Monday, July 22, 2019

How To Bring Others To Christ

A.   In a country where the church and Christianity are on the  decline, maybe it's time we looked again at how to bring others to Christ.

B.   Too many have just seen the kind of so called Christianity that Christian radio and T.V. presents who are always against things.

C.   It doesn’t have to be, but overall, the church today is in a steep decline.

D.   Listen to this scripture, and let's be reminded How To Bring Others To Christ.

Matt. 5:13-16

I.   Know The Barriers We Will Face.

A.   The situation of society itself.
1.   People who are suspicious of the church.
2.   People who have been hurt by judgmental, condemning preachers and misguided Christians.
          3.   People have seen condemning Christianity plastered all over: sometimes in local churches but especially on  Christian radio and T.V.
4.   People who are very near being hopeless.
5.   A world where people are so used to seeing Christians being just as judgemental and mean spirited as anyone else!

B.   The endless search of people for pleasure.
1.   Pleasure is a hard God to serve, but most are sold out to it.
2.   We want and want; we buy and buy!
3.   Our generation has more, does more, and still ...    WANTS  MORE!
4.   It is obvious that our search in material things is fruitless, but be aware that this is what drives many we would bring to Christ.
5.   There is so much available for families to do today instead of Church!

II.  How can we bring others to Christ in this kind of world?

A.   This scripture says we are the salt of the world!  Salt is a
preservative! We have the answer that can save our world: Jesus Christ! 

     B.   Dare to be a dreamer.
1.   (Acts 2:14-17) Look at what Peter says!
2.   If we ever stop dreaming, the world has us.

3.   We need to take reality in hand and then show this world persons who still dare to dream with Christ.

C.   Be Disciplined.
1.   For others to want to be Christians, they must see that
it has made a positive difference in us.

2.   We will never bring others to Christ if they see we are the same old person we always have been.

3.   We will never bring others to Christ if we are negative,  bitter, and bent on making the world conform strictly to our views. 

4.              Lack of discipline is killing the church.
a.   People who will not study and learn.
b.   People who will not keep their commitments and vows
to God.
c.   People who refuse to let the love of God change the
bad habits and attitudes that sin burdens them
              d.   People who are more concerned with does and don=t than with letting the steadfast love of God transform them and shine through them.  We are the light of the  world!  I am more and more convinced it is more about how we treat people, not a bunch of does and don=ts!

5.              We need to let God take hold of us and change our lives!

D.   Be like Christ:  Love people.
1.   If we are on an ego trip to draw attention to ourselves,  we need to get off of it.
a.   Too many are trying to draw people to themselves
instead of to Christ.
b.   We do not have the answers; Christ does!
c.   We need to resist the temptation to glorify    
ourselves, and instead, let our lives glorify and
point to Christ!
              d.   I serve a ABig God.@  I don=t have to tell everyone  what they can or can=t do!  If God wants you to  change, God will let you know!

2.   If we are bitter, sarcastic, unloving, it's time to change
and let the warm love of God heal our hurt.
a.   Bitterness turns people away from Christ.
b.   Sarcasm  "    "    "    .
c.   People who cannot show love make the love of God
              d.   How will people know that God loves them if God=s people do not love them?

3.   If we want to bring others to Christ, We Must Get Ready To
Love!  That is the key!
a.   The good, sweet, kind, and loveable people.
b.   The sour, the negative, and the complaining
c.   The poor, the rich, the needy, the clean, and the
unclean people.
              d.   Black, white, and yes Muslims!
              e.   Ones with tatoos and ones with no tatoos!
              f.   Ones with long hair and ones with no hair!
              g.   Ones who dress like us and ones who do not!
h.   Male and female, regardless of sexual orientation!
     1)   The whole debate around this in our denomination can best be understood as a debate about what it means to love.
     2)   If we understand it that way, it puts our  attitude toward those who do not agree with us in perspective.  They are just trying to love as they understand it.
     3)   So love Male and female, regardless of sexual orientation; we should all be able to agree we are to love!
     4)   Concentrate on loving as God loves and growing the Kingdom of God!
              i.   The alcoholic; those who smoke.
              j.   The lyers and the cheaters!

          4.   If we want to bring others to Christ, we must be more concerned with loving them as they are than making them conform to what we think they should be!
              a.   If you are around me and my phone rings and it isn’t  Donna, my mom, or one of our kids, the ringtone will  be a song by the Gaither Vocal Band, “I Catch Em, God Cleans Em!”
              b.   God can clean em!  I am just called to draw em in                  with the Love of God!  I am a fisher of men (people)!


          6.   We need to go out into the Highways and Byways and compel or at least invite them to come in!

          7.   Methodist are typically people of grace!  John Wesley famously said, AOffer them Christ!@ 
              a.   Oh, how our community needs to see Christ offered to them and not shoved at them!  Oh, how people need to  see Christians who really want to love them!
               b.   In the former tradition where I came from, at the  annual Clergy session, they were more concerned with weeding out the people who had not had an acceptable divorce than they were with bringing people in it seemed.  Where is the grace in that!
              c.   Methodist are the people who can be that salt and light, bringing people to Christ for the  
                   transformation of the world!

A.   Our scripture says we are the light of the world, but every light has its source.

B.   This morning, We need to remember our source; it is Christ! 
          1.   It is that same Christ who welcomed the publicans, sinners, and even the hated Samaritans!
          2.   Who are the publicans, sinners, and Samaritans of our day?   Who are the Gentiles and greeks?

C.   We need to ask ourselves; has the truth in this message convicted our hearts?

D.   The last thing Jesus said while on earth was, AGo therefore and make disciples of all nations . . . baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.@

     E.   If you have not brought anyone to Christ because you have  failed to grow, mature, and share God=s love, as we have a time of commitment, won=t you recommit yourself to bringing others to Christ?

Closing Hymn

Monday, July 15, 2019

All Things Good!

A.        Romans 8:28
AAll things work together for good to them that love the Lord!@

B.        Does that mean life will be a Abed of roses?@  Everything will go good for the
Let=s look at this, this morning!

                                                                     James 1:2-4

        AMy brothers and sisters, b  whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy,  3  because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance;  4  and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.@1

1)         Notice it says Atrials of any kind.@

1)         NIV = trials of many kinds.

2)         KJV = divers temptations.

3)         Nelson footnote = various trials.

2)         What kind of various trials did they have?

1)         To better understand, let=s look at some facts:

i)          James is believed to have been written appr. 60 A.D.  (Nelson Open Bible)

ii)         Nero was emperor of Rome from 54 to 68 A.D. (Funk & Wagnalls)

iii)         In 59 A.D., he had his mother murdered to please his mistress!

iv)        In order to marry his mistress, he had his wife put to death!

v)         Folks, we=re dealing with a Areal sweet guy here!@

vi)        In 64 A.D., 2/3 rds of Rome burned!  He was accused of being responsible for the fire, and to offset the charge, he blamed the Christians & persecuted them with fury!  (F&W)

vii)        During Nero=s time, a law was passed making Christian assemblies illegal.  (Ollie Latch - AG.B. in Church History.@)

viii)       In 68 A.D., he committed suicide to save himself from execution! (F&W)

b)         I don=t know if the actual persecutions were taking place at the time James was written, but if they weren=t, they definitely were close at hand!  I’m sure, with Nero as Emperor, things were not real good!

i)          I=m sure that these words were fresh, and the promise that God would bring something good out of their trials was precious!  Romans was written 54-58 A.D. (Oxford NRSV Study Bible)

ii)         What could God bring out of these trials?

iii)         AThe testing of our faith produces endurance.@ (NRSV.)

iv)        AThe trying of your faith worketh patience.@  (KJV)

3)         That=s what God wants to do for us!  God wants to Awork things together for our good!@

1)         What kind of trials do we have today?

i)          Persecution.

(1)        Sometimes in the form of being laughed at.

(2)        Sometimes people not wanting to be our friends.

(3)        Sometimes we may even be killed like the young lady several years ago at Columbine School who answered yes to being a Christian and was shot!

ii)         Maybe we are wronged by someone at work, at church, or maybe a neighbor.

iii)         An uncalled for death!  Accidental?  Caused by someone else?  A drunk driver?

iv)        Satan would have us get bitter when these trials come our way!

B.        As Christians, we aren=t exempt from these!  No things won=t always go smooth for Christians, but we have the promise that God will bring something good out of what happens, if we will Alet@ God!

i)          Patience.

ii)         Perseverance

iii)         Growth

4.         Being able to help someone else along the way!

5.         Talking to Vicki this week, I learned that Community Hugs is a part of her story of how God brought something good out of a bad situation!

6.         A part of my story is that when I was a teenager the church I was a part of split.  It was a bitter split.  Things were said between Christians that shouldn’t have bee said.
            a.         I was left broken and wondering why God had allowed this.
            b.         These versus were very real to me, and I was determined to let God            bring something good out of it for me.
            c.         There was no connection in the church I was a part of to say, “You             need to work together.  You need to put this behind and have a       united front in the community!           
            d..        The one church has since closed and it is an apartment building,      and not too long ago, the other one was running 12 in attendance.
            e.         I don’t thing God caused this, but God has brought something good           out of that for me; God has helped me to use this experience to             help others during my ministry!
            f.          I don’t think the D.S. and Bishop even know this part of my story,             but I kind of think it is a God-thing that I was sent here!  I think          God wants to do something among us here in Buffalo!
            g.         What has happened in the past here can be a very positive thing.      As a united ministry, we can offer two modes of worship!  We are         blessed with great facilities!

b)         The key is we have to ALet@ God!  (Vs. 4)

i)          God will not force Godself on us!  Are we letting God?

ii)         Have we come through trials?

iii)         Have we honestly opened ourselves up, saying ALord, bring something good out of this for me; I=m trusting you!@

1)                                                         Christians:       In life, we=re not always responsible for the trials and problems that come our way, but what God is concerned with is what kind of attitudes do we come out of them with?  What do we let them do to us?  Have we let God bring good out of the trials we have come through?  God wants to!

2)                                                                     Non - Christians:         God wants to work things together for our good too!  That=s why Jesus came: to put us back in a right relationship with God!

3)                     Do we need to come to God today?

                                                               Invitational Hymn  

    Gk brothers
1The Holy Bible  : New Revised Standard Version. 1996, c1989 . Thomas Nelson: Nashville

Monday, July 8, 2019

Don't Forget What Makes Us Float!

Grace Community/Buffalo UMC                           July 7, 2019 a.m.
A.   How many have seen the movie about the Titanic?

B.   The Titanic was a ship that people thought couldn't be sank
     yet on its first voyage it ran into a submersed iceburg and sank!  The people were so sure the boat wouldn't sink that they didn't put enough lifeboats on the ship and out of appr.      2200 people only 700 survived!
     Faith in the wrong thing didn't save them!

C.   The Christian Church is much the same way if we place our faith in the wrong thing we will begin to sink!

Matt. 14:22-33

Text verse: V.30   But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried saying Lord save me.

I.   Let's look at our scripture.
A.   v.29 What did Peter place his faith in?  Jesus!  While doing so, Jesus was working a miracle with him!

B.   Why did he begin to sink in v.30?
He saw the potential for destruction and forgot Jesus and began to sink!
1.   (Satan is the worlds biggest bluff.)  He saw!  The wind
didn't blow him down."
2.   I can see Satan talking w/God!
You can scare him but you can't knock him down!

C.   Did Peter drown?  No, he remembered Jesus and cried "Lord save me" and Jesus reached down and saved him.

II.  As an individual there's a lesson here for us!
A.   Christ is the only one we can place our faith in!  (No other person or thing.)  He alone can save us!

John 14:6 "No man cometh unto the father but by me."

1.   When we take our eyes off Jesus after we've placed our  faith in him, we begin to sink!  We will drown if we don't cry out Lord save me!
2.   We will be forever lost!

B.   Christ is the only one who can get us thru life!
1.   Not positive thinking alone!
2.   Not our friends or church alone!
3.   Not our family alone!
4.   If we take our eyes off Christ we will drown in the problems of this life!!  The problems will come.  As Christians, we are not promised a bed of roses!

III. But as a church there's a lesson here for us too!
A.   Theme: Just as Peter took his eyes off Jesus and looked at the
potential for destruction and began to sink, we as a church will begin to sink if we take our eyes off Jesus and look at      our problems! This is a universal church issue, not just
a Grace Community/Buffalo UMC issue!

B.   You show me a church that is growing and I'll show you one that has their eyes on Jesus and the way he lived and taught!  They have given their problems to Jesus and are trusting him with them!  They are working miracles in people=s lives!

C.   But in a church what can cast doubt and cause a people to look  away from Jesus?   Just like Peter - Fear.

                Causes of Fear
1.   Low attendance during vacation time!
2.   An active person in the congregation moving away!
3.   A Pastoral change! or An active person becoming inactive!
4.   A decline in attendance due to people moving away!
Sometimes fear begins to build and one thing leads to another!

Heb. 13:8 "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today,  and forever!"

IV.  It doesn't have to be that way!
A.   II Timothy 1:7 "God hath not given us the spirit of fear!"

B.   But of confidence in what we can do through Christ!

Phil. 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."

A.   Individuals:  Christ is still the only one to put our faith in lest we drown in the ways of this world!  Have we put your lives in Christ?

B.   Church:   Christ can still make as much difference as he ever made! He's still on his thrown!  We get caught up in what's going wrong and forget about Christ!

C.   I want you to know we are looking at a new start!  I am not
     going to be bogged down by the past, and I hope you will not!

D.   Let=s put the past in the past! Let’s look to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith and expect miracles!

E.   I believe God has brought us together as a team for a reason!
Let's keep our eyes on Jesus, the one who makes us float! Let=s
build the church of Jesus Christ!

"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding."  Proverbs 3:5   

     F.   I want you to know that I have a vision of both churches growing!  I am not here to close either church!  I will invite folks and tell them if you are looking for traditional worship, come to Buffalo.  If you are looking for Contemporary worship, come to Grace Community.  I hope you will do the same!

          If we will work together and keep our eyes on Jesus, I believe we can see some miracles in Buffalo!  I believe both churches can grow and I expect both churches to grow, if we keep our        eyes on Christ!

"Faith is a living, daring confidence in God's grace.  It is so sure and certain that a man could stake his life on it a thousand times."  Martin Luther

Peter had that faith but he looked away because of fear: if Peter can do it, what about us?

Let=s focus on Christ and the mission he has given us and expect miracles!

Prayer of Confession