Today we continue our message series which I’ve entitled “Adventurous Living.” If you missed last week’s message “Choose Adventure” you can watch it on our website or Facebook page. God created you to live a life of adventure with Him. As I was thinking about this series, I thought about how fairy tales are the typical adventure story.
In a typical fairy tale, you have a beautiful princess who has been captured by an evil witch of some kind. Everything seems hopeless. But there is a prince, who has to undergo a hazardous journey in order to rescue the beautiful princess. Once rescued, they ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after. That basic plot or some variation is the underlying plot for countless movies and books. Do you know where that adventure plot comes from? It comes from the pages of the Bible.
Jesus, the prince, lives in the unmatched beauty of heaven. His bride, the people He created in Paradise, have been captured by the evil Satan and imprisoned. Jesus must leave heaven, go to battle on earth with Satan. Jesus appears to be defeated as Satan has Him crucified on a cross. But then Jesus comes back to life and begins to set His bride free from her prison. We know the end of the story, that Jesus and His freed bride, the church, live happily ever after in Paradise. But you and I are characters in the story and the story has not ended yet. Each person must choose to escape their prison of sin by believing in Jesus. Then they can join Him in helping rescue others still imprisoned. We can join Jesus in a life of adventure, looking forward to eternity with Him at the end of the story.
Luke 19:10 (ESV) For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.
So, Jesus’ mission was to find those who were imprisoned and save them.
1 John 3:8b (ESV) The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.
In order to rescue people, Jesus had to destroy the devil’s works. If you’re a believer in Jesus here today, then Jesus has rescued you, you have been saved. That means that you are now on Jesus’ side in the kingdom of God. You now join Jesus on His mission of saving the lost and destroying the devil’s works. That is the life of adventure, God created you to live.
Today, I want to talk about “Adventure Motivation.” How can we be motivated to join Jesus in this great adventure? There is a deeper motivation then just being excited by adventure.
Mark 12:30-31 (ESV) And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
The first motivation is simply loving God. If you love Jesus, then you will obey Him and join Him in the mission of rescuing lost people. The second motivation is simply loving lost people and doing everything you can to rescue them. Of course, the problem is that lost people often don’t realize they’re lost and that they need rescuing. So, they often, usually, will resist being rescued or even persecute their rescuers. In effect, we are called on to rescue our enemies, for they have been deceived by the evil prince Satan.
Matthew 5:44-45 (ESV) But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.
So, rather than being angry at the lost, rather than hating them, we are to love them and pray for them, as we seek to rescue them. People who need rescuing are all around us. Let’s watch a short video called “Matter.” Loving people starts with caring about them, making sure they matter to us.
If we can better see people as Jesus sees them, we will be better able to interact with them with God’s love. Jesus saw every person as a person of value, a person that He came to this earth to die for. Jesus saw beyond the sins and failings of people and looked to their potential as a child of God. Jesus saw people as …
Luke 15:4-5 (ESV) “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
In this parable of Jesus, He Himself is the shepherd who goes searching for the one lost sheep, out of a hundred, until He finds it. Jesus saw every person who was not His disciple as a lost sheep. Someone who belonged in His flock with Him as the shepherd, but who had strayed away. The lost sheep may have been rebellious or foolish in wandering away from the flock, but Jesus did not focus on the negative. He saw the value in every lost person, if they would come back to their shepherd and His flock. Jesus saw that people were …
Matthew 9:36 (ESV) When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
In this verse, we see Jesus seeing people as first of all being harassed. They were being harassed by Satan, but they had no defenses against Satan’s attacks, they were helpless. The people were just like sheep without a shepherd, harassed by wolves or thieves and helpless to do anything about it. When Jesus saw people as lost sheep, harassed and helpless, what effect did that have on Him? It made Jesus feel compassion for those people. Compassion moved Jesus to meet the true needs of the people He saw.
What do you see when you look at lost people, mired in various sins and foolish decisions? Our natural tendency is to see ourselves as superior to them and be disgusted by them. Although we should be disgusted by sinful behavior, we shouldn’t be disgusted by the people themselves. We ought to have compassion on them. Without Jesus in their lives, they are harassed and helpless. They are in sin way over their heads and cannot find their way out. If we lack the compassion we should have for lost people, what can we do about it?
The most important thing is to pray for compassion. Ask God to birth compassion for lost people in your heart. A compassion that is not content to leave people in their sin, but a compassion that moves you to do your part in bringing them to meet their shepherd, Jesus. To do our part for the lost people in our circle of relationships, we must …
John 15:14 (ESV) You are my friends if you do what I command you.
Obeying Jesus’ commands is not optional for a believer, a disciple of Jesus. A disciple of Jesus is also a friend of Jesus. Who are Jesus’ friends? Jesus gives us the answer right in this verse. Jesus’ friends are those who do what He commands. Those who do choose not to obey Jesus’ commands prove that they are not His friends and are not His disciples at all. Let’s look at some of Jesus’ commands with regard to reaching the lost.
Matthew 9:37 (ESV) Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few;
This verse immediately follows the verse we read about the crowds that Jesus saw as harassed and helpless. When Jesus’ disciples looked out over the vast crowd, they may have been tempted to believe that there was nothing they could to help. They may have been tempted to believe that there were not people who were ready to believe. But Jesus told them the harvest was plentiful. In other words, God had been working in people’s lives and many were ready to believe and follow Jesus. So, the problem was not that people were resistant or not interested, the problem was that God’s harvest workers were few. God needed more harvest workers to bring in the harvest. Bringing in the harvest means to lead the lost to be saved and become followers of Jesus. So, obviously, Jesus’ disciples, and that includes you and me, must choose to work in the harvest and we must …
Matthew 9:38 (ESV) therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
Whenever we lack something, we pray. We pray for additional co-workers to work in the harvest field where God has placed us. Our harvest field for Life Church is the St Louis metro area. We must pray for more workers to help us in God’s harvest field in St. Louis. One final observation, God is looking for workers. Bringing in the harvest is not easy, it is hard work. But God empowers those who work in His harvest field.
So when you pray for more workers, you must yourself be one of the workers in the harvest field. What is your harvest field? Your harvest field is primarily the people that you know and see on a regular basis.
We can break down your harvest field into four main areas of people who you’re not sure if they are believers in Jesus Christ. Some of the indicators whether a person is a believer or not are their speech and their actions. The Bible teaches how a believer should talk and act. Do they regularly go to a Bible-believing church? If all the indicators are positive, you can easily talk to them and ask them how they became a Christian. Their answer will tell you whether they are or not.
The first area is your family and relatives. These are the people you will know the most about and for whom you have the greatest responsibility. The second area is your neighbors. Today, many people don’t know their neighbors. It may take some effort to get to know your neighbors. The third area is the people you regularly work with or go to school with. The fourth area is the people who you do recreation with.
Make a list of people in each of these areas who don’t seem to be believers or who aren’t going to a Bible-believing church, maybe 5 per list. Then begin to pray and ask God for 5 people from these areas that you are going to concentrate on in 2018. These are going to be the people that you’re going to seek God’s help to fulfill the 2018 Plus One Challenge. Remember, the Plus One Challenge is asking God to help you add at least one person to the church in 2018. If you haven’t already, check the box on your Connect Card to accept the challenge. Every believer should accept the challenge and be working on it. But you’re not alone.
1 Corinthians 3:9 (ESV) For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.
The key point from this verse is that God does not leave us to do His work alone. We work together with God. He prepares the way and we simply follow His direction, as we …
Acts 1:8 (ESV) But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
In order to be witnesses for Jesus, we must be empowered by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit directs Jesus’ witnesses in supernatural ways so that we are effective in leading the lost to becoming Jesus’ disciples. Cooperating with the Spirit in witnessing will make you much more effective. If you haven’t picked up a copy of Power for Life from the guest table, I’d encourage you to pick one up and read it. If you already have a copy but haven’t read it, read it and apply it to your life. The book will show you from the Bible how to receive the power of the Spirit in your life to be an effective witness. Working together with God involves …
Matthew 11:29-30 (ESV) 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. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
The illustration that Jesus describes here of working together with God is taking His yoke and learning from Him. In other words, you don’t have to know everything in order to follow Jesus. You can learn as you follow Him, one step at a time. The work that Jesus has for you is not burdensome, it is work, but it is easy, as Jesus will help you. You aren’t in this by yourselves, the Lord Himself will work with you to accomplish His purposes.
Being a witness, living a life of adventure is simply about getting to know people who don’t know Jesus. Some people try to excuse themselves by saying that they’re shy or an introvert and God can’t expect them to be a witness.
2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV2011) For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.
Shyness or timidity does not come from God, it comes from the enemy to keep you from being a witness and obeying Jesus. When you’re filled with the Holy Spirit, He will give you the power, boldness and love to be an effective witness for Jesus. In your bulletin is another Easter engager invitation. Your mission this week is to get this invitation in the hands of a person who needs Jesus or a Bible-believing church. You can easily get in an interesting spiritual conversation by asking a friend what Easter is about and then talking about the resurrection. The invitation will give them more information and has some websites that will also help. If you have ongoing contact with the person, be sure to follow up and ask them what they thought of the handout. Remember, Jesus is going ahead of you and preparing hearts.
Your adventure motivation all begins with asking God to help you love Him and other people more. Ask God to help you see people like He does. To love those far from God and having compassion for them. To care enough about people to get over your own feelings of shyness and timidity. To have the courage to talk to people about Easter and the resurrection. To invite people to our Easter service as you hand out an invitation. You can do it, with the help of the Holy Spirit. It’s why God saved you, so that you can work with Him to see others saved. It’s part of the adventure God created you to live.