Sermons

The Ultimate Gift

Pastor Dave Chiolero

11-25-12

Luke 10:1-9

 

1. Jesus really cares about lost people…

2. The harvest is plentiful; it’s large

3. Jesus is launching small groups all over the community.

4. There’s great joy in seeing people come to Jesus.

Several years ago, during my Bible college days, I was at my parents’ house in Vallejo having my normal quiet time. I heard the voice of the lord direct me to find another place to pray and change up my normal routine. I felt the lord was directing me to a rest stop off of interstate 80 overlooking 6 Flags. I thought it was a great idea because I always like a good view. I drove up the hill, pulled into the rest stop, and found a perfect parking place, overlooking Vallejo. It was evening time, so the lights of the city made the view beautiful. “What a perfect way to connect with the creator”, I thought, “Thanks for bringing me out here”.

After enjoying a few minutes with Jesus, I glance over to a car parked 4 stalls over on my left. There, I see a guy sitting in his car too, but instead of enjoying the pretty view of the city, he was looking directly at me. I gave him a kind gesture and went back to praying, trying not to be distracted. A little later, I glanced back again and found that he was still staring at me, this time with a big smile on his face. “This feels a little strange”, I thought, “I wonder if God has brought me out here for more than just praying”. “Maybe He brought me out here to talk to someone about Jesus.”

Whatever focus or connection I was having with Jesus had now been disrupted, and all I could think about was this guy staring at me, and how scared I was about the possibility that God brought me out here to witness.

Each time I glance over, His smile became bigger, and I become more scared. I started arguing with myself about the idea of witnessing. I wanted to be a courageous disciple for Jesus, but was scared to death.

Just as this is taking place, a Jeep pulls up between us and blocks our view of each other. Temporarily relieved, taking this as a possible sign that I shouldn’t witness after all, I find momentary peace. Then I glance up.

Climbing out of the jeep, step Hans and Franz, Two guys who are so blatantly living a homosexual lifestyle. Their hair was died bright colors, there outfits looked like they had visited Cindy Loppers’ closet, and their mannerism matched all the stereo-typical thoughts going through your head right now. They pulled two Poodles out of the jeep; one was died pink, put them on leashes and strolled away into the night holding hands.

“Oh, dear Lord, why?” was the only thought in my head.

As the reality of the situation was sinking in on me, like a ton of bricks, the guy in the car backed out of his stall directly behind me. He sat there for what seemed like an eternity, while I argued with God about being a good witness.

Finally the guy pulled away, got on the on-ramp, and headed down the freeway.

I immediately felt guilty. I told God, if He brings the guy back I would talk to him

I thought this was a safe thing to promise because it would be quite an effort to get back to the rest stop. It would involve driving west for a few miles, turning around, driving east several miles, turning around and coming back to the rest stop.

I went back to praying, or at least trying to pray. After a while, a car pulled up behind me again! I gathered all the courage I could, stepped out of the car and approached him. The first words out of my mouth after “hi” were “I’m up here praying”. After some small talk, he invited me to join him up the road at Denny’s restaurant. I agreed and followed him in my car.

At Denny’s, we talked for over an hour while sipping coffee. I shared my testimony, and he told me about his life. He had been married with children at one time until he walked away from it to fully indulge in his current lifestyle.

We never prayed the sinners prayer together. In fact I don’t think we prayed at all. I have never seen him since, and have no idea of the effects of that night on his life. I drove home that night feeling so full of joy because God used me that night.

Here’s what I know: God sent me on a mission that night. He told me where to go, He told me what to do, I believe that God’s kingdom broke through, even though I didn’t get to see any tangible fruit, and God filled my heart with joy.

Jesus really loves lost people

As we take a look at our scripture today, Jesus is getting ready to send out a large group of his followers on mission. These weren’t the 12 disciples who were specifically called by Jesus to be his core leadership. These were all the others who were collected along the way. They didn’t have any titles or position, they were just eager to follow and serve.

Luke 10:1-9, 17

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two (or seventy) others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 2 He told them, “The harvest is plentiful (the harvest truly is great) but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. 3 Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. 4 Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.

5 “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ 6 If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. 7 Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.

8 “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. 9 Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’

17 The seventy-two returned with joy

 

Here are a few things that I want to share today: 

1. Jesus really cares about lost people…

and He’s sending you to someone right now. Who’s God sending you to right now?

When I got married to Kim, I did so because I was in love with an incredible girl. She had so many wonderful qualities about her that attracted me to her. She is a very positive person for example, and I am so blessed by her optimistic outlook on life. She is an encourager, and I needed all the encouragement I could get.

There's so much more to Kim than what benefitted me personally. She has a deep devotion for The Lord, and a strong passion to serve youth. To marry Kim is to share her with The Lord and many teenagers.

She also has a family heritage. To marry Kim is to accept the family that comes with her. Her father for example. He's a good man who loves The Lord deeply, but I didn't appreciate his prophet motivated personality at the beginning of our marriage. It took time for us to work out our kinks.

You also, if your married, along with the many wonderful attributes of your spouse, also embraced a much bigger family than just one person. And maybe some of those relationships were more challenging.

When we embrace a relationship with Jesus. Laying down out own life and accepting the life of belonging to Him, we join ourselves with all that is Jesus. Part of that relationship is having a passion for the lost.

Jesus took his followers and sent them out on mission, and he does the same with us.

At work, in your neighborhood, at school, in your family – consider yourself sent on mission wherever you are.

Who’s God sending you to right now?

Start making your list of names on your notes.

2. The harvest is plentiful; it’s large

Harvesting agricultural crops is a process. I like driving down the road and looking down the rows of fruit trees as we pass by. I don’t know a lot about agriculture, but I’m sure it takes a lot of work. Harvesting people is a process. Some sow, others water, some reap.

John 4:35 – after Jesus had witnessed to the woman at the well, He was having a conversation with His disciples…

Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.

Thought: If there’s a single day that goes by without me thinking about the lost people around me, I’ve failed. It’s the reason Jesus died, it’s the reason I exist.

Love the Lord, love people. Jesus is saying that there’s a huge harvest to be had. There are a lot of people ready to come into the Kingdom of God. He doesn’t take time to pray for people to get saved. The people are ready. He says we need more people to go.

There are not enough believers doing the work. How big of a harvest are you believing for? The information that I’m about to share is a consolidated paragraph of a lot of research. This image represents the different stages of openness:

The data represents people who are unchurched.

U3

The key word when considering the group defined as U3 is ‘neutral’. They are a non-committal group, when asked questions about faith and church they have the tendency to give short answers yet they are willing to learn. They are not antagonistic or resistant. Of all unchurched people, the U3’s are the largest group that we deal with in society. Most U3’s would indicate a belief in God yet their understanding of basic Christian theology is little less than weird. The U3 believes in heaven and hell yet clearly not an orthodox view. U3’s are very open to an invitation to church, research showing that 86% are somewhat likely to attend if asked. U3’s also see the church as relevant, the number one reason they don’t attend is time. Two thirds of this group indicated that they prayed regularly, suggesting they are quite a spiritual group. Praying to who and what is the main concern. Much to our surprise this group has a positive view of ministers and a significant number of them have at some stage attended Sunday school or small groups within a church setting. This group is eager to learn, they are willing to hear more about the Bible and faith so inviting them along to LifeGroup settings where Bible studies are held is often fruitful. They are willing to contribute and discuss matters of faith. Be proactive with this group, they are open to listen.

U2

When considering the U2 person we must see the great openness they have to the gospel and to church. This is an exciting group to reach out to. The typical U2 has a very orthodox view of Christianity, their beliefs in heaven and hell and the person of Christ are identical to most Christians. The downfall of this group, like the others, is that they still have a ‘works’ mentality when it comes to salvation. Even though they support Christian doctrine, the concept of free salvation with the need of repentance is foreign to them. They sound like a Christian in many ways, yet they do not have a personal relationship with Christ. Many have been witnessed to by family and often grew up going to church yet had a negative experience causing them to drift. To effectively reach out to U2’s one must remember that they are keen to study the Bible; they desire to talk about eternal issues; they need a correct understanding of salvation (not one of works); family members have often witnessed to them; parents particularly had a great Christian influence; the negative experience of church needs to be ministered to and confidently one can invite these people to church. Research showed that 97% were very likely or somewhat likely to attend if invited.

The next obvious question is: Are Christians inviting non-Christians to church? The heartbreaking answer is "no."

  • Only 21 percent of active churchgoers invite anyone to church in the course of a year.
  • But only 2 percent of the church members invited an unchurched person to church.

We have an opportunity this Christmas season to invite people to something special at church. How big of a harvest are you believing for? Do you have any names written down on your notes?

3. Jesus is launching small groups all over the community.

If Jesus is sending us out on mission, how are we supposed to do it?

Lets take a look at the process Jesus gives His followers:

  1. He sends His followers on mission
    • Consider yourself on mission in your neighborhood, at work, at school
  2. “Don’t talk to anyone on the road”
    • Don’t get distracted from the task at hand
  3. “Find a person of peace”
    • You’re looking for people who are open to you

There’s a lady who lives down the street from us that I’ve been able to interact with a few times very briefly. About a month ago, our paths crossed where I was able to spend a good amount of time talking with her. She was very open about her addiction to alcohol and shared about her failures in life. She’s one of my people.

I have another neighbor, lives right next to me. He’s the friendliest guy and we’ve gotten to know him over the years. He just recently got engaged. We’ve tried inviting them over to dinner. He’s one of my people.

  1. “Stay in that house”
    • Build a relationship with those who are open to you
  2. “Heal the sick”
    • Live your faith out loud
  3. “Tell them the Kingdom of God is near to them”
    • Share the good news with them
    • How many relationships are you intentionally developing in your neighborhood?
    • You could pray with your spouse or family for neighborhood harvest?
    • Is there another believer at your work or school that can partner with you to reach out to co-workers or students?
    • God is sending you to someone

Story:

Several years ago, Kim and I picked one day of the week to be the night where we invite people over for dinner. There have been several people who have been our guests on those Tuesday nights. Harvest has come in the lives of some.

When you start thinking about the harvest around you, God will give you creative ways to reach out.

4. There’s great joy in seeing people come to Jesus.

Vs. 17 = The seventy-two returned with joy

John 4

After Jesus talks with the Samaritan woman at the well, His disciples return and offer Him some food. Jesus says “I have food to eat that you know nothing about”. There is a deep satisfaction and spiritual nourishment that comes from introducing people to Jesus.

 

The Ultimate Gift

Luke 10:1-9

Several years ago, during my Bible college days, I was at my parents’ house in Vallejo having my normal quiet time. I heard the voice of the lord direct me to find another place to pray and change up my normal routine. I felt the lord was directing me to a rest stop off of interstate 80 overlooking 6 Flags. I thought it was a great idea because I always like a good view. I drove up the hill, pulled into the rest stop, and found a perfect parking place, overlooking Vallejo. It was evening time, so the lights of the city made the view beautiful. “What a perfect way to connect with the creator”, I thought, “Thanks for bringing me out here”.

After enjoying a few minutes with Jesus, I glance over to a car parked 4 stalls over on my left. There, I see a guy sitting in his car too, but instead of enjoying the pretty view of the city, he was looking directly at me. I gave him a kind gesture and went back to praying, trying not to be distracted. A little later, I glanced back again and found that he was still staring at me, this time with a big smile on his face. “This feels a little strange”, I thought, “I wonder if God has brought me out here for more than just praying”. “Maybe He brought me out here to talk to someone about Jesus.”

Whatever focus or connection I was having with Jesus had now been disrupted, and all I could think about was this guy staring at me, and how scared I was about the possibility that God brought me out here to witness.

Each time I glance over, His smile became bigger, and I become more scared. I started arguing with myself about the idea of witnessing. I wanted to be a courageous disciple for Jesus, but was scared to death.

Just as this is taking place, a Jeep pulls up between us and blocks our view of each other. Temporarily relieved, taking this as a possible sign that I shouldn’t witness after all, I find momentary peace. Then I glance up.

Climbing out of the jeep, step Hans and Franz, Two guys who are so blatantly living a homosexual lifestyle. Their hair was died bright colors, there outfits looked like they had visited Cindy Loppers’ closet, and their mannerism matched all the stereo-typical thoughts going through your head right now. They pulled two Poodles out of the jeep; one was died pink, put them on leashes and strolled away into the night holding hands.

“Oh, dear Lord, why?” was the only thought in my head.

As the reality of the situation was sinking in on me, like a ton of bricks, the guy in the car backed out of his stall directly behind me. He sat there for what seemed like an eternity, while I argued with God about being a good witness.

Finally the guy pulled away, got on the on-ramp, and headed down the freeway.

I immediately felt guilty. I told God, if He brings the guy back I would talk to him

I thought this was a safe thing to promise because it would be quite an effort to get back to the rest stop. It would involve driving west for a few miles, turning around, driving east several miles, turning around and coming back to the rest stop.

I went back to praying, or at least trying to pray.

After a while, a car pulled up behind me again!

I gathered all the courage I could, stepped out of the car and approached him. The first words out of my mouth after “hi” were “I’m up here praying”.

After some small talk, he invited me to join him up the road at Denny’s restaurant. I agreed and followed him in my car.

At Denny’s, we talked for over an hour while sipping coffee. I shared my testimony, and he told me about his life. He had been married with children at one time until he walked away from it to fully indulge in his current lifestyle.

We never prayed the sinners prayer together. In fact I don’t think we prayed at all. I have never seen him since, and have no idea of the effects of that night on his life. I drove home that night feeling so full of joy because God used me that night.

Here’s what I know: God sent me on a mission that night. He told me where to go, He told me what to do, I believe that God’s kingdom broke through, even though I didn’t get to see any tangible fruit, and God filled my heart with joy.

Jesus really loves lost people

As we take a look at our scripture today, Jesus is getting ready to send out a large group of his followers on mission. These weren’t the 12 disciples who were specifically called by Jesus to be his core leadership. These were all the others who were collected along the way. They didn’t have any titles or position, they were just eager to follow and serve.

 Luke 10:1-9, 17

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two (or seventy) others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 2 He told them, “The harvest is plentiful (the harvest truly is great) but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. 3 Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. 4 Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.

5 “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ 6 If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. 7 Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.

8 “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. 9 Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’

17 The seventy-two returned with joy

 

Here are a few things that I want to share today:

1. Jesus really cares about lost people…

2. The harvest is plentiful; it’s large

3. Jesus is launching small groups all over the community.

4. There’s great joy in seeing people come to Jesus.

 

 

1. Jesus really cares about lost people…

and He’s sending you to someone right now. Who’s God sending you to right now?

When I got married to Kim, I did so because I was in love with an incredible girl. She had so many wonderful qualities about her that attracted me to her. She is a very positive person for example, and I am so blessed by her optimistic outlook on life. She is an encourager, and I needed all the encouragement I could get.

There's so much more to Kim than what benefitted me personally. She has a deep devotion for The Lord, and a strong passion to serve youth. To marry Kim is to share her with The Lord and many teenagers.

She also has a family heritage. To marry Kim is to accept the family that comes with her. Her father for example. He's a good man who loves The Lord deeply, but I didn't appreciate his prophet motivated personality at the beginning of our marriage. It took time for us to work out our kinks.

You also, if your married, along with the many wonderful attributes of your spouse, also embraced a much bigger family than just one person. And maybe some of those relationships were more challenging.

When we embrace a relationship with Jesus. Laying down out own life and accepting the life of belonging to Him, we join ourselves with all that is Jesus. Part of that relationship is having a passion for the lost.

Jesus took his followers and sent them out on mission, and he does the same with us.

At work, in your neighborhood, at school, in your family – consider yourself sent on mission wherever you are.

Who’s God sending you to right now?

Start making your list of names on your notes.

2. The harvest is plentiful; it’s large

Harvesting agricultural crops is a process

I like driving down the road and looking down the rows of fruit trees as we pass by.

I don’t know a lot about agriculture, but I’m sure it takes a lot of work.

Harvesting people is a process

Some sow, others water, some reap.

John 4:35 – after Jesus had witnessed to the woman at the well, He was having a conversation with His disciples…

Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.

Thought: If there’s a single day that goes by without me thinking about the lost people around me, I’ve failed.

It’s the reason Jesus died, it’s the reason I exist.

Love the Lord, love people

Jesus is saying that there’s a huge harvest to be had.

There are a lot of people ready to come into the Kingdom of God.

He doesn’t take time to pray for people to get saved. The people are ready.

He says we need more people to go.

There are not enough believers doing the work

How big of a harvest are you believing for?

The information that I’m about to share is a consolidated paragraph of a lot of research.

This slide represents the different stages of openness

The data represents people who are unchurched

U3

The key word when considering the group defined as U3 is ‘neutral’. They are a non-committal group, when asked questions about faith and church they have the tendency to give short answers yet they are willing to learn. They are not antagonistic or resistant. Of all unchurched people, the U3’s are the largest group that we deal with in society. Most U3’s would indicate a belief in God yet their understanding of basic Christian theology is little less than weird. The U3 believes in heaven and hell yet clearly not an orthodox view. U3’s are very open to an invitation to church, research showing that 86% are somewhat likely to attend if asked. U3’s also see the church as relevant, the number one reason they don’t attend is time. Two thirds of this group indicated that they prayed regularly, suggesting they are quite a spiritual group. Praying to who and what is the main concern. Much to our surprise this group has a positive view of ministers and a significant number of them have at some stage attended Sunday school or small groups within a church setting. This group is eager to learn, they are willing to hear more about the Bible and faith so inviting them along to LifeGroup settings where Bible studies are held is often fruitful. They are willing to contribute and discuss matters of faith. Be proactive with this group, they are open to listen.

U2

When considering the U2 person we must see the great openness they have to the gospel and to church. This is an exciting group to reach out to. The typical U2 has a very orthodox view of Christianity, their beliefs in heaven and hell and the person of Christ are identical to most Christians. The downfall of this group, like the others, is that they still have a ‘works’ mentality when it comes to salvation. Even though they support Christian doctrine, the concept of free salvation with the need of repentance is foreign to them. They sound like a Christian in many ways, yet they do not have a personal relationship with Christ. Many have been witnessed to by family and often grew up going to church yet had a negative experience causing them to drift. To effectively reach out to U2’s one must remember that they are keen to study the Bible; they desire to talk about eternal issues; they need a correct understanding of salvation (not one of works); family members have often witnessed to them; parents particularly had a great Christian influence; the negative experience of church needs to be ministered to and confidently one can invite these people to church. Research showed that 97% were very likely or somewhat likely to attend if invited.

The next obvious question is: Are Christians inviting non-Christians to church? The heartbreaking answer is "no."

- Only 21 percent of active churchgoers invite anyone to church in the

course of a year.

- But only 2 percent of the church members invited an unchurched person

to church.

We have an opportunity this Christmas season to invite people to something special at church.

How big of a harvest are you believing for?

Do you have any names written down on your notes?

3. Jesus is launching small groups all over the community.

If Jesus is sending us out on mission, how are we supposed to do it?

Lets take a look at the process Jesus gives His followers:

  1. He sends His followers on mission
  • Consider yourself on mission in your neighborhood, at work, at school
  1. “Don’t talk to anyone on the road”
  • Don’t get distracted from the task at hand
  1. “Find a person of peace”
  • You’re looking for people who are open to you

There’s a lady who lives down the street from us that I’ve been able to interact with a few times very briefly. About a month ago, our paths crossed where I was able to spend a good amount of time talking with her. She was very open about her addiction to alcohol and shared about her failures in life. She’s one of my people.

I have another neighbor, lives right next to me. He’s the friendliest guy and we’ve gotten to know him over the years. He just recently got engaged. We’ve tried inviting them over to dinner. He’s one of my people.

  1. “Stay in that house”
  • Build a relationship with those who are open to you
  1. “Heal the sick”
  • Live your faith out loud
  1. “Tell them the Kingdom of God is near to them”
  • Share the good news with them
  • How many relationships are you intentionally developing in your neighborhood?
  • You could pray with your spouse or family for neighborhood harvest?
  • Is there another believer at your work or school that can partner with you to reach out to co-workers or students?
  • God is sending you to someone

Story:

Several years ago, Kim and I picked one day of the week to be the night where we invite people over for dinner. There have been several people who have been our guests on those Tuesday nights. Harvest has come in the lives of some.

When you start thinking about the harvest around you, God will give you creative ways to reach out.

4. There’s great joy in seeing people come to Jesus.

Vs. 17 = The seventy-two returned with joy

John 4

After Jesus talks with the Samaritan woman at the well, His disciples return and offer Him some food. Jesus says “I have food to eat that you know nothing about”. There is a deep satisfaction and spiritual nourishment that comes from introducing people to Jesus.