River Touch Your World **** preaching notes from today

 

A couple of weeks ago our SAS team went and spent some time up at Point View Reserve overlooking the city and spending some time with God one on one. They all had a specific assignment to do but I was free.

Free to stop and city watch.

I found a spot under a ginormous tree and cast my eyes over our city.

As I looked down I could see one house in the distance surrounded by emergency vehicles. I could see the lights flashing.

My heart did a double take. Someone in that house was having an emergency!

I don’t know what it was but it could of being anything. Perhaps a child had a fall and broke their arm. Perhaps an elderly person had a heart attack. Perhaps someone had gone into anaphylactic shock (okay, only an allergy geek would think that). Perhaps someone had broken into their house, or there was a home invasion, or a kitchen fire, or a cat up a tree. I don’t know, but the point is. There was an emergency happening, to real people in that house.

I didn’t know who they were but God did.

It made me aware afresh of the importance of touching our world.

I had a new vantage point and awareness that each house represented a person, a family, someone that needed to know God.

It made the mission really big, and really personal. They were no longer just houses intangible statistics… they were people.

God has orchestrated it that we are the delivery agents of the good news. Now if I was God I would have done it differently. I would have picked a reliable messenger service. Like angels. Or sky writing rainbows.

But God has entrusted us with the mission to reach out to those around us and to tell them about His reality, His grace, His love, His hope. He says “tag you’re it… you’re the light of the world.” Touch the person beside you and say “tag you’re it!”

His design is that He touches the world THROUGH us.

"You’re the team of God; the best He’s got. And He believes He has a winning team."

 

I’m esp stoked to be here today as our Street Outreach Team are out there, in our community today, knocking on the doors of those house, praying with people and talking to people about how good and real God is.

Last time we were out, you may have heard this, but it’s a but wait there’s more story, we met a young mother, with a newborn, who opened the door in her pjs. She apologised for her state and then burst into tears after we introduced ourselves and said why we were there. She had been up since 5am with a screaming baby and felt so overwhelmed and had been praying “God do you see me? Where are you God?” knock knock knock. Her family had all gone to church and she was feeling alone and vulnerable and incredibly overwhelmed. God had seen and was with her and equally impressive sent the only mother in our SOT (me) to knock on her door and pray with her, give her a big hug, and encourage her. Here’s the but wait there’s more part – we thought that was amazing enough – and like many of our conversations with strangers – we pray and walk away, leaving it up to God to heal and God to work in their life, often not meeting them again. Anyway last week I popped down to Mainly Music to say hi to the team and some of the mums I know from there and there she was. The pj lady. She hugged me so tight and began to tell Gail and I how that one conversation and prayer had changed her life. How she knew God was with her and how she had then being telling all her friends about what had happened and had begun to reach out to her new neighbours to invite them to church.

One conversation turned into a ripple that is affecting the world that SHE is in. Us touching her world is touching other peoples world.

Awesome eh.

 

Cool, lets turn our bibles, or flick on our devices…. To 2 Kings 7:3-11

Now there were four men with leprosy at the entrance of the city gate. They said to each other, ‘Why stay here until we die? If we say, “We’ll go into the city”– the famine is there, and we will die. And if we stay here, we will die. So let’s go over to the camp of the Arameans and surrender. If they spare us, we live; if they kill us, then we die.’

At dusk they got up and went to the camp of the Arameans. When they reached the edge of the camp, no one was there, for the Lord had caused the Arameans to hear the sound of chariots and horses and a great army, so that they said to one another, ‘Look, the king of Israel has hired the Hittite and Egyptian kings to attack us!’ So they got up and fled in the dusk and abandoned their tents and their horses and donkeys. They left the camp as it was and ran for their lives.

The men who had leprosy reached the edge of the camp, entered one of the tents and ate and drank. Then they took silver, gold and clothes, and went off and hid them. They returned and entered another tent and took some things from it and hid them also.

Then they said to each other, ‘What we’re doing is not right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves. If we wait until daylight, punishment will overtake us. Let’s go at once and report this to the royal palace.’

So they went and called out to the city gatekeepers and told them, ‘We went into the Aramean camp and no one was there – not a sound of anyone – only tethered horses and donkeys, and the tents left just as they were.’ The gatekeepers shouted the news, and it was reported within the palace.

 

What you may notice here is 2 things.

1. The lepers experienced the feast

2. They then went and told those in famine about the feast

The lepers were in a town under siege and suffering the affects of a long campaign. There was no food. It was a no win situation. So they made a bold radical choice. To leave the city and throw themselves on the mercy of the Arameans in hope that they had some food and a good bill of rights for prisoners.

When they arrived in the tent city they discovered it abandoned. God had turned up and defeated their enemies. And then they found the food. And the gold. And the clothing. And the everything. And then they ate the food. And then they remembered… their friends. Their family. Starving children. Hopelessness. Back in the city there were others who needed food too.

They said: This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves.

This is a day of good news. Our enemies are defeated and gone and we have food!

The same thing works with us right here right now.

We experience the feast – experience salvation – experience grace – experience His goodness and greatness and then we go and tell others about our experience. We experience God bringing us into a family, into new understanding of purpose and love and eternity. We experience being able to be connected intimately to the Creator of the Universe, the One who breathed out the stars and spoke and there was light.

What you experience as real and good in your life you will broadcast to others.

This is the day of good news!

 

Seth Godin, a marketing guru says that people like that are sneezers – they catch onto a new thing really fast but more importantly they let everyone in their world know – they’re like an infectious bug that is then sneezed into everyone in the room so before you know it, you’re all sick. The aim of marketing is to get the sneezers excited about a product/service so that they’ll ah ah ah achooo it out into the world.

When there is a great sale on at the mall, or a new burger joint opening down the road, or a new movie opening or you’ve just had your hair cut by the most amazing hairdresser ever – don’t you tell everyone? We naturally sneeze what we’re into to the people in our lives.

You’re called to be a sneezer for Jesus. To experience all that He has to offer and then to sneeze it out into the world around you and infect the people in your life, in a good way.

People without God are in famine.

However good their life is, however much they have it together. They’re in famine.

They are headed for an eternity without God. When they die and come face to face to God they will not be welcomed but will face punishment.

They need YOU to tell them.

 

But sometimes one of the thing that holds us back from telling others about God is we don’t know what we are meant to say.

What is it that we are telling other people?

What is this message of good news we are to touch the world with?

 

The gospel declares that we are more sinful than we could even imagine, but more loved and accepted than we could ever dare hope.

We are like those lepers. Diseased with an incurable illness that ostracises us from community, and eternally from God. We are dying and destroying ourselves.

God created us and offered his love. Deceived, we rebelled and chose substitutes. Jesus came to rescue and bring us back to God.

Then God’s Son, Jesus Christ, gave himself up, died on the cross for our punishment, removing our sins as far as the east is from the west, ripped the curtain that separated us from God wide open, and welcomed us to sit at a table and feast with the King of the Universe.

The good news is that though we deserve punishment – Jesus has paid for that.

Jesus removes guilt. He exchanges His rap sheet of perfection for our rap sheet of rebellion.

Jesus gives real answers to real problems in peoples real lives. He’s not about motivational quotes or she’ll be right mate. He really heals. He really sets people free. He really changes their lives. He really gives peace.

Ecclesiastes 3 says that God has placed eternity in the hearts of all men, all people.

That means until people find God – they are lost. And they will know it. They may put on a brave front but they will be trying to replace God with other things. They will be trying to find satisfaction by other means. They will be trying to ease that ache by other remedies.

But Jesus is The Answer. Capital T, capital A. The Answer.

He said, I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but through me.

 

Here’s some really more good news for us to feast on:

Who you really are has nothing to do with you — how much you can accomplish, who you can become, your behaviour (good or bad), your strengths, your weaknesses, your past, your present, your future, your family background, your education, your looks. Your identity is firmly anchored in Jesus’ accomplishment, not yours; his strength, not yours; his performance, not yours; his victory, not yours. TULLIAN TCHIVIDJIAN

 

There is a whole world out there that need hope and the good news. That we know and we experience.

This is a day of good news. Are we keeping it to ourselves? I don’t want to be like the lepers, sitting on pillows enjoying my private feast when there is a public out there who are starving to an eternal death without His salvation.

 

So HOW then do we tell people?

Francis of Assisi said preach the gospel at all times and if necessary use words.

That’s a great quote. To me it says 2 things:

  1. Live your way in such a way that it will demonstrate God to those around you. Live in such a way that people will see the light coming from your life. Why do you have peace? Why are you so happy? Why are you smiling? Why are you coping? Let your life be a billboard. Preach the gospel at all times, in all you do, in every way, in every action. It all counts.
  1. And use words. Words ARE necessary.

Why are words necessary? Because there are nice people out there in the world who are happy, peaceful and who smile but who are lost. At the end of the day their happiness, peace and smile will not win them credit with God.

How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? Romans 10:14

What people need is not another way to feel good about themselves but they need the life giving message that the gospel provides. They need to know the truth about eternity and about the options before them. They need to know that Jesus is real and that He is the Saviour. That what seems incurable to them is curable by Jesus.

They need to know that God loves them and welcomes them into His family if they believe that Jesus is the Lord and Saviour.

They need to hear and then believe.

Using your words can happen in a number of ways. It’s important that you find your rhythm, your way of expressing yourself and your way of connecting.

 

Before I get onto the 3 easy ways to connect and communicate with those in your world there is one point that the other 3 hang on.

Revival begins in me.

To go out and connect and communicate to those in our horizontal sphere of influence we must first have a strong alive connection and communication on a vertical plane. You must have revival in your own heart. You must know the love and grace of God. When you experience that – the feast of God – encountering Him – it no longer is an obligation to talk to people about Jesus but it just naturally happens. The key is to experience the feast. If we are going to go into a world that is in famine, we must know the feast in our real lives first. It’s not just real in Peters life, or Caleb’s life… but its real in MY life, in your life.

 

So moving onto the 3 easy ways to begin to connect and communicate with those in your world:

1. Be open and available:

You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven. —Matthew 5:14-16 (MSG)

When asked about your weekend – drop in you went to church. It then establishes that awareness that you’re a Christian. Don’t hide your light.

It may spin into a conversation about their own history with church and the questions they have about God. When we were out on the SOT last time Sam and I had a great conversation with a young dad about his experience with growing up in a traditional denomination. I could relate because I grew up going to the catholic mass with my mum and we bonded over the “yeah how boring and irrelevant was that?” type stuff and then I moved it onto how different I found church now, how meaningful, how relevant etc.

You never know the affect that you putting yourself out there will have on other people. Like I said people are lost and they want to be found. God has uniquely positioned you in your world to demonstrate His grace and reality. Conversations can come out of nowhere when you are consistently shinning your light and being intentionally open about spiritual things. Every Thursday Evangeline and I go to ballet. Evangeline does the ballet, I enjoy the air conditioned comfort of the studio and usually read or catch up on facebook. Over the past 6 months though I have been having this amazing ongoing conversation with another mum there. And it came out of left field. We went from small talk to – hey I need to talk about God with someone, can I talk to you about God? Seriously. Unexpected surprising things can happen when you put your hand up to be used by God. If you say YES to Him He will take you up on your offer!

“When you look at your everyday circumstances though the lens of God’s perspective, everything changes. You come to realize that God uses each circumstance, each person who crosses your path, and each encounter you have with Him as a divine appointment. Each day counts, and every action and reaction matters. God absolutely loves to take ordinary people and do extraordinary things in them, through them, and with them.”  Lysa Terkeurst

 

2. Step out and let God step in

When someone says they’re sick don’t say ohhh that’s no good, poor you… ask to pray for them. Now I don’t do this every time but I try to challenge myself to just do it. I step out and let God step in. I cant heal, but God can. I regularly pray for check out people because of this mini rule I have for myself. Only a few weeks ago I was out at pac n save with my kids and the check out lady told me she had a headache. Mini rule went PING in my head. Head went, um no thank you not today. She again said man I have such a bad headache. PING. No thank you not today. A third and fourth time she told me how bad she was feeling. PING OKAY GOD I GET IT! Introduced myself, hi my name is Claire, I’m a Christian and I believe God is real and that He does real things like heal people. Would you like me to pray for you? Response – oh yes please wow oh yes oh wow… we walked out of the shop and my kids were like WOW that was awesome!

 

3. Practice makes perfect

Okay so we don’t have to be perfect – honestly. But practicing does help. It helps develop a confidence, not only in yourself, but more importantly with God. When you have seen Him do cool things through your conversations and your prayers, you’re so much more keen to do it again.

It’s like this crazy thing I did last week. I went running. I know, crazy. With SAS we’ve this term being looking at being physically “improved” might be the best word so to make sure that I didn’t die in front of these 20 somethings at the start of the year I got a headstart and started getting up early and working out. Once a week we do cross training – not with the cross of Jesus – but press ups and squats and running. It’s been fun. Seriously, fun. So anyway, one day last week, I just had a crazy thought. Moment of insanity. Why don’t I go for a run? So I did. Donned my running shoes and gear and headed out. And I didn’t die. So I was like, hmmm could I do it again? And the next day. Practicing makes it easier. I died far later on the run the third time again. My legs didn’t seize up from the shock of this new behaviour. And I knew I could stretch myself. Same thing with talking to people about God. Practicing puts those evangelistic muscles into action. And as you work them out more, they get stronger and more adept at flexing. It may feel unnatural at first, like running for me, but we are CREATED for this purpose. And we are anointed for this purpose.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10 Or run in them as the case may be.

 

4 ways to counter the fear

I’m not a very complicated person so I have 4 ways to counter the fear that stops us connecting and communicating the good news to people – to counter the self talk that says “im not an extravert, I’m not an evangelist, I cant do this:

  1. I remind myself of the call. I am created and anointed to do this.
  2. I remind myself of the conquest. I don’t let the devil tell me what I can and cannot do. I don’t let my flesh tell me what I can and cannot do.
  3. I remind myself of the cost. Jesus has paid for their salvation
  4. I remind myself of what could happen. It works. People get saved. Seeds get sown. So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
    It shall not return to Me void,
    But it shall accomplish what I please,
    And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:11

 

And then I just do it. I fight past any obstacle and I just do it. And like with the running, the more I practice the more natural it becomes.

The lepers went back to their city and told the people about the feasting and victory. They went back to their city and told the people that the enemy was defeated and gone. They went back and told them that right behind those walls there was a feast ready for them.

 

Remember. Experience God for yourself first. Feast first. Have a real relationship with Him. Out of that the rest will flow. Know God and make Him known. When you know how amazing and good God is you will want everyone else to know too, you’ll want to sneeze and tell people!

You are called to feast and then to tell those in famine about what you have found and experienced. Those in famine need to know the message you carry.

To wrap up, please stand. I’d like us all to imagine that we’re on a hill, like point view reserve, like one tree hill… overlooking our city, our community.

God we ask that you will give us a fresh vantage point to understand your call, the cost and the prize. We thank you for the incredible privilege it is to communicate Your good news to those around us. We ask that You would fill us with Your love and grace and power to step out and be brave to speak to those in our lives. We ask that this week you would open doors and open hearts that we would be able to share the amazing things that You’re doing in our lives, the feast, to those that are in famine and need to know You are real and that You love them and have the power to rescue them for now and all eternity.

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