Sermons

SHINE 40 Days of Love and Light- "Share" pt. 1

Pastor Terry Inman

03-13-16

 

How to share Jesus with loved people.

I have this quote in my study that is attributed to St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the Gospel always and when necessary use words.” The last few weeks we have talked about prayer and care for loved people.

 

Today we will add share. According to Jesus sharing the gospel is necessary. “this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. Matt. 24.14

 

So how can our good works and our good words SHINE in a way that guides people to Jesus? Here’s what the Apostle Paul says about “How to share Jesus with loved people”.

 

Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life. (Phil. 2.14-15 NIV)     

 

Now this is not only a mouthful, it’s also challenging to live up to. But it says a lot about how to shine. I love to step out on the porch at night in Montana and look up, as millions of brilliant stars seem to burst out in 3D!

 

Paul says we are luminaries in a world of spiritual darkness, as we “hold out” (or shine) “the word of life.” The word of life is the good news!

Mark’s version of Jesus’ commission clearly directs us to articulate the good news. Jesus last words to his disciples were, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.”
(Mark 16.15 NIV)

 

We have to practice what we preach or it sounds more like bad news. Even the word preach in our culture has negative connotations. Webster defines “preachy” as someone, “trying to teach moral behavior in a way that is annoying or unwanted”. Originally “preach” was very positive word.

 

Preach or proclaim in the Greek N.T. is: euaggelozo (yoo-angle-id-zo)

We get our words evangelize, evangelist and evangelical from this. It simply means to declare or share the good news.

 

Paul tells us how to “shine like stars as we hold out the word of life”. Before we share the gospel we need to make sure the rest of our communication and conduct is consistent with the message. Paul begins by saying, “do everything with out complaining or arguing”.  

 

One of the things I am finding so disheartening about the present presidential campaigns is that candidates who claim to be Christians are trashing each other worse than I have ever seen before. What’s even worse is that some primary voters that are so called “evangelicals” are voting for the worst perpetrators of this bragging and bashing.

 

After watching the previous republican presidential debate this verse came to mind. If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.”
(Gal. 5.15 NIV)

 

This week’s New York Times featured an article titled, “What wouldn’t Jesus do”. The author explains why some evangelicals support Trump who he says is antithetical to many of the qualities evangelicals should prize in a political leader. Part of the explanation, he writes, “is that many evangelicals feel increasingly powerless, beaten down, aggrieved and under attack. People filled with anger and grievances are easily exploited.”

 

“Evangelical” is loosing is meaning. It has become politicized. They are known more for what they are against than what they are for. An “evangelist” in the bible is a person with good news not bad news!

 

This reminds me of the early disciples. They were looking for a political Messiah, someone who would rescue them from the oppressive Romans.

After Jesus resurrection they asked him. “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” Are you going to give us our county!

 

He answered: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But 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.” (Acts 1.6-8 NIV)

 

We are enabled by the Holy Spirit to be credible witnesses of His resurrection power not political power! We should be good citizens. We should pray and we should vote, but our hope in in Jesus not a president.

 

Now I’m done with that rant. I’ll get off that soapbox and continue with sharing the good news!

 

Paul says, “shining like stars and holding out the light of life” isn’t accomplished with grievances and arguments. Most believers in the New Testament times lived under the fear of constant threat.

 

Peter writes, “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.”

 

In those days there was political pressure to declare Caesar as Lord. You could suffer for declaring Jesus your Lord. If Jesus really is our Lord there is noting to fear. We will courageously communicate our faith in Jesus.  

 

Peter continues, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”

 

The bible says, no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. (1 Cor. 12.3 NIV) We must be filled with the Spirit to make him Lord. If we are filled with the Spirit we will always be prepared with an answer for the reason we have hope.

 

We don’t have to give a sermon or a gospel presentation just let the Holy Spirit help you tell your own story of hope in Jesus. Peter adds this…

 

But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. (I Peter 3.14-16 NIV)

 

We are not people of fear. We are people of hope. We don’t have a grievance or an argument; we have a message of love, joy and peace!

 

We preach, we declare, we share. We share what and how Jesus shared.

 

He said, The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
(Luke 4.18-19)

 

We are full of the Holy Spirit. We share good news. We share freedom. We share recovery. We share forgiveness. We share God’s favor!

 

Not everyone is going to respond to our sharing positively. Jesus said, “they hated me they will hate you”. (Jn 15.18) That’s their problem. Just stay positive. Jesus also said, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.” (John 6.27 NIV) This is the nature of the gospel.

 

Paul coached Timothy on how to approach challenging people. Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. The Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.

 

Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. (2 Tim 2.23-26 NIV)

 

Here are three simple guidelines for sharing the gospel…

Treat people with kindness. Sharing is not a debate, a dispute or a disagreement. The kindest thing you can to for a friend is tell them about the love of Jesus! The bible says, “God’s kindness leads us to repentance”. (Rom. 2.4 NIV)

 

Teach people with calmness. Paul said, “gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance”. Stay cool and calm. There is no reason to push, or promote. Just be natural and share what you know and have experienced in Jesus Christ.

 

Reach people with patience. We will get resistance. How we respond may make all the difference. The bible says He is patient with us, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

(2 Pet. 3.9 NIV) Paul suggests that it takes gentle persuasion and persistence to bring someone to their senses and escape the devil’s trap!

Now let me wrap this up by returning to our theme scripture.

Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life. (Phil. 2.14-16 NIV)

 

OK so we talked about our communications needing to be consistent with the message of the good news. Now Paul also says our conduct has to line up. Our behaviors have to be congruent with our beliefs!

 

Just like stars in the night sky. We have to live in total contrast to our prevailing culture. We become “blameless, pure, and faultless in a crooked and depraved generation”. Our lives speak louder than our words!

 

“Blameless” is irreproachable. People can’t use us an excuse to reject Jesus. “Pure and faultless” (one word in the Greek) is unmixed or authentic. What you see is what you get.

 

This is all in high contrast to a crooked (warped or perverse) and depraved (distorted or corrupted) culture. That’s why we shine like stars.

    

When Jesus said, “You shall be my witnesses” he was using a legal term. A witness is someone who can give a credible testimony to the truth.

We are character witnesses to the reality of the risen Lord. If He is truly alive and at work in us, people will see Him and believe in Him.

 

As followers of Christ, we have the Light of the world in us. Jesus said,

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8.12 NIV) We have the light of life and we share the word of life!

 

We are the light-givers of the world. Jesus said, “You are the light of the world.” A city on a hill cannot be hidden. (Matt. 5:14) Amid this moral blackness, as children of God we should stand out like stars at midnight!

 

“Shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life.” He is not telling us to shine, but reminding us that we already do.

The challenge is to let the light shine bright, unobstructed and unpolluted and let me add two more…uninhibited and un-intimidated! Let it SHINE!