What About Jesus?

Just say his name.  “Jesus.”  There is something in that name.  Jesus – that’s the Latin form that is so common and well-known.  His name, if we follow a more Biblical approach should be “Yeshua.”  Read a number of articles by Ted Weiland at http://www.missiontoisrael.org/.  He constantly calls him Yeshua.

Yeshua, “The Lord is Salvation.”  The Christ is Savior.

But this isn’t about correcting an obvious mistake in the church’s history, this is about the one called Yeshua.  His life so (in alphabetical order)

  • Awesome
  • Beautiful
  • Caring
  • Daring
  • Eventful
  • Full
  • Godly
  • Holy
  • Immanuel
  • Just
  • Kind
  • Loving
  • Master
  • Name above all names
  • Overcomer
  • Prophet
  • Quench’s spiritual thirst
  • Righteous
  • Son of God
  • Teacher
  • Upright
  • Victor
  • Water of life
  • X-factor (the unknown quotient)
  • Yahweh
  • Zealous

Jesus is the Alpha and Omega, first and last beginning and end (everything in between).  The Bible uses so many terms and word pictures to describe Jesus, it would take a book to list them.  Oh yeah, it did.  It’s called the Bible.

There are many things that we can learn about Jesus.  I have chosen 5 aspects of who Jesus is that are important for people to know to become his disciples.

  • That Jesus is our Healer
  • That Jesus is the Son of God
  • That Jesus is our High Priest
  • That Jesus is the Risen Savior, Our Redeemer
  • That Jesus is the Coming King

Is there more?  Yes.   And time gives us opportunity to look at more.  But we’ll just start with these for now.

bloggingthechurch

To Those Telling About Jesus

Directing Others to Jesus

I’d like to share yesterday’s message with you from our series, Jesus said go! This message is called “Being Prepared…What to Say. I hope this encourages the evangelist that every Christians is supposed to be. You can listen to the message at http://www.newtestamentchristianonline.com/Sermons.dsp. You can access the messages at New Testament Christian Church after noon on Mondays. Here is yesterday’s sermon. All Scripture quotations are from the New International Version of the Bible unless otherwise noted.

It seems like all that we know is the five-finger exercise that Walter Scott taught as he went around preaching 170 years ago. Pointing to each finger in succession, he would teach people what they needed to do to be saved. “Hear, believe, repent, confess, and be baptized.” Sometimes, that’s about all we know.

How many of us have been in a situation where we didn’t know what scriptures to use or what exactly to say?

Let me share one moment from my own experiences. Larry Huebanks our minister and I were sharing with Linda and her husband, Joe. They had been coming to church for a while and were interested in becoming Christians. Larry and I went to their home one evening, but I didn’t know what to say. Not only that I was nervous, scared and embarrassed that I didn’t but I grew up with it. I grew up going to church and hearing this stuff. I went calling with Brother Kenny and the elders and deacons and other men on calling night. I went to Bible college. I hadn’t had personal evangelism class yet, the stuff just wasn’t there. I was an active part of the church, a leader in fact. I couldn’t do more than “believe-confess-repent-be baptized. Larry carried the conversation. In spite of my inconsistency, Linda and Joe were baptized a couple of weeks later. Their boys were baptized about a month after their parents.

But, can you imagine the commercial for someone like me? “Hi, Bruce Bunsen here; whenever you try to evangelize somebody, do you get scared and tongue-tied? Do you ever forget the words you’re supposed to say? Are you afraid of being rejected? Well, have I got a salvation presentation for you. You’ll never wonder about what to say again. You’ll be soooo confident everyone will want you to baptize them….

Today, let’s lose Bruce Bunsen’s attitude and be reminded of some important and even essential things that will be a part of sharing Jesus and leading someone to salvation in Jesus Christ. But remember – You have been sent; “Go and make disciples of all people, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit” Matthew 28:19. (also, Romans 10:14-15 & 17). You have been given a message; “We preach, Christ and Him crucified.”  1 Corinthians 1:23 (also, 2 Corinthians 5:19b-20). You have been given aid; “God will give you another Counselor, the Spirit of truth – But you know Him because He lives in you.” John 15:16-17.

Can you say with Paul, from Romans 1:16, “I AM NOT ASHAMED OF THE GOSPEL BECAUSE IT IS THE POWER OF GOD FOR THE SALVATION OF EVERYONE WHO BELIEVES?”

We MUST preach Jesus. Any time you tell anyone about Jesus Christ, you are the preacher. You’re not preaching a speech like preachers do on Sunday’s when we’re standing behind these pulpits. When you tell about Jesus, you become the preacher.

You’re life, you’re righteous life is a light that draws people to Christ, like a moth drawn to light. But, simply being a faithful Christian without telling people about Jesus, is limiting the message and people won’t understand. Compare this with nature.

  • Nature declares that there is a god.
  • But nature doesn’t tell us who God is, he has to be more than discovered, he has to tell us who he is and he has in Jesus Christ, in what he does in and through the followers of Christ.
  • If God left it up to nature without a declaration introducing us to himself, than we wouldn’t know God at all and we’d come up with all kinds of other man-made concepts about God. And we have.
  • As a Christian, God in his Spirit is in you. You are righteous and holy.
  • Without some explanation, people will not understand, they will not know Jesus, they will assume you’re like a lot of “good people” they encounter that are good from several beliefs and concepts and sources that are not from God.
  • They have to hear the message too, why it is that you’re good.

So . . . what do you preach?  What is it that you say?

  1. PREACH JESUS

That’s what they want is Jesus. There aren’t too many people that you and I will encounter who will dislike or even hate Jesus, but there are those who will not know about him and those who won’t accept him. Remember, they love Jesus but it seems, they don’t care too much for the church.

Let me suggest you read through the book of Acts this week. There you will find several messages presented at the right opportunity about Jesus, about what God is doing in this world through Jesus and through Jesus’ disciples.

  • Explaining what appeared to be drunken babbling and it was the work of the Holy Spirit.
  • Explaining the healing of a lame man who had been crippled since birth.
  • Explaining the Scriptures when an Ethiopian official was curious to understand what he was reading.

They preached Jesus in every single case. What happened were opportunities presented to Jesus’ followers and they preached Jesus, without fear, and with passion and conviction.

The first message about Jesus we have recorded is in Acts 2, curious circumstances that are interpreted by somes as a bunch of guys being drunk. It was the work of the Holy Spirit and their curiosity and accusation offered the opportunity for Peter (and the other apostles in this case) to tell about Jesus.

ACTS 2:11b-12 – “We hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?

Not only were there those who accused them of being drunk, some were amazed at what they heard and how they heard it.

1st) They Heard the Wonders of God in Their Own Language

The Israelites were supposed to tell their children about the wonders of God. God did some significant and mighty things on behalf of the Israelites. Such as when they crossed the Jordan River and entered the Promised Land. They built an altar with 12 stones from the river bed to memorialize that moment. Then the they could tell their children, when they asked about the altar, what amazing thing God had done.

Let me suggest some of the amazing things that you might share with people.

Jesus:

  • Who cares for people (he healed bodies and souls, hearts and minds)
  • Who is the Son of God showing God to the world, who he is and what he is like
  • Who is our high priest, mediating on our behalf with God
  • Who died and rose again to redeem us from our sins
  • Who is coming back as King with salvation as the reward for the believer.

Jesus in you:

  • How he reached you and you chose to accept and follow Jesus
  • How he brought peace into your heart and life
  • How he helped you overcome sin, addictions, fears, etc.

There can be more. When you examine Scripture and your own life, you will see a lot more clearly the things that you can share and what will reach one person may not impact another. If you prepare yourself, what you know and understand, you provide the Holy Spirit with the tools in your life which He will use to reach out to others. Always remember what 1 Peter 3:15 tells you. “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”

What happens is that they hear the wonders of God in their own language. You get to help them see what God has done and in a way that they can understand.

Here’s one way to illustrate it. Those old water pumps you use by hand, would often need to be primed with a little water to be able to draw water from the well. Your life primes the well of their lives which makes it possible for them to hear the message that will quench their thirst.

That’s where what Peter said in Acts 2:14 comes into play.  “Let me explain this to you.”

Helping them understand what they are seeing.  It is God at work.  It is about Jesus Christ.  It is for your salvation.

As the commercial goes, “But wait, there’s more.

2. Explain Salvation

There are those who will want to pursue this faith that you know and profess. They will ask a question or respond to an invitation that answers the question for them, the same as was asked on the day of Pentecost to Peter. What shall we do?

They’ll want to know what to do to be saved. And you can teach them the elements involved in faith. The things that must happen in their life to receive salvation and forgiveness and eternal life and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Peter’s reply was based on something that had already happened.  They believed in Jesus.

Believe

When they hear the Gospel they will either believe or not. But belief is never enough, because belief is not commitment. It is understanding at some level. It is acknowledgement of Jesus. It is the beginning of faith. You could even say in an example of being born again, it isn’t birth, but it is conception. It is where they start, believing in Jesus.

Here, at New Testament Christian Church, we believe in Jesus, the Son of God, the crucified and risen Lord. John 3:14-14 & Romans 10:8-11

Repent

And they will want to repent. It should be natural to do since we are all guilty of sin. Just as Peter said, “Repent….” When we realize we have offended God and it means condemnation, a guilty verdict against us, we are going feel sorry for being so bad, so we will want to make a change, we will want to be different. Repentance is necessary because what it does is prepare the heart to receive grace because we have become humble before God, we realize our weakness as humans and that only God can handle the mess we have put ourselves in. 2 Corinthians7:10-11; Acts 3:19

Confess

If someone wants Jesus, they’re going to want to tell about him.  \We call that CONFESSION. “I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” That’s what we lead people to say as one form of confession when they are being baptized. It’s Peter’s confession. It’s the truth about Jesus accepted into the life of that person wanting to be saved.

It is admitting the need for salvation. It is admitting that they need Jesus. It is admitting that only God can save them. It is admitting a lot about who they are and who Jesus is and what Jesus will do in their life. Romans 10:9-10; Matthew 10:32-33

Be Baptized

Everything to this point is preparing our life for the salvation God wishes to grant us. It is received in baptism. “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.Of course that is Acts 2:38. Immersion is that point of contact with the death and resurrection of Jesus. It’s when God does his thing on your life, forgiving you of your sin guilt against him.

Every account of any one being saved in Acts shows us baptism. Jesus was baptized to obey God.  Baptism is submitting to God’s will, obeying his requrement and command. Romans 6:1-10; 1 Peter 3:21

Quickly, once they hear, in order to be saved, one must believe in Jesus the risen Son of God, repent of their sin to God, confess Jesus risen from the dead and the Son of God, and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins.

Not too hard.

But the power is not in you personally. It’s not in your actions, or your speech – the word you say, it is the power of God at work through you. He is at work to draw people to him. He is at work calling people to salvation to his Son and you are his hand and feet, his voice and his representative.  He has sent you, not in your own will and power, but in his grace and he is in you to reach and preach Jesus to those who you will encounter with THE message of truth, life, and hope, which is the message of salvation.

One thing I have learned is this. When someone believes, we must invite them to accept Jesus and be baptized.

Joe had been coming to church for a few months. I met Joe when I was going door-to-door inviting people in our little town of 411 to a revival Joe had been coming and Joe was going through a very difficult time in his life. He was disabled and unable to work so he was living on a very limited disability income. He had custody of his step-son who was a handful to say the least.  And Joe had been arrested for buying marijuana which he used as a sleep aid because of his back problems and inability to sleep otherwise. His world was difficult and appeared to be falling apart when we met.  He came to the revival, was welcomed by the people of the congregation and began a journey toward Christ.

Joe had a brother-in-law who was a minister in a charismatic church, but resisted that message because it seemed they were more interested in being judgmental about a person’s life than in the real change that comes from knowing and accepting Christ. That’s how Joe perceived it.

Joe and I would visit in his living room and in my office and talk about faith and life. He believed in Jesus and was really feeling guilt about failing God. One day when he came into the office to visit, I think he was just seeking reassurance that the circumstances of his life would be alright. Shortly after he set down and we began to talk, I sensed that I needed to ask him a question.  I said, “Joe, do you want to be baptized?” We had talked about believing and the need for repentance and salvation and the Holy Spirit prompted me to ask Joe to accept Jesus at that moment. And without a bit of hesitation, Joe looked right into my eyes and said “Yes, I do” and asked when. I said why not right now. With a huge smile he said, “Yes, why not now.”

We called Helen and Marsha and Glendola to come and share in his immersion as witnesses and encouragers and we baptized Joe that morning. Immediately after coming out of the water, he raised him hands in the air, looked up to God and with joy and passion thanked God that he had been saved.

Ask them. Invite them to accept Jesus. The Spirit will let you know when. He knows their heart and he leads your mind.  Ask them.

bloggingthechurch

PS: This video was shown at the beginning of the service in relation to the message.

How Much Are You Like Jesus?

There’s a saying that’s around that goes something like this, “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”  Most of the time I’ve heard that phrase has been in a sermon or a discussion about evangelism.  This isn’t about a way to complete some project in the church of winning so many people to Christ or adding numbers to the church totals, this is about reaching their heart with what will save their life.  That’s what it’s about, “For the Son of Man (Jesus) came to seek and save the lost” Luke 19:10.

I got see the group Jeremiah People at the National Youth Leaders Conference sponsored by Ozark Christian College http://www.occ.edu/ and Christ in Youth http://www.ciy.com/ several times in the 70’s.  Jeremiah People used music and humor to get spiritual points across.  One sketch from the 1975 album, First Love was called “Numbers.” They sang, “Numbers, numbers, numbers is the name of the game. Just get them coming through the door, no matter why they came. If building your enrollment is the only room to fame; you know the biggest and the best they are really just the same. Yes, numbers, numbers, numbers …” Interspersed singing and skits causing a person to think about the reasons we tell about Jesus.

One of the little skits has a couple of teens talking and Judy is excited that she won a youth group contest in which she brought 3 people to the Lord in 9 months. Jim asked her, “Hey, that’s great Judy. Tell me, are they still growing in the Lord?” Judy’s reply, “How should I know? That wasn’t part of the contest” (First Love, by Jeremiah People, Copyright 1975, Lexicon Music, Inc., page 21).

Is this just some project or are we like Jesus, really caring that people are lost, “like sheep without a shepherd” (Mark 6:34)?

Consider this, there were two things that Jesus did that “amazed” people.

1.) He helped people in their need (healing, curing leprosy, casting out demons, etc.)

2.) He talked about the kingdom of God.

Those are what cause people to be in awe about Jesus. They wondered is this a man or God?  Thumb through the gospels for a few minutes and read the results after Jesus helped people and when he taught people and when he did both.  They were in awe of Jesus.

Here’s another quote.  You’ve heard it spoken, you’ve heard it sung in various forms.  “We are His hands, we are His feet, we are His voice.”  If you care about people, you are going to be Jesus to them.

Read this excerpt from the August 21, 2008 Relevant Magazine ( http://www.relevantmagazine.com/index.php ) article; More Than a Follower:

“Dan described a trip to Tijuana, Mexico, with Pastor Von. (Von has been ministering to the poor in the dumps of Tijuana for years). Dan didn’t speak of the awful living conditions of those who made their homes amidst the rubbish. What impacted Dan the most was the relationship he saw between Von and the people of this community. He spoke of the compassion, sacrifice and love that he saw in Von’s words and actions as he held these malnourished and unbathed children. Then he made the statement that sent me reeling:

“The day I spent with Von was the closest thing I have ever experienced to walking with Jesus.”

Dan explained that the whole experience was so eerie because he kept thinking to himself, “If Jesus were still walking on earth in the flesh, this is what it would feel like to walk alongside of Him!” After that discussion, I kept wondering if anyone had ever said that about me—“The day I spent with Francis was the closest thing I have ever experienced to walking with Jesus.” The answer was an obvious “no.” Would any honest person say that about you?”

Has anyone ever said that about you?  We have to be Jesus to this world and we have to be involved with the people of this world where they live.  In their struggles and difficulties, even the ones that may seem insignificant. If we don’t care about them, where they’re at, as one young man named Matt said; “Christianity is for simple-minded people.  When they talk to you they act as if you are a robot.  They have an agenda to promote, and if you don’t agree with them, they’re done with you.”

If we are like Judy and winning people to Christ is a project to win a contest, or it’s a way to increase your membership for what ever other reason than that the lost need Christ and he adds them to his church, than we are not being Jesus, we are something else and I hate to think what that is.

1 John 2:6 says, “Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did (TNIV)

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PS: Let it Show

Influence Congruence

This world is filled with powerful forces.  The past 50-100 years we have seen a huge amount of change in our world and how those forces are forcing themselves on us.

Moving Pictures – We call them movies now.  We get to see actors on a theater’s movie screen, and now on our own TV’s.  We see movies broadcast on TV and replayed over and over.  Then there are the VCR’s, DVD’s, & Blu-Ray players that we can watch those movies on our TV’s with in the comfort of our homes and we can watch them on the internet, our iPhones, and in the back seats of our vans (the moving movie theater).

All this has brought aspects of the world into our lives that we might not have encountered otherwise than in a news report or passing conversation.  Love scenes that we saw in the 1940’s and 50’s that were considered risque’ then are thought to be so innocent now that the idea that there might be sexual tension or sexual activity to follow is laughable.  The violence depicted back then is so mild that it’s hard to imagine it was really considered violent when compared to our contemporary society and what Hollywood produces for us now.  As the worldly part of sexual sin and violence and murder are brought into our daily lives through movies and shows, we become desensitized to it and in fact develop a craving for it.  That’s worldly.

And quicker communication through electronics. Morse code used to be the big thing, then it became wireless.  Then thetelephone entered the culture with lines going everywhere.  Now we have cell phones, wireless communication devices not too far removed from those used in the 1960’s TV show Star Trek.  We can call each other, anywhere and any time, and text, write electronic notes that are immediately received.  We are in constant contact with each other and it can be very annoying at times.  I can be reached as I drive, or if I’m hiking in the woods, and probably if I were on the moon, at least real soon.  There’s no time to yourself. There’s no time to do what you’re supposed to because the calls and the texts keep interrupting even our sleep.  There is nothing inherently wrong with cell phones and those type of devices, but they can be used in very sinister ways as well as keeping us to busy. I’m thinking of the “sexting” trend.  Teens mostly, taking promiscuous pictures of themselves and sending them to other teens and sometimes, adults, which are usually sexual predators.  At least people are still bothered by this trend (cf., this report on sexting; http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/01/15/national/main4723161.shtml).

We can’t overlook the computer and the internet. The computer has changed our lives.  I graduated from high school in 1975.  I know, that’s a long time ago.  As I remember, we were the fifth largest school in Indiana with almost 2000 students.  The main office had a computer.  It was the only computer in the school and I think it was only used to keep data files, student records and such.  No one I ever talked about computers with ever imagined that the computer would have such control of our lives.  Just think of Y2K to get an idea of how big a part of our lives it is.  We can’t seem to survive without computers.  I’m sitting at one now as I write this.  Computers like cell phones and just about any other technological device are useful tools, but the ability to communicate and pass information so immediate and widespread can be troublesome to say the least.  Computers are also used in worldly ways.

Some of what the books 1984 and Future Shock were talking about is here.  The glut of information is overwhelming us.  And the worldly aspects are destroying our souls.

I could cite video games, music and the little devices that play them back to us (record players, tape decks, CD players, MP3 players and whatever else there is like them) and I’m sure I could research and find more to talk about here.

The issue is not that this technology is here and available.  Like I wrote earlier, there is nothing inherently wrong or sinful about these devices, but they do a couple of things.

1) They like anything else, can be used in sinful ways or as the means to tempt people to sin.

2) They brings things into our lives with regularity that we might barely encounter otherwise.

If this is making you feel guilty about any of this stuff, don’t just run out and throw them out.  That’s not my point whatsoever.  I want to point to the fact that Jesus came into a world that is rotten with sin.  Our culture for the past century has been advancingtechnologically at a huge rate.  And these technological devices can be tools of the devil.

Jesus came to save us from sin.  Christians, you have a message that is simple and clear.  The devil will use any and every means to keep people from hearing or believing and drawing believers away.

  • Be faithful
  • Be focused
  • Be gracious
  • Be truthful
  • Be evangelistic

Tell this world about the Christ whose birth we just celebrated to not offset, but overcome the influence congruence of the devil.

bloggingthechurch

Exploring Passion

This is one of the guitars I love. I could go on endlessly about it. Do I have the same type or rather, a greater passion for Christ?

I have been in love with guitars since I was about 9 or 10 years old.  And I fell in love with the electric guitar a couple of years later.  I must admit I am passionate about guitars.

I could tell you how great they are and how guitars are the most expressive instruments there are after the violin and that might be questionable depending on the artist (eg, listen to Gary Moore play “Still Got the Blues,” or “The Messiah Will Come Again.”  Check him out on YouTube,  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4O_YMLDvvnw and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9ruYs7Xxhg

I could relate to you how I fell in love with the guitar and the electric guitar in particular (that involves hearing Ralph Trotto and a couple of years later seeing a Red Gibson SG played at a youth rally in Carmel, Indiana in 1972 or 73).

I could share with you how the Les Paul/SG style guitars are the best, bar none (whether made by Gibson or similar types by Heritage, Paul Reed Smith, Carvin, Hamer and others).

I love guitar and I love guitar music and I could go and on and on.  Don’t leave me yet.  I have more and it’s better, I promise.

I could go on endlessly about my grand-children, or missionary son, or my 30 year marriage, or preaching, or my favorite sports and sports teams and individuals, or summer church camp, etc, etc.  I could go on and on and on with a lot of different things that I am passionate about.

But why is it, and I am guilty of this also, why is it, that the one thing, that Jesus considered the most important thing is for the most part, the least important thing and the one thing that possesses the least amount of passion for many Christians, and that is (we need an echo chamber here for emphasis), EVANGELSIM…LISM…Ism…sm…m!”  The echo really adds emphasis doesn’t it…LOL!

Where’s your passion, Christians?

Do you remember this?  Watch the video.

Instead of Clara hollering, “Where’s the beef?”  Imagine someone who is not yet a believer and follower of Christ crying, “Where’s the passion?”  There are a lot of people that do not respect Christians and are not listening to our message for a number of reasons.  One of the most significant reasons is that we don’t seem to have passion about Christ and the Church and Christianity.

If you think I mean by passion, a super- expressive way of presenting a message or making a point, like some preachers, or exciting speakers, well, that’s not necessarily what I mean.  A lot of people are not that way, don’t have expressive manners.  Passion may not be extreme emotional expression.  But it is a fire with in you.  Is Jesus everything to you?

I know there’s a lot here, but this IS important.  Read, or reread this post from 11/22/2009, and return for more;  https://blogthechurch.wordpress.com/2009/11/22/531/

Your passion is what you put your heart and soul into.  It’s not that when I do something, I do it all the way, or I put my best into it.  I do a job and I put my best into it, not because I am passionate about the job and the work involved, but because as a follower of Christ, I put my best into everything I do.  Jesus said, “Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be,” Matthew 6:21 NLT http://www.youversion.com/bible/asv/matt/6/21).

Whatever is important to you, whatever has captured the desire of your heart, you’re going to invest in.  I love guitar and invest a lot of time, effort, and money into it.  I have a treasure there (I do have to guard it to keep it from becoming more important than Christ, Church, family, etc, so that it does not become idolatry.  Priorities you know).  What about my passion for Christ?  What have I invested?  The question begs to be asked, how do I come to have a passion for my Savior?  More than gratefulness, but that I want to invest my life into Jesus Christ.

Let me help you with that very quickly.

1st – Let Christ build that desire in you.  The Bible is where you get to know Christ and the primary source for building your relationship with him.  Live in the Gospels for a while.  A month, a year, several years.  Search out who Jesus is and how Jesus relates to you and is in your life.  As I’ve heard said from pulpits and Bible classrooms, “Fall in love with Jesus.”

2nd – Get to know Jesus through the lives of faithful Christians.  Listen to their testimonies, talk with them about their relationship with Christ and learn how it is applied in their lives.  You will probably pick up a dimension or two that you hadn’t figured until you see it lived out or hear about.  Also, read or listen to testimonies (here is one source for these types of testimonies; http://shareyourstorynow.org/).  Learn from others.  Maybe their fire (passion) for Christ will ignite yours.

3rd – Pray about it.  Ask God to fill you up with that passion.  It’s simple.  Ask in your words.  Talk to God believing and expecting, but don’t put any conditions on your request or develop the way you expect it to happen.  Let God do it.  God will answer and fulfill your request in his way, according to his time, and the way that is best.

4th – Begin to serve and follow and do the things of Christ.  Help the needy.  Go on a missions trip to serve the lost.  Be a servant in your church.  The possibilities are endless here.  Read Matthew 25:31-46 about the Sheep and the Goats, http://www.youversion.com/bible/asv/luke/2/1-10

Bye for now.  May the fire for Christ burn deep and long and hot in your life.  That is my prayer for all of us.

bloggingthechurch

The Shepherds were First

If the Wise Men who came from the east and brought the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh were “seekers“, than the shepherds who saw Jesus the same day that he was born were “tellers.”

Something awesome happened to these guys (and like with the wise men, we have no idea how many there were) and it wasn’t the appearance of the angels, as awesome as that was.  The angel and the choir were just a fancy GPS system sent by God.  They were news reporters and direction sensors.  They announced that the Messiah had been born that day and gave them directions on how to get there and find him, and the angel choir provided an mp3 of music running through their head as they headed off to find him.

Imagine if you will a Chevy Impala (these are God’s people with entry-level salaries so they’ll drive low-cost GM cars) and the soft, voice of the GPS saying, “Go straight on the south road, 2/3rds of a mile, turn right on Main street, watch for a stable with a baby wrapped in a snuggie.”

A little ridiculous, of course.  I hope it makes us aware of the significance of the announcement.  These shepherds represent the whole nation of Israel, from the time that Israel became a nation.  For centuries, they were looking for the fulfillment of the promise made by God to their ancestor, Abraham.  Hundreds of years, hanging on God’s promise, never giving up hope that God would fulfill the promise that the Messiah would come.  And now . . . “Da, da, daaaaaa!”  He has.  And these guys, out in the fields with smelly sheep, in the dark, wanting to fall asleep see this incredible scene and are given this incredible announcement, “The Christ that you’re looking for, well, he’s here. He’s in Bethlehem and you’ll find him in a feeding trough wrapped up in soft cloths.”

You can read about it in Luke’s Gospel, Luke 2:1-20.  Pretty awesome stuff; http://www.youversion.com/bible/asv/luke/2/1-10

But . . . the exciting thing that happened was that they found the baby.  They found the Messiah.  You know, a lot of people are bothered by the fact that Jesus was human too.  The Jewish shepherds don’t seem to be bothered a bit by it.

Verse 16 – They hurried off to Bethlehem and found the baby just like the angel told them.

Verse 17 & 18 – They left and told everyone they could and everyone was amazed.

Verse 20 – They returned to the sheep and were glorifying and praising God.

In an earlier post dated November 22, 2009 ( https://blogthechurch.wordpress.com/2009/11/22/531/ ) we noted the link between passion for Christ and effective evangelism.  They didn’t run out and have t-shirts and ball caps made to announce the fact, they were so excited that as they returned to their job, they told people the Good News.  We often say Peter preached the first Gospel sermon (Acts 2).  Maybe.  It depends on how you look at it.  I am contending, right now, that the shepherds were the first Gospel preachers.  It was to a Jewish audience, and it was more likely, one on one, not a crowd setting.  “Get an auditorium, set up the PA system, let’s preach this thing.”  No, the first sermon was that the Messiah, the promised Savior had arrived.  It was more like evangelism than pulpit preaching, but that’s what preaching is, telling other people about Jesus.

The Wise Men were seekers.  The shepherds had been seeking a long time, but now they were tellers, “evangelists.”  They were the ones that with excitement and passion began spreading the Good News, “Jesus the Christ has been born.”

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