Over the last few weeks, we looked into "Enjoying God" and "Making Friends". That's what is Christian life about. It is about one another. We need one another. We invest time, effort, and money into building relationships. Meeting in GYM groups is very important. Sometimes impromptu meetings are wonderful. The other day, Lasya, Andrew and I decided to go for ice cream. On our way we called up Deepa and then coincidentally met Brian and Michelle. All of us had a lovely time. We need to use opportunities to build relationships with one another. Meeting people during the week could be difficult as we are busy with work. But on Sundays, use lunchtime as an opportunity to build relationships. This is what is investing in God's Kingdom.
Today, we're going to look at "Changing Lives".
Our lives are changed. As we encounter the Word of God, people of God, our lives change. We can never be perfect in this life.
What is God's calling upon you to change lives in this world?
Matthew 4:17-23 - 17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” 18 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him. 21 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him. 23 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.
We all love messages about God's love. They are powerful and foundational to all that we do. There are a lot of things that God does for us every day. Things like protection, provision, healing, health etc. God wants us to respond in a particular way.
From verse 19 - We are called not only to worship, but also hear the Word, serve etc. We are here to save souls.
Here's a question to all of you - Are you a fisher of men?
If we are following Jesus, he will change us, transform us so that our goal becomes to fish for men which means we proclaim Jesus, the good news. We tell people about His love and preach the Gospel. What is the Gospel? If you confess your sins with your mouth and accept Jesus as your one and only Saviour, you are saved.
Let us read a parable - Parable of the Life-Saving Station.
On a dangerous seacoast where shipwrecks often occur there was once a crude little life-saving station. The building was just a hut, and there was only one boat, but the few devoted members kept a constant watch over the sea, and with no thought for themselves, they went out day or night tirelessly searching for the lost.
Many lives were saved by this wonderful little station so it became famous. Some of those who were saved, and various others in the surrounding areas, wanted to become associated with the station and give of their time and money and effort for the support of its work. New boats were bought and new crews were trained. The little life-saving station grew.
Some of the new members of the life-saving station were unhappy that the building was so crude and so poorly equipped. They felt that a more comfortable place should be provided as the first refuge for those saved from the sea.
So they replaced the emergency cots with beds and put better furniture in an enlarged building. Now the life-saving station became a popular gathering place for its members, and they re-decorated it beautifully and furnished it as a sort of club.
Less of the members were now interested in going to sea on life-saving missions, so they hired lifeboat crews to do this work.
The mission of life-saving was still given lip service but most were too busy or lacked the necessary commitment to take part in the life-saving activities personally.
About this time a large ship was wrecked off the coast, and the hired crews brought in boatloads of cold, wet, and half-drowned people.
They were dirty and sick, and some of them had black skin, some spoke a strange language, and the beautiful new club was considerably messed up. So the property committee immediately had a shower house built outside the club where victims of the shipwreck could be cleaned up before coming inside.
At the next meeting, there was a split in the club membership. Most of the members wanted to stop the club's life-saving activities as being unpleasant and a hindrance to the normal life pattern of the club.
But some members insisted that life-saving was their primary purpose and pointed out that they were still called a life-saving station. But they were finally voted down and told that if they wanted to save the life of all the various kinds of people who were shipwrecked in those waters, they could begin their own life-saving station down the coast. They did.
As the years went by, the new station experienced the same changes that had occurred in the old. They evolved into a club and yet another life-saving station was founded.
If you visit the seacoast today you will find a number of exclusive clubs along that shore. Shipwrecks are still frequent in those waters, only now most of the people drown.
Does this remind you of anything? Yes, The Church. The purpose of the church is to save lost souls. We are so caught up with our jobs and another routine that we forget our purpose. Saving souls is the purpose given to us by God the Father.
Luke 19:10 - 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Jesus came to seek and save.
Saving souls is our top priority. Paul was very concerned.
Rom 9:3 - 3 For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race
Moses had the same heart too.
Exo 32:31-32 - 31 So Moses went back to the Lord and said, “Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made themselves gods of gold. 32 But now, please forgive their sin—but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.”
John Knox prayed, "Lord, give me Scotland, ere I die."
George Whitefield prayed, "Lord, give me souls or take my soul."
We need to be clear. The issue here is life or death. Eternal life or eternal death. Our colleagues, friends, family and others don't get saved if they don't hear the Gospel. They will go to eternal hell. We got to see our end goal of ours.
We have a great opportunity on Friendship Sunday. Ask God to touch our hearts to invite people. Ask God to touch their hearts to come here.
Why do people not like evangelism? Fear of failure and many more reasons.
Matt 16:25 - 25 For whoever wants to save their life[f] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.
There is a cost involved in evangelism.
Most of us are from middle-class backgrounds. Our desire is to have a good job, wife, kids, house, go abroad, get a green card etc. That's the dream. There's nothing wrong with that. End of it, what's the point in achieving all that but losing souls given to us? When it comes to us, are we willing to pay the cost?
As we stand for Jesus, Jesus says we'd be rewarded.
John 16:1-2 - “All this I have told you so that you will not fall away. 2 They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God.
John 15:18 - 18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.
Evangelism is a sacrifice but the rewards are great. When Jesus comes back, He will reward you.
Heb 12:2 - 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
There is going to be rejection and opposition like what Jesus faced and endured.
Pro 11:13 - The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and the one who is wise saves lives.
Dan 12:3 - Those who are wise[a] will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.
When you turn people to righteousness, one day you will shine.
In 1 Cor 15 there are different types of glory depending on what we've done.
Luke 15:7 - 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
This morning, we had a wonderful time of worship. Jesus said that when one person comes to faith there's more rejoicing than what we all do together. Evangelism pleases God.
Looking at the world, we may feel hopeless. Can we make a difference? If you are able to share the Gospel with one person and that person comes to faith and then you disciple that person. End of it you're just 2 people. If 2 of you share the Gospel then it's 4 and then the next year it's 8 people. I'm 38 years there would be 8 billion people saved. God doesn't want you to share the Gospel with 8 billion people but just one. Bring one person on Friendship Sunday. Pray and ask God for that one person. When Jesus called the disciples, there were just a few. But now, there are so many Christians across the globe.
2 Cor 5:20 - We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.
Sadly, the statistics show that 95% of Christians never led anybody to Jesus. God's Word for you is that he wants you to get yourself involved in evangelism. There needs to be some kind of training for that. But for now, on Friendship Sunday, we have an opportunity to invite one person. We sow somewhere and the fruit shall be reaped somewhere else.
Jesus says, "Come follow me. I will make you fishers of men." What we need to do is, pray, fast, follow, share, meet, invite etc. The greatest thing that you can do for an unbeliever is sharing the Gospel.
Jesus doesn't need PhD people. He takes ordinary people.
Acts 4:13 - 13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.
1. Let us pray for the lost
Make a list and start praying that God would touch their hearts
2. Do something to interact with them
Invite them for coffee, breakfast, lunch or dinner etc.,
3. Talk about what God is doing in your life
Let it be a natural talk. As you share, they start opening up. When they share their troubles, ask them if you could pray for them.
And then later, invite them to our Friendship Sunday followed by lunch.
This is what it is to follow Jesus. You are here because somebody shared the good news with you long back. Now you have a responsibility.