The Victim Delusion

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Text: Ezekiel 18:5-17

Sermon-in-a-sentence: The victim delusion will cause you to lose sight of your identity.

Intro-

Ezekiel 18:5-17 But if a man be just, and do that which is lawful and right, [6] And hath not eaten upon the mountains, neither hath lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, neither hath defiled his neighbour’s wife, neither hath come near to a menstruous woman, [7] And hath not oppressed any, but hath restored to the debtor his pledge, hath spoiled none by violence, hath given his bread to the hungry, and hath covered the naked with a garment; [8] He that hath not given forth upon usury, neither hath taken any increase, that hath withdrawn his hand from iniquity, hath executed true judgment between man and man, [9] Hath walked in my statutes, and hath kept my judgments, to deal truly; he is just, he shall surely live, saith the Lord God . [10] If he beget a son that is a robber, a shedder of blood, and that doeth the like to any one of these things , [11] And that doeth not any of those duties , but even hath eaten upon the mountains, and defiled his neighbour’s wife, [12] Hath oppressed the poor and needy, hath spoiled by violence, hath not restored the pledge, and hath lifted up his eyes to the idols, hath committed abomination, [13] Hath given forth upon usury, and hath taken increase: shall he then live? he shall not live: he hath done all these abominations; he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon him. [14] Now, lo, if he beget a son, that seeth all his father’s sins which he hath done, and considereth, and doeth not such like, [15] That hath not eaten upon the mountains, neither hath lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, hath not defiled his neighbour’s wife, [16] Neither hath oppressed any, hath not withholden the pledge, neither hath spoiled by violence, but hath given his bread to the hungry, and hath covered the naked with a garment, [17] That hath taken off his hand from the poor, that hath not received usury nor increase, hath executed my judgments, hath walked in my statutes; he shall not die for the iniquity of his father, he shall surely live. …

 

Introductory Comments:

* we are all victims-   Truth be told we are all victims.  Victims of other’s words, actions or attitudes.  Victims of the evil of this world, and evil people.  Some are truly victims of heinous acts like murder, slavery, rape, human trafficking, etc…

* the Jews had embraced this delusion-  when I say they had embraced it, I mean they took it hook, line, and sinker.  They viewed themselves not just as victims, but as victims of God’s judgment upon their fathers.  As we said last week these Israelites looked at their present condition under the judgment of God and they blamed their forefathers.  There was no personal responsibility taken, they simply considered themselves the victims.  So as victims they just lived how they wanted to live.  (If God is going punish us for what our grandparents did, then why should we bother with living how God says to live)

* our culture likewise is engulfed in this delusion-   Everyone it seems today is a victim.  Somehow though the term victim has evolved greatly in our culture.  Several generations ago, a victim was someone who suffered some form of physical injury because of physical aggression.  Now days a victim is one who suffers physical injury, verbal injury, economic injury, emotional injury, and I’m pretty sure before long it will include even thoughts.

* this delusion seems to control the narrative in our culture today-  the platform from which most social discussion proceeds seems to be this platform of a victim.  If you don’t have a victim story, then don’t even speak.

On the show, The Voice, it seems every new contestant has a story, a story meant by producers to stir up your sympathy, and usually it is the story of a victim.  Victims to disease, divorce, tragedy, alcohol, etc…. Some of the stories emphasize the concept of ‘overcoming’ but still they are rooted in the basis of being a victim.

 

I. Analysis of a Victim: Character

Delusion says you are a ‘victim’.   A delusion is a consuming, overwhelming condition of the mind.  A thought that engulfs the mind, emotions, and will. Because of its consuming nature everything in life is affected-  including words, actions, and choices.

David Koresh… for those of you who recall the events in 1993, a man named David Koresh, which was not his birth name, led the members of his cult into a showdown with the FBI.  The confrontation ended with some 80 cult members dead and the loss of several FBI officers.  David Koresh was a deluded man, who believed himself to be Christ. 

 The delusion we are speaking about today is this one embraced by the Jews of Ezekiel’s time and like any delusion it caused them to not even recognize their own character.

God says you are a sinner.

1 Timothy 1:15  This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.

Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

 James 4:8  Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

 God says something very specific about our character, he says we are sinners!  Paul called himself the chief of sinners.  Scripture says we are sinners, we come into this world as sinners, we live as sinners, and we will die as sinners.  The question is are you a saved sinner or a lost sinner?   Have you accepted the forgiveness that Christ offers for sin?  Or are you lost, wandering through this life on the road toward an eternity apart from Christ?

Let me tell you this morning, there is an indicator of delusion, something that should cause us to sit up and pay attention. When believers refuse to even acknowledge their own sinful condition, there is a delusion!

The Word of God says we are all sinners, no matter how much I love you, I have to remind you that you are a sinner.  Sadly, believers seem shocked when they go to the preacher and he reminds them of that Biblical truth.

 

II. Analysis of a Victim: Identity

Delusion says you are a ‘victim’.  As I said before, everything gets lost in this delusion of a victim, character is forgotten about, also identity seems to be forgotten as well.  In this delusion everything is swallowed up in that one concept of being a victim, to the point of even forgetting what God says about us.  There is no identity outside of being a victim.

Like most lies the devil tells, if it is embraced it will consume your mind, energy, and life!

God says you are adopted into his family. You are a child of God!

Romans 8:14-16  For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. [15] For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. [16] The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:…

Galatians 3:26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 5:1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;

1 John 3:10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.

You are a child of God!  You are washed in the blood of Christ!  You have an eternal home in the presence of God!  Your sins are forgiven!  Your eternal destiny is sealed!  The Comforter resides within you! You have the promises of God to rest upon!  You have the Word of God in your hands!  Every week you can gather in worship and fellowship with your church family!

What is your identity?  Scripture says that if you know him as your Savior, you are an adopted child of God.  How sad it is when believers so willingly trade their identity in Christ for this victim delusion. 

 

III. Analysis of a Victim:  Duty

Delusion says you are a ‘victim’.  This victim delusion is so consuming that believers lose sight of their identity in Christ, and with that forget the duty we have as children of God.  To embrace this delusion will make you less and less effective in your work for Christ.

There are several components to our duty before God.

God says your duty is to

2 Peter 3:18  But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.

1 Peter 2:2  As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:

God says your duty is to

Hebrews 12:28  Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:

Galatians 5:13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

God says your duty is to

Ephesians 4:32  And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

This is perhaps the most difficult duty at times for believers.  To truly forgive as Christ has forgiven us is a beautiful act.  We may skip over it but there are significant spiritual truths in God’s Word concerning forgivenesses.

  • Refusal to forgive will stunt spiritual growth.
  • Forgiveness is one of the ways we imitate Christ.
  • Forgiveness is not forgetting.
  • Forgiveness is an active choice each day to not remember the offense.

 

Conclusion:

The Jews in Ezekiel’s time had become consumed with this delusion.  They had used it as a license to sin, and they blamed God for it all.

Believers have you accepted this delusion that Satan has extended to you?  Is your mind consumed with being a victim?  Have you lost sight of your identity in Christ, your character as God sees it, and your duty to Christ?

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Soul Winning 101

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John 4:1  When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, 2 (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,) 3 He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee. 4 ¶ And he must needs go through Samaria. 5 Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 6 Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour. 7 There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. 8 (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.) 9 Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. 10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. 11 The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? 12  Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? 13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: 14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. 15 The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw. 16 Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. 17 The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: 18 For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly. 19 The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. 21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. 25 The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. 26 Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.

 

Our Rationale for Soul Winning:

Our great object of glorifying God is to be mainly achieved by the winning of souls. –Spurgeon

The Prince of Preachers put it so well, we should witness and win souls to Christ because that is our chief means of glorifying God.  Yes we gather in worship, we give financially, and we may even serve faithfully in the Lord’s house, but the primary way we glorify God is by winning others to faith in Him.

The Gospel is not something we come to church to hear, it’s something we go from church to tell.  – Vance Havner

The Gospel by its very nature is not something to be held in secret and whispered about, but rather it is a message!   It is good news!  It is meant to be shared and spoken to others!   As believers we come to church, or should, with the intention of being encouraged and strengthened to go out and faithfully speak the message to those we come in contact with each day.

When the message is hid:

The church dies, the Spirit is quenched, personal growth is stifled, God is grieved,  the Devil is pleased

When the message is proclaimed:

The church thrives, the Spirit move, personal growth is occurring, God is pleased, the Devil is enraged

Believers, we must win souls!   It is the plan Jesus put into place before his ascension.  You and I telling others the good news and leading them to a place of decision.  There is no plan B!  No plan C.  Jesus established the perfect plan, his choice plan and it is dependent upon you and I being faithful witnesses.

 

 I. Christ Revealed 

25 The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. 26 Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.

Any discussion of soul winning, should not fail to mention the major concept that we see in verses 25-26.  This account with the woman at the well points out to us the two main parts to the process of soul winning.  Those two big parts are this:  obedience & the Holy Spirit!

Now we often zero in on the human part of soul winning, leaving the work of the Holy Spirit to take a back seat in our study.  But church, I submit to you the Holy Spirit, and his work is truthfully where we should begin this study of soul winning.  The work of the Holy Spirit is integral in the act of witnessing!  His work cannot be imitated by preachers, it cannot be duplicated by tv evangelists, and it cannot be replaced by man’s best efforts.

Let’s notice this morning the work of the Holy Spirit in the process of witnessing:

Revealing Christ: first of all it is the work of the Holy Spirit to reveal Christ to the heart and mind of a lost person. You and I can give testimony, we can quote Scripture, we can even appeal to a person’s emotions, but we cannot perform this particular work of the Spirit.  What do we mean by revealing Christ?   We mean that sincere work in a lost person’s heart that brings them to the moment of genuinely recognizing their sinful condition and love that is offered by the Son of God to all who will but accept his gift.  This revealing of Christ can’t be graphed on a page, it can’t be illustrated with charts, and it can’t be seen by our human eyes, but it is the most integral part of the soul winning process.

The Call: it is the work of the Holy Spirit to extend that personal call in a lost person’s heart.

Romans 8:29  For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

1Co 1:1 ¶ Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, 2 Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: 3 Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Means of Regeneration: the Holy Spirit is likewise the means through which regeneration takes place in a person’s heart.

John 3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

The Means of Conviction: the Holy Spirit is also the means by which conviction occurs in person’s heart. Notice it with me in John 16:

John 16:7  Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.  8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

The Greek word translated ‘reprove’ is that concept of conviction.  Ryrie does a good job defining the concept of conviction:   It is convincing or refuting an opponent so that he has the matter set before him in a clear light whether he accepts or rejects the evidence. 

Conviction is that inner work that occurs in a person’s heart, bringing to light their true condition before God, making it undeniable before them, whether or not they choose to accept the truth.

We should not fail to point out that conviction occurs both in saved and lost individuals.  Through conviction the Holy Spirit makes clear a lost person’s need for the Savior, and in a believer he makes plain the condition of the relationship between the believer and God.

Lastly, conviction is accomplished in several different ways:

* the Spirit speaking directly to a man’s conscience.

* the Spirit speaking through the written Word (Bible).

* the Spirit speaking through the spoken Word (preaching, testimony).

But whether or not  people are involved in affecting this ministry of conviction, if conviction comes to an individual the Spirit must do it. We readily acknowledge that regeneration is the work of the Spirit, but we sometimes let ourselves think that our clever or convincing presentations can convict.  Not so. God must do even that.  -Ryrie

 

II. Preparation

6 Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.   

We should notice from the text that Christ was tired, he was physically worn out after their journey.  (Which is no surprise considering that Scripture indicates Christ almost always walked his journey, rarely using any other form of transportation)   However, despite the tiredness of his flesh he was prepared and ready to witness to the Samaritan woman.  Much like Christ we need to be ready to win souls at any time, but there are going to be those things that hinder us if we are prepared:

* physical tiredness

* physical pain

* mental exhaustion

* doubts and uncertainty

 

What steps can we take to be prepared?

Prepare our mind!

Although I have shared Christ personally with many thousands of people through the years, I am a rather reserved person and I do not always find it easy to witness.  But I have made this my practice, and I urge you to do the same:  Assume that whenever you are alone with another person for more than a few moments, you are there by divine appointment to explain to that person the love and forgiveness he can know through faith in Jesus Christ. – Bill Bright

I love this quote by Bright because it sums up so well this necessary preparation we must take as believers.  To witness effectively, we must have our mind prepared.  There is both wrong and right thinking, and far too often we let the wrong thinking invade our minds.  We must see witnessing as Christ saw it-  witnessing was a literally a divine appointment with God!   Now, in the case of Christ, that is absolutely the case, but often we treat our conversations flippantly.  To prepare our minds we must see our witnessing opportunities as an appointment arranged by God, every single opportunity.  Believers, it is a divine appointment because we have no guarantee of tomorrow.  That person you share Christ with may not even finish the day on this earth, and in his great wisdom God has arranged for you to cross paths and have a conversation.  Don’t ever take lightly the conversations, the appointments that God arranges!

Secondly, we should prepare our minds by remembering that in no way is this process about us.  It is all about Him, and about a lost soul that he cares about deeply.

I’m just a nobody telling everybody about somebody who can save anybody. – anonymous

 

Prepare our lives!

This is likewise a vital piece in the preparation process.  The question we should ask ourselves is this-   Is there anything in my life that would hinder this person from accepting Christ as their Savior? 

Is there a spirit about me that does harm to the message I am speaking?  Is there an attitude, a sin, a defiant spirit that distracts from the Gospel message…

 

Prepare with prayer!

God places unplanned opportunities in our path, and there are also those times of witnessing that we sense are coming.  The question is how much time do we truly invest in prayer concerning these lost souls?

When is the last time that you let God so deeply burden your heart about a lost person, that you wept over them and you prayed daily for them?  Prayer is the strength of the Christian and it is essential in the process of witnessing.

 

Prepare with fasting!  

Lastly, this is probably the last preparation we ever involve ourselves in, but it is the preparation we see modeled by Christ in his ministry.  Christ prepared himself for significant moments and significant work, but submitting himself to fasting.  When has lost souls so burdened you that you prepared yourself by abstaining from food?

This is just my opinion, but I wholly believe it, the Christian who is willing to fast over a lost soul is the Christian serious about seeing God do a life-changing work in the heart of a person.

Biblical Parenting

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Text: Ephesians 6:1-4

Intro: 

The Big Challenge

Parenting is one of those topics that Scripture addresses but it does not give us a point by point, do this or do that, list of instructions.  Instead God in his perfect wisdom has communicated to us the necessary principles that should be the foundation or our parenting.  It is essential that Christian parents understand and consistently live these principles.  From these principles parents must make wise choices concerning specific areas of parenting.  God’s Word will always guide the work of the parent.

The Big Picture of Parenting

Parenting is a long-term process of training a child to one day be an effective worshiper and servant of God.  Effective Biblical parenting hinges on the parent having the correct mindset and then faithfully living out that mindset in the home.

Problems in Parenting

Like everything in the believer’s life, most problems in parenting are truly a spiritual problem, so always focus on spiritual things in parenting.  As well, many times the problems in parenting are not with the kid, but with the parent.

 

Eph 6:1  Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. 2 Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) 3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. 4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

There are some very clear principles contained in Paul’s letter to Ephesus.  Chapter 6 briefly mentions several vital concepts that parents must understand and live out in the parenting process.

#1:  Require Obedience–  children are commanded by God to obey their parents.  Eph 6:1  Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. 2 Honour thy father and mother;  Scripture says it is the right thing to do.  Therefore, parents to not require it is a failure on your part to uphold God’s Word in front of your children.  Some parents wish for obedience, others expect obedience, but very few actually require it.

Illustration:   “The parent who studies to subdue [self–will] in his child works together with God in the renewing and saving a soul. The parent who indulges it does the devil’s work, makes religion impracticable, salvation unattainable, and does all that in him lies to damn his child, soul and body forever” (cited in The Journal of John Wesley [Chicago: Moody, n.d.], p. 106).

#2: Bring them up with nurture-  this is the first descriptor in how children are to be brought up, according to Paul.  The Greek word for ‘bring them up’ is the concept of – to rear up to maturity, to cherish or train.  Paul then commands parents to train up the children with nurture.  The greek term translated ‘nurture’ is pahee-di’-ah.  It means: tutorage, disciplinary correction and its associated with other terms like chastising, chastisement and instruction.  To boil it down simply, Paul’s instruction to ‘nurture’ refers to the physical aspect of the training process of a child.

Heb 12:8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

 Heb 12:11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

2Ti 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

 The process of raising a child, training up a child, must include a physical component.  In the job sector, the training of a new employee may include much classroom learning, but usually always will contain a certain amount of hands-on, physical training.  Likewise children are Biblically trained up through the use of a healthy amount of physical training.  Physical training may include the following:

* modeling– this is physically demonstrating and showing a child how to do something.  The physical act of getting on your knees to pray, the physical act of writing out your offering envelope, etc…

* punishment–  this is physical consequences for poor behavior, it could include cleaning projects, physical labor, etc…

* spanking– this is physical discipline for poor behavior.  Scripture encourages this form of discipline, and calls the parent unwise who neglects to use this discipline.

#3: Bring them up with admonition- this is the second descriptor Paul uses in describing the training process of a child.  This term comes from the Greek-   noo-thes-ee’-ah.  It is the concept of  calling attention to, a mild rebuke or warning.  In short this term refers to the verbal component of training up a child.  Admonition may include things like encouragement, mild rebuke, quoting Scripture, teaching by lecture, etc…

 

These are some clear principles for parents in Ephesians 6:1-4.  They are not necessarily popular in culture, but they are God’s Word.  Errors of mindset by parents concerning these principles will produce significant parenting challenges down the road.  This wrong thinking by parents produces a number of myths.  Webster defines a myth as – a widely held but false belief or idea.  Consider with me this morning a few common myths held to by parents.

 Myth #1:    ‘Our kids are pretty good kids.’

This is perhaps one of the most common myths heard today. It is on the surface quite innocent sounding, but when we truly listen and consider it we must recognize that blatantly contradicts Scripture. Scripture clearly addresses the condition of mankind, ever man, woman, boy and girl are described the same way in the Word.  The book of Romans makes this truth ever so clear.

Ro 3:21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: 23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Ro 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

Ro 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 The failure by parents to see their children as God sees them leads to significant issues down the road.

 

Myth #2:   ‘Children must be the first priority in the home.’ 

This is a phrase so common today. Have you heard it before? This myth is an extension really of those in the psychology field who teach that the successful family is a child-centered family.  In this philosophy success is only possible by making the children the highest priority.  From this mentality comes the parenting advice given so frequently:  ‘the more attention you give your children, the better they will turn out’.

Preacher what danger is there in this? What can possibly be wrong with making our children the first priority? The danger in this myth is this, God did not design the home to revolve around the children.  God instituted the home on the union of a man and woman in marriage.  That marriage bond is directly submitted to God, and it is to be the strongest and most important relationship in the home.  Eph 5:31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.  Children cannot be the first priority in the home because Scripture very clearly lays out the list of priorities:

#1- God;  #2- spouse,  #3- children.  Elevating children to #1 priority is dangerous because it is first of all sin- it makes something more important than God in your life.  Secondly it is dangerous, because it diminishes your marriage relationship.

 

Myth #3:   ‘The behavior of my children is a sure measure of successful parenting.’

This myth can sound so true at face value, but it is truly inaccurate.  Especially as children age, their behavior may not be an accurate measure at all concerning the success of parenting.  Obedience may be outward with no true grounding in the heart.

The more accurate statement should be this- ‘My response to the behavior of my children is a measure of successful parenting.’  The response of parents is so vitally important because it reveals specific parenting qualities:

  • perseverance or lack thereof
  • consistency or lack of it
  • hard-headedness (determination)
  • self-control

 

Myth #4:   ‘My children belong to me.’  

This myth is a blatant lie from the devil and it has permeated the church.  Initially this myth begins with incorrect ideas like this: ‘My children are my property, and it’s my right to raise them the way I desire.’

But that is not all, I submit to you this myth has far-reaching impact.  I think it goes something like this-

  • my children belong to me- they are not going to leave me to be a missionary.
  • my children belong to me- I don’t want them to throw their life away by going to Bible college.
  • my children belong to me- I want them to play sports on Sunday, because sports could change their life!
  • my children belong to me- no one knows better than me how they should be raised.

 

What does the Bible say?  Psalm 127:3- Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord…  some versions write it a ‘gift from the Lord’.  Children do not belong to us, they are entrusted to us by God, for a period of time, to train them how to live for Him.

This myth should more accurately be stated this way-  ‘My children belong to God’.  

Biblical Discipline

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Text: Proverbs 22:15  

Sermon-in-a-sentence: Discipline is all about the heart.

Intro:

 Proverbs 13:24 – He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.

Proverbs 22:15 – Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.

Proverbs 23:13 – Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.

Proverbs 29:15 – The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.

What does Scripture say concerning discipline?  Well, the Proverbs, the book of wisdom, speaks well to the issue of discipline in parenting.  We should pay special attention to the concepts being conveyed in Proverbs…

 

Concept #1-  To not chasten your child, is to not love your child.

Proverbs 13:24 – He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes. 

This is perhaps the most difficult concept for the world to grasp in what the Bible says about parenting.  Can I say this? Believers don’t be surprised when your unsaved friends completely miss this concept, because this is a spiritually minded concept.  Verse 24 very simply states this profound truth, that genuine love in a parent will produce physical discipline with the child.  This is an evidence of Biblical love, because discipline will aid in producing the kind of servant that God desires.

Parents must employ this type of discipline because it is the picture of how God the Father deals with his children.  This picture is important believers because it points to God.  God chastened Adam and Eve in the garden.  He chastened Abraham and his family.  God continually chastened the nation of Israel, seeking to mold them into the shape he desired.  Jesus Christ came and went about his earthly ministry often chastening the religious leaders and the 12.  In the church age, Scripture says the Holy Spirit resides within us very much about the business of chastening you and I.  Believers we must discipline in a way that accurately reflects our Heavenly Father, with both the rod and with grace, make sure our children are pointed to God by this image.

 

Concept #2-  Foolishness and your child’s heart are fused together.

Proverbs 22:15 – Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.  

Proverbs so vividly describes this concept for us.  The image looks something like this-  on the underside of a boat, a saltwater boat, you will find barnacles.  Small creatures that attach themselves to the boat and do not intend to let go.  You are all familiar with tics, small pesky things that attach to your skin and do their best not to let go.

This is the picture given of your child’s heart.  Foolishness is fused together with their heart.  They enter the world in this condition.  The world and the flesh only encourage this bond, but God has given parents the task of working to cause a separation in this bond.

 

Concept #3:  Discipline is the process of separating or putting space between your child’s heart and the foolishness.

This is the image we see in verse 15, a fusing so strong, that serious labor must be put into causing separation.  I can’t help but picture a man with an axe when I read this verse.  The man strains and expends energy trying to drive the axe head into the wood to split the wood.  This is the image of discipline Scripture employs, a taxing process of trying to put space between your child and the foolishness.

The more you read the Old Testament the more you can see this concept lived out.  During the time of the prophets, God would raise up a man who would labor his whole life essentially trying to separate Israel from the foolishness of their hearts.  Men like Elijah labored intensively for many years in this work, enduring hardships, persecution, and trials to affect the work God wanted them to do.

 

Concept #4: Discipline provides your child with wisdom.

Proverbs 29:15 – The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame

We saw previously that discipline is described as separating foolishness from a child’s heart.  Chapter 29 continues by telling us that the rod and reproof will impart wisdom to your child.  The failure to employ both of these methods in parenting will leave children lacking wisdom that intends for them to receive.

This verse also goes on to state very clearly the end result of unbiblical parenting.  The result will be a mother shamed.

* culture says let children find their own path-  the end result will be shame.

* culture says don’t spank your child it may hurt their personality-  the end will be shame.

* culture encourages children to disobey and even correct their parents – the end will be shame.

 

 

 

 

Last week we considered some myths- statements that are often believed but truly are false according to Scripture.  Many of you spoke with me this week about the myths, so I want to finish today by mentioning three more common myths in parenting today.  I hope you will write these down and put some time into pondering them this week.

 

Myth #5:  ‘Quality time with my children is more important than quantity time.’

This is a common myth today, especially as our society has shifted to the norm of both parents having to work, just for the family to survive.  However, like the others this statement is a myth.  Quality time is not better or even equal to quantity time.  Here is what Scripture says-

Deuteronomy 6:4-7  Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: [5] And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. [6] And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: [7] And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

In this passage God is instructing his people in the task of teaching His Law to their children.  Notice the quantity of time mentioned in the text:  he says to teach his law diligently when at rest in the house, when active outside the home, when it is bedtime at night, and when it is morning of a new day.  Adequate teaching of the Word of God will not happen over dinner and dessert, it must be a continual process through the day.  Great amount of time is spoken of in Deuteronomy 6 in the daily activity of training a child.

The discipline process of a child is best performed through quantity time not through quality time.  In a two parent home, children need the father to take active leadership in the discipline process with quantity time invested.

 

Myth #6: ‘Spanking my children is the key to successful Biblical parenting.’

This myth has been proclaimed by preachers for many years and held to by a good many Christian parents.  This myth is held to because it is often easier and quicker to employ the rod than to live Paul’s instructions in Ephesians 6 or Moses’ instructions in Deuteronomy 6.  The rod as spoken of in Proverbs is not a magic bullet or a genie in a bottle.  The task of discipline is a long, time consuming task, that involves daily, systematic training and instruction.

Consider these thoughts with me:

* the rod can not replace the active presence of a father in the home.

* the rod can not make right unbiblical favoritism shown by the parents.

* the rod alone will not affect heart change in your children.

It is only as the rod is coupled with the regular, systematic instruction of the knowledge of God that Biblical parenting occurs and heart change can one day take place.

 

Myth #7:  ‘The purpose of discipline is to control my child’s behavior.’

According to Scripture, the purpose of discipline is a long-range one, it is this – HEART CHANGE.  The purpose for discipline is ultimately that – to affect genuine heart change in the child.  I will give it to you, when you study the Old Testament, and the nation of Israel you see Jehovah interact with his people in a way that is quite behavioristic.  However, at no point was the goal to control behavior of his people.  That is a very surface observation, God was supremely concerned about the hearts of his people.  He was infuriated by the sinfulness of their hearts, he was fed up with their refusal to repent and make their hearts right, and he was committed to sending his Son into this world to truly clean their hearts.  God was always chiefly concerned with heart change!

Our parenting and discipline should likewise be focused on heart-change!

At any age our desire as parents should be to discipline in a way that leads toward genuine heart-change.  To focus on behavior control will only lead to disappointment and frustration in a parent.  Our discipline is one more tool that assists the work of heart-change that God is trying to do in your child.

 

Why is heart-change needed?

Heart change is the need that every one of us have.  We are all desperately in need of God to do a radical work in our lives. Scripture says we are all sinners, we all enter this world as sinful human beings.  We are all separated from God, our creator, by the presence of sin.  God, who desires a personal relationship with you, took action and sent his Son into this world to die on a cross for you!  Jesus shed his blood on a cross so that when the Father looks at you he no longer sees sin, but he sees the blood of his Son! We are all in need of the heart change that only Jesus can provide!

Romans 3:23.  For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Romans 6:23- For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 5:8- But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

 

How do I discipline in a way that facilitates heart-change?

* read and memorize God’s Word as a family.

* quote Scripture to your children during moments of discipline.

* expound to your children what God thinks of their disobedience.

* discipline promptly but with a clear head.

* pray with your child concerning their choices.

* avoid things in discipline that could provoke your child to wrath- favoritism, physical abuse, etc…

* never stop praying for genuine heart change.

Corrupt Words

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Text: Ephesians 4:29-32

Sermon-in-a-Sentence:  Rotten words will not edify, will not minister grace, and will grieve. 

Intro: 

Quotes concerning Words:

Because a woman’s vocal cords are shorter than a man’s she can actually speak with less effort than he can. Shorter vocal cords not only cause a woman’s voice to be more highly pitched, but also require less air to become agitated, making it possible for her to talk more with less energy expended.  – Sparks, quoted in Homemade, Dec., 1984.

Talk is cheap because the supply always exceeds the demand. One of the lessons of history is that nothing is often a good thing to do and always a clever thing to say.  -Will Durant.

In 1887 the coffin of Abraham Lincoln was pried open to determine if it contained his body. What makes that act so remarkable is the fact that Lincoln’s body had rested in that coffin for 22 years. Yet, even more amazing is that 14 years later a rumor circulated again that Lincoln’s coffin was actually empty. The furor so gripped the land that the only way to silence it was to dig up the coffin–again. This was done and the rumor silenced when a handful of witnesses viewed the lifeless body of Abraham Lincoln.  -Today in the Word, February, 1991, p. 27.

Previously in our study we have considered two important areas of speech-  Controlled Words and Caring Words.  The first week we discussed the most Biblical way to value words is to ‘hold our peace’.  Last week we considered the example of Christ, that compassion stirs up two types of Caring Words- prayer and evangelism.

Today let us consider what Scripture says concerning Corrupt Words, because to truly value words we need to know what God says concerning this type of speech.  Ephesians 4:29-32 gives us as believers some of the best guidance concerning words and specifically this third area – Corrupt Words.  Let’s consider specifically Ephesians 4:29 today.     

Ephesians 4:29  Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. 30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

 To get a good grasp of this text it is so necessary that we comprehend the term – corrupt communication.  As with all of Scripture, I do not want to leave any doubt or uncertainty as to this term in the text.  The word corrupt in the text is the Greek word,            , meaning-  rotten, i.e. worthless (literally or morally):–bad.   This term is used a handful of times in the New Testament, mostly in the Gospels, concerning trees and fruit, when Jesus was teaching.

Mt 7:17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

 This is the image we are given of this term corrupt.  It is that vivid picture of rotten fruit.  If you have spent time on a farm or around fruit trees you know what I’m talking about.  Rotten fruit is ugly to the eye, smelly to the nose, and even worse to the sense of taste.  When Scripture uses this word corrupt it is speaking of words that are just ‘rotten’ in every way.  The words sound bad, look bad, feel bad, and taste bad.

This week I came across some words that are just downright ‘rotten’ in my opinion.  I want to share them with you, and see how they strike you-

“The big news today is that Billy Graham was still alive this whole time. Anyway, have fun in hell, bi–h,” Lauren Duca tweeted.   Duca went on to say “’Respecting the dead’ only applies to people who weren’t evil pieces of sh-t while they were living.”  -Lauren Duca, Teen Vogue

With that said, let’s not forget one more important detail concerning this corrupt communication.  God calls this communication corrupt, or rotten.  This is not rotten communication because the preacher said it, this is rotten words because Holy God says it is so.  Believers this kind of communication is called rotten by God because it does nothing but violate his perfect holiness.  If we can apply human characteristics to God, we could say it this way-  these words are stench in the nostrils of God, they are disgraceful to his ears, and they look ugly on the lips of his children.

Now as believers it is incumbent upon us to know what particular words are ‘corrupt’ according to God.  At this point we could make out a lengthy list of things like- gossip, slander, etc…  But our text gives us the instruction for how to speak.  It tells us in plain language exactly what words should proceed from the mouth of the believer.  By this we can likewise tell what are the corrupt words in God’s eyes.

 

I. Use Edifying Words

If it does not edify, then it is ‘rotten’. This is the first instruction in the text, as the believer avoids corrupt communication, Paul says first to use words that are good for edifying.   Ephesians 4:29  Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying…   The Greek word is oy-kod-om-ay’, and it means ‘building’, as in ‘building up’.

A recurring theme of the New Testament is the concept of the believer being built up, being fashioned more like Christ, being remade as Christ desires to shape us. Quite simply we are the clay, in the hands of the potter. Paul tells believers to speak words to one another that are good words to aid in the process of building up, and avoid those words that could hinder this process in the Christian’s life.

The responsibility of edification falls to two groups in the church. Most often edification is thought of as the burden for preachers and teachers, which is true. Everything that occurs in this service this morning, in these facilities, should be for the purpose of glorifying God and edifying believers.  The singing, the music, the Scripture, the preaching, all of it should aid in the process of edification.  Preachers and teachers are tasked with the responsibility of making sure that what is done is edifying to believers.  The second group responsible for edifying is – all believers.  In the context of a local New Testament church, every member is responsible for edification, particularly as Paul mentions it here, through the use of words.

* What does this mean practically in our everyday lives?  This means at no point believer are you to speak words that would hinder or hurt the spiritual growth of your brother in Christ.  If it does not edify, then it is rotten! 

* What are some examples of words that hinder spiritual growth?

Complaining:  a failure to see the good, and always focused on the bad.  Complaining does not edify because it trains younger believers to only see the bad, the difficulties in the Christian life, and lose sight of the good God that we serve.

Gossip:  idle talk which may or may not contain truth.  Gossip breeds divisiveness and dissension in the church body.  It does not edify.

* What are some examples of words that build up others?

Encouragement:  finding something positive to say to be a blessing to another.

Worship:  speaking or singing about God.  It’s always good for the believer to be redirected back to a focus on God.

Remember believers- If it does not edify, then it is rotten.

 

II. Use Grace-giving Words

If it does not give grace, then it is ‘rotten’. This is the second instruction in our text from Paul. He tells the believer to use grace-giving words.  …but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.  This is terminology we may not use all the time, but it is a very simple concept.  Use words in speaking to others that will be a benefit to them, not corrupt them through what is said.

This instruction is echoed again in Colossions 4:6- Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. There is a Biblical and a wrong way to respond to people, to speak to people.  The principle we see presented by Paul, is the ‘others first principle’.  Believers speak to others in a way that is a benefit to them, put their benefit before your personal desires.  Sometimes they are benefited by concealing a matter, as Proverbs says it.  Some may be benefited by the putting aside of your desire to get even or obtain revenge.  Whatever it may be, we see from Paul that when it comes to our words the chief concern is the benefit of others, not ourselves.

 

III. Use Non-grieving Words

If it grieves the Holy Spirit, then it is ‘rotten’. This is the third instruction by Paul in the text.  This instruction applies to many areas of the Christian life, but especially to words. 30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.   This particular sin is spoken of several times in the New Testament, the sinful acting of grieving the Holy Spirit.  The word grieve in the text means- to distress, to cause sorrow, to cause heaviness.   The idea is much like that of a parent, as a parent watches a child make poor decisions, despite good training, and the parent is heavy of heart because of the poor choices made.

What are some ways in which words grieve the Holy Spirit?

* when words obstruct his work:

* when sin is trifled with:

* when deity is treated carelessly:

* when place is given to the devil: 

* when the spirit of this world is cherished:

 

Application:   remember if it does not edify, or minister grace, then it is rotten!    

Perspective on School Shootings

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In recent days, everyone from politicians to NBA basketball players has weighed in on the social tragedy that is the ongoing occurrence of school shootings.  Some have offered up there opinion based on the color of their skin resembling the color of some victims.  Others have spouted their opinion simply because they get paid large amounts of money to do so on morning television shows.

My perspective comes from working in the public school system as a teacher and pursuing an advanced degree in school administration.  As well my perspective is irrevocably colored by Scripture, the Word of God.  With that said, here is some perspective.

As with many things in life, I see these school shootings like fruit on a tree.  Like fruit, these shootings catch the eye and draw attention.  Also, like fruit, these school shootings are not a stand alone entity, just as a tree makes possible the appearance of fruit, likewise there are some structures making possible the school shootings.  A farmer delights or laments the fruit he produces, and a good farmer knows some necessary keys to producing excellent fruit.

Key #1:  The farmer knows so well that the root system is essential to the production of healthy fruit.  In order to have good fruit there must be good roots.  We would all agree that these school shootings are bad fruit, they are sad, unnecessary, heart-wrenching losses of life.  Furthermore, we know plainly from Scripture that the root of all wickedness- murder, theft, envy, etc… is sin.  Sin is the root of this school shooting issue.

Key #2:  The farmer knows as well that to produce good fruit there must be a healthy trunk, bark, and body of the tree.  If the root system of this problem is sin, then what is the trunk, the body of the problem, that is producing school shootings?  I submit to you there are several clear components that make up this unhealthy trunk.

* For many years now our public school systems have dumped money into teaching programs like character education.  Programs that are in my opinion, good programs.  However, at the same time multiple generations have been taught in the school system, that if a teenage girl doesn’t want that unborn child living inside of her, that she can get rid of it because it’s not a life.  Our school system has labored to teach good character but at the same time taught students that it is okay to value or not value certain lives.  Hollywood and politicians should not act surprised when teenagers walk into a school and murder innocent lives, because for decades we have taught students its okay to selectively value human life.  These teenagers have watched there parents do it and their grandparents do it, and by the standards of the federal government they are old enough to murder a child in the womb.  Truly, how can we be surprised when these school shootings take place?

* Secondly, by what standard can politicians or media say that this activity is wrong?  God and his Word has been removed the school, from the television airwaves.  Many would argue that based on the conscience of culture, the school shootings are wrong.  Historically though, culture’s conscience is a fickle, ever changing matter.  For a time in this country alcoholic beverages of any kind were considered culturally wrong, but of course that changed rather quickly.  There are pockets of culture in our country that hold to polygamy being healthy and good.  So based on the conscience of culture what is wrong today, may or may not be wrong tomorrow.  This is called an absence of absolutes.  The same voices that are screaming how bad it is that these school shootings occur, are the same voices that push incessantly the mindset that there is no absolutes.  So the question remains on what standard can these acts be deemed wrong?

* Thirdly, our education system has thoroughly indoctrinated most young people with the concept that human beings are nothing more than evolved apes or animals.  Our liberal media and elite routinely speak of themselves as being more evolved than those on the other side of the aisle from them.  So, how can we be surprised when a teenager who believes human life is just an evolved animal life, decides to murder the lives of those he feels are less evolved than him?

These are a few characteristics that make up the trunk of this tree.  In simplest terms, we are seeing teenagers fulfill exactly what we have taught them.  Basketball players can blame it on guns, but the hard truth is we produced this problem, not guns.  The fruit is rotten because the tree is sick!

Thankfully, there is a solution, a singular solution.  It is not in politics, or laws, or more restrictions on American freedoms.  The solution is to recognize, exalt, and teach absolute truth.  To know truth you must know the One who spoke truth.  He is the one said all human life is created in His image.  He said he created man.  He said his law is the standard by which right and wrong can be determined.  Romans 1:21- Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 

Caring Words

…A Generation that Values Words…

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Text: Matthew 9:35-38

Sermon-in-a-Sentence:  Compassion is the fuel for caring words spoken by the believer.

Intro: 

Last week we considered Controlled Words in our time in God’s Word.  We emphasized the most Biblical method to ‘value words’ is to ‘hold our peace’.  Today, let’s consider the second category of words that we see mentioned in Scripture- Caring Words.  There are so many examples we could consider from God’s Word concerning this type of speech.  Examples:

John 16:33- These things have I spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. 

I Peter 5:7-  Casting all your care upon Him, for he cadets for you.

Isaiah 26:3-  Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trustees in thee.

Psalm 62:6-  He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defense; I shall not be moved.

Psalm 55:22-  Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain Thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.

II Timothy 1:7-  For God hath not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 

 

There are so many excellent examples in Scripture of caring words, but the best would have to be these:

Romans 5:8-  But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 10:13-  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved.

John 3:16- For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

 

Our text this morning is found in Matthew 9:35-38.

Matthew 9:35-38   And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. [36] But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. [37] Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; [38] Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.

The Example of Christ:

* Spiritual vision stirs up compassion.

* Jesus saw people, he saw sheep.  (Not politics, not sports, not class or skin color)

 

I. Compassion Fuels Prayer

The first area of Caring Words is prayer. The example given by Christ is that prayer is motivated by compassion. The words that we speak in prayer proceed from a heart of compassion, care and concern for those around us, and love for our God.  This is another important way that we value words, by continual, Biblical prayer.

Verse 38 gives us a rich image of the prayer life that is being spoken of by Christ.  The Greek word translated prayer means:  to beg (as binding oneself), petition. 

This is an earnest, determined, persevering prayer life.  The picture of this is one fixing himself to Christ in prayer, tenaciously grabbing a hold of the throne of God, and refusing to let go.

Illustration:  child grabbing your leg, and refusing to let go.

When is the last time you got on your knees and prayed until God gave you an answer?

 

Who is it that we pray to?

We pray to the Lord of the harvest!  He is the master of it all, the absolute authority over the harvest.  Out of his great love he has made possible a salvation plan and he has chosen you and I to serve a purpose in this plan.  The love exercised in our lives reflects, imperfectly, his glorious love.  We call out to, we petition, and we latch unto Him in prayer.

Prayer is the first of two types of caring words because we pray:

  1. As adopted children talking to our Father.
  2. Desiring that he be glorified in this world. (Not ourselves)
  3. Desiring that his perfect will be done. (Not our own)
  4. As his children, bringing requests to Him that can only be done by Him.

 

 II. Compassion Fuels Evangelism

Christ says that we should urgently petition the throne of God, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest. Just as compassion fuels prayer it also fuels evangelism, how we speak to other people.  Now we all interact with people, on a daily basis.  We speak to cashiers at the store, to coworkers at our job, to strangers, to friends, and to family.  But far too often we fail to speak caring words in these interactions, instead we use profanity, we gossip, ridicule, make demands, analyze faults, and in general waste breath with words that are of no spiritual value.   But let’s not forget we have the opportunity to make use of caring words with others.

How do we employ caring words in our day to day interactions with people?

  • Talk about God!

How often do we just spend time talking with someone about God?

Illustration: now I will you tell you this has often been a point a conviction for me.  I will talk for an hour with someone about the Cardinals, about Star Wars, about our education system, or about politics, but rarely do I talk about God for that long.  (For some 4 years, every Wednesday morning, I would spend a few hours with a friend of mine named Don.  One of the things I grew to love so much about Don was the way in which he would talk about his God.  Don it seemed could talk for hours, effortlessly, natural conversation about God.).

How often do we just talk about God?  In this room today I know are at least a few men and women who work in an area of sales or are gifted at sales.  In sales you have a technique called ‘talking points’, specific points about the product that you have prepared yourself to be ready to talk about at the drop of a hat.  Politicians have talking points, salesmen, school administrators, and believers we should have talking points.   There should be a few things about our God, that when the opportunity arises we talk about Him.  But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:  – I Peter 3:15.

  • Talk about His Word!

How often do we spend time talking with people about God’s Word?  The stories, the lessons, the wisdom, the beauty, there is so much material in the Word that should be easy for us to talk about.

  • Talk about what His Word says concerning present day debates!

There are so many things going on in our society today that as Christians we need to be prepared not just to give our opinion but more importantly to communicate in a loving way what Scripture says about these issues.  Though the world would like to ignore it God’s Word addresses the issues debated right now and there are teenagers, grandchildren, friends and others who need someone to lovingly show them how God’s Word applies to these discussions.

School Shootings:   Does Scripture speak specifically about school shootings? No.  But the Bible speaks exhaustively about murder, hatred, and how to resolve these issues.  Scripture says these societal issues are the fruit of something much bigger, and that root problem is SIN.  The desire and actions by mankind to utterly disregard and violate the law of God and his holiness.  Man is the only creature created in His image and human life is intrinsically valuable.  Sadly, our education system spends millions of dollars trying to teach character education but at the same time tells our children that it’s ok to murder a child in the womb.  Somebody needs to point out to politicians – don’t be surprised that teenagers selectively choose to value human life, because they have watched multiple generations before them do the same thing.  God’s Word says every human life is valuable in eyes of God!

  • Talk about what Jesus did!

How often do we just have a conversation with someone about what Christ did?  Jesus by his own choice entered this world, took on himself human flesh, experienced a very typical, normal life, willingly laid down his life on a cross, shed his blood on a cross, rose from the grave, and desires to spend eternity with you.  These are the most caring words that can be spoken to another person- to tell them the simple facts of what Christ did for them on the cross.  Every person needs to hear these words and every person needs a believer in their life who will in compassion share this good news.  One of the saddest things in the world is the realization that some people will live and die without ever coming in contact with a believer to hear these words.  When Jesus looked out over the crowds he said they were as sheep having no shepherd and how true those words are today!  There are so many around the world that are like lost sheep, wandering through this life, never coming into contact with the true Shepherd.  Believers we must talk about what Jesus did!  If it’s truly good news to us, we will share it with others!

  • Talk about what Jesus has done in your life!

People need to hear what Christ has done and as well they need to hear what Christ has done in your life.  Tell them about the change that has taken place in your life: what you were like before salvation and what your life is like now.  Talk about the change that reading, studying, and living God’s Word has made in your life.

 

Application:

The reason Caring Words occupy a small percentage of our communication is because of the lack of compassion in our hearts.  Compassion and caring words are directly connected!

* Show me Christians who have little or no involvement in world-wide mission endeavors and I will show you a heart lacking compassion.

* Show me a believer who rarely exercises prayer, and I will show you a believer void of compassion.

* Show me a believer who constantly fights with other church members, and I’ll show you a believer who needs to develop compassion.

Compassion withers away in believers as we become consumed with self, driven by entertainment, and engulfed with the activities of this world.  Caring words should not be a rarity, or even an endangered species, they should be a regular part of the believer’s life!

Steps to Exercise Caring Words:

  1. Make God #1 in your home! (Not entertainment, sports, or career)
  2. Let his cares and desires be your cares and desires. (God’s chief concerns are His glory and the redemption of lost souls)
  3. Choose each day to make Caring Words a big part of your life. (Prayer and evangelism)