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My eyes fail from weeping,
I am in torment within;
my heart is poured out on the ground
because my people are destroyed,
because children and infants faint
in the streets of the city.  Lamentations 2:11

 

 

i was moved by this verse last night… wow it gripped my heart and stirred me to pray… my heart is poured out because children and infants faint from hunger in the streets… people destroyed, people lost, they need truth and life that only Jesus can give…  they need salvation and hope. 

 

 

This I recall to my mind,
Therefore I have hope.
Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I hope in Him!”  Lamentations 3:21-24

 

i will pray and i will remember and i will have hope because God is great and good.  His salvation is real and powerful.  His compassion fails not.  He is merciful.   Great is His faithfulness.  I will have hope in Him, hope in His mercy, hope in His salvation.  This is why i pray, this is why i seek Him, this is why i pour my life out.

 

Stir my heart to pray, O Lord.

Holy Spirit, renew a passion in me for the lost.

Draw me closer, that i may shine for you.

Thank you for your grace, your new mercy, your everlasting love.

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Now the tax collectors and “sinners” were all gathering around to hear him.  Luke 15:1

 

its interesting (to me, cos i’m a geek about these things) that it is in THIS context that Jesus the following series of parables:

the lost sheep

the lost coin

the lost son

 

the Pharisees couldn’t understand, and judged Jesus for the company He kept.

but Jesus was all about the lost.

He gave His life for the lost, to redeem them, to find them.

i can only imagine what the sinners thought… what went through THEIR mind as they heard the parables.

no longer rejected and no longer alone, no longer lost. 

but the possibility of being found, of being loved, of being accepted.

 

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Romans 5:6-8

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions— it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith— and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no-one can boast. Ephesians 2:4-9

And God was pleased for him to make peace by sacrificing his blood on the cross, so that all beings in heaven and on earth would be brought back to God. You used to be far from God. Your thoughts made you his enemies, and you did evil things. But his Son became a human and died. So God made peace with you, and now he lets you stand in his presence as people who are holy and faultless and innocent.  Colossians 1:19-22

 

 

the good news is that Jesus accepts the lost and the broken and the rebellious

the good news is that the Father is watching and waiting for us to turn to Him, He is actively engaged in drawing us to Him by the power and revelation of the Holy Spirit

the good news is that there is nothing that will keep us away from His love, that we can never run too far or be too lost

even in the lowest and the darkest we can turn to Him and find forgiveness, grace and hope and love and mercy

The rude nude dude was delivered and saved and then sent by Jesus to his friends and family and he went and he told them what great things the Lord has done for him, and how He has had compassion on him.

Evangelism begins within us – when we have a desire to know God and make him known.  God doesn’t want anyone to miss out on his wonderful kindness.

“People were Jesus One Thing.   And they still are.  People who are sick.  People who are lonely.  People who are wandering, depressed and hopeless.  People who have gotten themselves tangled up in suffocating habits and destructive relationships.”  Bill Hybels from Just Walk Across The Room

The challenge is to say YES to the heart of God.  To go and be like the nude rude dude AFTER he met Jesus….  Go and tell the great things that God has done for you and how he loves you and is real and has rescued you.  Get out there and shine.  Go share your story and be a history maker!

In a moment we’re going to come and the front and worship God but I want to make a space available up the front here for you to respond to God.

If you want to come and say YES God use me, YES God empower me, YES God stir my heart with your fire and passion for the lost, then I want you come right up the front here.

God will come and inspire us and ignite in us HIS purpose and passion.  He equips and empowers.  It all begins with us saying YES.

additional notes to message i am preaching tonight…  to read the whole message on proclaiming christ go HERE

“People were Jesus One Thing.   and they still are.  people who are sick.  people who are lonely.  people who are wandering, depressed and hopeless.  peple who have gotten themselves tangled up in suffocating habbits and destructive realtionships.”  Bill Hybels from Just Walk Across The Room

i love this quote.  i love this about Jesus.  i love how he loves people in the bible.  i love how he loves me.  i love how he saved me. and continues to save me in my life.

jesus doesnt ask us to be perfect when we come to him.  in fact he came to seek and save the lost and continues to do that.  and he uses us to help fulfill that mission.  as he died for us and died for the sins of the whole world to make us all acceptable to God and then he rose again and then asended to heaven – he gave his followers, his believers, his saved ones, the Holy Spirit to dwell within them and empower them to seek and introduce salvation (tell the good news – as it is God who saves, not us) to the lost.

know someone lonely?  know someone broken?  know someone depressed and hopeless?  know someone who smells?  know someone with a drinking problem?  know someone who failed?  know someone hurt?  know someone who needs Jesus?

remember, Jesus gave his life to save them.  they are lost.  Jesus has grace and compassion and love for them.  be part of the process.  plant a seed.  water seeds.  prepare ground.  share Jesus.  share the good news.  share what God has done in your life.

pray and ask Jesus to make his one thing our one thing.

behold the harvest is ripe.  ready.  waiting.  prepared.

pray that the Farmer, the Father, Almighty God, would send out harvesters, evangelists, christians, you and I, into the harvest field.

the harvest field is our family, our friends, our workmates, our school friends, our neighbourhood.  it is people.

sometimes it isnt easy.  sometimes it is hard.

sometimes they might tell us to shut up.  or to not talk to them about spiritual things.  or that they just arent interested in chrsitianity or religion.

sometimes they might laugh at us or tell us that isnt just for them.

thats okay.

you know what.  it isnt our job to prepare the harvest.  our Father who loves those people with an evrlasting love and his Son who stretched his arms our on teh cross to make them acceptable and forgiven is preparing them.  sometimes preparation takes a lifetime.

our job is to speak.  to witness. to share. to  demonstrate.  to love.

Evangelism is like making out… seriously… there are bases – first base, second base etc… and even before all of that there is the courting. so many of us when evangelising our friends and family and strangers want to “go all the way” right away… without taking time to develop relationship, respect etc… without the seed planting and watering… without hte conversation… we must remember evangelism isnt an instant thing in most cases and that we are part of the journey of demonstrating jesus to them and their hearts opening to the truth of salvation…

There are good evangelism practices and then there are “bad ones”. Things that work and things that just put people off…

Evangelism is real life communication and interaction with people.

For myself I think evangelism needs to be a priority – it is reaching out to the lost, people who don’t know God yet… knowing God is for both this life and eternity. The consequences of without God are not pretty.

Evangelism can be done in the context of friendship. It can easily happen there simply because you are sharing your life and who you are… and as Christians that is a pretty vital part of who we are. We can also talk to complete strangers or acquaintances about God. Conversation can happen naturally. They mention they are into horoscopes or astrology they are (to me) obviously into spiritual things, or at least intersted in spirituality…

Evangelism is a bit like being a “travel guide” and we can look at the “definition of evangelism as conversations with people on a spiritual journey”.

DO be yourself

DO look for conversation transitions

DO pray

for opportunities

for God’s heart

for the people you talk with

DO practice and allow for practicing

DO talk – We can witness by osmosis… NOT!

Don’t’s

Don’t worry about what the person thinks about God NOW or what they’ll say

Don’t worry about changing their mind, having all the answers or proving God – it is God that changes hearts!

Don’t worry about saying “I don’t know”

1. Be around non-Christians.

2. Be part of a team effort. No one is solely responsible for leading someone to Christ.

3. Be creative. Focus on the objective of leading people to faith, not on specific methods you’ve been taught. Think outside the box, asking God for creative approaches to building trust in the lives of others.

4. Be patient.

5. Be unique. Nobody can do evangelism the way I do; that’s why God made me different from everyone else.

6. Be available.

7. Be aware of who the real enemy is. It’s not people who dont believe. Those people simply have different backgrounds and beliefs than you do. I need to see them through God’s eyes.

8. Be involved.

9. Be intentional. I’ve found it’s artificial to try to work a presentation of the gospel into every conversation. Instead, we talk about other issues of life, but I drop in just enough comments so people know where I’m coming from:

• “Last Sunday I ran into someone at our church who found where to get a great deal on laptops.”

• “Next week? Yeah, we can get together for coffee. Wednesday night I’m at housegroup, and Thursday we’ve got family coming over. Any other night would be OK.”

• “Yeah, dating can be tough. I found three or four books that really helped us. One was the Bible. Another was…”

Boldness comes from trusting God within you and through you

Mark 13:11 (New King James Version) But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit.

Isaiah 55:10-11 “Rain and snow fall from the sky. But they don’t return without watering the earth that produces seeds to plant and grain to eat. That’s how it is with my words. They don’t return to me without doing everything I send them to do.”

Examples: Street preaching on campus – my words would echo around the building, chasing people… one guy said I always seemed to be there when he was there… came back to God because of it…

Tag preaching on campus – you would have a message semi prepared but find that you are directed along a different tangent…

Tag preaching – heckling…

Boldness comes from knowing you are right!

As I used to preach on campus “10 out of 10 people will die” – and eternity is all about location location location… it doesn’t matter what someone thinks about God NOW the truth IS that God is real and that you DO need to believe in Jesus. There is no other way to God. And avoiding the issue doesn’t make it go away…

example: hide and seek with the kids… just cover their faces and they are hiding…

“Could a mariner sit idle if he heard the drowning cry? Could a doctor sit in comfort and just let his patients die? Could a fireman sit idle, let men burn and give no hand? Can you sit at ease in Zion with the world around you DAMNED?” Leonard Ravenhill

We are right. God is real. Jesus is real. Jesus is the one way to God. People need to know.

Boldness comes from knowing that God empowers you!

Acts 1:8 But the Holy Spirit will come upon you and give you power. Then you will tell everyone about me in Jerusalem, in all Judea, in Samaria, and everywhere in the world.”

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes… Romans 1:16

We have the Holy Spirit all the time – he is not just like lucky socks that we put on for ministry (you know what I mean… I cant because I am not wearing my lucky socks thing) The Holy Spirit does not take control of us like a robot but waits for us to “start it” – and then he empowers THROUGH us. Evangelism is done not with clever arguments or fancy words but with us being obedient and stepping out and God following through. The key word for boldly proclaiming Christ is THROUGH! God THROUGH us!

List of Do’s

DO be yourself

DO look for conversation transitions

DO pray

for opportunities

for God’s heart

for the people you talk with

DO practice and allow for practicing

Don’t’s

Don’t worry about what the person thinks about God NOW or what they’ll say

Don’t worry about changing their mind, having all the answers or proving God – it is God that changes hearts!

“Evangelism is not salesmanship It is not urging people, pressing them, coercing them, overwhelming them, or subduing them. Evangelism is telling a message. Evangelism is reporting good news.” – Richard C. Halverson

I have but one passion: It is He, it is He alone. The world is the field and the field is the world; and henceforth that country shall be my home where I can be most used in winning souls for Christ. — Count Nicolaus Ludwn Zinzendorf

It was a beautiful day for the beach.  Not too hot.  A slight breeze to freshen the air.  A good day indeed.  Nothing to stop her going.  She stood still, for a moment.  Her heart skipped a beat, like it paused, afraid to keep her alive.  Nothing to stop her going.  No one to do anything with.  No family, no children, no husband.   Nothing to hold her back.  Yes, a beautiful day for the beach.

 

Charlene packed her drink, sunscreen, hat, glasses, a book she has half way finished and some snacks into a bag, grabbed her towel and headed off.

 

She considered the alternative.  She could sit at home alone, wishing things were different.  Or she could make today the first new day of her life.  Anything could happen today.  It was a beautiful new day.   Her self help books told her that if she had positive thoughts positive things would happen to her.  But it was all to not real and fairy land she felt.  It didn’t work for her.  

 

On the outside Charlene looked like she had her life together.  She had a good job, was making more than most of her high school class and was even mentioned in her companies magazine as a future leader.  She had long golden hair, usually worn swept up in a pony tail.  Her blue eyes were intelligent, but didn’t sparkle.  On the outside Charlene looked like she had her life together, but on the inside she felt like she was barely holding on.  Loneliness and insecurity threatened to break her apart.   A difficult relationship breakup made her feel fragile and afraid.  She didn’t have it together at all.

 

But today was the first day of new life.  Anything could happen today.

 

She pulled up near the south side of the beach, found a park and then stood surveying the beach.  It was packed.  The rain yesterday must of given everyone cabin fever, and they all wanted to make the most of the beach before summer flitted away.

 

Charlene wasn’t aware that the big group down the end of the beach was a church, celebrating their church picnic.  There were families, kids, parents, couples, young people, old people.  People.  People there not just to picnic but there for a purpose.  To seek the lost and broken.  To bring them to God who would heal their hearts and save their lives.

 

She found a comfortable spot near a bush and lay her towel down.   She opened her book and began to read.  Every now and then she would look up at all the people around her.  She watched some small children enjoying splashing in the waves and couldn’t help smile at their joy and delight, as they squealed as the waves tickled their toes.  She watched an elderly couple walk down the beach hand in hand… ah love she thought.   I’d like that….

 

She had been at the beach for about an hour when a shadow blocked the sunlight from her.  She raised her hand up to her eyes to look up.   Two young women stood there.    Her heart again paused.   Was something wrong?  What was going on?   “Hi” said one of the women.    “Hi” said Charlene in return.  “I’m Tina from The River, it’s a church, and we’re just inviting people along to church tonight, at five, and then we’re having a bbq after.”  The girl handed her an invitation.  Are you ready to encounter God?  That’s what the invitation said, bold as.  A vivid blue eye stared at her.  Challenging her.  God? 

 

Charlene hadn’t thought about God in a long time.  She might recall the words to Jesus loves me from bible in schools when she was about 7, if she tried hard enough.  “Are you interested in God?” asked the girl.  Charlene quickly processed the question.  A thousand questions and answers went through her heart at once.  Yes, I want to know God is real.  I want to know his love.  No, God is just for fairy tale living.  He isn’t real.  If he was real he would…. He would what…. Could he be????

 

It seemed like eternity had passed before she answered the question…  “Um, I don’t know.”  This didn’t phase the girls at all.  Charlene looked at them, from one to another.  On the outside they looked like they had it all together, and she would almost bet that they had it together on the inside too.  There was something indefinable about them…   

 

“Well perhaps you’d like to come along?  Its for young people and probably isn’t like anything you’ve ever thought about church…”

 

“Really?”

 

“Yeah, we really believe that God is really real and that he cares for each one of us and knows us… and wants us to know him… that’s why we’re inviting people along to church tonight, and out here, talking to people.”

 

“Oh okay.  Cool.”

 

Charlene’s heart started to race, accelerate.  She felt funny.  Not bad funny, but something was going on.  Like the world was slowing down or speeding up.  Could God be real?  Could she really know Him?  Did he really know her?

 

“Its totally free, just come along.  We believe that God changes lives, and that everyone needs to know him.   You might be really surprised, in a good way.”

 

“Sure.”

 

Charlene looked down at her book.  At her towel.  At her toes.  All of a sudden she felt exposed.  Naked.  More alone again.   No one she had ever met really believed God was real.  Not like these girls said he was.  Perhaps….    A wind blew softly on her face.  It seemed to whisper to her heart with each breath…. “I AM real Charlene… I do know your name… I AM real Charlene… Come… Come to Me and you will find rest for your heart…”

 

The girls watched as Charlene’s eyes widened.  They could sense God was speaking to her, all around her.  They had prayed for people such as Charlene to hear God and meet with God.  They had prayed that God would reveal himself to the lost and broken in very real and tangible ways.   They had prayed that He would come and He would show Himself true.  And here He was.  And here she was, this young woman before them.   They could sense she had questions and fears and even more questions… but they could sense that she was being drawn by God who loved her with an everlasting love, who loved her so that He sent His son to die so she could come and know Him, for this life and eternity.  Silently, on the inside they prayed.

 

“We’d love you to come tonight.”

“Yeah, yeah, I think I might come.”

“Cool.  We’ll see you there.”

 

And that was that.  The girls left Charlene holding the invitation in her hand.  An invitation to meet with God.   Her heart paused, then rested.   Charlene smiled.  Perhaps this was the first day of a new life….

 

 

“Revival comes from heaven when heroic souls enter the conflict determined to win or die-or if need be, to win and die! “The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.”  Charles Finney

“You have nothing to do but to save souls. Therefore spend and be spent in this work. And go not only to those that need you, but to those that need you most…It is not your business to preach so many times, and to take care of this or that society; but to save as many souls as you can; to bring as many sinners as you possibly can to repentance.”
John Wesley

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Worship Wednesday

1000 Things

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