17-Sharing Your Faith
It is impossible to be neutral about God. Anyone who is not actively following him has chosen to reject him. Any person who tries to remain neutral in the struggle of good against evil is choosing to be separated from God who alone is good.
“Anyone who is not for me is really against me; anyone who does not help me gather is really scattering.”
What real difference does Jesus’ power make in your daily speech with others?
As a good friend or relative when you see someone in trouble, you will want to help them. Well you have something that is very important to their present and future happiness, success and purpose in life. You have an opportunity to save an individual from death (no future) and change their future to graduation to heaven. Will you hate them so much that you withhold this information from them? Love would not, and what else should there be.
If you have turned your life over to God, you will find a Love that surpasses any; that you can encounter any other way. Would you not tell your friends and relatives of a engagement, marriage, or birth of a child. And yet you have one of the two greatest events (accepting God’s control of your life and graduation to your permanent home) in your life, will you withhold this.
Faith sharing should be a spill over of your joy and love of your God and his other children. When you have learned about your relationship and have completely committed to it; you will find it easy to talk about it. An engaged individual who is deeply in love has no problem, talking about it. There would be no tongue tied individual giving that earthly news. Can we do less if we are as deeply in Love with our Father in Heaven. Jesus said his kingdom would begin quietly, and eventually push outward until the whole world has changed.
Again Jesus asked, “What shall I compare the Kingdom of God with? It is like this. A woman takes some yeast and mixes it with a bushel of flour until the whole batch of dough rises.”
When have you felt that your faith was too small to matter? What does this parable teach you about significance?
We must mix yeast in our lives and others. You no doubt would wish to share good news with people around you when the time is right. You would not normally share a happy event (i.e. marriage) at a difficult time in another person’s life (e.g. divorce, death of a spouse, etc.). But this is exactly when a person may be most receptive to sharing your childhood in God. When a person is currently happy about their earthly life, they will not normally be receptive to changing it. Jesus needs workers who knows how to deal with people’s problems. We can comfort others and show them the way to live because we have been helped with our problems by God and his laborers.
“As he saw the crowds, his heart was filled with pity for them, because they were worried and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. So he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is large, but there are few workers to gather it in. Pray to the owner of the harvest that he will send out workers to gather in his harvest.'”
What have you learned about the Kingdom and what it means to labor in the field where God has placed you?
Their are some people who God may select that would be a messenger for him, and who will be chosen to share this important information on a broader basis. But for the average child of God; it would be sufficient to share with those people that you come in contact with on a day by day basis. These people should be ready for this sharing. God will prepare you and them for this sharing. You will know it is right, if you have prayed to God about the individual and the circumstances and have spiritually listened for guidance.
I’m going to set up a situation for you. Your at the airport. You have a good friend there; one who has never asked you about your faith before, never even talked about religion. The person has only one minute before getting on the plane. Suddenly he or she says, “What’s your happiness all about?” and you have just one minute to respond. What do you say?
One of the ways God will tell you when it is right, is that God will provide you the opportunity to discuss this news. Then as a Child of God you are REQUIRED by your Father in Heaven to SHARE. This is not an option you have. If you turned down this opportunity, you are saying to God; that I do not agree with your plan, I am not proud to be your Child, I have not really turned my life over to you, and I do not love you enough to want to share you. What do you think God the Father’s viewpoint will be concerning this rebellion on your part. Jesus told his disciples that they should not worry about what they should say – God’s spirit would speak through them.
“For my sake you will be brought to trial before rulers and kings, to tell the Good News to them and to the Gentiles. When they bring you to trial, do not worry about what you are going to say or how you will say it; when the time comes, you will be given what you will say. For the words you will speak will not be yours; they will come from the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”
How can you best represent to your neighbors that the kingdom of heaven is near?
If you do act, God will provide you with the guidance you need. And since He is in control of your life, He is the one that is acting through you. Therefore there is no question of your ability or lack, success or failure, acceptance or rejection by the individual you are presenting to. All you are required to do is make the contact and do the best you can do in presenting the opportunity to rejoin as God’s child. The very least you are expected to do is to present, how it happened to you, what it means to you, and ask them if they would like to know more. If they would, and you do not feel capable to answer their questions, then you are obligated to arrange that they can get more information. We should always be ready to give an answer, gently and respectfully, when asked about our faith, our life-style, or our Christian perspective.
(1 Peter 3:15-16)
“Be ready at all times to answer anyone who asks you to explain the hope you have in you, but do it with gentleness and respect.”
Can others see your hope in Christ? Are your prepared to tell them what Christ has done in your life?
By taking this opportunity to share your relationship with your Father you are confirming it. This would be the same as if you kept your marriage secret, along with any parental circumstances. It inn effect is a denial of that relationship. By making it public and sharing it, you are confirming in in your own heart and to your Father. By failing to act when God provided you with the opportunity, you are denying this relationship.
Share a time when you might have been embarrassed about your faith. Do you wish you had responded differently in this situation? If so, Why?
“If anyone declares publicly that he belongs to me, I will do the same for him before my Father in heaven. But if anyone reject me publicly I will reject him before my Father in Heaven.”
Under what circumstances do you find it most difficult to talk about your faith?
A positive action on your part strengthens your relationship with your Father, confirms it, indicates that you are proud of it, that you really do love Him, and the individual you performed the confirmation of your relationship with. The benefits will exceed any thing you might expect.
Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me: and whoever rejects me reject the one who sent me.”
How do you feel about the harvest where you live? Are people ripe for the gospel? What would it take for you to be more involved in the harvest?
Christ explains to us in (Mk. 4:26-29) that the seed (God’s ‘kingdom’ in the world) grows without human control but with human participation.
How can sensitive listening on your part reduce the chance of someone rejecting Christianity?
Remember that it does not matter if you are successful or not, but that you did it and that you did your best. Just like if you told your friends about a happy marriage you have, it does not matter if they do not get married. But it sure would do a lot for you and your partner in marriage. Well the same is true of you and your Father in Heaven. If you failed to tell people when the time was right, about your relationship, it would cause great stress on that relationship. We hide our light by: (1) being quiet when we should speak, (2) going along with the crowd, (3) denying the light, (4) letting sin dim our light, (5) not explaining our light to others or (6) ignoring the needs of others.
“You are like light for the whole world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a bowl; instead he puts it on the lamp-stand, where it gives light for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine before people, so that they will see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven.”
How can Jesus enable you to “shine brighter?”
If you do not feel that an individual is ready to hear about your new childhood, at least they should be able to see the joy within you. They should be able to see the radiance of your Heavenly childhood spilling out over the world. If asked “How its going?” You should be letting people know that you are happy. If they pursue, ‘Why you are happy;’ you should be prepared to give them brief statements of why (i.e. Well I’m really excited about my relationship with my Father in Heaven). Then dependent on their reaction you can pursue it or not. But at least you have planted a seed with them, and you have strengthened your relationship with God.
(1 Peter 2:15-16)
“For God wants you to silence the ignorant talk of foolish people by the good things you do. Live as free people; do not, however, use your freedom to cover up any evil, but live as God’s slaves.”
God isn’t merely gritting his teeth and using imperfect humans; he likes it that way! What does this mean for you?
And of course if you are in a parental role you are REQUIRED by your Father in Heaven to see that your children receive an education on their religion and the relationship they should have with God the Father. Since he is a Co-Father (he provided a soul and the spark of life as Creator). You are denying them this information and the opportunity to join you and your Father in Heaven. But the information means nothing unless they can see the importance of it in your life. It must be the most important thing in your life. They must be sold on making the right choice. Since it is a choice, the option must be presented to them, but you can not make the choice for them. You are only required to present it and sell it. They must buy the choice.
Have you had experiences in which you wanted to share your faith verbally with someone, but didn’t? What kept you from sharing? What would have made it easier to share?
(2 Esdras 2:24-28)
“Be calm, my people, your time to rest will come. Take care of your children like a faithful nursemaid and guide their steps in safe paths, so that none of them will be lost. When the time comes, I will hold you responsible for them. Don’t worry; when the day of trouble and distress comes, others will cry and mourn, but you will be happy and rich. The other nations will be jealous of you, but they will not be able to harm you.”
Who do I know that might be ready to have my story shared with and How?
But he said to them. “I must preach the Good News of the Kingdom of God in other towns also because that is what God sent me to do.”
How am I going to be involved in small group sharing?
If God’s own Son came down to Earth as a Human and showed us examples of this “Sharing”; can we refuse to do what our Brother has done.
Do I feel that I have special gifts in the area of sharing and what?
The reign of God, as God, is His to control. Men can do and have done, nothing to hasten the coming. But the seed has been growing secretly, God’s purposes have been maturing through the long story of Israel and his Gentile children. As part of our growth plan we need to prove our love, so He has provided us the opportunity. Will we use it? Let your strengths balance your weakness, and be grateful that your abilities make up for your deficiencies.
“So we are to use our different gifts in accordance with the grace that God has given us. If our gift is to speak God’s message, we should do it according to the faith that we have; if it is to serve, we should serve; if it is to teach, we should teach; if it is to encourage others, we should do so. Whoever shares with others should do it generously, whoever has authority should work hard; whoever shows kindness to others should do it cheerfully.”
How can you present your body as a living sacrifice in everyday life by using your gifts?
We also need to share with others any questions we may have of God’s will. This is one of the most effective way to listen to God’s Guidance. This is true, only if the person we are sharing with is also one of God’s children. It is helpful if you discuss it with at least 3 individual Children of your Father in Heaven. Many have set up small faith groups, in order to share and hold each other to the “Plan.”
What is my plan for sharing?
Become the “Voice of God’s Love,” not his “Secret Agent.”
Based on what you have studied in this lesson write a paragraph of evaluation on; “A person’s religion is his own business. It matters only to him, as long as he is sincere?
The best way to “share,” and plant “seed” is to live a life that is appealing to others.
Paul draws our attention to the practical obligations of the Christian life. He calls on all of us, his fellow Christians, to dedicate ourselves wholeheartedly to God, and to remember that each of us has a definite part to play in the work of the Church, whatever our particular gift may be. Brotherliness, charity, and forgiveness among ourselves are to be our response of gratitude to God for his mercy (Romans 12:1-21). Right actions lead to right feelings. With kind actions, tell your enemy that you would like to heal your relationship. Lend a helping hand. Smile at him or her.
“Love must be completely sincere. Hate what is evil, hold on to what is good. Love one another warmly as Christian brothers, and be eager to show respect for one another. Work hard and do not be lazy. Serve the Lord with a heart full of devotion. Let your hope keep you joyful, be patient in your troubles, and pray at all times. Share your belongings with your needy fellow Christians and open your homes to strangers.
“Ask God to bless those who persecute you – yes, ask him to bless not to curse. Be happy with those who are happy, weep with those who weep. Have the same concern for everyone. Do not be proud, but accept humble duties. Do not think of yourself as wise.
“If someone has done you wrong, do not repay him with a wrong. Try to do what everyone considers to be good. Do everything possible on your part to live in peace with everybody. Never take revenge, my friends, but instead let God’s anger do it. For the scripture says, ‘I will take revenge, I will pay back says the Lord.’ Instead, as the scripture says: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for by doing this you will make him burn with shame.’ Do not let evil defeat you; instead, conquer evil with good.”
This week, how can you practice “love” and “peace” with your family? Co-workers? Small group? Church?
A powerful and difficult way of living, is asked of us. In order to accomplish it we must have “Love”.
“Why should God reward you if you love only the people who love you? Even the tax collectors do that! And if you speak only to your friends, have you done anything out of the ordinary? Even the pagans do that!”
How would your life be different as God helps you to put this quality into action?
We are all capable of bending and twisting the words and example of Jesus in an effort to excuse ourselves from true discipleship. Those who support our sinful ways seem to number legion compared to those who challenge us to grow in virtue and holiness. It takes tremendous self-honesty to assess whether we stand with Jesus and live the values of the Kingdom, or whether in our Jesus and live the values of the Kingdom, or whether in our heart we dismiss him as too idealistic for our real world.
How will you control, avoiding pride?
Do we, as Paul invites us, “Keep our eyes fixed on Jesus” through prayer and sharing with people of faith, or do we allow ourselves to be guided by the more popular moral standard, everybody’s doing it.
What is your plan to turn money from your “master” to a “ministry?”
If we insist on friendships for those who mock what God considers important we might sin by becoming indifferent to God’s will. Do your friends build up your faith, or do they tear it down? True friends draw you closer to God.
“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners.”
How will you find time to meditate as this blessed man does?
What would happen if God wanted to break into your world and get your attention this week? What would He be competing with? The television, the newspaper, housework, your job responsibilities or some other distraction? It’s worth thinking about. If the answer you give is unsettling, maybe its time to clear out some of the clutter in your life and place priority on your relationship with your Lord. God responds to us when we urgently relate to him.
“To the Lord I cry aloud and he answers me from his holy hill.”
From what are you praying for deliverance?
Trials of any sort aren’t enjoyable especially when the trial involves a family conflict. But for the child of God they are never without a purpose.
This is hard to remember when the battle is raging or when the pain is at it’s worst. We often don’t see God’s purpose until the trial hasn’t passed. It’s possible God has a greater good for you in the trial than He would have outside of it. If your trial hasn’t passed, ask God for a new sense of the hope we have in trusting our Lord.
How will you implement what has been learned on your job in life?
Senior citizens and our Christian teachers have some very special responsibilities. They should teach the younger by words and by example.
But you must teach what agrees with sound doctrine, Instruct the older men to be sober, sensible, and self-controlled; to be sound in their faith, love, and endurance. In the same way instruct the older women to behave as women who should live a holy life. They must not be slanderers or slaves to wine. They must teach what is good, in order to train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, and to be good housewives who submit themselves to their husbands, so that no one will speak evil of the message that comes from God. In the same way urge the young men to be self-controlled.
How can you help others as a mentor?
You mean I can’t be jealous or fight with anyone. What will I do to pass the day? Love is one suggestion. Attitudes are as important as actions. Just as hatred, leads to murder; so jealousy leads to strife and lust to adultery. Christ wants his people clean on the inside as well as the outside.
“Let us conduct ourselves properly, as people who live in the light of day – no orgies or drunkenness, no immorality or indecency, no fighting or jealousy. But take up the weapons of the Lord Jesus Christ, and stop paying attention to your sinful nature and satisfying its desires.”
What must change to insure that others see you “wearing” Jesus Christ?
We must give up drunkenness, fighting, jealousy, and a lot more that will not be easy.
(1 Clement 1:15)
“Ye were kind one to another without grudging; being ready to do every good work. And being adorned with a conversation altogether virtuous and religious, yes did all things in the fear of God; whose commandments were written on the tables of your heart.”
What is your plan for dealing with jealousy?
Humility in relation to others is needed.
(1 Clement 1:8)
“Ye were all of you humble minded, not boasting of anything; desiring rather to be subject than to govern; to give them to receive; being content with the portion God had dispensed to you;”
What is your plan to implement humility in your life?
Humility is acquired through discipline. The hold their negative impulses in check. They avoid and resist distractions and temptations; which drain their money, moral, and the bodies capabilities. When emotions aren’t controlled they lead to discouragement and depression.
Those who have this inner strength, will finally succeed. They have highs and lows; but they don’t allow the low times to distract them from eternity. They don’t quit when times are tough.
(1 Clement (7:1-2 )
“Let us therefore humble ourselves, brethren, laying aside all pride, and boasting, and foolishness, and anger; and let us do as it is written.”
“For thus saith the Holy Spirit; let not the wise man glory in his strength, nor the strong man in his strength, nor the rich man in his riches; but let him that glorieth, glory in the Lord, to seek him, and to do judgment and justice.”
We must be justified by our actions not our words.
How can I control my tongue?
Pride must be conquered.
“Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.”
Who are some of the other “kings” in your life whom you listen to?
Can you be mighty enough to accept God’s control and discipline? Can you be controlled enough to resist temptations? Can you learn to accept that you can’t do it alone? Can you be Christ-like and be sensitive, quiet, and unselfish.
(1 Clement 14:7)
“Let our praise be of God, not of ourselves; for God hateth those that commend themselves.”
Should a parent live only for their children?
We must also whip into shape any tendency to: over confidence, arrogance, and rashness.
(1 Clement 14:9)
“Rashness, and arrogance, and confidence belong to them who are accursed of God: but equity, and humility, and mildness, to such as are blessed by him.”
We can’t give glory to God when we are glorifying ourself.
(1 Clement 16: 5-6)
“Let our boasting, therefore, and our confidence be in God: let us submit ourselves to his will. Let us consider the whole multitude of his angels, how ready they stand to minister unto this will.
“As saith the scripture, thousands of thousands stood before him and ten thousand times ten thousand ministered unto him. And they cried, saying, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Saboth; the whole earth is full of his glory.”
One of the best ways to overcome conceit and pride is to accept correction.
“If you reprimand an evil man, you will onnly get hurt. Never correct a conceited man; he will hate you for it. But if you correct a wise man, he will respect you. Anything you say to a wise man will make him wiser. Whatever you tell a righteous man will add to his knowledge.
In practical terms, what is the difference between a “Mocker” and a “wise man?”
If we overcome pride, and do good we will live the lives we are intended to. If not our life will not be lived to the fullest in peace, but will exist in torment.
“The reward for doing good is life, but sin leads only to more sin. People who listen when they are corrected will live, but those who will not admit that they are wrong are in danger.”
Faith in Christ, not in self or riches, is what counts. God can bring rich people into the kingdom.
Jesus then said to his disciples, “I assure you; it will be very hard for rich people to enter the Kingdom of heaven. I repeat; it is much harder for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.”
What are you counting on for your “Quality of Life”?
This biblical statement, as well as the story of the “Rich Man” (Mark 10:17-30), emphasizes the letting go of the love of riches for riches sake. Instead we need to consider riches as another “gift” or “ministry” which God provides some of his children, to be used to promote his “Glory” not “Man’s.” This is no doubt the hardest “ministry” to deal with; because it requires letting go of control and turning it over to God. It means “Trusting” in God to direct you, to the proper actions. Be on guard against greed (desire for what we don’t have)? Learn to concentrate instead on the truly good life – living in a relationship with God and doing his will for us.
“Watch out and guard yourselves from every kind of greed; because a person’s true life is not made up of the things he owns, no matter how rich he may be.”
What difference in lifestyle result from believing Jesus versus the advertisements?
A word frequently used to reflect this attitude is; stewardship. The young man who would not “turn it over” left in sorrow while “letting go” for the sake of being God’s child leads to joy. Wise and generous use of wealth can be a “Ministry,” but the pursuit of wealth for the glory of man can cause the wrong choices on that all important question; “Earth’s Child or God’s Child.” It is up to the church to act as a guide in this area.
“The Church is to ‘…Hear witness to the wonderful deed of God and attract others to share in the peace and freedom that Christ alone can give” (The Resilient Church – Avery Dulles Pg. 27).
The people Moses led failed miserably. Even Aaron, the high priest, shirked his responsibilities. Consequently, the Israelites were sentenced to spend the rest of their days meandering across the desert, shut out of the Promised Land. Moses was not the one who had disobeyed in that instance. He had been faithful, yet God did not release Moses from his people. He was their leader. If ever God’s people needed a leader, it was during this period of affliction. Moses spent the remaining forty years of his life wandering in the wilderness, not because of his own failure, but because of the failure of his followers. Too many leaders abandon their people once they fail. Many leaders have justified their abandonment, claiming, “I had to leave that church because no one there wanted to be on mission with God.” Or, “My company was hostile to Christianity so I found a more tolerant place to work.
Come, O Lord, to be the head of my household, and the unifier in my family. Let my home be a haven of comfort and joy. Let my love for those closest to me be the special love that you alone can give. Amen.