Friday, 28 March 2014

Where is sharing the gospel in your prioroty list?

Recently I have received numerous cold calls and, emails and also seen many advertisements on social media on how to make money, save money and all manner of things related to wealth. It can be very irritating to be bombarded with these things. In addition, I have people in businesses offering me money-making schemes and ‘opportunities of a lifetime that will increase prosperity and create a fantastic life’!

With every one of these, the people and companies are really enthusiastic, exhibiting a strong belief in their product, business or service.

All of this has made me ask myself, “What’s more important, making money, saving money or saving souls”?  Before you start thinking that I mean that we shouldn’t be motivated by doing well in our jobs and businesses. Let me make it clear, I am not saying that for a minute.

I worked in business for many years and was a very high achiever. I loved it: the excitement, the ups, the downs, the goals, just about all of it! We all need to earn money to live and hopefully have some left over to save for rainy days and for when we get old and grey.

I believe this challenging question about ‘what is most important?’ is something we seriously need to consider especially with the way that the world and society is rapidly changing. People need to know about the One who died for them and how He can help them in daily life. The vital part is that they come to know Jesus died a painful death so that they might have eternal life. God made a choice to use both you and me to share the all important message. If we don’t tell people, who else will?

The question is, where does sharing this important life changing news with others come in your list of priorities?

I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” 1 Corinthians 15:3–4

Paul used the words, “Of first importance” when he wrote to the Corinthians explaining that Jesus died for our sins and how He was raised on the third day. Reading the scripture caused me to ask myself the question “What is of first importance in my life?”

Key Point: Ask yourself the question, “What is of first importance in my life”?

Having a sense of urgency is very important in any business, certainly in the sales industry where I come from. Working in sales means constantly seeking and creating opportunities to get appointments to sell.

My boss set a great example of how to remain focused and committed. When he was a sales person, he would carry five coins in his left trouser pocket. He would make appointments by cold calling, referrals or face to face and would transfer one coin to his left pocket each time he was successful. He would not go home until he had moved all of the coins from left to right pocket.

Remembering this made me ponder - what would happen if we as Christians had a similar focus on sharing Jesus in some way every day, let alone five times a day? What would happen?

I use exercises like the one below when I teach classes on self awareness. Being totally honest with your answers will tell you a lot about yourself.

Here is a list of priorities that I have written in a random order. Rate how you important these things are to you, numbering them 1 to 10.

·        Family

·        God

·        Prayer

·        Reading Gods word

·        Giving financially, supporting the church

·        Work

·        Hobbies and pastimes

·        Church attendance

·        Witnessing for Christ

·        Serving in the church

I have completed a list myself and it has made me examine my own priorities.

Recently my pastor and friend used a terrific prop when he preached a message about the subject of faith. He placed a chair in the centre of the stage and asked the congregation how they would pray if God was actually sitting there in front of them. How would we pray about a need or a desire that we had? Would we pray differently if we could actually see Him in the room?

Thinking along those lines, what would the Lord think of your list?

Monday, 17 March 2014

Can you honestly say follow my example?

I was deeply saddened by the recent news that the evangelist Steve Hill passed away after a prolonged fight against cancer. I first heard him preach many years ago when my pastor loaned me a cassette tape of one of Steve’s best known messages called “White Cane Religion”. Up to that point I had heard many well-preached evangelistic messages; but when I listened to Steve, I was deeply moved by his passion and zeal. From then on, I became a regular listener of his messages, watched his videos on television  and read many of his books.

Back then and even now as I write this, I am still challenged as Steve’s words make me consider my own passion and desperation for the lost. We have many examples both in scripture and in Christians we know, who demonstrate the reality of their faith through their lives.

I feel blessed to have come under his ministry in Pensacola during the revival as well as being part of two missions he led in Wales.  I was delighted to meet him on a number of occasions.

These scriptures come to mind when I think of Steve:

“Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”
 1 Corinthians 11: 1

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.” Romans 1:16

“But I have not used any of these rights. And I am not writing this in the hope that you will do such things for me, for I would rather die than allow anyone to deprive me of this boast. For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” 1 Corinthians 9:15-16

I often say that I like to be challenged when people preach and without a doubt, when Steve preached the Gospel I always was!

Key Point: There are many great examples we can follow in Scripture and there will also be many Christians that model a godly attitude, have consistent prayer lives and much more.

As Christians we go through a process of sanctification as we follow Christ and His example. There are always areas we need to work on, parts of our lives we haven’t fully given to God. Steve was just a man like me, a sinner saved by grace.

Reflecting upon this, here are three examples he set that still challenge me. How do they challenge you?

Demonstrating that you believe what you say: When you talk to people who have not accepted Christ how do you come across? Do you show a deep conviction and passion for the one who saved you?

In my own case there are times when I don’t do this as I should. When we demonstrate passion and zeal for Jesus, inspired by the Holy Spirit, things happen! I remember being on a training course in a hotel some years ago. Relaxing after our evening meal with about ten colleagues, I introduced the subject of church and before long everyone in the group was listening intently. One of them asked “Do you really believe that the Bible is true?” I answered with real passion saying “I know that it is true! As I spoke they all fell silent, a number of them looking visibly shocked. That night I was able to share the gospel and as a result had many more opportunities to witness.

Passion and zeal for those who don’t know Jesus: Considering this I would say that I am passionate for the lost, but not anywhere as near as much as I should be. Sometimes I allow the business and daily events of life to distract me so that I lose focus.

You don’t have to look very far in the Bible to realise that we are in the end times. Jesus could literally return at any minute and I want to be ready when He does. Like the men in the parable of the talents who couldn't wait to see the master when he returned.

We should all have a desire to reach the lost and demonstrate that in our prayer life as well as talking about Christ to people who don’t know Him as Lord. I often pray asking God to give me just a little of the passion that Jesus had for the lost. I believe that with an impartation of just a tiny spark of Jesus’ passion would set me on fire.

An example to follow: I wonder, do people consider for even a millisecond the example that I set? Would my actions inspire another  believer? Would I want to be like me? 

Can I truly say like the apostle Paul when he said, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”

Could you say it? Its good to be challenged isn’t it?