We should want to be used as God’s instruments because Jesus came for us

Jesus’ sacrifice and His cross work should be something we want to share with everyone.

Jesus didn’t have to come. Jesus could have left us in our sins. But Jesus didn’t. Jesus had compassion on us. He cared for us. He loved us. His love drove Him to come and die so that we might have life and our relationship with the Father would be reconciled.

We should want to go, not because it is easier and we know God’s will will be done, but because we want to share the love of Jesus with others. Because we want to share what Jesus has done for us.

“When [our] heart is gripped by the love of God poured out in the cross, and when [we] see the extent of that love in the propitiation by which Christ became the sacrifice for [our] sin, bearing wrath and entering hell for [us], and when [we] are convinced that this Christ offers Himself in redeeming love to others who do not yet know Him, a passion will be lit in [our] heart to pursue a God-centered life, [to pursue people on mission for God.]”

James Denney in Jonah by Colin Smith, 48.

When God comes to us and asks us to do something that is difficult — and if He hasn’t done so already, He certainly will — when He does, we should go. We should answer His call, so that others might experience the same joy, peace, comfort, love, and salvation as we do.

When God calls us to go, we should go for the sake of others and their eternal destiny.

Our inadequacies don’t limit the Spirit

“But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” (Acts 20:24)

These were not just words spoken. Paul lived these words out each and every single day. Plots were concocted against him. He was slandered, beaten, arrested, and chased out of cities. He left good friends behind to continue his mission. He followed the urging of the Holy Spirit knowing that afflictions and imprisonments awaited him in every city (Acts 20:23). Paul was determined and a unique man.

But his determination and dedication to the gospel was not due his personality. He was captivated by Jesus. Paul wanted others to be captivated by Him as well. To experience the same hope, joy, love, and blessings he experienced. He traveled around the known world sharing the good news of Jesus with all who would listen despite the difficulties he faced daily.

Admittedly, Paul’s love of Jesus is convicting. When I look at my life, I don’t risk as much as Paul did. I don’t risk relationships, comfort, bodily harm, or even my life for Jesus. That doesn’t mean Paul was super human. He wasn’t super human, instead He was empowered by the Holy Spirit.

The same Holy Spirit that empowered Paul empowers us as well. Though we might feel inadequate for the task of making disciple-making disciples, we aren’t inadequate. The Spirit empowers us for the task at hand just as He empowered Paul. While we all might not travel around the world sharing the gospel, starting and strengthening churches, we can accomplish what God has planned for us. We can be used by Him to accomplish His will, despite our felt inadequacies because the Spirit empowers us to do the work of ministry.

Reach the nations in your backyard

“And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.””(Acts 10:15)

In a vision, God makes it clear to Peter that the gospel is for the nations. Peter is sent to Cornelius, who was a centurion, a Gentile. He was not a part of the nation of Israel by birth, but Peter was sent to fellowship with and present the good news of Jesus to him and those who were with him.

In this instance, God shows that He is for the nations. The good news that Jesus provides forgiveness of sins is not solely a message for Israel. Rather it is a message for the entire world. As Peter says in verse 43,

“To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” (Acts 10:43)

Everyone who believes in Jesus, no matter what background or nationality, can experience salvation. They can be forgiven of their sins and experience peace with God.

We are a testimony to God’s plan for the nations. Most of you who are reading this post are Gentiles who have been grafted into Israel. We are the nations. In order to continue to reach the nations, we don’t have to go much further than our own community. That is not to say we shouldn’t send missionaries overseas, we certainly should. But we must not forget that the nations to whom Jesus directs the disciples are you and me. We have the nations in our own backyard.

Part of living life “on mission” for Jesus is to reach the nations. We have an opportunity to do that each and everyday. Will you begin building relationships with your neighbors and co-workers in an attempt to reach the nations? Will you have someone over to your home for dinner in an attempt to reach the nations? Will you walk across the ball field and talk to another parent on the sidelines in an attempt to reach the nations? Will you have lunch with a co-worker in an attempt to reach the nations?

The nations are right here in our own backyard will you make an attempt to reach them?

Are you prayerfully depending on the Spirit to build your church?

“And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.”” (Acts 8:29)

The book of Acts follows directly from the gospel of Luke. It is a continuation of the story. One of Luke’s purposes is to show how the promised Spirit guides and directs Jesus’ disciples so that the church is built.

In Acts 8, the church is scattered as Paul begins his reign of persecution. Philip finds himself on the way to Gaza. As he travels, there is a man, a Eunuch, who worked in the Ethiopian queen’s court. Traveling in a chariot, he was reading from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. The Spirit directs Philip to join the Ethiopian in his chariot. He has the opportunity to explain the passage he was reading, connect it to Jesus and the good news of Jesus life and death for us. The man believed and was promptly baptized as a public profession of faith. After baptizing the Ethiopian, Philip was directed once again by the Spirit to another place.

Today’s passage teaches us to rely on the Spirit. He is the One directing and guiding us as we live “on mission” for Jesus. If we are going to be disciples who make disciples, we need to prayerfully depend on the Spirit to guide and direct us to those in whom the Lord is at work. We are Jesus’ instruments used by Him to build His church.

Are you prayerfully depending on the Spirit to build your church? Are you praying that the Spirit would provide you an opportunity to minister to someone today? Are you hopeful that the Spirit is at work in your life, your family, and your community, drawing people to Christ? Do you long to be a part of the work the Spirit is doing?

To whom is He directing you today?

What’s the True Source of Powerful Evangelism?

In order to be effective in evangelism, we often believe we must be a world class apologist who can answer every question thrown at us, an extrovert who can talk to anyone, and a bold witness who isn’t afraid of persecution or death. While we may think that, the average Christian doesn’t typically possess these characteristics.

According to Jack Miller, the author of Powerful Evangelism for the Powerless, we don’t need to possess these characteristics to be an effective evangelist. He believes effective evangelism, like what took place in the eighteenth century, was built on a different premise. He says,

“I am convinced that what gave evangelists in the eighteenth century remarkable power was the Whitefield-Wesley confidence in the supreme authority of Christ. Jesus acted in and through them not because they were powerful persons, but because they were empty vessels needing grace. He was the one who forgave and cleansed them; He was the one who sent them with the gospel; and He was the one who opened the hearts of hardened people to a very humbling message. By contrast, believers today typically serve a much smaller Christ…

Miller went on to explain the true source of power for evangelism:

The leaders of the Great Awakening had extraordinary power in evangelism and renewal. They followed an omnipotent Christ, the divine warrior, and He anointed them with His missionary presence. But this power was poured out on those who knew that they were inherently powerless without a constant dependence upon the working of God’s grace in their lives.” [1]

It seems counterintuitive to say that the more powerless we are the more effective our evangelism can become, but God doesn’t always work in intuitive ways. Instead, He works in ways that show His power and bring Him glory.

The apostle Paul was familiar with this idea. In 2 Corinthians Paul prayed several times for God to take his “thorn in the flesh,” away. But God didn’t. After wrestling with God’s answer for a time, Paul finally understood why. In 2 Corinthians 12:9 and 10 he writes

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Co 12:9–10)
So instead of allowing our inadequacies to keep us from evangelism, we should allow them to propel us into it. Not in our own strength, but in God’s power working through us. When we do that, we will be powerful witnesses for Christ.

Question for Reflection

  1. Do you struggle to rely on God’s power working in you for effective evangelism?

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[1] Jack Miller, Powerful Evangelism for the Powerless, quoted in Discovering God in the Stories from the Bible, Ryken, pg 124

How can we increase our evangelistic opportunities and encourage others to share their faith?

Every month I attend a networking luncheon of like-minded pastors in my area. Over the years, it has proven to be a great time of fellowship and group learning. Each month, as we gather, we not only have a meal with one another but we discuss a particular topic in an effort to sharpen one another’s ministry. The last time we gathered our topic was evangelism. The question that guided our discussion was: How can we increase our evangelistic opportunities and encourage others to share their faith? Our group consists not only of seasoned pastors but church planters as well. As we discussed the question, helpful ideas came from both groups. Some of these are ideas I had thought about before, but others were new.

(1) Coach a team

Almost every city has an opportunity and need for little league coaches. Not only is coaching a great way to give back to your community, but it is an excellent way to get to know kids and parents in the area, who you might not otherwise run across.

(2) Be intentional about getting to know your neighbors and using your home

If we are honest, it’s easy to stay in our family bubble once we get home from a long, hard days work. For the most part, that is not a bad thing. We need to spend time with our family relaxing, but we can’t forget about the Great Commission. Instead of holding up in the house or playing in the backyard out of sight from our neighbors, we should try to move some of our activities to the front yard where we can more easily engage those who live next to us. Once we meet our neighbors, we should invite them over to hang out, watch the game, have dinner, or have their kids over to play with ours. Getting to know their name is only the beginning. If we want to impact their life for Christ, we have to spend time with them.

(3) Be a part of events in your community

One of the church planters in our group rents a space at the YMCA. His church intentionally attends, works, or hosts a booth at almost every event the Y holds. Being involved in these events has allowed them the opportunity to meet a much larger cross section of the community and impact people’s lives for Christ than they would have been able to do by hosting their own events. Besides the increased connection with non-believers, piggy-backing on an already planned event takes the load off organizing and hosting your own event, which gives you more time to focus on the connections you have forged, the people in your church, and your Sunday Service.

(4) Work at a club in your area

Another pastor in our group volunteers his time at the Boys and Girls Club near his house. Not only has he been able to get to know a number of the kids there, but he has also been able to connect with the Director, which has opened up other opportunities. His church has been able to host a VBS at the club and invite those who normally attend to participate.

(5) Be aware of the people God continually puts in your life

Every day we encounter others in our community. Sometimes we come across the same people regularly. When that happens, don’t think it is a coincide. Rather, recognize it for what it is – someone God has placed in your life that He wants you to get to know. So don’t let what seems like a coincidental encounter be wasted, get to know the person.

(6) Video testimonies

Having someone who recently came to Christ through your ministries evangelistic efforts share their testimony is a great way to encourage and spur those in your church to persevere at the task. I suggest videos because they can be edited for time and shown easily in a service and on social media.

(7) Record the number of last week’s gospel conversations in your bulletin

Another pastor in our group has begun to lead his church to talk to as many people about Christ as they can each week (as we all should!). In order to encourage his congregation to take every opportunity to spread the gospel, he quit recording last week’s tithe numbers in the bulletin and replaced them with the number of gospel presentations his members made that last week. Each Sunday he uses that number to either encourage his congregation to do more or keep up the good work.

Question for Reflection

  1. What are other ways to increase our evangelistic opportunities and encourage others to share their faith?

Resource

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