Ask God to interrupt you. #sentencesermons

 

shhh .jpgThe scripture says, in this world you will be persecuted. You will have trouble. You will look like a fool. People will make fun of you. They will question your actions. They might call you names.

The encouraging thing in these words in Luke is that God intends the persecution and imprisonments to be a strategic opportunity for witness to the truth of the gospel. Luke 21:13—”This will be a time for you to bear testimony.”

When this happens. You have 2 options. You can quit, shut up, drop out. You can blend in. You can decide never to get your hands dirty for Jesus again. You can quietly live your life as closet follower of God.

OR…or you could allow God to restore you. You could ask him to help you in your time or persecution. You could use it as a place of strength. You could use it as a platform to motivate you.

Paul was one of the greatest evangelists and apostles EVER. So much of Paul’s successes weren’t in his plan at all. But they were in God’s plan.

God is the master evangelistic planner. What He wants is people who wear the shoes of readiness to move with the gospel (Ephesians 6:15).

The armor of God there is the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, the sword of the spirit and there is the shoes fitted with the gospel of peace.

This means your feet are always ready to move where God wants to take you. Your hands are always ready to get dirty when you get there. Once we are moving with a heart for lost people, there will be many interruptions and surprises—but none of them without purpose.

Its been said that 80 percent of Jesus ministry was interruption. It was people who came up to him, Jesus was just ready all the time. He was prepared for it. Are you? Ask God to interrupt you.

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Jesus calls us to get our hands dirty. #sentencesermons

jesse-orrico-184803.jpgIn John 9, Jesus met a blind man from birth. He had never seen anything his entire life. After talking to the man and his parents for a few min, he spit on the ground and made some mud. He smeared the mud on the guys eyes. Then he told him to go wash it off in a certain pool. And he could see!!!!

Getting dirty is expected as a follower of Jesus. In fact, Matthew 23:11 says: The greatest among you will be a servant. Mark 9:35 Jesus is talking and He says anyone who wants to be first, must be last.

Jesus was dangerous. He took risks that no one else was willing to take. He was not content sitting and watching. He was not impressed with just talking. Jesus got involved. He sacrificed safety. Jesus would rather die than “sorta live.”

In Luke 5, Jesus is traveling through a town and a guy with leprosy approaches him. Leprosy is really contagious and really awful. Its like chicken pox times a million. The man says, Jesus if you’re willing, touch me so I can be healed. Jesus wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. He touched the man and that man was healed.

When we decide to put someone else’s needs above our own, it can be a risky decision. It may take you places and introduce you to people you would have never expected to help and sometimes these people are unpredictable.

When Jesus looked into the future and predicted what would happen to His disciples, He said something very dangerous/scary, but also very encouraging.

He said (in Luke 21:12–13),
“They will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. This will be a time for you to bear testimony.”

The scary thing here is the fact that, even though the cause of Christ will eventually win, in the short run following Jesus will definitely mean trouble. Following Jesus, getting your hands dirty, will mean you will be rejected sometimes. You might be persecuted sometimes. When you follow Christ, you will have moments of time that things will appear very difficult and very hard. It is not all sushi and sunsets. But press on, victory is coming.

Our role in expanding God’s kingdom isn’t insignificant, it’s imperative.#sentencesermons

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In 1855 in Boston, Mass there was a Sunday school teacher by the name of Mr. Kimball.  Mr. Kimball knew of and had set his heart on winning a young 18 year old boy for Christ. After praying about the matter, he arranged to visit him at the boot store where he worked as a salesman.

Kimball says “I was determined to speak to him about Christ and about his soul, and started down to Holton’s boot store. When I was nearly there I began to wonder whether I ought to go in just then during business hours. I thought my call might embarrass the boy, and that when I went away the other clerks would ask who I was, and taunt him with my efforts in trying to make him a good boy. In the meantime I had passed the store, and, discovering this, I determined to make a dash for it, and have it over at once. I found him in the back part of the building wrapping up shoes.

I went up to him at once, and putting my hand on his shoulder, I made what I felt afterwards was a very weak plea for Christ. I don’t know just what words I used, nor could the boy tell. I simply told him of Christ’s love for him, and the love Christ wanted in return. That was all there was. It seemed the young man was just ready for the light that then broke upon him, and there in the back of that store in Boston, in 1855 D. L. Moody gave himself and his life to Christ.”

DL Moody became one of the greatest evangelist in the history of the church and starting one of the greatest missions movements ever.

One act in one moment by an average Sunday school teacher,in a boot store, in Boston changed the eternal fate for probably millions of people today.

You are serving God because someone told you about God’s love. And someone told you because someone told them. Our role in expanding God’s kingdom isn’t insignificant, it’s imperative.

Because one action, in one moment, by you, changes eternity for hundreds upon hundreds or thousands upon thousands of people. We may never know as the moment happens how the will affect all eternity. But the potential is without boundaries!

When we criticize and judge people for making poor choices or not understanding the ways of God, we are not being like Jesus. #sentencesermons

 

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In Matthew 9 this was written about Jesus “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”

Lostness moved Jesus to distress, even tears. When we criticize and judge people for making bad choices or not understanding the ways of God, we are not being like Jesus.

Jesus wept over his children being lost, more than once in the scripture. In Romans 9 Paul says the same thing, He is in anguish over the lost people. It’s as if the heart of Christ were dwelling in Paul. Paul got so close to God that he was infected by His passion for dying, lost souls. And when that happens we will be transformed in every way, all our human relationships will be turned around, our love for our family, and for strangers.

Jesus deeply cared for individuals. Luke 23 tells of His brief yet significant encounter with the thief on the cross (vv. 40-43). Before committing Himself to God, Christ rescued him from eternal hell. So in the final moments of Jesus’ life, he’s hanging on a cross, in horrific pain, he is STILL loving people so much, He is still seizing every single opportunity He can. His heart grieved over the souls of lost men and women.

I think one of the biggest hindrances in sharing our faith is just simply our selves. We have to want to share our faith or we just won’t.

The reality is this, if we do not pursue the mission for which God made us, we will find a substitute. We were created for purpose, we cannot live in the absence of purpose. If we don’t live our God assigned mission, we will live what might be called a shadow mission.

Just as we all have a mission, a way of contributing to Gods kingdom that we alone are designed and gifted for, we also have a shadow mission. My shadow mission is what I will do with my life if I drift on autopilot. If I quit saying yes to God. If I quit making decisions and just learn to be helpless. If I never want it.

It consists of the activities toward which I will gravitate if I allow my natural temptations and selfishness to take over. If I get paralyzed in fear and just give up fighting to stay spiritually fit.

What’s yours? What would be your autopilot, if you lived your every moment for yourself?

Today take a step to fight against your shadow mission and live out the purpose God has for your life.

Practice changing the way you think about people. #sentencesermons

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We don’t have to convince people of the truth of the gospel; that’s God’s job. Our job is to genuinely love the people in our lives and share the experiences of life with them. One of those life experiences is our faith, so it should be a natural part of our relationships to share that with them as well.

Even the term “share our faith” describes the process. We’re not trying to force something on people that they don’t want; we’re sharing something that has changed our lives.

If I go to a restaurant and order a dessert that turns out to be amazing, I offer a bite to everyone at the table. I don’t force it on them but when they see my reaction, they generally want a taste. If it was positive, they’ll think about it for awhile, and they might decide to order it themselves on a future visit.

This is like our faith. Jesus is the best thing that ever happened to any of us! We can’t help but share that with the people we love.

If you struggle with sharing you faith in Christ because of fear, the solution for that is found in 1 John 4:18-19, “But perfect love drives out fear…” God is perfect love. Ask God to increase your love for people so that you care more about their eternal destiny more than your own comfort. Practice changing the way you think about people.

For a solid year of my life I prayed….God help me have a deep love for people and a deep conviction of sin. God began to show me how He viewed people. It was different than how I viewed them. Give it a try this week.

The Gospel provides hope for our paralytic moments. #sentencesermons

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Mark 2:1-12

1A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. 2So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. 3Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. 4Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. 5When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
6Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7″Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
8Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? 9Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? 10But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins . . . .” He said to the paralytic, 11″I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 12He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”

Jesus is teaching in Capernum, probably at Simon Peters house, and the crowds are massive. There is literally no way to approach Christ with this man that was crippled. The circumstances seemed impossible…until the Choleric in the group thought of the perfect answer. The roof!

So they lower him down and Jesus, seeing the faith of his friends, says your sins are forgiven. I can only imagine the jaws on the faces of the four friends. They were amazed at what Jesus did but I bet they were thinking: that’s good and all but we really wanted to see him walk!

 So then Jesus says, not only am I going to forgive you but I’m going to heal you too! The dude gets up and everybody praises God.

These are some good friends. They carried this paralytic, they shimmied on the roof for this guy, they loved him. If it weren’t for them, the paralytic would be hopeless.

Have you ever felt like that? Like the paralytic. Hopeless? Like you wish someone, somewhere would just help you out of the situation you’re in.

The four friends were desperate for their paralytic friend to come to Christ for healing. They understood that to get their friend help from Christ, they had to overcome several obstacles and act in the moment. It wouldn’t be easy. It would take time, energy, effort but they knew the outcome before they ever got there.

2 Cor 5:20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

Sharing our faith, being on a mission, stretching those muscles spiritually shouldn’t be out of obligation or guilt or to fulfill some sort of requirement for religion. It’s because God loves people and is deeply interested in them.

The reason the gospel is called the Good News is that it provides hope for us. Hope for the paralytic moments. As Christians, we’re no better than anybody else, we’ve just discovered that Good News and have experienced God’s love and forgiveness. He has given us the privilege of helping others experience it too.

When the whole world is falling in on you, you’re not alone. #sentencesermons

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The King is coming. We don’t know how or when or even what that will look like but “we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).

So here we are, if you are Christ follower, with this knowledge and understanding of what’s at stake. Here we are in this trivial world, for a maximum 100 years in view of eternity. With all this money and stuff that isn’t really ours anyway.

We get one chance, we get one crack. We are headed for the world championship, the game of all time. No re do’s. We have one today. We have one tomorrow. I take that back, we don’t even know if we have tomorrow.

Before we crack under the pressure, God isn’t asking us to fill up stadiums with people and yell at them until they understand eternity. He isn’t asking you to take a megaphone and scream the gospel on the corner.

He’s asking you to love the people He brings in your life. To love them on purpose. To love them with the great, deep, merciful love that God himself has loved you with.

To tell people that there is hope for the hopeless, and as the song by Third Day goes: 
There is rest for the weary.
There is mercy, there’s healing.
There’s grace, there’s forgiveness.
There’s love for a broken heart.
There’s strength to break addictions.
When the whole world is falling in on you, you’re not alone.

A Christ follower has the best message of all time. A life filled with purpose and significance. A life guaranteed to end in victory. Don’t keep it to yourself.

Everything here on earth has an end. #sentencesermons

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Someday we will cease to exist on this planet and we will be somewhere forever. That’s hard to understand, even scary a bit. It’s a concept that is not in our grasp. Everything here on earth, that we know, has an end. Everything. We can’t compare eternity to anything that we understand.

I once heard it like this. Imagine a bird taking one grain of sand from the beach and flying it to the moon. Then that bird coming back and taking one more grain of sand, and off to the moon. Until the earth is empty of sand. That would take a long time, and eternity is even longer that.

We don’t know a lot about eternity. But here’s what we know:
There are two places to spend eternity. Heaven with Jesus or Hell without Him.

The Bible says someday the trumpet will sound, and, with all His hosts, the Son of Man shall descend from heaven in trailing clouds of splendor.

In Heaven the streets might be paved with gold, possibly. At least it will be such a stark contrast to earth, it will seem like they are paved with gold.

In heaven we won’t be bored. God designed us to be co-laborers with Him and we will in some way continue to reflect his glory.

In heaven we won’t be married. Sorry folks. We will be married to Christ, our bride. Heaven is a place of gain, not loss. So its safe to say our relationships with loved ones will be better than ever.

In heaven, we will probably eat. Revelation 19:9 talks about the marriage supper of the lamb. The food will be goooood.

In heaven, there will be music.

In heaven, there will be no tears, no sorrow, God will wipe every tear from our eye.

Jesus’ most common word for hell was not the Greek word Hades or the Hebrew word Sheol, but the word Jesus used the most to describe hell was Gehenna.

Gehenna means literally, the Valley of Hinnom, which was a burning garbage dump outside Jerusalem’s southeast wall.

The image is vivid: hell is the place where God sends that in his creation which refuses to be redeemed. He does this not with joy but with sorrow over those who could have been saved but chose themselves to be lost. What you believe about the truth does matter.
Hell is a place of physical pain, mental agony and emotional sorrow.

Revelation 20 describes it as a bottomless pit. Every moment of uncertainty. Constant fear.

I don’t think about eternity a lot. Maybe you do, maybe you don’t. One common thing we will all face is death and our eternity. It may be too soon, too tragic, or it may be after 80 or 100 years of being on earth, but we will face it.

We don’t know a lot about heaven or hell really. But the most important question we can ask, we know the answer to and that is…how do we get our eternity assignment?

How do we avoid fear, physical pain, mental agony and engage in the glory of heaven.

Revelation 22:17 says “Let him who is thirsty come, let him who desires take the water of life without price” It’s free. Faith is the act of taking.

It sounds crazy, too good to be true. But it makes perfect sense. For God is love. Love gives gifts, gives itself. God gives himself, his own life, membership in his family.

Jesus says in John.. I am the way, the truth, the life. Whoever wants to come to the Father, must come through me.

Falling in love is more of an art, than a science. #sentencesermons

 

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Quick..What are the three easy steps to fall in love?

Maybe some of you experts out there have these down pat. But if you ask me, it’s not exactly a scientific process. Falling love is more of an art, than a science.

My proposition to you is that maybe becoming a Christian looks more like falling in love than anything else. I’m not suggesting we develop a “crush” on Jesus. Only bringing to your attention that it’s not a recipe but an understanding piece by piece. A process. A journey.

We have been taught many things about how to explain our view on Christ to others. And a lot of those tools are awesome and have worked amazingly. We have seen tracts that spell out the three simple steps to ask Jesus in your heart. We’ve seen the bridge picture where you draw God on one side and you on the other.

In a culture like ours that worships science, unless we can chart something, it doesn’t exist. You can’t chart relationships. How many people have walked away from faith because their systematic theology proved unable to answer the deep longings and questions of the soul?

If you think about it a person has more difficult time explaining romantic love, or beauty, or the Trinity, than the gospel of Jesus. Our reduction of these ideas has caused us to miss something. Reducing these ideas makes us see the gospel as a list of true statements with which a person must agree.

There are 3 dominant metaphors describing our relationship to Christ in the scripture:
-sheep to a shepherd
-child to a father
-bride to a bridegroom

All of these suggest a real, true, meaningful relationship. Sheep are guided, loved, taken care of and saved from pits and mountains and crags and rocks. Shepherds chase their sheep across the country side. Children are their father’s most valuable possession. Just ask Joel. They love and discipline and provide. Brides are completely devoted, committed and selflessly giving to their bridegroom. They are loved and adored and beautiful in their groom’s sight.

None of these relationships suggest or boil down our coming to know Christ into three easy steps.

Matthew 9:14-15 Then Johns disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples don’t fast?” Jesus answered” How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.”

Jesus takes the spiritual disciplines the steps and actions religious folks had come to understand as sort of spiritual checklist, and explains to them that it’s not about that. It’s about us being deeply connected to a relational exchange. We fast because we mourn the absence of Christ.

Christ repeatedly called for people to come to Him in faith:
“I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” (John 6:35);
“I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12);
“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep” (John 10:11).

He is constantly proclaiming a message of salvation through a relational connection.

Not only did Jesus publicly tell and invite people to accept him, He also did it personally, with His close personal relationships.

Jesus brought Philip (John 1:43), Matthew (Matt. 9:9), Peter, and Andrew (Matt. 4:18-19) to faith with the call, “Follow Me.”
In John 4 He met a woman at a well and brought her to salvation.
In Luke 19 He found Zaccheus, a tax collector, whom He led to a confession of sin, repentance, and faith.
In John 3 He taught Nicodemus about the new birth.
In Mark 10 He led blind Bartimaeus to believe in Him.
And in Mark 5 Jesus met a demon-possessed man. Jesus sent the demons into a herd of swine, which hurried into the sea and drowned. The man wanted to go with Jesus, but the Lord wanted him to stay as His witness.

 

(Some of this awesome info credited to the great author Donald Miller)