Monday, June 24, 2019

It's Getting Personal!

Acts 8:26-40

Guidelines for Personal Evangelism
The story of Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch gives us some great practical principles for personal evangelism. 


1. We are all called to personal evangelism
Theologian/Author Michael Green in his commentary on Acts points out: Above all how the early church grew [was] by personal evangelism. 
Philip, a gifted preacher, was taken away from a thriving public ministry in Samaria for this encounter. Later, in Acts 20, he mentions both his public and his personal evangelistic ministry. We are all called to take the gospel to others. 



2. Simple Obedience
Philip was given an odd command. Leave this place where you encounter people constantly and go out to the middle of nowhere. He immediately got up and went.
When he got there, he ran to the chariot.

3. Don’t categorize people.
The Ethiopian wasn’t a likely person to be receptive. He wouldn’t have been easy to approach as he was an important, wealthy man
The Samaritans were ready. An Ethiopian wouldn’t seem to be ready to hear without laying some groundwork first, but God had prepared the soil!
The gospel is both simple enough that a child can understand it and profound enough that the greatest minds could never grasp the fullness of its depth. 

4. God Prepares the Soil
The Ethiopian was ready to hear the gospel because God had prepared the soil of his heart.
Every encounter is going to look different
sometimes times we plant seeds 
(like handing out million dollar bill tracts)
sometimes wen we water
sometimes we harvest harvest.
Our task is to share. 

5. Listen to their Questions
Philip began by asking “do you understand what you’re reading?”
Start by asking where they are? What are their questions? What do they believe?
Then, explain the gospel.

6. Use Scripture
Philip’s example: beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus
While we hope that our explanation of the gospel is helpful, what people need to hear is God’s Word, which is able to save their souls. (1 Peter 1:23, James 1:19, Romans 10:19, John 


Seek accountability from someone. Ask someone to check with you as to how your gospel preparation is going. Ask your Sunday school teacher to call on you to share your gospel verses or share the gospel in class, etc.

7. It’s All About Jesus
Everything in Christianity revolves around who Jesus is and what He has done. Everything. 
John Wesley used to say “we must offer them Christ”
When our own intellectual AND experiential knowledge of Jesus is deepening, we’ll be better prepared for personal evangelism. 

8. Seek a Response
Does that make sense?
Is that something you’d like to do now?
Do you understand what I mean when I say
repent?
believe?
Ask them to repent of their sins and place their faith in Christ. (Mark 1:15) 

9. Encourage Baptism
Notice that the Ethiopian was baptized immediately. This is relly the first step of obedience for a believer. Get baptized
It’s a public declaration of what Christ has done and a picture of salvation.

10. Church Membership
There wasn’t a church for him to go back to, but early church tradition seems to indicate that he went home and started the first church there. 
Today, there’s no reason for a new believer to not become involved in a local church right away.
God’s design is that the church is to be the fundamental environment in which we are going to grow spiritually.

This Passage Challenges Us
to put evangelism on the front burner
Whether that means
learning the gospel
identifying someone to share with
committing to pray daily for opportunities
getting out and sharing with someone
inviting that friend, co-worker, etc. to come to church

Don’t neglect what is not just a command, but what is one of the great privileges of the Christian life - sharing Jesus with others!

Soli Deo Gloria!
Rob


Monday, May 13, 2019

FOUNDATIONAL THINKING

We’re all Saints & Sinners
Acts 4:32-5:11

When it comes to your commitment to and involvement in the Body of Christ (your local church) there are some principles that you should follow. We are all Saints & Sinners and need to strive to think rightly about how we engage in church life.

1. Crucify self
Philippians 2:1-11 - look to Christ’s example of sacrifice
Ephesians 4:2 be patient, bearing with one another…
Ephesians 4:32 …forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Are you patient with your brothers/sisters? Are you bearing with them?
Are you forgiving as Christ forgave you? 

Hint: you are required to forgive. To not forgive could mean you’re not saved

WHEN (not if) you’re hurt - do you fight for “justice?” You’re likely battling for your wounded pride.
1 Corinthians 13:5Love… does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
If you have crucified self - you won’t insist on your own way. 
You’ll be willing to compromise on non-essentials for the greater good
It shouldn’t be about your personal agenda

2. Meet Often - Share Deep
We need to become more deeply engaged in one another’s lives. Our hearts becoming intertwined & woven together/
1 John 1:7if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another

Who really knows what’s going on in your life spiritually 
(other than your spouse?)
If there’s not someone - there needs to be - and you need to pursue that - NOW!

3. The Acts 2:42 Foundation
Memorize this verse.
This is the foundation - build on that
• The Word
• Fellowship
• The Gospel
• Prayer

4. Serve with a Right Mindset
Here’s the big question of this passage:
Are you serving Christ, or serving self?

Are you serving for the recognition, or for the Lord? Is your goal the advancement of the kingdom? Or the advancement of your personal agenda? It’s hard to answer that question because our pride so expertly disguises itself.

If you are reading this blog: you struggle with pride.

Barnabas was the positive example.
Ananias & Saphira were the negative.
On the surface, there was no difference. 
We all need to think carefully: what’s my motive?

Ultimately, this passage is about wise investment of our money, time, talent, tools, and our “stuff.”
• to the glory of God
• while serving One another
• with the goal of encouragement


Side Note:
Barnabas was called Barnabas for a reason - 
v 36Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement)

encouraging was his thing. 

Another question: who can you encourage today?
Do that TODAY - every day this week
send a text
write a note
make a phone call
send an email
make a comment
have a conversation
It’s way too easy to see something negative and complain. Instead, we should make it our aim to be encouragers.

The Bottom Line:
• Go encourage someone right now. 
• Start memorizing Acts 2:42
• Review the four “Foundation” principles regularly (probably daily for a couple of weeks, then less often). 
• Engage accordingly. 

Stay saturated in the Word,

Pastor Rob


Monday, April 29, 2019

So what, specifically, do I do THIS week? (answers at the bottom)

Speaking Boldly
Acts 4:23-31
We’re reminded in this passage of the centrality of prayer in the life of the church.

Charles Spurgeon famously said:
If a church is to be what it ought for the purposes of God, we must train it in the holy art of prayer. If a church does not pray, it is dead. Instead of putting united prayer last, put it first. Everything will hinge upon the power of prayer in the church. 

If we are to be the church that God is calling us to be - we must pray. In this passage, prayer leads to their being “filled with the Spirit,” which leads to them Speaking Boldly.

The idea of “filled with the Spirit” comes up again and again, so what does it mean? How do we follow the command in Ephesians 5:18 to be “filled with the Spirit?”

What Filled with the Spirit is NOT:
1. It’s NOT just some sort of dramatic, emotional experience. 
2. It’s not robotic mechanical obedience
devoid of any feeling
3. It’s not a progressive thing. 
It’s not a little more here, then a little more - 
You were given the fullness of the Spirit at salvation. John 3:34he gives the Spirit without measure
4. It’s not “sealed, indwelt, or baptized” by the Spirit
Those are different aspects of the Spirit 

Understanding the meaning of “filled.”
Here are some helpful ideas to understand what it means to be filled.
• A glass that’s been filled up 
• Wind filling up the sails, carrying the boat along
• Something that’s been Permeated - like marinating meat - it absorbs the flavor. Every bite tastes good.
• A Sponge that’s Saturated with water. You can’t pick it up without getting wet. You can’t set it on the counter without water seeping out. You toss it at someone, it gets on them. 
Ultimately: Under Total Control

How to be Filled with the Spirit:
Practical Steps
1. Understand that this is God’s will for you. (Ephesians 5:18)
You don’t have to pray about it to determine if it’s a path/direction to pursue
2. It’s an ongoing thing
Not something you did in the past
Not something you should do in the future. 
But something you do all the time. 
keep being filled.

3. Be Saturated in the Word
The Bible is the inspired Word of God
Every word – written under the full inspiration, guidance, direction of the Holy Spirit
   These are the words of the Spirit
   These are the words of Christ
   These are the words of God
If we are to be filled with the Spirit
We MUST be filled with His Word.

4. You Must Make Effort

2 Peter 1:5 tells us to make maximum effort toward our spiritual growth. When we don’t make intentional effort toward begin filled, the default mode is toward the things of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16-23)

NOW - Get in the Word!
Three Options you can start this week.
Wednesday is May 1 - new month, new plan

Option 1: If the goal of Prayer and Bible Study is to know Jesus - a great place to start is one of the Gospels. Here’s a link to a 31 day Bible Reading Plan through the Book of John

Option 2: Take a book of the Bible or a section that you can read in 20-25 minutes and read it daily for 30 days. A the end of that month, you’ll really know that book. 
The book of James, 1 John, Colossians, Ephesians, or Philippians are good choices. 

Option 3: The ultimate goal of all this is “Speaking Boldly.” But what, exactly, should we be speaking? Ultimately, we want to boldly speak and share the gospel with others. Here’s a guide to learning to share the gospel in a month. Why not take the Month of May to solidify your ability to biblically share the gospel with others?

Any of these plans can be started at any time, but since we start a new month on Wednesday, why not kick off something new?

Praying you grow in your love for the Lord and that you keep being filled with the Spirit today!

Soli Deo Gloria!
Rob


Monday, April 15, 2019

Standing Firm! (Acts 4:1-22)

How to Stand Firm

These principles are drawn from the example of Peter and John in Acts 4:1-22. For the full sermon, check out the Fellowship Website. 

1. Know that Persecution WILL come!
2 Timothy 3:12all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,
Romans 8:35…Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
James 1:2 count it all joy when you meet trials of various kinds…

2. Be Devoted to the right things: Acts 2:42 
The Word of God
hearing, reading, studying, memorizing, & meditating
Fellowship
The Gospel
Prayer - Join us each Sunday morning at 9:00 in Room 113 for prayer.

3. Keep your Eyes Open
Always be ready for opportunities that the Lord brings you.
1 Peter 3:15
The question: how can we be silent?
How can we not be passionate about sharing the gospel with others?
Why are we not constantly thinking and planning and rehearsing sharing with others?

We need to be constantly strategizing how to weave the gospel into the rhythm of our daily lives. 
Thinking about the relationships the Lord has placed us in and how those can be leveraged for His purposes. 

4. Be Filled with the Spirit
Are you constantly saturating yourself in God’s Word? 
Are you making effort in all five areas of Scripture input?
You’ll never be “filled with the Spirit” unless you’re spending time at the Feet of your Master.
Luke 10:39 – Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving.

5. Obey God first and foremost
We must obey God first. We are slaves, He is our Master.
Someone once said to DL Moody: “the world has yet to see what God will do with a man fully consecrated to Him.” His response was to strive with everything he had to be that man.

What is your level of commitment and loyalty to God?
Can you truly say “I must obey God rather than fear man?”

6. Confidence & Competence in the Gospel
We need to have full confidence that the gospels and Acts are accurate historical records of real events that really happened, written down by eye-witnesses. 

We also need to be competent in sharing the gospel. 
Remember: There’s a difference between your testimony and the gospel. Your personal story can be a powerful tool in evangelism.
A testimony is telling others what Jesus has done for you personally
Sharing the gospel is about telling others what Jesus has done for the world and how they can be saved from their sins
Acts 4:12 is the powerful message of the gospel
Acts 4:20 is the example that we must follow in the rhythm of our daily lives. 
We cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard!


Monday, March 11, 2019

The Acts 2 Pattern for Evangelism

The First Sermon
Acts 2:14-41
Peter’s first sermon provides for us not only a pattern for what a Christian sermon should be, but also for our own evangelistic efforts. 

Note these
Five Elements for Evangelism:
1. Answer & Explanation
Peter answers their wrong thinking about what’s going on and briefly explains what’s really going on. 
1 Peter 3:15always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you

In quoting Joel 2:28-32, he points us to the clearest and probably the most important passage on the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament.
He’s here! This is Him!!!
We see in the Joel passage, the Holy Spirit, judgment, and salvation. 
We’re in a new age now:
• God has brought His plan of salvation to its completion
• Jesus has finished His work of redemption
• The Spirit now dwells in His people
• We are to take this message to the nations.

When Jesus returns, there will be judgment. 
Acts 17:31he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness
But those who have trusted in Him have no need to fear.
Acts 2:21And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ 

2. Bible Centered - When you share Christ with people, as much as you can, use Scripture. Quote Scripture. God’s Word has inherent authority. (see the Gospel Learning Kit for more on this)
3. Christ-Centered
It’s obvious, but make it all about Jesus.
A significant emphasis on the work of Christ
Jesus’ miracles (and you know about them) were manifestations of God’s power designed to get people’s attention and point them to the truth of who He was. 
The problem wasn’t that they didn’t know about Jesus - it was that they rejected Him.
We have the same problem today - it’s not that we don’t know who Jesus is - it’s that we reject Him.

The basic elements of a Gospel Presentation:
Jesus is the Son of God
Jesus lived a perfect life
Jesus did miracles, proving who He was
Jesus died on the cross
Jesus rose again - HE’S ALIVE!
The Resurrection is of central importance to the gospel.
1. Because He’s GOD!! (John 11:25, Hebrews 2:14)
2. Because of Prophecy (John 2:19-22)
3. Because of His divine purpose (Luke 24:46) 
That’s happening in real time in this passage.

The Psalms quoted are distinctly about Christ
Psalm 16 - confident trust in God
Psalm 110 - is a Judgment Psalm

4. The Conclusion: 
We’re all guilty of sin and stand in need of forgiveness We’re all in one of only two categories:
God’s children
God’s enemies
Had you been there, you would have done the same thing that the Jews did - you would have asked for Barabbas to be released.
THE Question: WHAT MUST I DO TO BE SAVED?

5. The Appeal: Repent and Believe
Peter appeals to them, just as we should.
2 Corinthians 5:20 – we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

It’s very simple:
A - Admit, recognize, and own that you’re a sinner
B - Believe in, trust in, rely on, cling to Christ as your only hope.
C - Confess with your life that He is your Lord and Master.