John 1:35-49 Romans 10:13-17 October 13, 2013
We have come a long way in the past six weeks. The first week we discovered that a disciple is a follower of Jesus whose life is centering on loving God and loving others. That means after God has chosen to love us through Jesus; we pursue Jesus and his way back to God.
Next we learned that prayer is our cultivating a relationship with God. We speak to God & listen to God so that we know him. We further our relationship with God as we prayerfully search the Scriptures.
In the process of drawing closer to God, we realize that there is no such thing as solitary religion. We worship God together and we are in small groups to better enhance our faith.
During our fourth week we acknowledged the fact that we give because Jesus gave. Our giving of the first 10% of our income to God is based on the idea that since Jesus gave us new life, we can give. As we give, we can trust God to care for our needs.
Last week our attention was drawn to the idea that every disciple is called, gifted, and needed in the ministry of the church. We are searching diligently for our spiritual gifts and asking God where we can best serve him so that we can be the people of God.
These four membership vows (prayer, presence, gifts, and service) were missing something. So in 2008, the General Conference of the UMC added a fifth vow. It is the vow of “witness.” The rationale behind this addition is that God can and will use your story, if you are ready to share it. What about you, are you ready to share your story of how God is working in your life?
Now that question is not just for you. That question is also for me. We know that God has been working in this world, even before there was this world! God created humanity to enjoy creation as workers alongside God. In a very short time, humanity rebelled against God. So God kicked Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden. However, God did provide for them as he clothed them for life outside the Garden of Eden.
Each subsequent generation has rebelled against God. Much of the time God has found men and women who kept faith with God. It was these individuals who helped to draw their neighbors’ attention back to God. Some of these faithful individuals were prophets, some were priests, and some were kings.
One prophet was John the Baptizer. He was sent by God to prepare the way for Jesus, the Messiah/Christ/Savior. Some were following John. From John’s followers came the first disciples of Jesus. He simply told them to follow him. To others Jesus simply said, “Come.” Jesus’ ministry of telling the world to follow him had begun. This ministry, Jesus’ ministry of telling the world to follow him has continued, even to today.
When I was a toddler, I was baptized by Rev. Kerry King. My parents told me that when I was baptized I shook my fist at the preacher! Later as I attended Sunday School, I gave the kindergarten teacher a bloody nose! However, Mom & Dad kept taking me to Sunday School. I professed my faith in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior after going through a Confirmation Class with Rev. Randy Cetorelli.
While doing all the usual church activities for a child & youth, like VBS and youth group, I was to learn later that Ila Robinson, the church organist, was praying for me. She even told me that one day I would be in the white house. At that time the parsonage for that two-point charge was a two-story, white house!
Even though I confessed Jesus as my savior and Lord, it wasn’t until a revival at my home church that I gained an understanding that my sins were forgiven. Shortly after experience, I felt God calling me to be a preacher.
After overcoming some distractions, like thinking I was going to be an electronic engineer, God opened the door for me to be an Elder in the UMC. Since that time I have witnessed God working in many people’s lives. I have baptized people from infancy to 90 years old. I have heard how God has turned people from a variety of sins. And someday, some preacher will say that she first heard about Jesus Christ because of God using me to preach his word!
Yes, God’s grace has been working in my life. He has sent me to what is now my 4th appointment as a full-time minister. I don’t believe God is done with me yet. There are still more people who need to hear about Jesus Christ. There are still more people to hear that they too can follow Jesus. There are still more people ready to hear, “Come and see,” about Jesus.
What will it take for more people to become disciples of Jesus Christ? It will take all of us working together. This work will take on several aspects. This will include us having excellent worship services. That is when people come here they will know that they have been focused on God.
Once they leave worship, we will work further so that they don’t leave the church through an open back door. We will prepare small groups to catch people and help them to learn who Jesus Christ is as Lord and Savior.
We will get our church working by having several of our present disciples learn to visit hospitals and nursing homes, even praying well for those we visit. I want to train you to do this task.
As our disciples are visiting the hospitals and nursing homes, I get to spend time in the community, telling people to come and see Jesus at work in this church. Your friends and co-workers will see me at company gatherings, civic organization meetings, and other social events.
And Jesus will be working in this church. Our disciples will be involved in teaching classes, leading small groups, developing work teams to go into the community, and really living as we follow the Holy Spirit’s direction.
You have heard my story. I want more people to hear how God has worked in my life. Would it be good for more people to hear how God has been working in your life? They won’t hear unless we encourage and persuade them gently to come and see Jesus. People will follow Jesus. God can and will use your story, if you are ready to share it. Isn’t it about time that more people heard how God has been working in your life?