I was talking with my neighbor recently, and I brought up a current event, that seems to be the focus of all news sources. His reply was, “Honestly, I have stopped watching the news!” I am sure there are many of us that would identify with that statement. I could find it easy to do that too. Yet, I engage the news, in a limited way, because I want to know what is happening to better touch the people around me. I have to be honest, I have been burdened by what I am experiencing.
This Sunday we focused on Romans 10, It is nestled in the middle of three of the most challenging chapters in the book of Romans. The focus of chapter 9 is on election and chapter 11 focuses on God’s plan for Israel. Sandwiched in between these two heavy hitters is chapter 10 that focuses on the importance of the message of Jesus being communicated! And it is in the beginning of this chapter that Paul again reveals his heart to communicate the message of Jesus with others, in His case his own people.
If you are interested, you can listen to the whole message “A Heart for My World.” I focused on 5 aspects of a follower that has a Heart to touch people for Jesus and challenge myself and our congregation to be those people in our community. First, we need to have a heart for those that don’t yet know Christ. I have learned over the years, that if I don’t make sharing a priority, it does not happen. We have also seen that in our church, when we fail to be intentional, little to nothing happens. If you and I are going to be a channel of God’s grace then we need to be intentional about sharing the message of Jesus. We need to be actively looking for those opportunities of hurting people that the Lord brings across our path. Second, We need to develop a heart for difficult people. Maybe I am more aware of this because I was one of those “unreachables.” I had many “Christian” friends that never made an attempt to share Jesus with me or invite me to church. I know it was because I was a difficult person. I was one of those bad boys that was “beyond God’s grace.” But thankfully one follower, Ned, took that bold step, and as a result the Lord used him to help me come to know Christ! Third, those with a heart for others will be willing to sacrifice to touch others. It can be our time, our finances, our reputation, our comfort or even our agenda. If we are not willing to be flexible, chances are few lives will be touched. This is a church challenge for churches filled with self-focused followers and I am one of them! Fourth, a person with a heart for the world shares the message of Jesus. There are many followers that serve others and invest time and resources in others, but at some point you have to make known you are a follower and second take advantage of those opportunities to share the gospel. Paul put it this way, “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear vwithout someone preaching?” (Romans 10:14) I encourage followers to make known their commitment to Jesus early in the relationship. I find it much easier than to share later. And fifth, those with a heart for the world, will invite them to accept Jesus. Salvation is the result of a personal decision and many times it is the invitation of another that results in a person becoming a follower of Jesus. Early in my life as a Christian I found this the hardest thing to do, to invite a person to pray and accept Christ. And this has happened in many different places from my office, to a restaurant and even over the phone.
All the recent news and my study of the Gospel in Romans has deepened my love and commitment to allow the Lord to use me to touch as many people as possible for Him because Jesus is the answer! But how will others know if I fail to share?
-Pastor Joe Parkinson`