"The Power Of Friendship"

Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place,
Pulpit Series Volume 17 Issue 42 11/18/2007

The Scribes and Sadducees of Jesus' day debated about which was the greatest commandment and they asked Jesus about it. He told them, first, to love the Lord, with all their heart, soul, mind and strength; and second was to love their neighbor as themselves. Matthew 22:37-38
People in the world are looking for real answers. They want to be part of something that works. Too much of what they've seen called "Christianity" hasn't worked.

We've disappointed them for one reason or another and they just don't believe our message. The number ONE reason people give for not being interested in receiving Christ is the lives of Christians they've known.

Unsaved people hear us "talk" about how God changes us but they don't see a real change in our lives. We have to "walk the talk." If there's no real change in us, if unsaved people look at us and believe they're just as good or even better than us, why would they want to change to be like us?

The first step in evangelism is living a changed life; living a "reconciled" life. The second step is becoming their friend.

That brings me to the importance of Friendship Evangelism. It begins with our having a deep and viable relationship with God. If your life is full and rich, it's just natural to tell others about what's so great about your life. But if it isn't, well, there's not much you can say. Start by enjoying your relationship with God.

Remember that "evangelism" is more than just leading someone to receive Christ as their Savior. The "good news" of Christianity is more than just starting with Christ. It's "finishing" with Christ.

The best evangelism takes place in a context of mutual trust and respect. It takes place between friends.
Christians need to care about the people they hope to reach.
Christians need to accept the people they hope to reach.
Christians need to love the people they hope to reach.
Christians need to establish meaningful relationships with the people they hope to reach.
God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

The best evangelism comes when you really love and care about someone. Demonstrate your love for others. Show them, don't just tell them.

How do you do that? Lots of ways:

Think about them.
Pray for them.
Look for opportunities to show His love for them.

Go out of your way to do good things for them.
Be the best friend they have ever had.
Let God's love pour through you to them.

Share God's truths with them. Keep in mind that we are God's "ambassadors”, as though God Himself was making His love appeal through us.

An ambassador speaks on behalf of the leader of his nation and makes an appeal to the one in opposition. Unsaved people are just like what we once were: lost, separated from God, in the dark, dead in sin.

God makes His appeal to them through us. We are conduits of Grace. This means you need to know what the Bible teaches.

Show them the way to Christ, by sharing with them how you started your relationship with Christ.

Once they begin their own relationship with Christ, stay close to them, like you would a newborn baby. A new Christian needs lots of guidance. Continue to be their friend. Remember what it was like when you were a new believer.
Help them become grounded in God's Word. Show them the kind of life God has for His children. Demonstrate it.

Pray for them day and night. Never give up.

Being a friend is something we can all do.

You and I can make the difference in a the lives of a lot of people during our lifetime. If every believer would be a friend to someone and gently lead them into a relationship with Christ ... what a world we would see!
God's eternal purpose is the redemption of man Ephesians 3:8-11.
God gave His only Son to die on our behalf Romans 5:8.
There is nothing dearer to the heart of God than the salvation of lost souls John 3:16.
Q. Who do we have the greatest influence over? A. Our relatives, friends and associates.
Friendship evangelism is the most effective and the simplest way to bring people to the Lord. There are husbands and wives who have been won to Christ by their spouses; there are children who have been won by their parents and perhaps grandchildren. Others have been won by their friends and associates on the job. Older Christians have a wonderful opportunity to have a positive influence on the generation behind them.

Friendship evangelism was practiced in New Testament times. In John 4:53, there is a story about a man whose son is healed and he and his whole house believed. Andrew followed Jesus and brought his brother Peter to Him. John 1:40-42
Philip introduced his friend Nathaniel to Jesus John 1:43-45
In Acts 10 we read how Cornelius sent for Peter to come and tell him words whereby he might be saved. When Peter arrived, Cornelius had gathered his friends and family together to hear what Peter had to say.
Paul and Silas were in prison for preaching Christ. an earthquake came causing the prison to be opened the prisoners were loosed from their chains and the doors to be opened.
The jailer was about to take his life. They said, Do yourself no harm: for we are all here. Then he invited them to his home. In a short time, this man became a believer in Christ and was baptized along with all his family Acts 16:22-31.
What about our friends and associates? In Mark 5:19, we read of a man who was healed and then wanted to go with Jesus. But, Jesus replied: Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.
The Samaritan woman came to draw water from the well, Jesus was there and He engaged her in conversation and she soon decided he was from God. She left her water pot and went back into the city and brought her friends to hear Jesus. Many became believers because of her influence. Although she was not a disciple at that time, she did believe that He was sent from God and she led others to believe upon Him John 4
When Jesus was going through Jericho there was a little short man named Zacchaeus who climbed up into a tree to get a better view.
Jesus saw him and said, Come down, for today I must stay at your house Luke 19:1-10
Zacchaeus was a tax collector an occupation that was despised among the Jews. I don't know what all Jesus said to him, but he made a friend of him very quickly and the man showed repentance and a desire to change his life.
Use every single opportunity to spread the gospel with everyone that comes my way. We need to be soul-conscious. Often we never get around to doing what we know we ought to do. We may wait until it is too late. I mean who knows whether that person is going to live another day? Who knows whether they will ever hear the Gospel?
True Christians are the light of the world and the salt of the earth and wherever they go they ought to touch every life with the Gospel. Studies have shown that the fastest growing churches are loving churches.
I believe that love is the root of friendship evangelism. Something in your heart has to say that you care about the other person. I wish we could love all people as we see them and have concern for where they will spend eternity.
We can hold the right doctrinal positions, come to every service of the church, take the Lord's Supper every Sunday, and give of our means, but if we do not learn to love it is not worth anything.


Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place
Pulpit Series Volume 17 Issue 41 11/11/2007

Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go; to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I WILL COME AGAIN and receive you to myself; that where I am, there you may be also. John 14:1-3

My prayer is that our hearts will be rekindled with a new flame concerning the blessed hope of our Savior's return.

The apostles had a lot to say about our Lord's return.

Paul shows us the resurrection of the dead and the translation of the living saints at our Lord's return in I Corinthians 15.

Writing to the Thessalonians, Paul gives the great assurance of the coming of the Savior… We’ll be caught up together to meet the Lord in the air and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
Peter writes that there is a new world coming. Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth wherein dwells righteousness. II Peter 3:13

The apostle James believed in the second coming of the Lord. Be patient; establish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draws near. James 5:8

Hebrews 10:35-38 certainly encourages and warns us not to cast away our confidence in His coming.

Paul calls the second coming the Blessed Hope. Looking for that BLESSED HOPE, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ. Titus 2:13

John in his book of Revelation wrote 22 chapters having to do with salvation, signs of Christ's return and the actual, literal, personal, visible and the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. I believe that the Lord is coming very soon.
We’ve only a little time left to present the truth that is able to convert souls. We are to present it in the utmost simplicity, even as Christ presented it, so people can understand it.

There are basically four themes between the covers of a Bible: Creation, Sin, The First Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, and The Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.

When Christ came the first time He took care of the sin problem; when He comes again He will take on sorrow and death.

I heard of an old preacher who was presenting a powerful sermon on the Second Coming, and a man who did not believe it rose to his feet and said, You can't get that out of the Bible. The preacher paused and said, You sir are right, you can't. It's in there and you can't get it out. It is in there to stay.

If we believe Jesus died and rose again, then those which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him I Thessalonians 4:14
Every time the gospel is preached, every time a person comes to know the Lord through the saving grace of the gospel, it reminds us of His return. In the gospel, we find the sin of the sinner forgiven and the salvation of the Lord bestowed.

His first coming was promised in Genesis 3:15 and that promise was kept by a real and literal advent. Now, friend, since God kept His first promise of the Savior's first advent, we can be assured that He will keep His second promise of the second advent. I WILL COME AGAIN John 14:3

There are several reasons why the Lord must return.

First, He must return because of the flood and because of Sodom and Gomorrah! If the Lord doesn’t return and punish sin in our world today, He’d need to apologize to the people of Noah's generation and the people of Lot's time.

Second, the Lord must keep faith with the dead saints. Those blessed saints who died in the Lord were promised a resurrection from the grave and life without end. He will come again to keep that promise and to keep faith with the saints.

Third, the Lord must secure the universe. Satan, sin and sorrow have marred the universe and this must be brought to an end. His return and the creation of a new world will take care of this: There is a new world coming.

Fourth, He is coming again because love cannot tolerate separation. Love cannot put up with separation, it cannot endure separation. The Lord longs to be with His people.

And fifth, He must return to finish what He started. What He began must be ended. Sin was taken care of at the cross. John 19:30 Now, He will return to change these vile bodies and give us a body like His. Philippians 3:21
For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trump of God: the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
I Thessalonians 4:16,17

His coming will be PERSONAL. Verse 16 the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven

His coming will be SUDDEN. Be ready: for in such an hour as you think not the Son of man comes Matthew 24:44

A Scotch preacher asked some people, Do you think Jesus will come today? They said, No, we think not. The preacher replied, In an hour that you think not the Son of man comes.

When Noah was expecting the flood, he went ahead building the ark and preaching concerning the coming flood.

While he waited, he worked, and while he worked, he witnessed.

And that is how it should be with the church today.

We must occupy until He comes.

His coming will be VISIBLE. There will be no secret rapture.

Behold, he comes with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kinds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so Amen. Revelation 1:7

What kind of people should we be?
II Peter 3:14 says, Wherefore, beloved, seeing that you look for such things, be DILIGENT that you may be found of him in PEACE, WITHOUT SPOT, and BLAMELESS.

DILIGENT: It is a sad, tragic thought to know that many will be left behind because they haven’t made preparation for that day.

PEACE: Peace with God and peace with others. Every sin confessed, every sin forgiven, every sin washed by the blood.

WITHOUT SPOT: When we come to God through His Son, we are clothed with the robe of His righteousness just like in the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15) and the robe for the marriage supper. (Matthew 22:11)

BLAMELESS: John, the beloved, was standing on the Isle of Patmos when Jesus came to him and said, Behold, I come quickly The old saint of God looked up longingly and cried, Even so come, Lord Jesus.

John Newton the converted slave-dealer, who wrote the universally loved hymn "Amazing Grace," wrote, if I ever reach heaven, I expect to find 3 wonders:
1. to meet some I had not thought to see there
2. to miss some I had thought to meet there
3. the greatest wonder of all, to find myself there!

And it is that greatest wonder that will cause all of God's children to fall on their knees in gratitude for God's amazing grace. But why wait, now is the time to begin expressing our gratitude.

Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people. Let each of us be there.

"Things That Hinder"

Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place,
Pulpit Series Volume 17 Issue 40 11/04/2007

Galatians 5:13 “…… by love serve one another.”

I don’t know about your response to last week’s message regarding serving others as a way of life, but for me it was a definite YBH moment. Yes But How?

I think it would be good to know what hinders our serving God. Perhaps by knowing what not to do, we can discover what we should be doing.

Your first step is prayer…serious prayer. I realize that some of you may find it difficult to change, but don’t just reject this challenge for Christian service by saying, “I can’t do that”!

Psalms 51:10-13 “Create in me a clean heart, O God; renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence; and take not your holy spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation; uphold me with your free spirit. Then I’ll teach transgressors your ways; sinners shall be converted to you.”

You must take this before the Lord with an open and willing heart. Check to see if you have any attitudes or fears that we address this morning. If you do, deal with those things first, so your prayers will not be hindered.

10 hindrances to serving God:

1. Covetous Heart Desiring for yourself the gifts that God has given others. If we are jealous of others, we won’t be able to develop or be grateful for our own unique gifts.

Run from covetousness! I Corinthians 5:11 “Do not keep company with any man who is called a brother, if he is a fornicator, covetous, an idolater, a railer, a drunkard, or an extortioner; don’t even eat with them.”

I Corinthians 6:10 “No thief, or covetous, or drunkard, or revilers, or extortioner, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”
Ezekiel 33:31 “They hear my words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they show much love, but their heart goes after what they covet.”

2. The “Baby Attitude” This person is set on serving God in a certain way, whether they are called or not. If they can’t do it their way, they won’t do it at all. This is
obviously an immature attitude, overflowing with selfishness, ego and pride.

I Corinthians 3:1 “I could not speak to you as to spiritual, but as to carnal, even as to babes in Christ.”

3. Blaming God Having the perception that if God wanted you to serve Him full time, He would have given you the gifts to do it. This is just a process for making excuses. Don’t blame God for your laziness and lack of creativity. Jesus has given us all gifts to use - not excuse.

Matthew 25:24-25 “Then he which had
received one talent came and said, Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not plant. And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the earth: lo, here is what is yours.”

4. Unbelief The enemy has lied to many a saint - telling them that they are worthless, and have nothing of value to offer anyone. He has told you that you will fail at anything you attempt.

The sad part is that you believe it!
Matthew 13:58 “And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.”

Far too many of God’s children are being crippled by a lie. Each of us is infinitely valuable and precious to the Lord. We all have something to give. If you believe the scare tactics of the enemy the work will never get done.

5. Fear Of Man You care more what people think about you than what God thinks about you. So you settle for being complacent and have rendered yourself nearly useless to the Lord.

Proverbs 29:25 “The fear of man brings a snare: but whoso puts his trust in the LORD shall be safe.”

6. Unwilling To Count The Cost Many are just too selfish and self-centered to give up their plans and their dreams. BUT this is a very real part of being a Christian.

If you need money to do what God directs, then you may have to get a job, or sell some of your possessions. Many people stop right at that point.

It doesn’t bother them to spend money on themselves, but paying tuition or air fare to go somewhere their flesh doesn’t really want to go, is just too much to ask.

Matthew 19:21-22 “Jesus said, go and sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard this he went away sorrowful: for he had many possessions.”

7. Delayed Obedience Delayed obedience is flat out disobedience!

Many of you already know what God wants. You are just putting it off. Anything not done in faith is sin!

Romans 14:23 “For whatsoever is not of faith is sin.”

If you are not doing what you know the Lord wants you to do, skip the rest of this message and get right with God as quickly as you can.

8. The Normal Life Syndrome Deep inside you desire to live a “normal” life. Well, I think the disciples led normal Christian lives.

We should look to Jesus and the disciples as our example of “normality”.

Find something you believe in and give it all you’ve got! One hundred and ten percent…..24-7.

That is the example the scriptures give us. A “normal” life by our standards will not upset your family, or the devil for that matter. It is a life that won’t leave its mark on the world. It just kind of comes and goes…. Unnoticed, unproductive and uninspiring to all.

9. Unwilling Heart With their lips, this person says, “Lord please tell me what to do, but their heart says, “And then I’ll decide if I’m going to do it.”

Do not expect an answer from God if you have not decided before hand to obey whatever He asks of you.

I Kings 11:6 “And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD.”

10. The “Spiritual Stargazers” God probably won’t lay your whole future out before you as you pray about this. He may only show you one step at a time. If He tells you to “get some training”, don’t insist that He tell you exactly what you’ll be doing afterwards. He may not tell you that until you need to know.

Just purpose to take one obedient step after another as God reveals it to you.

Acts 1:11 “Why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”