VIDEO Serving the Smallest

God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things.  1 Corinthians 1:28

 

The video showed a man kneeling beside a busy freeway during an out-of-control brush fire. He was clapping his hands and pleading with something to come. What was it? A dog? Moments later a bunny hopped into the picture. The man scooped up the scared rabbit and sprinted to safety.

How did the rescue of such a small thing make national news? That’s why. There’s something endearing about compassion shown to the least of these. It takes a big heart to make room for the smallest creature.

Jesus said the kingdom of God is like a man who gave a banquet and made room for everyone who was willing to come. Not just the movers and shakers but also “the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame” (Luke 14:21). I’m thankful that God targets the weak and the seemingly insignificant, because otherwise I’d have no shot. Paul said, “God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things . . . so that no one may boast before him” (1 Corinthians 1:27–29).

How big must God’s heart be to save a small person like me! In response, how large has my heart grown to be? I can easily tell, not by how I please the “important people,” but by how I serve the ones society might deem the least important.

By Mike Wittmer

Reflect & Pray

What types of people do you have a hard time valuing? In what ways might God want you to change that?


1 Corinthians 1:27 – The Foolish Things of This World – Pastor George Nevarez

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Evangelism Is More Prayer Than Action for Protestant Churchgoers

Survey finds more than half of monthly worshipers haven’t shared Jesus in the past six months.

Evangelism Is More Prayer Than Action for Protestant Churchgoers

April 23, 2019 by AARON EARLS 

 

Most Protestant churchgoers say they are eager to talk to others about Jesus, and are praying for opportunities to share their faith. But most say they have not had any evangelistic conversations in the past six months.

The 2019 Discipleship Pathway Assessment study from Nashville-based LifeWay Research found excitement and eagerness about the idea of evangelism, but few Protestant churchgoers actually engaged in the practice on a regular basis.

More than half (55%) of those who attend church at least once a month say they have not shared with someone how to become a Christian in the past six months.

“Sharing the good news that Jesus paid for our sins through His death on the cross and rose again to bring us new life is the mission of the church,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research, “but it does not appear to be the priority of churchgoers.”

Seeking evangelistic opportunities

A majority of churchgoers (56%) say they pray for opportunities to tell others about Jesus at least once a week, with about 1 in 4 (23%) praying for such moments every day.

Another 1 in 4 (27%) say they rarely or never pray for those opportunities.

Those with a high school diploma or less are most likely to say they pray for those opportunities every day (31%).

Hispanics (36%) and African Americans (29%) are more likely to offer those prayers every day compared to whites (20%) or other ethnicities (17%).

Increased church attendance makes it more likely someone has offered evangelistic prayers.

Those who attend a worship service on average once a week (75%) are more likely than churchgoers who attend less frequently (69%) to pray evangelistically at least once a month.

Most churchgoers (56%) also say they are eager to talk about Jesus with people who are not like them in terms of ethnicity, income, or interests. About 1 in 6 disagree (16%).

Churchgoers 65 and older are the age group least likely to strongly agree they are eager to share the gospel with those different from themselves (20%).

Hispanics (40%) and African Americans (32%) are more likely to strongly agree than whites (23%).

“The task of making disciples of all nations has not been fully embraced in the American church—especially by the majority culture,” said McConnell. “This is in spite of the convenience of having other ethnicities and immigrants from other countries often living in the same neighborhood.”

Missing evangelistic opportunities

Less than half of churchgoers say they have shared with someone in the past six months how to become a Christian (45%).

Of those who have spoken to someone about becoming a Christian, most had done so with one or two people (24%). Meanwhile, 1 in 10 churchgoers average at least one evangelistic conversation a month.

Those 65 and older are the age demographic most likely to say they had no evangelistic conversations recently (62%).

“Recently, there has been much discussion about young adults participating less in evangelism. That’s not the case, however,” said McConnell. “In fact, young adult and middle-aged churchgoers are more likely to have shared with someone how to become a Christian in the past six months than older churchgoing adults.”

Hispanics are the ethnic group least likely to say they have not spoken with anyone about becoming a Christian in the last six months (32%).

Those who attend a worship service four times a month or more (53%) are less likely to say they have had no evangelistic conversations than those who attend less than four times a month (60%).

Most churchgoers (55%) say they have, however, invited an unchurched person to a church service or program in the past six months.

While 45 percent say they haven’t made any invitation, 31 percent say they invited one or two individuals.

Again, Hispanics are the most likely to have invited someone. About 7 in 10 (71%) Hispanic churchgoers say they invited at least one person to church.

Increased church attendance is also linked to an increased practice of inviting others to church.

Those who attend at least four times a month (58%) are more likely to say they have invited an unchurched person to a church service in the past six months than those who attend less than four times a month (47%).

“Jesus never promised the Great Commission would be completed quickly,” said McConnell, “but He set the expectation that the efforts to reach all nations with His gospel should be continuous. Many in church today appear to be distracted from Jesus’ final command.”

Aaron Earls is online editor of Facts & Trends.

Methodology:

The online survey of 2,500 Protestant churchgoers was conducted Jan. 14–29, 2019. Respondents were screened to include those who identified as Protestant/non-denominational and attend religious services at least once a month. Quotas and slight weights were used to balance gender, age, region, ethnicity, income and denominational affiliation. The completed sample is 2,500 surveys. The sample provides 95% confidence that the sampling error does not exceed plus or minus 2.0%. Margins of error are higher in sub-groups.

https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2019/april/evangelism-survey-protestant-churchgoers-prayer-invite.html

When We Do Feel Helpless

Psalm 119:145-160

We love movies that capture our attention with tales of people who are trapped, helpless, and frantically looking for a way of escape. However, this is not something we want in real life. Yet when it happens, we immediately start looking for the way out and beg God for rescue through physical healing, changed circumstances, or additional provision.

Have you ever considered that spiritual rescue is even more important than physical deliverance? Although Jesus has freed us from the penalty and power of sin, there are times when we feel helpless in the face of sinful habits, emotions, rash words, and ungodly thoughts. That’s when we need to follow the example of the psalmist and cry out to God for spiritual rescue.

Admit your helplessness to God. In yourself, you have no power to overcome sin. But God’s Spirit within you is almighty.

Confess any sins, fears, unbelief, or self-reliance. Surrender all further attempts to change by self-effort, and make no provision for sinful desires.

Turn your gaze toward God. Think about who He is, what He desires, and what He has promised.

Fill your mind and heart with God’s Word. Meditate on it. Ask Him for wisdom and strength to follow Him with reliance on and submission to His Spirit.

Trust God, and wait upon Him to change you from the inside out. Although salvation occurs in a moment, sanctification is a lifelong process.

A time will eventually come when the helpless feeling departs and is replaced by the joy of obedience. When that happens, give God the glory.

Do NOT Be Waterless Clouds

“Woe unto them! . . . clouds they are without water, carried about of winds.” (Jude 1:11-12)

This appears to be the only reference in the Bible that compares clouds to people. Several references use cloud imagery to depict the presence of God directing Israel (Exodus 13:21), speaking to Moses (Exodus 16:10-11), anointing the tabernacle (Exodus 40:34-38) and the temple (1 Kings 8:10-11), and speaking to the apostles on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:5). Our Lord Jesus was taken up to heaven in a cloud (Acts 1:9) and will return in a cloud as well (Luke 21:27).

Here, however, Jude applies a strong negative imagery. Those who introduce evil into the Lord’s churches may seem to represent the presence of God, but their misty vapor holds no “water”—it will only obscure the brilliance of light and obfuscate the real “temperature” of the environment.

In an agrarian-based economy, clouds were hopeful signs of rain to refresh the land. Some of that positive view has been lost by urban societies, which often see rain as an inconvenience. New Testament imagery connects water with life-giving properties emanating from the Holy Spirit and with the cleansing value of the words of Scripture (John 4:14; Ephesians 5:26). Paul warned Pastor Titus about many “unruly and vain talkers and deceivers” who must be stopped so that “good men” would become “sound in the faith” (Titus 1:8-13).

Thus, Jude compares those who hinder “the faith” to those who appear to represent godly pursuits and character but are empty of the refreshing and guiding power of the Holy Spirit and void of biblical wisdom and insight. They are “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14) and “serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple” (Romans 16:18). HMM III

Faith Grows with Use

Yet ye have not, because ye ask not.

—James 4:2

It was a saying of George Mueller that faith grows with use. If we would have great faith we must begin to use the little faith we already have. Put it to work by reverent and faithful praying, and it will grow and become stronger day by day. Dare today to trust God for something small and ordinary and next week or next year you may be able to trust Him for answers bordering on the miraculous. Everyone has some faith, said Mueller; the difference among us is one of degree only, and the man of small faith may be simply the one who has not dared to exercise the little faith he has.

According to the Bible, we have because we ask, or we have not because we ask not. It does not take much wisdom to discover our next move. Is it not to pray, and pray again and again till the answer comes? God waits to be invited to display His power on behalf of His people. The world situation is such that nothing less than God can straighten it out. Let us not fail the world and disappoint God by failing to pray.   SOS033-034

Lord, I know my faith needs to grow, so please help me to exercise what faith I have and anticipate that growth and stretching. Amen.

 

and Thou hast healed me

O Lord my God, I cried unto Thee, and Thou hast healed me.—Psalm 30:2.

 

It is sometimes a small matter that hindereth and hideth grace from us; at least if anything can be called small, and not rather a weighty matter, which obstructeth so great a good. And, if thou remove this, be it great or small, and perfectly overcome it, thou wilt have thy desire. For immediately, as soon as thou givest thyself to God from thy whole heart, and seekest neither this nor that, according to thine own pleasure or will, but settlest thyself wholly in Him, thou shalt find thyself united and at peace; for nothing can afford so sweet a relish, nothing be so delightful, as the good pleasure of the Divine Will.

Thomas Á Kempis.

 

If at any time this life of ours grows feeble, or low, or lonely, I know no other remedy than to return to its Eternal Source, to God Himself—and through Him all the means of grace become again living and true; and through Him all His creatures become again near and dear and accessible.

Elizabeth Rundle Charles.

 

Condition of Blessings

“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it,.” Mal. 3:10

Many read and plead this promise without noticing the condition upon which the blessing is promised. We cannot expect Heaven to be opened or blessing poured out unless we pay our dues unto the Lord our God and to His cause. There would be no lack of funds for holy purposes if all professing Christians paid their fair share.

Many are poor because they rob God. Many churches, also, miss the visitations of the Spirit because they starve their ministers. If there is no temporal meat for God’s servants, we need not wonder if their ministry has but little food in it for our souls. When missions pine for means, and the work of the Lord is hindered by an empty treasury, how can we look for a large amount of soul-prosperity?

Come, come! What have I given of late? Have I been mean to my God? Have I stinted my Saviour? This will never do. Let me give my Lord Jesus His tithe by helping the poor, and aiding His work, and then I shall prove His power to bless me on a large scale.