FULLY ALIVE!

Your life will be as bright as the noonday sun. Job 11:17


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Bump and Lift

Pickpocketing is one of the oldest and most widespread crimes in the world. It happens around the world! And in a matter of minutes, it can rock your world! Lifting your money, credit cards, identification and other valuables can take mere seconds. You, however, may not realize until much later how much you have lost and how vulnerable you were and are.

How does it happen? A common technique is “bump and lift.” An approaching thief will walk toward you, intentionally bump into you and, while you are distracted by the “bump,” lift your wallet or other items from your person. Just like that, you’ve been robbed.

Would it surprise you that Satan, who comes to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10), uses the same technique?

Your days are joy-filled. Your branch is producing an abundance of fruit. Too much fruit for Satan. Bump!

Life is good. You are happy. All is going well – very well! You dwell in peace. Your peace robs Satan of his. Bump!

You are growing in your faith – going to church, attending Sunday School, joining Bible Study… You actually look forward to spending quiet time with the LORD each morning and have committed to rising early to meet Him. Satan cannot allow this! Bump!

Your witness is strong. Opportunities to share the Gospel abound and you obediently welcome and respond to each one, ready to share your testimony and God’s Word. Satan must put a stop to this. Bump!

Joy, peace, spiritual growth and intimacy with God, sharing the Gospel – these are the things Satan seeks to rob from us. How? Through a distracting “bump” followed by a quick “lift.”

Your days are joy-filled and you are bearing much fruit. Satan “bumps” you with a bit of gossip, a need for recognition, desire for the approval of others or some negative self-talk – anything to “lift” your joy.

Life is good; you are at peace. Satan “bumps” you with relationship discord, abandonment, family dysfunction, problems at work – anything to “lift” your peace.

You are growing in your faith and have committed to spend more time with God and in His Word. Satan “bumps” you with insomnia so that you can’t get up in the morning. He “bumps” you with sick or whiny children, a needy husband or a dog that escapes the house and has to be chased – anything to “lift” your time with God.

Your witness is strong; you welcome opportunity to share your testimony. Satan “bumps” you with a medical diagnosis, financial disaster or some other tragedy that seems to come out of left field – anything to shake your faith and “lift” your trust in God.

Satan is cunning (2 Corinthians 11:3); he is clever (2 Corinthians 4:4). Just like the pickpocket, Satan is often coming right toward you; you see him. You might even smile at him and give him a nod (especially if you are a good Southerner). He likely will smile back because he knows how to distract you so that he can “lift” your joy, your peace, your growth, your intimacy, your witness, your testimony – your power!

And just as you may not readily know that the pickpocket has robbed you, you may not readily recognize what Satan has “lifted” from you because he is also subtle.

How do we protect ourselves from our enemies?

A Google search yields tons of ideas for outsmarting pickpockets – wear money belts, secure your bag across the front of your body, leave your valuables at home, steer clear of commotions, stay vigilant in crowds… These are all good ideas, and we might even be tempted to try to apply some of them in our war with Satan – especially staying vigilant. In fact, 1 Peter 5:8 tells us to be alert and sober-minded because our enemy prowls, looking to devour.

But a good thief knows how to pick his victims. He’s watching. Satan knows how, when and where to come for us. He looks for the chink in our armor.

But God.

Satan looks for the chink in our armor, but God has given us the gift of His Holy Spirit to indwell, to guide, to keep, to help through all the “bumps” of life.

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Who Have You Told Lately

LIfeWay Research (2012) indicates that “61 percent of evangelical Christians do not share their faith regularly” – even though they believe it is their responsibility to do so. Further, nearly half of those who responded to the LifeWay survey said they have not invited a non-Christian friend to church in the past six months.

Whoa!

That’s frightening, unsettling, distressing, disappointing, concerning, alarming… I’ve got a whole list of adjectives and adverbs that I could wrap around this one!  And when we butt this body of research up against a study by the North American Mission Board (NAMB) in collaboration with LifeWay (2009), we find that “67 percent of Americans say a personal invitation from a family member would be very or somewhat effective in getting them to visit a church. Another 63% say a personal invitation from a friend or neighbor would be effective.  This same study reports that nearly two-thirds (63 percent) are very or somewhat willing to receive information about a local congregation or faith community from a family member, and 56 percent are very or somewhat willing to receive such information from a friend or neighbor.”  A similar LifeWay study summarized in Discipleship Journal (2008) reported 75% would be wlling to listen to someone talk about his/her Christian beliefs and 78% would enjoy an honest conversations with a friend about spiritual beliefs even if they had other beliefs.

Enough of the numbers; let’s cut to the point best summarized by Ed Stetzer, vice president of LifeWay Research and Ministry Development, “[M]any of your unchurched friends are ready for an invitation to conversation.” THIS is clearly the point for the question raised in Romans 10:14 (NLT), “But 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?

Hello Someone!

Yes, you!

Who have YOU told lately?  With whom have YOU shared the good news of God’s Gospel?

Let me share another tidbit from the 2009 LifeWay data.  “Out of 13 approaches tested, personal invitations from family members or friends is the only method that a majority of Americans say would effectively draw them to church.”  Television, radio and newspaper all have an impact as do visits from congregational teams, but the most effective method is one-on-one personal communication with a family member or friend.  Church advertising and outreach methods clearly take a back seat to personal testimony and invitations.  And consider one final extract from LifeWay’s data, “At particular points in life, people are more open to considering matters of faith, the survey (2009) found. The Christmas season is the most common time for people to be open to spiritual matters. Nearly half (47 percent) are more open to considering matters of faith at Christmas. Americans are also open to matters of faith during the Easter season (38 percent).”

Hebrews 3:15 cautions us not to harden our hearts when we hear while James 1:22 admonishes us to be doers of the word.  And we know that Matthew 28:19 commands us to go, teach and make disciples.  I’m thinking perfect storm – THIS is the ideal time for you to hear this word just weeks before Easter, the season when many hearts are open and eager to hear God’s truth.  THIS is the ideal time for you to share!

THIS WEEK pray asking the Holy Spirit to lead you to the right opportunity and the right methodology to share your faith.  Unsure how to get started?  Explore the following resources.  Share your experiences as well as your encouragement for others using our blog’s comment feature!

RESOURCES

Share Your Faith Apphttp://shareyourfaithapp.com/

How to Share Your Faith (Billy Graham Evangelistic Association):  http://billygraham.org/grow-your-faith/how-to-share-your-faith/tools/

EvangeCUBE:  http://www.e3resources.org/downloads.php

Roman Road (Teen Mission International):  http://www.teenmissions.org/resources/roman-road-to-salvation/

FAITH Outlinehttp://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&frm=1&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CC0QFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.lifeway.com%2Fev%2Ffiles%2FevF_min_FAITH_VisitOutline.pdf&ei=4_AFVdywOoifNsXvg4gJ&usg=AFQjCNEgBlAI91LGBT5nxvukphTU6VdBdg&sig2=_vrcHO9_89NTcfsxCAfQtg