Forty Days of Love and Light: Care Pt 2

3-30-14
 
 
So, let me give you an update to the story. Two weekends ago, I’m in my front yard trimming the bushes when my neighbor comes home from work. As he’s getting out of his truck, we say hello to each other. We meet in the middle of the street and start talking about out yards. Then I simply ask him the question, “I’ve been praying for you and would like to know if there’s something specific I could pray for?” He pauses, then proceeds to tell me about his wife’s injured back. After the conversation, I went back to my yard work and thanked God for allowing that to go so smoothly.
 
Last weekend, another neighbor was working on his car in the garage. I knew this would make it easier to talk with him. We said hello, and I walked over and sat down in the garage and we talked about cars. During the conversation, I was thinking about the best way to ask the question, and I sensed the Holy Spirit encouraging me to just talk about cars. I was teetering in the balance of pushing my agenda rather than building a relationship. So, we talked about cars for 15 minutes and that was it. 
 
There’s 2 things that I’m trying to remember:
1. It’s important to set goals with God for peoples souls. I want to be proactive.
2. I’m learning a lifestyle, not a quick fix.
 
Lets re-cap the last few weeks of this Prayer, Care, Share Campaign:
 
Pastor terry declared… “It’s TIME2SHINE!” 
And shared with us God’s prophetic word to his people through Isaiah. 
Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. 
 
Then, Pastor Don shared with us…
1 Timothy 2
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.
HE TAUGHT US THAT WHEN WE PRAY…
…Our Hearts Change 
…God’s Power is Released
 
Last week, Pastor Terry moved us into step 2…
…looking for ways to start caring for people around us. He encouraged us not to have unnecessary guilt, stress or fear, because the Lord is with us and gives us power. We are not alone as we show care to those around us. This is not about our performance, it’s about our participation with the Holy Spirit.
 
Today, we are going to hear more stories about caring. 
 
I’m sure all of us have seen a relay race before. There’s usually four runners and each of them have their part to play when their time comes. Let’s take a look at how the baton of God’s influence has been handed down.
 
In Genesis 1:1
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 
 
I think it’s cool that the first miracle God performs is the creation of light.
Ever sense that day, the light of the sun has dominated the darkness.
 
Fast forward… then Jesus comes.
 
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 
 
Now, God comes to earth as a man, and He’s not only the light of the world but He’s also life itself. Light and Life become synonymous in Jesus, and He continues to dominate the darkness.
 
And Jesus passes the torch onto us.
 
You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. 
 
Now, we are the light. And we bring the message of life. And we have the authority to dominate the darkness.
 
And we work in partnership with God: Father, Son, Holy Spirit – to hand that baton off to other people.
 
No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them.
 
There’s transference of authority.
There’s a partnership of power.
And there’s a call to action.
 
What’s Jesus saying, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
 
What does that mean, “good deeds?” What does that look like? Well, lets look at what it might not look like…
 
1. Maybe your neighbor asks for some help replacing an electrical outlet.  
2. Or, you offer to help them with their bathroom plumbing.  
3. If I fail the first time, try again.  
4. There’s a Compassion Network opportunity to build a wall. I can do that.  
5. I can even help with the drainage problem.  
6. Sure, I’ll help you build that fence.  
7. Yes, I have some electrical experience.  
8. Oh, you have another electrical problem.  
9. I know just the thing to help your awning.  
10. And, last but not least. 
 
So, we really don’t want to care for our neighbors is such a way that brings dis-honor to the Lord – or burns down their house!
 
Exactly what our “good deeds” look like will be a work in progress. We will spend some time today sharing ideas.
 
But, we have to be convinced of one thing…
Jesus left us with the responsibility to engage the world around us in such a way that they see Jesus. Through our lives, their attention needs to be directed towards God.
 
We have to be convinced of this so it’s no longer a question of “IF”.
None of us has an excuse to sit on the bench. Jesus drafted us and put us in the game.
 
It’s just a matter of “HOW”. How do I best shine your light to…….. my neighbor.
 
What they do at that point – is out of our control. Let’s be honest, people have been turning their backs on the Lord for generations. Not everyone will respond to us positively. But that's out of our hands. Our job is to love them and present the truth.
 
What we absolutely can’t do… is do nothing. There’s a huge harvest out there, and we are the workers.
 
Let’s take a quick look at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.
 
In the book of Matthew:
Chapters 1-2: Jesus is born
Chapters 3-4: Jesus is baptized, tempted, gathers some disciples and starts His ministry
Chapters 5-7: Jesus preaches a long message
Then in Chapters 8-9: Jesus starts traveling around healing people, preaching and doing miracles. By the end of chapter 9, He says to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Matt 9:37-38) 
 
Then Jesus commissioned the 12 disciples to start working.
 
It only took Jesus 2 chapters to notice – there has to be a whole lot more people doing what I’m doing because there’s so many people that need to be reached.
 
So, we’re really not talking about random acts of kindness that anyone can do. 
It’s not just about making cookies or mowing a lawn.
 
We’re talking about intentional acts of compassion that bring the attention to Jesus.
 
We know that it starts with prayer. Prayer prepares our heart and their heart.
 
Today, I want to focus on 3 ways to be tuned-in to the people around us:
 
1. Be open to unexpected opportunities to care slide
When your tuned into what the spirit is doing, your more open to the people you encounter through the day. 
     JD in the gym
     Brent at the gas station
     Ken / Ricky story
 
2. Make intentional action steps to care for the 5 people on your card slide
We don’t want to sit and wait for people to come to us, we need to go to them. 
     Claude and Janet handed our prayer cards to 100 neighbors
     My neighbors
     Lorree and her dad
 
3. You may consider creating ongoing opportunities to build relationships
     Weekly tutoring like Tricia Meyer
     Weekly feeding the homeless like Brian Paiva
 
4. Be open to the Deep and Long relationship opportunities slide
We need to realize that it usually takes significant time to see someone come to Jesus and that the discipleship process doesn't end there. Be willing to invest in people for a long duration. 
     Chiolero family adoption story
     Project Rescue story & opportunity
 
As we close today, I’d like everyone to break up into small groups, answer the following question, then pray. Can you think of a “simple act of kindness” action step (that you can do this week) with one of your 5?