My New Year's Resolution
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
December 30, 2007
Passage: John 1:35-51 (NLT)
VIDEO – BLUEFISHTV.COM - RESOLUTIONS
is December 30, and I know that a lot of people will be making a lot of
resolutions over the next couple days for 2008. Perhaps you’re one of
those people that make resolutions each year. Perhaps you make the same
resolution each year. For some reason, it just never seems to take.
whether making resolutions is an annual thing for you or not, there’s
one resolution I would encourage all of you to make this year. It’s the
same resolution I’m making myself. It’s actually a two-parter, and it’s
for 2008 – Invest and Invite
the resolution. Invest and invite. Invest in the lives of people who
are far from God and invite them to do something about it.
break it down. Let’s look first of all at investing. What do I mean
when I encourage you to invest in someone who is far from God?
know people who are far from God. You know people who right now are
headed for a Christ-less eternity. Jesus has made every possible
provision for them to change direction, but right now their still on
the pathway toward eternal death in Hell. And so the first thing you
need to do is pray for them. It’s not all you need to do, but you
definitely need to start here.
Pray for them. Pray that they
will become receptive to hearing the Good News about the hope, the
forgiveness, the life that’s available in a relationship with Jesus.
Pray that they will understand that they desperately need Him. Pray
that they will respond to Jesus. And pray that God will use you in
whatever way He deems best to be part of the solution. But pray.
me ask you, how often do you pray for those who are far from God? Do
you understand that your prayers reflect your values? You know, it’s
okay to pray for your personal needs. In fact, God encourages us to do
that. But if all I ever pray about is me-centric, then something’s
wrong. I need to be praying beyond myself. I need to be praying for
those who so desperately need an encounter with God, even if they don’t
When you pray in private, when you pray with your
spouse or with your family, when you pray with your small group… what
do your prayers tell you about your values?
You need to invest prayer in those who are far from God.
way you spend your time speaks volumes. Are people who are far from God
important enough to you that you’ll invest your time in them?
a guy who Jesus healed. And after Jesus healed him, he wanted to travel
with Jesus. He wanted to hang around with Jesus and the disciples 24/7.
But Jesus said, “No, I don’t want you to do that.” It’s in Luke 8…
Jesus told the man…
Luke 8:39 (CEV)
back home and tell everyone how much God has done for you.” The man
then went all over town, telling everything that Jesus had done for
Now, I know a lot of Christ-followers like that
man. All they want to do is hang around with other Christ-followers.
And that’s not really a bad thing. In fact, we need those kinds of
relationships where we can support each other, pray for each other,
help each other grow, and worship God together. That’s all good.
it become a problem is when you no longer have any contact with those
who are far from God. I think Jesus would tell you and me the same
thing he told that man… “Go back home and tell everyone how much God
has done for you.”
And the thing is, that takes time. And it
doesn’t often happen by accident. You’ve got to set aside time when you
can interact with people who are far from God.
It’s no secret
that I spend a lot of time at places like Tim Horton’s. Why do I do
that? It’s not because of the coffee. In fact, when I started, I didn’t
even like coffee. There are two main reasons I spend a lot of time
One reason is that I like to prepare my messages for
Sunday when I’m surrounded by people who are far from God. It reminds
me that ultimately my messages are being prepared for them.
the second reason is that it gives me opportunities to meet and
interact with people who are far from God. From the people who work
there to the regular customers. I’ve had people come over to me there
and ask me to pray with them, ask me for advice, I even had a Muslim
friend there who needed some help.
If I didn’t purposefully
carve out time in my day to go places like that, I’d have very few
opportunities to meet with people who are far from God. In my line of
work, it would be very easy for me to insulate myself on every side by
That works for me. But for most of you,
you’ve already got built-in opportunities to interact with
pre-Christians. You might have some in your family, you probably work
with some, you meet up with them when you take your kids to all the
things they’re involved in. So when those opportunities arise, do you
take advantage of them? Do you invest time in building those
relationships and establishing a foundation for you to impact their
lives with the love of Christ?
So you’ve got to invest your prayers, invest your time, and…
this is really a catch all. I don’t know everything that may be
required of you to build those relationship and open those doors so God
can move in and change lives. But I do know that whatever it takes,
it’s worth it.
Here are a couple verses. First, here’s what the Apostle Paul said in
the New Testament book of First Corinthians…
1 Corinthians 9:22 (NLT1)
to find common ground with everyone so that I might bring them to
it took, he tried to find common ground with everyone so that he could
reach people who were far from God and bring them closer to Him. He was
willing to invest himself.
And here’s what Jesus said about this…
Mark 8:35 (NLT)
you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up
your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save
Jesus says, even if you have to invest yourself to the point of death,
it’s worth it in order to share the Good News.
few weeks ago on 60 Minutes, there was a feature on the Christian
community in Iraq. This is one of the oldest Christian communities in
the world, dating back to the first century. But over the past five
years, they have been decimated.
People in Iraq and in several
places around the world face death everyday because of their commitment
to Jesus and to telling the Good News about Him.
I feel like a wimp complaining about any persecution I face. But the
truth is, there is persecution even here. There’s the political
pressure to remove all hints of Christianity from public life, there’s
the recent popularity of Gnostic teachings, there’s the increased
profile of atheists who wrongfully dismiss believers as intellectual
morons, there are all the movies and TV specials that try to erode the
foundations for our faith. And yes, there are those who are beat up and
killed because of their faith even here in North America.
year, there are 100 Christian churches that are burnt to the ground by
arsonists. You try to find one other organization that losses 100
venues to arsonists every year. And then just a few weeks ago, there
were the shootings at the missionary center and a church in Colorado.
The people who died there gave their lives for the sake of the Good
Now, odds are, it’ll never come to that for you. But what
are you willing to give up for the sake of the Good News? Are you
willing to invest yourself, whatever that means, so that you can bring
people to Christ?
that’s the first part of the Resolution. Let’s resolve to Invest in the
lives of people who are far from God. The second part of the resolution
is to Invite them. So let’s take a closer look at that. What does it
mean to invite them? What do we invite them to? Well, one thing is to…
them to Church
few years ago, Thom Rainer released the results of an extensive survey
he did focusing on the people he described as being Unchurched. Rainer
himself is the author of about 15 books and is the founding dean of the
Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth at the
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. (Just think of just how big that
man’s business card must be.)
Well, Rainer and his colleagues
interviewed several hundred people in both the U.S. and Canada who do
not attend church, and this is what he discovered…
Christians inviting non-Christians to church? The heartbreaking answer
is ‘no’. Only 21 percent of active churchgoers invite anyone to church
in the course of a year. But only 2 percent of church members invited
an unchurched person to church.”
~ Thom Rainer
And that has
to rank among the most frightening things I have ever read. Think about
it: out of a hundred active churchgoers, 21 of them will invite someone
to church. But 19 of those people invited to church will already be
attending church somewhere else. What’s the point?
not here to swap sheep with other churches. We’re here to depopulate
Hell. We’re here to reach the unchurched. That’s our priority. Or at
least, it should be. We need to start inviting the unchurched to church.
Here’s another surprising statistic from that study be Rainer…
“82 percent of the unchurched are at least ‘somewhat likely’ to attend
church if they are invited.”
~ Thom Rainer
you comprehend that? 8 out of 10 of your friends and co-workers would
be at least somewhat likely to come if you invited them. 8 out of 10.
think about it. In Charlottetown, there are over 32,500 people. Add in
Cornwall, Stratford, Winsloe, and York, and you’re well over 40,000.
Statistically, only about 15% are attending church. So on any given
Sunday morning, only 6000 are attending a church… any church. That
means that 34,000 are watching TV, shoveling their walks, taking their
kids to hockey or just sleeping in.
And according to Rainer,
27,880 of those people are at least somewhat likely to attend church if
they were invited… many are very likely. There are people just waiting
to be invited to church. They’re eager to come. Rainer discovered that
they even feel guilty for not attending church. But nobody’s asking
them. Nobody’s inviting them.
Which is why we need to resolve that we are going to invite them.
Invite them to church. Secondly…
Them to “Matthew Parties”
[Luke 5:27-32 (NLT)
as Jesus left the town, he saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at
his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said
to him. So Levi got up, left everything, and followed him.
Levi held a banquet in his home with Jesus as the guest of honor. Many
of Levi’s fellow tax collectors and other guests also ate with them.
But the Pharisees and their teachers of religious law complained
bitterly to Jesus’ disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with such scum?”
answered them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I
have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who
know they are sinners and need to repent.”]
This is a throw
back to our “Just Walk Across the Room Series from about a year ago. Do
you remember what Matthew Parties are? Let me refresh your memory.
the Gospel of Luke, chapter 5, we read about how one day Jesus saw a
tax collector sitting at his tax booth. And in that era in particular—I
know things are different now—but in that era tax collectors were
scumbags. At least, that’s how most people saw them. And this guy named
Levi was one of them. And yet Jesus told the guy, “Follow me.”
know Levi better by his other name, Matthew. Well, Matthew took Jesus
up on that offer and began following Him. Which completely confused all
his friends. I mean, think about it. His colleagues probably thought
he’d lost his mind. Why on earth would a successful businessman like
Matthew ditch his career and traipse after a homeless rabbi?
there were probably days that Matthew wondered that himself. What had
he gotten himself into? Here was Matthew—a newly converted disciple of
Jesus. He had chosen to follow Jesus, but he was trying to figure out
what that meant for him.
And then he started to recognize that
he had a deep, deep desire to expose his friends and family members to
the acceptance and love, the purpose and hope, that he’d found in the
person of Jesus Christ. Problem was, he hadn’t had time to go through
the disciples’ official Evangelism 101 course. He was too new in his
faith journey to have memorized the handy formulas for sharing his
faith. But there were all of his old buddies standing there in their
tax-booths—the same spot where he used to work… just a few days before!
here’s Matthew, feeling kind of outnumbered and unequipped to reach out
to his old friends. He knew their lives would be so enriched by knowing
Jesus, but he had no idea how to get that introduction made. And just
then, he decided what to do. And you won’t believe what he did… he
threw a party!
He was good at throwing parties, so that’s what
he did. But not just any party. It was a party where he could stick his
old tax-collecting buddies in a room with his new friends—the Christian
ones—and just see if some of the good stuff might rub off on the ones
who had yet to taste the grace of God.
Now remember, Matthew
could have become consumed by his new life and his new friends and just
left everyone else to themselves. But Matthew chose differently, didn’t
he? He chose to prioritize people outside the family of God… people who
needed an ounce of acceptance, a little Christian friendship, a taste
And he also chose to see the potential in his
tax-collecting friends… the same way Jesus had spotted potential in
him. I mean, really, who would have given Matthew—a scumbag of a
tax-collector—half a chance of ever coming to faith in Christ?
so Matthew decided to give the same chance to his old friends. He
invited them to a party where they could rub shoulders with Jesus and
with others who knew Jesus.
Does that sound like something you
could do? Sure it does. Any one can throw a party. And it doesn’t have
to be some elaborate shindig. Just Next what makes sense for you to do.
you have kids, you might want to do something connected to the Jack
Frost Festival coming up shortly. Maybe invite a few families back to
your place after an event there. Or if you play pool, you can arrange
to get together at Dooly’s. Or maybe go shopping as a group and stop
for coffee afterward. Do something that makes sense for you.
just be careful not to overwhelm your friends who are far from God. In
fact, aim to have more people who are far from God than there are
Christ-followers at the party. You don’t want anyone to feel ganged up
on. It’s just meant to be a social event, not a pressure cooker.
Okay? So that’s a Mathew Party. Try throwing one and inviting your
pre-Christian friends. And finally…
Them to Know Jesus
Inviting people to church and getting them around other Christians is
great, but the real goal it to invite people to Jesus.
comes a time you’ve got to make “the ask”. Think about a salesman.
We’ve all seen our share of them over the past month. What’s a salesman
there to do? Well, they’re there to make sales, right? But what if you
were in a store looking at getting a brand new plasma screen TV and the
salesman came over and told you all about the benefits of owning this
one particular set and all the features in includes and how much better
your life would be if you owned it, and what if he had you convinced
that this was the set you wanted to buy… and then he just walked away?
What if he never actually gave you the opportunity to buy it?
Well, he wouldn’t be much of a salesman, would he? In fact, he probably
wouldn’t even have that job much longer!
I’m not encouraging you to use any high-pressure evangelism techniques.
Those can do more harm than good. But I am encouraging you to be
sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit in your life and recognize
that when the time is right, you need to give your pre-Christian friend
an opportunity to choose to follow Jesus. Whatever you do, don’t tell
them all about the benefits of knowing Jesus and then just walk away.
Give them the opportunity to do something about it!
although there are lots of tips floating around to help you with this,
there is no right or wrong way. You’re basically telling someone about
what Jesus has done for you and inviting them to experience it, too.
fact, I know someone who has told hundreds, possibly thousands of
people about Jesus, and he uses what he calls the FAA approach… the
Fumbling Apologetic Approach. He says…
“When the ‘why’ is big enough, any old ‘how’ will do.”
~ John Symonds
in our Worship Celebration, Karen read a passage for us from John
chapter 1. In that passage, you heard about how John the Baptist
introduced Andrew to Jesus, and Andrew went and found his brother Simon
Peter. The next day Philip met Jesus and then he immediately goes off
to find his friend Nathanael and introduces him to Jesus.
ordinary people who meet Jesus telling others about Jesus and inviting
them to meet Him, too. It’s been part of Christianity since the very
But the truth is, very few of the unchurched today
have ever had anybody tell them about who Jesus is. They’ve never been
told what it means to accept Jesus into their lives. They don’t know
how to become a Christian. Which, of course, isn’t really all that
surprising. After all, if Christians are reluctant to do something as
simple as inviting someone to church, what are the chances they will go
as far as to explain who Jesus is and how they can come to know Him?
Romans 10:14 (NLT)
how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And
how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how
can they hear about him unless someone tells them?
Listen. Here’s the bottom line. Every person needs Jesus—no exceptions.
And it’s up to us to tell them.
eternal destination of our friends and loved ones depends on it. Jesus
is the only way to God the Father and into Heaven, so whether people
are aware of it or not, they desperately need to hear about Jesus and
come to know Him personally. Their eternity hangs in the balance.
there you have it. That’s my New Year’s Resolution. Invest and Invite.
What do you think? Will you adopt that as your own resolution, too? I
hope so. Let’s just not allow this resolution to fade away like most
other resolutions. Let’s keep this one all year long.