How to spread the Gospel and communicate the heart of God by Pastor Don
Pastor Don began Wednesday’s Bible study by pointing out this is the most interesting time in history. America is reaping what it has sown. We love the Die Hards, Bruce Willis, etc. Murder and mayhem is sold to the world, and now it has crossed a line. Many unstable people have gotten the message to just kill anyone, and killing is made more easy because of the frequency and ease of it that is shown through the media and video games. And it has crossed gender lines, for now there are not only reports of males shooting, but females also have opened fire in places. There is a level of violence that is increasing and becoming more bloody.
Pastor Don believes that the level of violence increased since 1967 when they took prayer out of school. If we have no moral way to teach right and wrong, if there is no foundation to teach it from, how are children supposed to learn it? There needs to be a solid foundation of law that actions can be judged against.
1 Corinthians 1:18-21 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
The real problem is how to spread the Gospel and eternity. American culture is hard pressed to accept anything we can’t intellectually figure out. The Greco/Roman way of thinking is to let me break down something to it’s parts and reproduce it, so we can make sense of it.
Pastor Don used to play saxophone in Harry Belafonte’s band, and two other band members were Brazilian. When the Brazilians looked at music, they read it in a vastly different way from the American Band members. Harry Belafonte wanted a piece of music that was played in 5/4 time. The American band members were used to 1/4, 1/8/ 1/16 notes, so when the African song was written in the 5/4 time, the beats were very different. The American band members had a hard time following the beat for they couldn’t wrap their minds around it, but the Brazilian players had no problems, for they flowed along with the music. They weren’t even counting. The piece did not flow because the Americans had a harder time flowing with the music.
We understand God with our heart, not with our mind. In the last days we have to understand God has made it the work of the Body of Christ to communicate what is the heart of God. It is something we can’t grab hold of with our mind. How do we explain God, creationism, nonviolence and sin which we can’t understand with our mind, but with our heart?
We are not out to out logic an unbeliever. Logical faith makes sense to our minds, but spiritual things need to be understand by our spirit. We can’t have a scientific breakdown of faith.
We need to supply information to people out of our minds, but it has to be information that grabs their hearts. Belief is not mandated by reason, it is by the heart. You can have a list of 10 reasons why you believe God, but they won’t work unless you know the heart of the person.
We become aware that to grow our faith larger and our relationship with God larger, information is useful to the journey but it is not the essence of how we get there. We have to make a willful choice to believe. If all we do is stay in the intellectual realm we will not get there. Great thinkers come to God through the process of intellectual investigation, but at some point they have to take that step of faith.
C.S. Lewis started out trying to disprove God, and ended up being pursued by God. It was a heart experience when he chose to believe God. Intellectual information becomes faulty information if that is all a person goes by. They have to make a decision to choose to believe, to go from desire and hope to belief. But it takes discernment to realize that belief is properly placed on God, when it doesn’t look logical to the senses. A little light shed on the situation allows a person to make that proper decision.
1 Corinthians 1:21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
God is so smart. The wisdom of God includes faith AND scientific wisdom. Everything is mathematically perfect in the universe. 1 to 2 chromosomes make the difference between man and gorilla. Everything had to be in perfect balance for the universe to be able to produce life. Nothing was left to chance. Our eyes are perfect.
Some people try to state that evolution is the process by which God created things, but that is NOT the case. There is NO scientific proof for evolution. The wisdom of man wants to believe that evolution is true, but it is not the answer to God.
Faith is very wise – it is smart to be a person of faith. God does not allow wisdom to be they way to get to God. Without faith it is impossible to please God. We have to BELIEVE.
Why is it smart not to be able to use our wisdom to find God? We can never know intellectually all that God is, God is a Spirit and we can’t grab hold of what that means with our intellect. Faith is an integral part of the Kingdom of God, and in our spiritual walk there are times we are pressed to a wall that can only be jumped by, “I choose to believe by faith.” When we believe by faith, then God gives us more information. We begin to see His hand in our life, we see the opportunity, favor, attitude changes, and other ways that God has impacted our life.
God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
Pastor Don told us about a woman who went to a psychic, and the psychic told her that she was destined to divorce her husband. Every argument that they had, every difficulty that they had, the woman remembered the “psychic” reading about the divorce, and over time the man and woman divorced. Remember, faith comes by hearing. And this woman heard the psychic mention divorce. What a different outcome this woman may have had if what she was hearing was the Word of God.
Pastor Don quoted, “If you tell a lie long enough, people will believe it.” When we get set in our own “wisdom” we can’t get to God. We can’t get to God by intellectual discussions. No place in the Scriptures does it say, “intellectually lead a person to the cross.”
Pastor Don gave us a Scriptural example of how intellectual leading to Christ did not work.
Acts 26:24-25 Now as he thus made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!” But he said, “I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason.
Paul spoke to Festus with logic and reason, but the spiritual truths were those that Festus could not hear in the physical, so he thought Paul was mad.
Acts 26:26 For the king, before whom I also speak freely, knows these things; for I am convinced that none of these things escapes his attention, since this thing was not done in a corner.
What things? The coming of Christ, his death and resurrection. He would have known the Scriptures of prophecy, and have heard of Christ, and how he died and was raised from the dead. Therefore there was no other option but to come to the realization that He is Lord. There were over 600 prophecies fulfilled. A + B + C equals the Messiah. If any one of the prophecies did not come to pass, then He would not have been Lord. but even the Pharisees who saw the miracles and enduring truths, and they saw it, but did not want to admit the truth of who He was. When we get into the things of the Spirit things do not always add up the way it does in the fleshly way. 2 + 2 can equal 3 in Spiritual ways. or 1 + 1 + 1 = 1 (Father, Son, Holy Spirit equals One God). A husband and wife (2 people) become one when they are married. What happens in the Spiritual realm seems like foolishness to men.
When we step into the realm of the Spiritual our thinking can get in the way.
Acts 26:27-28 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you do believe.”Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian.”
ALMOST. Paul was not talking about being a Christian, but about being a believer. The label is not important, but belief is. If A + B = Christ, Agrippa rejected Christ. He heard the prophecies and the evidence, but refused to acknowledge the truth of them.
Pastor Don told us that as Christians, we are seed sowers, not seed growers. Only God can grow the seed and get to the hearts of people to get them to believe. Pastor Don told us he can show the facts. He can tell people, BC – Before Christ I was like this, but now AC – after Christ I have changed. You have to make a choice.
Agrippa said he was ALMOST persuaded, but he made the choice to not believe. It is a process we all have to go through. We make choices in our day-to-day battles.
We need to be effective light bulbs, rejecting the wisdom of the world and choosing the wisdom of God. We need to be aware of the conversations going on in our mind, conversations that involve choice between the things of the World and the things of God. Agrippa was shown a spiritual possibility, but chose to reject it.
Pastor Don told us we can make a choice. For example we can see a pair of red shoes for $24.95 and make a spiritual decision – maybe to opt for saving, or waiting for a sale. It is not that we need to be stingy or cheap, but we need to follow God’s prompting.
He shared that once he got $1,000 and God told him to give the whole amount away. Now he had already spent that money in his head – paying off bills and purchasing some luxuries. But when he got that prompting he felt he was hearing from God. He had a sense that it was from God because it was not appealing to his ego or desires, but was something that was more challenging for him to do. He wanted to make sure it was the leading of God, so he asked his wife what she thought they should do with that $1,000. She also had spent it in her mind, but told Pastor Don she felt they needed to sow a seed and give it all away. They did, in obedience and they received $10,000 right after that. So they had made the right choice, and Pastor Don shared that had he not given the $1,000 the $10,000 may not have come. But before he acted on the impulse to give away the $1,000 he made sure it was God he heard from.
We need to ask ourselves, “Who is doing the thinking now?” Was it a Godly thought our was it the flesh?
In another example, Pastor Don told us that Cynthia (his wife) loves to leave early and arrive early for things and he is more of a last minute person. So while they were vacationing in Florida, they went to a large church – and it turned out the church had limited parking, so by getting there late there would be no parking place. But Pastor Don reminded himself he was a person of faith, so he prayed and God opened up a parking space right in front of the church. God saw a spiritual possibility Pastor Don did not see. God talked to the Spirit and the spirit showed Pastor Don a different possibility.
So they walk into the church which is overflowing, and they had to go to an overflow room and watch the service on TV. This is not what Cynthia had in mind, but Pastor Don also kept praying in faith that a God possibility would come up. It turns out the Sunday School kids were in the first few rows of the church. The pastor spoke with the kids for a few minutes and then dismissed them. Someone came into the overflow room and said there is now space for some to come into the church. Pastor Don and Cynthia sat up front at this service. Again God came through for him.
Pastor Don told us there is a Spiritual possibility that we can’t see. And God, talking to the Spirit, tells us of possibilities that we can’t see. There are a myriad of other possibilities, that we don’t see if we cease to be bound by the wisdom of man. If we focus on the negative we magnify the negative, and won’t see those other possibilities. The Wisdom of God is greater than we can conceive.
1 Corinthians 1:21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.
We have to believe, to be possibility thinkers.
1 Corinthians 1:22-25 For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
This is powerful stuff. The Israelites saw signs all day and all night, and did not believe. They saw the rivers parted, an army destroyed, water coming forth from a rock and many other miracles but they still chose to worship the golden calf. Signs and wonders won’t do it. It is necessary to get out of the wisdom of our head and find the Wisdom of God. Only God knows what will cause a person to choose to believe Jesus and believe that Jesus was raised from the dead. Caiphas saw the truth, and chose to sacrifice Jesus, the death of one to save many.
We want to evangelize and, with the help of the Holy Spirit, plant a seed and know God will water it. Some of the ways evangelism occurs today do not pull in converts. We cannot reach a Muslim or a Buddhist by an argument. God changes them, and then they will listen. All we can do is plant seeds and let the Holy Spirit do His work, and show the person love and a the joy of a life lived through Christ.
Everyone will get a chance to choose to believe the truth or not. We have to let the Spirit help us discern what it is that is keeping the person from believing God. We want to understand what it is in their lives that makes it difficult for them to accept Christ. Where is the wound in them? Much of what we do doesn’t make sense. But it has to be in God’s timing.
We can make an offering, and it may be a good offering, but we can still miss God’s strategic plan. We want to line up with God’s strategic plan. It is only soup when God says it is ready. We need to read the signs to know when it is time to get our spoon. To act too soon or too late gets us out of God’s plan.
We may be giving and giving and not seeing prosperity in our lives. God may know, if we got prosperity at this particular time, we might do something stupid and take credit for what God has given us. God knows when we are ready to receive what He wants us to have.
Sometimes God does not seem to answer a prayer we have. A person we have prayed for and fasted for dies, and we don’t understand. We do not understand the reason why, and maybe it is not for us to express an opinion of why for the person. But we can tell a person, “I can’t understand the depth of your grief, but I do know that there is a Comforter who can go through this with you.”
Verse 22 tells us some won’t get it, and for some the knowledge of Jesus is a stumbling block. When you tell someone Christ died for our sins, that can seem so illogical to them. Why would He love us so much to die for our sins? And then we look at the wisdom of the world and we see sinners who are worse than us having much money and frittering it away, while we are struggling and counting pennies, but living a more righteous life. It doesn’t make sense.
The job of the Holy Spirit is to convict the world of sin. We may not be as good as we want to be, but we are better than we used to be.
Kirk Cameron (someone asked about him) helps people to realize they have sinned, but until a person gets an understanding in their heart and gets the conviction of the Holy Spirit, they may have remorse that they sinned, but that does not always lead to true repentance. The problem is, from our standpoint, sin feels good. Until our heart is convinced of how bad sin is, we will still seek what feels good.
And salvation isn’t about comparisons. There are a lot of people who will end up going to hell who live good lives, but they rejected the only One that salvation comes through. We have righteousness through believing Him, not through our behavior.
1 Corinthians 1:25 sums it up: Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
We then read verses 26-31 out loud.
1 Corinthians 1:26-31 For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the LORD.”
POWERFUL STUFF! We want to have our self directed by God, and take control of our thoughts to make them line up with God’s. Even the small things God places in front of us are opportunities to choose to think like Him or we can choose to operate like the world.
We need to ask ourselves, “Is God saying something here?” Then we have to make the choice to be aware of reality (God’s reality.) The truth is, we are but a flea on the butt of an elephant. If we remember we aren’t all that, and in Christ we are more than that, then God gets the glory.
The most powerful evangelists today have the same thing that we can have – a Heart for Jesus. No evangelist either today or in the Bible ever felt comfortable in the position. Oral Roberts stuttered, Moses stuttered, Isaiah felt he had unclean lips, but what they all have is a heart that is prepared to think like God.
We need to take the time to pause, and think what you would think and do, then see if it lines up with what God thinks and would do. If it doesn’t, then change what you think and do.
In God’s economy we are to think about others. In fulfilling God’s purpose for your life, do it with joy – don’t be miserable. People are not going to be pulled to misery, but will love the joy and light of the Lord.
We need to ask ourselves if what we are doing is edifying and serving God’s purpose, not on the logical outcome. We need to ask what am I doing? Are we meeting, functioning, carrying out our role on earth with a right attitude? Life is short, and is practice for something else.
If I am thinking like God, that is good. If I am thinking like man it may feel better, but we need to seek God thoughts.
We have to begin to think what would God do in every choice.
When we part from the wisdom of man and seek the wisdom of God then we will see our discernment increase.
What is the wisdom of God? Faith action becomes the way we deal all the time. And we have to start seeking what is needed here from God’s perspective, rather than what I want to do.
(Heather’s comment: This is a difficult challenge for me at times, but I also know what I am seeing is I am happier when I am doing things God’s way. I spent so many years living from my flesh and doing what felt right to me, and it was a failure. No matter what I did, it wasn’t good enough. Yet as I seek to do more what God wants, there is true joy – not a joy based always on circumstances, but the joy of the Lord is there. I have learned if I do things God’s way I save myself a lot of pain and frustration. Of course, in some areas I am a slow learner (she says smiling), but we have a patient and loving God.)
Have a blessed day,
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