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PLEBS 5 SHARE
April 3, 2017
Share PLEBS (5) (SLIDE) A couple of weeks ago, 1 member of our church family called Peter was riding in a taxi to the airport. The taxi driver was a young Indian man who had been sent by his family to Australia to get a University education. And like a number of taxi drivers, this young man had the gift of the gab and he was quite happy sharing about his life. He talked about his love of cricket, and his cricket team at University, and in Peter, he found a fellow cricket lover and the conversation was easy. But after that conversation came to a lull, the taxi driver introduced a new topic. He started to talk to Peter about religion. And he started talking about the different religious sites he’d visited since arriving in Tasmania. He spoke about his visit to a Buddhist centre. He spoke about his visit to Catholic church He spoke about his visit to Hobart Baptist church. Page 1 of 16 And as the Taxi Driver was talking about his visit to these churches, Peter’s spiritual antennae went up, and he started to look for an opportunity to talk about Jesus and his faith And then the moment arrived… After sharing about his experiences, the taxi driver paused and said, “but you know, there is nothing that compares to the feeling I get when I think about Shiva.” As Peter is sitting there in the Taxi, he suddenly realises what is going on. This Hindu taxi driver is trying to evangelise him! The taxi driver has been opening up the topic of religion, so that he can talk to Peter about the glories of Shiva! He isn’t a seeker. He is a worshipper! A worshipper of Shiva! Peter didn’t need to be shy! He didn’t need to be backward! He didn’t need to be afraid! And before he knew it, he found himself saying, “You know that’s exactly the feeling I get when I think about Jesus Christ.” Page 2 of 16 (SLIDE) Today is the final in our sermon series on PLEBS. Pray, Listen, Eat, Bless, Share and today we are exploring the last word: Share: sharing the Good news. For many of us, this is the hardest one. We are happy enough to pray for others. We know about the importance of listening to God for direction. We are more than happy to eat with others and be hospitable. We know that when bless others, God moves in powerful ways. But many of us find sharing our faith hard. So… When someone stands up the front and speaks about the importance of sharing our faith, it’s easy for us listening to feel: inadequate, guilty and even condemned. When a preacher tells us to share with others about Christ’s salvation and love, we so often feel: flat, overwhelmed and anxious. It’s my prayer, that this will not be your experience today. For guilt rarely motivates us long term. Page 3 of 16 It’s my prayer that you to leave here today feeling excited, hopeful and motivated. It’s my prayer that sharing your faith will become as natural as sharing any other good news like: an engagement, or a pregnancy, or exam results, or a child’s first steps. It’s my prayer that God would help you today to be better prepared to share your faith. Page 4 of 16 (SLIDE) Please come with me to our key Scripture today 1 Peter 3:13-17 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts set apart 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, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. Peter tells us here that we are to be prepared. We are be prepared “to give an answer to everyone who asks us to give the reason for the hope that we have.” We are to be ready to share our faith, as the opportunities arise. Whether we are at the hairdressers, in a taxi going to airport, at an office party, talking with neighbours over the fence, or at dinner table. we are to be prepared to speak about our faith. Page 5 of 16 So let me ask you this. What does the Scripture say about “how” we are to be prepared? What do we need to do in order to be prepared to share our faith? If we are preparing to go in a swimming race, then: we practice every day, we eat the right diet, we fine-tune our technique. If we are preparing to speak in a debate, then: we do our homework, we go over our main points, and then try we predict what the counter arguments are going to be and we work out how we can argue against them. But how do we prepare to share our faith? How do we ready ourselves? Well Peter tell us that the 2 most important things we need to do to prepare are not skills at all. To be prepared to share our faith, we are told in 1 Peter 3, Firstly, “Don’t fear people.” Secondly, “Set apart Christ as Lord.” Let’s look at each in turn. Page 6 of 16 (SLIDE) Firstly, “Don’t fear people.” Peter says: “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” “Don’t fear people.” Now this is easier said than done. All of us, at one level care about what others think of us. We don’t want to be known as the party pooper, the killjoy, the old fashioned out-of-date religious nut. We don’t want that. We fear what people will think of us. We fear rejection. We fear even some measure of persecution. But fear brings out all sorts of nasty things in us. When we are fearful of others, some of us get defensive others get offensive, and that’s usually offensive! When we fear others, all sorts of ugly things come out of us. But Peter says, “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” Page 7 of 16 Don’t let the opinions and even outrage of others, cause you to cower in fear. Don’t fear their sniggers. Don’t fear their venom. You don’t need to be afraid. Because the Lord God is your sanctuary. You only person you need to fear, is God himself. In 1 Peter 3:15 Peter says, 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. That word translated respect, should read “fear”. When we share the Gospel, we are to do it not fearing people, but fearing God, trusting God, revering God, honouring God. To be prepared to share our faith, we are told Firstly, “Don’t fear people.” Page 8 of 16 (SLIDE) And Secondly, “Set apart Christ as Lord.” If we are to be prepared to share our faith, we need to decide to follow Jesus no matter what. We need to make that inner commitment to Jesus. To set apart Christ as Lord is to say: “Jesus, you are the Lord of my life.” “Jesus, you my supreme treasure and joy.” “You’re not only the Lord, I receive you as my Lord” To set apart Christ as Lord is to make Jesus’ name and glory your number one concern in life. If we want to be ready to share Christ, then we need to be on our knees, worshipping Christ, adoring Christ, seeking Christ. If we want to be ready to share Christ, then we need to be in the word. We need to have Jesus’ character and his promises, in our hearts. How are people going to notice our hope, if we are not dwelling constantly on our hope? If you want to be prepared to share our faith, then “Don’t fear people.” RATHER “Set apart Christ as Lord.” Page 9 of 16 (SLIDE) So often we think that we are not prepared to share our faith, because we’re not good at answering people’s questions. We feel inadequate. We feel like we need more information to tell people. What about if they ask us about the dinosaurs? What about if they ask us about the crusades? What about if they ask us about violence in the Bible? What about if they ask us about why there is suffering in the world? What are we going to say then? We just feel underprepared. Like the exam is tomorrow, but we’ve covered half the course work, let alone revised. So often we think that we are not prepared to share our faith, because we’re not good at answering people’s questions. But you know that usually couldn’t be further from the truth. (SLIDE) Come with me to Luke 21:12-15 “They will seize you and persecute you. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. And so you will bear testimony to me. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. Page 10 of 16 Interesting isn’t it? Jesus explicitly tells his disciples to not have a pre-prepared speech. Jesus is saying that there is a real limitation in us relying on our own arguments and wisdom. He says to his disciples. “when you have a opportunity to share about me” “when you appear before judges and kings” “when you are facing persecution” “Make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.” Jesus wants us to trust him. Jesus says, “wait for the words that I will give you.” Jesus says a similar thing in Matthew’s Gospel. (SLIDE) Matthew 10:16-20 “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Page 11 of 16 Do you see what Jesus is saying? “Do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” Now this doesn’t mean that all evangelism training courses are wrong. It doesn’t mean that all apologetics is a waste of time. Of course not. But what it does mean, is that the most important thing we can do, in order to prepare to share our faith is not more academic study. It’s to prepare our hearts, so that we will not fear people. but we will fear and honour God & set apart Christ as Lord. Page 12 of 16 (SLIDE) Friends, We don’t need to find more arguments. We need to hope more in God. And as we hope more As we spend time with God and absorb his promises As we spend time in his word and in is presence, this hope in God will dissolve all other fear. John Piper writes, “Our primary activity in preparing to witness is to keep our own hearts happy in God. Morning by morning we have to go to the Word, not to anxiously amass arguments for every possible rebuttal somebody might have. No, we go to the Word because we are so desperately needy, our own hope wanes. We have fears that need to be overcome by the promises of God. We have doubts that need to be answered. The fight of faith is waged on our knees with the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, and prayer. And when we emerge from that encounter with God with a renewed and lively hope in his promises, we will be ready to make a case for our hope. For God only calls us to tell others the reasons which that very day are making us hopeful in Christ.” Page 13 of 16 So let me ask you, what hope is burning right now in your hearts? (SLIDE) What have you read from the Bible in the last 24 hours that has ignited your hope in God? Have you read 1 Peter 5:7? Cast all your anxiety on God because he cares for you. Or 1 Peter 5:10? The God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. Or John 6:35 where Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” Or Psalm 34:18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Or Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Or Psalm 27:1 The Lord is my light and my salvation - whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life - of whom shall I be afraid? Page 14 of 16 Or Psalm 103:13-17 As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him. Or Romans 5:2-5 And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. They are some of my favourites Scriptures of hope. They are places that I go to in the word when I need to refresh my hope in God, They are places that I go to drink. Where do you go and drink and fill up your tank of hope when life sucks you dry? Where do you go so that you’re so brimming with hope, that people ask you to give a reason for the hope that you have? Because that is where you need to go again and again. Page 15 of 16 If you are to be ready to give an answer for the hope that you have, then you need to fill your tank in the word every day. You need a testimony of what God said to you this morning, so that you are ready to share. Right now, please open a bible. There should be one just near you. Now go to favourite promise in scripture. It doesn’t matter which one it is. It could be well known. It could be totally obscure. It doesn’t matter. Go to it now. Read it over 5 times. 10 times. And soak it in. Drink in God’s promise, God’s hope to you. And then quietly, turn the scripture back to God in praise. Determine that you will fear him - not people. And Set apart Christ as Lord. And in a few minutes, I will close in prayer.