Sermons Archives: July 2016

Trial and Error Evangelism

Posted on Jul 16, 2016 | Download

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii — During a recent evangelistic outing, I was conversing with an adherent of New Age philosophy. He was a good old-fashioned hippie who sought external, internal and eternal peace through oneness with the material world. He believed that all of nature had the same spiritual value as do human beings. Normally, fellows with such a mindset are very calm and diplomatic. This guy, however, was downright hostile. Our conversation ended with him setting a Gospel tract on fire. I was tempted to leave the scene, but I decided to talk with one of this militant hippie’s cohorts instead. She concurred with his views, but was actually willing to have a respectful conversation about our differences. My discussion with her concluded with a friendly hug, and she accepted an invitation to my church. On another occasion when a friend of mine and I were looking to talk to people about Jesus, we met a Hindu guru and his Buddhist friend. In the months since my first encounter with those two, it has become clear that the Hindu gentleman is not only a non-believer, but he is totally hostile to the Gospel. He said that he unequivocally refuses to keep an open mind about Jesus, he won’t accept Gospel literature, receive prayer or be my guest at church. His Buddhist friend, on the other hand, has taken evangelistic tracts (and given me a Buddhist one) and is open to coming to Christian events if his work schedule permits. I know where both men work. From time to time, I visit my new Buddhist friend and we compare spiritual perspectives. I do not go to the Hindu guru anymore because it’s obvious he’s not interested in a discussion. He only wants an argument — and to ridicule Jesus. Sometimes, when we set out to proclaim Jesus to people, God will guide us directly to those who want to hear our message. Often, though, we have to discover who is interested and who isn’t through trial and error. This was the way Christ’s early disciples typically spread the message of salvation. When the Apostle Paul tried to share the Gospel in Corinth (part of modern-day Greece) he initially encountered those who “opposed and reviled him.”1 He turned away from that group and shared the message of Jesus with others. As a result, “many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized.”2 When Paul and his missionary companion, Barnabas, preached that Jesus is the messiah in Antioch (part of modern-day Turkey) many “began to contradict what was spoken.”3 When they redirected their efforts, many came to faith in Jesus.4 Likewise in Ephesus (also in Turkey) Paul was sharing the Gospel with anyone who would listen. Yet when some “became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of” Christianity he moved on.5 When Jesus sent out his disciples to evangelize, he admonished them to turn away from people who were unwilling to “listen to” them.6 Yet, it should be noted, he was perfectly willing to send them to people who likely would reject the message. Jesus loved people so much that he wanted all to hear the Gospel. He didn’t believe it was ever a waste of time to discuss the truth with someone. However, he was strategic enough to move on when people clearly demonstrated disinterest in the Good News. He wanted to focus on those who would listen. Christians today should take exactly the same approach. 1. Acts 18:6 2. Acts 18:8 3. Acts 13:45 4. Acts 13:48 5. Acts 19:9 6. Matthew 10:14 Raymond Billy is one of Soma's missionaries who lives and ministers in Hawaii. For more information and to contribute to his mission work, visit http://www.modernday.org/field-workers/billy/.

Evangelism through the Heart

Posted on Jul 8, 2016 | Download

Compassion for the lost – that is what fuels the fire of evangelism in my heart. There are so many people who are lost in the world. We see people all around us who don't know Christ and appear to have their lives all together; yet they are filled with emptiness and have barren souls. We often categorize "the lost" as being the homeless, drug addicts, or people living in third world countries . . . and after all isn't it the missionaries’ job to reach the lost? Not according to the Bible. Anyone who has received Jesus as his or her Savior is called to proclaim the good news of Christ. Why then do we find it so difficult to share who Jesus is and what He has done in our lives with unbelievers? So many of us have adopted the misconception that evangelism means going door to door or presenting an unbelieving friend or family member with a prepared speech. We work up the courage, blurt the whole thing out, and hope they don't ask any questions, and then think "whew, I've done my duty for the year." No wonder so many non-Christians get scared when they see us coming! The model for evangelism that Jesus showed to us was sharing through relationship. God will sometimes bring us spur of the moment opportunities to share our faith. However, more often than not those opportunities come through friends, coworkers, neighbors, or family who are lost. I think non-believers want to see that we are human too, not some super -disciple whose feet never touch the ground. We are sinners who make mistakes, but we have a Savior who has set us free from the bondage of sin and bridged the gap between God and us. When we share how Jesus has worked in our own lives and the relationship we have with Him, that can spark a lot more interest than a speech blurted out at record speed. In Luke 8:16 Jesus says, "Now no one after lighting a lamp covers it over with a container, or puts it under a bed; but he puts it on a lamp stand, in order that those who come in may see the light.” People should be able to see Jesus in our lives, the way we behave, what we say and do. God brings opportunities to share His Saving Grace as our lives bear witness to Christ in us. "Why are you so happy all the time" or "How can you not be worried about this" are questions that open a door to share Christ with someone. John 15:5 says, “I am the Vine you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him shall bear much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.” Abiding in Christ is where evangelism begins. When we bear fruit our lives are a testimony to Christ’s power to change us. Although, our witnessing may only plant a seed that we don't see grow into maturity; we can trust that God will use that seed to "woo" that person to Him. I love how Rebecca Manley Pippert, in her book, “Out of the Salt Shaker and into the World,” sums this up: "If we are to be followers of Jesus, His values must permeate our values. We need to be concerned more with how our lives reflect His love, His holiness, His obedience, than with the latest witnessing techniques. When we live as Jesus did, in His power and with His presence, seekers will be drawn to us. Evangelism will not be a dreaded task to be ticked off every Wednesday. Rather, sharing Jesus will become a true delight and evangelism will become a lifestyle".

From Broken to Beauty

Posted on Jul 1, 2016 | Download

Have you ever experienced a time in your life when you feel shattered? When everything in your life seemed to be broken and scattered on the floor in a million pieces? In these times, I find myself looking from my finite perspective and starting to feel hopeless, anxious, distraught, and clueless about how to move forward. How did this happen? Why did this happen? How do I move forward? It is so easy to become overwhelmed about our current state that we forget to fully surrender to God. In those times, we must rise above our circumstances and remember we are living not for ourselves, but for Christ. God reminds us of His infinite perspective. I am thankful for a God who looks at our mess, our chaos, our despair, and our brokenness and sees a future, a foundation, and a restoration in the making. When we are at the bottom, God is waiting for us to call out for Him so He can pour out His grace and mercy. He longs to personally meet us in the middle of our brokenness in a tender and loving way that only a Father can do. He crouches down to us and cradles us in His arms. It is here that we finally can exhale and restoration begins. He fills us with His peace even when we are in the middle of the storm. “He brought me up from a desolate pit, out of the muddy clay, and set my feet on a rock, making my steps secure.” Psalms 40:2 “Praise be to the lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. Our God is a God that saves; from the Sovereign Lord comes escape from death.” Psalms 68:19-20 “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 How comforting it is to know we have a God who can empathize in all of our pain and weakness for He Himself experienced it. There is no pain, no weakness, no betrayal, and no struggle that He does not know. He experienced all of these and more. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-26 When we finally surrender to God’s sovereignty and give up control, we must surrender to His plan and His will. During times of pain we must remember to keep our focus on Him and He will begin to restore and rebuild. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isiah 55:8-9 “This is what the Lord says: ‘The people who survive the sword will find favor in the wilderness; I will come to give rest to Israel.’ The Lord appeared to us from far away saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. I will build you up again, and you, Virgin Israel, will be rebuilt. Again you will take up your timbrels and go out to dance with the joyful.” Jeremiah 31:2-4 Our God rebuilds again and again. He restores over and over again. He gives us joy for mourning. There is beauty when He breaks us down to nothing so that He can begin to form new desires and fill our soul with new passions and new joy – joy that is greater than we could have ever imagined. He teaches us how dependent we are on Him during times in the valley. He shows us through the refining process that we are useless on our own and we must fully rely on Him for everything in all situations. He teaches us to always praise and worship Him, giving Him all the glory. When you are going through hard times, remember that God never promises us that life will be easy. Actually, He tells us our lives will be the opposite of easy. He tells us we will experience troubles and trials. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 The beauty is that even though we experience pain and trials, we do not have to experience despair and hopelessness. Christ gives us a hope and a future. The hope we are given is our anchor during the storms of this life. Out of the storm comes beauty and rebirth.