VIDEO Attention Getter #3: Stay on Message

I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. John 10:9

In sharing the Gospel, it’s easy to be diverted into all kinds of tangential subjects. Sometimes the person you are sharing Christ with will change the subject to avoid the Gospel. On other occasions, they will ask sincere questions. Learning how to guide the conversation and answer questions without losing the message of the Gospel is an important skill to master.

In John 4, the Samaritan woman tried to divert Jesus into a conversation about worship locations, but He stayed on message. He pointed her back to Himself, and as she processed His words, she placed her faith in Him.

Dr. Jeff Lorg wrote, “What is our message?…The good news about Jesus is our message….It requires discipline to stay on message about the gospel. Doing less compromises Christianity’s core message, as well as dilutes and diminishes the eternal nature of our message.”[1]

Shouldn’t our message be different than the world’s message?

Staying on message means you understand the gospel, can communicate it clearly, … in appropriate ways, and in a timely fashion.
Jeff Lorg

[1]Jeff Lorg, Unscripted: Sharing the Gospel as Life Happens (Birmingham, AL: New Hope Publishers, 2014).


I Am the Door (John 10:1–10)

Prejudice and Forgiveness

I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism. Acts 10:34

After hearing a message about correcting injustice, a church member approached the pastor weeping, asking for forgiveness and confessing that he hadn’t voted in favor of calling the black minister to be pastor of their church because of his own prejudice. “I really need you to forgive me. I don’t want the junk of prejudice and racism spilling over into my kids’ lives. I didn’t vote for you, and I was wrong.” His tears and confession were met with the tears and forgiveness of the minister. A week later, the entire church rejoiced upon hearing the man’s testimony of how God had worked in his heart.

Even Peter, a disciple of Jesus and a chief leader in the early church, had to be corrected because of his ill-conceived notions about non-Jewish people. Eating and drinking with gentiles (who were considered unclean), was a violation of social and religious protocol. Peter said, “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile” (Acts 10:28). It took nothing less than the supernatural activity of God (vv. 9–23) to convince him that he “should not call anyone impure or unclean” (v. 28).

Through the preaching of Scripture, the conviction of the Spirit, and life experiences, God continues to work in human hearts to correct our misguided perspectives about others. He helps us to see that “God does not show favoritism” (v. 34).

By:  Arthur Jackson

Reflect & Pray

What experiences or people has God used to help you see that He doesn’t show favoritism? What are the things in your life that may have blinded you to His acceptance of all people?

Dear God, search my heart and show me where I need to change.

The High Cost of Wavering Faith

Deuteronomy 1:19-46

God has called believers to walk by faith, trusting Him and His Word in every situation. But sometimes, like the people in today’s passage, we start to doubt the Lord and His ability to do what He has said. So let’s learn from the Israelites who suffered 40 years of wandering in the wilderness because of their unbelief. They …

• Listened to the wrong voices. Instead of trusting God, they believed the bad report of some of the spies (Num. 13:25-33). To walk obediently with the Lord, we need to guard against the influence of those who don’t recognize His greatness.

• Relied on human perspective. The Israelites focused on the obstacles rather than the power of God. When we choose to trust the Lord despite the seeming impossibilities, we’ll discover He is bigger than any obstacle.

• Let feelings overcome faith. Emotions constantly fluctuate, but the facts about God never change. So instead of making decisions out of fear, let’s rely on what we know about the Lord.

Unbelief often results in aimless wandering and decisions we come to regret. But when we courageously trust God and His Word, we will find fulfillment in His purpose.

Partakers of the Promise

“That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel.” (Ephesians 3:6)

There are many Christians who regard themselves as almost exclusively New Testament believers, arguing that the Old Testament was for the Jews under the dispensation of law and thus not applicable to Christians today.

Nothing could be further from the truth. While the old animal sacrifices, temple rituals, and Levitical priesthoods have indeed been superseded by Christ’s “one sacrifice for sins for ever” (Hebrews 10:12), there are many “exceeding great and precious promises” (2 Peter 1:4) of the Old Testament that can be properly and joyfully appropriated by Christians. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable,” wrote Paul (2 Timothy 3:16), speaking particularly of the Old Testament Scriptures.

In the context of our verse for the day, Paul is stressing that his own new revelations, given in connection with the Christian gospel, actually involved bringing Jew and Gentile together as one body in Christ. The “dispensation of the grace of God…by revelation he made known unto me,” he wrote, but in previous ages, it had not been “made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit” (Ephesians 3:2-5).

And what was it that had not been made known? The hidden mystery was simply “that the Gentiles should be fellowheirs” with the Jews, and therefore “partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel” (Ephesians 3:6).

Thus, Gentile believers can now share in all the gracious promises of God in the Old Testament (e.g., Psalm 23; Isaiah 26:3; etc.), except those directly dealing with the future of Israel as a nation, “that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ” (Galatians 3:14). HMM

Nothing to Set Before Him”

Luke 10:38-42

LUKE records our Lord’s visit in the home of Martha and Mary (10:38-42), where Mary sat at His feet while Martha was unduly worried and taken up with His entertainment. He did not reprove her for working, but for worrying. He uses two terms, “Thou art careful and troubled,” and we read that she was “cumbered about”—distracted with—much serving. Jesus preferred attention to His teachings to so much fuss and fret about something to eat. Do we not today, in our church activities, spend too much time with secondary busyness and not enough at His feet in prayer and worshipful waiting on the Lord?

We read further in this Gospel (11:1-13) that His disciples asked Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” Not just how to pray but “to pray,” which is far better. Some have the theory, but still they do not pray! Our Lord gave them what we call the Lord’s Prayer—which is His only in the sense that He gave it to us. He never needed to pray it, for He had no sins to be forgiven.

It begins with worship and adoration to our Father in Heaven. Then it moves to temporal needs, “our daily bread,” and ends with spiritual need, forgiveness and deliverance from evil.

He then tells the parable of the three friends: the friend who had a friend call upon him at midnight for bread because his friend had come to see him, and he had “nothing to set before him.” That is the predicament of every one of us in a wider sense. Parents, who are your children but “friends” who have come to you in their journey—and you have nothing to set before them; you cannot feed their souls unless you borrow loaves from God. Your class at Sunday school, the minister’s congregation, your customers in business—all who come to you are your “friends,” dropping by on their journey, and you need spiritual bread to set before them. Blessed is the man who knows the way to the Father’s house where there is bread to spare. Prayer brings down blessing to pass on. We must come to Him and commune if we are to have anything to communicate.

Jesus here teaches the value of importunate prayer. The request for bread is granted not because the seeker is a friend but because he keeps on asking. So prayer that keeps on never fails. “Ask”—that is our Lord’s key to spiritual supplies. A for “ask” and S for “seek” and K for “knock.” He goes on to say that if earthly fathers give good gifts to their children, how much more will God! I think we often pray as though God were more or less disinterested and we had to coax and persuade Him into helping us. But He is far more anxious to help us than we to be helped! Here Jesus says the Father will give the Spirit to those who ask Him. That is far better than to give us things, for what we need most is not more things but more of His Spirit by which we can do all things. His strength, which is made perfect in weakness, thereby becomes ours.

The Spirit Guides

When they came to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them.—Acts 16:7

The Holy Spirit seeks to bring us around to accepting God’s guidance for our lives. “All those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons” (Rm 8:14).

This is a stage in life which many Christians never attain—they are not Spirit-led Christians. They are led by self-interest, physical impulses, or by the opinions of others. They have not put themselves at the disposal of the Spirit to be led of Him in the details of their lives. Hence they lack direction and, therefore, a goal.

When Christians say to me, “The Spirit never seems to guide me,” I usually reply, “How well do you listen?” The problem we face over guidance is not because the Spirit fails to lead us, but because we are not listening. We must be prepared to stop talking and wait before Him so that He can talk to us.

In this frenzied age many Christians have lost the art of listening. They are willing to spend time in prayer talking to God, but are not willing to spend very much of the time listening to God. We must stop, wait, and tune ourselves in to the Holy Spirit’s wavelength if we are to hear His voice in our hearts and feel His gentle impressions.

A Quaker woman inquired of a young man, “Hast thou heard God speak lately?” “No,” said the young man. “Then thou hast forgotten to be still,” said the woman. “Stop … and know …” says the Scripture (Ps 46:10). Be restless and you will not know. God guides everyone who wants to be guided.

Prayer

O Spirit of the living God, help me tune my heart so that I can hear Your voice, for without Your guidance my life lacks mission and direction. Take the reins of my life and guide me. For Jesus’ sake, I pray. Amen.

Further Study

Ac 16; 10:19-20; 13:2; Jn 16:13

How did the Holy Spirit guide Paul?

What was the result?

New Life in Christ

2 Corinthians 5:15, 17

On a sandy stretch of the sun-baked Damascus Road Saul’s life was radically changed so profoundly that he became a new man in Christ Jesus! He joined the sect he had been trying to exterminate.

There on the Damascus Road, his pockets bulging with the High Priest’s deadly documents, he was beginning to grasp the significance of the Lord’s death. Years later Paul was to write to the Corinthians, “And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:15, 17).

Such a sublime perception in all its fullness could hardly have entered his mind as he lay prone on the desert road. It actually took years to be grasped by its full meaning, years of close communion with the Lord, of intellectual struggle, and of arduous experience in the service of the gospel. What Saul saw and heard that day became the secret of his inmost being. It constituted the most unalterable conviction of his soul.

So it is with every authentic conversion, when all life is opened to God’s gracious healing pardon, cleansed by the blood of the Savior on the cross, regenerated by the power of the Spirit.

At a meeting in The Salvation Army’s Mission compound at Chikankata in Zambia, I heard a mother from a very poor family living in a nearby village testify to her conversion. “The preacher preached,” she explained simply, “and the Word of God attacked me in my heart.” By divine grace, through faith, that illiterate mother and the erudite Saul found the self-same Savior. Saul too had been attacked by the Word of God. He too capitulated and became a willing captive; a slave was how he described himself in his epistles.

Indeed, conversion involves so radical a repentance that life is turned completely around. It involves so deep a faith that God in Christ becomes the supreme, most radiant reality of existence so that character, conduct and human relationships are all set moving in the direction of Christlikeness.

Clarence D. Wiseman, The Desert Road to Glory