- ? As far as we can tell, no one was sick the entire time we were away. Considering the thousands of people we were around, the drastic weather changes we experienced, and the number of sick people we spent time with – that is one of the most evident testimonies to the power of prayer.
- ? We also saw the Lord preparing the way before us by your prayers. We were kept safe, always cared for and always blessed. We were amazed at the way He led us so precisely as in our stop on Fulton Street in NYC.
- ? We saw prepared hearts, seeking souls, and precious spiritual fruit of which all of you who joined us by way of prayer share a part. Thanks for coming with us on our great missions trip by your prayers.
We also thank each of you for the love expressed in cards, gifts, letters, phone calls, caring for our home, our dog, our yard and so many other ways. We are blessed and grateful to each of you.
Many people ask us, “What did you while you were away?” The answer would be the same as what you did — right? We sought to live each day bearing fruit for the glory of God.
Technically I would say:
? We traveled 10,500 miles, packed and unpacked our ten suitcase and back packs 18 times, rode in cars (ours plus 6 rental cars), buses, trains, planes, boats, shuttles, trams, and subways — traveling through 14 states, and staying overnight in 9 states.
? We visited many dear friends and family, shared the Gospel more times than we can count, saw two souls call upon the Lord for salvation, worshipped with other saints seven times in four states, built sand castles on an island in the sun, skied down mountains in the snow, walked through NYC in the rain, listened to the Four Gospels in the car as we drove, and read five books of the Bible out loud around the dinner table.
But if I could summarize the last few weeks while we were away, it would be by these quotes. They were things that people around me said that had a special significance.
2nd this trip testifies of AVAILABLE MINISTRY:
I walked into the dealership last Monday, that was repairing our car for 14 days, and said, “Any good news today?” This is what Cliff the service Manager said:
“Yes. They liked the fellow who filled in for you yesterday so much — they asked him to stay.”
Earlier that week as we took turns sharing a four seat Ford Escort, I was standing on the porch of our rental unit seeing Bonnie and 3 children off to the grocery store. As Bonnie walked to the car I whistled at her. Just then beside me the tall bushes began to move and the maintenance man working on an electrical box behind the bushes on the house came out, looked at me and said with incredulity:
“You whistle at your own wife?” (and yes, I did whistle at her. Don’t you husbands think your wife is gorgeous?)
“I have done so much good, Jesus didn’t have to die for me.”
– that is what the tow truck man said to me when I asked him why Christ had to die on the Cross if he could get to Heaven by good works. He accepted a brief Gospel presentation and tract.
“I was a minister before I lost my faith.”
– that was what the office store manager told me when I asked him if he was ready to die. I later learned from him that we were contemporaries at BJU, and that he attended the same church as Bonnie and I attended during our college days. He took a tract from me and accepted the challenge to read God’s Word again.
“I wish you had been my priest!”
– That was what the 19 year old college bound shuttle driver said after our 45 minute drive to the rental car location, during which he fired question after question about the Bible at me. He later listened to the sinner’s prayer and
was wanting to know the Lord.
In reality, we just lived our every day lives seeking to be fruitful, just like all of you, only in a lot of different places. In each place we went we prayed and asked the Lord to make us a blessing as His servants, and then we watched as we became aware that He was unfolding situations totally beyond our control!
GOD WANTS TO MAKE EACH DAY OF OUR LIFE FRUITFUL
Last week I prayed from Isaiah 55 the prayer I have been burdened with for you this year.
I pray for each of you, as well as for me, that we all will experience — the fruit of a Word filled life!
Please turn again to Isaiah 55:6-7
6 Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near.
WE MUST SEEK THE LORD
7 Let the wicked forsake his way,
And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord,
WE MUST FORSAKE SIN
And He will have mercy on him;
And to our God,
For He will abundantly pardon.
AND THEN GOD BLESSES
And what can the Lord offer us? Listen to this lineup of promises:
11 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
12 “For you shall go out with joy,
And be led out with peace;
The mountains and the hills
Shall break forth into singing before you, WILDERNESS TIMES BECOME WORSHIP TIMES
And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
ORDINARY (COMMON-NESS) TIMES BECOME UNCOMMON (EXTRAORDINARY)
13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress tree,
FORMER USELESSNESS BECOMES GREAT USEFULNESS
And instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree;
FORMER UGLINESS BECOMES GREAT BEAUTY
And it shall be to the Lord for a name,
For an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”
AND LIFE HAS NEWNESS WITH ETERNAL MEANINGFULNESS
We were in John 15 last time as we studied the Gospel by John. I challenged you to Abide in Christ our Vine and be fruitful.
Last week something new happened to me, it was one of the most moving moments of our entire time away for me. What especially prepared me was the sight of Ground Zero, especially the scene at the St. Paul’s Church cemetery. It has been left covered with the ashes and dust of the WTC collapse. The gravestones are in ashes and dust standing scarred by the destruction all around them. All the destruction, all the twisted metal and crushed concrete. Then thinking in a spiritual sense, that that is what sin does to human lives, it destroys, crushes and twists.
Then as I stood at the top of the balcony with my family at the Times Square Church watching the pastor there, David Wilkerson, led his congregation — of former drug addicts, former street people, former money addicts, former sex addicts, former alcohol addicts, former gang members, and on and on for all the vices of mankind — in the celebration of their newness of life in Christ, through Communion. That was when it moved over my heart. I SAW BEFORE MY EYES THE POWER OF JESUS; the power of this Gospel we have and hold; the power of His transforming grace and of His forgiving love.
This morning Jesus is all we need, Jesus is all I need, Jesus is all you need!
- ? Remember we who belong to Jesus Christ all share an uncommon passion: we want to know Him more, serve Him more, love Him more, and please Him more.
- ? Remember that that God wants us not merely to hear His what His Word asks, but to DO what He asks.
- ? How can we bear more and more fruit to glorify God this year?
Let me answer that by reminding you of where we have been.
WE ARE FRUITFUL WHEN WE ABIDE.
ABIDING IS LIVING DAILY LIKE JESUS IS ALL I NEED. Last May we began studying the Gospel by John in what I like to call the JESUS IS ALL I NEED SERIES. I would like to summarize that series this morning. And as we remind ourselves what Jesus offered then, we should pause to ask ourselves the simple question, “Am I enjoying this New Year — the great salvation Jesus offered?” And if there is any doubt, or if my life is any less than the way Jesus described it-
? How about making this morning another one of those new beginnings?
? How about making today a time of renewal, re-consecration, reaffirmation? ? How about telling Jesus again, or for the first time that you love Him so much
that He is truly all you need!
We are fruitful when we realize we are in Christ!
Remember the truth we started this series with? The overcoming, or victorious Christian life is nothing more than a series of new beginnings. The blessed privilege Christ’s grace offers us is to be able to start over — clean and fresh and new, each time we run to Jesus and simply take what He offers!
ABIDING STARTS WHEN WE BELIEVE THE TRUTH ABOUT JESUS
Now the summary of our Jesus who is all we need. Jesus inspired John the Apostle to write this gospel around a seven sign frame. We learned that in chapter one Jesus is introduced by a seven-titled “calling card”. What are the seven titles, and their significance as recorded in John chapter one? Jesus is recorded as being:
Jesus the POWERFUL Word (John 1:1),
Jesus the POWERFUL Light (John 1:7),
Jesus the POWERFUL God the Son (John 1:18), Jesus the POWERFUL Lamb (John 1:29),
Jesus the POWERFUL Messiah (John 1:41), Jesus the POWERFUL King (John 1:49), and Jesus the POWERFUL Son of Man (John 1:51).
All the Gospel by John is directed toward this truth.
Jesus is the Christ or better yet, Jesus the Christ is the “living link” between heaven and earth.
Christ is God’s “ladder” between heaven and earth. “No man cometh to the Father, but by Me” (John 14:6). By this seven-titled “calling card” Jesus reveals to them and to us that the Christ, who is the Messiah, who is the only way to God is here!
This morning the way to God is the Christ.
The truth about Jesus is that He is all we need. Jesus is all we need for now, for then, and forever.
As we traveled and shared worship services with other believers across the country these past few weeks, one service stands out in my mind. It was the weekend the “shoe bomber” was in the news. The man at that little country church, who was asked to read the scripture to open the service read “Thou shalt call His name Immanuel, which being interpreted is – God with us” (Matthew 1:23) That man went on to say that we should remember that Christ was the message of Christmas. While he shared my mind began drifting to the “God with us” part of the verse.
Will you drift that way with me?
? When is it important to know that God is with you, and you are with God?
? When is it vital to know that you are on the only ladder from earth to Heaven? ? When is it time to know that you have a “living link” to the God of the Universe?
How about when you are on an airplane that has a man trying to light a bomb fuse in his shoe?
How about when you are in a WTC elevator trapped in a burning building?
How about when you are told after (or even before) the holidays, that you are fired, laid off, have failed, have lost you money, or lost your pension, or lost your position, or that you have cancer, are unloved, or any of a million other unexpected and devastating possibilities?
God with us means we are never alone, never isolated, never hopeless, never out of touch, never useless, never worthless, never aimless, never on a dead end road, never trapped, never outcast!
In other words, the first chapter of the Gospel by John gives the best news there ever will be!
FRUITFULLY ABIDING IN JESUS IS THE BEST LIFE THERE IS!
Now what else does it mean to find Jesus as all I need? That is what we learn next in this book. By seven clearly described miraculous signs, Jesus describes the wonders of the salvation all who come to Him experience. This is the best part of the book in my opinion. John wrote in 20:31 “These (seven miraculous signs) are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ (the living link, the only ladder, or way to the God of Heaven) and that believing you may have life (the overflowing joy filled life of endless new beginnings) in His name.”
- HE TURNS water into wine (2:1–11)— The Powerful New Life Jesus offers us is ALWAYS MIRACULOUS;
- HE HEALS the nobleman’s son (4:46–54)— The Powerful New Life Jesus offers us is ONLY BY FAITH;
- HE HEALS the paralytic (5:1–9)— The Powerful New Life Jesus offers us is ONLY BY GRACE;
- HE FEEDS the 5,000 (6:1–14)— The Powerful New Life Jesus offers us brings INEXHAUSTIBLE SATISFACTION;
- HE STILLS the storm (6:16–21)— The Powerful New Life Jesus offers us
brings COMPLETE PEACE;
- HE HEALS the blind man (9:1–7)— The Powerful New Life Jesus offers
us brings LIGHT TO OUR SOULS;
- HE RAISES Lazarus (11:38–45)— The Powerful New Life Jesus offers us
brings AN ENDLESS LIFE;
John wrote in 20:31 “These (seven miraculous signs) are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ (the living link, the only ladder, or way to the God of Heaven) and that believing you may have life (the overflowing joy filled life of endless new beginnings) in His name.”