A HEART TO MELT FEARS (EVAN. #3)

ON THE SIDELINES AT PICKLEBALL,

I HAD THIS CONVERSATION WITH A WOMAN.

Elaine: “What’s new with you, Dee?”

Me: “Well, I’m part of a group that is just starting a new church

— and that’s been exciting.”

Elaine: “What kind of a church?”

Me: “We call it ‘The Orchard,’ but it’s an Evangelical Free Church.”

In response, Elaine looked a lot like this.

home-alone

“Evangelical?” she said. “You mean you push your religion on people?”

She took me by surprise.

When I recovered, I said:

“Oh no — not religion! But we do talk about how Jesus has changed our lives.”

Elaine was quiet, then seemed relieved when called to play pickleball, and ran.

rundisplaying-20-images-for-person-running-away-clipart-qqv58w-clipart

I’m praying for another chance to talk to Elaine, to see if she has been hurt by those whom were insensitive. I want to hear what is keeping her from Christ.

Driving home, “Elaine’s” reaction made me remember how I felt when my sister Sally came to tell me Jesus had changed her life.

I WANTED MY BIBLE QUOTING SISTER TO GO HOME.

I FELT I WAS LOSING CONTROL.

I WAS UNDER CONVICTION.

I WAS UNCOMFORTABLE.

RECENTLY MY FRIEND RON TOLD ME THAT THE FIRST TIME

HE CAME TO MY HOME FOR DINNER, HE WAS “SCARED TO DEATH,”

THOUGH HE CERTAINLY DIDN’T SEEM TO BE.

HE WAS BOLD AND BLUSTERY.

BUT INSIDE HE WAS AFRAID.

WHEN I ASKED HIM WHY, HE SAID,

“I FELT I WAS LOSING CONTROL.”

SO WHAT IS THE SOLUTION TO OVERCOMING FEAR?

perfect-love-casts-out-fear

 

WHEN WE ARE CONVINCED OF JESUS LOVE, IT DRIVES OUT OUR FEARS. LIKEWISE, WHEN UNBELIEVERS ARE CONVINCED OF OUR LOVE,

THEY MELT AND OPEN.

HOW DO WE SHOW THEM A HEART OF LOVE?

WE, LIKE JESUS, MUST BECOME “INCARNATIONAL.”

HE LEFT HIS FATHER TO COME AND DWELL WITH US.

WHY?

HE LOVED US ENOUGH TO ENTER INTO OUR WORLD.

JOHN STOTT, IN TALKING TO CHRISTIANS AT A SECULAR UNIVERSITY,

URGED THEM TO BECOME INCARNATIONAL BY ENTERING INTO THE WORLD OF THE UNBELIEVERS AT THE UNIVERSITY.

DON’T BE LIKE “THE RABBIT WHO STICKS HIS HEAD OUT OF THE HOLE.”

rabbitholejune-22-2012-17-56-48-nmlkjhgfDON’T RUN FROM YOUR CHRISTIAN ROOMMATE TO CLASS AND LOOK FOR A CHRISTIAN WITH WHOM TO SIT.

DON’T RUN TO THE CAFETERIA AND LOOK FOR THE CHRISTIANS.

YOU MUST GET OUT OF YOUR HOLE.

YOU MUST ENTER INTO THE WORLD OF NON-CHRISTIANS

AS JESUS ENTERED INTO OUR WORLD.

I LEARNED THIS AS A YOUNG BELIEVER — THE HARD WAY.

 

I was a fairly new Christian, eager for others to find the joy that I had found. Steve was beginning his residency in orthopedic surgery in Akron, Ohio. The wives were invited to a welcoming coffee. A large group of young, seemingly confident women moved about the lawn sipping iced tea with lemon slices in their shorts and sundresses. I’ve always been a little uncomfortable in settings like this, feeling not pretty or sophisticated enough… Yet God had put such love in my heart, I resisted the urge to flee.

The pretty president, a confident extroverted redhead, stood up and, with empathy, relayed the loneliness she felt when she moved to Akron so that her husband could do a surgery residency. “I’m not going to kid you — your husband isn’t going to be around a lot. So we need each other.” She wanted to give us opportunities to develop friendships with each other through their interest groups like tennis, bridge, political action, arts and crafts… And, she added, if any of us wanted to spearhead another interest group, we should just come up and put the name of our interest group on the top of a sheet so interested women could sign up.

thinking-light-bulb-clip-art-sketch-ideaIt seemed perfect. So, I put this header at the top of a sheet and bravely numbered it to twelve,

the perfect size for a small group!

Beginner’s Bible Study

Get to Know the Jesus of the Bible!

  1. Dee Brestin____________
  2. _____________________
  3. _____________________
  4. _____________________
  5. _____________________
  6. _____________________
  7. _____________________
  8. _____________________
  9. _____________________
  10. ____________________
  11. ____________________
  12. ____________________

At the end of the coffee, I ran back to see the signatures. 17 for tennis. 15 for bridge. 27 for arts and crafts. And yes, you guessed it. There was one other signature besides mine for Bible study — and she was a seasoned Christian. Driving home I felt defeated, judgmental, thinking I tried Lord — but these are just a bunch of worldly doctors’ wives — uninterested in spiritual things.

I had forgotten the fear I felt when my sister visited. But the Spirit convicted me. Would I have signed up for a Bible study like that, offered by a stranger, before I knew Christ? NO WAY. Recently I heard a local pastor, Ed House, turn the love chapter into algebraic equations.

Speaking in tongues of men + tongues of angels MINUS love = ZILCH.

Prophetic powers + Understanding All Mysteries + Mountain-moving faith MINUS love = ZILCH.

I had to back-up, repent, and start over. I had not signed up for any other interest group, but now I called and asked if it was too late to sign up for bridge. I laugh now to remember Lee’s response. “You are an answer to prayer — we are short one player!” I spent the next year getting to know and love the women. Some might say that was manipulative, but I disagree. We need to love no matter their response. Eventually, if we sense interest, we must tell them about Jesus. To have what we have and keep it under a bushel is sin.  It is as if we had a cure for cancer but only fluffed the patient’s pillows and let him die without knowing about the cure. We love them for them, not for a scalp for our belt, but we love as Jesus did — the whole person: heart, mind, body, and soul.

A year later seven signed up for the beginner’s study, and each year it multiplied. Many came to Christ over the next three years and many began their own studies once their husbands moved and began practicing medicine in other cities.

 

SUNDAY:

     1. What stands out to you from the above and why?

 

     2.What part did love play in bringing you to Christ?

MONDAY-WEDNESDAY BIBLE STUDY

Prepare your heart with this:

    3. Read Philippians 2:5-11.

        A. What mindset are we to have according to verse 5?

        B. What did Jesus give up in order to enter our world according to verses 6-8?

        C. How did God honor Him according to verses 9-11?

        D. What might you have to give up so you can enter into the world of unbelievers?

4. Read 2 Corinthians 5:11-15

       A. What should be our motive in reaching out, in being incarnational, according to verses 11 and 14?

       B. Do you have these motives? If not, why not, do you think?

Karen, a new participant, honestly shared often she doesn’t even like her neighbors. I would love more input for that — for often we feel the same way!

       C. Paul was criticized for his appearance and for being too zealous. What did he say about this in verses 12 and 13?

       D. Verses 15 is golden, and one I often use when sharing the gospel. What does it say and how could this apply to you

            right now in being incarnational and loving others into the Kingdom?

reconciliation     5. Read 2 Corinthians 5:16-21

        A. People were judging Paul on the basis of his appearance, “his flesh,” instead of the Spirit within him. He realizes he once

            did the same with Christ and His followers. What does he say in verse 16?

        B.  What does the Spirit of Christ do for those who receive Him, according to verse 17? How has He made you a new

             creation — share a couple of specifics!

      This is one of the most exciting aspects of evangelism. I marvel, for example, at watching Ron, a Viet Nam Vet, who,

      like so many men who fought in that terrible war, had anger problems. Yet Christ has made him a new creation. He says

      when he walks his dogs in the woods he often falls to his knees in gratitude at the change in his heart!

        C. What ministry has God entrusted to us according to verse 19?

        D. What mindset should we have when we love and share with unbelievers according to verse 20?

        E. Explain the gospel message using verses 20-21.

THURSDAY-FRIDAY: REBECCA PIPPERT (Short and excellent video)

 

6. Notes or comments on the above?

Saturday:

7. What is your take-a-way and why?

 

 

 


   

 

 

 

 

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D. Verse 15 is golden, and one I often use when sharing the gospel. What does it say and how could this apply to you right now in being incarnational and loving others into the kingdom?
 
This verse says that the gospel/good news is inclusive: Jesus died for ALL. No one is outside the love, grace, and mercy of God. But embracing that truth means we should no longer live for ourselves. I think living for ourselves means to live your life as if this life is all the reality there is. So, this applies to me in that I need to invest some of my time, my prayers, my money, in what Jesus cares about most, and that is people. Sometimes it’s good for me to personalize a verse, “And He died for Susan, that Susan should no longer live for herself but Susan should live for Him who died for her and was raised again.”

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I really like that you have personalized this verse, Susan. It takes on a special meaning when we insert our own name.
 

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Even though I don’t comment much I am studying and reading the comments. I have to say though, I literally laughed out loud when I read about the ladies at the Doctor’s wives get together that showed up , “…with lemon slices in their shorts and sundresses.”

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    :-)  Context! But I can see how you read it that way. That’s my proof-checker!

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5.  Read 2 Corinthians 5;16-21.    What does he say in verse 16?
 
I think verse 16 is especially potent in light of what came before….that Paul knew “the fear of the Lord” and that “the love of Christ controls us”.  Those two things can only be said of true Christians!  I think that it is ONLY out of that heart change that we can “regard no one according to the flesh”.  How we look, how educated we may be, what we do for a living, where we live, what we drive….and on and on it goes.  It really is normal for the unbelieving world to evaluate each other by these kinds of standards.  And though it may remain in the pull of our humanness to look at others this way, the Holy Spirit within us gives us a better way – a pull to see others with the eyes of Jesus.  :)  
 
Jesus is the most misunderstood human in the history of the world.  I think in our day it is common to hear him regarded as “one of many, many ways to God”.  People may be willing to say many good things about Jesus – but NOT that he was God!  Anything, but bowing the knee to the man who was fully man, fully God.  C.S. Lewis’ very well known quote says it SO well:
 
             “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him:  I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God.  That is the one thing we must not say.  A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher.  He would either be a lunatic – on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell.  You must make your choice.  Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse.  You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher.  He has not left that open to us.  He did not intend to.”        C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
 
 
 
 

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5 B.  What does the Spirit of Christ do for those who receive Him, according to verse 17?  How has He made you a new creation – share a couple of specifics!
 
The Spirit brings a brand new life….even a new creation!  When I received Christ I was almost taken aback by the depth and immediacy of some changes in my life.  Heart changes, for sure.  My hunger for God’s Word was insatiable.  I could have read and studied and listened to good teaching all day long!  I longed for fellowship and found a church home right away for I longed to spend time with others who loved Him too!  Oh my.  So many things……He began to gently touch sin in my life that had to go, had to be left in the dust as a part of my “old” creation!  Some sin – like alcohol – was a struggle for some years.  I would try to “drink socially” and found that the Christian community actually did drink socially…..so I really tried to convince myself it was ok for me – but it wasn’t.  He put His finger on a few people in particular that I needed to go back to ask forgiveness for sins against them as an unbeliever…..and not every response was warm and fuzzy for sure!  More than I can tell….but I began to realize that for the first time in my life I was really LIVING.  I wanted others in my life to know Him too, to have the joy of walking through life with Him.  As life has rolled on and my sorrows have rolled in – and sometimes over me!! – I find myself simply wanting more of HIM.  With Peter I can truly say: “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”  (John 6:68&69).  

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5C.  What ministry has God entrusted to us, according to verse 19?
 
the message of reconciliation (between sinful humans and Holy, Loving God).  

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5D.  What mindset should we have when we love and share with unbelievers according to verse 20?  
 
“we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.”   An ambassador, by definition, does NOT represent, or concern himself, with HIMSELF!!!!!!  I am a vessel, chosen by God for my very tiny little corner of this world!  Yes, yes….He WILL use the common ground that I may have with the people in my world to connect.  But my relationship with the people in my world is NOT the end game……to represent my incomparible Savior to them and to see them receive Him into their lives IS what my life should be all about.  John said, in 3 John: 4, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children (spiritual children!) are walking in the truth.”  This should make my heart beat ever more joyfully!!  :)  
 
Another thing about an ambassador :  (at least between countries).  An ambassador is a “sent one”.  HIs citizenship remains in his “true” country, but he is sent to fully enter in, to know and be a part of the country he goes to.  In some ways it seems like working undercover, though not quite so covert!  It can be HARD to remain loyal through and through to our King while fully immersing ourselves in this fallen world.  Thanks be to God, HE IS FAITHFUL…..He will never leave us or forsake us!!!  And He has given us the GIFT of fellowship with our brothers and sisters……such nourishment for our souls.  This is kind of bouncing me back to Renee’s thoughts earlier on the body of Christ “togetherness” of the Philippians passage we studied…….

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5E.  Explain the gospel message using verses 20-21.
 
God has done an amazing thing for us.  We all are born under the curse and burden of sin.  Try as we might to “do right”, the reality in our daily lives shows us how hard that it – misunderstandings, arguments, hurtful words and so much more remind us that sin is real and it is present within us!  There’s a deep rooted selfishness within each of us that fights against trusting others, truly helping others…..and even keeps us from seeking a Holy God.  We labor under this sense of disconnection from God, from others….even in our closest relationships.  It is ugly, it is powerful and it is called sin.  God is HOly and cannot look upon sin.  What to do?  There IS nothing we can do – but God has done this amazing thing……He sent His son Jesus to become a man.  Fully man.  And yet….fully God.  Jesus lived his earthly life for God alone.  He remained Holy, without sin.  But he came to earth on a mission, born of love for us, the helpless ones.  He came to take on our sin and pay the price for our sin, so that we might be reconciled to God as our Father.  We have the incredible opportunity to become God’s children, our sin burden fully paid for by the death, the blood of Christ.  Christ’s blood is the ONLY payment that His Father will accept for sin, for Christ himself was without sin!    He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  All we must do is believe in His Name and trust that He has paid the price for OUR sin – personally, when he was nailed to the cross and poured out his life on our behalf.    When we believe in Him in our hearts, new life begins!  We are adopted into the family of God and He will never leave us or forsake us!  Jesus Christ has bridged the gap – He makes peace between us and God!  We are reconciled to God.  Once and for all and forever…..

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6. Notes or comments on the above?   (Fresh Approach to Evangelism by Becky Pippert)
 
Techniques do not work with people you talk to the second time.   You might use them the first time, but you can’t do that again.     Our theology impacts our methodology.   The most important thing is to focus on “Who God Is.”    God gives us our Motivation,   Jesus is our Model, and we need to depend on the Holy Spirit and God’s word for our Methods.  

Jesus ‘model in his birth, life and ministry, death, resureection, and ascension. We must develop a loving relationship because we are reflecting the trinity. How do we maintain our identity while walking alongside unbelievers. Like Jesus did.  
 
We must ask questions:   We need to first ask a belief question, then a God question, then clearly communicate the gospel.    How can we be eternally relevant?   We need to discover the irresistible Jesus. The Son of God came, and the chief complaint was that He wasn’t religious enough.   Jesus never runs away from the mess of addiction and brokenness.   

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We need to discover the irresistible Jesus. The Son of God came, and the chief complaint was that He wasn’t religious enough.   Jesus never runs away from the mess of addiction and brokenness.   “

-absolutely LOVE that quote also, Deanna!  Glad you wrapped it up with that!

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