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Archive for the tag “theology”

THE HAND AND HEART OF GOD….by Robert Beike

“There were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven.”

(Acts 2:5 HCSB)

     A Hebrew mid-wife, at the birth of  a child, would crush grapes or dates with her finger and then rub that finger inside the mouth of a newborn to create a thirst or hunger for grapes or dates. (James Merritt, Friends, Foes and Fools: Broadman & Holman, 1997 p. 172)  God created a thirst for the nations in the newborn church in Jerusalem through its Spirit animated witness to an international multitude at Pentecost. In this way, our heavenly father was teaching “a youth about the way he should go,” so that “even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6 HCSB). From day one in the life of the church, there has been instilled an international thirst, and an ethnic flavor. It was as if the church was born with an international spoon in its mouth.

     The reason Jesus had them wait in Jerusalem was now clear–the pieces of the puzzle fit together to reveal  the hand and heart of God working in perfect harmony.  Jerusalem was not only the strategic and spiritual center of Jewish life, it was also the strategic and spiritual center of God’s plan for world evangelism. The coming of the Holy Spirit coincided perfectly with the presence of “devout men from every nation under heaven.”  The ethnic mix that God had gathered for a harvest celebration is described in Acts 2:8-11. These were people born elsewhere–representatives of the Mediterranean world. Many were now permanent residents of Jerusalem, but many others were in the city temporarily for the festival of Pentecost.

     It is hard to miss the divine intentionality of this event. The hand and heart of God was in heavenly concert producing a multi-national church and supplying that church with a pattern for fulfilling its purpose. God has always been a people mover, ever active in human history and the accomplishing of heaven’s redemptive plans. Gathering and sending, casting out and bringing in, impelling believers to go, compelling unbelievers to come, the Lord is the author of diversity and the architect of disbursement (Genesis 11).  Like the vinyl recordings of another era, the great commission has two sides. The flip side of the church going to the nations is God gathering the nations in proximity to the church.

     Because the heart of God desires that no one perishes but all come to repentance (1 Peter 3:9), the hand of God continually draws lines that connect the people of God with the people who need God. In God’s providence, your city, community, and possibly your neighborhood is becoming a rich tapestry of ethnic hues, hand crafted by a loving God. As you share your faith, and God’s love, you can make a world of difference without ever leaving home.

Make The Most Of A New Day….by Robert Beike

“After He had suffered, He also presented Himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during 40 days and speaking about the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3…HCSB).

My father-in-law often remarks that some people “wake up in a new world everyday.” He doesn’t mean it as a compliment. Yet, at a certain, significant level that description is true for all of us. The resurrection of Jesus changes everything. It has ushered in a new day; an age of grace, Christianity, and the church. It began a revolution. Because Jesus lives, we wake up in a new world everyday; a world that offers life in the kingdom of God and potential power over sin and death.

The resurrection of Jesus certainly changed the disciples. They had witnessed Jesus die on a cross and be buried in a tomb. They were convinced of His death. But, now after Jesus appeared to them on numerous occasions over a period of 40 days, demonstrating unmistakably that He was alive, they were convinced of His resurrection. It was a new day freighted with promise and hope, and Jesus was about to provide them with the means to make the most of it. In Jesus they had a savior to believe in. They were certain that Jesus was not only alive, but that He was almighty, and all He taught them was true. In advancing the kingdom of God they also had a cause to invest in. They would spend the rest of their lives laboring in faith to bring about the reign of God in the hearts of men. They would strive to see the kingdom manifested in the world, anticipating its ultimate culmination at the end of the age that was inaugerated by the resurrection of Jesus.

Today, its critical that we wake up and make the most of this new day. Paul admonished the Ephesians to, “Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk–not as unwise people but as wise–making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So don’t be foolish, but understand what the will of God is” (Ephesians 5:15-17..HCSB). Each day God graciously deposits in our life account 86,400 ticks of the clock that must be spent before tomorrow. Let’s make the most of it.

5-G Evangelism Connection

Likely, you are familiar with 4G networks, the latest and fastest way to communicate electronically. But, you may be unaware of the 5G evangelism connection, the most effective way to communicate the gospel. 5G evangelism involves:

1.GODLY PRESENCE

A godly presence is the necessary foundation and framework of evangelism. There is no substitute for “being there,” connecting with people where they are–where they live, work, and play. Jesus provided our pattern when He became flesh and dwelt among us. Now, He has sent us to flesh out the great commission among others. Being missional requires an incarnational, relational, and sacrificial presence. Christians must be good news as well as share the good news. The Christian life is a daily show and tell experience, in which good works must be a normal and vital part.

2.GROUNDED PROCLAMATION

If a godly presence is the foundation and framework of evangelism, proclaiming the gospel is like doors and windows. The sinless life of Jesus, His sacrificial death, certain resurrection, and gracious offer of salvation, is like light shining into a dark room, and provides the way of entrance into God’s eternal family.

Proclaiming the way of salvation, whether verbal, written, sung, or signed, must be grounded in Scriptural authority. Our witness must align with God’s Word. It is the truth that sets people free, not wishful thinking, or worldly opinion. But, our proclamation should also be grounded in cultural sensitivity. When properly understood, culture offers common ground and a conduit for the good news of God’s life changing love.

3.GRACIOUS PERSUASION

Often, a person is unresponsive to a straightforward, and heartfelt gospel presentation. Prevailing spiritual blindness, and a cultural hostility toward Christianity usually requires a persuasive element of evangelism.

Persuasion sounds like arm-twisting, but gracious persuasion is a Christ-like way of leading someone out of darkness and into the light. The Apostle Paul exerted great time and energy persuading Jews, Gentiles, governors, kings, and queens to receive Christ. With speech seasoned with salt, and lives reflecting the light of Christ, we can persuade others to cross the line from death to life. Just as a beggar who has found bread persuades another beggar that it is true, we can convince someone to act on the truth.

4.GOD’S PROVIDENCE

Lest we think evangelism is all about us, God’s providence is the one indispensable key to the process. God removes the scales of spiritual blindness, and readies human hearts for the gospel seed. a sovereign God providentially connects those needing the gospel with those willing to share it.

Winning the world to Christ is a spiritual enterprise, and is possible only when Spirit-filled believers on mission for God learn to trust and obey Him completely.

5.GATEWAY PRAYER

Since evangelism is the work and mission of God, we look to Him for the means to succeed as evangelists. Prayer is the gateway to advancing the kingdom of God. Fervent and faithful prayer reduces strongholds, removes obstacles, and releases those held captive by the enemy. A blanket of prayer can warm a person or people group to the gospel. Persistent prayer can open closed doors and closed minds. Prayer produces boldness in the witness and brings power to the witnessing process.

Gateway prayer asks for God’s blessings, seeks God’s guidance and timing, and knocks on heaven’s door for divine resources necessary for eternal and supernatural transformation of souls and communities.

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