Cooperating in God’s Work – Nov-Dec 2014

The Bible says, “…do the work of an evangelist…” (2 Timothy 4:5). This instruction was given by Paul to Timothy, but wasBible not limited to Timothy alone. We have all been given the commission, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).

An evangelist is “a bringer of good tidings” (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon). The best tidings or news anyone can bring is the good news of God’s love. Jesus was the most successful evangelist. He came to give us an understanding of His Father’s love for us (John 3:16; 1 John 5:20). If you have accepted Christ as your Saviour, it is your commission to share God’s love with those around you.

I like the way Paul put it when he wrote to Timothy, “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2). Here are three levels of training: Paul teaches Timothy, who teaches others how to teach others. With this method, the possibilities are endless. Jesus took twelve disciples and in a short time their message was said to “have turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6).

Friends, think how much more could be accomplished today if we followed this commission of teaching others to teach others to teach others, etc. This is my dream and vision—to cooperate with God in lighting the world with God’s glory, the revelation of His character of love. Please partner with me in this mission by sharing God’s love with all those around you.

Casting Bread

The Bible says, “Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days. Give a portion to seven, and also to eight; for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth. If the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth: and if the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be” (Ecclesiastes 11:1-3). This is one of my favorite chapters.

When God asked us to cast our bread upon the waters, was He talking about feeding ducks? I don’t believe so! The Bible uses “waters” to signify people. “The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues” (Revelation 17:15). God wants us to cast bread upon the people of the world. But what is bread?

Nov_Dec14_Cover

Download in PDF or RTF or DOC

Jesus said, “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). Jesus is the bread we are supposed to be sharing with the world: casting bread upon the waters.

Where the Tree Falls

In the passage we read earlier it says, “…if the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be” (Ecclesiastes 11:1-3). This seems like it is just stating the obvious, but there is a lesson to learn here. This is spoken of in the context of sharing the gospel with people.

The Bible also says, “For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isaiah 55:10, 11). When God’s word is given to someone it will have an effect. You may not see the results immediately, but you have planted the seeds and God will look after them to make sure they accomplish what He pleases.

Observing the Wind

Continuing in Ecclesiastes 11, it says, “He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap. As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all. In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good. Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun” (Ecclesiastes 11:4-7).

This scripture always makes me think of a sad experience I had shortly after becoming a Christian. I had been in the world of drugs, alcohol, and heavy metal music. The Lord miraculously pulled me out of that lifestyle, and I was abandoning my old things. I destroyed my guitar, which I almost worshipped, along with my posters, CDs, and other items, but I still had a guitar amplifier that I wanted to sell. A fifteen year old boy came to look at my amplifier to see if he would like to buy it. I immediately recognized him as living a similar life to what I had just been rescued from. I felt impressed to share my testimony with him, so I was waiting for the right opportunity to do this. He was very interested in buying the amplifier, but said he would have the money in about three days. I struggled with the impression to share my testimony and decided that I would share it when he came back to buy my amplifier in three days. Sadly, that never happened.

The next day he was drinking with some of his friends, and they decided to play Russian Roulette (a foolish game where one bullet is put in a gun and then randomly spun, put to your head, and the trigger is pulled, hoping not to get the bullet). Unfortunately, this young man lost the game. He shot himself dead. I did not get the opportunity to share my testimony with this young man. I always get tears in my eyes when I think of this story. It is a graphic reminder to me not to observe the wind and clouds when I am sharing the gospel. I was waiting for the perfect time to tell this man about God but that time never came. I was observing the wind, and I did not sow the seeds. God has forgiven me for that, but I don’t want to have to ask Him to do it again. I am less likely to observe the wind today.

We do not know what is going on behind the scenes in a person’s heart. They may look like they are not interested at all to hear the good news about God’s love, but God may have put you in their path for a reason. A few months ago I was staying in a hostel in Costa Rica where several people were playing pool. I felt impressed to share my testimony with them. They did not appear to be the type of people who would be interested in hearing about God, but I approached them, and took some time to get to know them a little, and then I shared a couple testimonies of God’s interventions in my life, but this led to a two-and-half-hour Bible study with athiests, some of whom are reading this newsletter as you are. You never know what might happen if you follow the Lord’s leading and forget about the wind.

The Bible says, “The slothful man saith, There is a lion without, I shall be slain in the streets” (Proverbs 22:13). To be slothful is to avoid work. This slothful man avoids work by imagining some evil thing that could happen to him if he did work. Forget about the consequences and follow the Lord wherever He leads you.

Joyous Reward

In the last verse of the texts quoted earlier it says, “Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun” (Ecclesiastes 11:7). Are you glad that God showed you His love? Wasn’t it a pleasant thing for you to behold the light of God’s love? Think about others; they will rejoice to finally see it as well. It is pleasant for them, and for you to see them have that blessing. “The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself” (Proverbs 11:25). When you share the gospel with others you receive a blessing yourself.

They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him” (Psalms 126:5, 6). I pray that you will often experience the blessing of sharing the good news of God’s love with others. Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

The more you share God’s love, the more blessings you will receive. “He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully” (2_Corinthians 9:6). “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:7-10).

Practical Evangelism

There is an often overlooked aspect of evangelism called friendship evangelism. There is a very true saying, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Jesus did His ministry in a practical way, by doing things that helped people in their lives. Then He preached the gospel. He was showing God’s love by how He acted, which made people interested in what He taught. The Bible says that Jesus “went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him” (Acts 10:38). Jesus went about doing good, and this will be the practice of all His true followers.

The Jews had a common practice of fasting, and often for the wrong reasons. God said, “Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward. Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am” (Isaiah 58:6-9).

Here we learn that what God wants of us is to reflect His character of love to the world. This is demonstrated by doing good. “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18). The key to loving others and living like Christ lived is to allow Him to live His love in us. “That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love” (Ephesians 3:16, 17).

It is not natural to love others as Christ loves us. Naturally, the human heart is selfish and “desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). In this condition, all “doing good” for others is bound to be tainted with selfishness rather than motivated by love and compassion. The Bible says, “…the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Romans 5:5). To have God’s love in your heart you must have God abiding there by His Spirit.

Strife and Debate

Right before explaining how God wants us to help those around us, He explained a sad condition of the church that still exists today. He said, “Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness” (Isaiah 58:4). God’s people were gathering together, not to unite in working for the lost and poor people all around them, but so they could debate and strive with each other. Friends, things have not changed much. Often God’s people are found fighting each other instead of doing the work God has given them to do. This shows a lack of the Spirit of Christ, which produces love and compassion for those around us.

People destitute of the transforming work of the indwelling Spirit of Christ attempt to fill that lack by exalting themselves above their peers. They may fight with others on minute details of doctrine to appear to themselves as better than others, and more secure in their salvation. But this is a false sense of security. God is not as interested in how much you know, as in how much you care for those around you. At the end, Jesus will not ask, “Did you believe all the right doctrines?” but, “How did you treat those around you?” Jesus said to the church leaders of His day, “But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you” (John 5:42). I believe He is saying the same thing to many of His professed people today. This lack of God’s love in our hearts has an affect upon everything we do. When we are filled with God’s love through receiving His Spirit in our hearts, things will change.

If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity; And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday: And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not” (Isaiah 58:9-11).

I think a big part of continual strife and debate among Christians is that there is too much in-reach, and not enough outreach. When God’s people are busy doing what He called them to do, they will have less time to fight amongst themselves. There is a proverb, “…a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame” (Proverbs 29:15). Anyone left to idleness will cause trouble somehow. In fact, that was one of the problems of Sodom and Gommorah, that resulted in them being burned to ashes. “Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy” (Ezekiel 16:49). Let us not follow their example, but be active in working to help those around us.

Conclusion

Jesus said, “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal” (Matthew 25:31-46).

Jesus wants to continue living and working on this earth through you and me. We are His hands and feet to minister to the world. God has a work for each of us to do. It doesn’t matter our age or our talents, there is always something for everyone to do. It may be as simple as giving someone a glass of water, visiting someone, sharing a smile with others, etc. All of these things spread the love of God to others enabling them to be more open to hear the good news about God’s love in giving His Son to die for their sins. Not everyone will accept this beautiful message at first, but every act of love, no matter how small, has an effect on others to draw them closer to Christ. Jesus said, “…if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (John 12:32). It is our job to lift up Christ to people that they may be drawn to him.

Every one of us is on a journey, and we are all at different stages of development. Do not get discouraged if, through your influence, you do not see others make immediate giant leaps toward Christ. Each of us has necessary steps to climb in our journey closer to Christ, and we cannot skip any of these steps. Do the part that God asks you to do today, and He will continue to draw others to Christ in ways that you may never see this side of heaven. You do your part and let God do His. Paul wrote, “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase” (1 Corinthians 3:6). “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you [and in others] will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).

I pray that God will guide you to know how He wants you to work to benefit the spiritual growth of those around you. He may inspire you to make something special for someone, visit them, or help them in some meaningful way that will draw them closer to Jesus. I look forward to hearing your testimonies of how that is accomplished in your life.

Leave a Reply