Tag Archives: Christian walk

Seven People Lying at the Side of the Road

by George Verwer

I have been preaching a lot recently on the story of the Good Samaritan. I believe it’s a fitting message because there are so many people lying at the side of the road today; there are so many who are suffering and need Jesus—both for salvation and for those practical, life-sustaining needs we all have. At the same time, it has been my great joy to see, within Operation Mobilization, a huge shift in recent years towards the marrying of Gospel proclamation with social action.

I have put together a list of “seven people lying at the side of the road.” These Seven People (which I also list on the back of my business card) are:

1  Children at riskChild red hat

AIDS orphans; children on the street; children in slums and garbage dumps; child victims of sex trafficking and domestic abuse; child soldiers: there are so many children in extreme need. If we don’t help them, who will?

2  Abused women

I urge you to read True Grit by Deborah Meroff, the untold story of the suffering women face around the world and how powerfully God is using women to advance His Kingdom today.

3  The extreme poor

In the West we come across pan-handlers and others who need our help, and we need to continue to help these people with love and wisdom. But I am talking here of whole families who are living on less than a dollar a day, people who are victims of rampant government corruption and famine. I am speaking of the 200 million Dalits of India who for 3,000 years have suffered severe discrimination and abject poverty; of the millions living in slums, the Tsunami victims of Southeast Asia, the earthquake victims of Pakistan, those starving and suffering under the oppressive regime of North Korea. There are so many in extreme poverty who need our help.

4  The HIV/AIDS patient

40 million have been infected and 20 million have died. Millions of children have been orphaned and whole societies are burgeoning under the weight of so many dying so young. Rather than standing by and judging, let us respond in love and action through in-person help, finance, support of AIDS ministries, prayer and being aware of AIDS in our own communities, churches and families. (Many have HIV and don’t know it.)

Let us also take advantage of this opportunity to share the gospel. We have found that, because death is so imminent, AIDS patients are very open to the Gospel.

woman and child

I want to strongly recommend four books: AIDS and You by Patrick Dixon, AIDS is Real and It’s in Our Church by Jean Garland and Dr. Mike Blyth; The Skeptics Guide to AIDS by Dale Hanson Bourke; and AIDS: I’m Not at Risk, Am I? by Joy and Ray Thomas.

5  People with impure water

Water is becoming increasingly scarce. 20% of the world has no access to clean water. Many must walk miles to get clean water, and so often the ones who do it are children whose bodies are not designed for such back-breaking work. Big cities are running out of water and are shipping it in at great cost, while in other parts of the world the dysfunctional water systems are breeding grounds for disease. May each of us be part of the effort to see more people getting clean water, as we seek to preserve what precious water we have stewardship over ourselves.

6  The unborn

Some estimates put the number of children who have been aborted at 500 million. The numbers are staggering, and in many ways I would rather ignore them. But I know that I cannot. I confess, when my close friend Dr. Francis Schaeffer decided to put so much effort into the prolife movement towards the end of his life, I thought he had gone a little extreme. I no longer feel this way, and repent of my own inaction. In some countries there are more abortions than births, and the laws in some nations allow abortion until the day before birth. How can this be?tiny face

With so much abortion taking place, let us not consider it a lost cause and give up. No, many battles have been won, and every battle is a victory; every saved life a real person. I believe that there are thousands alive today who otherwise would not have been without pro-life action. Are not these saved lives worth the effort? Yes, they are!

So let us be people of vision, action and especially grace—grace for the mothers, for those in the pro-choice camp, and for fellow Christians who disagree. Recommended reading: Why Pro-Life? by Randy Alcorn.

7  The environment

It is a shame that so many evangelical Christians not only have little concern for the environment, but are sometimes known as anti-environmental. How can this be when our Creator God has asked us to care for his creation? Not only is our pollution of the earth totally unacceptable, but this is an issue that our young people care about; and if we don’t connect with them on valid issues such as preservation of the environment, how can we expect them to listen to us at all?

Will you be a Good Samaritan?

George Verwer is the founder of Operation Mobilization (www.om.org) and an advocate for worldwide missions. Learn more about his ministry at www.georgeverwer.com.

The Gift that Keeps On Giving

by Stewart Brown

It is possible to be an encouragement to the people that you meet. In the first century church, one man so embodied the characteristics of intentional encouragement that he was given a new name – Barnabas, which means ‘son of encouragement.’ Imagine being known as a person who so personifies an encouraging spirit that your friends would give you a new name. That indicates the character of Barnabas. He was a man who truly lived out his intimate relationship with Jesus the Savior who is Himself the perfect encourager. How did Barnabas become such an encourager? No one forced him to live and act that way. There are two obvious reasons:

1.Barnabas deliberately nurtured a growing intimate faith relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

2.He worshipped and served God out of a community of Jesus’ disciples who continuously encouraged one another as they were empowered by the Holy Spirit.

All the believers were of one heart and mind, and they felt that what they owned was not their own; they shared everything they had. And the apostles gave powerful witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s great favor was upon them all. There was no poverty among them, because people who owned land or houses sold them and brought the money to the apostles to give to others in need. (Acts 4:32-33, NLT)

Then the Bible says that Barnabas was one of those who chose to sell some land and give all the money received from that sale to help others in need (Acts 4:36-37). Some may be wary of this as mandated socialism, but that is simply not true. Here is a situation where individuals responded to God’s redemptive call on their lives and lived in harmony with and sacrificial service to others. Motivated by the in-dwelling Holy Spirit of God, they contributed to the kind of encouraging culture that transforms lives, marriages, churches, and work communities. Beware of any so-called ‘church’ or religious organization that forces or pressures you to do good works for the sole purpose of getting more converts. In the real churches of God, God and the Bible are the only and final authority and not the organization itself.

ESSENTIAL CHARACTERISTICS OF AN ENCOURAGING BARNABAS

It is the purpose of God that each of us should grow into Christ-likeness so that we possess and demonstrate the character traits that describe the person of Barnabas in the first century church.

Generous. Barnabas did more than give generously to others. He was a generous man. His very heart expressed generosity. He was not only willing to give to help those in need – he was will to give beyond what others expected. He was willing to pay a price, to give up something he valued, for the sake of others. He could have kept some of the money from his land sale, but he chose to give it all. That does not mean that you have to give away everything you have. God wants us to recognize that all good things come from Him, and so we should want to honor Him in the way we use them – to meet our needs and to bless others.

Good.
Barnabas was called “a good man” (Acts 11:24, NLT). The word for good (agathos) refers to the character of someone. Barnabas was good because he possessed the inner character of God. He demonstrated the character and attitude of God – seeing life and people from the perspective of God because he trusted the Lord to guide his life, form his heart, and inform his thoughts. He was a good man because the good God occupied his heart.

Spiritually Mature.
He was mature in a spiritual sense because he was “full of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 11:24, NLT). He invited the Holy Spirit to direct his life and develop the qualities of Christ in him. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to enter and reside in each genuine follower of Jesus so as to make him or her like Christ in their character. This includes developing the fruit of the Spirit, which are the personal qualities like the Lord Jesus:

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22)

This is why Barnabas always sought to encourage other Christians “to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts” (Acts 11:23). If you will passionately pursue these qualities of Jesus for your life, you will be well on your way to living as a Barnabas encourager, positively impacting others with lasting spiritual results. Isn’t this what life is really all about?

Faith-full.
Barnabas was a man full of faith. In his daily living, he really did place his total trust in the hands of God. He had great confidence that God would transform the lives of all who put their trust in Christ. He was a very discerning person who sought to understand others and rejoiced when he saw the evidence of God at work in them. It took much to discourage Barnabas, whose unswerving faith in new followers of Jesus spurred them on towards spiritual maturity.

When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God [in the], he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. (Acts 11:23)

Person of Integrity.
The Bible contrasts Barnabas, who lived openly and gave sacrificially, with Ananias and Sapphira, who tried to achieve the wonderful reputation of Barnabas. But they were envious of him and pretended that they were as generous as Barnabas. Their pretense misled the others in their church. They were confronted by the Apostle Peter, who reminded them that lying to the people of God also meant that they were lying to God. Barnabas was so different – he lived with transparency and complete honesty. What he revealed in public, he lived the same in private (Acts 4:36,5:11).

Warm-hearted and empathetic.
Barnabas expressed love, even for those who were unwanted by others. Saul, who was later re-named Paul, had acquired a bad reputation for persecuting Christians and trying to destroy the early church. After Saul was confronted by Jesus on the road to Damascus, he became a passionate believer and follower of Christ. But after the church leaders wanted nothing to do with Saul, Barnabas took time to understand and affirm him. Against the wishes of perhaps all the others in the group, Barnabas defended Saul and convinced them of the transformation that had taken place in his life. More than anyone else, Barnabas saw the truth about Saul and his potential.

When [Saul] came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. (Acts 9:26¬27)

Dare to be a Barnabas – a gracious follower of Jesus who always seeks to understand the hearts of others and is willing to believe in their God-given potential. This does not mean that you should accept sin and wrong attitudes in others. It does mean that you care enough to lovingly and firmly confront them for their own good and for the glory of God. Barnabas illustrated this when he confronted even the Apos¬tle Paul over Mark, who had deserted their missionary team (Acts 15:37-39). Paul was really angry over Mark’s desertion, but Barnabas saw through Mark’s outward action and was convinced of his potential. When you believe strongly in what a person can become, you treat them according to what they can be instead of what they have done in the past.

APPENDIX C
Church Greeters:

A Frontline Ministry

Seek to understand the culture and personality of your church so that you can be truly helpful in welcoming new¬comers and assisting them in feeling at home there. Know your own identity (who you are in Christ) so that your responses can be clear, confident, and helpful to all who enter each week.

Welcoming others in a church or group context requires answers to three basic questions.

1. WHO AM I?

I am a representative of God and for my church. “We are Christ’s ambassadors, and God is using us to speak to you” (2 Corinthians 5:20, NLT).

I am a partner in our church family. “Through us God caused you to believe. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us. My job was to plant the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God, not we, who made it grow. The ones who do the planting or watering aren’t important, but God is important because he is the one who makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work as a team with the same purpose. Yet they will be rewarded individually, according to their own hard work. We work together as partners who belong to God” (1 Corinthians 3:5-9, NLT). “May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other-each with the attitude of Christ Jesus to¬ward the other. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 15:5-6, NLT).

I am a friend, “Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers” (Hebrews 13:2, NLT). “When God’s people are in need, be the one to help them out And get into the habit of inviting guests home for dinner or, if they need lodging, for the night” (Romans 12:13, NLT).

Character requirements: a humble spirit (Ephesians 4:2; Romans 12:16), a willing attitude (Romans 12:13), and a servant mindset (Mark 10:43-45).

2. WHY AM I DOING THIS?

I believe that God has called me to this ministry.

“Lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called of God” (Ephesians 4: 1, NLT). “He was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts” (Acts 11:23). “Let us encourage one another” (Hebrews 10:25).
I have a passion to share the mind of Christ with others. “Be humble, thinking of others as better than your¬self. Don’t think only about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too” (Philippians 2:3-4, NL T). See also Philippians 2:5.
I am committed to communicate the mission of our church. (~s each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts [members] grow, so that the whole body [church] is healthy and growing and full of love” (Ephesians 4:16).

3. WHAT Is MY ROLE?

Be spiritually prepared (Bible study, prayer, worship, and witness).

Confess any known sin in my life to God.

I seek to be flexible, loving, and sensitive to the needs of those who enter our church (Romans 12:9-10).

I strive to earn the respect of our church so that in my role as a leader, I can truly help grow our church (Philippians 2:29).

As people enter, I silently pray for visitors and members even as I welcome them.

It’s not about me. It’s about God. If it’s about God, it must be about others (2 Corinthians 8:9).

Source: Brown, Stewart; ‘Majesty in Motion’ p140-145, 199-201; Word Alive Press; Winnipeg, MB, 2009

5 Reasons Why Christians Need to Hear the Gospel

from David Murray

In his opening chapter of Preaching Christ from the Old Testament, Sidney Greidanus lists five reasons for preaching Christ today.

1. Jesus’ command: Go and make disciples of all nations  (Matt. 28:19-20).

2. Exciting News: The King has come! (John 1:41-42).

3. Life-giving news: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved (Acts 16:30-31).

4. Exclusive news: There is salvation in no one else (Acts 4:12).

5. Our hearers are living in a non-Christian culture.

Greidanus then provides five reasons why committed Christians as well as non-Christians need to hear explicitly Christ-centered sermons:

1. Centralizes Christ: In a post Christian culture such preaching will enable Christians to sense the centrality of Christ in their lives and in the world

2. Distinguishes from falsehood: It will help them distinguish their specific faith from that of Judaism, Eastern religions, the new age movement, the health-and-wealth gospel, and other competing faiths.

3. Builds faith in Jesus: It will continually build their faith in Jesus, their Savior and Lord.

4. Sustains Christians: Preaching Christ in a non Christian-culture sustains Christians as water sustains nomads in the desert.

5. Guides service: Even those committed to Christ must continually learn and relearn what it means to serve Jesus as Lord of their life.

These paragraphs also contain two great quotes:

“Genuine Christian faith and life can exist only so long as it remains a daily appropriation of Christ.” (J M Reu)

“The main objective of preaching is to expound Scripture so faithfully and relevantly that Jesus Christ is perceived in all his adequacy to meet human need.” (John Stott)

Source: http://headhearthand.org/blog/2013/01/25/5-reasons-why-christians-need-to-hear-the-gospel/