healed by Jesus. Today we will learn 3 things from this encounter about your faith story.
There are so many distractions. I know that as a Christian man I am supposed to love others, take care of the needs, visit the sick and shut-in, study my Bible, pray, give at church, teach others, etc., etc. I also know that I am supposed to be a good husband and take care of my wife, especially now that her arm is in a cast. I know that I am supposed to be a good father and help my children to become the men and women that God has purposed them to be. I know that I am supposed to be a good grandfather and love and care for them. I am also supposed to be a good son and call my parents from time to time and check on them.
But there are so many distractions. The phone rings off the hook constantly. The buzzer on the drier goes off and the clothes need folded now. I look at the clock and notice it's nearly time to eat I have haven't even thought that far ahead. I look at my calendar and notice a meeting that I forget was scheduled. Then I get the news that someone is in the ER and so put down that stuff and race to the hospital... distractions! distractions! DISTRACTIONS!!!
Most people go through the same type thing. One lady was telling me the other day that she finally got time to sit down and read her Bible and she noticed she was about ten days behind. She said it reminded her of what her grandmother used to say, "Seven days without the bread of God's word makes one weak (week)."
I am amazed at the things that distract me from my faith walk. I sit down to read my Bible or pray and that is exactly when Maddie will decide to take a nose dive off the bunkbeds or the phone will ring with a call I have been waiting for all day. Just yesterday I sat down to my desk to study my lesson for Bible Study and someone came to the door. UGH!
And it's frustrating the things that take focus off Jesus. When we lose our focus on Christ the devil steps in and tries to make a mess of things. Talk about real distraction. Desire, temptation, and sin crouch at the door waiting for us to be distracted.
The Hebrew writer says, "...And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith" (He 12:2-3). When we take our eyes off Jesus we can misstep in our faith walk or get entangle in troubles and worries. We can go off course, stumble, or even be disqualified for the prize (1 Co 9:24-27).
We need to FOCUS= Follow Only Christ's Ultimate Standard. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus!
PRAYER THOUGHT: Dear Lord, Keep me on track today. Help me focus on Jesus and upon the standard that you have set. I know distractions will come... that's a part of life. But help me not to be sidetracked by those distractions. And in all things help me to glorify you. I desire to praise and worship you regardless of how my day may go. In Jesus' name, AMEN
Sometimes it is easy to get upset when we look at the mess the world is in. But the Bible tells us that we are supposed to be a positive influence on the world (Jn 15:19, 17:14-16; Ro 12:1-2; 1 Jn 2:15; Mt 5:14-16). Jesus said we were SALT and LIGHT. Paul told Timothy that he was to be an example of how we are to live. We can learn 5 ways to influence the world from 1 Timothy 4:1-16.
Oaks of Righteousness: FAITH IN ACTION - Walk By Faith
07 - I Will Give Joyfully
Text: 2 Corinthians 9:6-15 ; Various
Big Idea: God has given generously to us. We should give time, talent, and treasure
Date Preached: 07-29-2018 Beaver Creek Christian Church
God has called us to give generously. But he also has called us to give joyfully. Sometimes we give generously of our surplus but when we give beyond that we aren't exactly joyful about giving. Christian Stewardship is an important and essential part of our Christian walk of faith. It is for our benefit that we give... In giving we are blessed with abundant grace.
Purposeful giving means two things: we give in order to worship, and we give for the sake and furtherance of ministry.
Giving is an act of worship. This is an extremely important thing to grasp when it comes to tithing. Giving our monies to the work of the church is meant to be just as worshipful as when we stand up and sing. Jon Payne writes, “Don’t let the placing of your tithe and/or offering in the collection plate during the worship service be a mere formality or mindless ritual. Rather, as with the other parts of the liturgy, make it a conscious, joyful act of worship" (In the Splendor of Holiness, 81).
Anything that’s repeated often can become dull and routine. We don’t want our giving to be that way. We should not mechanically reach into the pocket or purse and drop in the money without giving it a second thought. We are bringing something to the Lord of the universe. Don’t be flippant in your giving. Be purposeful. Be intentional. Be worshipful. As the money goes into the plate, pray to God thanking Him for all that He has done for you and ask Him to bless your contribution to His Kingdom.
Another aspect of purposeful giving is recognizing that our monies and resources are actually meant to be used! The Bible speaks clearly that God gives to us so we can use His gifts for His glory. We need to make thoughtful decisions. In terms of the church, having finances is not the end, or the goal, of tithing. Using our finances for God’s glory is the goal.
Think of the parable of the talents in Matthew 25. It is from that parable that we get the grand benediction we all long to hear from our Lord one day: “Well done, good and faithful servant” (v. 21). We often say or think of this line out of context, and don’t realize it is spoken of a master commending the diligent financial stewardship of one of his servants! God does not want us to hold onto what He has given us until He returns. Certainly, if we do that we can say, “Here, have what is yours” (v. 25). But God will say, “I know it’s mine—and it could have been so much more!” (vv. 26-30).
He has given us so-o-o-o-o much. God gives to us so that we would give back to Him. We do this by investing our gifts into people, places, and things that will yield an increase for Christ’s kingdom on earth. This cannot happen by carelessly tossing a few dollars into the offering plate every so often. The use of God’s resources requires more diligence than that.
Once again, God must be the guide in our giving. He gave with purpose, with intention, with planning: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). This means when Christ came into the world to give eternal life, he had you in mind! In response to the purposeful gifts of the Father, let us pray for wisdom and desire to give to Him in return.
PRAYER THOUGHT: Dear Jehovah Jirah, You Are the God that provides for all our needs. You have given your Son as a ransom for our sins. He died in my place... a debt I could never repay. You have also given us abundant life in Jesus. You have given us your Holy Word as a guide. You have placed with us your Holy Spirit. You have given us Spiritual Gifts by which to build up the body and to fulfill your purposes. You have given us hope... eternal life everlasting in heaven. Now Holy Father, help me to give as you have given. Help me to love others and meet needs. In Jesus' name I pray, AMEN.
Oaks of Righteousness: FAITH IN ACTION - Walk By Faith
07 - I Will Use My Spiritual Gifts
Text:Romans 12:1-8; Various
Big Idea: Every member should know and use these spiritual gifts they have to fulfill God’s purpose.
Date Preached: 07-22-2018 Beaver Creek Christian Church
Perhaps one of the least understood and acknowledged part of our Christian walk of faith is spiritual gifts. It is our desire that every Christian knows and uses their spiritual gifts for the working of the church and fulfilling God's purposes on earth.
Oaks of Righteousness: FAITH IN ACTION
06 - I Will Fellowship
Text: Acts 2:42-47; Various
Big Idea: God intend us for fellowship community: be involved and committed to each other
Date Preached: 07-15-2018 Beaver Creek Christian Church
Many Christians believe that fellowship with like believers is an added part of the Christian life... to be taken or left out. But fellowship is an essential part of our faith. God has given us this community of believers as a tool. He has given us this fellowship so that we can worship, learn, care for, and serve together. (We had technical difficulties that did not record a portion of the sermon. We have edited back in the parts that was missing. We apologize for the sound quality of that portion.)
Oaks of Righteousness: FAITH IN ACTION
05 - I Will Focus on God and His Priorities for My Life
Text: Colossians 3:1-4; Matthew 6:33; Various
Big Idea: Single-mindedness is having God take first place in my life.
Date Preached: 07-01-2018 Beaver Creek Christian Church
From the very beginning God has expressed that there should be no gods or idols worshipped because he alone is God and there is nothing that should come before Him. Most of us would never even entertain the idea of having another god or idol. But we do let other things take priority over God. In essences, anything we put before God is an idol or a god. We must be singleminded when it comes to God and serve him alone.
Oaks of Righteousness: FAITH IN ACTION
04 - I Will Study
Text: Hebrews 4:12-13; Various
Big Idea: Studying the living word of God brings understanding and growth
Date Preached: 07-01-2018 Beaver Creek Christian Church
Sometimes it is hard to study the word. If you are like me you don't necessary like to read. And studying can make your head explode! (not really). So today I want to give you some help in making your Bible reading and study more productive.
Text: Matthew 6:1-18; James 5:16-18; Various
Big Idea: Prayer is a natural extension of your relationship with God - 7 keys
Date Preached: 06-24-2018 Beaver Creek Christian Church
Prayer is an important part of our faith. It is an extension of our relationship with God. Two way communication with God is important for our faith walk.
Big Idea: Worship is a natural extension of your relationship with God
Date Preached: 06-10-2018 Beaver Creek Christian Church
Worship is an extension of our relationship with God. Worship is an intimate and important time with God and fellow believers. I will worship my God.
Big Idea: Walking by faith is putting our faith into action
Date Preached: 06-03-2018 Beaver Creek Christian Church
The Christian faith is not just about believing. Believing is where it starts. But Christian faith is a daily walk with God... one step at a time. It is belief put into action. Today I want to challenge you to step out and walk by faith.
It is important to believe. We have spent the last few months talking about what we believe during worship. When we let him, God transforms our thinking. We believe in God. We believe in his Son. We believe in his saving grace. We believe in heaven. We believe in hell. But God also works in us to put into practice what we believe. This is living or walking by faith.
The Apostle Paul said, “For we walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Co 5:7). Walking by Faith is putting our faith in action.
I love how the Hebrew Writer explains real and active faith. First he defines faith. “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see…. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Hebrews 11:1,6)
Then he gives examples of faith at work in people in the Old Testament. In this “Hall of Faith,” Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Issac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab and David, are just a few mentioned by name. He also talks about the unnamed number who have suffered and died living faithful lives. None of these faithful saw the fulfillment of their faith in Jesus Christ, yet they walked by faith to the fullest.
In Chapter 12, the writer of Hebrews challenges us to live by faith too. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
The challenge is for us to live, walk and run by faith daily. Step by step. We keep our eyes on Jesus. We remember the faithful ones that came before us, that “great cloud of witnesses.” We do not get distracted by sin and temptation but walk the same walk that Jesus walked perfectly. Jesus walked it even knowing that his faith walk would take him to the cross. With our eyes focused on Him we can finish this race in faith and with hope. Finish strong!
Prayer Thought: Dear God, You are Lord of Heaven and Earth. I believe that you are God and that you sent your Son to pay the price for my sin. I owe a debt I will never be able to repay. Help me to walk in faith, trust, and obedience to you. Guide my steps and help me to be the man you have called me to be. Help me to finish this race strong. In Jesus' precious name I pray, AMEN
This mornings Bible reading is Daniel 7-12 if you are following along in our Bible reading program. These scriptures are the visions and prophesies that Daniel received while in exile in Babylon. It is interesting reading but like Daniel, we are often perplexed and wearied by these things.
There are those who try to take these visions and read into them all kinds of things about the end times. There are others who say that all of these prophesies have been fulfilled already with the rise of the Greek and Roman empires. There are still others who say these are not literal things that are going to happen but they are symbolic of the end of various ages. I am fascinated by these theories and enjoy hearing them. But I must admit that I don't buy every little theory that comes along... especially when I hear someone claiming authority by saying "God revealed to me..."!
I have argued end-time prophesy with the many. I find it fun and enjoyable. But I contend that there are somethings that are meant to be known and somethings that will remain hidden even to the righteous, like Daniel. The vision was given. An explanation was given. But understanding is not always clear and can be troubling.
But there is a message and application that we can get from these passages. I like what the messenger told Daniel in the end, “As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance” (Da 12:13). I think the message that we clearly can take from any prophesy in the Bible is this: 1. God is in control of all of this. 2. Stay faithful to the end. 3. Your faithfulness will be reward in your eternal home in heaven.
Keep reading and exploring the Word of truth!
PRAYER THOUGHT: Dear Heavenly Father; I praise you because you are mighty and your throne is established forever and ever. You are in control of all things. History and the future belong to you. I pray that you will give me the strength to remain faithful even when times get tough. I ask you to give me wisdom and understand to know what you want me to know and to be content with what you reveal to me. I thank you for my salvation through Jesus Christ, your Son. It is in his name that I pray. AMEN!