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Making the most of the times

By Gerry Straker, 02 Apr 2020

Making the most of the times

Do you remember before the coronavirus?

  • Can you remember driving?
  • Can you remember the Morecambe Prom?
  • Can you remember there used to be something called ‘sport’?

Well at Church by the Bay, before the coronavirus hit we were thinking about the first step to Church growth. Each of us are to take steps in telling people the good news of Jesus.

When Jesus saw crowds of people he is filled with compassion because they are harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. And Jesus says to his disciples: ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’ (Matthew 9:37-38 NIV 1984).

Jesus teaches his disciples that they are to pray to God, the Lord of the harvest for more workers. Then the next thing Jesus does is to call his disciples and send them out into the harvest field! The discopes are to pray for more workers and be the answer to their prayer. And that’s not just for the twelve. The very last words of Matthew’s gospel Jesus says: ‘Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.' (Matthew 28:19-20 NIV 1984).

As they make disciples they are to teach everything Jesus has taught them, including the last command: make disciples. And so, every disciple is a disciple-maker.

Paul writes in Colossians: Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.’ (Colossians 4:5-6 NIV 1984).

The implication is that we will all have conversations and we will all be asked questions, and for that to happen we will all know unbelievers!

This year we’ve been thinking about where you and I might be and some questions we will need to ask.

  • You don’t know people who don’t know Jesus
    • How will you get to know people?
  • The event is not for you or your possible guests
    • What would work for your possible guests?
  • You tried and your people said no
    • Ok so what will you try next?
  • You know people who don’t know Jesus but you didn’t try
    • What will motivate you to do something?

The first step to Church growth is you and me doing something! And we asked: what will you do?

That’s what we were thinking about, before the crisis blew up and we were shut up!

Not only that, but to help us at C3 we had begun a series in Mark’s gospel, looking at 6 passages in Mark. Marking our own copy and with a spare to give to someone and offer to read it with them.

And we were learning some verses together so that we could share the gospel:

  • The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God. Mark 1:1 (NIV 2011)
  • Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him! Mark 4:41 (NIV 2011)
  • All these evils come from inside and defile a person. Mark 7:23 (NIV 2011)

And so we were equipping each other to share the good news of Jesus. And many of you chose a friend or two to pray for; to give a gospel to; to read Mark’s gospel with.

But now, as you may have noticed we’re in lockdown. We know:

  • Sin is more deadly than the coronavirus
  • We know unclean hearts are our problem not unclean hands
  • We know that the coronavirus is a taste of God’s judgement!
  • We know that the bigger crisis is God’s judgement day to come!

But what can we do? Most of us are in lockdown!

At Wednesday’s C3 Central we looked at two passages briefly.

First, Paul writes in Philippians: ‘Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly’ (Philippians 1:12-14 NIV 1984)

The apostle Paul is in lockdown; the missionary to the Gentiles in prison; the man with the Word of God to the world in chains. So what will happen to the gospel? God has used Paul’s lockdown to advance the gospel! The whole palace guard have heard about Jesus - those who are, as it were, in lockdown with him. And others have been emboldened to preach the gospel!

Second, Paul writes in Ephesians: ‘Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.’ (Ephesians 5:15-16 NIV 1984) . I prefer the King James Version here, which has making the most of every opportunity as ‘redeeming the time.’

And so, all of the above still applies!

  • We are harvest workers now.
  • We are disciple making disciples now.
  • We are to make the most of every opportunity now.

Many of us might be in lockdown, but the gospel isn’t! What’s different, of course, is: how we redeem the time. We’ll need to be thinking about how we share the gospel and being alive to the possibilities. How we can make the most of the times for the gospel.

And the wonderful thing is there are loads of ways we can do that - more on that tomorrow. Meantime, please let me know your ideas, so I can put them in! And let's be praying...

Prayer

  • Thank you for Jesus’ compassion for the lost.
  • Thank you that you are Lord of the harvest.
  • Thank you that the gospel isn’t in lockdown.
  • Please provide more harvest workers.
  • Please use us to speak the gospel.
  • Help us to redeem the time.
  • Help us to be encouraged by the example of others.
  • Help us to be willing and emboldened to take a step.

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