Five Questions: Bridge Building with the Gospel

 

Five Questions: Bridge Building with the Gospel

I have a growing concern for the lost in the world.  My concern has gone through ebbs and flows over the years, but as I realize the lack of many days left in life (maybe thirty years), I realize I may not have much time to reach out to others.

There are few things in life more moving than to watch a person put their faith in Jesus’ substitutionary death on the cross and His resurrection.  There are few things more fantastic than to watch a rebirth happen before my eyes.  There are few things that motivate me more than witnessing a person who becomes my spiritual brother or sister!

Do you get that opportunity very often? 

One of the tools I use to transition to talk through the good news of Jesus Christ is to ask five questions.  The questions are merely a tool to build a bridge to someone so I can share the greatest news in the world – that Jesus died on the cross for his/her sins and that he/she can grow in a relationship with the God of the universe.  The questions are a tool to share that God loves him/her so much that God sent His only begotten Son to die on the cross for the sins of the world and that whoever believes in Jesus would have eternal life.  That’s fantastic news!

Here are the five questions I use to start a discussion and build a bridge to a person:

  • Do you ever talk about spiritual things?
  • In your opinion, who is Jesus Christ?
  • Do you believe in a heaven and a hell?
  • If something tragic were to happen, do you know where you would go?

           [If God asked, “Why should I let you into heaven?” what would you say?]

  • If what you believed were not true, would you want to know the truth?

The answers to the first four questions don’t really matter too much, but they do tell me a great deal about where the person is spiritually.  They tell me what the person is trusting in for salvation, if anything.  They get the person talking and allow me to gain credibility that I am interested in them as a person (and I am!). 

The main question is question number five, “If what you believed were not true, would you want to know the truth?”  If they say yes, then I have a free and open door to walk through and share my faith.  I’m not forcing myself onto the person.  I give the person an opportunity to say no, before I start talking about Jesus.  But once they say yes, then I can take them through a gospel presentation, whereby they can make the greatest decision of all time – accepting Jesus as Savior to become a child of God.

What do you use to build a bridge to talk to people about the Lord Jesus Christ?  Does it work well?  I’m interested in your feedback, because I want to be effective in building bridges and sharing Christ.  Let’s go reach the world for the sake of Jesus!
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Problems Can’t Stop God’s Plans

Christianity is a great adventure.  When I taught through Acts, I called the series “The Great Adventure.”  When you walk with the Lord, in the light of His Word, by the power of His Spirit, life is a great adventure.  And yet there are often challenges and even adversaries.  When Paul was waiting in Ephesus and he wanted to see the Corinthians, but couldn’t go to them at that time, he explained to them, “For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.”  (1 Cor. 16:9)  Paul knew he had opportunities to disciple God’s Word in Ephesus and in the midst of adversaries, he decided to stay.

Sometimes we think, “If I’m a Christian, I shouldn’t have problems, or at least not ‘this many!'”  Yet, Paul realized that in this world, there would be trials and troubles in the midst of great opportunities for the gospel message and discipling of people.  If we expect that we shouldn’t face trouble, then we’ll be neutralized and not influence and not impact those around us. 

In fact, John is very clear that when God opens a door, no one can shut it and when He shuts a door, no one can open it.  Notice in this letter to Philadelphia that John writes in Revelation 3:8-9, “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie– indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you.”  When God makes a way open, no one can shut it, no matter what they do, who they talk to, or who they assemble.   God will keep that way open.  God opened the door for Gideon when He used 300 soldiers with Gideon to stop 120,000 enemy forces. 

Does God have a problem keeping the door open?  His only problem is when we don’t trust Him and we get in the way.  We can miss out on the opportunity before us.  If God closes a door, there is nothing we can do to open it.  We can’t plot, assemble people to support our cause or work behind the scenes to get something going where God says “No.”  It’s far better to keep pressing forward in the midst of adversaries and challenges and watch for God’s deliverance.  He will make the deliverance in His time and He will show His ministry will prevail.

Are you married?  You have an open door of living as one reflecting Jesus Christ and the Church.  Be faithful and trust God to work with your spouse.  Are you troubled by disobedient children?  You have an open door of shooting straight arrows into the next generation with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Be faithful as a godly parent and teach your children to obey, whatever and however long it takes.  Are you wondering about God’s ministry opportunities?  God always gives an open door for ministry.  Keep walking in the path God has opened to you and watch the mighty acts of the Lord!

Sharp Tongues can be Stopped

A friend recently sent me this verse.  No weapon formed against you shall prosper, And every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, And their righteousness is from Me,” Says the LORD. (Isa 54:17)  This is certainly a promise given to Israel.  Presently, Israel walks through her own valley, scattered around the world and waiting for the return of Messiah.  Yet, there is great application to those who will trust in Jehovah, El – Shaddai (the All powerful One). 

The world hates the Jews, because Satan hates the Jews.  The existence of one Jew is a sign that God will keep His unconditional covenant to Abraham, David and all of Israel.  Satan tried to destroy the line to Christ.  If he could have destroyed the line, then the Messiah could not have come to redeem Israel and the world from their sins.  Now that Messiah came, died on the cross and has returned to heaven, Satan wants to destroy Jews again.  Only now he wants to destroy them, because if he can destroy them, then God cannot fulfill his promises in the Abrahamic and Davidic Covenants.  That is why anti-Semitism has been a problem in history since the time of Christ.  In recent history, the holocaust was a Satanic attack to destroy the Jewish people.  But God’s promise of protection continues for the Jewish race as a whole. 

Isaiah addresses the attacks of people who have an agenda.  They believe their agenda is right and will do what is necessary to put you down. They try to be subtle. They may sound sophisticated. They often don’t even realize how painful their words might be.  They often don’t care, because they have a burr under their saddle and you may be the target of their “tongue which rises against you.”  They are not acting like God the Father.

I used to be bothered when people criticized me.  To be slandered in public is especially painful.  But it is all part of God’s plan to grow us up and prove that His will is good, acceptable and perfect (Rom. 12:2).  When we trust the Lord, the judging tongue, whether from a person who is close or from an al qaeda terrorist, will strengthen your resolve to trust the Lord even more.

There are plenty of hopeful New Testament promises to those who pursue the Lord.  As a believer, you are in the Lord’s hands (John 10:28-30).  God promises to take every situation, even the slanderous tongue, and work it out for divine good (Rom. 8:28-30).  God set believers free from sin, which is the most vicious enemy of the believer (Rom. 6:22-23).  Verbal attacks are proof that we are in enemy territory and often those in your own family, blood and spiritual, will be the adversaries that the enemy uses to attack you (1 Cor. 16:9; cf. Matt. 10:34-36).  We should not fear, for Jesus became sin for us that we might be made righteous (2 Cor. 5:21).  For every attack tests your metal – will you trust in yourself or in Him by faith (Phil. 3:9)?

I Shall Not Lack Anything – Psalm 23

            David will always be known as a man after God’s own heart.  He was often the measurement for a great man and great king.  Yet, he had his own fleshly (sinful) weaknesses.  He should have been out leading his army in battle, but he stayed back and committed adultery.  He should have taken responsibility for the fruit of his adultery, but instead tried to change the circumstances by murdering Uriah.  He failed to raise his boys in godliness and  paid  for it in the Absalom revolution.  But even in fleeing from Jerusalem during the Absalom revolt, we are blessed, because David wrote one of the greatest Psalms ever recorded.

            Psalm 23 is only six verses in the English, but contains tremendous words of comfort and hope.  Even while David was on the run, out in the wilderness with the refuge of Jerusalem in his rear view mirror, David recalls at least thirteen aspects of the Lord’s sufficiency.  His first line is “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.”  This last phrase could easily be translated, “I shall not lack anything.”  Following in the Psalm we see many ways God was still providing for David.  David did not want for (did not lack):

1)      Spiritual rest – He makes me lie down
2)      Spiritual nourishment – In green pastures
3)      Spiritual freshness for life – He leads me besides still waters

4)      God’s forgiveness – He restores my soul
5)      Spiritual guidance – He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake
6)      Spiritual courage – Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil
7)      Divine companionship – You are with me
8)      Divine protection – Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me
9)      Divine provision – You prepare a table before me
10)  Divine calm –  In the presence of my enemies
11)  Divine blessing – You anoint my head with oil, My cup runs over flows
12)  Divine confidence – Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life
13)  Divine destiny – I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever

When you seem to be empty, alone and fearful of the unknown, come back to Psalm 23 and find your confidence in the Shepherd.  Focus your eyes on Jesus and He’ll provide all that you need in any and every circumstance.

Divine Eyesight

I love that word church. It’s the Bride of Christ. It’s God’s people He is using to build His kingdom. It’s you who have placed your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and spiritually thirst for Him.

Sunday, we looked at Divine Eyesight and how important it is to slow down and put on“Jesus-glasses” to see what is really going on with people. I love that scene on the DVD we saw where the main character bumps into the big guy while rushing out of the coffee shop. “Hey, watch out!” the big guy grumbles, but what the main character sees is “He needs a hug.” When we look at the outside we might see gruffness, but when we look at the heart, as God sees, we see the need. How are you doing about slowing down to really see and then build a bridge, so that you can reach the real need? We can through Christ who strengthens us become the church, the Bride, God wants us to be. We need to believe.

I hope you’ve had some time with family this week. I’d love for you to join us Good Friday night to reflect on our Savior’s death. I’ve invited several people myself; I hope they come to slow down and reflect. The Eggstravaganza will be at 11amthis year and that’s always a lot of fun to see the children so wide-eyed gathering the treats AFTER they hear the gospel message. And Resurrection Sunday will be a great day to consider how awesome our God is. What does Thomas say when he puts his hands on the Lord? “My Lord and my God!”

Our Treasure in Christ

We had a wonderful outpouring of worship yesterday.  In brief summary of the message: First, all treasure is found in Jesus Christ.  We can search for and acquire many things (and God gives richly for us to enjoy 1 Tim. 6:17), but the greatest riches are found in what you acquire in Jesus Christ.  Nothing else compares.  Secondly, the normal Christian way of life is a struggle to help others experience that treasure.

We should look for opportunities to help people understand and live the treasure of Jesus Christ.  It may often be a struggle, but that’s when you see God’s glory working through you.  You could serve in the Children’s Ministry, for there are still a few opportunities to be assistants (contact Pat Hillebrand). You could serve in the Youth Ministry helping our youth find treasure in Jesus Christ.  There’s usually several opportunities every quarter to be involved without a huge commitment  (contact Justin Williams).  There are eternal rewards for helping others find the treasure.  There’s also opportunity to join us Saturday morning at 8:30 am for the evangelism seminar Pastor Gary will lead.  He’ll be done around noon.  It’ll be a great opportunity to sharpen your sharing skills or learn a new tool.

Many things give temporary happiness, but nothing compares with living out His salvation and helping others find Him as their treasure.  It is God’s blessing as we give away the treasure, because we gain many-fold more in blessing. It’s often a struggle, but what treasure isn’t worth the effort?

Pray for Becky Gluff as she flies out Friday to Ukraine to minister to women and pastors.  She’ll be teaching, training and giving her testimony of God’s grace. 

Don’t forget to turn your clocks ahead one hour Saturday night for Daylight Savings Time.  Spring forward on your clock and you’ll not miss the great tribute service for Pastor Dick!

Christ in You

Last Sunday, we looked at “Christ in you, the hope of glory” from Colossians 1 and the privilege each of us has to “warn every man and teach every man that we present every man complete in Christ.”  We just scratched the surface, so let me add a few more comments.
If Christ is in me, if Christ is in you, then He directs our thoughts, our words and our actions.  We will seek the holiness of God for the sake of the Body of Christ – His Bride.  We will see our part in helping each other get to living out God’s glory in our lives.  Let me give you three areas for additional application.  First, our attitude toward morality is sliding.  We Christians, maybe some at Grace, think it’s okay to try out the merchandise before marriage.  At least if someone is over 18 and they’re an adult, we think, “What can we do about it?”  That’s what Eli said about his sons in 1 Samuel.  God rebuked him and took his life.  Eli warned his sons, but he didn’t ensure they lived godly.  God took him (1 Samuel 3:13,14; 4:13-18).  If Christ is in you, you’ll do what is godly to ensure your family and the Bride of Christ is godly.  His glory says, I will not allow immorality to exist in my family.
Secondly, if you’re living “Christ in you” your words will be God-honoring, not earth-tolerated.  I’ve heard Christians talk the same talk as the world talks.  We hear trash so often in the media and around the world that we let our guard down. I used to be in the infantry, I accept how people talk, but I don’t want to use casual talk that I wouldn’t use from the pulpit.  If I wouldn’t there, why do it somewhere else?  If “Christ is in you,’ He rules my tongue to not allow careless or idle words come from my mouth (Matt. 12:36,37). 
And thirdly, care for the Body at Grace.  If Christ is in you, you’ll see the need Justin Williams has for the youth and maybe say, “Justin, I can help.”  There are simple, easy opportunities to serve as chaperones, transportation drivers and discipleship group leaders.  Justin has a great heart to love our young people, but he needs your help.  ‘Christ in you” means you can put aside some desires, time and even hobbies to help Justin reach the hearts of our young people who are in a spiritual battle most of us didn’t face in high school.  ALSO, over seeing our Children’s ministry, Pat Hillebrand needs your help to volunteer to serve in Sunday School and the nursery.  We have a boat load of people already involved and I’m grateful for their ministry to the children and parents of the children.  What we need is for more older people to ensure their name is on the nursery list and helper list for the Sunday School options.  These children are worth it!  “Christ in you,” the hope of glory says, “I can do this several times a quarter” to help my brothers and sisters who have children!  There are just a few ways to apply “Christ in you” the hope of glory!  THANK YOU to all who are helping to present every man complete in Christ!