Friday, June 27, 2014

Complacency and Urgency - Part 1

Each of these distillations, each 3 minutes or less, are from the same sermon.  Before each, a question is asked for your discernment.

(If you're having trouble connecting the content with the title of this post, part II will offer more clarity.)

Question #1:
How do we gain a heart opened to the Gospel?

Is it a cognitive exercise? A convincing? A cost-benefit analysis?
Or is it a work of God?

Audio: 1m:8s

Lydia is the first believer in Europe, and she comes to Christ. God opens her heart to the gospel.  A miracle takes place.  Now we need to stop right there to unpack that miracle.  What does it mean that the Lord opened her heart?  First of all, it implies that no one has the power to believe the gospel.

That's one of our big problems in evangelism today in America, we've turned it into a mere cognitive exercise, a mere transferal of information.  And when people believe, they're simply mentally assenting, many times, to that information.  There's not a real work of God in their heart.

You see this language that the Lord opened her heart tells us that our hearts need to be opened.  We can't open our own hearts.  We can't make the gospel make sense to us.  We can't convict ourselves of sin.  We can't become convinced that we deserve the wrath of God.  We can't believe that.  God has to move in.

Question #2:
How does a fatigued heart in ministry regain zeal and a right perspective?

Is it a cognitive exercise? A convincing? A cost-benefit analysis?
Or is it a work of God?

Audio: 3m:3s

I'm wondering about something.  I'm wondering how you're feeling today.  May I tell you how I'm feeling?  I'm feeling tired.  It's been a long year.  It's been a good year, but it's been a long year.  I think the ministry is tiring, and I'm sure that you can identify with that.

So what should we do?  Well, you know maybe we're just working too hard, personally and as a church.  Maybe the ministry is just wearing us down.  Or maybe, just maybe, (and I'll speak for myself), maybe I've lost my way a bit.  I've lost sight of the glory for which I labor.

I think it behooves us to consider that maybe our fatigue (assuming you identify with me) is largely due to that ... losing sight of the glory of what we're doing.  In other words I'm suggesting that our fatigue is mostly driven by a confused perspective.

I think this passage this morning will help us.  Not only to see that blurred perspective, but therefore to be renewed in our zeal, to minister this blessed gospel, to actually be looking forward to the start of the new ministry year.  I think it will help us to do that.

The gospel work that we're doing is tiring.  And we can become withdrawn, and disengaged.  We can even become negative in our attitudes if we're not careful.  But I think this text helps us.  It reminds us that there is a reward, not just the reward we'll receive in heaven ... there's a reward right here.  There's the fruit of our labor right here.  There's the opportunity to witness new life.  There's the opportunity to witness people being saved from hell, from sin and death.

And I think that opportunity, when we experience it, tells us, instinctively, like a parent who finally launches his child into the world.  It tells us that all the hard work has been worth it.  It takes just one conversion to renew our zeal, to remind us that it's all worth it.  And it's worth it for us to labor till we drop.

When we get our perspective renewed like that, I can look enthusiastically to a new ministry year ... not groan about it.  Brothers and sisters, as you look to the new year, let us give ourselves fully to our savior, and to the glorious work of His kingdom.

No comments: