Sunday, September 30, 2012

Tentmaker Evangelism

Colossians 4:5-6
Most Christian workers struggle with evangelism and so rarely do it.  We spend most of our time with Christians and minister to each other as evidence of our faith.  Misconceptions concerning what evangelism is and our personal responsibility to share inhibits God’s use of our lives to take the gospel to the world.

God gives kingdom purpose and opportunity to every one He calls. 
Jesus called us to be “fishers” of men not “hunters”.
The pool we are to “fish” in is our neighborhood, workplace or campus.
Evangelism Bait:

1. Your life

2. Your words

God can turn any of the circumstances of our everyday lives into opportunities for evangelism.
Acts 26:16-18

I. Go and tell  v.17b; John 20:21

Our mission in this community must never be mainly a come and see mission. It must be a go and tell mission.

We are a church of tent-making witnesses to the gospel of Christ.
God has gospel purposes in all the setbacks of our lives.

II. Open Blind Eyes  v.18a; 2 Corinthians 4:4,6

We put the truth of Christ into a person's mind with a testimony, we pray for the miracle of spiritual sight for the blind.

III. Turn darkness to light  v.18b

Where there is spiritual blindness people are at home in the darkness of sin.
The power of Satan is broken by the Spirit of truth.

IV. Receive Salvation  v.18c

It is faith in Christ which brings salvation and sanctification.


Friday, September 28, 2012

Lesson 5

Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble.  Isaiah 35:3
Have you wondered why one leg of the “V” is many times longer than the other leg?  The scientist, aerodynamic experts and aeronautical engineers had trouble figuring this one out, but I am almost sure I have the answer.  Do you want to guess?  Well, the reason one leg is longer than the other leg is that there are more geese in that leg. 

There really is a very logical and a simple explanation, if you consider the disposition of the geese as illustrated in the first four lessons.  As geese that have fallen from other flocks (as illustrated in lesson 3) recover and rejoin flocks flying in the same direction, they join the rear of the formation.  One extra goose in a particular leg of the “V” makes that the rear of the formation.  As other geese join the rear, that leg becomes even longer.

As the scientist studied the geese, nowhere did they find any evidence that the original flock treats newcomers as outsiders.  They benefit from the uplift provided by the geese in front of them (Lesson 1) and contribute encouragement by joining along with the honking (Lesson 3).  The story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:30-37 proves that the man who was beaten and the Samaritan were not from the “same flock.”  Did that keep the Samaritan from helping or welcoming the beaten one?  As a Church, we will often encounter the opportunity to welcome someone from a different flock. The difference might be economic, race, nationality, background, experiences, appearance, styles, mannerisms or whatever, but do we welcome them with compassion, as did the Samaritan?

In conclusion, I’m not sure where such terms as “lost as a goose” and “no more sense than a goose” came from.  I know that geese, like all of God’s creatures since Adam, have faults.  Domesticated geese who have lost their survival instincts and become dependent on someone to help them survive are far different from the wild geese who can know how to work together for the common good.  Sadly, Christians who have learned to be handfed and cared for seem to lose their sense of responsibility to the flock and require inordinate attention and care.  They have real trouble surviving on the “wild.” 

Hopefully you have gained some insights from God’s creation this week on how to be an encourager and the power of encouragement.  Next time you hear the honking of a flock heading north or south, let it be a reminder of the need to encourage our brothers and sisters and give praise to our God.

Scripture to Claim:
But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.  Hebrews 3:13 ESV

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Lesson 4: “Honk if You Love Jesus”

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.  Colossians 3:16 ESV

What usually first calls our attention to the flock of geese, is their “honking.”  We hear their honking and then look up and try to find them.  Because of how sound travels and the altitude at which geese fly, it is difficult to determine which ones are doing the honking.  Engineers and scientists, who made other discoveries about the geese, also discovered that the honking comes from the rear of the formation.  Further research showed that the geese in front do not look back to see the number or condition of the geese following.  The honking from the rear lets the lead goose know the flock is behind them and ready to help.  They use the honking as encouragement to move on. Notice I said “Honking” not “Squawking!” We can learn another lesson from this action.

As we notice others taking a leadership role, no matter how minor or major, we can encourage others by doing a little “Honking.”  There is something extremely encouraging and motivating about hearing the support of others with similar goals.  Why do you think sports teams have developed cheerleaders and pep squads?  Why is there such a thing as “home field advantage?”  Little league players and high school stars are greatly encouraged by those who cheer them on. 

“exhort one another, and build each other up. 1 Thessalonians 5: 11-13
One of the most interesting men in American history is Andrew Carnegie.  He was well known for his development of the steel industry in Pittsburgh PA, in the late 1800s, but maybe his greatest talent was the “development of people.”  He explained his philosophy, by saying, “Developing people is a lot like mining for gold. When you mine for gold, you move literally tons of dirt, looking for the gold, but you are not looking for the dirt, you are looking for the gold. In developing people, you look for the GOOD. That is the GOLD! When you find it, you nurture it and bring it to fruition”. This philosophy of developing others is true whether you are promoting the development of children or Christians. When will we learn that more can be accomplished by “complimenting the good” than by “criticizing the bad.”

Sometimes this encouragement, development or support comes in the form of a public acknowledgement of appreciation.  This might be referred to as “public honking.” It can also come in the form of a private acknowledgement; maybe something as simple as a handshake or hug and saying “Thank you for what you did.”  Some of us have difficulty in verbally expressing our true feelings.  In this case a simple card or note of appreciation, mailed or handed to the person in private, would work wonders in their life.  This form of encouragement might be referred to as “private honking.”

Have you ever stopped to consider that we were made to praise?  God made us to praise and “encourage” Him!  He created angels made for the purpose of praising and glorifying Him but desires the voluntary praise of His people far above that.  Years ago there was a bumper sticker that showed up on many automobiles which said, “Honk if you love Jesus!”  It really seemed like such a good idea but created some chaos when people forgot they had it on their car and became rather “unchristian” when people were honking at them!  It’s still a good idea to “Honk if you love Jesus” but we need to do our own “honking.”  We need to show the humility of gratitude in private prayer to our Lord, thanking him for all the things He has done and continues to do for us.

Hopefully, we would never confuse the magnitude of what God has done, with the comparatively insignificant impact made by the leaders among us.  That is not to say we shouldn’t be appreciative of those leaders.  Like the “poor widow” found in Luke 21:1-4, we are not judged by what we do or what we have, but what we do with what we have.  If we have followed lesson 2 from the geese, we will be empathic of the person now in the leadership position and know how much help a little encouragement can provide.

Scripture to Claim:
So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.  Romans 14:19 ESV

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Lesson of the Geese continued

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
I Thessalonians 5:11

Lesson 2: Share the Lead
The formation of geese might seem disturbed from time to time, but that is by design, in that they are relieving the lead goose. Because the lead goose has no other goose to break-up the wind current or cut through the air or provide that “uplift,” he must work harder than the other geese.  So as the lead goose gets tired, the other geese take their turns in the lead goose position.

As a church, the pastor is the Lead Goose most of the time, but if we expect him to lead in every ministry and at every function and with every project, he will wear out and our overall performance as a church will suffer.  The same is true for some individuals in the church that we lean on for too much!  The pastor and other leaders need to have sufficient time to prioritize and minister to those who need it most at that particular time.  A private conversation with these persons might reveal a task that must be done repeatedly, that others could do just as well, freeing them from getting burned out.

As we apply this “shared leadership” lesson, learned from the geese, let’s think of each ministry within the Church, as a smaller flock of geese.  Whether we are speaking of the choir, a youth group, a Sunday school class, a women’s group, a men’s group, or any other ministry or committee within the Church; if we expect the leader or head of that group to perform alone, without our support and help, their efficiency will suffer.  Many times, we will shy away from leadership because it might include being the spokesman for that particular group.  But shared leadership doesn’t necessarily mean total replacement.  Volunteering to arrive early and set-up the room or staying late and helping to clean-up can be a tremendous relief to the leader of a group.  As concerned Christians, Servants of Christ, and members of our local church, we should take our turn being the lead goose.  

Lesson 3: Care for the Weak or Wounded
When one goose becomes sick or injured, two more geese fall out of formation and follow the sick or injured goose to the ground.  These other two geese will nurture, feed and protect the sick one until it is able to fly, or it dies.  Then the two or three geese will either hurry to catch up with the original flock or join another flock heading in the same direction, until they reach their destination, then join with their original flock.  Can we learn a lesson from this action?  When a Church member falls out of formation for any physical, spirtiual or emotional reason, do we go help nurture them back to health until they can rejoin the original group? Galatians 6:1 says, “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.” Romans 15: 1-2 says, “We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification.”

We need to do exactly what the geese do in caring for our brother or sister in Christ who needs help. Remember that because of what we have been through in our lives, sometimes we can help others get through similar tough times. 

Christ lifts us up as well.  Where we are weak, He is strong.  He never intended for us to make it alone.  Take this lesson from the geese to heart, look around and pay attention to others, see their need and help them. 

Scripture to Claim:
Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.  Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

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