Friday, February 7, 2020

The Antioch Effect: Fields Are Ripe For the Harvest


Image result for harvest

I am sure that most people that grew up in church were used to the old visitation night or we put on an evangelistic/outreach events such as a 5th quarter for youth or Vacation Bible School.  Most of these efforts usually create lots of work and prayerfully we get to see a few salvations from them.  in most urban/suburban southern areas of the US, the typical bible believing church is down the block and has been there for decades.  In rural settings, that one single church exists that everyone is aware of in the area and has been there for 50 to 100 years or more. 

Hemphill shares that 28 percent of adults believe it is their responsibility to share their religious beliefs with others.  25 percent strongly feel they have no such responsibility.  In Matthew 9, Jesus uses the term harvest to explain the condition of the fields that are ready to be worked.  The harvest.  The people all around us.  Our neighbors.  The folks standing next to us in line at Wal Mart or Target.  The ones who are in the booth next to us in the restaurant.  Our family.  "Jesus referred to the many souls needing to be brought to repentance and faith as a harvest waiting to be realized."  (gotquestions.org)

Jesus states in Matthew 9:37 that the problem is "the workers are few."  In other words, the lack of salvations and baptisms are due to the fact that aren't enough disciples going into the harvest, a field ripe and ready to be cultivated, to share the gospel.  We have read this passage of Scripture.  We have heard a lesson or sermon about it, yet, we don't want to be obedient to what Jesus is obviously pointing out.  Let's add the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20 and Acts 1:8 on top of that. 

If it's a command of Christ, then why aren't we going into the harvest?  Jesus said the harvest is ready.  So, you are either the "few" workers or you're not.  We complain that the pastor is not good enough to bring people into the body of Christ or attend the worship service.  He hasn't worked hard enough when it's EVERY believers responsibility to share the gospel.  To go into the HARVEST to work!  "People don't want to hear that" or "people aren't responsive" is not going to cut it on Judgment Day I'm afraid.   

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

The Antioch Effect: Christ is the ONLY WAY!

Point #2:  We must believe that Christ provides the only access to the Father. 

TRUTH:  Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. John 14:6
TRUTH:  And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.  Acts 4:12.

Hemphill writes in The Antioch Effect that if we believe this, with conviction we must share Christ with others.  The statistics show that there is a low percentage of Christians sharing their faith.  Worse than that, fewer Christians know what the Great Commission is and what it means.  Church, what is our responsibility to share?  Where is our conviction for the truth?  And where is our passion to share the gospel - the good news?

We have been complacent and comfortable for TOO LONG.  Most older churches in America are dying a slow death because of the Holy Huddle they are participating in every week.  Attendance is declining and even worse the number of baptisms go down every year in our denomination.  New church plants across North America are seeing explosive numbers of people confessing and believing in Jesus because they start with a passion of sharing the gospel.  The Great Commission is very real to them and they see the need to share.  

Are we willing to surrender to the command of the Great Commission?  Are we willing to give up our comfort and quit being ruled by our calendar to share the gospel with our friends and neighbors?
What say YOU?

Monday, January 20, 2020

The Antioch Effect: Building Blocks For Evangelism

The Antioch Effect written by Ken Hemphill gives good insight on the chapter "Passion for the Lost" and developing a solid theological foundation for evangelism in the local church.  I want to look at all 8 of them as the review will be good for me too....so here it goes:

Point #1:  We must understand the condition of the lost. 
Hemphill writes:   "Without Christ there is neither life, nor hope."  In most evangelical circles, we hear of the saved and the lost, believer or unbeliever, etc. to be able to identify what group you are part of when you are presented the gospel.  Preachers wind it up during the worship service so that with the invitation at the end of the service, you are challenged to identify what group you're in so that you can respond according to the invitation instructions.   If you're lost, you're invited to place your faith in Jesus Christ.  If you are saved, you should invite the Holy Spirit to revive/renew you or challenge you as the Scripture leads.  There are other invitation instructions, but what I speak of are the basic ones.  Because, without Christ there is neither life, nor hope. 

Hemphill writes about having a biblical understanding of the condition of the lost.  Do we truly know what Scripture says about rejecting Christ and the consequences of that rejection?  The best place for this is Romans 1-3, where it is very descriptive of the practice of one who rejects Christ.  Hemphill states the need for this understanding for the believer to be "moved" to do something about lostness because we have the message to share.  (2 Cor. 5 - the ministry of reconciliation)  Rejecting Christ is a crisis in our community, so then, how will God's people respond to this crisis? 

Will we stand by and let lost people, who don't know Jesus, die without the opportunity to hear the gospel?  Have we gotten too comfortable in our buildings with padded pews that our holy huddle has become what Christianity is all about?  Does this lost condition in our community/city cause us grief and anguish to be moved to do something?  Hemphill suggests that since the lost are not seeking God based upon what we read in Romans 3:11, we must become the seekers.

What will you/I do?               

Monday, October 21, 2019

Am I Willing?

Back in the day, I played on a men's church softball team.  We signed up, got the t-shirts and held a few practices just to go out and have some fun playing.  We had 15 men or so that committed to play on the team.  Fortunately, none of them gripped about playing time or sitting on the bench.  They were committed to the season, to playing the games and bring a good attitude whether we won or lost.  When they were put in the game, they played well and were very humble about letting others play too.

We don't want to let the other guys down by not showing up.  We want to play and seek out the fellowship especially with other believers.  What about committing to the body of Christ?  I could quote a few Scriptures to tell you that meeting together with the body of Christ is a command, but I don't want to turn this into a legalistic requirement.  It's a commitment.  Just like you're commitment to Christ, to love Him and others, to be devoted to Him daily in constant worship, to follow Him where He leads and live life for His glory.  Why would we give a greater commitment to a softball team than we would Jesus?  Why wouldn't we want to be committed to a body of Christ that would help us practice how to play and learn how to be in the game and when to rest on the bench? 

The question is simply:  Are you willing?  It's got to be a desire.  It's got to be a commitment.  It's got to be a team (church) you are willing to invest in: to love God and others with.  Are you willing? 

   

Monday, September 16, 2019

The Presence of God

"the heart which is the first to live and which dominates all the other parts of the body - should be the first and last to love God."  - Brother Lawrence, The practice of the presence of God

Have you ever that day where you wanted to give up?  That day where nothing seemed to go right?  That day where you threw the towel in early in the morning and didn't want to face anything else?

I had one of those days recently.  It really tested me and my faith.  I found myself weak and in all the power and strength I could muster in my mind and in my heart, I couldn't fix the problem.  I couldn't fix the situation.  I couldn't lead any any differently.  I couldn't change the course of any action, or cause a different effect through my education or relationships.  It drove me to my knees, which is where I should have been at the start of all of this.

I had my quiet time that morning.  I prayed and enjoyed my coffee time with God.  I wasn't expecting what was to come next.  My faith was to be shaken, stirred, overturned, mixed up, dropped in the dirt and stepped on.  Satan came to attack and he brought the BIG GUNS.  Where was my trust in the Lord?  Where was my faith in Him?  Why would I stumble so easy?

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; 
in all your ways know him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6 

It's all in the TRUST. Followed by "you may not understand what God is doing". I have to be okay with that. I have to TRUST in that promise! I just need to know Him, have faith in Him and let Him work IN Me and THROUGH Me. With ALL MY HEART! There is no other way!


  


Wednesday, August 21, 2019

To KNOW Him

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To Know.....used 21 times in the letter of 1 John.  
  1. to learn to know, come to know, get a knowledge of perceive, feel
    1. to become known
  2. to know, understand, perceive, have knowledge of
    1. to understand
    2. to know
When you believe and confess in Jesus as your Savior, it's not a ONE time get to know Jesus.  It's not a meet and greet party that we come and go.  This word "ginosko" implies that it's not just a knowledge as book smarts, it's a relational knowing with our Savior.  An everyday challenge to KNOW Jesus and getting closer and closer and closer to Him every day.  

Why do you think when he called His disciples, He commanded them to "COME" to Him?  It's like He's calling us to Him constantly, daily, hourly to KNOW Him.  There is more than a lifetime of knowing Jesus and we will only spend few significant moments with Him throughout our lives when Jesus has asked/invited us for MORE.  

1 John 3:24 "The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us."  I had to learn to ABIDE.  When I did, I desired to KNOW Jesus more.  If you are seeking to KNOW Him,you will ABIDE in Him.  I challenge you today to begin.  

  

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

No Place Left Individual Plans

Can you imagine that a small group of trainers (disciple makers) from two churches partnering together in Allen would drive over an hour away to train 10 churches to go into the harvest?  I believe that the Holy Spirit is working in a mighty way in ALL of this.  The Great Commission is realized and some disciples there know the urgency, they feel the urgency, they are at work in the urgency!  The gospel is being shared!  Lives will be changed because of Jesus and the spread of the gospel!

So, this reminds me of my personal goals that we learned from Outreach Training that we have: 
1.  Praying for workers to go into the harvest (Luke 10:2)
2.  Pray and engage someone to train with the 4-1-1 (Core Discipleship Lesson for One Hour)
3.  Share the Gospel with someone in your Sphere of Influence - OIKOS)

Accountability is the KEY!  Disciple Making is being accountable to the Great Commission that Jesus has spoken before us to obey!  I need to PRAY, PLAN and PRACTICE!  Constantly.  It takes time, investing my life in sharing the gospel and then, following up and do life together in the Word and Prayer.  I am working with a PURPOSE in the kingdom of God.  It's not really WORK as I realize my PURPOSE.  It's ministry, it's sharing, it needs to become my life.  I need to plan on these all the time.  Would you join me?