I starting listening to the sessions from the Conversational Evangelism conference yesterday.
A few take a way points so far are that there is a disconnect between Jesus and the church. Non-Christians and non-church attenders don't always have any problem with Jesus, but they have lots of problems with the church. There is a perception that church goers are out of touch with regular, non-church-going people. Jesus wasn't this way at all.
Another key is that as a Christian, you don't need to add evangelism or a missional focus to your already busy life. What you need is a new life(style), like Jesus.
A Christian is not someone who just goes to a lot of Church meetings, who just studies the Bible, just shops at Christian bookstores, and who just watches Christian television. A Christian is someone who follows Christ, who has Christ in them and who is in Christ. Evangelism is not about inviting someone to a meeting to hear and see someone else, although that's not invalid. Evangelism is about getting involved with people where they live and listening to them.
Todd Hunter: "Most seekers don’t want to be talked down to from a stage in one way communication. They need to talk, they need to tell their story, they need a place to unload all their fears and pre-judgments about religion, etc. This requires a conversation. It requires that we come down from stages and sit with seekers around a dinner table, letting them set the pace and direction of the conversation."
“Blessed be he who enlarges Gad!
Gad crouches like a lion;
he tears off arm and scalp.
He chose the best of the land for himself,
for there a commander's portion was reserved;
and he came with the heads of the people,
with Israel he executed the justice of the Lord,
and his judgments for Israel.”
The tribe of Gad was one of the fiercest, bravest tribes.
Gad means troop or raider and Gad sounds just like good fortune.
Gad was Jacob's seventh son, borne from Zilpah, Leah's servant.
God spoke to Aaron, "Go and meet Moses in the wilderness." He went and met him at the mountain of God and kissed him. Moses told Aaron the message that God had sent him to speak and the wonders he had commanded him to do.Exodus 4:27-31
So Moses and Aaron proceeded to round up all the leaders of Israel. Aaron told them everything that God had told Moses and demonstrated the wonders before the people. And the people trusted and listened believingly that God was concerned with what was going on with the Israelites and knew all about their affliction. They bowed low and they worshiped.
I have a few thoughts to share about Aaron, Moses older brother in the Bible.
I have focused on Moses, how he ran away and lived in the desert all those years, until the burning bush. Moses had been saved from the killing of all the babies and raised in the royal household, and later ran to Sanai. Aaron stayed in Egypt among his enslaved people.
When God calls Moses from the burning bush, which is the beginning of the central event of the OT, God also calls Aaron to help Moses. God already knows that the main guy needs help. God had set Moses aside for all these years, always having in mind this plan for him to be the leader with a capital L, yet God also knows that his man needs a right hand man and provides one in his older brother.
Aaron was right there with Moses during all the talks with Pharoh, the confrontations, the plagues. Together, they called out the people to leave.
You might be wondering how you could possibly do something, but God has your Aaron for you. Or, you might be an Aaron who is suffering with the suffering and God has an "out of left field" plan for you with someone or something you had given up on.
Thank the Lord because he is good.
His love continues forever.
No one can tell all the mighty things the Lord has done;
no one can speak all his praise.
Happy are those who do right,
who do what is fair at all times.
Lord, remember me when you are kind to your people;
help me when you save them.
Let me see the good things you do for your chosen people.
Let me be happy along with your happy nation;
let me join your own people in praising you.
Psalm 106:1-5, NCV
Because he's good, because his love lasts.
But who on earth can do it—
declaim God's mighty acts, broadcast all his praises?
You're one happy man when you do what's right,
one happy woman when you form the habit of justice.
Remember me, God, when you enjoy your people;
include me when you save them;
I want to see your chosen succeed,
celebrate with your celebrating nation,
join the Hallelujahs of your pride and joy!
Psalm 106:1-5, MSG
Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever!
Who can utter the mighty deeds of the LORD,
or declare all his praise?
Blessed are they who observe justice,
who do righteousness at all times!
Remember me, O LORD, when you show favor to your people;
help me when you save them,
that I may look upon the prosperity of your chosen ones,
that I may rejoice in the gladness of your nation,
that I may glory with your inheritance.
Psalm 106:1-5, NCV, MSG, ESV
- Favor, God enjoying His people, God's kindness.
- God's saving acts- deliverance.
- God bestowing His goodness, helping you succeed or prosper.
- Say, "remember me".
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
The Cherry Blossom tree blooms only once a year in the spring. Each flower only lasts for two or three days. A group of trees can have it's blooming period last up to 14 days.
Some thoughts I have are that when "opportunity knocks", you have to respond quick. "Suddenlies of God" happen and you've got to respond. You've learned to wait and wait.
Suddenly, what you've waited for is here and it's Carpe Diem time!
When was the last time you were appalled by unfaithfulness to God?
Have you ever gathered together because you and the others were all trembling at God's word?
There is great joy in returning to God, in walking with God, in sharing life together. But there is also a clear revelation of stuff in us and stuff we do or hold onto that needs to go. If you truly encounter God, then you have to be changed. Repentance is part of genuine revival. The fear of the Lord is real. The Lord who is gracious and merciful, kind and loving is also awesome and terrifying. To be out of synch with him or to be holding onto a sinful practice when he comes is a terrible thing.
So, all seemed well. Hezekiah had done all these good things and he got healed and had this sign done and God had also wiped out this invading Assyrian army that was going after Jerusalem.
Then what happened? The Babylonians sent emissaries or ambassadors to chat up Hezekiah and what does he do but show these guys his armory and treasury. Then God speaks through Isaiah to him that he has messed up completely and terrible things would happen in the future (being conquered by Babylon). Hezekiah's response was not deep repentance and sorrow, but to pretty much say, "oh well, at least it won't happen till after I am gone." A few years later, he had a son, who would be the ripe age of 12 when Hezekiah's last 15 years were up. This son rolled back all the good that his dad had done and brought on the worst of God's judgements.
So, what's the moral of the story? I think it is this- that after your greatest victory, you are vulnerable to your greatest defeat. Doing good things and receiving good stuff is no guarantee of ending well or leaving a positive, lasting legacy.
The story of Hezekiah's mess up is given in Kings, Chronicles, and Isaiah. In one of them, it says that God stepped back and left him alone to see what was in his heart, when Hezekiah did the bad show and tell act. Very sad. Being a mighty man or woman in word and deed, leading a few or thousands; being applauded and accoladed- all these have nothing to do with what you'll do in the dark or away from the faithful. Character is another matter that you have to choose to grow in.
It seems obvious that if you are alive, there is hope. The lion is the most majestic of creatures, while the dog (in Bible times) is among the vilest. The living vile have hope, while the majestic dead do not, as far as life-change. There is hope for the most despicable and lost. There is hope for the most dire situation while life holds on.
My prayer is not for the world, but for those you have given me, because they belong to you.
I'm not praying for the God-rejecting world but for those you gave me,
For they are yours by right.
I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours.
John 17:9 (NLB, CEV, TMT, YLT)
At this crisis point Jesus is wholly employed on the behalf of his disciples, who are about to go out for good with Jesus message. He is high priest here, giving the second part of the prayer on the day of expiation for the the priests (Adam Clarke).
David Guzik's notes:
a. When Jesus says I do not pray for the world it is not out of unconcern for the world's plight. It was because of a focus on His own disciples. "He was praying for the instrument He was creating, through which He would reach the world." (Morgan)
b. All Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine: Anyone can say to God the Father all mine are Yours but only Jesus could say and Yours are Mine.
c. I am glorified in them: No one should be glorified in the believer other than Jesus. Leaders have a tendency to glorify themselves in their followers, but it should only be Jesus.
Jesus does also pray for unreached people and God loves the world and wants to redeem it. But that is not the point here in John 17:9. Jesus asks on behalf of those who will take his message to the ends of the earth and will train others in doing so. God is a covenant keeping God, meaning that God does things with man. Jesus impacts people through people, who in turn impact people. So, Jesus is praying for these ones that he had trained and taught and mentored, so that they would be successful in reaching others. Jesus loves the others who will come and prays for them also, but he first prays for those he is sending to them.
He doesn't cry out that God would do something, anything, to reach down and save the world that's going deeper down into darkness. He already has a plan and he's praying for the people who will be it's implementation. They themselves will later need to pray, need prayer, and need help from God; but this moment is before all that.
The children of Israel were conquering the promised land city by city. They had just obliterated Ai. Then they had a massive meeting where all of Israel renewed their covenant with God.
The next thing that happens of note is that this rag dressed group of guys comes along, saying they are from a far off country and plead for Joshua to make a special covenant with them of peace. they hung out for three days and then the covenant was made.
When Joshua figured out that he had been deceived, he cursed them, but the covenant still stood.
What's the point of the story? If the enemy can't get you head on, he goes to the side where you don't expect it with deception. He tries to get you to agree to something through lies. Seems like a contract would be no good that you signed if it was "sold" to you on lies, but that's not true. Once you've entered in to the contract, it's hard or impossible to get out of it. So be careful before you "sign on the dotted line" or make that promise.
Joshua and the leaders had just had a huge victory, followed by a solemn and glorious re-dedication to God. They were getting ready to go after the next cities and then the above event occurred. Watch out for deception. The enemy is shrewed, cunning, and crafty.