Forty Days of Love and Light: Share Pt 1

Pastor Terry Inman

04-06-14

 

In all three of my messages in this LOVE & LIGHT series I have referenced a promise made by Jesus in Acts 1.8 You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. 

The Holy Spirit arrived just as Jesus promised with a totally unexpected whirlwind of fames and supernatural languages of praise. Peter told the bewildered crowds that it was evidence that the man they had crucified was in fact their Messiah, the Resurrected Lord Jesus Christ! 

God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.  Acts 2:32-33 (NIV) 

Next week will be the final Sunday in our 40 Days of Love and Light. The Prayer-Care Share lifestyle will continue to be our spiritual DNA. Two weeks from today we will celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is empowering and equipping us to be witnesses! 

The disciples were “eyewitnesses” of Christ’s Resurrection. They were actually there. They had a story to tell and they were very excited to tell it even in the face of incredible opposition. 

We were not there but we have our own story of His resurrection power in our lives. We are His witness. He empowers us just as he did them! 

We face fears, we face obstacles, and we face resistance just like they did, although not nearly as severe. Praying is one thing. That’s pretty low risk. Reaching out with genuine care and acts of kindness is another level of challenge especially if we are a bit reserved. Sharing our journey of faith is still pretty daunting for most of us including me. 

Peter was told it was illegal to mention Jesus name in public. It’s not illegal in our culture. But Satan “the god of this world,” has subtlety-censured conversations about Jesus. It’s socially awkward and politically incorrect to share your faith. It is viewed as religious proselytizing.   

So we really need the power of the Holy Spirit. We need power to be motivated. We needed power for courage. We need power for sensitivity. We need power to communicate our compelling testimony. 

I have been retelling the story of the first “act of kindness” following the Spirit’s outpouring. A disabled man reduced to panhandling at the Temple was raised to live a fully productive life! 

This act of kindness became exhibit “A” in Peter and John subsequent arrest and arraignment. Emboldened by the Holy Spirit Peter gave a powerful testimony in front of the authorities that condemned Jesus. 

He moved from care to share. First Peter shared with the crowds of people who were “filled with wonder and amazement” at the miracle.

Then he shared in his own defense before a hostile religious tribunal.  

This is the same Peter who swore he didn’t know Jesus just a few days earlier at Jesus trial. What changed? He had personally experienced the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ and he personally experienced the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit. 

Now you may be thinking. That was Peter he was an Apostle, he was the founder and father of the church in Jerusalem. Even Paul called him a “super-apostle”. That’s OK for apostles but I’m just and average Joe. 

Sharing is not a sermon it’s a conversation. Peter started things off with a big bang, the bible says, after he shared, many who heard the message believed, and just the number of men grew to about five thousand. Acts 4.4 (NIV) 

We may not be called to share with large crowds in front of city hall but we are His witnesses. We have personally experienced His resurrection and His Spirit is available to empower and embolden what we share. 

It was Peter who later on gave us a very simple plan for sharing our faith. 

In 1 Peter 3.13-15 he writes, Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.   

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.  1 Pet. 3.13-15 (NIV) 

Here’s the simple plan. First, Feed your Faith not your Fears!   

Genuine care or compassion sets stage for sharing. Acts of Kindness are harmless. Peter: Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good. We may get a little hurt by rejection or ridicule but it won’t harm us.   

Remember Jesus said, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves so be wise (be perceptive) as serpents and harmless (be inoffensive) as doves. Matt 10.16 (NIV)  

People can see right through our motives. If we are trying to convert them with some kind of sales pitch they will probably not be very receptive. Even if they do reject our sincere attempts to share, we win! 

Peter says if we get rejected for doing the right thing, we are blessed! Jesus said, Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Matt. 5.11(NIV) So who do we want to be blessed by, resistant people or God. 

Paul who took his share of abuse says, If God is for us, who can be against us? Then quotes this, For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered. No in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Rom. 8.31, 36-37 

I saw this snap shot on Facebook…Don’t feed the fears!  

Peter who learned the hard way actually quotes from the prophet Isaiah, Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened. Isaiah takes it a bit further, The LORD Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear. (respect)  Isaiah 8.13 (NIV) 

There are several proverbs that mention the benefits of the fear of the Lord. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Prov. 9.10 (NIV) But here’s one that we can relate to. Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the LORD.  Prov. 23.17 (NIV)

If we need people to accept us and like us we will avoid sharing anything that might cause some rejection.  The bible says, Fear of manwill prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe. Prov. 29.25 

As I mentioned earlier Peter got over his fears when he was transformed by the resurrected Lord and filled with His Holy Spirit. The bible says, we have not been given a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind! 

Next: Let the Lord take the Lead.   

Peter’s antidote for apprehension about sharing is simple. Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened. But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.  To “set apart” is to distinguish. The Lord’s in charge not me! 

The “Lord” refers to “Yahweh” the Lord of Armies or The Lord Almighty. Is. 8.13 in the Message says, If you’re going to worry, worry about The Holy. Fear GOD of-the-Angel-Armies! That’s the Hebrew version of Lord! 

We don’t have Lord’s and Lady’s like Downtown Abbey. We do have landlords. They are homeowners! I am just renting space in here Jesus really owns me. The bible says the only way we can make Jesus Lord is by the Spirit. Deferring to God’s Holy Spirit makes Him Lord Almighty!  

When we center our hearts, our self, our identity on the Lord Almighty there’s no room for fear. Perfect love casts out fear. The more love and respect we have for our Lord the less intimidation we have around people. 

The Lord Almighty imbedded in our heart conquerors the fears of sharing!   

Next: Make Hope your Message 

Peter says, Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. “Always being prepared” implies a life-style of sharing, not a rare interaction. How often do we have a conversation with our friends about Jesus Christ? With some preparation it will feel natural and not forced. 

Next week are going to give some simple practical tools for preparing and sharing your own story of hope anytime anywhere. We will also share one scripture that can be an easy springboard for sharing the gospel.  

Sharing our story of “hope” is very attractive and positive. That’s why we call it good news. If we are full of love and light our friends will want to know why we are so optimistic. This is what Jesus had in mind when he said, you will receive power to be my witnesses. The Holy Spirit gives our story a positive influence and a powerful impact! 

Finally: Let your tone will do the talking. 

Peter says we should share hope with gentleness and respect. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.  Don’t forget, Jesus said, I am sending you out with the wolves, so be as wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove. 

A good horse is powerful but gentle. Paul told Timothy, God’s servant must not be argumentative, but a gentle listener and a teacher who keeps cool, working firmly but patiently with those who refuse to obey. You never know how or when God might sober them up with a change of heart. 2 Tim 2.24-25 (Message) Attitude is everything! 

Very few people come to Christ by losing and argument. Respect here is (phobos) or fear. Again Peter is talking about respect or fear of God. When Jesus is the Lord of our heart we will share respectfully, courageously and authentically. Peter says even if they are malicious, our Christ-like behavior (conduct) will make them ashamed of their slander. 

So let’s summarize share: Feed your faith not your fears! We need to fear or respect God not fear the rejection of man. Let the Lord take the lead. Centering our hearts on Jesus as Lord, “the God of Armies” will conquer our fears! 

Make Hope your Message.  Always be ready to share your hope. Sharing should be a natural life-style not an occasional awkward moment. 

Let your tone will do the talking!  A convincing but compassionate voice with a respectful heart will go a long way to softening the resistance. 

It is not our responsibly to convert anyone. It is our responsibly to share our hope! The Holy Spirit does the rest. Jesus says, You will receive power to by my witnesses! Jesus gave us a story to share!