24 " ' "The LORD bless you and keep you. 25 the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; 26 the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace." '
25The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.Stand strong and walk tall!
Philemon 1:5-7 5because I hear about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints. 6I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ. 7Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.
Matthew 25: 34-40 34"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'
37"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
40"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'
I was given the great honor to give this talk to the prisoners on our special 4 day walk with Jesus. Please enjoy reading it, and may it be a blessing to you.
I was given the great honor to give this talk to the prisoners on our special 4 day walk with Jesus. Please enjoy reading it, and may it be a blessing to you.
The Christian life is three-dimensional. I have been given the great honor and privilege to speak to you about the third leg of our Christian walk—the leg named “ACTION”.
1) In the first leg of our walk of grace with Jesus, We need to use Spiritual exercise. We must nurture our spiritual life by prayer and authentic spirituality if one is to have God’s power in our daily life. We must seek God in our life.
Our Spiritual exercise and mind exercise are the first two legs that will lead us into the Grace Full Life. They are like the food given to our bodies that nourish and sustain us for normal growth.
3) The Christian life requires action. We cannot just receive all of the time. For example: I love to eat. At one-time in my adult life I weighed 137 lbs. You need to guess what I weigh now; I am not going to tell you. A person who receives more and more food and never exercises in any way would soon destroy himself, so it is with the Christian. He must act in response to his relationship with Christ.
Example: I found this true in my own life experience. I was raised in a religious home and always believed in God. In fact, I would say I loved God from my earliest age. The problem was, I did not know him. I did not have a personal relationship with Him. I did not fully understand what Jesus had done for me, so I was trying to earn my way into heaven by being good enough. That all changed when I turned 23 years old.
It was a two year process that began when God was calling me into relationship with Him through the efforts of my brothers Jimmy and Greg who had already given their lives to Jesus Christ. I struggled to believe as they did because of my religious upbringing. I read the entire New Testament to see if what they were saying was true. I was convinced they were right after reading the New Testament for myself, but I still could not make a commitment to begin a relationship with God. The reason: I wanted to keep living the life style I enjoyed….The lifestyle of—“IT’S ALL ABOUT ME. “But God never gave up on me.
I came to know Jesus Christ personally when one of the worst things that I could ever experience happened. My best friend and father was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer…six months to live. God used this most painful experience in my young life to bring me to my knees and ask Him to come into my life. Not only did I receive Jesus as Lord and Savior at this time, but my entire family. My father, who was angry with God for a long time, accepted Jesus in the hospital when he asked my brother Jimmy to tell him about Jesus again. My other two brothers Bill and Gary came to ask Jesus into their lives. And my, at the time fiancée and now wife of 31 years came to the Lord and became born again. This may not have happened if my brothers Jim and Greg had kept their salvation to themselves and not passed it on. I may not have been here today speaking and sharing my love of God with you if my brothers never passed on God’s love for me by sharing it with me.
Ø All vital power, like a muscle, if not used, grows weak, wastes away and dies. We cannot simply store God’s love up inside ourselves as some divine gift for us alone, because if we try to do this, it will surely stagnate, wither, and die within us.
Yes, after a time, my light that began so brightly when I first began my relationship with Jesus in February 1977 began to dim a little bit more with each passing year. I received and kept on receiving God’s grace, but never passed it on to others. Little by little, the pleasures of this world took up more and more of my time. They became my little god’s that took up all of my thoughts…way more than my thoughts of God. Golf and cigarettes were my two strongest desires. I would do anything to do both…even lie to my wife and children. Praise God his love and grace never completely died within me, but I guarantee you my best friends did not have a clue I was a Christian because I hid it so well in the way I lived my life.
16"No one lights a lamp and hides it in a jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, he puts it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light.
It was vital I was obedient to the prompting of the Holy Spirit when I first took action to share my faith with my best friend. You see, my friend Jay had a tumor removed several years earlier and now it was back with a vengeance and had spread to his liver and other organs in his body. He was losing weight fast and was fighting for his life.
One day in that summer of 1996, I went over to his house to visit him. As we talked about golf and other pleasurable things, I felt the Holy Spirit’s prompting to share my faith with him…and thanks be to God… I did. It was hard and awkward, but God helped me through it. I left his house with Jay saying to me, “Thank you for sharing. I will give it some thought.” Jay lost his battle with cancer in February 1997 and because of my sharing my faith, as well as other friends sharing their faith in Jesus with him, we planted seeds of God’s word and love with him. I believe Jay came to faith in Jesus Christ before he died, and I expect to see and be reunited with him again someday.
This event was the catalyst for God beginning to growing in me again. The Action I did was not what I was even looking to do. It was the love God gave to me that spurred me into action.
Ø Action is so very important in so many ways. It is vital for the salvation and growth of others.
A) Evil reigns in the compound, and unless we become Christ-bearers our brothers and sisters there are lost.
I want to ask you, Where possibly could my friend Jay be spending eternity without Christians taking action? Where could I possibly be spending eternity without my brothers Jim and Greg taking action and sharing Jesus with me? It is God’s plan this would be the way to spread his truth and grace to all men and women…by Christians taking action.
Ø There is a need on the part of all men and women to live a full life, and one can only lead a full life by living it with Christ.
You have an important part in God’s plan. God is asking us all to be part of his great commission.
The Great Commission
Matthew 28: 16 – 20 16Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
Ø We must love our brothers and sisters so much we would never want them to perish, but have eternal life through grace given to us all by Jesus Christ by his sacrifice and resurrection from the grave. I cannot put it better than what Jesus said when he gave us this command:
John 13: 34 34"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
Ø If we do not win the compound for Christ, then the enemies of Christ will over-run us. There is a spiritual battle going on in every environment in the world, and there are no draws, no ties. If you do not win your environment for Christ, it will be won for the evil one.
7) God has given us tools…the tools of Christian action. These are basic tools, but as with any other activity which is going to be productive, we must begin by understanding what we have at our disposal and how to use the tools which God has given us in order to get the job done. This is the Christ-bearer’s tool box, and in order to make Christ visible in our lives, we must learn to use each of these tools as he would have us use them.
In John 13: 35 Jesus says, “35By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
The five basic tools God has put in our Tool Box are:
1) The Head. By the head we mean the intelligence. All Christian activity should be intelligently thought out. We must plan, not project. God gave us a mind to use, and we submit it to him in seeking his will, he will guide us to a rational action.
Recently I met 20 year old young man named Michael. He works at a place I frequent and I truly have taken a liking to this polite and friendly young man. Over a few weeks I earned his trust and friendship. This was my first step in planning to share my faith with him…to become friends.
2) The Will. As Jesus said to us in John 13: 35, our will is to love our brothers and sisters. We are whole-hearted about it and stick to our decision in spite of obstacles and disappointments. We train ourselves to let our love for others depend upon Christ, and not upon whether they love us in return.
On night while talking with Michael, the opportunity arose and I was able to share my faith in Jesus Christ with him. He shared with me he did not come from a family who were religious and did not know what to believe. This allowed me to give him answer to his questions about the Bible and about Jesus and to share with him why I believe in Jesus and the hope I have because of Him.
1 Peter 3: 15 15But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect
I shared with Michael… not wanting anything in return from him. I did it in love for Michael because Jesus first loved me. I tried to plant some seeds with Michael, and then I left, praying for Michael’s salvation as I went.
The second step then was my will. Not my will but God’s will for me to be used by Him, to share His love for Michael.
3) The Body. We must be willing to be used by God to reach others in the world, to bring Christ to those who don’t know him and to share with the Christ in those that do. If we desire the best for others, then we must be ready to be used by God to get it to them. There’s an old saying that “If you are going to pray for potatoes, you better grab the hoe.”
When I left Michael after sharing my faith with him, I prayed for him. As I did, I felt the Holy Spirit wooing me to give Michael a special gift. I had a book that would allow him to study the word of God and answer the questions he was asking me. It was a book designed and written to present the evidence for Jesus Christ and the absolute truth of the Bible. I went back to where Michael was working and asked him, “If I were to give you a free gift, a book, which would answer your entire questions you were asking me…”Would you read it?” Michael answered ecstatically, “Yes, I would.” I came back the very next day with the book I had written, "I See Him!" "I See Him!" God's WORD to Witness By. I made a list of the best chapters for him to begin with to examine the evidence for Jesus from the Bible. After I gave my gift to him, Michael thanked me, and I left with great hope for him to come to know Jesus as Lord.
The third step then was my body taking action to what God was calling me to do…to connect with Michael and share with him my faith in Jesus.
4) The Knees. We need to beware of our massive pride which constantly leads us to believe that we don’t need any help in getting anything done or in coming to any decision. So, off we go alone to do the impossible.
Without God it is an impossible task. We must be humble and let God work through us. We must trust God completely.
John 15: 5 reads: 5"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
Psalm 127: 1 says the same thing in another way: 1 Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain.
Rely on God… that is what pleases God. Don’t go it alone. Trust in Him. The apostle Paul puts it this way:
Philippians 4: 13 13I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
5) Our love. As our relationship with Christ deepens, his love in us grows and grows, and we need to share the wonder and excitement of that love with others. As he becomes the most important person in our lives, we naturally want to share him with others, to tell others about him and what he has done and is doing in our lives. It also causes us to have compassion for others so that we reach out to help them.
See the word of God and what it says:
1 John 4: 19-21 19We love because he first loved us. 20If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 21And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.
Brothers in Christ, God has called us to reach out to others, especially those who are lost. There is a Christian method for effectively achieving this for God’s kingdom. Plans that are left to accidents of time and place and incident rarely find successful completion.
This Christian method has three steps and was clearly demonstrated to you when I shared with you how I reached out to my new young friend Michael.
Step 1) Make a friend. That is what I did first when I met Michael. It is what I first did with the many friends I have shared my faith with. We began by sharing with each other our interests and finding common ground to begin a friendship.
Your chances of influencing someone for good are vastly increased if you have a good relationship with that person. If you ask the Lord to lead you to persons whom he wants you to witness to and ask him to give you an opportunity to strike up a friendship with them, he will always do it. We should bring God’s love into all situations in which we find ourselves and into all relationships. In this way, God will be able to use us to help others, and out of this we will find ourselves making new friends.
Step 2) Be a friend. It is not so difficult to make a friend. In many instances it will be the result of what is almost a “reflex action”. You see a stranded motorist and you pick him up. But being a friend takes continued effort. It costs you some of your privacy, some of your private time, maybe some of your material wealth. It takes a conscious effort to be a friend. A conscious decision.
After meeting my friend Michael, every time I went to the place he worked, I made a conscious effort to see him if he was working. I asked him how his day was going, letting him tell me about himself; and then I would share things about myself and my family. By doing so, we created a bond with each other.
In making a friend, look for ways in which to be a servant to that friend. Anticipate his needs and be available to God to help in providing those needs. You have to be willing to make yourself vulnerable to that person. This usually hurts, but there is never any love without suffering. There can be suffering without love, but there is never any love without suffering. There can be no love without vulnerability. I cannot love you without becoming vulnerable to you. I cannot accept your love unless I become vulnerable.
The best example I can give you is the relationship between a man and a woman when they enter into a relationship and then into marriage. In my 31 years of marriage, I can say positively this is true between my wife and I—who is my best friend.
Step 3) Bring a Friend to Christ. As your friendship grows, your friend will see Christ in you. If you have built a solid relationship with this friend, your actions will have come to influence him. Talk to God about your friend and seek his counsel about whether it is time to introduce your friend to Christ.
When I first introduced my new friend Michael to Christ, I first prayed and meditated to God, crying out to him that Michael does not know his Lord and Savior, and asking God for the opportunity, and seeing the opportunity to witness to my friend. Be patient, and God will speak to you when it is the right time--Just as He did when I first shared my faith with my best friend Jay when he was sick with cancer. Just as He did when I was able to share my faith with Michael.
In closing, I want to share with you a poem written by my best friend growing up as a child. He was my younger brother. He passed away last June from cancer after a six month battle with his illness. He wrote this as if it was a Psalm to the Lord. I believe it shows the power of the Holy Spirit speaking to a man who is willing to listen to him and his leading.
so tired of religion.
I'm wearied by my thoughts.
My soul is heavy with self
Like a babe crying for mother's milk
We cry, "Feed me, feed me
I want, I want, do not deny me".
A soul that wants is never filled
It feeds but is never full
It's only care is that it is fed.
How poor is the soul that possesses much.
For enough is never enough.
The hunger of a man is never satisfied,
We are all gluttons of our own pleasure.
Eat of the Bread of life and you will be filled.
Finally food that satisfies the soul.
Twice God has given man bread from heaven.
Manna for the body, but Christ for our soul.
This bread enters our Spirit, giving life to the soul
Finally man can say "I'm full." "I need no more"
"Let me share with you who are in need".
Blessed Be the Lord
God Of Heaven and Earth
Greg Kreh, Author 2007
4 Rescue the weak and needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
5 "They know nothing, they understand nothing.
They walk about in darkness;
all the foundations of the earth are shaken.