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Reaching Out Together

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Reaching Out Together

Philippians 1:27-1:27

Reaching Out Together

Welcome to our 2nd week of 40 Days of Community! During the next 40 days, we are doing two things: deepening the sense of community within our church family, reaching out to the community around our church family. We’re learning to build stronger relationships in our church and reach out in relationships of love to those around our church. And the reason we’re doing this is because the Bible says we’re better together.

Last week, we looked at why we need each other, and that is foundational for everything we are looking at the next six weeks.
In each of the next six messages we’ll be looking at how to deepen our relationships so we can fulfill God’s purposes.

One of those purposes, one of the reasons why you exist – is to share God’s love with others. God wants you to share His love with other people, with your friends, with your family, with the people you work with, and to show his love to those who don’t know Christ yet – who are not yet in His family.
Now why does He want us to do that?
God wants us to share with others the Good News that Jesus died for them and that by trusting in Jesus alone, they can have a relationship with God.

Now, why do we need other people to share this Good News?
Can’t I do this by myself? Why do I need others to help me share the Good News? That’s what we’re going to look at this morning. God wants you to share His Good News, yes. But He wants you to do it with other people.

Look at Philippians 1:27. It’s there at the top of your outline.
Let’s read it aloud together...
“You are standing together, side by side, with one strong purpose to tell the good news.”
Now circle ‘standing together’ and circle ‘to tell the good news.’ That’s what we’re looking at today. How do we do it together?
How do I share with my friends that God loves them? And how do I do it in a partnership with other people?
Look at Philippians 1:5
Paul says this: “You’ve been my partners in spreading the good news about Christ.”

Circle that word ‘partners.’

We’re going to look at 7 ways to partner with other believers, with other people in the family of God, to help reach your friends, your relatives, the people you care about most with the Good News. And we are going to look at it in an acrostic. We will be spelling the word ‘PARTNER’ so that we will know how to partner together to share God’s love with others.

So, how do we partner together to share the Good News?
Here’s how we do it: We ‘PARTNER’ together.

‘P’ stands for PRAY TOGETHER

And the first thing you do is you ask others to pray with you for those in your life who haven’t stepped across the line, who are still considering the claims of Christ, who don’t really know God in a personal way yet. You ask others to pray together with you.
You can’t force anybody to make that decision.
But you can pray for them.
And prayer can melt a hard heart.
Prayer can warm up a cold heart.
Prayer can activate and arouse an apathetic heart.
Prayer can change a stubborn heart.
You see, people can reject your arguments. You can provide all the right logic and arguments as to why someone should trust in Jesus and follow Him, but people can still reject Him.
But, when we pray...There’s tremendous power in prayer!
Prayer goes straight to the heart. Ask others to pray with you about the people you know who don’t yet know Jesus. Well, what are we supposed to pray about as a group?”

Well one of the things is given to us in Colossians 4:3. Look at it in your outline...
“Pray for us that God will give us the opportunity to tell people His message.”
You see this over and over again that Paul asks for others to pray for him as He share’s the gospel – the Good News – with others.
Paul saw the need for others to pray for him.
If the Apostle Paul needed pray, don’t we too?
We pray for opportunities to share with others who don’t yet know Jesus – our friends, loved ones, family members, people we care about.
And, you know what? As we pray for opportunities, guess what happens? Yep. All kinds of opportunities open up. We just have to be aware of them. And so we pray. We pray that God would open up opportunities. And we pray that we would be aware of those opportunities.

Will you write this down?
‘Prayer makes me aware.’ [Repeat]

When you start praying for your family, then you start seeing the needs of your family.
When you start praying for your friends, you start seeing the needs of your friends.
When I start praying for your coworkers, you start getting concerned about your coworkers. Prayer makes you aware!

And so, here’s the first action step is sharing the Good News: Make a group prayer list, and then share it with each other.
I want you to ask everybody in your small group, “Name one person that you would really like to know the Lord but they don’t know the Lord yet.” And we’ll all share those names, and we’ll make a list of six names or seven names or ten names or whatever. And then, start praying for each other’s friends or each other’s family, and everybody starts praying. And people you know and love will begin having a lot of people praying for them.
Won’t that be great? There’s power in prayer!

So the P in ‘PARTNER’ stands for prayer.
Next, ‘A’ in ‘PARTNER’ stands for...

APPEAL TO COMMON INTERESTS

Before you can share the Good News with anybody, you have to establish a relationship with them.
Before you can reach them, you must relate to them.
So you find out, ‘What do we have in common? What do we like to talk about? What do we have… common experiences? Common interests? Common needs? Common hurts? Do we like to fish? Do we like to golf? Do we like to cook? Do we like to shop? Do we like to sleep? Do we have kids? Are we interested in soccer, baseball or basketball or whatever?’

So the second step, if you’re getting your group to reach out, is to discover the common interests in your group.

Again, the Apostle Paul is a good example for us here. Look what he says in 1 Corinthians 9:22-23. Let’s look at it together...
You will be able to reach people that I cannot reach, many times, because of the common interests you share with them.
It could be hobbies your interested in.
It could be the life situation you are in.
It could be the background that you’ve had in life.

You have things in common with others.
Look for the common ground.
You like football? Invite your friends to watch the game with you.
You like to cook? Invite your friends over to learn how to cook a new dish.
You like to quilt? Invite others to join you.
You like to play games? Invite others to join you.
You like to work on cars? Invite others to join you.

You see? It’s these common interests that you have with others that will provide the common ground for them to see Christ in you and will provide you opportunities to share God’s love with them.

So, you not only Pray together, you also Appeal to common interest.

The ‘R’ in ‘PARTNER’ stands for REACH OUT IN LOVE
Why?
Because you have to have the right motive in reaching out to your neighbors and friends. Jesus said, “Love you neighbor...” how? “...as yourself.” Yeah.
You know the old cliché: People don’t care how much we know until they know we much we care.
And so everything we do is out of love.

Well why are we doing this?
Why are we even talking about reaching out to our community? Why don’t we just focus on us?
Why don’t we just focus on making the love in our church warmer and stronger?
Why in the world should we focus out on the community around our church?
Why would we do that?

Well, I hope we don’t do it out of guilt.
I hope we don’t do it out of pressure.
And we don’t do it out of duty.
And we don’t do it to make God like us because He already loves us.
We don’t do it because we’re better than anybody else because we’re not. We do it for three reasons:

1) We have the greatest news in the world to share

If I had the cure for cancer, I’d be shouting it in the streets, right? If I had the cure for AIDS, I’d be telling everybody I could, right?

But I’ve got something better than that:
The key to purpose in life and eternal life.

What is the good news anyway? The Bible says we’re to share the good news. What is the good news? Well, to understand the Good News, we’ve got to understand the Bad News.
Bad News: We’ve got a problem. We’ve got a disease. It’s called sin. Romans 3:23. And what do we get for having this disease?
The Bad News gets worse. What do we get?
Death, separation from God. Romans 6:23.
That’s some pretty bad news, isn’t it? So what’s the Good News?
The Good News is that Jesus came to earth to provide a way so that you don’t need to be separated from God anymore.
He provided a cure for your deadly disease. Romans 5:8.
Suppose you are in a hospital dying of cancer. I come to you and say, "Let’s take the cancer cells from your body and put them into my body." If that were possible,
What would happen to me?
What would happen to you?
I would die in your place.
I would die instead of you, right?

He took your disease on Himself. He provided a cure!
This is better than a cure for cancer!
This is better than a cure for AIDS!
This is real Good News!

But, you know what, the Good News gets even better...
You can be saved through faith in Christ!
Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace [undeserved favor] you have been saved [delivered from sin’s penalty] through faith, and that not of yourselves;
it is the gift of God, not of works, that no one should boast.”

How do I get this cure? By trusting in Jesus Christ.
Q: What must you trust Christ for?
A: You must depend on Him alone to forgive you and to give you
eternal life.
Just as you trust a chair to hold you through no effort of your own, so you must trust Jesus Christ to get you to heaven through no effort of your own.
Now that’s good news! Amen?
Where else am I going to hear that Good News?
This is the best news in the world and everybody needs to hear it!

So that’s the first reason why we focus on reaching out together. Here’s a 2nd reason:

2) Out of a heart of gratitude
The second is out of a heart of gratitude.
You know, if God never did another thing for me, I still owe Him my life.
He has forgiven me for my sin.
He has provided a way for me to have a relationship with Him.
He’s given me a reason to live.
He’s given me purpose and meaning to my life.
I owe Him everything!

It’s out of a heart of gratitude that I reach out and want to share with others how much He means to me.
I want others to experience what I’ve experienced.
And so, we do it out of gratitude.

But then there’s the third reason why we reach out, and it’s...

3) Because God is love

And when God comes into your life, you start loving other people. In fact, I’ll be real honest with you.
If you don’t love anybody else, it’s real simple – you don’t have God in your life. You don’t. You may think you do, but you don’t because the Bible says in 1 John 4 that “God is love.”
When God’s love comes into your life, you can’t help but start to love other people. And so we do it out of love.

The Bible says this in 1 Thessalonians 2:8, there on your outline, “Because we loved you, [that’s the motive for reaching out in love] we were happy to share not only God’s good news but even our own lives.”

What is sharing the Good News?
It’s one beggar telling another beggar where to get bread.
That’s it. We dare not try to come across to others that we are somehow better than they are. We’re not. We’ve just found food. And we want to share it. [Life boat]
All too often we come with judgment and condemnation.
That’s just plain wrong. A lot of Christians are known more for what they are against than what they are for! That’s sad.
Let me show you a verse that may shock you.
Look at 1 Corinthians 5:12...
It says, “It’s not my business to judge those who are not a part of the church.”
Why?
Well, let me give you a little principle:
Never expect an unbeliever to act like a believer until he is one. Never expect an unbeliever to act like a believer because he can’t or she can’t. They don’t have the power to change.

When I see somebody who is not a believer acting in a way that is kind of foolish I’m not to judge them. No!
What am I called to do? I’m called to love them and help them come to know Christ.
Instead of judging them, we are to love them.

Here’s the action step:
Ask God to give you a deeper love for other people.

Now, before you turn that outline over, why don’t you write this question at the bottom?
“How can I pray for you?”

One of the best ways that you can show love to a friend or to a family member or to a coworker who is not a believer yet is to simply ask them, “How can I pray for you?” See, that’s not offensive. Even people who are atheist don’t mind you praying for them, they say, “Sure. If you believe it, I’ll use all the help I can get.” Everybody wants to be prayed for. Everybody does.

That’s one way that we Reach out in love.

There’s a 4th way that you and I can partner together to let other people know how great God’s love is and that is this:

TELL YOUR STORY

We do what the Bible talks about in 1 Peter 2:9
Let’s look at it together on the outline...

“You are God’s instruments to do His work and to speak out for Him and to tell others of the night and day difference that He has made for you.”
You tell your story. In fact, the most effective way to let other people know about the great things that God can do in their lives is to tell the story of what God’s done in your life.
And the great thing about telling stories is you are the expert on your story, right?
People want to hear your story.
What they don’t want to hear is your s-t-o-r-y!
You know what I’m talking about?
You know, those stories where they are 15 minutes into the story and they are still five years’ old?
People just want to hear the short story.
So we owe it to them to take a few minutes to think it through so we can tell the story of what God’s done in two or three minutes, not two or three hours. Tell your story.

Jesus said just before He left this earth in Acts 1:8...
“...you will be my witnesses...”
When you hear the word “witness,” I would guess that most of us picture a courtroom scene. People take the “witness” stand.
What do they do? They are expected to give their testimony.
They are asked to relate what they saw or heard, right?
It’s a perfect picture of what God’s asks us to do.
He doesn’t ask us to be the attorney, arguing the case.
He doesn’t ask us to be the judge, judging other people.
He says that we will be His witnesses.
And what does a witness do?
A witness just says, “Here’s what I’ve seen. Here’s what I’ve heard.” A witness just tells the story of what God’s done in their life to other people. What has God done in your life?
Tell others what He’s done. Tell your story.

Now here’s an action step with this, just a simple action step:

Write out your story, and share it with your group

I’m serious! Start there. Start with your group.
Some of you have never even shared the story of what God’s done in your life.
What better place to start than with your small group?
Look at what the Bible says in Psalm 66:16.
Let’s read it together...
“Listen and I’ll tell you what God has done for me.”
That’s what Christ wants us to do.
Just share what God has done for you. Tell your story.

A 5th way to reach out together is:

NURTURE FRIENDSHIPS

Build friendships with others so that you can build a bridge between your heart and theirs that Jesus Christ can walk across. Now this step takes a little bit more time and effort.
It takes a little more energy to build a friendship.
You just don’t do it overnight. The Bible says in Romans 12:16 “Be friendly with everybody. Don’t be proud and feel that you are smarter than others. Make friends with ordinary people.”

God has already put people in your life specifically so you can share the Good News with them. And if not you, who?
The fact is, you are the Bible some people will ever read.
You represent Jesus Christ to them.

Now one of the best ways to build a friendship is to follow Jesus’ example. Did you realize that much of Jesus’ ministry was done at parties?
This really irked the religious leaders of the day.
They accused Him of being a glutton and a drunk because He was at parties so much of the time.
Well, why was Jesus’ at all these parties?
Because that’s where the people were that He wanted to share the love of God with. He even taught His disciples to do this.

Look at Luke 5:29, “In his home, Levi, [also called Matthew], “gave a big dinner party for Jesus and many fellow tax collectors and other guests were also there.”

You see this so often in Christ’s ministry
Why not follow Christ’s example here?
Why not invite others to join you in your group?

Here’s our action step: Bring a friend to your group

During ‘40 Days,’ bring a friend to your group.
You say, “Well I don’t have any friends who would like to come to my Bible study group.”
Are you kidding? Are you kidding?

A recent Gallup poll found that 34 million American said,
“I’d go to church. I’ve just never been asked.”
34 million! And some of those 34 million work with you.
Some of those 34 million people live next door to you.
Some of those 34 million people are far more willing to come to a small group than we are willing to ask them!

What we’re talking about here is building relationships.
What we’re talking about is nurturing friendships.

Let’s look at a 6th way we can reach out together:

EXPECT GOD TO ACT

The greatest pastor of the 19th century was a guy named Charles Spurgeon. He was the pastor of the largest church in the world, the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, England. He would often speak to up to about 10,000 people. And many people came to know Christ through his life.
One day, a young man came to him and said, “Mr. Spurgeon, I don’t understand it. Whenever you talk to people about the Lord, they always tend to open up their lives and they tend to accept Christ. But when I talk to people about the Lord, nobody’s interested. Nobody comes to Christ. What’s wrong?”
Spurgeon says, “Well young man, you don’t expect people to come to Jesus Christ every time you talk about him, do you?”
He said, “Well, of course not.”
“That’s your problem,” said Spurgeon, “That’s your problem.”

Now, I don’t know how it works, but I do know that when I pray and expect God to act...He does. Why are we surprised when God acts in response to our prayers? Many times we are, though, aren’t we? Why? Is it because we are not praying in faith?
What is faith? Look at Hebrews 11:1...
“Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

Now, I know that some of you have been praying for some time for a friend or relative to come to Christ. And maybe you’re discouraged because you don’t see any evidence that they are any closer in the journey to God than they were before.

May I encourage you to continue praying?
Pray in faith. Expect God to act.

Now again, I don’t know how this works. But you know the story in the Bible…there were these guys who had a friend who was paralyzed and he needed to be healed. And so, they believed Jesus could heal him. So they put him on a mat and they take him to Jesus. And when they get there, they set him down. And Jesus says this, in Luke 5:20, “When Jesus saw their faith, he said ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven.’” And Christ healed the guy.

Now notice, He healed the guy on the basis of the faith of his friends! Sometimes God asks us to believe in faith for other people.

And, you know what, it doesn’t even take a lot of faith.
It just takes a little faith.
It’s not the size of your faith that matters; it’s the size of your God!

Now, there’s one last way we’ll look at how we are better when we reach out together:

‘R’ is REPRESENT CHRIST WITH YOUR LIFE

Look at Colossians 3:17...“Whatever you do or say, let it be as a representative of the Lord Jesus.”

We need to be audiovisual Christians!
We need to be Christians who walk the walk and talk the talk!
We need to do what we say. We need to live it and share it.
We need to communicate it and demonstrate it.
We need to be show and tell Christians.
Look at 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 “Do all you can to live a peaceful life. Take care of your own business. Do your own work. If you do, people who are not believers will respect you.”

I’ll say it again: God has specifically put people in your life.
You are God’s representative to them.
He put you in their lives to share God’s love with them.
Are you hoping someone else will share with them?
If not you, then who?
How will they know that God loves them unless you tell them?

Maybe you’re wishing that God would write it in the sky for them. Well, God’s done something better! He has sent you!
He has sent you to tell your family member, your neighbor, your co-worker. He has sent them you!

Let me encourage you, but yet at the same time warn you, to pray the most dangerous prayer you could ever pray. It’s a short prayer.
Two words, in fact: “Use me.”

I dare you to pray that prayer during our 40 days.
“Use me, Lord.
Use me to show Your love to people who don’t know you yet.”

God has given this church a heart to change the world.
We intend to change the world with the love of God.
But it starts in our own community, in our own small groups with those around us whom we know and we love, and they are not going to know unless we show them. And we need each other to do it together. We really are better when we reach out together!

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