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Equipped to Reach the Lost

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One of the truths proclaimed in this past Sunday's sermon was that God equips each of us to "connect every life to Jesus".  Pastors Jim Chamberlin and Miguel Lara were demonstrating that truth in action by using their gifts of preaching and language as they taught their message by interpreting each others words between English and Spanish.  They have obviously discovered they have a gift to communicate across what would be an insurmountable language barrier for many of us and have used that gift to connect people to Jesus  across cultural barriers.    Discovering our own gifts is an important part of our spiritual growth.  When people ask where to begin in this discovery process, I often ask them what is it that you like to do, what gives you pleasure and gives you a sense of purpose?  Sometimes people will be discouraged and say things like, well I'm only an office worker in cubical land, or I'm just an usher or greeter on one Sunday a month.  Look, in God's Kingdom you are not just a...fill in the blanks.  No matter what we do we are always surrounded by or in contact with people, people that need to know the God that loves them and has a purpose for their lives.   You and I have been created to be relational beings, and just as our faith in Jesus  as Savior and Lord has restored our relationship with our creator, God has given us along with our unique set of gifts and talents, the ability to communicate and build relationships with those around us.     

So let's say you have a good grasp of your gifts and talents and are ready to take the next step but you're not sure how to get involved. Maybe you think that "I'm not Billy Graham and I'm just not very good at approaching people about faith".  Well if we have to wait for the next Billy Graham to show up at our church and do all the work of reaching the lost, God's Kingdom isn't going to amount to much.  How about an everyday example that doesn't require us to fill a stadium.  Think about the contacts you have with people that serve you everyday.  The check out cashier at the grocery, the teller at the bank, and all the others you chance to meet on a given day (and yes I never use self check out and I stand in line for a chance to say hello, just ask my wife!).  Think what it would be like for the person behind the counter looking at face after face just passing by if you looked them in the eye, notice their name tag and greeted them with their name and sincerely asked them how their day was going with an attitude that gave the impression that you really cared.  Here's a hint, turn off your cell phone as a starter.  Nothing says that I could care less about you when you are answering your phone while someone is serving you.  And while I'm on that subject, we are so wedded to our digital masters we don't even notice that the "marriage" has made us dysfunctional in our human relations.  You can't have a relation and show you care in a text message or even by facetime.  Engage people in a way that shows that you really care.  Who knows, if you keep running into the same people over time that chance to witness about faith may open up.  It could be as simple as inviting them to a special service at church, who knows where the road may take you if you extend yourself to others.  

To help us in building relations God has given all of us who believe the greatest gift of all to help us in that mission, the gift of His Holy Spirit. The apostles of Jesus were just ordinary men who by the power, leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit were able to bring God's message of redemption and change nations.  That same Spirit is in all of us today and we need to pray each and every day for the Holy Spirit to help us to reach those around us with the message of God's forgiveness and His incredible love.  We are called, we are gifted and we are sent so let's continue this journey of faith together connecting every life to Jesus.

 

 

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OUTSIDERS

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            Last Sunday marked the end of the “Outsiders” sermon series based on the first letter of Peter to the churches of North East Asia Minor.  These new Christians, already suffering from social ostracism and economic hardship because of their belief in Christ, were also witnessing the beginning of government-sponsored persecution and martyrdom instigated at the orders of the sociopathic emperor Nero.  Peter’s letter encouraging these believers to stand firm in their faith in spite of their present trials and suffering has continued to resonate with the church throughout history.  Can we apply Peter’s letter to our lives today?  After all we are not under the same oppression as the early church and our situation in life in America is not the same as for example an underground church in Syria or China.

 Peter begins his letter by addressing his readers as “resident aliens”, strangers in the world, to remind them and us that our new life in Christ marks us as being temporary residents in this fallen world.  If we are “resident aliens” how shall we then live?  When my grandparents landed at Ellis Island at the turn of the 20th century, they stood out from society at large.  Their dress was different; they spoke in a thick dialect; their cultural norms were different.  In other words, they were easily recognized as outsiders.  What marks us out as Christians in our society today?  Peter provides us with compelling guidance.  We are called to lead holy lives in reverent awe of God.  We are to be a people who have been given moral and spiritual boundaries based on the truth of God’s word.  We are to love our brothers and sisters in Christ with a pure heart.  It is also God’s will that we should do good works so that they may be seen by the world and be able to give an answer for our faith to those who ask.  Peter reminds us that this faith which sustains in this world and helps us to live according to God’s will is the “living hope” we have in an eternal inheritance in God’s kingdom assured by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead and sealed by the Holy Spirit in our lives.   

Peter also encourages us that as a chosen people belonging to God we are to “declare the praises of him who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light”.  In other words, we are sent by God as resident aliens to proclaim His grace, mercy and love to this world.  As we transition to our next sermon series that takes up the theme of “Sent”, let Peter’s words guide us and challenge us to live our lives as residents of God’s kingdom bringing the light of Christ to this dark world.        

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Tags: aliens, faith