Sunday, April 19, 2009

“Spreading the Gospel,” By Kelli Zaniel

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The Bible tells us that the gospel was to spread geographically from Jerusalem, into Judea and Samaria, and finally to the ends of the earth. Do you feel that you have been an active participant in the spreading of God’s Holy Word? Do the people around you see God at work in your life? The gospel of our Savior has not reached its final destination if someone in your family, at work, at school or in your community has not heard the Good News of Jesus Christ. God has revealed to us through His Word that it is our responsibility as Christians to reach out to those around us, pull them in out of the storm and underneath the shelter of God’s heavenly umbrella of salvation. After we have jumped into God’s Word and allowed our personal relationship with Him to be transformed and renewed, it is time to focus on our ministry to others in the community who need to be refreshed and rejuvenated through the love and power of the Almighty God.

Not one soul has an excuse for not knowing the character of God because the Bible so clearly reveals his “fruit of the spirit” nature. His nature is exposed, so that we can experience God’s love and forgiveness cascading down to us. He invites us to participate in a personal, intimate and daily relationship with Him. Every person either accepts or rejects Jesus’ selfless sacrifice. In heaven when we are to stand in judgment, there will be no time for excuses. “Because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when His righteous judgment will be revealed” (Romans 2:5). We must make sure of two important things. One, that our faith is genuine and our hearts are pure. Two, that we have shared God’s loving message with others who hunger for the Good News, as the Bible has instructed us to do. When I stand before my maker on that glorious day, I so desire to hear my Father say, “Well done my good and faithful servant!”

“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors as though God were making His appeal through us” (2 Corinthians 5:20). Even though we may feel like inadequate and ill-equipped, “ambassadors,” God desires for us to take up the cross, share His love and extend our hands to meet the needs of those in our community. 2 Chronicles 16:9, assures us that the, “Lord will range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” If we are committed to seeking the will of God and telling others about his unfailing love for us, He will give us the strength we need to fulfill His calling. God always, “qualifies the called.” He wants us to call out to Him and rest in His strength.

Have you ever thrown a pebble into a small pond? As the tiny pebble glides and skips across the pond, a ripple effect is created. I believe this is analogous to what God is calling us to do. He wants to birth in us a genuine hunger to share and spread the Good News to the, “ends of the earth.” The first ripple of the water is to rekindle and ignite the fire in the hearts of our church family. The second ripple will symbolize the filtering of God’s Word into our circle of friends and family. The third ripple will extend into our local “mission field,” or neighborhoods. The fourth ripple of God’s love will then swell out into our community. Touching those unbelieving hearts by sharing God’s Word will begin as a small circle that has been slightly touched by the pebbles swift kiss across the water. But as a result of that first delicate ripple, a second will form, then a third and then a fourth until the outer banks of the small pond are magnificently touched by the mighty and forgiving hand of Jesus.

The Bible tells us in John 1:14, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and the Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” The Bible is teaching us that the Word became human and in doing so, Christ became, the perfect teacher, the perfect example and the perfect sacrifice. God’s Word in us has taken up residence or “dwelling” in our homes and neighborhoods. Through His dwelling within us, His life-giving message can overflow out of our homes, into the streets and penetrate the lives of those living around us. As His ambassadors, we are to open up our literal doors as well as the spiritual doors of our hearts to our neighbors who are our local mission field of potential.

On my great adventure with God, I have called my strengths and abilities into question many times. God always assures me that my steps do not need to be perfect, they just need to follow in obedience. I often feel like Moses probably did when meeting God at the burning bush. Moses argued with God, that he simply had the wrong guy for the job. “God I can’t do this, pick someone else!” Every argumentative comment that came from Moses was greeted by the whispers of God, “I will do it for you, I will do it through you.” I can picture Moses wiping the sweat from his brow and breathing a sigh of relief. God comforted and assured Moses that He would provide the words to say; I believe He will do that for us as we infiltrate our community with the gift of God’s eternal treasure, which is waiting for us in heaven.

Dress rehearsal is over! God has already given us the armor, complete with a helmet and shield, so that we can go out into the world’s battlefield, fight against Satan’s destruction and win the souls of unbelievers in Jesus’ name. God has equipped us with a mouth to speak the word, ears to hear the small, still voice of the Father, minds to anticipate needs, hands to serve, arms to carry the burdens of others, and feet to walk toward Jesus and go the extra mile (e.g., Matthew 5:41).

I truly believe having Speaker Renee Swope come on November 13 and 14, 2009, for our Women’s Conference is God’s pleasing and perfect will for our church home and community. God has already carried us over several hurdles in order to get this event on the calendar. I think of this Conference as one of the ripples in our small pond. I pray that this will be a perpetual ripple in the water of hope that will not only reach, but will saturate the outer banks of our community.

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