Posts Tagged ‘sharing our faith’

God’s on a mission, stretching all the way back to Abraham, through Moses, Israel, the prophets and culminating in the coming of Jesus. God’s mission is that every single person will come to know him, be transformed and made whole through Jesus, become a part of his people and serve him. And eventually will be raised from the dead when Jesus returns and rule on this earth in righteousness and peace.

Let me say just two things at the beginning here about this. The way God chooses to accomplish his mission is through us; the church. That is, God doesn’t just do it himself, even though God is all powerful. No, God’s foreordained, predestined plan is to use his people to accomplish his mission.

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:27-28, talking about the church, “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are . . .”

God doesn’t use a powerful country, or an empire or any other kind of strength according to the flesh. God has chosen to use the church, weak and lowly as we are, but empowered by the Spirit, to bring to pass his purposes.

Second, speaking of God’s mission, God wants to use all of his people, not just some. A common misunderstanding of some church members goes like this, “We support the pastor who does this for us.” Pastors and leaders are to be involved in God’s mission, yes. But so is everyone in the church.

The proper understanding of this relationship comes out clearly in Ephesians 4:11-12 – “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry . . ..” Here we see that Pastors and leaders are to equip you, the whole body, to do this work of ministry. And then notice the phrase a few verses down in v. 16, “when each part is working properly, (it) makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. This is the picture of a healthy church that is working at God’s mission, and God is working through them, enabling them.

What I am saying is that it takes a whole church to do what God is calling us to do here at New Providence. Are you ready to do your part?

Now, let’s look at –

Five key personal practices

– that will help us to be a part of God’s mission. These are practices or habits that put us into the flow of what God is doing around us. God is working all the time to complete his mission and we need to get in tune with what God is doing and join inAs we put these into practice, the goal is that they become second nature to us; just a part of how we live our lives.

1. Live your life in a way that glorifies God.

Jesus said in Matthew 5:14-16 – “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

God has already placed you in just the right place to be a light and a witness. You are involved in multiple networks of family, friends, coworkers, schoolmates and neighbors. God doesn’t need to send a missionary to these people, because he already has you there.

And the first task is to let your light shine, by the choices you make and actions that you take. Let them reflect Jesus – his way and his teaching. This is what people need the most, to see Jesus in us.

People aren’t very interested in talk, at least not without action. If we talk about our faith but don’t live it, we turn people away. But let me say just as quickly that you don’t have to be perfect to be a witness. It just means that when we do fail, we are to be humble, and make things right. This is also a witness of a different way of living.

Live your life in a way that glorifies God, or simply practice your Christian faith.

2. Regularly ask God to give you compassion for the lost.

This is how Jesus operated. Matthew 9:36 says, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Jesus was not like the Pharisees, who looked down on the lost with scorn and judgment. He had genuine love for them. This is why he came, as he said in Luke 19:10, “to seek and to save the lost.” Those whose lives are not together, who are overcome by sins of various kinds.

Jesus was motivated by compassion. And we need to be careful of our motives. We don’t join in God’s mission to try to make a big church; or to focus on numbers; or to have success that can be quantified in worldly term. We reach out because our love for others compels us to; because we share God’s heart of love for the lost. And in the end, that is the only thing that will lead us to give, serve and take the kind of risks that we will have to, to be a part of God’s mission.

We also need to guard our hearts against condescending, judgmental attitudes. We can’t be Pharisees and join in God’s mission. The very people you don’t like, judge and look down on might be who God wants you to reach out to. So, pray for God to give you a heart of love and concern for the lost around you. That God will transform your heart so that you can reach out in love to all that God brings across your path. We need to pray  this often because of the human heart which easily falls into self-righteous, judgmental attitudes.

Regularly ask God to give you compassion for the lost.

3. Regularly pray for someone who is lost.

In Psalm 67:2, the writer prays for God to act, so “that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations.” The nations here, are all those outside the people of God, who have no relationship with God. This is an example of praying for those who don’t know God yet, or God’s saving power – that they will come to know and experience this.

But we can also pray for specific people that we know, who don’t know the Lord. Ask God to put someone on your heart, someone even beyond an unsaved loved one, that you can pray for regularly. If you ask, and listen, God will give you someone to pray for. And then pray, “God make yourself known, work in their lives, draw them to yourself, open their eyes, speak to them, work in their heart.”

Regularly pray for someone who is lost.

4. Build relationships with the lost.

Luke 15:1-2 says, “Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear Jesus. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, ‘This man receives sinners and eats with them.’” Jesus interacted with lost, and while he was with them in genuine relationship with them, he engaged them with the gospel.

Are we open to make space for new people in our lives? To reach out to the lost in our networks of relationships, or to venture into new networks that are beyond our comfort zones?

  • Some of us only build relationships with other believers. We become insulated. But as Jesus said, “those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick” – Matthew 9:12.
  • Some of us might feel our relationship capacity is full with our current family and friends. We feel we don’t have time for others. But God is calling us to make space for others, especially unbelievers.

Build genuine relationships with the lost. Love them and serve them.

5. Keep your eyes open for opportunities to share.

Colossians 4:5-6 says, “Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.” (NLT)

Again, God is at work all around us. And we need to have eyes to see what is going on, so that we can join in.

You may say, Pastor, “I don’t have all the answers.” Well, welcome to the club! No one has all the answers. All God asks you to do is to share what he has done in your life. Like Jesus said to the man that he cast a legion of demons out of in Mark 5:19, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”

Ask God to show you an opportunity to share this very week. And then keep your eyes open for it.


So these are five key practices:

  1. Live a life that glorifies God
  2. Regularly ask God to give you compassion for the lost
  3. Regularly pray for someone who is lost
  4. Build relationships with the lost
  5. Keep your eyes open for opportunities to share

These are all ways that you can join in God’s mission  in your personal life; in all the places that God has put you with all the people that you connect with.

I like the sign over the door, You are now entering the mission field. And if we at New Providence are going to accomplish God’s mission, each one of us needs to do our part. And it starts in our personal lives.

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Series on Witness

We are back to our series on witness, encouraging us all to be focused on reaching out to others to share our lives and faith with them. We are working with an acrostic from the word witness and so far we have covered:

The “W” – which is for Why we reach out. Our motivation is Christ’s love for the lost.

The “I” – which is for Idolatry and reaching out. The end is not growing and getting big in itself, but being faithful to God to reach out whether there are results or not.

And the “T” – which is for Taking risks. Sharing our faith seems risky, and we prefer to be comfortable. But we need to step out in faith, and trust that God will work. This is how God works in every area of our lives – we have to take risks and live by faith.

Today we look at the “N” of the word witness, and the title is New life in Jesus is the point.

What I mean here is that the goal of reaching out is not just trying to make new friends, or getting people to come to church or helping people with pressing needs. Now, these are all good things. But the goal of reaching out is to have each person we share with, experience new life in Jesus. This is the point.

We want God to work in people’s lives so that those who don’t know Jesus or have wandered away from him will come to him and will receive the gift of new life; we want their lives to be powerfully transformed.

Jesus talks about this –

New life in the gospel of John

This life comes from God through Jesus. Jesus said, “For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.” – John 5:26. As Jesus said later, “I am the resurrection and the life.” John 11:25. He has this life in him from the Father and he is this life.

And Jesus came to share this new life with others; with us. As he said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” – John 10:10. Notice he came not to give us just a taste or a little bit of life – but he wants us to have this new life in great abundance.

Jesus describes new life in different ways. First he talks about it as a new birth. He talks about being “born again” in John 3:3, and being “born of the Spirit” in John 3:5. We are all already born of the flesh. We live and breathe and walk in this world. But by the Spirit we can be born again or from above by the work of God in us. We move from being dead spiritually to coming alive with a new heart that is alive to God.

Jesus also talks about it as living water. “Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” – John 4:14. We are all spiritually thirsty. There is a longing in our hearts for more. Jesus is talking to the Samaritan woman here, who has gone through several marriages and was living in sexual immorality. And Jesus offers her new life – seen as a spring of living water in her heart, that brings true satisfaction; that quenches spiritual thirst.

And as we just saw, Jesus talks about new life as eternal life. “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life” – John 6:40. This is the life of God within us right now, not off in the future.

It’s not just talking about life that endures forever – a quantity of life, but about a certain quality of life – the life that comes from God himself who is life within us.

And then to help us further understand what this new life is, let’s look at some –

Stories of new life in Luke

This gospel has a number of these – I have chosen just a few to share, briefly.

A sinful woman – Luke 7:36-38; 48; 50

“One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment.”

And he said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ And he said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace.’”

So here is a woman, likely a prostitute –  “a woman of the city, who was a sinner.” She had apparently already heard Jesus’ message of repentance. And so she finds him and in an act of humility and love and anoints him with perfume. She shows faith in Jesus and he responds by forgiving her sins. All her shameful past is wiped out! She is saved and Jesus tells her to go in peace. Instead of her old life she now has a fresh new start. She is forgiven, saved and at peace.

A demon possessed man – Luke 8:26-39

“Then they sailed to the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. When Jesus had stepped out on land, there met him a man from the city who had demons. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he had not lived in a house but among the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, ‘What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me.’ For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many a time it had seized him. He was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert.) Jesus then asked him, ‘What is your name?’ And he said, ‘Legion,’ for many demons had entered him. And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss. Now a large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and drowned.

When the herdsmen saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country. Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. And those who had seen it told them how the demon-possessed man had been healed. Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, ‘Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.’ And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.”

Here is a man who was tormented under the power of Satan. He was homeless, mentally ill, naked, and living in a graveyard. And he is unable to be bound even by chains. He must have been terrorizing people. But Jesus set him free! The demonic powers that were too much for him and those around him were as nothing before Jesus. Look at the transformation. Now the man is clothed and in his right mind, sitting at the feet of Jesus. And he is seeking to serve Jesus; he has a new life purpose. And Jesus sends him to share with those in the city where he is from.

A tax collector – Luke 19:1-10

“Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.’ So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully.

And when they saw it, they all grumbled, ‘He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.’ And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, ‘Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.’”

Zacchaeus was a tax collector who made his riches overcharging people. He was a sinner. He was lost. But he repents. He gives away his wealth and he makes amends for cheating people. As Jesus said, he was saved. He has a new start and a new life in Jesus. He moved from a man of greed and fraud to a person of generosity and righteousness.

So this is the goal of our sharing – that people will receive new life as Jesus teaches about in John, and that lives will be transformed as we saw in the stories from Luke. We are not just trying to make new friends, or just getting people to come to church, or just helping people with pressing needs.

New life in Jesus is the point! This is what God’s love is all about. As that most familiar of all verses says, “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.

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