…. they were unschooled, ordinary men …. they had been with Jesus …. the crippled man healed standing with them – Acts 4:13,14
Besides preaching to large crowds, … Jesus also personally chatted and invited individuals to follow Him, … one-on-one, where they were at, … not just in the temple or synogogue … on a street, at a well, in a home.
Through reading Jesus’ example in the Bible, noticed something consistent that Jesus demonstrated … each time in different personalised words, but
… same spirit, same attitude
… full of grace & truth
John 1:14-17 (NASB)
14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father,
full of grace and truth.
15 John *testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’”
16 For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.
17 For the Law was given through Moses;
grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.
Peter’s final exhortation:
2 Peter 3:18 (NASB)
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.
12 Speak and act like people who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom. 13 Those who have not shown mercy will not receive mercy when they are judged. To show mercy is better than to judge.
If we are not careful when we share the love of Jesus to others,
we can unconsciously sit righteously, and preach fear and hell fire,
rather than the revealing the grace and truth of Jesus,
in His Word and in our lives,
the law that gives freedom.
Let’s grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Here’s further passages on sharing in grace and truth,
Romans 2:4 (NASB)
… knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance
1 Peter 3:15 (NASB)
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.
But do this with gentleness and respect
Proverbs 16:21 (NIV, NLT)
The wise in heart are called discerning,
and gracious words promote instruction.
The wise are known for their understanding,
and pleasant words are persuasive.
Proverbs 15:1 (NLT)
A gentle answer deflects anger,
but harsh words make tempers flare.
Luke 10:5 (NLT)
“Whenever you enter someone’s home, first say,
‘May God’s peace be on this house.’
Luke 6:31(NASB, MSG)
Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.
Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them!
Are we gracious, respectful and sensitive to other people’s culture, faith, world view, beliefs
… in the same way,
we would like our faith to be respected? (Luke 5:31)
Do we see the good in people as individuals? Do we see the good in their culture?
Let’s remember … We are the only Jesus some will ever see or read.
In the gospels, Jesus was confrontational, uncompromising and blunt to the proud religious leaders, who knew the scriptures, who should know better.
And He entered the synagogue again, and a man was there who had a withered hand. 2 So they watched Him closely, whether He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. 3 And He said to the man who had the withered hand, “Step forward.” 4 Then He said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they kept silent. 5 And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored as whole as the other. 6 Then the Pharisees went out and immediately plotted with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him.
This passage captures what Jesus felt, for He knew the hearts of the religious leaders, who knew the scriptures … however he was gentle to Nicodemus who humbly came to see Him at night (John 3). Jesus one-line answers to the religious leaders was all it took to silence the religious leaders … and then, he demonstrated the kingdom of God healing the man’s hand.
Jesus was also confrontational, uncompromising, blunt to the traders peddling religious merchandise in the temple, His house of prayer.
12 And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. 13 And He *said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a robbers’ den.”
14 And the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them.
15 But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that He had done, and the children who were shouting in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they became indignant
Verse 12-13 captures the righteous anger of Jesus in the temple.
Verse 14 captures the compassion of Jesus towards the blind and lame, & His healing power, proving that He was the Messiah. Note the great contrast between verses 12-13 and verse 14 in the response of Jesus.
Verse 15 describes the religious leaders, they saw the wonderful things that He had done, the miracles, healings … but their hearts were hardened, indignant.
Contrast the religious leaders’ attitude to that of the children … who were shouting in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David,”
What is our attitude when we see and/or hear wonderful things Jesus has done in others around us?
“I tell you the truth, corrupt tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the Kingdom of God before you do.
To tax collectors and prostitutes, Jesus response was gracious …
To those who did not know the scriptures,
His response was different …
from His response to the religious leaders.
Matthew 11:29 (NIV)
… learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart …
Zaccheus – thief, cheat, traitor
Luke 19:2, 8-10 (NASB)
He entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 And there was a man called by the name of Zaccheus; he was a chief tax collector and he was rich. 3 Zaccheus was trying to see who Jesus was, and was unable because of the crowd, for he was small in stature. 4 So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree in order to see Him, for He was about to pass through that way. 5 When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” 6 And he hurried and came down and received Him gladly. 7 When they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.”
8 Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.” 9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
Zaccheus was rich. However, he was despised by the people in Jericho. As chief tax collector he worked for the Romans who invaded Israel, … to the Jews, he was considered a traitor. He was not an honest tax collector, he defrauded his own people for personal gain.
Zaccheus was rich but short … short of good works and reputation.
Zaccheus was alone on the sycamore tree … alone, aloof, … despised, unloved, rejected by the crowd …. a metaphor of how he felt in his heart.
Zaccheus was trying to see who Jesus was … he was searching for something but not knowing what he was searching for
When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, …”
Everyone thought … either Jesus was going to bypass and ignore Zaccheus,
…. or give him a hell and brimstone sermon to Zaccheus to repent, because he deserves it … scare the hell out of him!
Jesus stopped, looked up … and called him by his personal name “Zaccheus”.
Wow! Jesus knew him by name … that would certainly catch anyone’s attention …
He knows us and calls us by name !
There is nothing we can hide from the Lord.
“Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.”
Jesus wanted to go to Zaccheus’ home.
” Me ? … the most despised person in town … a cheat, a thief, a traitor ?“, Zaccheus probably thought. “Who is this Jesus?”
And he hurried and came down and received Him gladly
Jesus only spoke to Zaccheus one sentence … that he was coming to his home to stay; … no long sermon on what a sinner Zaccheus was.
Instead … by His Spirit, Jesus’ acceptance and love for Zaccheus touched him to change.
Instead of shaming Zaccheus in the presence of the community,
Jesus honored Zaccheus by going to his home to stay.
Jesus actions spoke louder than his words.
While the crowd expected judgement …. Zaccheus received grace and truth.
When they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.”
The crowd unanimously disapproved of Zaccheus, a really bad sinner,
… but Jesus approved of him in spite of his reputation and selfish past.
He made the unworthy, worthy of His love & favor … unearned by grace.
Jesus one vote of confidence was all that mattered,
… silencing the popular majority.
Praise God, truly Jesus has come to seek and to save that which was lost.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
As a result of Jesus’ love and acceptance, seeing beyond Zaccheus’ faults, to the silent cry in his heart …. Zachaeus heart was touched.
Without Jesus saying anything else,
Zaccheus voluntarily gave half his possessions.
He also made maximum restitution to those he cheated previously (before he met Jesus). (Exodus 22:1)
Zaccheus’ transformation was real, … not a political publicity stunt.
Zaccheus changed his attitude towards riches, and demonstrated it. He also made costly restitution for his past.
Truly in Jesus, a changed man with a changed heart. From earthly riches to true riches.
1 Sam 16:7 (NLT)
…The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart
I’m sure Zaccheus transformation from his notoriety to generosity touched others in the city. … For those whom he made restitution to, … they probably ask, “Why, Zaccheaus?”
29 No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. And true circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather, it is a change of heart produced by the Spirit. And a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people.
Interestingly, … Zaccheus came to experience the full meaning of his name when Jesus came into His life – Zaccheaus means ‘pure’ :-).
Samaritan woman evangelist
John 4:13-18 (NIV)
7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”
13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”
17 “I have no husband,” she replied.
Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”
19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet” …
Jesus had the secret tabloid file about this Samaritan woman. Jesus had the word of knowledge that the woman had 5 husbands, and now was living with another man who was not her husband.
Instead of accusing her and harping on her past sins, … Jesus asked her about her husband, …. “Go, call your husband and come back.”
Let’s carefully observe Jesus’ reaction to her reply,
she gave a half-truth, “I have no husband,”
… technically correct, but not truthfully correct.
When Jesus heard her answer, he replied “You are right”
Huh ? “Right?
Shouldn’t Jesus say “You are wrong” … and pull out her secret file ?
Furthermore, Jesus was very gracious to her adding
… “What you have just said is quite true”,
not a hint of condemnation or accusation of how bad a sinner she was.
As a result, she opened her heart she received the Messiah.
25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”
Throughout His conversation with the Samaritan woman, Jesus built bridges across ethnicity, culture, faith, gender and lifestyle.
Interestingly He opened the conversation with this stranger, with a request for help,
When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her,
“Will you give me a drink?”
She came to draw water, He asked her for assistance, as He had nothing to draw with and the well was deep. A down-to-earth, humble request for assistance, … not some heavenly statement … or about her sin.
A humble request, … not a sermon.
His humble request for assistance bridged ethnicity and gender. The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
… his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman.
His asked her kindness, … the good in her … that He saw.
He respected her. He honored her.
(see also an earlier blogpost Love is Kind.)
When Jesus shared with her, it was not a preaching monologue,
but a dialogue, a gracious conversation.
He had a conversation with her, as a peer, … He listened to her
.. He spoke to her,… not at her.
(As adults, we do hear the difference.)
He led her from drawing water from Jacob’s well to drawing living water from Him … from the physical to the spiritual.
19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
He also touched on a revelation of God in her culture, and lead her to Him, the Messiah.
He gently led her from where she was at,
to where He would like her to be ….
Her notoriety was well known, thus she came at noon to draw water. She came when it was hot and sunny … to avoid the other folks, their disapproving looks, pointing fingers and gossip, who would come during the cooler hours of the day … to draw water and talk, gossip. She felt ashamed.
Her search for love, intimacy, and acceptance, …. sleeping with various men did not satisfy her.
Jesus timing was impeccable, … right in the heat of the day, she met Someone who accepted her for who she is. Only Jesus unconditional love satisfies her thirst.
Even more amazing, the Lord used this adulterous, immoral woman mightily, and she became an instant lay evangelist (without any training 🙂 ) leading many Samaritans to Christ by the power of her testimony … (wouldn’t we want her to be part of our church?)
John 4:28,29, 39
28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him.
39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.”
Out of all the Samaritans in this town, Jesus chose to first reveal himself to this woman … an outcast, …who’s special in His eyes. Praise God! O, the wisdom of God!
Like Zaccheus, for the Saramaritan woman,
Romans 2:4 (NASB)
… knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance
Jesus led them from shame to honor.
In both instances, Jesus did not point the finger at their sin, though everyone in the community knew about it.
Btw, the first person to announce/evangelise Jesus resurrection was also a woman, Mary Magdalene, out of whom Jesus had driven seven demons. Before Mary met Jesus, she was probably an occultic, demonised person that most people would avoid … but Jesus did not.
Praise God, He uses the least, the lost, the last, even the outcasts of society mightily! (there is hope for each of us 🙂 )
The fresh, bubbling spring of Experience and Encounter with Jesus,
naturally overflows into Enthusiasm and Evangelism for Jesus,
from inside out, refreshing others.
The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life.” (John 4:14 MSG)
Woman caught in adultery, sexual immorality
John 8:1-11 (NKJV)
2 Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them. 3 Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, 4 they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” 6 This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.
7 So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” 8 And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. 10 When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”
11 She said, “No one, Lord.”
And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”
12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”
This story aptly paints “grace”in vivid, living 3D color
John 1:17 (NASB)
For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.
Jesus words to the woman was
“Neither do I condemn you”
“go and sin no more.”
Instead of judgement, … the woman received forgiveness.
“Did no one condemn you?” …. “I do not condemn you …”
The crowd brought her in front of everyone and Jesus to shame her.
The crowd wanted Jesus to decree His judgement on the woman.
They wanted Jesus to execute the Law of Moses, “Stone her!”
Instead Jesus said,
“He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”
In one sentence, Jesus pronounced sentence on both the religious leaders, and the woman!
The accusing jury, and the accused were sentenced.
The religious leaders expected judgment …. but the woman received grace and truth, forgiveness.
The religious crowd unanimously disapproved of the woman, … a really bad sinner,
… but Jesus did not judged her past.
Jesus one vote of confidence was all that mattered,
… silencing the popular majority.
When the Pharisees and scribes heard this, they were conscience-stricken,
Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last.
The religious leaders knew they were not without sin. Truth convicted them.
They dropped their stones … from anger to contrition.
By retreating, and not stoning … they were honest before God.
Instead of a bloody painful death … the woman was rescued, saved by Jesus.
On that day, in their midst there was only one truly sinless one, … Jesus … but He did not cast even one stone. Mercy said No! … Mercy triumphs over judgment (James 2:13 NIV)
What was Jesus writing on the stone ground with His finger?
Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger
Its not recorded, …. however,
When the Lord finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the covenant law, the tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God.
we are reminded that the Law of Moses was written by the finger of God.
Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned
What does the Law of Moses actually say?
Leviticus 20:10 (see also Deuteronomy 22:22)
If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death.
Where was the man?
God’s words were twisted by the religious leaders …a half-truth … to serve their purposes … to condemn the woman and accuse Jesus.
Jesus shone the light of Truth and confounded the crafty shrewdness of the religious leaders.
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow;
it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
In this highly charged scene, with such a crowd ready to pounce any second …. They thought they had cornered Jesus into a no-win “Yes” or “No” answer.
as though He did not hear.
So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said
Jesus wisely defused the highly tense situation by using the uncomfortable long silent pause to maximum effect … He wisely ignored them, who were looking for blood.
“He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”
He re-framed the issue
… from the open sin of the woman
… to their own personal hidden sin
… by throwing the judgement from His hands to their hands
… from judging the woman’s act, to judging their individual hearts
he leveled the playing field, … its about all of us, …. its about me … not just her …
… from an issue of the legal mind … to an issue of the heart.
truly a stroke of genius! Amazing 🙂
Jesus did not get drawn into a no-win fruitless debate with them,
Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”
By the way, the sin of the religious leaders was unbelief.
Hebrews 3:12,19 (NKJV)
12 Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God;
19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.
John 12:37 (NKJV)
But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him
John 3:16-18 (NKJV)
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
As believers, we all can also fall into the sin of unbelief.
Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen.
Rich young ruler
Jesus attitude to those who were not yet ready to follow him … is also worth reflecting on.
For the rich young ruler, Mark’s gospel adds one precious detail, Jesus looked at him and loved him. The same “look of love” he gave Zaccheus.
Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
What is our attitude towards friends or strangers who are not yet ready to respond to Jesus?
As a child, … our response to a forthcoming visit to a dentist very much depends on our earlier experiences of the dentist skill, and his charming, kiddy kind assurances.
Sometimes, … people are resistant to the gospel because they have had an unforgettable, unfortunate experience with a christian relative, colleague, supervisor or friend in a moment of weakness, that have impacted them. Perception obtained from experience sometimes defines reality.
So, if they do mention it, … do listen objectively, rather than simply brush it aside as a lame excuse.
Like a dentist with a young frightened child, maybe a patient TLC approach helps.
Its easy for any of us to fall into the attitude of the religious leaders in John 8 … i.e. we are right and the adulterous woman is wrong, … she needs to change.
Sometimes, brethren share their evangelism experiences of people who are ambivalent or reject their sharing of the gospel. The next thing that follows, are suggestions of possible reasons for the cold response or rejection, … which sometimes ends up in unconscious stereotyping, simplistic generalizations of these people, who may be their friends … i.e. they need to change their mindsets and hearts, … (its all their fault). In reality, people come in a broad spectrum of shades and hue.
Also, when we cross-culture, the English language is colored and nuanced by the local experience and language, … and we may not all mean the same thing when some words are used.
But could it be that the problem lies with us as well?
I’m sure we have all sat through professional lectures or sermon messages where we are not able to follow the speaker’s monologue sharing or presentation. And after a while we are just lost or bored.
As far as the speaker is concerned he prepared well, he delivered the message. As far as we are concerned we have not understood what he communicated, and it was a waste of our time … like a bad restaurant experience (never to return to this restaurant again).
Hence, could it be that we need to pray for ourselves …. and a suitable personalized conversational approach to share our message such that the listener is engaged and receptive …. and at the very least understand the message … and at the very best embrace the message. Different strokes for different folks.
Using our “christian lens” to stereotype or pigeon-hole others, may be hurtful, when they hear what we really think of them … especially if they are our friends.
Using christianese, i.e. Christian jargon/terminology in our sharing is like speaking a professional technical language to a layman; eg haemorrhage … instead of …. bleeding from a broken blood vessel
2 Corinthians 5:20
Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.
as though God were pleading through us. Its important that we love the people we are reaching out to. 1 Corinthians 13.
Our listeners can hear our attitude.
But if I like you — and I know you’re interested in me — you can get me to do the most incredible things in all the world. And there’s a good possibility I’m going to like your Lord, who made you the way you are.
No one cares what you know until they know that you care.
– Howard Hendricks
3 And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. 4 Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. 5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
Interestingly, Paul requests prayer for himself (rather than those he is reaching out to). He requests for prayer for open doors, …. and the ability to share the gospel clearly. Then, he advises our attitude and spirit in sharing in word and deed – a lifestyle of living in word and deed.
Luke 9:51-56 (NKJV)
51 Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, 52 and sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. 53 But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. 54 And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?”
55 But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. 56 For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” And they went to another village.
What manner of spirit are we of ?
Shaking the dust
But wait … how about “shaking the dust off our feet” ?
Luke 9:5 (NKJV)
And whoever will not receive you, when you go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet as a testimony against them.”
In the Acts, there are two instances — Antioch in Pisidia, and Corinth in Macedonia.
Acts 13:50 (NKJV)
49 And the word of the Lord was being spread throughout all the region. 50 But the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, raised up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. 51 But they shook off the dust from their feet against them, and came to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
Acts 18:4-6 (NKJV)
4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks.
5 When Silas and Timothy had come from Macedonia, Paul was compelled by the Spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ. 6 But when they opposed him and blasphemed, he shook his garments and said to them, “Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”
Paul and his team responded this way due to the response of religious persecution, being expelled from the region, opposition and blasphemous remarks, after they had presented them the gospel. Here’s a glimpse of Paul’s presentation of the gospel (in Rome),
23 So when they had appointed him a day, many came to him at his lodging, to whom he explained and solemnly testified of the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets, from morning till evening. 24 And some were persuaded by the things which were spoken, and some disbelieved.
Paul explained, solemnly testified, persuaded from scripture from morning till evening. He took time to converse over the course of a day … understanding and addressing the worldview his fellow Jews held all their lives (and reinforced by their environment) … which Paul used to have.
When we took our first faith step to Jesus, … was it quick?
Sometimes its helpful for us to just ponder on what our views of the spiritual, God and Jesus before we came to the Lord, … and why it took us a while to believe.
1 Peter 3:9 (NASB)
The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.
The Lost, Prodigal Son
Luke 15:11-24 (NIV)
11 And He said, “A man had two sons. 12 The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’ So he divided his wealth between them. 13 And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living. 14 Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him
17 But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! 18 I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.”’ 20 So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; 23 and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 24 for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.
25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’
28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”
There’s much we can share and learn from the lost son story.
Just one simple thought for now …. the older brother expected justice, retribution …. and rightly so,
but the Father gave mercy and grace, forgiveness,
… not even a scolding, or reprimand or denial of privileges …
but full restoration …
The lost son was so ashamed about what happened, how he had dishonored his father, that he said,
“Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.”’
But the father, although he did not say it,
he expressed his love for his lost son,
best robe, ring, sandals, fattened calf, eat and celebrate,
by restoring honor, dignity, fellowship and family back to his son.
in fact the Father ran when He saw His lost son returned.
But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.
The father was always thinking about his son,
always on the look out for his son to return,
… one day he did.
The father felt compassion for him,
When God ran
In the same way, there are seasons, God, our heavenly Father allows us to go through hardships, for our good, that we may share in his holiness, and produce a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by discipline.
Hebrews 12:7-11 (NIV)
7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
As exemplified by the parable of the lost son.
(Note: The word hardship, is translated in other English Bible translations as discpline, hard times, trials, suffering.)
9 Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’
5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
Through building bridges of friendship, sometimes one caring question to ask is,
“Would you like me to pray to Jesus for you and your situation … How can I help?”.
In the gospels, Jesus ministered to their physical needs, not just their spiritual needs. There have been times when Jesus ministered to their physical needs first. As someone once shared the responses from street people she met
… “I am too hungry to hear your gospel”
…”Jesus, … what does that have to do with me?”
Kindness warms any cold heart in a chilly dark night.
Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.
– Francis of Assisi
Luke 10:5 (NKJV)
“Whenever you enter someone’s home, first say,
‘May God’s peace be on this house.’
First … Bless the people we meet. Bless them with peace … we come bringing peace.
As guests, respect and honor our host.
1 Corinthians 9:19-23 (MSG)
Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone,
I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever.
I didn’t take on their way of life.
I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view.
I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life.
I did all this because of the Message. I didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!
I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view … I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life.
What is our attitude to people we are ministering to ? Do we look for what is good & inspiring in them & their background, …. or their shortcomings, cultural habits, sin, etc? Do we honor them … or shame them ?
1 Corinthians 9:22 (NKJV)
to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak
Notice Paul did not say, to the weak I became strong … rather … became as weak … empathy, compassion, respect, contextualized, appropriate, personalized.
Do we love the people we are ministering to? Do we know their names? Do they know our names?
Is it about results, instead of relationships?
Converts, instead of conversations?
Do others know and feel that we love them?
When we share, … do we respectfully stop and listen … listen and understand ?
Is it following a standard script, … or personalized to each person, from our heart?
Does Jesus use a one-size fits all approach to sharing His love, His kingdom?
When we share the gospel with others, … what is our focus, … our attitude?
Is it out of duty/guilt … or relational, getting to know a new friend ?
The next one is a hard one for all of us, Lord please help us,
…. are there people we do not share, or avoid sharing?
Matthew 11:19, 9:10-13(NASB)
19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’
10 Then it happened that as Jesus was reclining at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?” 12 But when Jesus heard this, He said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,
I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners
As can be seen in the life of Jesus, He avoided generalizations, stereotyping, prejudice and labelling …He was not religious or pious …. but down-to-earth (literally), and spent much time sharing meals with individuals society avoided.
He entered their world, their community … our world, our community.
Sharing a meal with people who are relatively “different” from us, enjoying their unique cuisine, communicates respect & acceptance, builds bridges, and affirmation.
The Pharisees their view was – First you change, … then we’ll receive you … come over to my side.
For Jesus – Come just as you are, I’ll receive you and help you to change … I’ll go over to your side, eat with you, and help you cross over.
In love, He took each individual as who they really are, who we really are …. and communicated personally, … relevant to our needs and lingo. He also took time to patiently listen to their concerns and doubts, as in the case of the Samaritan woman and rich young ruler.
In each piece of rough, jagged formless rough rock, He saw the potential of a masterpiece diamond waiting to sparkle out.
I believe it was A W Tozer who said (paraphrasing) … if we can convince someone to believe in Jesus, then someone else can convince them out of it.
Its also not about debating or comparing, … or win an argument, but strain the friendship.
Only the Holy Spirit can open hearts and draw people to God to experience Him by faith.
When Jesus introduced the Holy Spirit,
John 16:8 (NASB)
And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment;
2 Corinthians 2:3-5
3 I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.
One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.
Here’s the motivation of this article on ‘what would Jesus do’ (WWJD) …
Was visiting a friend’s home meeting, and unexpectedly the husband of one of the ladies joined us. He was not a believer. Instinctively, the group started sharing the gospel with him. For sometime, they tried to convince him that he was a sinner, … needing a savior.
As they all personally knew this man …. they also knew he was a good, noble and honest person.
However, the sin/sinner topic went on and on … (logically following the 4-spiritual laws script), …. howver, the man was not convinced.
I sat there quietly … felt sorry for the man surrounded by his well-meaning friends …
and at some point … decided to change the topic.
I began by apologizing to this man for how we have tried to present the good news,
” We are sorry, …. we are not trying to convince you about sin or that you are sinner … however, we very much like to share with you what a wonderful friend we have found in Jesus, and what he has done in our lives.”
Shortly, after hearing a few testimonies of changed lives, this man voluntarily walked into the kingdom of God.
Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus.
Like Andrew, lets bring people to Jesus … not to their sin.
A few weeks later, a similar thing happened at another group.
There was a visitor from another faith present.
The conversation just went on and on about comparative religion and generalizations/stereotypes of people of other faiths,
… and spurred on by the debate, the vistor was vigorously defending her faith.
Again, after stepping in … and we started sharing testimonies of how real and loving Jesus is to each of us personally, …. the visitor warmed up and within moments walked into the kingdom of God.
Late last year, at an informal para-church gathering, … a pastor came with a group of university students spending a short ministry stint with his suburban community church. One of the students shared how he joined the program all pumped up with apologetics and evangelistic strategies.
However, … when he tried to connect with the families in the community, he was deeply humbled. He shared he learnt much from the pastor’s caring servant attitude.
From informal chats with some new believers who previously had no understanding or exposure of the Bible or Jesus … from their previous encounters with well-meaning preachy christians, they felt that the confrontational “hard sell”, one-way monologue communication approach made them uncomfortable. Worse still, they were immediately ignored after telling these christians that they were not interested in hearing them …
If they see a disconnect between the christians’ words and deeds,
it becomes difficult for the listeners to take the sharing seriously.
Let’s produce light
instead of just …. heat.
Whether we cross over oceans and mountains
… or just within our neighborhood
… people do know and feel … whether we love them,
Yes, pray them into the kingdom …
… love them into the kingdom, Amen!
Lord, please change us, and help us.
Just as I am, without one plea,
but that thy blood was shed for me,
and that thou bidst me come to thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
Just as I am, and waiting not
to rid my soul of one dark blot,
to thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
Just as I am, though tossed about
with many a conflict, many a doubt,
fightings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
Just as I am, thou wilt receive,
wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
because thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
– Charlotte Elliott, 1789-1871
by 林弟兄, bro Lim
October 28, 2014
Copyright © 林弟兄 bro Lim, Laymanointing, 2014-2016 – All Rights Reserved
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