Archive for March 26th, 2012

From JO’s sermon tonight:

we all know people that used to be strong in their faith, but somewhere along the way they fell off-course;  now they feel guilty and condemned, like they don’t really belong.  the book of James talks about how we have to go after the prodigals, the people who have fallen away:

James 5:19-20 (NIV)

19 My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

God is counting on you to go get that person.  we have a responsibility to bring these people back.  you don’t have to tell them what they’re doing wrong, don’t condemn them, just tell them 3 simple things:  we miss you, we need you, we love you.  love heals, love restores;  when people know that you care, that’s what brings prodigals back home.

we can’t help everyone, but we can help someone;  God puts people in our path on purpose;  all they need is to hear you say we miss you, we need you, we love you. when people know you care it lights a new fire on the inside;  the closest thing to the heart of God is helping hurting people.  when you take an interest in someone that’s fallen away, that’s struggling, that’s lost their sense of purpose, God will take an interest in you.  He will make sure that you are well taken care of.

the most important thing in life is helping other people;  Jesus said that if a person causes someone to fall away from the faith, it would be better for that person that caused it to have never born;  when you restore the fallen, when you go after the prodigals, and help get them back on the right path, there is nothing more pleasing to God;  when you reach out to one of His children, and get them back on course,  there’s nothing that God won’t do for you

we have an assignment;  we have to leave the 99 and go after the 1 lost sheep;  you’ve got to be willing to be inconvenienced, to make sacrifices;  you ARE the church;  God is counting on you to bring that sheep back into the fold.  God is counting on each one of us to watch after our own flock

when people know that they’re missed, needed, appreciated, it makes what they’re going through much easier;  they are your business, we have a responsibility to help bring back the people that have fallen away;  at the right time your message will go through.  right now the soil of their heart may be hard and rocky, they won’t listen to you;  the seed you are planting is alive and it will never die, you keep planting those seeds and at some point God will change the condition of their heart and the seeds you have planted will take root and come to life

you’re never wasting time going after a prodigal; the seeds are going in

Matthew 9:12 (NIV)

On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.

make an effort to bring somebody back into the fold

Galatians 6:1

If anyone falls away, you who are mature are to gently restore them.

(Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.)

don’t have a holier than thou attitude;  we’re not supposed to condemn people, belittle people, make a spectacle of them, that’s going to drive them further away;  say “I know you’ve had some setbacks, but God’s mercy is bigger than any mistake;  God wants to give you a new beginning, why don’t you come back home, it’s not the same without you”; that’s what going to draw people back

Romans 2:4 (KJV)

Or despise you the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?

today many people have the wrong concept of God; they’ve made mistakes, they’ve gone astray and now they think that God is mad at them, God has a ball bat up in heaven just waiting to push them down further; they live guilty, condemned, feeling wrong on the inside.  the last place they want to go is to church, they think they’ll even feel worse.  they’ve heard all about the judgment of God;  they haven’t heard much about the goodness of God.  in the Old Testament God did get angry with people at certain times, but we live under the New Testament; because of what Jesus has done, God is not mad at us anymore

when you reach out to a prodigal almighty God goes to work;  God begins to deal with the person;  in the natural it may look like they’re never going to change;  they’re so far off, they’re not receptive, I’d be wasting my time.  no, God knows how to soften the soil;  you don’t have to condemn them, love is what never fails.  just sow the seed, we miss you, we need you, we love you, let God do  the work

our job is not to convict people, our job is to sow the seed

the word gospel is literally translated “good news”;  our message is you may have made mistakes but the good news is God has mercy, you may have fallen off course but the good news is God is waiting with open arms to receive you back;  you may have had a setback but the good news is God can turn it into a setup to do something greater

when you go after the prodigals, remember, it’s good news;  don’t be angry, harsh, judgmental, condemning, have a smile on your face, be kind, loving, forgiving, merciful, you’re sharing good news

it’s amazing what happens when people know they’re needed, they’re missed;  when people know you care it breathes new hope back into their spirit

God will use your act of love to ignite something new on the inside

if you’ll make it your business to take care of God’s children, God will make it his business to take care of you and your children; as you help others stay on the right course, God will make sure  you and your family fulfill your destiny, you will become everything God’s created you to be

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