Friday, August 27, 2010

The Guarantee

This last week I received a number of very nice Birthday Cards, some funny cards, and a few presents. It was great! I am a very blessed man. (I'm fixed for Starbucks for a while!)

Dale Carnegie, the guy who wrote How to Win Friends and Influence People, tells how he used to not only do his best to remember people's names whom he met, he would also remember their birthday. He would write down the person's name as soon as he could and also write down their birthday. Then he would send them a card on their next birthday. He found that for most of the people to whom he sent a card, it was the only card they received outside of one or two cards from family. For some it was there only card.
Now that's a nice idea but that's not why I'm bringing it up.

It just occurs to be that just because you know some folks and even have some friends it doesn't mean you will be remembered when you would like to be.
Its not a sure thing! I am very blessed to be remembered by many people but it may not always be that way. I have had birthdays in the past where the only cards I received were from Marney, one my girls, and my sister, Donna, who is great at remembering things like that.

There is something that is guaranteed however.

The most popular verse in Romans 8 says:
Rom 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

But have you ever asked Why is this the case?

29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (ESV)

Here's the guarantee:
Everyone of THOSE God foreknows, He predestines to become like His Son.
Everyone of THOSE He predestines He Calls.
Everyone of THOSE He calls He Justifies.
Everyone of THOSE He Justifies He Glorifies.

EVERYONE of you who know Christ today, have been KNOWN by HIM for eternity past and your future Glorification one day is Guaranteed!
God may not send you a Birthday Card, but He has never forgotten you. Everyday He is working for your good, and conforming you to the Image of His Dear Son. And on the most important day that you will want to be remembered, He will bring you into His eternal Kingdom of Heaven, of which you are already a citizen!

There's a lot of good news in that passage!

Brother Clark

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Our Gospel Seed - Jim Eliff

A Wonderful Essay by Pastor and Theologian  Jim Elliff
I awoke this morning thinking about the tree that is the highest up on the mountain. Have you ever wondered about such trees and how the highest tree got there? Since the cones on these coniferous trees always fall downward, how is it that there are trees way up on the sides of the mountains at unbelievable altitudes?
The only answer is that the wind blows hard in those regions. And sometimes the wind will catch the seed or cone of a tree and whisk it up to normally unreachable heights. Even though there is almost no soil in such places, somehow the seed falls between massive rocks and finds a place to grow. Then, some time later, out comes the tree. It will be a sinewy one perhaps, but nonetheless a real tree growing there on the highest place on the mountain in the most incompatible conditions. No one would purposefully plant a tree there but God.
The responsibility of the believer is to throw out the seed everywhere. But sometimes the seed is carried away to places never intended by us. Or, if intended, it is sown without much reason to believe that anything will happen. Our gospel seed seems to hit the rocks and slide down into the crevices where it is not appreciated. Or, even more amazingly, the seed sits on the rock until it is carried to another undesirable place in mysterious ways that you and I will not ever figure out. But there, in that most uninviting place, a "tree" is born.
Only God can do that.
Here is my word for you. Throw the seed everyplace. Be promiscuous in sowing it. Don't be discouraged about stubborn, hard, rock-like responses from some, even among your own relatives. You cannot really tell what God is doing. God will prove you wrong.
Satan is not languishing in his zeal. The world's motivations are not asleep. Neither must we let down. But enthusiasm is not all that is involved. It is God that is at work in growing the kingdom. "I will build my church," He said. Therefore, I don't even have the slightest hint of concern that our labors are in vain.
In the morning sow your seed,
and at evening withhold not your hand,
for you do not know which will prosper, this or that,
or whether both alike will be good.

Ecclesiastes 11:6
Copyright © 2005 Jim Elliff Jim Elliff.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

First Steps to being an Evangelistic Church

These are just the first of many Steps to Effective Church Evangelism.
There may be more, let’s find out!

1. Prayer - Matt 9:38, Act 1:14, 13:3
Which is sillier? Stockcar driver with no gas, or Messenger with no message, Speaker with no audience. All are equally foolish but The first one is the church with no prayer. No fuel or power to move out. Not having a message or an audience will be addressed later.
Does your church pray for the lost?
Does a church who doesn’t pray for the lost have a focus on reaching the lost?
What does NOT praying for the lost say about a church?
What can we pray for? Individuals, boldness, labourers, access to lost people, _______, _________, what else?

2. Outreach & Evangelism Should be considered The Major Work of the church, by the church. Matt 28:19, Act 13:4-5, 1 Cor 1:17, Lu 19:10
This does not supplant the purpose for which we were created. God is seeking worshipers. And now His church should be about the business of seeking the lost to bring them, worshiping, to Christ.
Why is the church supposed to be evangelistic?
What is the church made up of? Believers. What are they called to do? Make disciples. Do your ministers, teachers, etc. encourage evangelism?
Do your church ministries have an evangelism focus?
Does your church budget reflect this importance?

3. Build Bridges to the Lost. Jn 4:7-10, Act 17:17-19, Act 9:36, Mat 9:10
What is the best pathway to a person’s heart?
A) Politics B) Religion C) Sports D) Friendship
How can we build Bridges and Pathways as a church? Certainly Jesus in Samaria did not have the time to build a lifelong friendship with the woman who came out and met Him. But He took a friendly approach, acknowledged her as an individual with needs and sought to meet those needs.
The church too can show itself friendly to the community. The members can show themselves as having genuine Christian love for others.

4. Seek the Right Outcome. Matt 13:19-23, Jn 3:7
It used to be that young preachers were encouraged to “Preach for decisions!” Is an earthly decision a heavenly work? A person can decide they'd rather go to heaven than hell. Seems logical. Does that mean a Spiritual work has been done? Of course not. That decision is no different than choosing a steak over an old tire for supper. But a heart convicted of sin and rebellion by the Spirit of God, and the person motivated to cry to God for mercy is a work of the Holy Spirit.
Sometimes the “Sinner’s Prayer” is a hindrance to Salvation. After sharing this with my church last Sunday, a member told me about 24 hours later that she had that same problem. She had prayed a sinner's prayer as a child and all through life struggled to live the life she thought a Christian should live. One day, after reading the book of Romans she began to understand that she did not have the Lord in her life and she gave her life completely over to Christ.
When ministers take someone who is curious about salvation and lay the sinner's prayer before them and tell them this is the way of salvation. Then all the person has to do is repeat words and get the assurance "from man" that they are saved. Once satisfied concerning hell they proceed without caution.
True Salvation is a work of God not of Man. If you sell someone on the idea of salvation, you just sold them out to Hell.
True Salvation is Spirit-Work not salesmanship.
The outcome we want is the heart trusting Christ unto salvation. I am going to stop using the set sinner's prayer and tell people that their sins have separated them from God. They are headed for a Hell created for the devil and his angels, but Jesus died on the cross so that all who put trust in Him for salvation, and call upon Him to save them shall be saved.
They ought to be able to work out to do from there don't you think?

The Basic Presuppositions of Evangelism

15 Basic foundations to Sharing the Gospel
Did I miss any? Are all of these Valid?
1.      The message is God’s; we are just the communicators of the gospel.  2Co 11:7; Mk 1:1/ Mar 16:15
2.       God can use anyone open to serving Him, and bless the efforts of his people whether they are gifted (as evangelists) or not. Lu 10:1; Ac 8:4; 11:20-21
3.       We are called to share our faith in Christ and be prepared to share with anyone who asks, but the conversion of a sinner to Christ is the work of the Holy Spirit. God doesn’t hold us responsible for the out-come if we have faithfully communicated the gospel. 1Pe 3:15, Heb 12:25
4.      The most powerful attraction to an unbeliever can be a life transformed by the Christ. Verbal expression of the gospel is essential but may be rendered powerless without a changed life.  Joh 13:35, 1Pe 3:1 
5.      Evangelism is the bridge between a love for God and for others. Rom 5:5, 2Co 5:14, Joh 15:13 
6.       Knowing and using Bible is essential in leading one to Christ; it doesn’t mean perfect KJV quoting with ch & vs. Rom 1:16, Act 8:30, 35 
7. The most effective evangelists are the most obedient committed Christians. Look at Andrew, Peter, Phillip, Paul, Barnabas, etc.
8. We can’t give away what we don’t have: e.g. a deep appreciation for grace; a love for Jesus Christ; The love of God. Lu 7:47
9. Biblically and historically successful revivals and evangelism are accompanied by prayer. Act 1:14, Act 11:5, Act 16:25, Ro 12:12
10. When we intelligently and compassionately share our faith it pleases God, no matter what the outcome. Act 17:32-34
11. Every Believer should know how to share the gospel and their faith with others, and be ready and willing. 1Pe 3:15
12. The most effective evangelism is simple and sincere. Ac 2, Jn 3 and 4.
13. Evangelism starting at a person’s need, tieing in the gospel, is more successful than efforts detached from the person. Joh 4:13-17,
14. Evangelism is not to be limited by human convenience or preference.  Act 11:12, Act 8:25-27
15. Evangelism that occurs when a person has a friendship, credibility, accessibility, and trust often has more success than a ‘cold call’ type. Act 2:46-47