“The Power of a Praying Church: Set up to Be Brought Out”
Pastor Qunitin Mumphery
12 About that time King Herod Agrippa began to persecute some believers in the church. 2 He had the apostle James (John’s brother) killed with a sword. 3 When Herod saw how much this pleased the Jewish people, he also arrested Peter. (This took place during the Passover celebration.) 4 Then he imprisoned him, placing him under the guard of four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring Peter out for public trial after the Passover. 5 But while Peter was in prison, the church prayed very earnestly for him.
6 The night before Peter was to be placed on trial, he was asleep, fastened with two chains between two soldiers. Others stood guard at the prison gate. 7 Suddenly, there was a bright light in the cell, and an angel of the Lord stood before Peter. The angel struck him on the side to awaken him and said, “Quick! Get up!” And the chains fell off his wrists.8 Then the angel told him, “Get dressed and put on your sandals.” And he did. “Now put on your coat and follow me,” the angel ordered.
9 So Peter left the cell, following the angel. But all the time he thought it was a vision. He didn’t realize it was actually happening. 10 They passed the first and second guard posts and came to the iron gate leading to the city, and this opened for them all by itself. So they passed through and started walking down the street, and then the angel suddenly left him.
11 Peter finally came to his senses. “It’s really true!” he said. “The Lord has sent his angel and saved me from Herod and from what the Jewish leaders[c] had planned to do to me!”
12 When he realized this, he went to the home of Mary, the mother of John Mark, where many were gathered for prayer. – Acts 12:1-12 (NLV)
Communication with the Father tethers us to unlimited riches and glory; it renders us victory against the evil one. Though we wait for it, it shall come to pass; He hears our cry and will lift us up. So though we are afflicted, do not fear; it is the Lord who will help us everywhere we go.
2 Samuel 8:6
Prayer Saved Peter’s Life
The early church suffered persecution throughout many years and in a variety of ways that are hard to fathom when filtered through a modern, western worldview. This particular text in the book of Acts records the events of the apostle, Peter, being arrested and imprisoned by King Herod Agrippa, but later delivered in response to the church’s prayers.
In spite of the dire circumstances that struck blows to the church, and particularly church leaders such as Peter, God was able to use what the devil intended for evil as a catalyst to showcase His glory in a miraculous way. Throughout this turmoil, the church along with Peter display several key behaviors and characteristics that present a biblical response to persecution as well as the power of prayer. The context for which these incidents took place also illuminates several dynamics of spiritual warfare that served as the underlying causes of how and why matters unfolded in specific ways.
How Does Prayer Relate to Us?
Although it may not always come across as intensely, we face opposition from the same enemy as the early church did in Acts. The Bible tells us that we are not to think it strange when we go through hard times and that spiritual things are at play affecting what is seen in the natural world (James 1:2, Ephesians 6:12). When taking note of how what is unseen has an effect on what is seen, it makes sense that the devil wants to keep us from praying. Prayer is a response to trials that target the “invisible enemy” rather than the people and circumstances that the enemy uses against us. This helps us to focus on what really matters while confronting root causes as opposed to the surface-level aspects of our issues. For example, King Herod was not the real enemy persecuting the church in Acts; the devil simply used Herod as a pawn to carry out his objectives just as God uses His people to carry out His plans. The devil knows that prayer will cause God’s plans to prosper and by default make his fail. A quote from Samuel Chadwick explains this well:
“The one concern of the Devil is to keep the saints from praying. He fears nothing from prayer-less studies, prayer-less work, prayer-less religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but trembles when we pray.”
Pay attention to the reoccurring cycles and patterns in your life. Understand that nothing happens for no reason. Many of us have difficulty trying to change what we do not like in our lives because we have done everything but pray about what we are attempting to fix.
The following are a list of points that will expand upon the difference(s) that prayer can make in troubling times and examples of how we can face persecution in a God-honoring way:
1. PETER WAS IMPRISONED FOR DOING THE RIGHT THING: Peter, a faithful follower of Christ, was subject to extreme hardship as a result of being obedient towards what God called him to do; he refused to compromise or relent from preaching the gospel message even when threatened by governmental authorities. A noteworthy aspect of the early church is the way they focused on what they could do as opposed to what they could not. They took responsibility for the tasks assigned to them and understood that although they could only do so much in their own strength they served a God who could do so much more than we could ever ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). This is precisely why Peter and the early church came against such heavy oppression.
You will not be attacked if you are not a threat. Trials, persecution, opposition, etc. may indeed serve as signs that we are doing the right thing as backward as that may sound. In the process of following God’s plan for our lives through faithfulness and obedience, it is impossible to please everyone. We cannot make everyone feel comfortable and at ease all of the time. This is because God intentionally created us to be different (1 Peter 2:9). When we operate in God’s power, we will inevitably intimidate other people and especially those that are opposed to the Lord.
2. HEROD IMPRISONED PETER TO PLEASE THE PEOPLE: Our passage in Acts specifically mentions how the devil was able to bring about Peter’s imprisonment; Herod was a people-pleaser (Acts 12:3). Herod’s misplaced focus gives us an example of the error we are prone to making if we are more concerned with what others think rather than the opinion of God. There are some who will bring us harm for the sake of other people’s opinions just as Herod did. Do not place your trust in people such as these because their loyalty is as predictable as the blowing of the wind. And while we may find that the sufferings that are brought upon us may be painful, we should remain in a state of thankfulness by remembering that God will bring us through what others never get delivered from (e.g. Herod killed James, but God saved Peter’s life).
3. PRAY WITHOUT CEASING: Scripture instructs us to pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17). This means that we are to remain in a spirit of prayer at all times. There should be no such thing as “getting ready to pray” because some matters are simply too urgent! The early church did not have any time to waste with the issue of Peter’s imprisonment (Acts 12:5) and the earnestness of their prayers yielded a mighty response from the Lord (Acts 12:7). God is always looking for people who are hungry and desperate for a response to prayer. Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice for us so that we could live life abundantly and not to simply pray half-heartedly for piecemeal sized blessings. This makes more sense when considering how we expect our rewards to be proportionate to our sacrifices (e.g. professionals of all kinds demand more compensation because they sacrificed more to hone their skills). So in our walk with the Lord, there will always be people who will at one point or another be compelled to bless us as a result of the sacrifices that God calls us to make. There will be doors that open for us rather than in response to our own efforts to gain access through them. God can deliver us from harm as well as the expectations of those who wish to see us falter while leading us to better and brighter days for His glory. We must not be so consumed by our pain and despair that we lose sight of the answers that God brings in response to our prayers. It is possible for God to answer us before we even finish praying! So when we doubt and struggle with unbelief, we should ask God to strengthen the weak points of our faith so that we may receive the miracles that God is eager to bless us with (Mark 9:23-25). And because some miracles only come as a result of prayer, we should be that much more encouraged to pray without ceasing (Matthew 18:18). It is impossible to manipulate the will of God, but if we pray for things that have already been ordained within His will then we can expect for God to bring that circumstance to pass.
4. THE ANGEL TOOK THE CHAINS OFF OF PETER BEFORE THEY ESCAPED: It is not uncommon for God to deliver us while we are still in our troublesome situations instead of delivering us out of the situations altogether. Therefore, it is possible to experience freedom in the middle of a storm. This was the significance of Peter’s chains being broken before he left his prison cell (Acts 12:7). When we have freedom in the midst of trials we are able to give God the praise that is due to Him and have a much easier time believing that things will work out for our good. As a result of this, we can change even if our circumstances remain the same.
5. PETER HAD PEACE IN JAIL: No aspect of Peter’s predicament could have given him peace of mind other than the fact that the church was praying on his behalf (Acts 12:5). Peter was imprisoned, heavily guarded, and scheduled for a public trial that would have likely lead to his demise (Acts 12:3-4). Yet, Peter was able to remain calm! Of all the responses that Peter could have taken to his situation, he chose to sleep. Perhaps Peter was able to experience this heightened dimension of peace (Philippians 4:7) by reflecting on how Jesus calmed the raging seas (Mark 4:35-41) after He awoke from his slumber. The Bible tells us that God never slumbers because he constantly watches over us (Psalm 121:4). Therefore, we can rest at ease when we think about how God watches over us and acknowledges the prayers others seeking our best interest as well. Peter was in such a deep sleep that the light of the angel that came to his aid did not wake him (Acts 12:7-8). This is a clear example of how, in some instances, all we need to do is rest, be still, and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10).
Every Christian’s desire ought to be one that sets him/her in the position that aligns with God’s will for their personal lives as well as for the Kingdom. Prayer is a way to do exactly this. God wants to transform Christians who pray into praying Christians. Prayer is a fundamental value of BOSS and it is our hope that it will be equally important to you in your personal walk with the Lord. There will be additional teachings exploring the concept of prayer in further detail and we encourage you to join us for Corporate Prayer on Mondays @7pm in the sanctuary so that we can experience the breakthroughs that we need in our community.
Pastor Darryl Scarbrough
“’14 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” – 2 Corinthians 13:14
What makes you different also makes you special. Our heavenly Father recognizes this because He formed us as beings of great detail. We may never uncover the fullness and extent of the depths of one another, but we should still be eager to search – search so that we may love one another in unique ways, just as Christ loved us. For this is the greatest commandment established just below the greatest commandment. Love thy neighbors.
The Significance of Diversity
Diversity is one of BOSS’ core values because of the power that derives from it. This is reflected in the very nature of God and greatly separates the Christian faith from others due to His triune nature: God the Father, His Son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. These three entities capture the totality of the Trinity, and while all forms are distinct, they are one in the same.
God literally is diversity because each entity of the Trinity operates in a different capacity. God the Father is a spirit and is not limited to any of our human attributes, but Jesus is God in the flesh, which shows a different appearance of God that we, as humans, are able to relate far more to. The Holy Spirit is God residing within all who have been saved, thus adding an entirely new dimension to how God looks and operates through people.
The following points will illustrate how and why diversity matters:
1. WE CANNOT OVERLOOK DIVERSITY DUE TO UNCOMFORT: THERE IS POWER IN DIFFERENCES THAT OPERATE IN AGREEMENT: We cannot be afraid to get out of our comfort zones and/or let other people into our own. The power of diversity cannot be sacrificed because of our individual preferences, and when we all forsake diversity, we undermine a critical aspect of God’s design and plan for our lives.
2. DIVERSITY MAKES THINGS HAPPEN: God created us all differently for a purpose, and when we work together with other people we can truly see how we are to do even greater things than Christ did during His time on earth. In Genesis 11:1, the story of the Tower of Babel highlights the point of us being made to great things in the name of God. God tells us that when we are united, there is nothing that we will not be able to do. This is why God implemented language barriers and scattered the people of the world to different regions; He did not want the people of this generation to become united under the goal of making their own name great. But Satan understands the power of diversity as well. The devil constantly tries to separate us because every culture has a strength that another does not have. So when we are unified under God’s command, the enemy’s plans cannot prosper.
3. SEGREGATION IS NON-EXISTENT IN CHRIST: Although we are different, we are called to operate as one through the unity of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12). None of us can consider ourselves more important than another brother or sister in Christ. Our individual purposes all contribute to the greater good, and so we are not to withhold our abilities for the sake of crippling the body of Christ. However, if we all carry out our functions as intended by God, the body of Christ is able to serve as a healthy and functioning conduit of all things good.
In order to foster healthy discussion about our differences, Pastor Darryl hosted a segment in this week’s sermon that demonstrated the value of exchanging experiences with one another. This is the first of other discussions to come in the future, but when thinking about diversity, our hope is that you feel that much more empowered to engage in difficult conversations with other people in a loving way that helps breed unity amongst the members of your community. The enemy cannot use our differences against us if we understand the purpose of our differences and how they are to be used for God’s glory.
Pastor Darryl Scarbrough
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:19-20
We have been called to partake in the assembling of our brethren. For we are all made wonderfully, yet we all fall short. We are all in His image, but we have all been overtaken by sin – do not leave your brothers and sisters without support, for you too received what you now have from another. Yes, there is much work to be done, but also much to be gained. Let us reap harvests through the joint efforts of the body.
Discipleship is a particular value of BOSS that requires significant levels of involvement in terms of ongoing engagement with someone else. In other words, it necessitates a longer commitment than the other values. Investments of all kinds can be found in the nature of discipleship with others – the greater the investment in discipleship, the greater the yield for the Church. Be mindful, however, to not confuse discipleship with evangelism. Discipleship is the process whereby one believer assists another in their spiritual growth whereas evangelism has a sole purpose of witnessing to unbelievers for the sake of saving their souls. So, while the body of Christ grows through evangelism, the church grows via discipleship.
In this week’s passage of scripture, Jesus issues a commandment to make disciples, therefore implying that work must be done on our part in the discipleship process. While helping others grow in the Lord may sound as easy as simply showing someone what worked for us, discipleship is a multifaceted development that can only be successful if we stand side-by-side with the people we disciple and treat them as individuals as we do so. We cannot have a hands-off approach to discipleship. In fact, discipleship entails “handling” the different parts of people and in many ways can be illustrated through the assembly of any household furniture piece. The following is a list of cautionary and instructional points of mention to abide by in the discipleship process:
The How-To’s of Discipleship
- DISCIPLES MUST BE MADE: So often we show off people as if they did not require any assembly. It’s inherent in our own nature to present ourselves as “finished products” even if we have never been fully put together. The goal of discipleship is not to create facades and act as if “displays” are realities. Discipleship is an act of assembled people carrying out the duty of assembling other people in an authentic manner.
- YOU ARE NOT THE MANUFACTURER: Although we are handling the different pieces of people as we disciple them, we are never to believe that we are the “manufacturers” of them. Those we disciple are those whom God has entrusted us with. Any attempts to manipulate people or seek ways to create versions of ourselves through the discipleship process is wrong. We did not create any piece of other people’s “contents” and should not pretend like we played a role in their creation.
- THE “PACKAGING” OF PEOPLE SERVES NO OTHER PURPOSE THAN PROTECTING THE CONTENTS OF THE PACKAGE: This statement suggests the all too true and familiar caution of not judging a book by its cover. No one’s packaging lays out the entirety of their contents. The truth behind this is that in this world there are many empty packages – display packaging for advertisement purposes. Similar to these, there are some people in this world that look wonderful, but are completely unusable. Furthermore, many of us are afraid of the discipleship process because we fear that our packaging will be damaged as we receive what we do from our discipleship mentors. Once again, the packaging only serves one purpose and it is not to hinder the discipleship process. In order to perform proper discipleship, disciples must be removed from their packaging and not be so concerned with their exteriors that they work against the internal change(s) being initiated. We all come in our own forms of packaging, but some of us need to be “ripped open” so that we are not able to go back into what we previously were removed.
- WE MUST USE THE INSTRUCTION OF THE SCRIPTURE TO DISCIPLE OTHERS RATHER THAN THE PICTURES OFFERED BY CULTURE: Culture omits and retains a number of different biblical truths. It is important that in our discipleship processes that we do not gloss over scriptural instruction and assume that copying what culture deems appropriate is fine. Jus as a display picture for a bookshelf may not necessarily show the anchors that keep the shelves pinned to a wall, culture does not always include the “anchors” of the Word that keep people uplifted when the pressures of life are pushing down on them.
- YOU CAN’T PUT EVERYONE TOGETHER IN THE SAME WAY: Simply put, no one is the same. There are some disciples that will need more finessing or stronger handling than others. But it is important that you are aware of what it will take to “get the job done” and if you are the right person to do the job! A disciple who receives instruction from more than one person in their discipleship process is not breaking away from any tenets of the intent and in many cases can be considered more blessed than those who only have one person to be mentored by in their process. Since there are multiple parts to each of us, gathering the assistance of others to help disciple someone can certainly aid the process as a whole and guard against the habit of leaving particular parts of people “untouched” because we do not want to get “messy” with someone else’s business. In the same way, seemingly insignificant pieces of people cannot be ignored based off of what we deem to be valuable or substitute those pieces for ones that look better, but won’t work functionally with the disciple. But regardless of who and how someone grows in the Lord, the discipleship process causes us to see how God has labeled the different parts of people and how, once again, we are not the manufactures.
- INSPECT YOURSELF BEFORE DISCIPLING SOMEONE ELSE: We do so much more harm than good if we “start a job without finishing it.” If we attempt to disciple people with the wrong tools or just flat out give up altogether, then some people may be forever taken out of their packaging and left unassembled. What’s more, people who are not fully assembled should not disciple others because anyone they try to complete will always be incomplete as a result of the discipleship mentor’s deficiencies.
- DISCIPLESHIP IS FOR GOD’S PURPOSE: We are not to disciple with the intention of receiving anything in return for our efforts. As previously stated, manipulation is out of the question for followers of Christ. When we disciple, we have a responsibility of affirming others in their identity in Christ so that they are not ignorant of their purpose. Without the knowledge of one’s purpose, they can be manipulated for anyone’s purpose. But it is always better for a disciple to receive what they need for carrying out their calling than it is for us to receive something for our discipleship investments.
- NEVER DO 100% OF THE WORK OF THE ASSEMBLY FOR YOUR DISCIPLES: It is not conducive to the discipleship process to have disciples use others as their crutch. We must teach disciples to read the bible for themselves so that they may know where to find instruction when they need it. When in doubt, Jesus is always the “picture” that we are to reference because He is the perfect example for all things.
This week, all we ask is for you to be honest with yourself by asking and answering two questions:
- Am I fully assembled? OR…
- Do I need to be assembled?
Regardless of your answer to either question, our prayer for you is that you would be willing to be used in either capacity, whether that be on the giving or receiving end of discipleship.
Pastor Darryl Scarbrough
“‘34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’– Matthew 25:34-45
If we are to be the hands and feet of Jesus, then let us be helpful hands and helpful feet. Our purpose is to serve, and it is in His image that we are created. For if we are the body, then some of us can help in one way while others help in another. Helping hands were made to be of service, and the hands of those in need will be receptive to our touch. The work we do shall not be in vain; it will not be forgotten.
- Genesis 1:27
- 1 Corinthians 12:27
- Hebrews 6:10
The Significance of Service
Weeks ago we learned to define love by accompanying action(s) as opposed to a feeling that remains for one moment and vanishes the next. Service is a means of showing love in a tangible way to those who would otherwise be let down by the empty words so many are quick to offer in place of sacrificing their time, money, and etc. The passage in Matthew 25 makes Jesus’ thoughts on service extremely clear through his illustration of two groups. To those on His right side, He grants access to the kingdom because they served Jesus by serving others. The group on His left side was banished to hell because they completely ignored the groups of people who Jesus specifically commanded that we serve. Though extreme, this contrast presents a model for how we ought to frame our perspective on service.
Similar to love, “ministry” is a term widely spoken of, though grossly misunderstood by the majority. In the same sense that love is not defined by feelings, ministry is not dependent on the glitz and glam that a lot of churches seek to invest in for their services. Ministry is simply meeting a need. When needs are not met, ministry is not being performed. Furthermore, the distinction between natural and spiritual needs must also be highlighted to grasp the fullness of what Jesus explains in Matthew 25. We often think of ministry as only meeting spiritual needs, yet Jesus only refers to natural means of service in this passage while still associating the fulfillment of them with severe consequences. The key to performing effective ministry is to prioritize spiritual needs along with people’s natural needs; meeting the physical needs of people will lead them towards becoming more receptive towards spiritual things (John 6:26-27).
Another interesting note to make is the oneness Jesus speaks of when referring to those enduring hardship as Himself (Matthew 25:40, 45). The members of both groups were confused by Jesus’ statements because they did not recognize that they met/failed to meet the needs of Jesus according to how they met the needs of the hungry, sick, naked, and etc. With this point, Jesus emphasizes His lack of concern with titles. We are to serve people because they are God’s people and not because of any position they may have of this world. By keeping this in mind, our service is both a reflection of how we treat the less fortunate as well as God himself.
The Power of Service
A strong link can be made between our service and the communities that we are a part of. God cares about service, the people we serve, and how we live in community with those people in our lives. It’s interesting to note that the very essence of God is communal in nature (God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). And since we are made in the image of God, the element of community is literally in our DNA.
The framework of our service can be viewed from a communal perspective. Numerous times God refers to Himself as “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Although 3 individual names are listed, the mentioning of each of them is representative of their respective generations. This is an important reminder of how we ought to serve the people connected to us because when God looks at us, He sees our lineage just as clear as He sees us as individual people. Our ancestry does not have to define the size or scope of the impact we have been called to make as followers of Christ. We can break any and all negative moldings of our past and set new, life-giving traditions in place for future generations. By choosing to serve, we increase the influence of service throughout the entirety of our family lines and obey God’s command to love those who are connected to us regardless of how we may feel about them (John 13:10-11). The Church can only be known for love if God’s people love one another.
The Power of Serving Others by Gary Morsch describes 3 basic conclusions of service: everyone has something to give, most people are willing to give when they see the need and have the opportunity to give, and everyone can do something for someone right now. We are not blessed by God with what we have to be selfish. It is a common disillusionment to believe that we cannot give because we have a greater need than those requesting of us. There is always something that we are able to share.
A number of weeks ago we took an in-depth look at the concept of sacrifice and how it relates to giving. We learned that giving does not have to come in the form of monetary items. Even without having specifically what people are asking for, we can still meet their needs with what we do have, and sometimes that can yield more powerful results than the receiver could have ever imagined (Acts 3:6-8).
Every moment there is someone within our reach that has a need we can meet. This is essentially our purpose; we were designed to serve people’s physical and spiritual needs. It is a lie to believe that anyone is a “mistake” because God gave us all life with the intention of using us to meet the specific needs of other people in this world. If we fail to serve, then our lives are wasted.
Jesus was the ultimate example of a servant-leader. Although He came to earth as God in the flesh, He sought to serve God through His service to us (Mark 10:45). Perhaps the greatest demonstration of this aside from death on a cross was Jesus’ washing of His disciples’ feet. In this scene, Jesus plainly validates that leaders are not exempt from service, but rather are tasked with initiating acts of service for others to follow (John 13:7).
We cannot lead without serving. If Jesus, the Leader whom we love and respect, did not have a problem doing lowly work, then we should not have a problem serving others in a humble way either. God forbid that we find ourselves in an unfavorable position and are forced to be dependent on people to do the work that we once refused to do for others. The Church cannot take a “hands off” approach to service. Ministry must be done Sunday-to-Sunday and never characterized by church services – God does not care for our productions!
So often we forget that Jesus was a carpenter and God’s son. Jesus was no stranger to hard work and service. In order to fulfill His purpose on earth, Jesus could not afford to love people in a superficial way. To this same effort, we cannot say that we love people and refuse to share resources or perform an act of service for their benefit. What we are willing to do for people is more telling of our love for them than anything else. With the right attitude and intention of serving others, we do not have to concern ourselves with how people ought to respond or utilize what we give them. God did not call us to be “behavioral accountants” of others. He commanded us to love people. Whether we share a testimony, a bag of food, or the spare change in our wallet, God can do immeasurably more than we could ever imagine through our obedience to serve.
Last week, we were grouped in color-coded groups that represented specific demographics of people we are evangelizing to. This homework assignment is still live, but this week, we’ve added an additional assignment! Here is a quick video to remind you of the do’s and don’ts of evangelism: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMLYBvmMbPE
This week, get in contact with someone from your evangelism group and ask to serve them in a way that can meet one of their needs. If someone is in need of fellowship, you can offer to treat them to a meal. If someone is in need of prayer, you can offer to take time in your schedule to pray with them. Whatever the need, be sure to serve with a good attitude, but be sensible (ridiculous requests do not need to be accepted).
Our prayer for you is that you would serve people out of love for Jesus. Serve to the best of your ability and watch as differences are made in the lives of others.
Pastor Darryl Scarbrough
“‘You know, brothers and sisters, that our visit to you was not without results.2 We had previously suffered and been treated outrageously in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in the face of strong opposition. 3 For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. 4 On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts. 5 You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed—God is our witness. 6 We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else, even though as apostles of Christ we could have asserted our authority. 7 Instead, we were like young children among you.
Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, 8 so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well. 9 Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you. 10 You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. 11 For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children,12 encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.
13 And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe. 14 For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own people the same things those churches suffered from the Jews 15 who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to everyone 16 in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last.
17 But, brothers and sisters, when we were orphaned by being separated from you for a short time (in person, not in thought), out of our intense longing we made every effort to see you. 18 For we wanted to come to you—certainly I, Paul, did, again and again—but Satan blocked our way. 19 For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 20 Indeed, you are our glory and joy.’” – 1 Thessalonians 2:1-20
Open Your Mouth
Speak, all ye people, and do not be afraid. Recall the means by which your mouth was formed. Therefore, being confident in our mission as well as its issuer, go forth and speak life. For we have no spirit of fear that comes from the Lord, so let us not pretend as if we do. Instead, persevere with the knowledge that we know to be true – His word is alive, thus, we should speak it unto all who have ears to hear.
2 Timothy 1:7, 3:14
The Significance of Evangelism
It is not inconceivable to think that evangelism is the key to solving all of the world’s problems. One need only to look at the nature of humanity to justify this claim. It is foolish to expect sin to be absent from the lifestyle of a sinner. By definition, sinners sin. However, as believers, we are not so far removed from sin that we become unfamiliar with it after receiving salvation. Think about it. As Christians, we struggle with Jesus serving as our personal Lord and Savior… How much harder must it be for unbelievers to turn from sin without the dwelling of the Holy Spirit within them?
When we are presented with opportunities to evangelize we should be encouraged by the outcome of what may come to pass from the seeds we plant in the lives of others. Although the evilest person who walks this earth performs sinful deeds according to his/her nature, this same person is capable of doing wondrous works for the Kingdom of God through the acceptance of salvation. Being led by the Holy Spirit, even the worst of the worst could be the best of the best.
The gap between the state of the world and the fulfillment of our mission as Christians can be bridged by way of evangelism. The gospel must be spread and disciples must be made, but this simply isn’t happening at the rate that it needs to. With every passing day, Jesus is closer to returning, and yet, most people today cannot say that they even know a Christian in their lives…
In 1 Thessalonians 2, Paul writes to the people of Thessalonica and refers to these newly converted believers as “crowns” (v.19-20). Crowns represent people we evangelize to and subsequently win to Jesus. Every soul that we save will literally be represented as a crown for us in heaven. This is the goal of evangelism, and it ought to be the most important priority on our agendas.
A Rubric for Evangelism
Evangelism cannot be thought of or treated as arbitrary; every Christian must value evangelism. However, you don’t have to be an “evangelist” to evangelize. The definition of evangelism is simply telling someone who does not know Jesus Christ who He is and then inviting them to know Him for him/herself. It is crucial that this is the sole intention of witnessing to unbelievers. The involvement of any other trickery or scheming involved with evangelism renders it unauthentic and greatly strays from the example left by our spiritual forefathers (1 Thessalonians 2:3-6). Below you will find a number of key points to keep in mind for your personal mode(s) of evangelism:
1. YOU CANNOT EVANGELIZE IF YOU ARE WITHDRAWN FROM SOCIETY – Jesus was the perfect model for evangelism, and He began by stepping into people’s lives. From the point of His conception, He was literally immersed into our world, but He stepped outside of His own to more personally reach us. What we learn from this is that isolation opposes evangelism. We cannot be afraid to enter into someone else’s life. This may seem like a daunting task for some of us, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be. Stepping into someone’s life to evangelize may only require a few moments of your time; you may never cross paths with some of the people you evangelize to ever again. But being willing to do this shows that you do not think more highly of yourself than you ought to. Standing side-by-side with someone in their life can be the best way for us to show that we identify with them.
2. IDENTIFY WITH SOMEONE ELSE’S PAIN AND TELL THEM THAT JESUS DOES TOO – Regardless of our backgrounds and histories, pain is an aspect of life that does not discriminate. Since we all know what it is to experience pain, this serves as a way for us to connect with one another. Sharing about your painful experiences lets others know that you too are a real person who has been tested and tried by the trials of life. Once you are able to do this, you are then positioned perfectly to explain how Jesus made the ultimate difference in your life.
3. YOU MUST BE GENUINE – When sharing your testimony to unbelievers, be sure to come across as genuine as possible. Nobody wants to waste time listening to someone who is “fake” or lacks transparency as they proceed to explain why they need to do a certain thing(s). The beauty of this is that the power of authenticity transcends various barriers at once. You could, per say, butcher the gospel message (to a degree) and still, leave someone curious or even moved by the way you stepped out of your comfort zone to tell even the most basic piece of your story. There will not always be time to share your whole story when evangelizing to some people, but be sure that whatever parts of your testimony that you do share are genuine. Sometimes the things we believe are most important to communicate aren’t the “hooks” that catch the attention of unbelievers – leave room for the Holy Spirit to speak through you as He sees fit.
4. JESUS MUST ALWAYS BE EXALTED – People evangelize with their own spins and styles, but however you choose to witness to unbelievers, you must be sure to lift up Jesus as you do so. A common error is to elevate an individual, event, or church more than, or even in place of Jesus. The truth is that no person, place, or thing can serve as the solution for our sin… Jesus is the solution.
One of the goals of this particular sermon series about BOSS’ values is to make the teaching as practical as possible. In an effort to do this there has been evangelism assignments set in place for us. For each of these assignments, our prayer is for you to have 50% of the people you evangelize to between this week and the second week of August accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
If you attended this service this week, you should have received a notecard of some sort of color. Based on that color, you have been assigned a specific type of evangelism assignment that concentrates your focus on a target demographic:
PINK: EVANGELIZE TO STRANGERS: These are people that you have no relationship with. You are free to be a witness towards a coworker you’ve never spoken to, a fellow commuter at a bus stop, or someone waiting in line with you at a Starbucks. Your goal is to evangelize to 20+ people!
YELLOW: EVANGELIZE TO PEOPLE THAT USED TO GO TO CHURCH, BUT DO NOT CURRENTLY ATTEND CHURCH NOW: Use discernment in the way you seek out the truth of people’s faith. Some people may be Christians without a church home, and others may not be saved in the first place. Depending on your level of familiarity with a person who fits this profile, tread lightly, be bold, or evangelize in a way that fits in between the extremes. For in-depth discussions, it may prove helpful to think beforehand about the difference(s) in the way churches love people and the way God loves people. Your goal is to evangelize to 20+ people!
BLUE: EVANGELIZE TO HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS/COLLEGE STUDENTS/TEENAGERS/YOUNG ADULTS (AGES 13-35): Don’t be afraid to go where most young people tend to spend their time, but do be mindful of the crowds and environments that you may be witnessing in. Your goal is to evangelize to 20+ people!
GREEN: EVANGELIZE THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA: If you do not have a Facebook account, now is your time to create and/or activate one! All social media platforms are fair game for this assignment. If you are a more “seasoned” follower of Christ, you are welcomed to share lengthier posts with your network(s). However, do keep in mind that the goal of the evangelism is not to spark debates and cause quarrels. If this is a concern for you personally, or even if you feel more comfortable evangelizing in a gentler fashion, try posting offers for prayer or tagging people in clips with faith-based content. Your goal is to evangelize to 20+ people (emphasis on the +)!
- Be aware of the aroma of your mouth (mint-flavored gum > fruity flavors)!
- Be aware of your facial expressions (don’t mislead the unbelievers)!
- “Stepping into someone’s life” is not an excuse to step into sin (witnessing outside of the club vs. inside of it)!
- Do not refer to people as “heathens” in any of your evangelism efforts.
- Evangelizing to a person counts whether or not they accept or reject the gospel message.
Pastor Ken Burkey
“‘A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, ‘If you are willing, you can make me clean.’ Jesus was indignant. He reached out his hand and touched the man. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!’ Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed. Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: ‘See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as testimony to them.’ Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.’” – Mark 1:40-45
JUST A TOUCH
A touch from the Lord maketh all things new. His presence shifts atmospheres, His contact changes what was. To what extent shall we go to receive what He freely offers? For we know what power lies within the simplest grasping of His cloak – the restoration and healing that can be sought from Him. He switched places with us so that we may have life more abundantly. He took on our guilt and our shame. He became less than so that we may receive more; he understands where we have been. So what then shall we say? What shall we do? Let us share what we have received with all of the Lord’s people. He is great.
Life as an “Untouchable”
In India, there are approximately 200,000,000 people who are considered “untouchable” according to the country’s caste system. This is a social status reserved for those who are deemed “less than” everyone else. Making contact with an untouchable member of this society yields very strict and horrible consequences.
A lower-caste girl once eloped with an untouchable boy. As a result, the girl was harshly whipped, and the boy had his head crushed with a stone. Although this comes across as rather brash in light of American customs, the truth is that every society has a group of “untouchables” that are treated unjustly to some degree, whether that be in subtle or extreme ways. Even our churches are not exempt from the effects of this cultural issue.
Untouchables were also mistreated in Jesus’ day. In the passage of Mark 1:40-45, the man with leprosy knew all too well the lifestyle his condition subjected him too. The law literally forced him to live alone, outside of the community so as to not contaminate others (Leviticus 13:45). Through this law, the religious leaders of this time were able to design a strategy of isolation. An untouchable that touched anyone or anything automatically defiled whatever it came in contact with, therefore making it “unclean.” Sin and suffering were viewed as “contagious.” So, in a desperate attempt to become “clean” the man with leprosy pleaded with Jesus but kept his request short. He did not doubt the power of Jesus, though the shame of his lifestyle caused him to project that Jesus very well may reject him as other have done. This was a significant showing on the part of the man with leprosy because he was breaking the law by re-entering into the community to seek Jesus.
GOD HAS FOREVER REJECTED THE STRATEGY OF ISOLATION
Religious leaders during this time prided themselves on being “set apart” so as to represent that they were “closer” to God, but Jesus exhibited a different character from that of a standard rabbi. The following points display the characteristics that differentiated Jesus from other religious leaders. These traits of Jesus portrayed him as being “scandalous.”
1. CROSSROAD OF BELIEF: JESUS IS UNHESITANTLY APPROACHABLE – Religion essentially says, “the more spiritual I become, the less approachable I become.” However, Jesus claims that true spirituality makes you more approachable. Jesus came to earth to show that God is “touchable” and as a result, the untouchables were drawn towards him. Everybody wanted to touch Jesus (Mark 10:13-16).
Jesus waits patiently for us to approach him (Matthew 11:28-30). We must act as the man with leprosy did to receive things from Jesus, and we must do so while we are still unclean. Any other approach will hinder us from receiving what we need from Jesus. This is why Jesus asks us to come as we are.
2. CROSSROAD OF BELIEF: THE TIME TO APPROACH JESUS IS NOW – Jesus is always willing to embrace you regardless of what sin is in your life. Jesus touched the man with leprosy before he healed him. God literally broke his own law by doing this… He was not required to touch the man, but he did so to make a statement about his purpose of coming to earth in the flesh.
3. CROSSROAD OF BELIEF: JESUS IS WILLING TO SHARE IN ANOTHER PERSON’S SUFFERING IN ORDER TO BRING HEALING – This is what Jesus did through the work on the cross (Isaiah 53:5). We are not called to be a “quarantine church” and avoid infection, but rather touch people with the love of Christ so that other people can be saved – any other approach is a mockery to the cross (Philippians 3:10).
4. CROSSROAD OF BELIEF: AS JESUS TOUCHESUS IN OUR BROKENNESS, SO WE MUST TOUCH OTHERS – Jesus represented this by touching the man with leprosy before he was made clean rather than afterward. Everyone is valuable, and God tells us to go do what Jesus did for us unto others.
It’s interesting to note that although Jesus touched the man with leprosy, Jesus did not become infected. Instead, Jesus gives this man good health and a new life. While it is true that sin and disease are infectious, the same is true of positive things: love, enthusiasm, laughter, hope, grace, forgiveness, faith, dignity, and so on and so forth (John 14:12). We should be so filled with the life and love of Jesus that we “infect” others rather than being infected by the sin of this world (Luke 13:20). The man with leprosy felt compelled to share what Jesus had given him and could not follow the instruction that he had been given (Mark 1:45).
BOSS Church is on a mission to go out and spread “germs” in our community. We want to make people “sick.” We are more “infectious” than the world with Christ than the world is without him. Our prayer for you is that you share something that the Lord has given you to someone else so that they might come to know God’s love better than what they currently do.
“For God so LOVED the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16
LOVE IS NOT A FEELING, IT IS AN ACTION
A proper understanding of love is crucial in understanding not just the way God feels about us (John 3:16), but also how we, Christians, ought to treat others. Defining love as a feeling severely limits its capabilities and power. And since feelings come and go, love can come or go just as easily under this paradigm. However, the scripture in John 3 utilizes the term of love as a verb that elicits an action, and a mighty one at that. This shows how great and authentic God’s love for us is; God loves us so much that He wanted us to reap the benefits of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.
How then are Christians called to respond to God’s love? Being imitators of Christ’s love towards others is the appropriate response to Christ’s sacrifice for us (Ephesians 5:1-2). We have been shown love, and now, we are to share that with others. This should be done out of reverence for God’s love being extended towards us (1 John 3:16). But God’s love prompts us to both do and abstain from certain things that would deem our love questionable. Various forms of improper conduct fall outside of the example Christ set for us, including, but not limited to sexual immorality (Ephesians 5:3) and drunkenness (Ephesians 5:18). Engaging in practices such as these suggest that we do not love God. The only way we are able to truly prove that we love God or anyone else is to do something that shows it, whether that be actively partaking or refraining from particular actions.
Questions Regarding BOSS’ Vision Plan
The Vision Plan for BOSS church is modeled after the same love that God has shown us. As followers of Christ, we cannot say that we love God and refuse to serve those who are impoverished in whatever sense. We have all received some sort of assistance to reach the points in our lives that we have come to, and that support, however big or small, is a physical manifestation of God’s love shown through another person who was willing to imitate Christ to help you. The following is a series of questions asked by BOSS Church members and addressed by Darryl Scarbrough in an effort to provide a context for the goals that BOSS is setting out to achieve:
- WHAT IS WRONG WITH SIMPLY PRAYING FOR PEOPLE? The simple answer is nothing. Nothing is wrong with praying for people. But if we are to truly be imitators of Jesus, then we would follow the entire example Christ set for us, and not just part of it. Nowhere in scripture does a scene take place in which Jesus prays for someone without an accompanying action, and sometimes, Jesus acted without praying. But Jesus never prayed without acting. Therefore, we cannot be content with simply praying for people either.
When posed with the truth and fullness of Christ’s example, it can become easy to retract at the thought of being as committed towards service as Jesus was. Any number of excuses can be made in the face of requests and opportunities to serve others. Reasoning that highlights a lack of resources, fails to establish mutual responsibility between individuals or attributes the weight of someone’s consequences to their own actions all err when examined in combination with Christian values. The principles of Christianity do not suggest that we select modes of reasoning that absolve ourselves from the lifestyle of service that we have been called to. Rather, we are to bear each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2) as God does for us every day (Psalm 68:19). In doing this we do away with any sort of suggestion that would imply that we are self-made. Had it not been for the Lord’s intervention in our lives, then we all would have fallen short and remained as we were (Romans 3:23). We should be especially careful not to judge others or boast of our successes for this reason (Galatians 6:1-5).
The practical response to serving people is to do so as a community rather than individuals. Scripture teaches that God operates and responds to community efforts (Matthew 18:20, 2 Chronicles 7:14, Ecclesiastes 4:12, Luke 5:17-26), so why then should we act individually when attending to community issues? The community should address community issues in order to be the answer to the prayers of others; this comes in the form of people exercising their faith in tangible ways (James 2:14-16).
- WHY MAKE THE VISION SO COMPLICATED? The extent and detail of the vision for BOSS are also byproducts of the love that God has shown us. Love makes you do things that you don’t have to do. Jesus died before the foundations of the earth were laid (1 Peter 1:19-21). The price for our sin was paid before we came into existence. And although God’s foreknowledge could have prevented the events and circumstances involved with our sin (e.g. the tree of knowledge, the serpent, etc.), He also had the choice of allowing us to be born into this world, and he chose to do so. Therefore, our lives have an inherent sense of purpose. There must have been a reason for God to disregard his foreknowledge of our sins and the problem that it would create because He killed himself to offer a solution for our self-made mess. God essentially took the responsibility of our sins without reaping the benefits of our salvation. This demonstration of love is how we know what love is (1 John 4:19). Judgment does not redeem, but love does.
*READ JAMES 2:1-13 (this passage speaks towards the issue of favoritism in the church)
- WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE WORK WE DO NOW? Similar to the issue of finding contentment in prayers unaccompanied by action is accepting current levels of service as the status quo. Nothing is wrong with the services BOSS Church performs. But love will always stretch the giver and transcend convenience. Once again, love is the reason we choose to do more than we otherwise would in an effort to serve people. The love that we express is what will characterize us and set us apart from others just as Jesus commanded (John 13:34-35).
Consider your thoughts, words, and actions. Do they reflect the love that God has shown you? Loving God and one another are the greatest commandments. Our prayer for you is that when you reflect on the concept of love that you would be encouraged to do something for someone in a capacity that stretches you so as to please the Lord.