3 Circles Evangelism – A Devotional from Mars Hill staffer, Ryan Renfrow, on how he connects with people right where they are and helps them see the one true source that can address their hurts and their brokenness.
Evangelism isn’t a spiritual gift for a few, but a commandment that Jesus has given to all believers everywhere. The expectation of the global great commission is, as you are going around the world in whatever shape your life takes, you are telling all the people about all that Jesus has commanded and taught you.
As you are going around the world you’ll notice we live in a place of brokenness. Hurt and heartache are a reality for all people, from all places. Broken lives, broken relationships, and broken systems are cross-cultural problems. Brokenness is universal and we all have the feeling deep in our heart that things in this world aren’t as they ought to be. Everyone would agree there should be a place with no cancer, where children’s hospitals don’t exists and natural disasters don’t happen.
When we see the brokenness around us, we search for a way to make sense of it. In ourselves, we can’t do anything about the brokenness because an honest look shows we too are broken – we aren’t what we ought to be. This brokenness isn’t just outside and around us – we feel it in us! This brokenness isn’t just a feeling it’s a reality we see and know. And still, something tells us things shouldn’t be this way.
Often when those around us are experiencing this brokenness, our first response is “Here’s what you should do”. But this isn’t helpful and doesn’t give the answer. The answer to brokenness doesn’t lie in what a person can do, it’s found only in what Jesus has already done.
This video demonstrates a simple visual way to show a person how we became broken and how Christ can restore us to fellowship with God…
I recently read the following quote from Thomas Edison…
We don’t know a millionth of one percent about anything.
Conversely… He (God) knows everything. – 1 John 3:20 (ESV).
This week in our staff devotional time we read and discussed the following quotes and scriptures regarding omniscience (all-knowing) of God. I encourage you to meditate on these verses and ask yourself, “how do these truths about God affect how I live?”
A.W. Tozer wrote, “God knows instantly and effortlessly all matter and all matters, all mind and every mind, all spirit and all spirits, all being and every being, all creaturehood and all creatures, …all law and every law, all relations, all causes, all thoughts, all mysteries, all enigmas, all feeling, all desire, every unuttered secret, all thrones and dominions, all personalities, all things visible and invisible in heaven and in earth, motion, space, time, life, death, good, evil, heaven, and hell.
Because God knows all things perfectly, He knows no thing better than any other thing, but all things equally well. He never discovers anything, He is never surprised, never amazed. He never wonders about anything nor (except when drawing men out for their own good) does He seek information or ask questions.” (A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy, NY: Harper, 1987, pp.62-63).
“He looks to the ends of the earth and sees everything under the heavens.” – Job 28:24
“His understanding is infinite.” – Psalm 147:5
“The secret things belong to the Lord our God…” – Deuteronomy 29:29
“He gives wisdom to wise men and knowledge to men of understanding. It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him.” – Daniel 2:22
“In whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” – Colossians 2:3
“To Him belong counsel and understanding.” – Job 12:13
“He knows the secrets of the heart.” – Psalm 44:21
“For I know the things that come into your mind.” – Ezekiel 11:5 (ESV)
“Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” – Matthew 6:8
“The LORD know the thoughts of man, that they are a mere breath.” – Psalm 94:11
“For I know the plans that I have for you, ‘declares the LORD,’ plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11
The following is a list of thoughts and attitudes, common to us all. But, each and every discouraging statement is countered by a glorious truth from God and His Word. If you are struggling or downhearted, read His words; let His declarations wash over you and renew your perspective.
“It’s impossible” All things are possible with Me.
“The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.” – Luke 18:27
“I’m too tired” I will give you rest.
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28
“I feel unloved” I love you.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” – John 3:16
“I can’t go on” My grace is sufficient.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, So that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” –2Corinthians 12:9
“I can’t figure this out” I will direct your steps.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” – Proverbs 3:5,6
“Your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or to the left.” – Isaiah 30:21
“I can’t do it” You can do all things.
“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13
“I’m not able” I am able.
“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed” – 2Corinthians 9:8
“It’s not worth it” It will be worth it.
“Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” – Galatians 6:9
“I can’t forgive myself” I forgive you.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” –1John 1:9
“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” – Romans 8:1
“I can’t resist this temptation” I have provided a way.
“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” – 1Corinthians 10:13
“Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” – James 4:7
“I don’t have enough to make it” I will supply all your needs.
“And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:19
“I’m afraid” You do not have to be afraid. I am here and I’ve got this.
“For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. – 2Timothy 1:7
“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” – Isaiah 41:10
“I am anxious and stressed” You can cast all your cares on Me.
“. . . humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. – 1Peter 5:7
“I don’t have enough faith” I have given you all the faith you need.
“God has allotted to each a measure of faith.” – Romans 12:3
“I’m not smart enough” I give you wisdom and the mind of Christ.
“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” – James – 1:5
“Who can know the LORD’s thoughts? Who knows enough to teach him?” But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 2:16
“I feel alone” I am with you.
“I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:20
“I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU” – Hebrews 13:5
“I feel inadequate” You are complete.
“. . . in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority” – Colossians 2:10
The Lord sees the spiritual condition of mankind in two ways…we are either “in Adam” or “in Christ.” In today’s devotional, we examined the following scriptures which reveal to us the characteristics of one who is “in Adam,” that is one who has not yet accepted the substitutionary death of Christ on their behalf vs. the realities of one who is “in Christ.” If you are in Christ, you have recognized your need to be freed from the sin which indwells your flesh. You acknowledge that Jesus Christ is God, made flesh, and is the only one, ever, capable of paying your debt and providing the way for you to be restored to a relationship with our creator.
As you read these verses, let them remind you who you were…but more importantly, meditate on the verses that declare who you are…now…in Christ! Let them change you and free you to let Christ live His life through you.
In Adam You Were:
Alienated from God. – Col 1:21 > . . . you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds,
Condemned to death. – Rom 6:23 > For the wages of sin is death . . .
Separated from God without hope. – Eph 2:12 > remember that you were at that time separate from Chris . . . hope and without God in the world.
A slave of sin. – Rom 6:17 > . . . you were slaves of sin . . .
Spiritually dead. – Eph 2:1> And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, Rom 5:12 > Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men
An enemy of God. – Rom 5:10 > For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
Spiritually deaf and blind. – Eze 12:2 > Son of man, you live in the midst of the rebellious house, who have eyes to see but do not see, ears to hear but do not hear; 2Co 4:4 > in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
By nature a child of wrath. – Eph 2:3 > Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath . . .
Darkened in your understanding, excluded from the Life of God and hardened in heart. – Eph 4:17 > So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, Eph 4:18 > being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart;
Patterned after your spiritual father, Satan. – Joh 8:44 > “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
In Christ You Are Now:
Washed, sanctified, justified. – 1Co 6:11 > . . . you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. Rom 3:24 > being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;
Indemnified (Though God rejects your sinful performance, He does not reject you!). – Rom 8:1 > Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Alive (formerly dead). – 1Co 15:22 > For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. Eph 2:4 > But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, Eph 2:5 > even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
A new creation. – 2Co 5:17 > Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come
Seated in heaven (present tense). – Eph 2:6 > and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
Complete. – Col 2:10 > and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority;
The need for a regular quiet time for personal prayer and feeding on His Word…
In a 2013 poll of its readers, Leadership Journal (a publication for vocational Christian workers) reported that 91% of the respondents admitted to some form of burnout in ministry, and 18% said they were “fried to a crisp right now.”
For today’s Mars Hill staff devotional, we read and discussed the following thoughts concerning our need to have a regular quiet time for personal prayer and feeding on God’s Word – a daily time to be refreshed and nourished by the Living Water and the Bread of Life.
“In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.” – Mark 1:35
“Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” – Luke 5:16
In the book “Directions,” James Hamilton writes:
Before refrigerators, people used icehouses to preserve their food. Icehouses had thick walls, no windows, and a tightly fitted door. In winter, when streams and lakes were frozen into silver-gray pathways, large blocks of ice were cut, hauled to the icehouses, and covered with golden sawdust. Often the ice would last well into the summer. One man lost a valuable watch in this sawdust while working in an icehouse. He searched diligently for it carefully raking through the sawdust, but didn’t find it. His fellow workers also looked, but their efforts, too, proved futile.
A small boy who heard about the fruitless search slipped into the icehouse during the noon hour and soon emerged with the watch. Amazed, the men asked him how he found it. The boy replied, “I closed the door, laid down in the sawdust, and kept very still. Soon I heard the watch ticking.”
Beloved, often the question is not whether God is speaking but whether we are being still enough, and quiet enough, to hear what He has to say to us. Be still and get God’s direction for your life!
“Be still, and know that I am God.” – Psalm 46:10 (ESV)
“In the morning, O LORD, You will hear my voice; In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch.” – Psalm 5:3 . . . ” Your ears will hear a word behind you, this is the way; walk in it.” – Isaiah 30:21. . . Let God order your morning prayer, and He will show you how to order your day.
But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.’” – Matt.4:4 . . . Daily feeding from the Word of God is vital to prevent spiritual malnourishment.
“If we are weak in communion with God we are weak everywhere.” – C.H. Spurgeon Continue reading →
So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. And everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. And all those who had believed were together, and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions, and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. And day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.
– Acts 2:41–47
And from that day, His followers went out into the world sharing God’s truth, and love, and forgiveness with others. By His Spirit, they did the works that Jesus did when He walked among them: healing the sick, casting out evil spirits, and reconciling people to God. And their number increased daily.
– The HOPE, Chapter 12
OBSERVE & CONSIDER
On the day the Holy Spirit filled the followers of Jesus, something extraordinary was born. What is known to most people as the Church, the Bible calls a mystery. In Ephesians 3:9–10, Paul writes of “the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God, who created all things; in order that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.”
The Bible uses several metaphors to describe the relationship between Jesus and His Church. Some of these include:
The Church is a living temple and Jesus is its chief Cornerstone (1 Peter 2:4-8).
Each of these metaphors is rich with descriptive imagery, but perhaps none more so than the one we find in 1 Corinthians 12. This scripture describes the Church as the body of Christ Jesus, with Him being the head (as we read in Ephesians 5:23). At this present time, we know that Jesus is with the Father in heaven. He is preparing a place for those who believe in Him (John 14:2) and He is praying for them (Romans 8:34). His presence on earth is now manifested by the Holy Spirit through His body, the Church. In this sense, the members of the Church are His arms, hands, feet, eyes, and lips in the world. As the Head of His body, Jesus is directing the activity of the Church on earth through the Holy Spirit.
As we compare the metaphor of a physical body to the relationship between Jesus and His Church, consider these two truths:
All the parts of a body are necessary to form a complete functioning unit. If any member of the body is weak or missing, the entire body suffers.
It is only in the context of a functioning body that each member discovers his or her identity. Just as a finger cannot fulfill its function apart from the hand, so a follower of Jesus will never know (walk in) his or her identity in Jesus apart from a right relationship with the Body of Jesus.
His willingness to be grieved shows how much He loves you.
Lesson 22 from The HOPE Study Guide
Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.
– Genesis 6:5–6
The earth became filled with evil. And God was grieved!
– The HOPE, Chapter 4
Observe & Consider
In the previous lesson we considered how rapidly sin increased on the earth in the generations after Adam and Eve. Today we will consider God’s response to this as recorded in Genesis 6:6. But before we attempt to discover what God might say to us through this verse, let’s determine what it is not saying.
The phrase, “And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth,” could be understood in a number of ways. For instance, a person might say, “I’m sorry I got myself into this mess.” And by that he would mean, “I wish I hadn’t done what I did to be in this situation,” or “If I had it to do over, I would do it differently.” Applying this line of thought, could we read Genesis 6:6 and reasonably conclude that God regretted doing what He had done, as if He had made a bad decision?
We cannot conclude such a thing, and here’s why. The Bible never contradicts itself. A verse should always be considered in light of the whole Bible, and when we look at what the whole Bible says about God we learn that:
His ways are perfect (Deuteronomy 32:4). Creating man could not have been a mistake because God doesn’t make mistakes.
He knows everything (Psalm 139:16). God knew that He would have sorrow and grief over the sin of mankind, even before Adam and Eve were created.
So what is this verse saying to us? To say that God was sorry and that He grieved in His heart shows us that God has emotions. In fact, the Bible frequently ascribes emotions to God. At various times He is said to be grieved (Psalm 78:40), angry (Deuteronomy 1:37), pleased (1 Kings 3:10), joyful (Zephaniah 3:17), and moved by pity (Judges 2:18). But who can really understand the emotions of God who is infinite? Continue reading →
The victim mentality – a vicious cycle.
Lesson 19 from The HOPE Study Guide
Before Adam and Eve ate of the fruit – And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
– Genesis 2:25
After – Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings. And they heard the sound of the Lord walking in the garden in the cool of day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of Thee in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” And He said, “Who told you that you were naked?” Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” And the man said, “The woman whom Thou gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
– Genesis 3:7–13
Then she gave the fruit to Adam, and he ate. And immediately, they were aware of their nakedness and they were ashamed. Something terrible had happened. Something had changed … Adam and Eve tried to hide from God, and to get rid of their shame by covering themselves with leaves. But this did not work, for their problem was not outward, but inward. Shame is the result of sin, and sin was at work in them like a poison.
– The HOPE, Chapter 3
OBSERVE & CONSIDER
Before eating the forbidden fruit, there is no indication that Adam and Eve had ever known shame1 (Genesis 2:25). After they disobeyed God, they saw their nakedness and for the first time felt exposed and vulnerable. So they tried to cover themselves. Then they tried to hide themselves from God. Why? Because they were afraid. They may have been afraid of God’s response, but they were actually hiding themselves from the only One who could really help them, the very One they needed the most.
It is very interesting that God would ask, “Where are you?” God is all knowing. He knew where Adam and Eve were hiding. But His question was not just rhetorical. He was bringing Adam and Eve face to face with the result of their sin. The question “Where are you?” takes on a much greater meaning if applied to their spiritual condition more than their physical location. They were at a desperate place, and God’s question was like holding up a mirror. They needed to recognize the seriousness of their situation.
Notice what happens next, when they are “found.” Adam blames Eve, and Eve blames Satan. Shame was one of the first fruits of sin, and blame was a direct result.
The first question is not is He good, but rather is He God?
Lesson 17 from The HOPE Study Guide
Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said,’ You shall not eat from it or touch it, lest you die.’ And the serpent said to the woman, “You surely shall not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
– Genesis 3:1–5
And so it was one day as Eve was walking in the garden near the tree of knowledge that Satan spoke to her. She was without fear, for fear had not yet come into the world. Satan asked her about the forbidden fruit. He questioned God’s warning and His motive toward man. Eve listened and began to doubt God. She considered the fruit and ate. Then she gave the fruit to Adam, and he ate. And immediately, they were aware of their nakedness and they were ashamed.
– The HOPE, Chapter 3
OBSERVE & CONSIDER
The current lesson continues our study of Satan’s interaction with Eve at the tree of knowledge. Let’s think about Satan’s tactic with Eve as recorded in the Bible passage above.
Eve told Satan what God said about the forbidden tree, “You shall not eat from it or touch it, lest you die.” Satan responded, “You surely shall not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”1
At first, it appears that Satan is simply contradicting God, or at least trying to re–interpret what God has said. He seems to be trying to get Eve to question whether she really heard what she thought she heard. Instigating doubt and confusion is certainly one of Satan’s primary tactics.
But if you dig more deeply, there appears to be even more to Satan’s strategy. In his line, “You surely shall not die!” you can almost hear him saying to Eve, “Oh come now. God wouldn’t do that to you …would He?” Satan is leading Eve to question God’s intentions toward her. Then he follows up with, “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” This sounds like Satan is hinting that perhaps God doesn’t really want Eve to become all she can be, which would then cause her to wonder, “Does God really want what is best for me?”
At the core of this line of thinking there lurks a very dangerous question: “Is God really good?” People throughout time have stumbled over this very question. When Eve begins to ask it, slam…the trap is shut. Doubting that God is for her, she will now begin to look after her own interests.
Where does your picture of God come from?
Lesson 13 from The HOPE Study Guide
For man was created to love God and to be loved by God.
– The HOPE, Chapter 2
OBSERVE & CONSIDER
How we perceive a person inevitably influences the way we respond to that person. For instance, if you learned from a co-worker that your supervisor was very angry with you, how do you suppose you would feel to see him (or her) suddenly appear at the doorway of your office?
Or, if you were driving down the street and listening to some of your favorite music and you saw a police car approaching from behind with lights flashing, would you immediately look at your speedometer to make sure you were not breaking the law? If you’re like most people, you would.
In the same way, your perception of God will most likely determine your immediate response to Him. We saw the line above from The HOPE in an earlier lesson, but didn’t dwell on it then. But because this simple statement is so significant, let’s look at it again and delve more deeply into what it means to us. If this statement is true, then it becomes a foundation for every other truth we’ll consider in our study of God’s story through the HOPE. If it is not true, then you could hardly be blamed for abandoning this endeavor here and now. Continue reading →