Scripture Reference: 2 Corinthians 8:1-4
At long last, we are finally getting into the final message of this series. I am extremely sorry that it’s taken this long to get through a seven message series, but I am also extremely grateful to those of you who are still patiently waiting for messages in this series.
For most of you, you know that since I started this series my wife and I had a baby…so I’ve had to learn to balance my writing with family life, work, and even my private time with God, too. I must say that I’ve truly enjoyed this series, and the best part is now that we’re closing this series out…my church has begun a teaching series on Culture of Community that confirms to me that I’m on the right path. How many of you know it’s always nice to have God confirm that what you’re writing about really is what the Holy Ghost wanted you to write?
So, the last message in this series is going to probably wind up being like the rest, and saying some of the same things we’ve already said…but the fact is the Holy Ghost is not happy with the way that we as the Body of Christ are treating people who are in and of the world…and also the way we treat one another in the Body. I know this because I’ve been stuck on this point since we started this series, and I’ve even had to get into this point in some of the devotional messages I’ve been posting on my Facebook page and profile.
At the end of this message I am going to give you an updated list of links that you can go to in order to get everything that we’re writing, and so that we can…well…fellowship with you. I really would like to connect with more of you, and in the aftermath of a series like this I’ve come to realize that I need to make sure that you know that. I don’t want to just write and write and never interact with any of you. So, please…feel free to comment…add me as your friend on Facebook, like our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter, and let me know if I can help you. So, if you’re interested in connecting with us on other social network sites and you haven’t already done so…I will make sure you know where and how to do so at the end of this message.
Right now, however, let’s see how far we can get into this message…and find out what the Holy Ghost has to say to us about putting fellowship into action.
Today’s Message: “Fellowship in Action”
I suppose this is the logical way to close this series out. We have talked extensively about being authentic and genuine. We’ve also talked extensively about how we ought to love people whether they’re believers or not. We’ve talked about treating people differently than the world does. We have talked and talked and talked…but now it’s time to take what it is we’ve talked about…and put it into action.
If we never take what we talked about as far as having an easier time finding in the church what we can find in the neighborhood tavern…then we haven’t done anything with what God has been talking to us about through this series. If we don’t learn to love and treat the least, the last, and the lost as though we’re treating Jesus that way…we’re going to have Him say the words “Away from Me”…and not know why.
In a very real, honest, and candid way…this series is a warning. A warning because we don’t have to be end times prophets to recognize that the Rapture is going to happen soon. We’re getting closer and closer to the sound of the trumpet, and once the trumpet sounds…it’s too late to treat people the way Jesus said we should. Friends, I shouldn’t have to tell you that if we don’t love people…we cannot claim to love and know God. The Bible is candid and clear that if we say we love God…and we don’t love people…we are liars and we don’t know God…and to drive this point home further…He doesn’t know us either.
You see, there are a lot of people who believe that the reason God is going to send us away is because of sin in our lives, but that’s not the truth. The Bible says that God isn’t counting our sin against us anymore because He punished our sin with the Cross. So, why then would God say “away from Me…I never knew you.”
Well…if we read Matthew 25:40 in the correct context…we find that if we don’t love the least, the last and the lost…then we aren’t loving God. John writes in 1 John 4 that if we say we love God, but don’t love people…then we are liars. So…if you put those points together…then we are lying about knowing God, and if we refuse to love people…then we don’t know Him and He doesn’t know us either.
Listen…we cannot claim to love God, and not have compassion in our hearts for what He has compassion for in His. Friends, let me say this as clearly as I can. (Holy Ghost…please help me write this with clarity, boldness, and conviction.)
God’s heart is people. He’s not concerned about blessing you with stuff…He’s concern with getting people saved and rescued from spending eternity in hell.You cannot rescue anyone out of the world if you treat people like the world treats them or worse. – Pastor Bryan J. Kizer
I keep having to say this, and I wish I didn’t…but it’s the truth. It should NEVER be easier to find in a tavern what I should be able to find in the church. It should NEVER be easier to find from a non-believer the love, compassion, and acceptance that I should be able to find from a fellow believer. NEVER.
Yet…it’s routinely easier to find those things in the world than it is in the church…and then we wonder why we can’t reach anyone. Why would people want our God if we can’t represent Him the way HE says we are supposed to.
I can’t even get into the beginning of this message because I have to keep dealing with this point, and I don’t know if I’m going to get off of this point because every time I attempt to…the Holy Ghost brings me back to it.
When someone is an Ambassador of the United States of America…they’re representing our nation. They’re representing the President of the United States…and if our representative treats a nation in a way that the President of the United States would not…that person will be fired.
We as Christians are Ambassadors for Christ. Where is that in the Word of God. I’m glad you asked. It’s right smack in the middle of where Paul is talking about the ministry of reconciliation in 2 Corinthians 5:17-21. As Ambassadors for Christ we are responsible for preaching and teaching that reconciliation with God is possible because of what Jesus did for them on the Cross…and when you combine that with what Paul preaches in Romans about whosoever believes in their heart…and confesses in with their mouth that Jesus Christ is their Lord and Savior…they will be saved. That’s the gospel. If you’re a whosoever that calls upon the name of the Lord…you’re saved.
However, we have inserted this idea that because we’re God’s Ambassadors that He has some how anointed us with the right to judge the lives of the people we’re ministering to. I’m sorry to have to be the one to tell you this…but if you’re judging people…God is going to judge you the same way. So, if you’re judging someone who is struggling to overcome an addiction to pornography…whatever you’re struggling to overcome…God is going to judge that in your life. If you are going to judge someone who is involved with an adulterous affair…then God is going to judge you for being involved in spreading gossip about that affair.
You know…God never told us to judge anyone. He told us to love them and to pray for them. Period. Pastor Bryan J. Kizer
I know…what about not being unequally yoked with unbelievers. Let me ask you this. How are you going to reach the world if you don’t ever step outside of your church?
The drunk that sits at the bar from the time it opens until the time it closes isn’t going to walk into the church…you have to go get him. You’re also not going to pray him off the barstool…some times…you have to go into the bar and get him. In addition to that..you can’t go up to him and start preaching at him about how drunks aren’t going to heaven and that he needs to clean up his life and get right with God. Most of the time if you talk to him like that he’s going to punch you in the face…and before you say “praise God I endured persecution for the Lord’s sake”…no…you didn’t. What you did was misrepresent God, and out of your own religious pride you told that man you’re better than he is because you don’t sit in a bar from sun up to sun down. You don’t know that man’s story. You don’t know that he’s a Vietnam or Gulf War veteran who lost every one of his buddies. You don’t know that the only way he learned to cope is by turning to the bottle, and that every night when he closes his eyes he sees one of his buddies faces.
That prostitute or dancer at the strip club that’s selling herself. You’re not going to reach her by telling her that her body is God’s temple, and she’s destroying her temple…and she needs to stop what she’s doing. First of all, you don’t know that’s the only way she can provide for her child because someone she slept with left her with the responsibility of providing for that child, and because she’s a high school drop out because she couldn’t handle the stress of school and the fact that she was molested by someone in her family for years, and so she does the only thing she knows that she can do because she learned that the only way she could satisfy people is with her body. You’re not going to reach her by preaching at her and telling her that she’s going to hell for what she’s doing…so are you for telling her that…yeah…I said that. You are going to hell too…because whatever you say to her…you’re saying to Jesus…I just thought I would tell you that…and see if you’d still say those same words to her.
That girl that’s going into the abortion clinic. You’re not going to reach her by holding up your picket signs and screaming at her about how she’s ruining her temple, murdering a child, and going to hell because of what she did. You don’t know her story, and you don’t know the reason she’s there. Maybe she’s the victim of a vicious sexual assault. Maybe she’s the girl from the strip club who found out that she’s carrying a baby by that father or uncle that molested her…yeah…that really happens people….and the whole point of these examples are to tell you that you have to look past what you see on the outside. That’s the single greatest piece of advice I’ve ever heard about being in ministry. You cannot look at the person in front of you…look beyond them. Get to know them, and try to understand where they’re coming from before you judge them for something you don’t know or understand.
Listen…what I’m getting at with all of these examples is that we cannot reach those who are hurting by hurting them deeper…and that’s what we do when we stand in judgment of them. THAT’S NOT OUR JOB.
Our job as Ambassador’s for Christ…is to love people the way He would and does and to spread the love of God. Our job is to love and pray for the people we think we are supposed to judge.
And with that point…I think I’ve finally been released to get into this message.
Fellowship involves sharing what I have. 2 Corinthians 8:3 describes fellowship in action as people who “gave according to their means.” What they had, they gave.
Can I talk to you for a moment about the point written in this first point…giving according to your means. No one is expected to give above what they’re capable of, and no one is expected to give what they don’t have. If you’re not a millionaire you’re not accountable to give what a millionaire can. If you’re not blessed with abundance you’re not accountable to give what you cannot give.
Remember when Jesus was standing at the offering plate, and He spoke of how much more blessed the woman who gave the two pennies was than the people who were giving out of what Jesus said “their abundance”. Can I tell you that it’s not the amount that you give, but the motive behind it? If you give someone a brand new coat because you want people to see you giving away a brand new coat…while what you did was commendable…it’s not going to be blessed because what you wanted from giving the new coat was to be noticed and when you get your pat on the back…that’s going to be your reward. However, if you were to just give someone a brand new coat to bless them with a new coat because you loved them and were trying to meet a need…then God’s going to see that and bless it.
Look at the story of Cain and Able. Why was one’s offering accepted over the other? I am convinced that it wasn’t just because of the excellence of the offering, but because of the heart behind it. This isn’t meant to be a message on the offering plate, but can I tell you that the motive behind your giving has just as much to do with your giving as the amount!?!
You see, this is part of fellowship in action. One of the things I love about my church is that they have a ministry called “Serve A Life”. They do things like buy gas for people, give them gift cards to shop at Family Dollar or Dollar General with. They give away entire Thanksgiving and Christmas and Easter dinners. They have back to school outreach where they give a way school supplies. They even have Christmas outreach where they try to help struggling families give gifts to their children.
That is fellowship in action. Listen. If you claim to be an “outreach” ministry, but the only people you are interested in reaching are the people in your congregation than your ministry is short-sighted. Yes, it’s good and necessary to help people in your church, but God’s vision is global. If you’re doing outreach to reach your community…that’s a good start, but when you start doing outreach to reach nations…that’s when you’ve caught the heart of God.
However, it all starts with giving according to your means. If you can’t give away hundreds of Bibles…start by giving away one Bible. If you can’t give away hundreds of devotionals…start by giving away one devotional book. If you can’t give away hundreds of pairs of shoes…start by donating your old shoes to someone who can. If you can’t buy someone a brand new coat…donate your old coat to places who can.
It’s okay for you to help out places like the Salvation Army or Goodwill or any other thrift stores…or even donate your old stuff to your church cause chances are they may do some kind of an outreach too.
However, please…please…please listen to this point. It’s not about what or how much you give…it’s about the heart behind it. In other words…it’s not about what, but why.
Think about it. When Jesus spoke from Matthew 5 thru Matthew 7 which we all know is referred to as His Sermon on the Mount one of the things He was trying to get us to understand is that what religion pays attention to isn’t what God does. While religion is focused upon the action…God is focused on the root of the action which is always our motives. Jesus brought us from the act of the sin to the root cause of the sin which…again…is in our hearts. In our heart is where our motives are.
Okay…I think we’re ready to move on now…
What do you have? I have time. I have experience and wisdom. I have compassion. Yes, I have certain resources. That’s were fellowship in action begins. In the passage above, Paul told the Corinthians what a good example the Macedonians were in giving. Here’s what was going on. Because of persecution and famine, some of the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem were starving. So some of the churches in Asia Minor took up offerings for them. But amazingly, people who gave really didn’t have—humanly speaking—very much to give. Paul says, “You’ve got to hear about this grace that’s been given.” Look at verses two and three. It wasn’t the biggest gift, but it may have been the biggest sacrifice. Everyone’s “means” are different. God multiplies the products of an attitude of giving, no matter the size or nature of the gift. Remember what Jesus did with a boy’s sack lunch (John 6:1-12)?
I have been blessed with the ability to write. Therefore, this has become not only a ministry for me, but the way that I give back to God for what He’s done in and through my life. I’m not a gifted teacher or preacher or talker…my gifted ability is writing…and that’s what all of this is about. It’s about me using what God gave me for His glory.
Think about this. That boy with the loaves of bread and the fish had no idea what was about to take place…he gave what He had to Jesus…and when he did…there was so much food that they were not only full, but they had leftovers.
Friends, when I started doing this I had maybe ten people who followed along, and today I have over 1,000 people following from over 100 nations. I can even tell you that when I started this I had the thought that I would reach some of my friends and maybe some of my family members…but as God began drawing people to my ministry I began to realize that my vision was way too small.
However, I didn’t get to this point without literally just getting started. I have said time and time again that I don’t have any creative writing training. I’ve never been to journalism school, and I’m sure that a lot of my messages probably drive English teachers crazy because of poor sentence structure, spelling and grammatical errors, and who knows what else…but God has done all of this that you see. I honestly got here by just starting to write. After a while, God helped me to develop the format that I use, and from there it’s just about tapping into the anointing of the Holy Ghost…and writing what He inspires…and over 300 times…I’ve done that.
I was in the same place the boy with the fish and the bread was in. I had no idea how or what God was going to do, but I knew that whatever He was going to do would be much better than anything I could do. So, instead of trying to do this in my own abilities and strength I offered up this ability and gift to God…and ask daily for His help in becoming a better writer…and I’d have to say that He’s done that…do you think?
Don’t you want your church to be a compelling testimony of the power of the Gospel in the way people love and care for one another? Every time you write a note, each time you make a meal for someone who’s hurting, and every time you give what you have to meet someone’s need, you are practicing fellowship. It’s a powerful thing!
First of all, my church New Life Christian Center IS a compelling testimony of the power of God because they live by their mission statement…Seeking God, Loving People, Making Disciples…that’s it…and they strive to follow that vision. The power of God in my church is simply awesome.
I’ve already mentioned that there’s such a different atmosphere in my church because we really care about one another. So, when we come together it’s not hard for us to enter into God’s courts with thanksgiving and praise because we truly desire to encounter God, and there isn’t a service that we don’t encounter Him.
Our church has ministries set up to help people who need meals, do their laundry, groceries, holiday dinners, and so much more. We don’t just talk about loving people…we actually do it…and that’s what this who message today is about…putting ministry and fellowship into action.
I don’t know about you, but this series has gotten me to really check myself. I want to be the kind of person that Jesus was. The kind that anyone saint or sinner is comfortable to approach. I want to be the kind of person that people like to fellowship with. However, I don’t want to just talk about being that kind of person…I want to actually become that kind of person…and the only way we become those kinds of people is by allowing the love of God to penetrate our hearts…and then turn around and share that with people.
Let’s pray and close this message…and this series…Amen!?!
Prayer – Father, open my eyes to see needs You have provided for me to help meet. Who I am and what I have come from You, and I want to be directed by You in how I use all You have given. Help me never lose sight that I belong to You and can be an instrument in Your hands for Your work in the world. Open my eyes, Lord. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
I know that a lot of what was written in this series was kind of harsh, but the truth is…the church has gotten so far away from what it’s supposed to be that there’s no wonder why people in and of the world want no part of it. Why would they? If the church acts no different…what’s there for people to be attracted to.
Alcoholics Anonymous has a saying that it’s about attraction rather than promotion. The church ought to have the same motto because we promote the Body of Christ by making it attractive to people, but we cannot make it attractive when it’s just as ugly as the world in which they live…and some times the world looks and is more inviting than the church is…and that should not be.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this series. I know I have. The next series is going to be a serious one as well. So many of my followers are buying the lie from the devil that their lives are worthless, and the devil is killing off our children at an alarming rate. So, the next series is going to be directed towards those who feel their lives are insignificant…and hopefully will touch their lives.
I mentioned that I would give you an updated list on where you can find Christlike Ministries NWA other than here on WordPress so that we can maybe fellowship like the Bible tells us to. I know it’s different when we’re depending upon Social Media to stay in touch, but there’s no reason we can’t…Amen.
So…here’s the list. If you’re not connected to us on any of these links…please get connected to us.
Ministry Facebook; www.Facebook.com/ChristlikeMinistriesNWA
Personal Facebook: www.Facebook.com/ChristMinistARK
Ministry Twitter: @ChristMinistNWA
Personal Twitter: @BJKizer74
LinkedIn Profile: Christlike Ministries NWA on LinkedIn
Ministry Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks to all of you who continue to follow Christlike Ministries NWA. I look forward to the next series, and will most likely be starting message one in the series tomorrow…Lord willing.
Blessings & Grace & Love to you.
Pastor Bryan J. Kizer
Christlike Ministries NWA
“My love be with you all in Christ Jesus.” (1 Corinthians 16:24)