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Field Notes

Thoughts, musings and directions for shepherds of FFC

“Heavenly Truths” by Pastor Dennis J. Gallaher, October 15, 2017

Albert King, one of the greatest blues guitarists of the twentieth-century, was famous for his lyrics, “Everyone wants to go to Heaven, but no one wants to die.”

Consequently, Heaven has been relegated to FarSide cartoons, misconceptions, and myths.

To really embrace the desire for evangelism, you’ve got to have a clear goal in mind. That goal is the same as the thief’s goal on the cross next to Jesus.

When the curtain draws on this world and we turn toward eternity, everyone wants their first glimpse to be of Heaven and not hell.
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Opening Scripture:
2 Corinthians 10:3-5  For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

Look at the words used to describe the common attack against the believer, “speculations and lofty things raised against the knowledge of God.” God wants you to know Him and the devil does not. The lies, half-truths, and deceptions against the true knowledge of God keeps people from knowing not just God, but the love of God, the truth of Jesus, and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus said this about satan:
John 8:44  You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

The first lies that he began to tell were about eternity. Eve repeats what God said, “If you eat from the tree, you will die.” The devil’s response is the first recorded and most devastating lie of all:

Genesis 3:4 

Here is the truth:
Heaven and earth are two distinct locations.You can’t have earth in Heaven, and you will never have Heaven on earth. The greatest counterfeit of Heaven is earth.

The idea of Heaven has become what we can posses here on earth. Our society, which has attained such wealth, comfort, self-indulgence, and sufficiency, has little use for Heaven.

1 Corinthians 2:9  “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.”

2 Corinthians 12:3-4  Paul was “caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak.”

That is why the lie is so dangerous and destructive to the truth! If this is all there is, then just keep living a sorry life. But if Eternity with Jesus is just a few short breaths away, doesn’t it make sense to live in such a way that Paradise and Heaven can also be mine someday?

Colossians 3:1-4  Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.
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Truths About Heaven:

1) Isaiah 25:6-12  The Lord of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain; a banquet of aged wine, choice pieces with marrow, and refined, aged wine. And on this mountain He will swallow up the covering which is over all peoples, even the veil which is stretched over all nations. He will swallow up death for all time, and the Lord God will wipe tears away from all faces, and He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth; for the Lord has spoken. And it will be said in that day, “Behold, this is our God for whom we have waited that He might save us. This is the Lord for whom we have waited; let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.” For the hand of the Lord will rest on this mountain, and Moab will be trodden down in his place as straw is trodden down in the water of a manure pile. And he will spread out his hands in the middle of it as a swimmer spreads out his hands to swim, but the Lord will lay low his pride together with the trickery of his hands. The unassailable fortifications of your walls He will bring down, lay low and cast to the ground, even to the dust.

2) Luke 13:29-30  “And they will come from east and west and from north and south, and will recline at the table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first and some are first who will be last.”

3) John 14:2-4  “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way where I am going.”

4) Revelations 7:13-17  Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and where have they come from?” I said to him, “My lord, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. For this reason, they are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them. They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore; nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat; for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes.”

5) Revelations 21:4  “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”

6) Revelations 22:3-5  There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever.

The lies will be done. The curse of sin and death will be over. Creation will be released form the bondage of corruption.

Paul said:
Romans 8:18-19  For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.

Nothing will age. Nothing will be lost. All work will be enduring and productive.

Don’t you want to be with Him in Paradise?

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For those that look to Jesus, this world is not your home; you are just passing through.

So, our lives and the way we live point to Heaven where Jesus is, not the earth where the curse and lies live.

Colossians 3:1-7  Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them.
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Questions:
– What are some lies, myths, or misconceptions you’ve heard about Heaven?
– Why is it important to know the truth about Heaven in the context of evangelism?
– What excites you about Heaven? Why? (This is important to keep in mind and remember as we go through the struggles, difficulties, rejections, heartbreaks, and persecutions of life. Set your mind on things above; remember this world is not our home.)

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“End Times Evangelism” by Pastor Dennis J. Gallaher, October 8, 2017

The signs of the end times are all around us. Do not let the frequency, distance, or 24 hour news cycle put you to sleep.

The disciples wanted to know when the end would come.

Opening Scripture:
Luke 21:7  They questioned Him, saying, “Teacher, when therefore will these things happen? And what will be the sign when these things are about to take place?”

Matthew 24:3  As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”

We are so wrapped up with the economy, politics, radio pundits, tweets, or Facebook posts, we no longer ask the right questions.

All the shiny objects dangled by satan to a naive church have stolen our attention away from the obvious and loving signs the Lord gave.
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Jesus said there would be wars and rumors of wars.
Jesus said there would be earthquakes, famine, and weather.
Jesus said there would be martyrdom.

John 16:2  They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God.

Matthew 24:9  “Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name.”

Christians are now the most persecuted believers in the world.

Matthew 24:12  Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.

Most people’s love, agapē, which is the love of God, will grow cold. The love that seeks to serve and is a choice for the highest good will grow cold.

It is that agape love that is the fuel for evangelism.

Matthew 24:13-14  But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.

We have been talking about a new evangelism that sees men and women as alone in need of another and not only sinners in need of a Savior. This is what we call “Touch Evangelism.”

Why? Jesus did more touching than preaching and more comforting than condemning. He touched hearts that were stone cold with loneliness, hearts that were empty with fear, and He did it all because He came to be with us and never leave.
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With all these signs more apparent than at any time in history, our indifference to the lost and alone is nothing short of a heart that has grown cold.

We are consumed with our little dysfunctional worlds, to the point where taking the good new to those we know is not even on our radar. It must be because the days are growing short.

Here are two reasons for this:

1) The Battle Between Truth & Lies

John 14:6  Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”

John 17:7  Now they have come to know that everything You have given Me is from You.

John 1:14  And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

This Kingdom is most identified by this Word, this God-breathed, Holy Spirit empowered Word that gives light to our path. It is a sword in the hand of the Holy Spirit, and we are to preach it in season and out.

The other reality is the kingdom of hell is defeated but is fiercely fighting in spite of that defeat.

John 8:44  You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

Jesus said that the ruler of that kingdom has no truth in him. He is a liar and the father of lies.

There is a battle between The Truth and the father of lies. As long as our focus is on the constant noise of this world, you will not tune into the still, small voice of the Defender of Truth, the Holy Spirit.
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2) Rebellion Against God

1 Samuel tells the sad story of Saul, the first King of Israel. He was given specific instructions to annihilate the Amalikites. They are a picture of the flesh in the Scriptures. They continually attacked the weak and elderly in the wilderness.

Instead of obeying God, Saul rebels by taking the spoils of the battle. He then defends his actions, wanting credit for emphasizing religion and ritual above obedience.

1 Samuel 15:23  “For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.”

Here Samuel tells Saul that his rebellion is equal to witchcraft.
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Now, we have the Truth. We have the commissioning to go to the highways and byways and to care for the ones in the ditch. We are told to preach the Good News and to come along side of the lonely to share the love of God.

At what point do we call our lack of evangelism…
– our unwillingness to cross the street.
– our reluctance to share the love of God.
– our phobia of not being liked if we do that.

At what point does not sharing the Truth, Jesus, become sin?
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Close:

Matthew 24:25  Behold, I have told you in advance.

The real value of His prophetic warnings is that we would know what to do when chaos, confusion, and the ever-shifting morals of our culture have seemingly taken over.

He tells everyone of us…
– I am coming back.
– Don’t be seduced by the lies of the world.
– “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”
– “He who believes in Me will live, even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die.”

There are two concerns at the forefront:
1) Those who have made an excuse out of sinfully neglecting the commissioning of the Lord.

We are calloused and blind to the human tragedies that surround us. At some point, our refusal to obey God is rebellion.

2) Those who have yet to bow their hearts to Jesus.

Those of us who come to Jesus are admitting that we are broken, powerless, and in need of a change we cannot make ourselves.

Matthew 11:28  “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
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Question:

– What are you allowing to hold you back from sharing the Gospel openly?

“Overcoming Prejudices” by Pastor James Gallaher, October 1, 2017

Two Types of Prejudices:
Pre-judgement – willful choice
Prejudice by omission – ignorance

The gospel was given to invade brokenness and provide for us reconciliation.

Opening Scripture:
Acts 1:8  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.

This is the power of reconciliation. Up to this point, God dealt almost exclusively with Israel. Jesus is now hinting at a dramatic shift that is going to take place at the birth of the church. Acts lays out the movement from Judaism to Christianity.

The struggle though is that we are drawn to people who look like us, talk like us, and think like us. We are drawn to what is familiar rather than what is diverse.

Acts 10:23-28  And on the next day he got up and went away with them, and some of the brethren from Joppa accompanied him. On the following day he entered Caesarea. Now Cornelius was waiting for them and had called together his relatives and close friends. When Peter entered, Cornelius met him, and fell at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter raised him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am just a man.” As he talked with him, he entered and *found many people assembled. And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him; and yet God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean.

Acts 10:34   I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality.

Acts 10:44-48   While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God. Then Peter answered, “Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?” And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay on for a few days.

The Holy Spirit brings reconciliation between this Jew and this Gentile. Peter’s heart experiences a shift, so much so that when life is pressed, he boldly offers a defense for the encounter.

Acts 11:1-2   Now the apostles and the brethren who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. And when Peter came up to Jerusalem, those who were circumcised took issue with him.

Now realize, they never even mention salvation. This is all about the prejudice. The problem for them was not about salvation of the Gentiles or what God had done, they couldn’t get past the fact he ate with them.

Peter tells them plainly what God had done and how they need to get over it.

The problem was that Peter, like many of us can do, drifted from what he experienced in Acts 10 back to what he was comfortable with. As a result, we have the confrontation in Galatians 2 between Paul and Peter.

Galatians 2:11-14   But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision. The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, “If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?

We have a tendency to drift back towards what looks like us and what we are comfortable with.

Paul points out that separated community is not in line with the Gospel.

Ephesians 2:8-9   For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Remember that none of us got into the Kingdom by anything we did.

Ephesians 2:11-16   Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands— remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.

The Gentiles were not looking for a Savior. This broke down the dividing wall.

If we have any hope for reconciliation, it must be driven by the Gospel.

This will require us all to enter areas where we will feel uncomfortable and will be misunderstood.

The church will continue to suffer until we become intimately aware that she was not built for our comfort and preferences, but the church is the means to provide reconciliation and salvation to a divided world.

What will you do to make sure the message of the Gospel remains central to our focus?

What personal prejudices have stood in the way of reconciliation either between you and someone or that person and Christ?

Until we honestly evaluate our own hearts, we will continually drift towards and become content with that which is not like us.
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Question:

– What types of people do you harbor prejudice against?

“Fear of Evangelism” by Pastor Dennis J. Gallaher, September 24, 2017

Opening Scripture:
Proverbs 29:25  The fear of man brings a snare, but he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted.

What is the fear of man?
– The desire for other’s approval
– The need to be well liked by all
– The approval of the world is more important than God’s approval

To desire the approval of men means we do not desire the approval of God.

The two are mutually exclusive – you will either fear man or fear God. One is a snare, and the other is the life-source of wisdom.

Proverbs 9:10  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

Jeremiah 32:38-40  They shall be My people, and I will be their God; and I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me always, for their own good and for the good of their children after them. I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; and I will put the fear of Me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from Me.

Deuteronomy 10:12-13  “Now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require from you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the Lord’s commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today for your good?

Mathew 10:28-31  Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.

We are to love God supremely and fear God supremely…they are two sides of the same coin.

If we are to increase our understanding, our love, and our success in and for evangelism, we must stop fearing man and seeking his approval, and return to fearing God and knowing His approval. I know this because the Bible tells me so.

Proverbs 11:30  The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who is wise wins souls.

Godly fear…
– Reaches up and obey the Father’s commands
– Reaches out and serves those around
– Reaches down and leads others in the Everlasting Way

Godly fear is the missing ingredient in much of evangelism.
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The opposite of godly fear is defiance against God.
– It is independence, rebellion, and devaluing authority, especially spiritual authority.
– It is giving a pass to the flesh and making an excuse for sin.
– It is deflecting responsibility away from self to others, circumstances, and even God.

We can change that, because the fear of the Lord brings wisdom and he who is wise saves souls!

How does the fear of man show up? We decide…
– “They don’t want to listen.”
– “They probably go to church already.”
– “They are not like me.”

Psalms 78:41-42  Again and again they tempted God, and pained the Holy One of Israel. They did not remember His power, the day when He redeemed them from the adversary.

They “pained” the Holy One.  (provoked, tempted, vexed God)
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The Hebrew word for “pained” has two root words that mean “grieving God by scratching out an imprint.” In short, limiting God means to make a circle around Him saying, “God is in here in my world, and He goes no further.”

The early church in Jerusalem confined Jesus to the Jewish population. The church in the 20th century limited God to those who dressed, spoke, and acted accordingly.

But, Jesus will never be confined. Loving Him and fearing Him means we get out of our little safe circles and take the Good News with us.
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Action:
Prove yourself wrong. Where is that one house on your block that seems to be a mystery? Instead of continuing to speculate about the person or family that lives there, go over to that house and learn something new about them.

“Risky Evangelism” by Pastor James Gallaher, September 17, 2017

Life is moving at a faster pace now than it ever has. Unfortunately, this has become the reason most believers cite for not being more engaged in the work of the Gospel.

Opening Scripture:
Psalms 37:23   The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way.

If the “he” here is us, then it would seem that even in chaos, “we” would delight.

Maybe the problem isn’t with my schedule but with my understanding. On Friday, I did what we have been learning in our neighboring Sunday school class; I went across the street and gave care to a neighbor whose husband is dying.

Purpose changes perspective.

Do you believe that our ways are ordered by God so that we might delight in His ways?

I worry because it appears that most Christians are just hanging on, trying to preserve what is left rather than increasing what they have.
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Read Matthew 25:14-28  The story of the talents

Jesus called the third servant “wicked.” It seems to become more about what he didn’t do than what he did. He didn’t capitalize on what he was given and as a result had even what he was given taken away.

When it come to time, are you capitalizing on the investment?

My concern is that evangelism has become more about preserving the image of Christ rather than increasing the presence of Christ.

But like the stewards, increasing Christ’s presence requires risk, a risk that we may fail, be misunderstood, or rejected.

Throughout Scriptures, the kingdom of God advanced through great risk with no guarantee for success.

These men had no guarantee that God would show up:
– Abraham as he went to sacrifice Jacob
– Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego being thrown into the fire
– Jonathan and his armor bearer

1 Samuel 14:6-7  Then Jonathan said to the young man who was carrying his armor, “Come and let us cross over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; perhaps the Lord will work for us, for the Lord is not restrained to save by many or by few.” His armor bearer said to him, “Do all that is in your heart; turn yourself, and here I am with you according to your desire.”

There was no guarantee for these guys; they all took a risk. Without risk, the kingdom will not advance.

Why did the first 2 servants risk when the third did not?

Matthew 25:24-25   “And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed. And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’”

The third guy didn’t trust his master’s goodness. The other two saw a different master: one who was gracious and able to handle mistakes made in pursuit of risk.

“Every great risk in God’s name begins with confidence in the goodness and trustworthiness of God. “

What you believe about God determines how you will respond to Him.

Verse 25 shows that he was afraid. Fear will always keep you from taking risks.

1 John 4:18   There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.

The first two guys believed their master loved them.

What would you risk if you believed in that kind of love, the real catch-me-if-I-fall kind of love?

God’s trust in you began when He called you; He trusted you because He loves you.

Redeem the schedule; be busy with purpose and allow purpose to change your perspective.

We need people who are willing to take a risk for the kingdom.
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Questions:
– How can you better capitalize on your time this week, allowing purpose to change your perspective?
– Who can you reach out to and take a risk with this week?

“A New Evangelism” by Pastor Dennis J. Gallaher, September 10, 2017

The old story is this:
– Jesus Christ came to save sinners.
– He empowered His church to preach the Good News that God’s grace is for all and freedom from sin and hell is for the asking.
– Whoever calls on the Name of Jesus will be saved.
– Whoever turns from their rebellion will live a life with purpose, freedom, and joy.
– Whoever does not will be bound by the chains of sin and be delivered to hell on judgement day.

It is the task of every generation to take this message forward.

The problem with the world today is rebellion – hatred, willful, deliberate turning from God.

This has been the condition since the Garden when Adam chose the devil’s lies over the truth of God’s own voice.

It is our privilege to be the messengers of the Gospel of Grace that saves, heals, trains, and releases a life of true freedom through a relationship with Jesus Christ.
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How are we, Freedom Fellowship Church, going to deliver this grace to our community?

Genesis 2:7   Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.

All the rest of creation was spoken into existence, but not mankind. He mixed dirt and water together with His own hands forming man into the image of God himself. Then He took that lifeless form and blew into it the breath of life, and man became a living soul.

Before man was alive, he was touched by God with His fingerprints all over him, as well as His divine breath within him.

Genesis 2:18   Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

The first crisis was not sin but being alone. God created Adam with a holy need for relationship with others.

Sin destroys relationships, first with God and quickly with others. Adam’s first response to sin was to cover himself from Eve and then to hide from God.

When Jesus came, He came to restore. The way He did it was the same as in the Garden; He touched dead, lifeless men, women, and children.

The word for “touch” is used 36 times in the New Testament. It means to modify or change by touching, touching that influences, to start a fire, to kindle a flame.
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John 9:2   And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

This healing story begins where most evangelism begins.

Man is a sinner in need of a Savior. But before he was a sinner in need of a Savior, he was alone in need of another.

John 9:6   Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud.

Just like in the Garden, He touched him.

What happened next are 3 rejections:
1.  His neighbors – they argue about whether it is him or not.
2.  Synagogue, the church – they tell him his doctrine is wrong, his belief system is different.
3.  His family – they know him but they tell them to ask him, he is of age.

John 9:35   Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”

Jesus heard what happened, and he went and found him. He touched his life with grace, soothed his soul with comfort, and removed his aloneness by being with him.

John 9:38   He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.

Then He saved his soul!

Touching people is …
– Seeing them as stamped with the image of God.
– Seeing them as alone in need of another.
– Knowing how to give an account for the hope that is within you.
– Opening your eyes and seeing people the way Jesus sees them.

This is what I now call “Touch Evangelism.”

How many people can you intentionally come alongside of this week?
How often can you leave people less alone?
How often can you cross the street and demonstrate through sincere care “the hope that is within you?”
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Close:

John 9:31   We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him.

People believe they have to get cleaned up, stop messing up, and God will hear them.

Matthew 11:28-29   Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

If you will come to Jesus, He will touch you with all His grace, mercy, forgiveness, and kindness!
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Questions:
– How many people can you intentionally come alongside of this week?
– How often can you leave people less alone?
– How often can you cross the street and demonstrate through sincere care “the hope that is within you?”

“Contagious Faith” by Tyler Ferguson, September 3, 2017

Have you ever had a contagious sickness spread throughout your entire family? Our faith is like that when in the life of the believer, we live out the joys that awaits us contagiously. The key characteristic that we as Christians should strive to live out is contagious joy.

The life of the believer is so often the only glimpse into the Kingdom of God that the unbeliever is going to get.

The thing that demonstrates the power of God in our lives is when we can go through the storms and trials of this world, and yet be marked by a joy that cannot be found in this world.

False Joy vs.Biblical Joy

1. False joy is rooted in the world while true joy is rooted in the Kingdom of God.

Opening Scripture:
Habakkuk 3:17   Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls. (ESV)

The picture he paints here is one of things being really bad today and not getting any better tomorrow.

Some of you have gone through a tragedy that you cannot imagine things ever getting better. When those times come, where does your joy come from?

When we look to the world for joy, not only will we be let down, but we will be left with no ground to stand on.

Habakkuk 3:18   Yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. (ESV)

Our joy, when built not on the circumstances around us but on the circumstances around Jesus, can never fail because no matter how big the problems are, the shadow cast by the cross eclipses them all.

Philippians 3:20-22    But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. (ESV)

The waves might not stop, but the joy that marks your life during those times is a more powerful testimony to those around you than calm seas will ever be.

2. False joy is deceitful, but true joy is honest.

Joy is not saying that things are good when they are not. True joy is honest about the difficulties going on, all the while looking toward the promise of being a resident of the Kingdom of God.

3. False joy belongs to me, but true joy belongs to the Holy Spirit.

Nehemiah 8:10     “…for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (ESV)

That changes everything. Because now joy is not a matter of me trying really hard to put on a happy face when things are tough, but instead involves me simply going to the Holy Spirit and asking Him to give me the joy promised to me as a resident of the Kingdom.

The Holy Spirit shines brightest from you when there are dark clouds all around and you have no idea how many people are going to take a step closer to entering the Kingdom because they saw your joy in the middle of the storm.
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Questions:
– What keeps you from being honest with others about your situation?
– How can you show joy this week to others?
– What situations are you going through that are trying to rob you of joy?

“Redefining Evangelism” by Pastor Dennis J. Gallaher, August 27, 2017

Opening Scripture:
Romans 14:10  But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.

I will not negate that what we do here on earth has importance, but it is who you know that will matter in eternity.

At the fall of man:
– God could have punished Adam.
– God could have started over.
– God could have sentenced him.

But the ultimate result of his sin was separation from God, not the loss of love but of relationship.

That’s why John 3:16 is so amazing.
– As the result of God’s love…”For God so loved the world”
– His plan was not about fixing, but re-relating to man…”He gave His son”
– And whoever would believe in Him results in a process of walking, relating, evaluating, and obeying Him…”Shall not perish, but have eternal life”

The emphasis is on the end, not on the process of getting there. The goal is eternity.

When we reach that kind of clarity of vision, then our lives, goals, and expectations actually have an opportunity to focus.
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God’s vision is restored eternity; our vision is often clouded by having a good life now and leaving eternity till it comes.

God’s vision is encapsulated in four chapters:

Read Genesis 1-2
– God shows us the world as He intended, Adam and Even in perfect relationship with each other and with God.

Read Revelations 21-22
– God tells us what Eternity will be like, where we will be in perfect relationship with God and one another.

Deuteronomy 7:6  For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.

Peter repeats this declaration and owns it for the church of Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 2:9-10  But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

In between these two bookends, the church is to live with a clear and uncluttered vision as to what is really important – eternity.

Matthew 16:18-19  I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.

Our commissioning began with these words. If the church is to fulfill our calling, then we must return first to the vision that our Father has for us…
– To be a holy people; yes, behavior matters.
– To know that God chose us long before we chose Him.
– He has chosen us to possess us, to make us fully His own.

Reread 1 Peter 2:9-10
– That we would be the temple for His Holy Spirit.
– That we would be holy as He is holy.
– That, in great faith, we would put aside this world and all it’s trinkets to fight the good fight for souls.
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Habakkuk 2:1-3  I will stand on my guard post and station myself on the rampart; and I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me, and how I may reply when I am reproved. Then the Lord answered me and said, “Record the vision and inscribe it on tablets, that the one who reads it may run. “For the vision is yet for the appointed time; it hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; for it will certainly come, it will not delay.

We must return to a clear vision of what God has for His ultimate eternity. Our vision must return to God’s love for people.

We must be a people where evangelism is marked by holy living and forged faith.

Psalms 139:23-24  Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.
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Questions:
–  How does knowing God’s vision for Genesis 1-2 and Revelations 21-22 change the way you relate to those around you?
–  What changes do you need to make in your life to have a more eternal perspective?- ?

“Purpose Over Product” by Pastor James Gallaher, August 20, 2017

Opening Scripture:
Mark 8:22-25  And they came to Bethsaida. And they brought a blind man to Jesus and implored Him to touch him. Taking the blind man by the hand, He brought him out of the village; and after spitting on his eyes and laying His hands on him, He asked him, “Do you see anything?” And he looked up and said, “I see men, for I see them like trees, walking around.” Then again He laid His hands on his eyes; and he looked intently and was restored, and began to see everything clearly.

Mark 8:14-21  And they had forgotten to take bread, and did not have more than one loaf in the boat with them. And He was giving orders to them, saying, “Watch out! Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” They began to discuss with one another the fact that they had no bread. And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you discuss the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet see or understand? Do you have a hardened heart? Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember, when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces you picked up?” They said to Him, “Twelve.” “When I broke the seven for the four thousand, how many large baskets full of broken pieces did you pick up?” And they said to Him, “Seven.” And He was saying to them, “Do you not yet understand?”

Evangelism has become the product instead of the purpose. The focus is on results instead of relationships.

I know and believe the Great Commission, but I struggle in figuring out how to fulfill it.

Does evangelism feel like a sales technique for the Gospel?

95% of all Christians have never led anyone to Christ.
80% of Christians do not consistently witness for Christ.

I don’t think it’s a conviction problem, but I think it’s a delivery problem. Evangelism has been portrayed as not only unattractive but also unsuccessful.

Over 85% of us came to salvation by the same means, a personal relationship. God uses people to connect others to Himself.

Reread Mark 8:22-25

They brought him.
–  They said I should talk to you.
He took him by the hand.
–  This is the personal connection.
He led him to a private place.
–  Spiritual healing was never meant to be a public spectacle.
He healed him.
–  Then He did it again.

Jesus’ intent was never to lead him part of the way but to see him through to total healing.

Evangelism is your story about His grace on your life. Your story is the connection someone is needing to connect them to the only One who can save them.

Let us put our effort in what produces the greatest success – Relationship!
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Questions:
– Describe a time you told your testimony and were positively received.
– How can you share your story?
– Who in your path each day needs your personal relationship to bring them to salvation?

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