UIOF Week 21, Bearing Fruit

UIOF Week 21, Bearing Fruit

rohit-tandon
Photo Courtesy of Rohit Tandon on Unsplash

“I am the vine; you are the branches.  If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” — John 15:5

Stop Thinking Like the World

Are you being transformed? Transformation is what happens to a person when she gives her attention to something that changes her thinking. The word transformation means “a thorough or dramatic change.” 

So what is transforming your thoughts, words, and actions?

2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us to bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. When our thoughts are obedient to Jesus’ words, we are not only transformed, but we begin to bear fruit by causing a transformation in others.

If you want to see disciples for Christ on your watch, you need to begin with your own thoughts.

Since Jesus’ purpose was to destroy the works of the enemy (1 John 3:8) and to save every person who calls upon His Name (Romans 10:13), we must be very careful to continue to be attached to the vine. As soon as we begin giving our time and attention to the world more than to the Light of the world, we begin the transformation that will conform us to the world’s way of thinking and viewing everything. We will begin following our prince. And who is the prince of the world? John 12:31 tells us that it is Satan, the father of lies (John 8:44) and the world of unbelievers are in bondage to Satan (Ephesians 2:2) and speak his lies.

Not all of the world’s ideas are wrong. However, a half-truth is a total lie. So we must ask the Lord our God to shine His Light into every facet of our being to expose those things that have been tainted by the world so that they can be replaced by the Lord’s thoughts about what is happening around us. Put on “the mind of Christ” and go out and bear much fruit for the Kingdom of our Almighty God!

Would You Like To Know How To Become A Christian?

UIOF- Week 18- Be the Invitation

UIOF- Week 18- Be the Invitation

Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?

Jesus Christ

Luke 15:4

The Pharisees of Jesus’ day were looking for a Messiah that would reward their supposed righteousness. They saw Jesus as a man who would eat with sinners, and that couldn’t be the Messiah they were expecting. They knew in their “holier than thou” thinking that God wouldn’t relate to someone who hadn’t cleaned up her life. But that’s not what Jesus said!

He showed a completely different paradigm of God’s love! He went to where the sinners were, eating and drinking with them before they changed their ways.

Unfortunately, the church today has acquired a superiority complex. Like the Pharisees, they believe they are holier than others. But are they holier than Christ?

When Christians develop loving relationships with unbelievers, they show themselves to be true disciples of Jesus. How about you? Are you critical of others, like the Pharisees, or do you wee the brokenness of the unbeliever prime real estate for God’s love?

What characterizes the Divine Love? Compassion! Not only compassion for lack of material things (although that also is good), but compassion for the lost sheep.

Have you ever “gone after the lost one,” even if it meant you had to for a time give up your fellowship with friends? Imagine how wonderful it is to hold out an invitation to dine with the Savior!

Would You Like To Know How To Become A Christian?

UIOF Bible Study # 17 – Share

UIOF Bible Study # 17 – Share

Share Your Testimony

Maybe you never thought about yourself as a preacher. Perhaps you’ve never wanted to stand in front of hundreds, or even thousands, of people and tell them about the Gospel. But you know that the Great Commission says that we are to go to the nations. But what, exactly, does that mean?

You have placed your hope in Jesus Christ. Why is that so? You can look back and see the incredible difference knowing the Savior has made in your life. The one thing skeptics cannot dispute is your testimony. When you say, “Jesus changed my life,” no one can argue with you. I’ve heard it said that a story about a changed life is worth a thousand sermons. I know that it is true because a single individual shared her testimony with me and led me to the Throne of Grace. What about you? How did you hear the Gospel?

My husband is Jewish, so the last thing he ever thought he’d do was claim Jesus (Yeshua in Hebrew) as Lord and Savior. Do you know why he finally made that all-important decision to surrender to the Lord? Because he saw my life change right before his eyes.

The Amplified Bible sheds light on Jesus’ command for us to be witnessed to all the world.

In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus says,  “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations [help the people to learn of Me, believe in Me, and obey My words], baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always [remaining with you perpetually—regardless of circumstance, and on every occasion], even to the end of the age (AMP).”

Instead sanctify Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, yet with humility and reverence—keeping a clear conscience so that, whatever you are accused of, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Messiah may be put to shame. (1 Peter 3:15-16 TLV).”

Some people have dramatic testimonies, like release from captivity to drugs, alcoholism, or abuse. They were desperate, their time seemingly running out, and then they were rescued by Jesus. When they turned their lives over to God, He actually not only changed their lives, but He changed the lives of those who saw them clean up and walk a path of glory to God.

Many Christians don’t have such dramatic testimonies. Perhaps they were saved as young children and have never really known a day without Him. That’s a wonderful testimony, too, because people with average, everyday lives can relate to their stories.

Regardless of where you have come from, the

story of God in your life, sparing you from the heartbreak and trauma of others can make a world of difference to those who don’t have a rough background.

If you (like I) come from a background that left you spiritually battered and dying, your story will be powerful in its ability to open the door to freedom to others who have almost given up on life. To know that God not only wants to receive and forgive them, but He also wants to use them in His kingdom is amazing! When you are humble enough to share your mistakes without glorifying the sin, people who feel lost find hope.

If your story isn’t so dramatic, the fact is that God saving anybody at all is a miracle in itself. You bring hope to those who feel like their lives are meaningless and that they are worthless people. When they learn that Jesus died for their sins, and would have done the same thing even if they were the only ones on earth, it gives ultimate meaning and purpose to their lives.

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Messiah died for us. (Romans 5:8 TLV).”

Many people feel that they are not good enough to share Christ. That’s a lie. Whether it is shame from a sinful past or from hidden sin that they’ve yet to confess, they think God is mad at them or disgusted with them. Neither is true. God can use you right where you are today.

On a scale of 1-10, with1 being “feeling useless” and 10 being “fountains of joy,” how do you feel prepared to share your testimony? What is your next step?

Would You Like To Know How To Become A Christian?

UIOF Week 16: Listen Up!

UIOF Week 16: Listen Up!

How to win friends & influence people

There’s an old proverb that goes: A wise old owl sat in an oak; the more he saw, the less he spoke. The less he spoke, the more he heard. Lord, make me like that wise old bird!”

Dale Carnegie knew that he could walk into any room and convince anyone that he was a good friend just by listening. And isn’t that one of the qualities you look for in a good friend?

Some Christians think that the goal of evangelism is to  “convince and convert.” What they’re missing, though, is that the actual goal is to share God’s love. Since God loves to listen to us, shouldn’t we exemplify His character by listening to others?

God’s love is transforming. He doesn’t depend on your words.

James 1:19  reads: “Understand this, my beloved brothers and sisters. Let everyone be quick to hear [be a careful, thoughtful listener], slow to speak [a speaker of carefully chosen words and], slow to anger [patient, reflective, forgiving]; (AMP).”

Romans 2:4 asks, “Do you not know that it is His lovingkindness that brings us to repentance?”

God is less interested in your words than He is your heart.  If you listen with your heart, you’ll demonstrate His love. Listening to people even if they’re not ready to embrace Christ shows genuine interest in them. When they feel loved, they naturally want to know that love deeper. This approach requires time, effort and emotional energy.

When you set your own agenda aside, no matter how noble you see it, and simply listen to the hurts, questions, and arguments of the unbeliever, you earn the right to share the content of the Gospel..

Would You Like To Know How To Become A Christian?

Upward, Inward, Outward, Forward: Cooperate

Upward, Inward, Outward, Forward: Cooperate

A Team Effort

W hat feelings come when you think about evangelism? Fear? Anxiety? Intimidation? When someone mentions sharing your faith, do you feel unbearable pressure, as though your actions will make the difference in a person’s eternal destiny? If this is how you feel, you’re in good company.

Especially in today’s “tolerant” atmosphere that doesn’t tolerate talking about anything that might offend someone, it truly is intimidating when you think about the former paradigm of evangelism. So if you feel burdened when the opportunity to share your faith comes, look to Paul. His perspective

1st Corinthians 3:6 says: “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.”

was completely different. He didn’t find evangelism burdensome, because he didn’t see the outcome as his responsibility. Sharing the joy of knowing Jesus was what he loved more than anything to do. Here’s why.

Paul recognized that sharing the faith is a team effort. He never felt like the Lone Ranger, solely responsible for reaching everyone with the Gospel. He didn’t work alone but partnered with others who knew and loved Jesus as well.

He knew that God was responsible for saving people, not him. He freely and joyfully told others about his Savior as he partnered with God as He drew people to Himself.

“Or do you have no regard for the wealth of His kindness and tolerance and patience [in withholding His wrath]? Are you [actually] unaware or ignorant [of the fact] that God’s kindness leads you to repentance [that is, to change your inner self, your old way of thinking—seek His purpose for your life]?  Romans 2:4 (AMP).”

When my husband and I were missionaries in Russia, we would see churches send over short-term missionaries with an agenda. They thought they had to make a set number of conversions in order to be “successful.” It filled us with sadness because after “saving” a bunch of orphans at summer camp, they would go home full of themselves and promptly forget the children with whom they had “shared their faith.” This pressure to evangelize was rooted in pride, as evidenced by their emphasis on numbers. (It actually had the completely opposite effect, as, after a while, the kids who had been “saved” at numerous camps and then spiritually abandoned didn’t see the benefit of saying the “magic words” that would change their lives.)

But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him (the Holy Spirit) to you [to be in close fellowship with you]. And He, when He comes, will convict the world about [the guilt of] sin [and the need for a Savior], and about righteousness, and about judgment: John 16:7-8 (MP)”

Though some Christians do the work of an evangelist out of pride, revelling more in the fact that they led someone to Christ than the fact that the person is now saved, others have different motivations. Some feel pressure to live up to an ideal that they have created in their minds based upon conference speakers or authors who speak about evangelism. Still, the focus is on themselves. They do not see themselves as part of a team that includes the Holy Spirit, to whom all credit is due.

The kind of evangelism that draws people to God is the kind that develops deep and longstanding relationships. That’s exactly how God draws people to Himself, and when we team up with God, people desire more of that kind of relationship.

What are your feelings about sharing your faith? Pray for God to give you the freedom to work as a team member with the Holy Spirit and with others.

Would You Like To Know How To Become A Christian?

Upward, Inward, Outward, Forward: Serve

Upward, Inward, Outward, Forward: Serve

Believer as Servant

W hen Jesus came, it wasn’t as a political ruler who told people what to do. Instead, He humbled Himself and because a servant to all to demonstrate how God had designed people to live. He left all His rights and privileges behind and served those who did not deserve Him. Although He knew that His own would abandon Him, He washed their feet. And then, He allowed his broken, ruined body to die so that those who were so unworthy would have a path to relationship with God.

He was the servant who ate with compromisers and rebels. His companions were uneducated and considered low-class by the religious rulers. He allowed His disciples to eat and drink when the Pharisees thought they should be fasting.

His friends were sinners.

How could the opinion of the self-righteous matter? He had already given up His throne in Heaven. There was nothing they could take from Him, not even His life. He reminded His disciples that no one took His life from Him, that He laid it down by His own volition.

Eating with sinners showed that He valued them highly, as it was the custom to only dine with those of high value.

He didn’t require anything in order to serve; He simply served. He poured Himself out for the people He came to save: the lost, the destitute, the sick and the disreputable.

Levi (Matthew) gave a great banquet for Him at his house; and there was a large crowd of tax collectors and others who were reclining at the table with them. The Pharisees and their scribes [seeing those with whom He was associating] began murmuring in discontent to His disciples, asking, “Why are you eating and drinking with the tax collectors and sinners [including non-observant Jews]?”  And Jesus replied to them, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but [only] those who are sick. I did not come to call the [self-proclaimed] righteous [who see no need to repent], but sinners to repentance [to change their old way of thinking, to turn from sin and to seek God and His righteousness].” Luke 5:29-32 (AMP)

An old hymn perfectly sums up what His requirements for association with Him were:

Just as I am, without one plea
But that Thy blood was shed for me
And that Thou bid’st me come to Thee
O Lamb of God, I come! I come

He modeled the Great Commission even before He gave it to His followers. He showed them that He loved the unlovable and that while they were still in sin, He gave His life on their behalf.  So what should our response be?

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

If you embrace the call of Jesus, then you love your unsaved friends, neighbors, and family members even while they are in sin. You go to them (go into all the world) and don’t present a barricade of your requirements for behavior or belief before you befriend them.

That’s what Jesus did. He demonstrated His love, knowing that His love was all that was necessary for them to believe.

Can unbelievers call you their friend?

How can you serve and share with your unbelieving friends and family in a way that allows Jesus’ light to shine? You should become a one-way-sign pointing straight up by your love.

This week, pray for godly interaction with the lost, whatever their station in life. And petition your Father to have His heart, His eyes, and His hands as you go.

Would You Like To Know How To Become A Christian?