9/23/14

From Jim McGuiggan... A nice little story?


A nice little story?



What do the stories of the Bible say and do?  

"They rehearse events that really happened."

No doubt, but is that what the stories say and do? Are these major stories interesting little snippets of human history? The kind of thing that leads us to say, "Well, well; how interesting!" Or, "What a great little story. I must tell that to the children in Sunday School." 

Is that what the call of Abraham is? That's what the David and Goliath confrontation is—an exciting little story from ancient times? I don't doubt for moment the drama in them (I've seen some good movies created from biblical stories) but maybe there's more to them than that.

Maybe in the bustling ancient metropolis, Ur of the Chaldea, somebody asked about the young guy Abram—"What happened to that family? Haven't seen them around in several weeks." 

Would they have been surprised if they'd heard that he and his father and the whole family upped and headed out to some place in the great unknown? "Hmmm, not a lot of sense in that. This is the place where it's all happening." 

Ur was one of the many scattered centres of power that substituted for that place we were going to build on the plain of Shinar (Genesis 11). For all its glory, reputation and progressiveness it was a fallen structure—it was not the city built by God. Abraham's move to Canaan was more than geography; it was an indictment of the inadequacy and blindness of human success that shoves God aside. The voice of God told Abraham, "This is not the place and this is not the way. Come with me and I'll show you what I mean." 

The call of Abraham is more than a nice little story. 

The Bible and Self-Esteem by Wayne Jackson, M.A.

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=241

The Bible and Self-Esteem

by  Wayne Jackson, M.A.

No person is one-dimensional. Actually, there are three views of every individual—the view that God has of us, the opinions that others hold concerning us, and the perception we have of ourselves. Each of these is quite important.
First, let us consider the divine vantage point. This is the assessment that is accurate in every detail. The Lord does not observe people merely outwardly, as humans tend to do; rather, “Jehovah looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). The Lord “knows the hearts of the children of men” (1 Kings 8:39). As the godly Hannah acknowledged in her prayer: “Jehovah is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed” (1 Samuel 2:3). Similarly, Christ once affirmed that He did not need to be educated regarding the inner workings of the human personality, because He Himself “knew what was in man” (John 2:25). If some of the world’s “beautiful people” were turned inside out, and revealed as God sees them, how grotesque they might appear.
Second, there are the sentiments that our peers entertain regarding us. Such assessments are only relatively accurate. Folks may hold an opinion of us that is greatly exaggerated. Those who are in the public eye are rather idealized at times. On the other hand, some, who are sterling in character, sometimes are maligned unjustly. Jesus certainly did not deserve the hateful reproaches that were heaped upon Him. And Paul, the apostle of Christ, suffered a good deal of unmerited character assassination.
Finally, there is that appraisal one makes of himself. Honesty demands that we concede that self-perception may be grossly inflated. That is why we are cautioned not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought (Romans 12:3). We must attempt not to be “high-minded” or “wise in [our] own conceits” (Romans 11:20; 12:16). If we really knew the impressions that others have of us, we might see ourselves in a totally different light, and thus alter our conduct. The Scottish poet Robert Burns produced a short composition titled: “To A Louse.” It pictured a snobbish lady in church, pompously looking down her nose at others, wholly unaware of the fact that a “louse” was upon her bonnet. The ditty contains these lines:
O wad [would] some Power the giftie gie [give] us
To see oursels as ithers [others] see us!
It is important, though, that one have a healthy view of oneself. Jesus said that we should love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:39). That implies a sound concept of self-esteem. Sadly, however, many appear to harbor a very meager appreciation of themselves—so much so that it hinders their effective service to God, and torments their lives with much unhappiness. We believe the Scriptures address this problem, and offer hope to those who are unnecessarily morose due to the malady of an impoverished self-esteem. In this discussion, I would like to reflect primarily upon three areas: the causes, the characteristics, and the cure for negative self-esteem.

CAUSES OF LOW SELF-ESTEEM

In a discussion of this nature one cannot be exhaustive. It is possible, however, to pinpoint certain known sources of deprived self-esteem. Let us consider the following factors.
  1. Many people have personal esteem problems due to what they perceive as unattractive physical features. From their own viewpoint they may be too heavy, too thin, have a bad complexion, crooked teeth, etc. More likely than not, all of us have physical traits that we would like to alter if such were possible. But the truth is, while physical characteristics may make an initial impression upon others, they are subordinated rapidly to personality qualities. Some, who are quite attractive physically, are so obnoxious in disposition that folks are loath to be around them. Others, who are a bit “plainer,” have tons of friends because intelligent people are attracted to their charm, wit, compassion, or overall spiritual depth.
  2. Some feel badly about themselves because of their limited formal education. But remember this: (a) Some of the wisest and most prominent people of history were not privileged with an abundance of formal schooling. Abraham Lincoln spent less that one year in the classroom, yet he was recognized as a brilliant leader. (b) Some of the stupidest folks of history have been laden with education. The expression “educated fool” did not arise in a vacuum. (c) It is never too late to learn. Some have acquired college degrees in their sunset years. (d) In the final analysis, a knowledge of God’s Word is the best depository of information that one can possess. The noted educator, William Lyon Phelps, once said: “...I thoroughly believe in a university education for both men and women; but I believe a knowledge of the Bible without a college education is more valuable than a college course without the Bible” (as quoted in Dehoff, 1956, p. 13)
  3. Low self-esteem may result from the tragic circumstances in one’s past. For example, a person may have been conceived out of wedlock, or as the result of rape, and so harbor a self-disgust. The late Ethel Waters, a popular singer, was the offspring of a brutal rape, yet she overcame the knowledge of that horrible event and became a famous and gracious performer who sought to help others. Children frequently suffer from low self-esteem because of the vile deeds of their parents. I know a man who, in a drunken rage, murdered a popular city official. The killer’s youngsters languished for years under the humiliation of that brutality. A group of children, all of whom had parents who were divorced, was discussing common problems. Several were overheard reproaching themselves for the break-up of their families. We must learn that we are not responsible for the wicked actions of others. Self-reproach is unwarranted in such cases.
  4. Physical and/or emotional abuse can ravage one’s self-esteem. Not infrequently a parent and/or spouse will berate a child or a companion persistently and viciously, so that the feeling of personal worth in the victim becomes almost nil. An uncaring husband may tell his wife that she is ugly, fat, stupid, or lazy. A good “beating” with words can be as devastating as physical brutality. Some children’s psyches are damaged enormously by sexual abuse. Constant, harsh criticism also can wound a youngster’s sense of personal pride. Victims of abuse must learn that they can get past these horrible experiences and find true happiness in living.
  5. One of the most prominent causes of low self-esteem is an involvement in personal sin. Sin scars terribly. It is sometimes the case that one who loves God deeply, and who strives for spiritual maturity, will, in a moment of weakness, fall into some dreadful form of wickedness. The crushing blow of such a transgression may have lasting effects that so debilitate the person that he/she has a very difficult time regaining a sense of Christian dignity, particularly if others have been privy to the transgression. One cannot but be reminded of the agony of David’s soul following his tragic moral lapse with Bathsheba. His body “wasted away” and he “groaned” throughout the day. There was no relief to his troubled spirit either day or night, until he acknowledged his sin and allowed God to take away his pain (see Psalm 32:3-5). Yielding to evil can rob the conscience of that sense of well-being God intended us to have. But there is a remedy for sin that allows one the opportunity to recapture his sense of joy and purpose. I will discuss that presently.

CHARACTERISTICS OF LOW SELF-ESTEEM

The attitudes that dwell within the mind frequently are reflected in the conduct of a person. An inspired writer affirmed that, as one “thinks within himself, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). Jesus Himself taught that the state of one’s mind is the fountain of his activity. “For from within, out of the heart of men, evil thoughts proceed” (Mark 7:21). If an individual harbors an unhealthy view of himself/herself, such can be manifested in a variety of distressing ways.
  1. It is no secret that many who are suffering from esteem problems have become victims of substance abuse. Self-depreciation has driven some to immerse their woes in alcohol, hard drugs, or the daily pill-popping routine. Drugs are so deceptive; they promise much but deliver nothing—except carnage. Drug abuse is one of the major problems of our nation, much of which stems from a self-perceived lack of worth and a void of purpose for human existence. Other forms of aberrant behavior also follow in the wake of unhealthy personal attitudes.
  2. A professional counselor recently dropped by my office for a friendly chat. As we discussed the many problems that seem to rob modern society of reasonable mental health, the conversation turned to the phenomenon of accelerated sexual promiscuity among the nation’s citizenry. The counselor confidently affirmed that many youngsters are growing up with no sense of personal value. In thousands of instances they have been neglected and feel quite worthless. Many are casualties of broken homes. Others suffer because their parents are materialistic and so busy working long hours, and at multiple jobs (in order to have more “things”), that they do not have the time to give their children the loving care they so desperately need and want. Accordingly, many young folks, starving for affection, surrender themselves (without reservation) to anyone who is there to provide a warm hug and an understanding heart. And the fact is, what is true for youngsters also is the case for many adults as well. A lack of personal esteem is a prime cause of sexual immorality. Sexual compromise itself then frequently produces additional humiliation. It thus becomes a vicious circle.
  3. A damaged self-view can result in a haughty or critical demeanor. There are two ways some people deal with their perception of a diminutive self-image. They may elevate themselves above others artificially. Or, they may attempt to cut down their associates. The net result is the same. The perpetrator ends up above his peers. For instance, a lack of self-esteem sometimes is reflected in a person’s exaggeration of his accomplishments. A constant tendency to boast of one’s abilities—even to the point of lying about achievements—is a red flag signal. “Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth” (Proverbs 27:2). Correspondingly, the tendency to work continually at tearing down others tells more about the character assassin than anything else. An emotionally healthy person has no need to feed his ego at the expense of others.
  4. A poor self-image sometimes manifests itself in materialism. Some folks feel that if they can surround themselves with an abundance of nice things, it will overcome the feeling of insecurity that seems ever to be with them. We are not suggesting that hard-working people cannot enjoy a quality life as good stewards of the manifold blessings of God. What we are saying is this: The accumulation of material things will not provide the sense of genuine well-being for which each of us longs. Feeling good about oneself, and feeling good about possessions, are entirely different matters. Allan Cohen is professor of management at Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts. He is consultant to many large corporations, including Chase Manhattan, Xerox, Polaroid, etc. Professor Cohen contends: “Young people are free to conquer the world—and they don’t want it. Material prosperity has not made life meaningful. The hunger for love and real meaning are the forces behind the psychedelic revolution” (as quoted in Zacharias, 1990, p. 70). Jesus taught: “Take heed, and keep yourselves from all covetousness: for a man’s life consists not in the abundance of the things which he possesses” (Luke 12:15). Riches of the soul will provide you with a sense of excellence that no bank account, home, or automobile ever can.

THE DESPAIR OF SECULARISM

Before we discuss the remedy for poor self-esteem, as set forth in the Sacred Writings, we must observe that the world of philosophy and/or secular psychology has utterly nothing to offer the person of low esteem. The ideology of unbelief cannot generate any true and lasting sense of personal dignity.
The believer may survey the wonders of God’s creation and gasp in contemplation of the fact that all of this was made for humankind. This was David’s sentiment in the eighth Psalm. “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, The moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? And the son of man that thou visiteth him?” (3-4, emp. added). In contrast, skepticism offers nothing but the void of the material world.
In his powerful book, Therefore Stand, the late Wilbur M. Smith had a chapter titled: “The Pessimism of Our Contemporary Skeptics,” in which he cited the testimony of numerous unbelievers relative to their perceptions of human existence and worth. And what a distressing array of complainers it was. Voltaire (the French deist, 1694-1778) said, for example, that except for a “few sages,” the whole “crowd of human beings is nothing but a horrible assemblage of unfortunate criminals.” He further suggested that “the globe contains nothing but corpses.” He concluded: “I wish I had never been born” (as quoted in Smith, 1945, p. 189). Some disposition!
David Hume (1711-1776), the Scottish philosopher who did more to destroy faith in miracles than any other man who has ever lived, wrote:
Where am I, or what? From what causes do I derive my existence, and to what condition shall I return?... I am confounded with all these quotations, and begin to fancy myself in the most deplorable condition imaginable, environed with the deepest darkness, and utterly deprived of the use of every member and faculty (as quoted in Smith, 1945, p. 553).
Little wonder that such a dismal ideology prevails, when one entertains the notion that he serves no real purpose upon this planet; rather, he is merely the unfortunate offspring of the blind and bloody forces of nature.
The English poet Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) was a militant critic of the Bible. In spite of his hostility toward Christianity, Arnold recognized that human existence without a sense of God is bleak indeed. In 1867, he wrote the poem “Dover Beach,” in which he described an environment void of an awareness of divine benevolence. Part of that composition reads as follows:
...the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, not help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkening plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night. (1961, pp. 211-212)
Bertrand Russell, the British agnostic who did so much to oppose biblical religion, once wrote: “...I do know the despair of my soul. I know the great loneliness, as I wander through the world like a ghost, speaking in tones that are not heard, lost as if I had fallen from some other planet” (1968, p. 145). One of Russell’s biographers, in a chapter titled, “The Religion of Sorrow,” quoted the philosopher, in a rare moment of candor: “...the loneliness of the human soul is unendurable; nothing can penetrate it except the highest intensity of the sort of love that religious teachers have preached; whatever does not spring from this motive is harmful, or at best useless” (Monk, 1996, p. 135).
There is, therefore, no need to consult the skeptic for any sense of intrinsic human worth. His philosophy robs us of much and leaves nothing in return. One’s self-perception certainly is not enhanced by entertaining the notion that he is nothing more than a “naked ape”—to borrow from the title of English zoologist Desmond Morris’ book, The Naked Ape: A Zoologist’s Study of the Human Animal (1967).

CURE FOR DIMINISHED SELF-ESTEEM

In marked contrast to the stagnant world of secularism, biblical revelation presents two thrilling facts which, if embraced, can provide one with an exhilarating sense of individual excellence. The first fact is this: Man possesses dignity by virtue of his divine generation. The second is: Though blemished by sin, man can regain his self-esteem through the process of spiritual regeneration. Let us probe these two points more deeply.
  1. Man was made in the very image of God Himself. On the sixth day of the creation week, God said: “Let us make man in our image and after our likeness.... And God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Genesis 1:26-27; cf. 9:6). Woman, having been fashioned from man (Genesis 2:7), also reflects the glory of God indirectly (1 Corinthians 11:7). This circumstance, of course, has no reference to our physical constitution, for God is a spirit Being (John 4:24), not a physical one (Luke 24:39; cf. Matthew 16:17). That “image” then consists of “spiritual qualities, in man’s mental and moral attributes as a self-conscious, rational, personal agent, capable of self-determination and obedience to moral law” (Orr, 1939). Another writer noted that the personality is unique, “linking us to what is above, and separating us from what is below.” (Marais, 1939, 1:146). We are intellectual, self-conscious, volitional creatures—designed by our Maker for fellowship with Him. Even the ancient pagans seem to have retained a vestige of this concept. Aratus, a Greek poet, affirmed: “We are also his offspring” (cf. Acts 17:28). Marais thus concluded: “Psychologically and historically therefore the Bible view [of humankind—WJ] is justified.” Can we actually fathom the unique honor that the Creator has bestowed upon us by endowing us with certain qualities that are intrinsic to His nature? The very contemplation of such is enough to both humble and thrill us.
  2. A second fact that breathtakingly crowns human beings with a wonderful feeling of value is the fact that God bestowed His Son as a gracious, free gift, so that every accountable person has the potential for redemption. All that is necessary to achieve such is to surrender to the Lord’s will (Hebrews 5:8-9). That mankind has strayed from the Creator, and become so flawed religiously and morally, is an indisputable fact. If humanity were reprised according to what it deserves, eternal separation from Jehovah (a horror unimaginable) would be its dismal lot. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). There is, however, a way of escape (Hebrews 2:3-4).
Throughout the New Testament, there are repeated affirmations of the universal love of God for fallen man. God so loved the world that He gave His only Son in order to initiate a system of forgiveness (see John 3:16). The Lord would have all men to be saved by means of coming to a knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4). Hear the testimony of John the apostle: “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us that we should be called the children of God; and such we are” (1 John 3:1). Do we really realize the value of this offer of a child-to-Father relationship with God, as a consequence of Christ’s mission (see Galatians 4:4-5)? Again: “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). Can anyone bask in that sort of love and not feel a sense of surpassing value?
It would be superfluous to pile up passages that announce Heaven’s concern for the teeming masses of sinful creatures. They are found in abundance. While we are profoundly grateful for those benevolent declarations, one is taken to a new level of gratitude when he reflects upon the fact that the Scriptures consistently assert the message of God’s love for the individual soul. In that trio of parables given by the Lord in Luke 15—the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost boy—the value of the individual person is underscored forcefully. Heaven is not willing that anyone should perish (2 Peter 3:9). And why not? Because the value of a single soul is worth more than the entire world (Matthew 16:26). The apostle Paul, in discussing why we should respect the tender consciences of our kinsmen in Christ, spoke of “the brother for whose sake Christ died” (1 Corinthians 8:11). Had there been but one sinner in all the world’s history, Christ would have died for him. How can one savior these marvelous truths without feeling a sense of profound awe in the divine order of things? When this concept sinks in and takes root, all of the negative influences in the world—which tend to generate self-deprecation—will fade, leaving us with an appreciation of how very special we are.
There is another factor in the divine scheme of things that has long intrigued me. I first addressed it in the autumn of 1973 at the Lubbock Christian College Lectureship. Here are the interesting details: Prior to His coming to Earth, the eternal, personal Word, identified in the New Testament as Christ (John 1:1), was equal to the First Person of the Godhead (Philippians 2:6). However, as a component of implementing this plan, the Word became flesh (John 1:14), thus emptying Himself of the “independent exercise” of the divine attributes (cf. Thiessen, 1949, p. 296). In this subordinated capacity, the Son could say: “[T]he Father is greater than I” (John 14:28), and Paul could affirm: “[T]he head of Christ is God” (1 Corinthians 11:3). The incarnation did not involve a forfeiture of Jesus’ deity, as some have alleged (see Barclay, 1959, p. 45), but it did entail a subordination of role, and an identification with humanity.
This brings us to an important point. When Christ assumed His submission-role as God-man, was that a temporary status, or was the identity-connection with us permanent? Again, we must express our disagreement with Barclay, who asserted: “[T]he manhood of Jesus was not permanent; He became man, but only for a time...” (1959, p. 46). We believe there is clear evidence that, somehow or another, the voluntary subordination of Christ had permanent ramifications. Consider the following: (1) Even though the Lord already had ascended back into heaven, Paul still was proclaiming that He “is [present tense verb] the Son of God” (Acts 9:20). (2) Again, thirty years or so after the Lord’s ascension, the apostle refers to the Savior, our Mediator before God, as the man, Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5). (3) The writer of Hebrews affirmed: “For both he [Christ] that sanctifies [present participle] and they that are sanctified [present participle] are all of one [nature]: for which cause he is not ashamed [present tense] to call them brothers” (Hebrews 2:11). (4) Even in the final order of things, following “the end,” Christ will deliver all things back to God, and He Himself be subject to the Father (see 1 Corinthians 15:24-28). What is the significance of this? If it is the case that the mission of the Son of God involved an eternal surrender of certain privileges, all for our benefit, it reveals a depth of divine love for us that is utterly staggering. If that does not enhance one’s appreciation for his worth, then nothing will.

CONCLUSION

Our hearts truly go out to those who labor under the burden of a diminished self-image. I am not suggesting that the healing of such will be easy or immediate. However, I confidently can offer the promise that the solution to such an impoverished disposition does lie with the pages of Holy Scripture. Pore over the Sacred Writings and imbibe the messages of joy and hope found therein. It can be a life-changing experience.

REFERENCES

Arnold, Matthew (1961 reprint), The Poetical Works of Matthew Arnold (London: Oxford University Press).
Barclay, William (1959), The Letters to the Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster).
Dehoff, George W. (1956), Why We Believe the Bible (Murfreesboro, TN: Dehoff Publications).
Marais, J.I. (1939), “Anthropology,” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. James Orr (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), 1:144-152.
Monk, Ray (1996), Bertrand Russell—The Spirit of Solitude (New York: The Free Press).
Morris, Desmond (1967), The Naked Ape: A Zoologist’s Study of the Human Animal (New York: McGraw-Hill).
Orr, James (1939), “God, Image of,” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. James Orr (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), 2:1264.
Russell, Bertrand (1968), The Autobiography of Bertrand Russell (Boston, MA: Little, Brown).
Smith, Wilbur (1945), Therefore Stand (Boston, MA: W.A. Wilde).
Theissen, Henry C. (1949), Introductory Lectures in Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Zacharias, Ravi (1990), A Shattered Visage (Brentwood, TN: Wolgemuth & Hyatt).

From Mark Copeland... Seven Principles Of Personal Evangelism (John 4:1-26)

                          "THE GOSPEL OF JOHN"

            Seven Principles Of Personal Evangelism (4:1-26)

INTRODUCTION

1. Most Christians want to share the gospel of Christ with others...
   a. Yet many often feel awkward in their attempts to talk with others
   b. Or they simply don't know how to establish contacts for a Bible
      study
   -- Causing many to experience frustration that discourages them from
      trying again

2. Perhaps we learn some things from Jesus, the master teacher...
   a. Who often engaged in personal evangelism as well as public
      preaching
   b. For example, His conversation with the Samaritan woman at Jacob's
      well - Jn 4:1-26

[Observing Jesus in action, it is possible to glean "Seven Principles Of
Personal Evangelism" that we would do well to remember in our own
efforts to teach others.  One such principle is to...]

I. CONTACT PEOPLE SOCIALLY

   A. WE MUST HAVE SOCIAL CONTACT...
      1. The import of Jesus passing through Samaria - Jn 4:1-6
         a. Many Jews, because of their disdain for Samaritans, avoided
            Samaria
         b. Jesus and His disciples chose to pass through Samaria,
            assuring contact
         c. A similar example of Jesus making social contact - cf. Lk 5:
            29-32
      2. When people aren't coming to Christ, it's because we are not
         going to the people!
         a. We can't be fishers of men by fishing in a barrel; if the
            fish won't come to the barrel, then we must go where the
            fish are!
         b. The problem with sowing the seed is not that there is not
            good ground to be found, but that the seed is still in the
            barn! - cf. Hag 2:19

   B. DO NOT CONFUSE SEPARATION WITH ISOLATION...
      1. Yes, we must be separate - 2Co 6:14-18
      2. But this does not mean we are to isolate ourselves
         a. Note the prayer of Christ - Jn 17:15
         b. Note the command of Paul - 1Co 5:9-11
      3. Withdrawing ourselves from those who have not heard or obeyed
         the gospel in contrary to the will of the Lord!

   C. OPPORTUNITIES FOR SOCIAL CONTACT...
      1. At school with fellow students
         a. Don't think you are too young to be involved in leading
            others to Christ
         b. Young Christians often possess the greatest opportunities to
            teach others
         c. How you serve now will likely be an indication of how you
            will serve later in life
      2. At work with fellow employees or employers
         a. We spend much of our life with these people
         b. We have the greatest potential to influence them, especially
            by example
      3. At home with neighbors, friends, and family
         a. Do we even know our neighbors?
         b. Those closest to us can be difficult sometimes, but are
            reachable - e.g., Mt 13:54-58; Jn 7:5; Ac 1:14

[Remember, Jesus said "Go into all the world..." (Mk 16:15).  We must go
where the people are!  Another principle we can glean from Jesus'
conversation with the woman is...]

II. ESTABLISH A COMMON INTEREST

   A. COMMON INTERESTS CREATE A BRIDGE...
      1. Note Jesus' first words to the woman - Jn 4:7-8
         a. She had come to draw water
         b. He was thirsty
         c. His first words centered around their common interest
            (water)
      2. Realize the need to build rapport
         a. Meaningful dialogue is not easy, especially involving
            spiritual matters
         b. A common interest allows opportunity for meaningful dialogue
         c. Once a bridge for communication has been established, it
            will be easier to discuss God's word with another person

   B. COMMON INTERESTS ARE MANY...
      1. They include family (such as children, grandchildren)
      2. They include activities (such as work, community projects,
         hobbies)
      3. They include shared experiences (such as travel, or even
         tragedies)

[Don't feel that you must immediately begin talking about spiritual
matters.  Take time to nurture common interests.  Yet at some point we
want to reach the next stage, which leads to our third principle...]

III. AROUSE SPIRITUAL INTEREST

   A. THROUGH YOUR ACTIONS...
      1. The example of Jesus - Jn 4:9
         a. As a man He speaks to her, a woman
         b. As a rabbi He speaks to her, an immoral woman
         c. As a Jew He speaks to her, a Samaritan
         -- He aroused interest by simply speaking to her
      2. Regarding our actions
         a. We can arouse spiritual interest by our example
         b. By showing kindness and compassion to all, even the evil and
            wicked
         c. By not harboring racial or social prejudices to those who
            are different
         d. By our own example of faith and hope - e.g., 1Pe 3:1-2,15

   B. THROUGH YOUR WORDS...
      1. The example of Jesus - Jn 4:10-14
         a. Jesus' statement shifted their conversation to spiritual
            matters
         b. He led them into a discussion on a common spiritual interest
            (living water!)
      2. Regarding our words
         a. We can raise questions or make statements that shift
            conversations to spiritual matters
            1) E.g., "What do you think our world is in such a mess?"
            2) E.g., "Would you be interested in what the Bible says
               about...?"
         b. The discussion should first involve matters of common
            agreement
            1) Start with things upon which you agree, to build rapport
               and instill confidence
            2) This was the practice of apostolic preaching - e.g., Ac 13:16-22

[Once spiritual interest has been aroused, another principle can be
gleaned from Jesus' conversation with the Samaritan woman...]

IV. DON'T GO TOO FAR, TOO FAST

   A. GIVE A PERSON WHAT THEY ARE READY FOR...
      1. Note Jesus' discussion with the woman - Jn 4:15-16
         a. She wanted the "living water", but did she really
            understand?
         b. Jesus saw the need to slow her down and provide the proper
            ground work
            1) She needed faith in Him as the Messiah
            2) He needed to provide evidence that He was the Messiah
         c. So instead of giving her the "living water"...
            1) He tells her to get her husband
            2) Which will result in her conviction of Him as a prophet
      2. Sometimes people don't realize what they need first
         a. They'll want to talk about a particular subject
         b. But they really need something else first

   B. SOME EXAMPLES...
      1. Some want to study Revelation, when they need to be grounded on
         the rest of the Bible first
      2. Some want to discuss issues related to church organization,
         work, worship, etc., when they ought to focus on the "first
         principles" of the gospel
      3. It is important that a person not choke on the "meat" of the
         Word - cf. 1Co 3:1-2

[There is another principle of evangelism that takes into consideration
the need of the prospect...]

V. DON'T CONDEMN UNNECESSARILY

   A. THE EXAMPLE OF JESUS...
      1. He could have dwelt on her being an adulteress - Jn 4:17-18
      2. As stated elsewhere, He came to save the world, not to condemn
         it - cf. Jn 3:17
      3. Not to say He will not one day judge the world, but that the
         primary purpose of His first coming was to offer salvation 
         - cf. Jn 12:46-48

   B. IN OUR EVANGELISTIC EFFORTS...
      1. Though we preach against sin, our primary purpose is to save,
         not judge - 1Co 5:12-13
      2. Our focus should be to inform others of the forgiveness God
         offers - cf. 2Co 5:18-20
         a. God seeks reconciliation with sinners
         b. Ours is a ministry of reconciliation

[Another important principle in evangelism to remember is...]

VI. STICK WITH THE MAIN ISSUE

   A. IN THE CASE OF THE SAMARITAN WOMAN...
      1. She turned the subject away from herself to where one should
         worship - Jn 4:19-20
      2. Jesus answered her question, while effectively turning the
         conversation back to the original subject:  Who He is and what
         He offers - Jn 4:21-25 (cf. Jn 4:10)

   B. REMAIN STEADFAST TO YOUR OBJECTIVES...
      1. If seeking to establish a common ground of agreement, avoid
         jumping ahead
      2. As you move from common to uncommon ground...
         a. Take one step at a time
         b. Do not go on until agreement at each step has occurred
      3. If your objective is simply to obtain consent for a home Bible
         study, avoid getting into a detailed discussion at that time 
         - cf. Pr 15:28

[One last principle in evangelism gleaned from Jesus' conversation with
the woman at the well...]

VII. CONFRONT DIRECTLY

   A. JESUS' EXAMPLE THEN...
      1. Finally, Jesus confronted the woman with His identity - Jn 4:26
      2. This came after He had laid the groundwork

   B. EXAMPLES FOR TODAY...
      1. In trying to set up a home Bible study
         a. Take advantage of social contacts
         b. Develop common interests
         c. Be open to comments that indicate a spiritual interest,
            while demonstrating your own faith through actions and words
         d. Avoid fruitless arguments, emphasize instead common beliefs
         e. Praise their good points and encourage them in the right
            direction
         f. Have one primary objective:  to encourage them to study the
            Bible even more
            a. Ask if they would like to learn more about Jesus, the
               Bible, His church
            b. Note the example of Aquila and Priscilla with Apollos 
               - Ac 18:24-26
         g. Confront them directly with the opportunity to study the
            Bible
      2. During the course of a home Bible study
         a. Continue to develop the social contact
         b. Continue to establish common interests
         c. Take time to accentuate common ground you share in your
            spiritual interests
         d. Go from common ground to uncommon ground carefully
         e. Stress the gospel message; don't obsess on their individual
            shortcomings
         f. Have one primary objective:  to help them understand their
            need and gospel plan of salvation - Mk 16:15-16; Col 1:5-6
         g. Confront them directly with the invitation to obey the
            gospel of Christ; for example, by asking...
            1) "Does this make sense?"
            2) "Is there anything I have said that you do not
               understand?"
            3) "Have I been teaching you anything other than what the
               Bible teaches?"
            4) "Would you like to obey Christ now and be baptized for
               the remission of your sins?"

CONCLUSION

1. The result of Jesus' conversation with the Samaritan woman was the
   conversion of many people in the city of Sychar - Jn 4:39-42

2. This demonstrates the potential of personal evangelism...
   a. Who knows whether the one person you teach may in turn bring many
      to Christ?
   b. That one person may be like a seed from which seeds may come forth

Realizing this potential, we can better appreciate the words of Jesus:

   "Do you not say, 'There are still four months and [then] comes
   the harvest'? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look
   at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!" (Jn 4:35)

Perhaps by following the example of our Lord, we can be more useful in
His service...

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Gary... Bible Reading September 23






Bible Reading   

September 23

The World English Bible



Sept. 23
Psalms 95-97

Psa 95:1 Oh come, let's sing to Yahweh. Let's shout aloud to the rock of our salvation!
Psa 95:2 Let's come before his presence with thanksgiving. Let's extol him with songs!
Psa 95:3 For Yahweh is a great God, a great King above all gods.
Psa 95:4 In his hand are the deep places of the earth. The heights of the mountains are also his.
Psa 95:5 The sea is his, and he made it. His hands formed the dry land.
Psa 95:6 Oh come, let's worship and bow down. Let's kneel before Yahweh, our Maker,
Psa 95:7 for he is our God. We are the people of his pasture, and the sheep in his care. Today, oh that you would hear his voice!
Psa 95:8 Don't harden your heart, as at Meribah, as in the day of Massah in the wilderness,
Psa 95:9 when your fathers tempted me, tested me, and saw my work.
Psa 95:10 Forty long years I was grieved with that generation, and said, "It is a people that errs in their heart. They have not known my ways."
Psa 95:11 Therefore I swore in my wrath, "They won't enter into my rest."
Psa 96:1 Sing to Yahweh a new song! Sing to Yahweh, all the earth.
Psa 96:2 Sing to Yahweh! Bless his name! Proclaim his salvation from day to day!
Psa 96:3 Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples.
Psa 96:4 For great is Yahweh, and greatly to be praised! He is to be feared above all gods.
Psa 96:5 For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but Yahweh made the heavens.
Psa 96:6 Honor and majesty are before him. Strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.
Psa 96:7 Ascribe to Yahweh, you families of nations, ascribe to Yahweh glory and strength.
Psa 96:8 Ascribe to Yahweh the glory due to his name. Bring an offering, and come into his courts.
Psa 96:9 Worship Yahweh in holy array. Tremble before him, all the earth.
Psa 96:10 Say among the nations, "Yahweh reigns." The world is also established. It can't be moved. He will judge the peoples with equity.
Psa 96:11 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice. Let the sea roar, and its fullness!
Psa 96:12 Let the field and all that is in it exult! Then all the trees of the woods shall sing for joy
Psa 96:13 before Yahweh; for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, the peoples with his truth.
Psa 97:1 Yahweh reigns! Let the earth rejoice! Let the multitude of islands be glad!
Psa 97:2 Clouds and darkness are around him. Righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
Psa 97:3 A fire goes before him, and burns up his adversaries on every side.
Psa 97:4 His lightning lights up the world. The earth sees, and trembles.
Psa 97:5 The mountains melt like wax at the presence of Yahweh, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.
Psa 97:6 The heavens declare his righteousness. All the peoples have seen his glory.
Psa 97:7 Let all them be shamed who serve engraved images, who boast in their idols. Worship him, all you gods!
Psa 97:8 Zion heard and was glad. The daughters of Judah rejoiced, because of your judgments, Yahweh.
Psa 97:9 For you, Yahweh, are most high above all the earth. You are exalted far above all gods.
Psa 97:10 You who love Yahweh, hate evil. He preserves the souls of his saints. He delivers them out of the hand of the wicked.
Psa 97:11 Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart.
Psa 97:12 Be glad in Yahweh, you righteous people! Give thanks to his holy Name.

 
Sept. 23
2 Corinthians 3

2Co 3:1 Are we beginning again to commend ourselves? Or do we need, as do some, letters of commendation to you or from you?
2Co 3:2 You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men;
2Co 3:3 being revealed that you are a letter of Christ, served by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tablets of stone, but in tablets that are hearts of flesh.
2Co 3:4 Such confidence we have through Christ toward God;
2Co 3:5 not that we are sufficient of ourselves, to account anything as from ourselves; but our sufficiency is from God;
2Co 3:6 who also made us sufficient as servants of a new covenant; not of the letter, but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
2Co 3:7 But if the service of death, written engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the children of Israel could not look steadfastly on the face of Moses for the glory of his face; which was passing away:
2Co 3:8 won't service of the Spirit be with much more glory?
2Co 3:9 For if the service of condemnation has glory, the service of righteousness exceeds much more in glory.
2Co 3:10 For most certainly that which has been made glorious has not been made glorious in this respect, by reason of the glory that surpasses.
2Co 3:11 For if that which passes away was with glory, much more that which remains is in glory.
2Co 3:12 Having therefore such a hope, we use great boldness of speech,
2Co 3:13 and not as Moses, who put a veil on his face, that the children of Israel wouldn't look steadfastly on the end of that which was passing away.
2Co 3:14 But their minds were hardened, for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains, because in Christ it passes away.
2Co 3:15 But to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart.
2Co 3:16 But whenever one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
2Co 3:17 Now the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
2Co 3:18 But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord, the Spirit.

From Gary... Oh, to be a feather from God!!!



https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10152557066352418

Each of us is different- in this whole world, I have never met another person who was EXACTLY LIKE ME AND NEITHER WILL YOU!!! About now, you are saying: What about identical twins?  Well, we are more than just our genetic make-up, aren't we? Even twins have differing experiences in life, so, because of this even they will be slightly different!!!  And because of our differences we add something to the whole world.  This video impressed me greatly with the value of each component part and its effect upon the whole.  Even some of the comments were interesting.  Here is just one of them:
 
Olga Gotting This is a life lesson. Choose wisely, be quiet and patient, be prepared to bend, twist and turn gracefully and put all your concentration in achieving a strong successful life for we are as feathers in the wind otherwise.

Olga is right in saying what she does, but I should like to add the following verses from the Bible...

Romans 8:28 NASB
(28)  And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

1 Corinthians 12:4-31 NASB
(4)  Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit.
(5)  And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord.
(6)  There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons.
(7)  But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

(8)  For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit;
(9)  to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit,
(10)  and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues.
(11)  But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.
(12)  For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.
(13)  For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
(14)  For the body is not one member, but many.
(15)  If the foot says, "Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body," it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body.
(16)  And if the ear says, "Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body," it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body.
(17)  If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?
(18)  But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.
(19)  If they were all one member, where would the body be?
(20)  But now there are many members, but one body.
(21)  And the eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you"; or again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you."
(22)  On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary;
(23)  and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable,
(24)  whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked,
(25)  so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.
(26)  And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.
(27)  Now you are Christ's body, and individually members of it.
(28)  And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.
(29)  All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they?
(30)  All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they?
(31)  But earnestly desire the greater gifts. And I show you a still more excellent way.

Every single person out there should strive to be the best they possibly can be!!!  If this be true for everyone, then how much more for those who follow the greatest human being who ever lived- Jesus?? And if this be true for one Christian, then it is true for all. Then, what if they really sought his guidance, did what they could do in this life, and did it with all the love they individually (and collectively) could?  At this point, I probably could be going with infinite possibilities, but I think you probably get where I am going with all this!!!  Each person is like a feather, and that feather does in fact change the world!!! How true- and if the feather is a God controlled one, then be prepared to be amazed!!!!!