Repurpose 2016- "Rescue"
Pastor Terry Inman
You may have heard that our son Jason and his family rolled their Toyota van on the way home FROM Philadelphia to OK City. They are a little shaken but not injured. Apparently a front tire hit a rumble strip on the edge of the pavement and Jason over-corrected. He almost got it under control but it went off the embankment and rolled over on its top.
A trucker behind them helped them get out to safety. The back window was shattered and their 10-month old beagle/basset bolted for the woods. He was missing for three days. Someone posted on Facebook that they saw a small dog in the middle of the freeway.
They feared the worst but kept praying and searching. Then finally after an all night search Kristy’s sister Stacie, a vet’s assistant, and a rescue volunteer spotted him back at the scene of the accident. Dog and family were reunited with many happy tears.
The local Union County newspaper ran an article about the ordeal. They reported that Jason went running down the road in search of Trigger. As he ran he contemplated the 23rd Psalm.
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil”
The paper also mentioned his occupation—creating devotional materials for Life Church, its seven campus and its massive web presence. Their YouVersion Bible App has millions of global subscribers.
In the middle of their ordeal Kristy posted Phil 4.6-7 from the Bible App.
“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”
Kristy’s sister also posted a go-fund-me account to help them replace their 2004 mini-van. The van didn’t have comprehensive coverage because of age and miles. But family and friends were generous and they got a one-year upgrade with a hundred thousand less miles. God is good!
All the way around this is a great rescue story. Prov. 11.8 says,
The righteous man is rescued from trouble, and it comes on the wicked instead. Today we begin our annual New Year Vision Series-this time we will label it, R-4 “REPOURPOSE 2016”
If R2 D2 can reboot after all these years then so can we! We will revisit our four purposes: rescue, recover, rebuild, and release. We will set some tangible new goals to fulfill these purposes.
Today let’s refresh our passion for rescue: guiding people through storms into safe harbor in Christ. Here’s what a spiritual rescue looks like…
He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
(Col. 1.13-14 NIV)
Let me read it in the Message version. God rescued us from dead-end alleys and dark dungeons. He’s set us up in the kingdom of the Son he loves so much, the Son who got us out of the pit we were in, got rid of the sins we were doomed to keep repeating.
(Col. 1.13-14 MSG)
Rescue operations are risky and they don’t always work. Kristy’s sister and the dog rescue volunteers put in a lot of hours searching and it paid off. Jesus didn’t just risk his life he exchanged his life in for our rescue.
The bible calls that salvation. He saved us—he rescued us. It wasn’t so long ago that we ourselves were stupid and stubborn, dupes of sin, ordered every which way by our glands, going around with a chip on our shoulder, hated and hating back. But when God, our kind and loving Savior God, stepped in, he saved (rescued) us from all that. It was all his doing; we had nothing to do with it.
Titus 3.3-5 MSG
Jesus’ primary purpose was to rescue lost people and he has recruited us to share this great news. “So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord… But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.”
2 Tim. 1.8 NIV
His purpose is our purpose! We can’t save anyone only he can. But we can lead people His saving grace. I was reading the story of Noah this week.
The bible says, “By faith, Noah built a ship in the middle of dry land. He was warned about something he couldn’t see, and acted on what he was told. The result? His family was saved. His act of faith drew a sharp line between the evil of the unbelieving world and the rightness of the believing world. As a result, Noah became intimate with God.
Heb. 11.7 NIV
Can you imagine how absurd Noah must have appeared to his neighborhood? They ridiculed him. His own family questioned his sanity.
But when the floods came he rescued them.
We are like an ARK of safety for our lost friends. It’s not always cool to rescue them. Some don’t want to be rescued. It’s so easy to react in the face of rejection. It’s easy to resent the lost instead of loving the lost.
Jesus didn’t just rescue nice friendly people, “the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”
Luke 19.10 NIV
Our kid’s dog, Trigger, was frightened. The animal rescue people put out a bulletin that said don’t approach him or he will run. The volunteer was a trained dog rescuer she got him to come to her. She was a dog whisperer!
That’s how we rescue people—gentle, compassionate and non-judgmental. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
John 3.17 NIV
Paul gives some good suggestions in approaching lost people.
To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews…To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
1 Cor. 9.20-23 NIV
Paul was a Grecian Jew he was a cross-cultural communicator. We live in a very diverse culture. One of the best things we can do is learn as much as possible about peoples culture and relate to them in their context.
Jesus spent much of his time eating in the homes of non-believers.
The religious leaders accused him of hanging out with Samaritans, tax collectors, drinkers, prostitutes and other so called “sinners”.
To his critics He said, “Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Matt. 9.13 NIV
Let me share a few practical ideas about spiritual Rescue. I call it life-style evangelism. It’s not a program, event or campaign. It’s something that becomes a natural part of our lifestyle.
It involves praying, caring and sharing. We will talk more about PRAYER-CARE-SHARE during this year’s 40 days of love and light—today just a brief refresher. It begins with passionate prayer for lost people.
The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know…This is the way our Savior God wants us to live. He wants not only us but everyone saved, you know, everyone to get to know the truth we’ve learned.
1 Tim. 2.1-4 MSG
Notice he says this is “how I want you to live”. Prayer for lost people should be as natural as praying over our food. Paul is telling us to make it a lifestyle priority. Prayer softens the soil of hearts. It also fills us with compassion and revelation.
Jesus told his disciples to pray blessings over the people in the communities they were reaching out to. Blessing breaks the hold of darkness and opens them to the light.
Prayer leads to showing genuine expressions of care. Jesus approached the lost with compassion and revelation. He was unconventionally friendly with the Samaritan woman at the well. He was kind and approachable when no male religious Jew would give her the time of the day.
He gently and wisely surfaced her life issues by asking questions that confirmed his revelation of her deepest need. She had multiple failed marriages and a live-in partner. He didn’t condemn her. With compassion, He led her to the light.
Compassion takes many forms. We are not all good at communication. Acts of kindness and service can be a powerful lifeline to a rescue.
Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God’s words; if help, let it be God’s hearty help. That way, God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he’ll get all the credit.
1 Pet. 4.10 MSG
Caring is also a lifestyle.
“Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”
1 Pet. 2.12 NIV
Paul told Titus to teach people to “engage in good deeds that meet pressing needs” and they would be fruitful.
Titus 3.14 NASB
That’s where revelation or spiritual insight comes in. When we pray for the lost and we care for the lost God reveals their deepest needs. When we address something that only they and God know it opens their heart to receive His love
Finally caring opens the opportunity to sharing the good news with them. It’s good to know scriptures that clarify and simplify the good news, but sharing is not a memorized presentation. People are turned off by what may sound like a sales pitch. Just share your own story.
Again Sharing is a life-style. It’s a natural consequence of praying and caring. 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.
1Pet. 3.15 NIV
When Christ is the Lord, the owner, the master of our hearts, will help rescue lost people. It will be a daily adventure not a religious duty. Praying, caring and sharing will be as natural as work and play!
Let’s set some goals not resolutions. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to recruit and train us to be a vital part of His rescue team. Let’s look for daily lifestyle opportunities to be God lifeline of love to lost people.