How do we respond when people ask us about Jesus?

Matt5.16

What would be the first thing you would say to a friend if they came to you asking about Jesus? Would you say that Jesus is your best friend? A historical figure? A religious leader? As we become more mission-minded, it is an important question to know how to answer.

In Matthew 5:16 we see that followers of Jesus are called to shine their light before others. At the core, sharing our faith isn’t about giving someone a lesson of spiritual laws or a heavy theological explanation. It’s about introducing people to someone they can know personally, someone who loves them, someone who will change their lives forever.

The challenge for Christians is to communicate the gospel in a way people can understand. We undertake the awesome task of explaining eternal truths in different ways that will connect to our community today. Our impact in sharing Jesus in our schools, home, community or workplace is directly linked to our knowledge of those around us and our ability to engage with them. 

As we make an effort to understand the people God has placed around us, we will find better ways to engage with and respond to the difficulties and negative perceptions that many have against religion and Christianity.

When God wanted to connect with humanity once and for all, He didn’t write a sermon, He came to visit us in person. Our job is to be His witness, pointing our community to know God, to relate to Him, and to have lives changed by the power of His love and forgiveness. God is a person to know, not a theory to understand.

It is important to remember that the Holy Spirit is at work in us, He will always supply the right words to use in season.  When we are willing to pause and ask God to guide and prompt us, you never know what opportunities will appear.

When we allow the love of God to grow within us, dying to our old self and receiving new life, it flows out to everyone around us too.  Consider the incredible calling of sharing Jesus with those around us, begin to ask yourself – “What are the reasons I should share?” and you will find the love of Jesus will stir with you and completely overcome our fears and obstacle to sharing.

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August 13th 2017: Peter Gleave

Peter-Glave -August 2017Luke 5:1-11 – Jesus calls the last disciples.

In 1869, Thomas Huxley, an avid supporter of Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, often gave speeches on the subject. After one of his speaking engagements, Huxley was in a hurry to catch his train to his next engagement. He took a horse-drawn taxi and assumed the driver had been informed where he wanted to go. “Hurry!” Huxley exclaimed. “I’m almost late. Drive fast!”

The driver sped away. After a while Huxley looked out of his window and realised they were travelling in the opposite direction to the train station.

“Do you know where you’re going?” Huxley asked. The driver shouted back, “No, but I am driving very fast!”

There’s no use in driving fast if you don’t know where you are going. We need to spend time away from the business of the world, and spend time knowing what Jesus wants us to do. Put the brakes on and slowly walk beside the seaside.

Imagine you’re in this passage of scripture; it’s a warm sunny morning, a gentle breeze sounds around you, the Sea of Galilee lies before you, with its pebbly shoreline.  To the other side of you, six miles away, lie the mountains. Take in the scene, where there is a crowd following a man, pressing in on Him. We move in and start to listen to what He has to say. We need to see what God has to say to Penuel Chapel, to you and me and other churches.

This was not the first time Jesus had met the disciples, He had encountered them before (John 1 & 4). It is perhaps surprising then that these men, who Jesus has already invited to follow Him, where still at their business – fishing. We too can distance ourselves, tending to our everyday business and being too busy for God. If the disciples were to answer Jesus’ call they needed to make God their number one priority. Not even family, or work in Church should be more important than God. He has to be our number one priority. We don’t need to give up work or family, but in thought we should prioritise God and make Him first in our choices.

Jesus got into Peter’s boat and the boat was pulled a little further out. ‘He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon (Peter), and asked him to put out a little from the shore.’ (Luke 5:3). Now Jesus had Peter’s attention. Has God been trying to get your attention recently? God wants you in a position so He can speak to you and you can focus on Him, draw closer to Him.

We need to hear Jesus and see Him. What better way is there then seeing Him in the scriptures? Read, search, and study the Bible. What is God trying to teach us today? Look in the scriptures, it will help you become better fishers of men. Each of us can bear testimony to the fact the scriptures are life-changing. We need to study, study, and study some more – in personal life and essential Bible study with others. Be prepared.

One way of reaching out to the community is to participate in projects such as the ‘Community Bible Experience’, in which, a church buys a little gospel for members of the community, inviting them to later discuss what they have read. This is a great way to engage with a community.

Peter lends his boat to Jesus. He used what He had and gave it to Jesus. God will bless all we do in His name. Jesus says to Peter,

Luke 5-4

Peter may have wondered why Jesus, a carpenter, was telling him, am experienced fisherman, how to do his job. However, because Jesus had asked him to do this, he did so. I wonder, has God said something to you that is counter-intuitive – something which doesn’t seem to make sense to you? Perhaps it could be to try some evangelism that in the past didn’t work. Remember Peter’s response,

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There was a certainty that didn’t rely on Peter’s skill but on the Master.

Has God called you to a specific evangelism in Roch? If so, then do it. Be encouraged in faith, believe God will provide all you need for a great catch. It’s not our work that changes hearts and convicts, but the work of the Holy Spirit. We’re called to do the fishing, to let down the nets. Because God says so, we will let down the nets in Roch. Against all the principles of fishing, the disciples caught so much. Imagine you evangelise and the nets are so full. Jesus sent the fish to where the boat would be. God is all-knowing and in control. If God determines to fill your nets with men, women and children, it’s a reality waiting to happen. He wants you to be where the fish are.

Such was the catch, the disciples signalled their partners to help them. “When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that there nets began to break. So they signalled their partners in the other boat to come and help them.” (Luke5:6-7). Spreading the news in the deep waters of Roch village is a job for all partners. All of you have a job. Maybe you’re not called to be a preacher or evangelist, but you’re called to use your gifts – whether it is knocking on doors, leafleting, praying, etc. You’re needed to serve God here in this church, in this community. Your role is just as important as everyone else’s. Be obedient and faithful.

When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” ” (Luke 5:8). Peter became aware of his own sinfulness. He recognised Jesus, not just as Master but as Lord. The closer we are to God, the more we realise our own sinfulness, the more we have a desire to serve him. Peter could have been so preoccupied with the wealth of fish, but he was no longer focused on fish, but on the new Lord of his life – Jesus. He now realised who Jesus was and where he stood in that relationship. Have we got a sense of the presence of God, so that everything else become insignificant and Jesus become central?

Then Jesus says something unusual to Peter, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” (Luke 5:10). What fear had Jesus detected in Peter? Possibly the fear of not having enough money to pay the bills if he gave up his job to follow Jesus. Possibly not being good enough for Jesus, that his sins precluded him from future service? What fears do you have? You may have fears and failures but Jesus says, “Don’t be afraid”. If you repent, Jesus can take all your fears and failures and restore you and commission you. What will you do today- will you answer Jesus’ call, make Him the Lord of your life?

Anniversary Service: August 6th 2017

Dave Norbury - Aug 2017

David Norbury

Penuel Chapel will be holding a mission weekend in October followed by a Mission Week next Easter. The EMW has helped 50 churches in mission weeks and all 50 have churches have said they have been felt blessed. It’s a big thing to reach out and go beyond your comfort zone. That’s what we’ll be doing. Everyday should be like a mission. It is challenging.

volvo


The car manufacturer Volvo was the first to invent safety belts in cars. This invention could have made the company millions. However, they gave away the design and patent to everyone. The reason for this, the chairman explained, was that some things are too important to keep to yourself and somethings are too good not to give away. If it’s good enough for safety belts, it’s good enough for the gospel! You can be safe for eternity.

The woman of Samaria: John 4: 1-42

‘A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (John 4:7). When the Lord Jesus was speaking to the woman of Samaria, where were the disciples? Shopping! “For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.” (John 4:8). The Lord Jesus draws into conversation with the woman. Even more interesting, the disciples didn’t come back until after the conversation had taken place. When they returned they saw Jesus speaking to a woman – a woman of ill-repute and a Samaritan.

The disciples’ minds were focused on caring for Jesus, ‘Meanwhile the disciples were urging Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” (John 4:31). Then He tells them He has other food, “Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to accomplish His work.” (John 4:34)

The disciples were not thinking about a Samaritan woman of ill-repute being converted. They couldn’t see the revival happening. Jesus says to them, ‘What are you thinking about? There’s something major happening and you just can’t see it.’ How often have we said, ‘Nothing can happen here.’ God is working in a remarkable way. Sometimes we make excuses – what can one person do? One person is the Samaritan woman and she leads the town! John 4-29 Come see a man

The gospel is the power of God’s salvation. We may say, ‘I’ll speak to someone tomorrow.’ Why not today? We can make excuses, go shopping. We may say, ‘It’s not my gift.’ But we are all gifted with the glorious gospel. 

‘Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.’ (John 4:35).

The Lord Jesus is very clear with the disciples. He understands where they are at. Our God knows what suffering is. He knows our concerns.

Jesus says four things to the disciples:

  • Do not say ‘Not now, in the future…’
    Something is happening today. Do not say Why? What we say is from our hearts. Jesus says, ‘Think differently, change your desire, there’s a harvest out there. Change the way you think.’
  • ‘Look can you see it?’
    You have to start looking in a different direction. The gospel is happening now.
  • ‘Lift your eyes.’
    Change what you see. The Samaritan woman came with all the people.
  • ‘The fields are white for harvest.’
    It’s happening now. The people are coming towards us. Look for God’s blessing.

‘Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together.’ (John 4:36). There are wages. Wages are given and fruits are gathered for eternal life. Look at the blessings. In verses 37-38 we see there is a partnership between you, me and the Lord Jesus Christ. We’re not on our own, He is with us. There is a mutual partnership with God.

‘Many Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” After listening to Jesus they declare, ‘We know that this is indeed the Saviour of the world.’ (John 4:42). What a statement! They didn’t see it before, but they do now. The whole town has been converted. A woman of ill-repute has been converted and brought about a remarkable work.

Matthew 9:35-38: People are like sheep without a shepherd. The Lord of the harvest can change our thinking, change the way we see the lost, even those who despise and look down on us. Pray to the Lord of the harvest. ‘Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into His harvest.”’ (Matthew 9:37-38).

Jesus speaks to the disciples in helpful ways. The Lord Jesus, as He spoke to the woman, did so in a winsome, loving and caring way. He is transcendent in the way He operates. We need to be winsome – full of grace and truth.

In John 4 verses 1-9 what does the Lord Jesus do?

  • He breaks down the cultural barriers. The Jews had no dealings with Samaritans. Who are the people you think you can’t talk to? He challenges us not to out up barriers. The Lord Jesus asks a simple question. He creates questions. Questions are wonderful. Use questions that you might find interesting. Change the way people think. Be winsome, use wisdom, desire to see people saved. Good questions are so useful – questions about eternity, questions about the gospel.
  • After breaking down cultural barriers, Jesus speaks of a spiritual dimension. The Samaritan woman heard something she had never heard before. Jesus steps into a spiritual relationship (John 4:10-11).
  • The Lord Jesus steps into the gospel (John 4: 10-26). He demonstrates the gospel and ends by gloriously declaring that He is the Messiah.
  • The Lord Jesus steps into a challenge – to the woman and her thinking (John 4:21). We should never be afraid of challenges.

This passage is so rich. Pray to the Lord of the harvest to send us to reach out. Take one step to speak to the person across the room. The first step is the hardest. The gospel we have is too good not to give away, too good not to share.

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