pperseverence, rejection

Don’t let rejection stop you.

“Can I just tell you that God loves you and has a great plan for your life” -I said to this gentleman (as per the Reading script)…

“I’m not into that, I’m Church of England” he said as he walked off.

Rejection happens when we do mission and it isn’t nice, but it is part of mission people have the choice to accept Jesus or reject him. In fact in John 6, so many people had left Jesus that he even asked the 12 if they would go too, prompting Peter to say “where else can we go for you have the words  of eternal life”.

He saw something unique in Jesus that he couldn’t get anywhere else, as Peter said in his sermon in the Acts of the Apostles “there is no other name by which we are saved”.

we have a responsibility to share our faith with those around us, in Corinthians it says “one sows, the other reaps but God made it grow” we can’t opt out of the great commission, but our responsibility is just to be faithful and tell them the good news their response is down to them.

As we have been doing mission this fortnight I remember a phrase Pastor Yinka the main guy with this Reading movement said “if you sow sparingly you’ll reap sparingly, so lets sow extravagantly”.

Bishop Lee Rayfield said in the Mission Shaped Ministry training “don’t make the decision for people” -often we think we know best and think “they wont be interested”- but give them the opportunity to make the choice themselves. Often the people we think wont be interested are often longing to hear the gospel message and are very open and responsive.

The book of Romans (chapter 10) poses the question “How will they hear unless someone preaches (or tells) them? Blessed are the feet of them that bring good news”.

Someone once said that “Evangelism scares Christians and non Christians alike”, the problem I believe our Churches are empty is not because people aren’t interested in Jesus, I believe the “fields are white unto harvest” is a picture for today as well as then, but because we ourselves in our everyday normal life don’t share the good news of Christ with those around us.

So much mission stuff is really wonderful like tidying up our local community, or getting involved in great social action, or putting on wonderful events but sometimes I do ask myself whether all this effort is simply to mask the fact that we are not actually telling real people about Jesus.

People simply don’t know the good news of Christ Jesus unless some-one tells them in a way they can understand, and that they can respond to.

The Gospel demands a response.

The Gospel presents us with a clear choice, are we accepting or rejecting the free but finished work on the cross or not.

Often we think we are being pastoral but not being too pushy, and I’m not sure people are argued or harangued into the Kingdom, but the gospel is challenging and people may choose to reject it and that is okay. well it is not okay for them, but maybe this wasn’t their time, the responsibility is to tell them clearly, faithfully in a way they can understand and respond to.

So, let’s not stop telling people about Jesus, and lets leave their rejection in his hands, knowing that we have carried out our duties faithfully and lovingly.

pperseverence, prayer

PERSEVERANCE: by Sarah Whybrew.

In our session on perseverance and dealing with disappointment we explored the topic of unanswered prayer.  The challenging reality is that all of us have experienced times when God has not answered prayers in the way we would have liked or hoped for. Some of us have disappointment from the past buried within us. The Prayer Course offered us the chance to examine our hearts and consider how disappointment from the past might be hindering our relationship with God today. For example, there was a story about a man who had struggled with unanswered prayer when his daughter was a baby, so much so that although he prays regularly for others, 20 years later he still struggles to pray for his own life due to the disappointment of the past. Is there a disappointment from the past or present today that is holding us back from offering ourselves to the LORD?

As much as it is encouraging to share our answered prayers with others there is also a need for sensitivity to their own experience of unanswered prayer. For example, what about the person who experiences instant answered prayer for a headache and celebrates this loudly around someone else whose younger brother died from cancer despite persistent prayers. It is imperative that we are able to communicate our feelings of disappointment, hurt and frustration and that these are not buried deeply. We need to invite the Holy Spirit to minister to our wounds and bring healing – it’s there we find God. We need to hear about unanswered prayer and suffering in our churches too, after all this is a reality for many and something that Jesus experienced too.

Can you identify any areas of disappointment in your life? Is this something you have talked to God and close friends about? If you do have any unresolved issues it’s a good idea to ask a friend to pray for you. Seek freedom today.

We also looked at perseverance and those situations and people for whom we need to commit to praying for, for the long haul. As with the story of the widow and the judge in Luke 18, there is a need to keep on asking God, “And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly.”  As we also read in the story of Abraham in Genesis, God listens to His people and prayer has power to change nations as we intercede with God in line with His will.

Ask God to reveal to you any past disappointments or unanswered prayers that may still be affecting your faith and relationship with God. Be real with God about how you feel and allow the Holy Spirit to minister to your heart.