“Let’s quit fiddling with religion and do something to bring the world to Christ.” ~ Billy Sunday
A neat, often untold part of Jesus’ resurrection story is its festival. We know about Passover festival’s relation to the crucifixion of Christ, but there was also a festival happening on the day of the resurrection. It was called the Festival of Firstfruits. On the first day after the Passover Sabbath, which would have been Sunday, every Jewish male would be bringing a sheaf of barley to the temple. That barley would be offered to God, whose acceptance of the offering was a pledge for a greater harvest to come. Fifty days later, the Jewish people would celebrate the Festival of Weeks or Pentecost to celebrate that greater harvest of wheat that God provided.
Seeing any parallels?
Paul helps us out in 1 Corinthians 15:20-23:
“Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also comes through a man. For just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.”
Christ resurrection, among many other provisions, serves as a pledge of a greater harvest to come. A harvest of people who are dead in sin, but will be made alive in Christ (Ephesians 2:4-5).
Fifty days after the resurrection, during the Festival of Pentecost, Jesus had ascended, the Holy Spirit was poured out on the Church, and 3,000 were added to the kingdom (see Acts 2). A truly greater harvest.
So What? A few takeaways:
- The resurrection was just the beginning! The resurrection of Christ is God’s pledge to bring a harvest from our lives as believers. The life of Christ within us is power to produce fruit for God. The fruit of godly character and a harvest of disciples made. What is my life producing?
- The harvest doesn’t come without laborers and labor. Fields still have to cultivated, seeds still have to be planted, weeds must be dealt with. He pledges resurrection power to us. We should pledge to work the fields and to do our part to assure a harvest of disciples made for him. What am I doing to prepare for a harvest?
Fifty Days Until Harvest
What will you have to offer God? How many could God add to your church if you, in dependence on Christ, allowed him to use you for a harvest? Get started:
- Ask God everyday to make you fruitful.
- Prepare the fields through identifying who you can reach.
- Plant seeds by sharing the gospel in every way you can.
- Get equipped HERE.
Churches talk a lot about the Spiritual Milestone of Baptism. It’s a great next step for the person who has put their faith in Christ. BUT, have you experienced the milestone of baptizing someone else? Jesus commissioned EVERY believer to “Go… make disciples… BAPTIZING them… teaching them…” (Matthew 28:18-20). Did you know that Jesus didn’t baptize anyone? He let his disciples do that (See John 4:2). He wanted them to have the joy of leading others in their next steps in the faith. And it is a joy! a rush!
Who have you Baptized? At the church we attend, if you bring someone to Christ, we want you to have the joy of baptizing them. Where do I start?
- Make a list of people in your life that need to know Jesus and respond to his offer of salvation.
- Pray for them everyday. Pray for open eyes and open hearts.
- Get clear on the Gospel. Get trained to share the Gospel. Here’s a 30 minute personal training – LINK.
- Pray for opportunities to talk to your friend(s) about the Gospel.
- Start a Bible Study and invite friends to it.
- (not an exhaustive list. If this is important to you, you’ll find a way.)
Jesus wants us all to be Baptized believers in Him. But Jesus also wants us to be fruit bearing, obedient BAPTIZERS of new disciples.
Goal: Baptize at least one friend in 2022. Who’s in?
Send me the first name of your friend(s) so I can pray for them as well.
When asked by Pew research to define what Jesus’ teachings were, people answered:
- Take care of the environment
- Buy from companies that pay fair wages
- Live healthy and exercise
Not bad things at all, but Jesus actually didn’t say any of that. What did Jesus actually say? We can find his commands in the four gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. And his commands, his directives, were on his mind when he stood in front of his disciples before going back to heaven. He told them to “Go. Make Disciples. Baptize them. And teach them to obey EVERYTHING I HAVE COMMANDED” (Matthew 28:19-20).
What if we focused on obey everything Jesus commanded? If you look at and seek to obey his commands, you’ll find everything you need for a dynamic spiritual life that will make an eternal impact. There are commands for situations, like “What happens when someone attacks me?” Jesus says, Love them, Bless them, Pray for them. “What happens if I’m running out of food?” Jesus says, don’t worry. The father knows your need and will provide.
You also find commands that give meaning and purpose for all of life and that you can literally build life on. Like, “Seek first the kingdom of God” and “Love God and Love Others” and “Go and make disciples.” Jesus commands give us more than enough to build life on and to know how to live in difficult times.
And the best news of all. We’re not alone when it comes to obeying Jesus. This is not a checklist that we have to struggle with. That’s religion. And its powerless. These commands are given in the context of relationship that Jesus paved the way for with his own life. Jesus, as part of this relationship, has promised to put these commands in the hearts of those who follow Him (Ezekiel 36:27). And he has promised power to obey in the person of his Holy Spirit to live within us. To struggle with obedience to Jesus may reveal something amiss about your relationship with him. Obedience is a product of an abiding relationship with Jesus. Saying no to Jesus’ commands is saying “I am the Lord of my life. Jesus, no thanks.”
Saying Yes to Jesus is a way of life. For the person who has made Jesus the leader of their lives, we find joy and strength in obedience to him. It’s the best yes of every life and should be the first yes of every day for those who follow him. Have you said yes to Jesus today?
A Church Planting Strategists Frequently Asked Questions:
- Do you know anyone that can help us with worship?
- Do you know of a church that has any extra musicians?
- What are you doing for your worship?
Worship leaders and musicians are getting harder to find. At least the kind that just show up and play at church. There are still plenty of musicians out there to reach and develop. And they’re not playing in anyone’s church right now. What if we went out and found them, reached them, trained them, developed them FROM the harvest?
Where kind I find potential musicians and worship leaders?
- Music Stores. Make up a simple card that says, “We’re looking for musicians” and post it at local music stores. Meet with whoever calls. Wade through the ones that see churches as easy money. Share the gospel with all of them. See what doors the Lord opens up. Get to know the employees of the music stores and let them know you are looking. There is a network of every kind of musician in every community.
- Cover Bands. Your community festivals and restaurants host cover bands. They love to talk between sets. Ask them, “Do you know anyone interested in playing / singing at church?” – “Oh yea, you need to talk to…”
- Your current network of relationships. You probably already know some musicians or friends of musicians that have never revealed themselves. Ask around, and teach your church members to ask around, “Do you know anyone who likes to play music or has played music in church?”
- Your church music friends. Ask other church Worship Leaders this question – “Do you have anyone that just isn’t fitting in at your church that might appreciate an opportunity to help a new church?” or “Do you have anyone that has dropped out of the music program that might appreciate a new opportunity?” Almost every time I’ve asked this, it’s a yes. Doesn’t always work out, but you never know.
The resources for the future of the church will be found in the harvest. What if we considered evangelism and networking among the unchurched the first pipeline for future leaders in every area?
Where else have you discovered musicians?
The decline of evangelicalism is well noted. While it’s never as bleak as presented, and there is no reason to fear. God is always working and has His people working too. Concerning is the inability of churches and leaders to adjust to changing realities and embrace different strategies. Programmatic approaches are simply not having the impact they did 20 years ago. How must we adjust? Flip the script from church centric, preacher centered thinking, to disciple centric, equipping church thinking.
Our Current Script about Church:
- A Church has a preacher, who shares the Gospel, utilizing years of training and experience.
- Members invite friends to the church to hear the gospel and get involved in programs that help them grow.
- The church adds people to membership. New believers are baptized. Already believers are indoctrinated into the practices of this church.
- Members grow and are ENCOURAGED to invite their friends and family to church to hear the gospel from the preacher and respond during the events at the church.
Nothing wrong or sinful about this script. But consider this alternative way of thinking for a new day.
Flipping the Script:
- A disciple has a network of relationships.
- He/she shares the gospel utilizing simple tools.
- The disciple is encouraged, equipped, and held accountable by other disciples in a simple church that is focused on disciple making and fulfilling the Great Commission.
- New disciples are baptized and immediately equipped by a Disciple Maker and Disciple Making Community (i.e Church) to share the gospel with their network of relationships using simple tools.
Church is vital as an equipper and encourager of the Disciple’s walk and ministry. Every disciple is a gospel sharer, not just the preacher. Everything doesn’t hang on the preacher’s ability to present the gospel. The Gospel spreads through relationships, not just through church sponsored events.
How might this script affect your current church?
Studying through the book of 1 John with our church.
John Resolves to present Jesus as…
- God revealed in the flesh – 1 John 1:1-4
- for a world changing, life altering purpose – 1 John 3:5, 8
- to take away sins
- to destroy the devil’s work
John presents the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. God in the flesh for a world changing, life altering purpose.
- Our Response: Simply Believe – 1 John 3:23; John 6:28-29. Believing means saying Yes to the PERSON AND WORK of Jesus Christ. This is a yes that makes an impact on your life!
Believing brings a cascade of effects into our lives:
- Your sin is dealt with: Forgiven, Mediated, Cleansed – 1 John 1:9; 1 John 2:1-2
- You have a desire to obey – 1 John 2:3-6; 1 John 3:9
- You have confidence before God – 1 John 2:28; 3:2-3; 5:14-15
- You have his presence within – 1 John 4:4; 5:10-11
- You conquer/overcome the world – 1 John 5:4-5
Have you said Yes to Jesus as God revealed in the flesh to take away sins and destroy the work of the devil? Have you experienced forgiveness, a transformation of desires, confidence before God, His promised presence? and more?
Join Bridge Church on Sunday’s to discover more about Jesus from John and his letter.
I’m not surprised when Christians ignore or bemoan mandates. We’ve been ignoring and rejecting Biblical mandates for centuries.
- “Go and make disciples” – Pastors job.
- “care for widows and orphans” – Too hard.
- “seek first the kingdom of God” – on Sundays.
- “Deny yourself” – After Mardi Gras.
- “pray in a private room” – Naa.
- “give a tenth” – Legalistic.
- “strive for unity” – if they agree with me.
Building our lives around the mandates that matter most will help us navigate worldly mandates with wisdom and discernment.
A few years ago, our family was going through one of those down seasons in the ups and downs of life. My mental focus and physical health was declining. I was discouraged and struggling mentally and emotionally. I knew I needed to change a few habits. As part of a recovery process, I deleted a bunch of apps on my phone (which might help you in and of itself) and dusted off an app I had dutifully downloaded but never utilized: The Bible Memory App. I’m now over three years of daily usage. I have over 1,800 verses mastered in the app and review 25-50 verses everyday, during my devotional time, at spare moments throughout the day, and before bed. The habit of scripture memory has greatly improved my spiritual and mental health. It’s helped my preaching, speaking, and my discipling of others, as a growing library of verses are easily recalled in conversation and speaking opportunities. I also have a growing network of friends who are making the habit of scripture memory important, holding each other accountable, and finding the treasure that is God’s word ultimate for sustaining their soul.
While the Bible Memory App has worked for me, I don’t want to recommend that only. There are other good apps and tools out there. I want to recommend the soul sustaining habit of scripture memory. Find a way that works for you to hide God’s word in your heart.
Here are several posts I’ve written about Scripture Memory and the Bible Memory App:
This year is half way gone. Here’s a list of questions to journal through to reflect and prepare for the 3rd and 4th quarter:
- Has my devotional life been consistent?
- Has my prayer closet or private room seen me regularly?
- Have I prayed with other believers regularly?
- What Bible reading plan have I followed?
- What verses or truths have been especially meaningful so far this year?
- What books or articles have been especially helpful so far this year?
- What personal growth or victory can you thank God for?
- What victory or challenge do I need to seek God for?
- Who have I sought out for wise counsel? Have I ignored or heeded the counsel of others so far this year?
- How many times have I shared the Gospel?
- How many lost people am I currently praying for?
- How many new relationships have I built with potential new disciples?
- Who am I currently discipling and training into godliness and disciple making?
- Who am I encouraging through difficulty and affliction?
- What have I given away? Have I been faithfully generous with money? Time? Possessions? Words? Wisdom?
- What is working? What is exciting? What has momentum? What is bearing fruit?
- What is not working? What does it seem like I am pushing up a steep hill? What do I need to give up on? What is robbing me of energy?
- What have I neglected? What have I ignored? What am I hoping will just disappear on its own? (But I know it won’t)
- What is worth doing, but I’m out of my league? What do I need more power, prayer, people to help with?
- Check screen time on my phone. What does it say about my heart and priorities? What does my internet history say about my heart and priorities?