Monday, December 23, 2013

Evangelism is about......bringing God's hope, love, joy and peace to others

The following were prepared as Advent/Christmas reflections reminding us that as part of the church God is bringing His hope to the world.... 

Evangelism is about bringing HOPE to others….
One day a man was sitting in the waiting room of his GP.  He looked contented and had a smile on his face.  Then as it happens a chatty lady sat next to him and asked.  “How are you going?” 
His reply, “fine”. 
This lady was not only chatty, she was also a little blunt.  She snapped, “Why are you here then, no one should be in a doctors surgery who is fine?” 
“Well, I have cancer and I am just here for my usual check up.”  He replied. 
She couldn’t help herself, she snapped back “How can life be fine, when you have cancer?”
“For a start being worried or stressing about cancer isn’t going to cure it and secondly if I am going to die, I am sure my next life is going to be far better?”  he replied. 
“Why is that, have you been the perfect person?” she asked. 
“No, in fact if my next life depended on me I would be worried.  Thankfully I believe that what Jesus has done will make sure I can live with God forever”  he gently revealed.
“Every time I hear something about Jesus or God I feel hopeless, I can’t live up to His expectations, and I am not too sure I want to have anything to do with Him.”  She shared
“Well the truth is none of us can ever live up to his expectations….but God doesn’t leave us in the lurch, because of this God does something for us…that is why he sent Jesus into the world….do you know that the name Jesus means to save people from their sins, and that is why we celebrate Christmas” he gently shared.
All of sudden this lady stopped chatting and sat there thinking.
Then the doctor called the gentleman’s name and by the time he returned to the waiting room the lady had left.
He would have loved to continue the conversation, but he was thankful he had given her a different picture of God than she had,….a picture that would likely give her some hope. 
As you live leading up to Christmas look at how you have helped people see the hope God gives.

Evangelism about bringing LOVE to others….
It seems that everyone has this inner need to be loved….even those who seem very unlovable.   Some years ago a local church was hosting a free luncheon for the community.  Some members of the church decided it was a good idea to personally invite every household in a 200 metre radius around the church.  A week before the event members of the church went with a personal invite, they knocked on the door of every house.   There was one house they were reluctant to go to, because the resident of this house was an old spinster who had a reputation of being quite abrupt and rude to anyone who came near her. However the couple who were designated to visit her thought what could they lose. So they knocked hesitantly on her door…the door opened, then they gently introduced themselves and said “we would love to invite you to lunch next Sunday, we would love you to come and there is no cost to you.”  To their surprise the lady replied, “thankyou, I will be there.”
The next Sunday a few people were a little shocked as this little old spinster walked into the church hall for lunch, they were shocked because she was here and shocked because instead of the normal frown on her face there was a big smile.  As the couple who invited her welcomed her, they too were amazed at what she said next, “I have been waiting for a long time for someone to show me some love, even a little bit of love and you know that you are the first ones to do so in a long time.”    
This couple didn’t love this lady because she deserved it or earned it, but because they were acting on behalf of God…they brought God’s love to her….check out 1 John 4:7-12…this Christmas look at ways to love people not because they deserve it or you feel like it…but so they can know the original source of love…God

Evangelism IS about bringing GODLY JOY to others….
When you think of those who are missing joy….what do you see….disappointment, discontentment, sadness, people obsessed with legalism, people trying to obtain joy through alcohol or drugs, people trying to obtain joy through obtaining or giving stuff.
The reality is there are many things and people who try to suck joy from life.
The Christmas story is about God revealing to us where long term, sustaining joy can be found….in Jesus…and when we understand this….we understand that joy comes not from having stuff, a smooth life or no problems…but about what God gives us and following the mission Jesus’ gives us…
So when it comes to helping others experience joy there are 2 things that are helpful:
1/  we live joyfully because we follow Jesus….think of all the good things about following Jesus.
2/  we be honest about what joy from Jesus is about…it is not about some short term happiness but that God offers us a better future because of what Jesus has done, is doing and will do for us.   This means we can have joy because Jesus came at Christmas to deal with what would otherwise stop us from being in a permanent relationship with God where there will be no sin, no suffering and no pain (check out Revelation 21:4).  Look at ways you can help others know this type of joy.

Evangelism IS about bringing GODLY PEACE to others….
The dictionary describes peace as:
 the normal, non-warring condition of a nation, nations, or the world.
 a state of mutual harmony between people or groups, especially in personal relations:
 the normal freedom from civil commotion and violence of a community; public order and security:
 cessation of or freedom from any strife or dissension.
And the most important area for peace to occur is between humanity and God, that means between you and God.  God sees that peace between us and him is extremely important.  That is why Jesus was sent into the world…check out John 3:16-18 and Ephesians 2:11-18.
Here is where our problem lies….the reason we need Jesus is because of sin (check out Romans 3:23),  and whenever God is dealing with sin in our lives, it is rarely peaceful or comfortable.  However for true peace with God to happen, it will mean us acknowledging we have sinned, that we need Jesus and His action to restore our relationship with God and we  need God’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit to help us live His way of life.   
No wonder Jesus says to us, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  John 14:27. 
God’s peace is far superior and far better than worldly peace, and to receive God’s peace we often need to have some uncomfortable situations in this world. 
So when it comes to bringing God’s peace to others, expect them to be a little uncomfortable.  Their initial reaction maybe one of rejection.  However be persistent, dedicate to spend  time with them and help them develop a relationship with God that enables them to experience God’s peace.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Christmas Sermon ideas

Resurgence makes 7 suggestions for Christmas sermon ideas

7. LEARN FROM OTHERS  including  Martin Luther, Charles Spurgeon, John Piper, Tim Keller, Matt Chandler, Rick Warren, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Alistair McGrath

And remember whatever you preach, remember that Christmas is about Jesus, and the story continues beyond the manger. This may seem obvious, but it cannot be overstated. Eternal God entered into mortal history. Creator God joined his creation. God who made man became a man, lived a perfect life, died in our place for our sin, rose from the grave to conquer death, and remains with his people today.
Like Christmas, Christianity is a gift exchange: we give Jesus our sin, and he gives us new life. No matter how many times we repeat that message, it never gets old.

for more details on these 7 sermon suggestions visit here