The Role of a Christian

This week Harvest Church heard a powerful message by Pastor Charlie that asked us the question: what do you measure you by? It matters greatly. You see, if you are just measuring yourself in relation to others, then you’re most likely finding yourself in an average life, doing average work, making average choices for yourself and those around you.

As Christians, we should be compelled to be above average. The world isn’t looking to thrive; most people are merely surviving. We should never be okay with just surviving. That’s average. And the truth is, we don’t have to. Everyday we have the opportunity to live for God, to be shepherds for His people, guiding them to His love, grace and promises. Do you have any idea what you’ve got and how many other people desperately need it? Jesus isn’t here on Earth anymore: it’s just us – sent here to do His work.

Faith by itself isn’t enough. (James 2:17 NLT) 

We need to be action-oriented. Jesus didn’t just call His disciples together to “hang out.” He called them to go out among the people and do God’s work.

1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” (Luke 15:1-2 NIV)

27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27 NIV)

Jesus didn’t shy away from those in a lower class or circumstance, He actually went out of His way to “hang out” with the sick, the suffering and the sinners; the widows, the orphans and the lost. In our modern day society, think of how many people could use the love of God! That means we have to do something. It might make us feel uncomfortable, and it might make us feel awkward or even afraid. But when God saved us, He didn’t just want us to be saved, He wanted us to be witnesses to others.

There a two powerful parables that illustrate this:

The Parable of the Lost Sheep

3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

The Parable of the Lost Coin

8 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:3-10 NIV)

Think of the joy and spiritual growth it would bring you to know you’ve helped even just one person commit her life to God. To re-set the coordinates of one man’s path towards eternal life in heaven.

3 Things Needed to Reach the Lost

1. Reaching the lost takes Compassion

You can’t start a witness without compassion, without seeing all people as needing the love of God, and feeling that love in your heart as well. Most people don’t realize that “welcomed” in the verse shared above (Luke 15:1-2 NIV) is translated in Greek as “received as friend.” Jesus not only sat and ate with sinners, He received them as friends. The parable of the good Samaritan also demonstrates the compassion we should have for the suffering:

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:30-37 NIV)

2. Reaching the lost takes Effort

We won’t win the lost by sitting in church waiting for them to come to us. We have to reach out and be the voice. How?

  • Pray for them
  • Reach out through the church (outreach events, ministry opportunities, and service)
  • Financially support missions to reach the lost

41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. (Matthew 5:41 NIV)

3. Reaching the lost takes Persistence

There’s greater joy in reaching people than any other joy in the world. But it doesn’t come easily, and it doesn’t’ come without consistent and persistent work. Remember the woman who lost the coin, and searched and searched until she located it? It’s with that fervor that we are called to seek out and find the lost. What we’re helping people find is too valuable to lose!

Faith without Good Deeds Is Dead

14 What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? 15 Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, 16 and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?

17 So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. (James 2:14-17 NLT)

At Harvest Church, we are a body of believers striving to go beyond the four walls of our building and into the community. We invite all members, guests, friends, families, neighbors and most importantly – sinners, orphans, widows, and the lost and the suffering, to come with us to grow in the spirit of God, and to reach out to bring others to His love too. We do it with joyful hearts and compassion, effort and persistence.

Carpe Diem – Seize the Day!

We’ve all heard the saying “carpe diem,” but how many of us truly live today to the fullest? How many of us are worked up worrying about what tomorrow might bring or feeling guilty about what we’ve done in the past, that we completely let the opportunities in front of us today slip away. This week’s sermon was delivered by associate pastor, Isaac Schmeling, who challenged us to follow the teachings of the Bible when it comes to seizing the day.

31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:31-34 NIV)

You see, God has promised to take care of you, to hold your worries and troubles in His hand so that you can fix your eyes upon Him, rather than these worldly issues.

Becoming a person of today could be challenging for some, but as believers we have the promises of God to fall back on. Pastor Schmeling reminds us of two simple ideas to bring our focus on the opportunities of today:

1. Renew Your Mind

2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2 NIV)

Remember, what we set our sights on will become what we harvest. Try everyday to renew your mind to the promises of God, not to the things of the world. There’s nothing wrong with owning beautiful things, but are you spending your most valuable asset – your time – seeking a closer relationship with your Father? Are you finding quiet time each day to pray and read the scripture, so that you can set your sight on the promises and rewards He has laid out for you?

If you’re struggling with addiction – whether it be alcohol, drugs, pornography, even working too much – remember that you have the same promises that everyone else does. You too are loved and cherished by your Father, and He has great things in store for you. Let your test turn into your testament as your grow in His ways and less in the ways of the world.

12 Just because something is technically legal doesn’t mean that it’s spiritually appropriate. If I went around doing whatever I thought I could get by with, I’d be a slave to my whims. (1 Corinthians 6:12 MSG)

2. Keep Focused on Today

25 Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.
26 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.
27 Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil. (Proverbs 4:25-27 NIV)

Focusing your thoughts on the blessings and work ahead of you today is what God wants you to do. He specifically tells us to not “turn to the right or the left,” so that we may walk the straight path to His kingdom. And when troubles come our way, we will be ready for them, because we’ve studied His word and prepared our hearts for earthly challenges, knowing that our rewards in heaven are great and His promises are true. Wouldn’t it be great to actually walk through our days thinking about how Jesus handled challenges? Wouldn’t it be great to let go of all that we carry about our pasts and the worries that keep us up at night?

We can see this point illustrated when we think about how we focus while driving. What would happen if you just stared in the rear-view mirror the whole time? What if you never looked at a map or app for directions? It’d be a challenging drive to say the least! And not just for you, but for the drivers around you and everything your car hits along the way. Is this how you’re navigating your way through each day? Fix your eyes upon the Lord. Don’t let hurts of the past damage your heart for today.

Remember learning to ride a bike? That first time you fell off and scraped your knee, it hurt and you wanted to quit. It may have taken you a few days to be convinced to get up and try again. But eventually you did, and eventually you learned how to ride without falling. That’s exactly how your faith walk might play out. But don’t be afraid of failure or pain – it can be the very thing that God has planned for your journey. Your mistakes, illnesses, extreme sadness or loss, financial issues or any other plights of this life may be what God has given you so that you can use that to help others. So live today out, study the Word, pray for guidance, give thanks, and remember that God loves you!

 

 

“Kingdom Rock” – VBS 2013!

Vacation Bible School (VBS) 2013 was last week, and once it again, God’s presence was felt in the love and enthusiasm that each child brought to the event. We had three nights (July 23-25) of singing, dancing, playing games, doing crafts and learning Bible lessons.

Our theme this year was “Kingdom Rock” and the curriculum was fantastic! The kids danced and sang along to upbeat Christian music videos, raising their hands and praising Him in a really fun and interactive way.

Some of the Bible lessons the kids learned were:

  • Day 1- God’s love helps us… stand strong.  Bible story is King David as a shepherd.  Key verse, Psalm 18:1 I love you lord; you are my strength.
  • Day 2-  Prayer helps us…. stand strong.  Bible story is Nehemiah rebuilds the wall around Jerusalem.  Bible Verse  Phil. 4:6  Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything!
  • Day 3:  The Bible helps us…. stand strong.  King Josiah follows God’s way.  Bible verse:  Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.  Psalm 119:105

 

 

Praise Silences the Enemy

Psalm 8:2 (NIV) “Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.”

Praise and Worship are very important elements in the life of any believer.  They invite God’s presence into our lives. There is something powerful that happens when we commune with the Father.  It adds depth to our relationship and allows us to take the attention off of ourselves, our circumstances and our distractions.

The Psalmist here says praise builds up a stronghold against our enemies and silences him.

Often times when we face problems, we hear many voices; not just the voice of God and His Word. If we are honest, the voice of the enemy is often right there yelling at us as well.  He wants us to hear his side, to feel sorry for ourselves, to react out of fear and ultimately to disengage our faith. Read More

Forgiveness Part 7

Forgiveness is a powerful weapon against the enemy and it is the heart of God! Pastor Charlie bring this beautiful message on forgiving in a way that will surely change your thinking on how to forgive! It’s not a matter of being fun or easy, God says to forgive and to be quick to forgive! Life is too big and too short to hold grievances against each other. You won’t want to miss this powerful and revelatory message!

Forgiveness Part 7

Forgiveness Part 6

Forgiveness is a powerful weapon against the enemy and it is the heart of God! Pastor Charlie bring this beautiful message on forgiving in a way that will surely change your thinking on how to forgive! It’s not a matter of being fun or easy, God says to forgive and to be quick to forgive! Life is too big and too short to hold grievances against each other. You won’t want to miss this powerful and revelatory message!

Forgiveness Part 6

Forgiveness Part 5

Forgiveness is a powerful weapon against the enemy and it is the heart of God! Pastor Charlie bring this beautiful message on forgiving in a way that will surely change your thinking on how to forgive! It’s not a matter of being fun or easy, God says to forgive and to be quick to forgive! Life is too big and too short to hold grievances against each other. You won’t want to miss this powerful and revelatory message!

Forgiveness Part 5

Forgiveness Part 4

Forgiveness is a powerful weapon against the enemy and it is the heart of God! Pastor Charlie bring this beautiful message on forgiving in a way that will surely change your thinking on how to forgive! It’s not a matter of being fun or easy, God says to forgive and to be quick to forgive! Life is too big and too short to hold grievances against each other. You won’t want to miss this powerful and revelatory message!

Forgiveness Part 4

Forgiveness Part 3

Forgiveness is a powerful weapon against the enemy and it is the heart of God! Pastor Charlie bring this beautiful message on forgiving in a way that will surely change your thinking on how to forgive! It’s not a matter of being fun or easy, God says to forgive and to be quick to forgive! Life is too big and too short to hold grievances against each other. You won’t want to miss this powerful and revelatory message!

Forgiveness Part 3

Forgiveness Part 2

Forgiveness is a powerful weapon against the enemy and it is the heart of God! Pastor Charlie bring this beautiful message on forgiving in a way that will surely change your thinking on how to forgive! It’s not a matter of being fun or easy, God says to forgive and to be quick to forgive! Life is too big and too short to hold grievances against each other. You won’t want to miss this powerful and revelatory message!

Forgiveness Part 2