Archive for October 13th, 2008

Living a Jesus Lifestyle by Serving Other

Introduction: In this lesson you will discover who the Bible says is your neighbor. As a practical model, you will take a close look at the example of the Good Samaritan. An in-depth study in friendship evangelism will conclude our study. In this lesson you will learn how to:

  • Recognize your neighbor.
  • Be a servant to others.
  • Reach out to the lost.

I. Recognize your neighbor and your responsibility to him.

A. In the opening chapters of Genesis, Cain asks God, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9) Cain expressed the heart of sinful man, which wants to ignore responsibility for anyone but those closest to him.

B. In the Old Testament, your “neighbor” included those who were like you, your family, and your close friends. Jonah was very angry with God when God showed mercy to the people of Nineveh. Jonah viewed them as enemies because they were not his fellow Israelites. (Jonah 3:1-4; 4)

C. In the New Testament, Jesus teaches that your “neighbor” includes those who are not like you and those who are not related to you. Their relationship to you as a “neighbor” is a moral one, not a physical one. It is not based on kinship but on the opportunity and capacity to help others.

D. In John 3:16, Jesus tells us that He became a missionary to the whole world, not to a select few. He also tells us that “as the Father has sent Me, I am sending you.” (John 20:2 1 NIV) You have a responsibility to reach out beyond your own circle of friends and across your borders. “And you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8b NIV)

II. Become a servant to others, like the Good Samaritan did. (Luke 10:30-37)

A. See and feel the need (verse 30).

1. “Stripped him” – humiliation

2. “Beat him” – devastation (emotional and physical)

3. “Leaving him” – abandonment

B. Don’t be callous (verses 31, 32).

1. A priest saw him.

2. A Levite saw him.

C. Express your compassion (verse 33).

1. A Samaritan saw him.

2. “He felt compassion for him.”

3. It’s one thing to see but something quite different to see and feel.

a) Today many times people see much and feel little. We are a desensitized and emotionally calloused generation.

b) The Samaritan is referred to as being “good” because he loved a man whom his fellow countrymen considered as an enemy. He was not influenced by their potential rejection of his action.

D. Be willing to sacrifice (verses 34, 35).

1. First aid (body ministry) was administered.

2. Time and financial resources were made available. (I John 3:17).

E. Be a true neighbor (verse 36).

1. “Which of these three…proved to be a neighbor to the man?”…”The one who showed mercy.”

2. “Go and do the same” (verse 37, see also Romans 15:1).

III. Live a lifestyle of friendship evangelism.

A. Model the example of Jesus (WWJD?).

1. Jesus, the true Servant, lived to give of Himself to others.

a) He did not come to be served but to serve. (Mark 10:45)

b) Jesus commissioned His disciples to do the same. (Matthew 7, 8) The call of God upon my life is to live to give.

2. With Jesus, serving was not a stepping stone toward greatness; it was the measure of greatness.

a) Jesus was free to wash His disciples’ feet. (John 13:5)

b) Jesus served and loved so freely that He was able to bless His own betrayer (John 13:26) and even referred to him as His friend. (Matthew 26:47-50)

3. Jesus bids us, “Follow me.”

a) We’re to follow Jesus by loving and serving others.

b) We’re to love with our hearts and eyes, speak words of peace and reconciliation with our mouths, and reach out to others with our hands.

B. Overcome hindrances to friendship evangelism.

1. The fear of man

a) Your acceptance is based on your identity in Christ.

b) Fear of rejection can paralyze you. “What will he or she think of me?”

2. Pride

a) Your ego hates to suffer; it always prefers to be puffed up.

b) Rather than humbling yourself, you prefer silence and exclusion, and many times even isolation.

3. Selfishness

a) We do not want to spend the time and energy.

b) “But they smoke, drink, take drugs, and live promiscuously.”

c) There is a price to pay to gain the lost as one’s inheritance. (Psalm 2:8)

4. Misinterpretation of Scripture

a) “Love not the world, nor the things in the world.” (I John 2:15) This does not mean you should not love your fellowman.

b) “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy with them.” (John 17:13)

c) “The field is the world.” (Matthew 13:38)

C. Getting started in friendship evangelism

1. Carefully consider how you invest your time energy, and financial resources. Do your investments show that you are truly committed to winning the lost? Be honest!

2. Ask God for a friend, a lost person with whom you can establish a relationship.

3. As you enter appointments and other responsibilities in your daily schedule, plan times of involvement with unbelievers you are targeting for friendship. Remember, you want to establish friendships, not immediate converts. Conversion and discipleship are goals. Friendship is the way to enter into the hearts and lives of those we want to reach.

4. Express true friendship.

5. Be friendly.

6. Be committed.

7. Be loyal.

8. Don’t be overbearing (tactless). Allow space for a normal growth process.

9. Be natural in expressing your faith in Christ.

10. “A friend loves at all times.” (Proverbs 17:17) This verse expresses the heart of true friendship- unconditional love.

Posted in: Family of Faith - Discipleship

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Enduring Faith

Everyone has faith. You have faith that the lights will come on when you flick the switch, and when you turn the door knob, you have faith that the door is going to open. Christians and non-Christians alike have that kind of faith. However, not everyone has faith in God.

The kind of faith the Bible talks about is centered on believing in God. Hebrews 11:6 says: “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” Here we see three elements of a faith that pleases God: (1) we must believe that He exists; (2) we must believe that He rewards; and (3) we must believe that He will reward us when we seek Him.

Faith Is
“Faith is,” Hebrews 11:1 tells us, “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” It is the confidence that things yet unseen will happen as God said they will. It involves accepting God’s perspective as He reveals it in the Bible.

When there was nothing, God created everything. “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible” (Hebrews 11:3). Colossians 1:16-17 builds on that same thought, saying, “All things were created by Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”

This is our God. He is the One who created the entire universe. He is all-powerful, and nothing is too difficult for Him; yet, He cares about you and will reward you when you earnestly seek Him. He holds the universe together, and He is willing and able to see you through the problems you face.

Faith Goes Through
No one has the luxury of going through a problem-free life. The psalmist wrote, “A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all” (Psalm 34:19). Just knowing that God’s plan is to deliver you from every trouble you face should make it a bit easier to have an enduring faith.

In Isaiah 43:1-2, God said, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” Water and fire are sometimes used in the scriptures to represent calamity; water, because it overwhelms and fire, because it consumes. Though these promises were spoken to Israel, they also have implications for us today. God wants you to know that no matter how overwhelming or consuming your problems are, He will be with you and will help you safely through to the other side.

Remember Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego? They were the three Hebrew men who would not bow down to King Nebuchadnezzar’s idol (Daniel 3:8-25). There is no doubt that God had the power to prevent these godly men from being thrown in the fiery furnace, but instead, He chose to join them in the fire. Not only did they all survive, but we learn from Daniel 3:27 that not a single hair on their heads was singed – and they didn’t even smell like smoke when they came out!

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego made it through the fire unscathed because they placed their faith in God. They said, “We know our God is able to deliver us…but even if He doesn’t, yet will we serve Him!” They were so steadfast in their faith that even the threat of a certain death could not persuade them to give up.

Faith Doesn’t Doubt
Your faith in God will help you rise above any hardship you face. 1 John 5:4 (NKJV) says, “…this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith.” Faith overcomes, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that God will always immediately intervene when we call on Him. Sometimes God changes us on the inside first, helping us develop an enduring faith by focusing on Him and His Word.

There was a couple who wanted to have children. They had been married over nine years and had undergone years of unsuccessful medical procedures. Despite the fact that doctors gave them no hope, they didn’t give up on their faith. They believed that the same God who rewarded Abraham and Sarah’s faith by giving them children when they were well past childbearing age (Genesis 21:2, Hebrews 11:11), would reward their faith as well.

On a daily basis, this couple faced the choice that every believer faces when in the midst of adversity: “Do I believe what the circumstances say, or do I keep on believing God?” It was not always easy, but they learned to consistently rely on God’s promises rather than to give in to discouragement and doubt. God rewarded their faith and intervened where medical science could not. Their two daughters are wonderful testimonies of God’s faithfulness.

Just as their faith sustained them, your faith is designed to help you endure anything. That is how the Apostle Paul could say that he was “content” no matter what state he was in (Philippians 4:11) His faith gave him a vision of victory in his heart so he could endure until his circumstances changed.

Faith Endures Hardship
Speaking of Paul, his life is an excellent example of how faith in God can help a believer endure hardship. He wrote, “I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked. I spent a night and a day in the open sea, and I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked” (2 Corinthians 11:23-27).

Even through the worst of all those circumstances, Paul did not lose sight of his victory. He even encouraged others saying, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9). Despite tremendous hardship, Paul’s enduring faith helped him remain confident in God through every trial.

Your enemy, the devil, wants to discourage you and make you doubt God. He does his best to convince you that your marriage will never improve… that your kids will never come back to the Lord… that you will always be sick… that you’ll never have enough money, etc. Far too often, we believe the devil’s lies.

Christians must resist the devil and develop an enduring faith in the God who can do the impossible. No problem, difficulty, or struggle that you face is bigger than God, so in the midst of trouble, draw even closer to Him. The closeness of His presence will enable you to remain strong through more than you thought possible. Rest assured that He will not allow you to be tried beyond the strength He gives you. Just as sure as the trial comes, you can be sure God will provide a way out (1 Corinthians 10:13).

By faith, release your concerns, cares and worries to God through prayer. Trust Him. He is faithful to do what His Word promises, and He will give you the faith to endure until your victory is complete!

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