hope

Do I have to share my faith in Jesus?

We can witness boldly with the Holy Spirit of God.

Lately, a prosperity-gospel tele-evangelist named Jesse Duplantis has been in the news because he wants to raise money to buy a fourth luxury private jet for $54 million. In fact, he says Jesus told him to buy it. Needless to say, a lot of people are skeptical. It just doesn't seem like the kind of thing Jesus would direct someone to do.

There is another issue at stake here: this is a classic example of not putting first-things first. Mr. Duplantis' main mission as a Christian and as an evangelist should be telling people the Good News of Jesus--that they can have a life-giving relationship with God because of Jesus' death and resurrection on the cross, if only they will believe in Jesus and follow him. Yet, prosperity gospel preachers like Duplantis consistently make faith in Jesus more about what cool toys a person can get than about living a life fully connected to God.

At the same time, getting our priorities mixed up is something every follower of Jesus does on a regular basis.

What are the "first-things" of Christian faith? Love and follow Jesus, and love and share Jesus with others! But when Jesus-followers fail to do these things, we live disobediently, we are paralyzed by fear, and the world is disgusted by our hypocrisy and selfishness.

Read This: Acts 11:19-24 (NLT)

In this text, there are a few points of interest.

  1. Everywhere the early Christians went, they told people about Jesus--even though they were exiles running from persecution because of their beliefs!
  2. The early Christians had to learn that there is no one off-limits when it comes to sharing the Good News of Jesus.
  3. Antioch was a big city, and it was renowned for its lack of morality. All kinds of sin was on display, yet the Christians obediently shared their faith, and soon Antioch became an important centre of Christian missionary activity!
  4. As the sinful people of Antioch came to know Jesus, they soon realized the important fact that Jesus changes everything.

For the Christ-follower, sharing your faith isn't optional.

If it wasn't optional for the early Christians when they faced great danger by doing so, it is definitely not optional for you as a Westerner!

Sharing your faith isn't optional, but it's also not something you have to do alone.

Christian faith has never been about what you can do. In fact, it centres on what you couldn't do. Humanity couldn't stay faithful to their loving Creator. Humanity couldn't repair their relationship with God. Israel couldn't keep God's Law. So what did God do? He took matters in his own hands and from the beginning had laid out a plan for his own Son, Jesus Christ, to be born, live a sinless life, to teach us, to be wrongfully convicted and killed, and to rise again. In this act of perfect self-sacrifice, God bridged the gap between us and him for us. He righted our wrongs, and all we have to do is say "Yes," to Jesus and turn and follow him!

Furthermore, because of Jesus, you can tell others about him with the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus-followers are encouraged to be Spirit-filled, Spirit-led, and Spirit-empowered believers in Jesus.

Yes, we're going to mess things up at times, and not everything is going to turn out the way we hope. However, we have to remember that it is our Spirit-obedience that matters, not the results we see. As we are obedient to the Spirit's leading, we can rest easy knowing that he will do the rest.

Here at Abundant Springs, it is our hope that two years from now, when any of us sits down with the people from our community we will begin to hear them share how they know that Jesus is welcoming them, that he cares for them, and that he loves them because of what they've seen this congregation doing and because of the spiritual conversations they've had with us.

For this, we must share our faith, going forth full of God's Holy Spirit. Yes, we'll likely still experience fear, but we must allow that fear to push us to rely on the Holy Spirit.

Action Steps:

  1. Repent of your disobedience.
  2. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you and empower you.
  3. Pray the witness' prayer each morning:

"God, give me today an opportunity to speak with someone about Jesus; the wisdom to see it; and the courage to take it." --Alvin Reid, Sharing Jesus Without Freaking Out.


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Risen - The end doesn't have to be devoid of hope

Jesus is the resurrection and the life

As much as we try to ignore it or delay it, death affects us all and brings with it a deep sense of helplessness. However, Easter is a day that reminds us that there is hope, because Easter is a celebration of the One who defeated death and brings us life.

Text: John 11:11-44 (NLT)

A few notes on this passage:

  1. Jesus' deep anger is not directed toward those who are mourning; instead, Jesus is angry at the hopelessness his enemy, death, has caused in those he loves.
  2. As Jesus approached Lazarus' tomb, he was facing off against death. This is a battle between Death and the Resurrection and the Life. The best part: Jesus won!
  3. A short while later, Jesus would defeat death again; this time, it would be with his own death and resurrection.

Jesus' death paid the price for your sin (i.e., your rebellion/rejection against God; your wrongdoing or failure to do what's right). At the cross, he took your sin on himself. His resurrection proves that Jesus is who he claims to be, that you can trust him, and that he has defeated death itself!

When you try to find your own way through life, death is inevitable and nothing good lay beyond it.

Jesus has overcome the hopelessness of death with the hope-filled promise of eternal life.

Imagine going through life with hope for the future and assurance of great things to come, even after this body dies!

It may be tempting to drag your feet and try to squeeze out few more days living for yourself before you give yourself to Jesus and his hope for you. It's easy to put off thinking about the end, but it comes sooner than you think!

April 15, 2017, ushered in a historical milestone.  On a day that most of us can't even recall, Emma Morano died in Italy at the age of 117.  None of us knew her, but she was the last known person born in the 19th century.  Although the 1800s were a long time ago, this quiet passing reminds us that a time comes for each generation when the last remaining person dies. 

No longer how long we put it off, death comes for everyone.

Will this short life be one full of hope now and for the future? Jesus is inviting you to step out of the grave and accept his offer of life.

Action Step:
Place your hope in Jesus and choose to follow him.

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Better: Isaac -- Jesus' sacrifice saved you

Jesus can be known better through the Old Testament

We all know people who are choosing to carry the burden of their sinfulness on themselves, even though Jesus already paid the price to take those sins upon himself.

Read: Genesis 22:1-18

This isn't an easy passage to read. Why would God do these things? This is the only time in the Bible when God tested someone in this way. He wanted to ensure that Abraham's trust was in God himself, not just the promises that God had made him. By asking Abraham to offer up Isaac, he was asking him to be willing to give up the promises God had given him.

As well as serving as a test for Abraham, this story foreshadows the coming sacrifice of Jesus. Isaac and Jesus have many similarities. Both were born miraculously, both were to be sacrificed, both were dead for three days (Isaac in Abraham's eyes during their 3 day journey, Jesus in reality for three days), both carried the wood that would be used to sacrifice them up the hill, both were raised to life (Isaac through God staying Abraham's hand, Jesus being raised to life from the tomb). 

In fact, where Abraham's obedience with Isaac caused God to promise again to build a nation through whom the nations of the world would be blessed, he was speaking about Jesus who was to come and whose sacrifice on the cross truly would bless the nations with the gift of an eternal, life-giving relationship with Jesus for all who believe in him. Jesus was the lamb God would provide for himself, mentioned in Genesis 22:8!

God sent Jesus to die as a sacrifice so you could find life and freedom.

Jesus’ sacrifice has saved you. If he went through all that for you, what are you willing to do to share His message of hope?

It's a scary thought for many of us--sharing our faith. But we must remember that God is the God who provides. He provides the growth of faith in the people we share the Gospel with. He is the one who provides us the courage and the wisdom and the words as we do so.

Additionally, while you may be wary of putting yourself out there if it doesn't get you anything, remember the testing of Abraham: consider if you trust in God himself, or just in the benefits you get out of following him. He has commanded all who follow Jesus to share the Good News, and we must do so out of our faith in Jesus, not because of any benefit it may bring us personally.

Action Steps:

  • Consider: are you willing to obediently share your faith if there is nothing in it for you?
  • Tell people about Jesus: engage in spiritual conversations, invite people to church and to our Easter Extravaganza!

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Better: Hosea

Jesus loves you so much!

Where were you on 9-11-2001? How did the events that transpired impact you? How did they make you feel?

Now, think of May 2, 2011. That's the day Osama bin Laden was killed. How did you feel about that? Relief? Joy? Pity? Around the world, millions rejoiced at his death, but what we often forget to consider is that Jesus love him. It broke God's heart that bin Laden would do what he did, but it also broke his heart that he would not turn from his sins--his wrongdoings and rejection of Jesus--and accept the gift of life Jesus purchased for him.

We all have different ways of looking at the world. Maybe you think you're not good enough for Jesus to love you or to forgive you. Maybe you think you're too good (oops, that's pride. Guess what? Yep, sin.). Maybe you looked down at someone today or yesterday and assigned them a lower value than you, or you believe Jesus won't save them. Or maybe you don't think about others at all, 'cause they're just not that important to you.

You need to know: Jesus loves you. Jesus loves them. His greatest desire is to see you run into his loving arms.

We're going to look at Hosea and what we can discover about Jesus from it. Hosea was a prophet who lived in the Northern Kingdom of Israel (as opposed to the Southern Kingdom of Judah). Israel and Judah both had problems with turning to other gods than the One True God, and to lifestyles God had told them were wrong.

Hosea 1:2-3 (NIV)
"When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, “Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord.” So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son."

Basically, God told Hosea to go out and marry a prostitute. This being told to a godly man living in a culture that put a premium on marrying a virgin!

Hosea 3:1-5 (NIV)
The Lord said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.” So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and about a homer and a lethek of barley. Then I told her, “You are to live with me many days; you must not be a prostitute or be intimate with any man, and I will behave the same way toward you.” For the Israelites will live many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred stones, without ephod or household gods. Afterward the Israelites will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king. They will come trembling to the Lord and to his blessings in the last days.

Hosea brought his wife home. And he paid a bride price for her...even though he didn't have to. Likewise, Jesus paid a price he didn't have to pay to bring you to him; however, the price that Jesus paid was much greater and was the only possible way to open the door for us to come back to him.

Everyone is guilty of rejecting God, but Jesus will never stop trying to bring you home.

When you cling to sin you reject God.

That's not to say that any time you sin you're leaving God behind. Sin is what broke the relationship with God you were meant to have, but when you place your trust in Jesus as Master and Saviour he forgives you of all your sins. No, but when you say that your sin is more important than serving God, that is a rejection of him.

Hosea 14:1-2 (NIV)
Return, Israel, to the Lord your God. Your sins have been your downfall! Take words with you and return to the Lord. Say to him: “Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously, that we may offer the fruit of our lips.

Jesus’ love is bigger than all your sin.

Hosea 14:4 (NIV)
“I will heal their waywardness and love them freely, for my anger has turned away from them.

Maybe you see your sin as a big pile or mountain or wall that you can't forgive yourself for, your friends and family won't forgive you for, so surely Jesus won't forgive you for it either. But his love is bigger than all your sin, and if you'll let him, he'll take care of it for you.

Romans 5:8 (ESV)
but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Imagine what Pincher Creek would look like if people understood they have worth in Jesus' eyes--he loves them and he wants them to accept his gift of forgiveness and eternal life!

Action Steps:

  • Have confidence in Jesus' love and grace.
  • Share it with at least one of the people he has placed around you this week!

Would you like to accept Jesus' gift of life, or want more information? Send us an email or contact us on Facebook!

 

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