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Monday, October 21

Winning The Lost ... We Can Only Give From What We've Got!

Beloved, let us love one another: for Love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knows God. He that loveth not knows not God; for God IS LOVE (1 John 4:7-8)."

Think of what the church in this country could do if every one of our members possessed God's passionate Heart for uniting Him with His People. We have to play a more effective role in winning the lost, as well as encouraging currently-active believers in the church. Rather, millions of dollars are being squandered away on things like the construction of facilities, the purchase of buses and other equipment, and developing exorbitant programs that, for the most part, never come to be fully utilized for the purpose for which they were acquired. It's just bad stewardship!
The church in this country needs to sober up to the Mind of Christ Jesus. Church leaders having their own agendas need to drop their plans, stop favoring those who can finance or facilitate the fulfillment of those ideas and dreams, get on their faces before God, and become a part of His Plan for His people... as "individuals" first. People and the promotion of their individual relationship with The Lord God must be as important to us as it is to Him. Therein is the bottom line in this whole thing of God's Design for winning the lost... His Way!
Folks in the church, all of us, must seek to fulfill the Will and Dream of The Lord God. We must learn to love His people, all people, no matter their social standing, skin color, or level of income. The church in this country has been contrary to the Will of God for way too long.
The triumphal return of Jesus Christ is near, and it's the church's responsibility to inform the lost. It all boils down to this... it is due time the church in America finally wakes up and becomes The Church of The Lord Jesus Christ! We must throw off any garments that have been stained with the putrid stench of religion, and begin to seek The Lord God's Thoughts, Will, and Ways. “Keep yourselves in the Love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh (Jude 1:21-23)."
How do we pursue winning the lost God's Way? We start by pursuing a close and personal relationship with The Lord Jesus Christ, making our main objective to become Christ-like. We begin reading the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the Gospel Jesus Christ preached, daily, asking for the tutor-ship of The Person of The Holy Spirit, asking Him to explain each verse of the Gospel for what the prophets truly meant when they wrote it down. “Thomas said unto Him, Lord, we know not whither Thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus said unto him (Thomas) I AM The Way, The Truth, and The Life: no man cometh unto The Father, but by Me (John 14:5-6)." The more our personal relationship with Christ Jesus grows, so does our becoming one with The Godhead, with The Three-In-One Holy Trinity. We must pursue The Lord God with all diligence, not for what He can give us but for Who He IS, not for what's in His Hand but for what's in His Heart!
Christ Jesus said, "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me. I am the Vine, ye are the branches: He that abides in Me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in Me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in Me, and My Words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is My Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be My Disciples. As The Father hath Loved Me, so have I Loved you: continue ye in My Love. If ye keep My Commandments, ye shall abide in My Love; even as I have kept My Father's Commandments, and abide in His Love (John 15:4-10)."
To make our personal relationship with God through Christ Jesus the main objective in our personal life, it takes pursuing Him, first and foremost. As we are diligent in going after God for Who He IS, and we discover more and more about Him and His Heart, then our heart grows to love what He Loves, to hate what He hates, and to increasingly desire Him, His Will, and His Ways in our own heart's desires. It's truly remarkable that way our Father God meets every desire of our "heart" for every life-giving "thing" we need. It's all-consuming that way He makes all the things be added to our heart by His Nature. Jesus teaches us about this in Matthew 6:33, saying, "But seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His Righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." The same way, by seeking to reach out to others from what matters to God and His Heart, all of the things that matter to the lost become fulfilled in Him and His Heart of Love.
If our desire to reach out to others is birthed from anything other than our deep and abiding love for God, then our efforts will only be in vain. When the things that God loves becomes the very things that we love, then our efforts to reach out will never be in vain, nor misleading. It is a deep and abiding love for others that repels any outreach efforts born out of religion. The general epistle of 1 John 4:7-8 explains how crucial it is that our desire to reach out to others be born of deep and abiding love for God first, "Beloved, let us love one another: for Love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God IS LOVE (1 John 4:7,8)."
There are foundational steps that one must take in order to win people with the Love of God through Christ Jesus. Remember, it is not our love, but Christ's Love, that breaks bondages. In order to give His Love away, we must acquire it from Him first. Anything else, from anyone or anywhere else, is counterfeit.
"Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked Him (Jesus) a question, tempting Him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love The Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets (Matthew 22:35-40)." So, how do we reach out for Christ Jesus in winning the lost, God's Way? We love them the way He does! That may sound simple but, truly, it's more difficult than we might imagine.
Why is winning people God's way so difficult? God's way entails befriending those He Loves, and He loves all people, not just some people. We can't just befriend the rich people, God Loves all people. We can't just befriend the pretty people, God Loves all people. We can't just befriend the popular people, God Loves all people. To befriend all the people God Loves is difficult for most of us.
Why do we find it difficult to reach out to all people with God's Love? Because we live in a day and time when self-hatred and feeling insecure has grown into a full-fledged epidemic, sadly, even people in the church have grown in self-hatred and insecurity. But, what does this have to do with loving others? Everything!
You may be asking yourself, "What does Keith mean by saying John 12:32 applies even more now, today?" In order for Christ Jesus to be made visible to the lost world, the members of The Body of Christ must lift Him up in their own daily lives. I like the phrase "magnify the Lord" because it means "we show Christ Jesus BIG in the eyes of those who see Him small". We, as individuals, must magnify The LORD in the eyes of everyone with whom we come in contact! When someone looks at us, they must see the Love of God in action! The only way that this can take place is by our being in partnership with God.
People not knowing God enough to know just how much He Loves them is a deep-rooted spiritual problem in the church body today. As a direct result, the things we do outside of the Love of God ultimately misses the mark. Believe me, when a person sees themselves through the eyes of God, and realizes how much they mean to Him, then is when healing and wholeness will be soon to follow. I believe that most of the church in America has become impotent concerning winning the lost God's way because the vast majority of its members do not have an intimate relationship with The Lord God. As a result, they are like the blind leading the blind. "And (The Lord Jesus) spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch (Luke 6:39)?"
Our churches are filled, in large part, with thousands of precious people who are bound in the chains of self-hatred. Those people are trying to love others and that will never work. It's just a fact, you simply cannot give to others something you haven't got. You can only offer the Love of God to others when you've got the Love God has for yourself. The only cure for this terrible problem is to the pursuit of "oneness with God"! We must abide in God if we are ever going to be able to love and befriend others for the reasons that God does, and wants us to!
The Love of The Lord God is the expression and the fulfillment of The Great Partnership between God and the Believer. Without Jesus Christ, on the outside of a partnership in oneness with Him, we can do nothing. In Partnership with Christ Jesus, in oneness, we can do all things. He strengthens us. You see, only "in partnership with God through Christ" will we be able to fulfill His Will and His Plan for our lives, "For in Him we live, and move, and have our being... For we are also His offspring  (Acts 17:28)." You see, it is our being "in" Partnership with God, first, where we must live, that is where we can win people to Christ the right way, God's Way. In other words, in Him is where we must live, and that doesn't mean by periodic visits!
Let's take a look at the word "abide" (refer back to John 15:4-10). To abide in means "to dwell in" or make your dwelling there. Thus, abiding in God means that we live our lives, or make our dwelling there, on a 24/7 basis in God. It's not a geographical place of residence, like a house location with a street address. It is a mental and spiritual state of being, described by Luke, "And when He (Jesus) was demanded of the Pharisees, when the Kingdom of God should come, He answered them and said, The Kingdom of God comes not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the Kingdom of God is within you  (Luke 17:20)." This message is what we find in Paul's message to the Romans, "For the Kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in The Holy Ghost  (Romans 14:17)."
Righteousness, peace, and joy are inward qualities of the heart. They are within us. Furthermore, they are not qualities of human nature, they are the fruit of The Spirit which, as Paul notes, they are "in The Holy Ghost".
Question: If we do not abide in Father God, in Christ Jesus, nor believe in Him wholeheartedly, how can we expect to be able to present Him to others accurately? After all, how can we successfully lead someone to a place where we have never been ourselves? The "place" I am speaking of is found in oneness, in Partnership, with God Himself. Let me explain further, using an experience from my personal life of corporate-level sales.
I spent many years in businesses selling expensive items, like corporate-level graphic services, motor yachts, sport boats, and recreational vehicles, just to name a few. In the early part of my sales career I realized that there are three keys to becoming successful in the sales profession. First, you must wholeheartedly believe in the product or services you are selling. Secondly, you must have firsthand knowledge of the products. Thirdly, you must be able to effectively communicate the knowledge and information, passionately, to a prospective buyer. If you don't believe in, and are not passionate about, the product or service you are trying to sell, your customer will not believe or have passion for it either.
How did I obtain my confidence and knowledge about the products that I sold? I invested a whole lot of time making long and sometimes grueling trips to the facilities where the product was manufactured. Once there, in the facility, I took time to study the production line at each point of the product's construction. Next, I spent time with the factory sales rep's and the engineers that designed the products. by the time I finished at the factory, I left there with an intimate knowledge of every phase of the product's features, benefits, construction techniques, materials it was made of, and more. To add even more details to the information I had gained, I would also bring each product's specifications sheet home with me, to memorize as much as possible at night. Not only did I have the common knowledge of the sales profession, I was determined to "be" the sales professional who truly believes in the product we are selling, the one who had the unmatched potential for making the sale!
No matter what it is that you set out to present and promote, whether it's the sale of a boat or the pursuit of oneness with Christ Jesus, you must have an intimate knowledge of what you advise and advertise, in order to represent it with true passion and confidence. If you do not have an intimate knowledge of the inner-workings of the product you're selling, you run the risk of misleading prospective buyers, misrepresenting what your customers can expect, and leading the company into court battles that inevitably promise to be very costly and damaging. False advertising is against the law of the land; the abomination of misrepresentation is against The Law and Prophets of God! There's no way but the right way, no matter how you slice it!
Can you see why our pursuit of becoming one IN God with Christ Jesus through the Gospel Jesus Christ preached is key to winning the lost God's Way? Misrepresentation of God The Father and the Gospel of The Lord Jesus Christ is at the root of the Church's condition today. We have got to stop and realize that people are desperately craving more than a group of church-goers who've been put through a ten-step evangelism program for knowing how to march down the strip and hand out tracts on a busy Saturday night.
What people are desperately looking for is the Love of God The Father, and God's Love only comes from God Himself by coming to Him by The Way, Truth, and Life... Jesus Christ! Those who know The Love of God are able to express HIS LOVE to others because of the way they are able to see themselves and others through God's Eyes of LOVE. The lost are desperately looking for those who represent God's Love because they operate in The Love of God. At the root of the lack of God's Love in the church communities everywhere is the misrepresentation of God and His Gospel that Jesus Christ preached. We must realize that human love is from a human vessel, but God's Love comes only from a Christ-like vessel. When we pursue God (Love, Himself) and The written Gospel that Jesus Christ preached (God's Love sent in human flesh, the Life of His Son) we are in pursuit of becoming "one" with Him, then wholeness will come with Him in us, and He begins to enable the rescue of those in prisons and chains of bondage. So, in order to be there for giving the Love of God, we must first have the Love of God ourselves. We can only give the Love of God through Jesus Christ when we've got the Love of God through Jesus Christ ourselves. Make it your goal to befriend people who are outside of your own circle of friends, and share with them all that The wonderful Holy Spirit brings to light in all those times God has answered your prayers and walked and talked with you in your life. The results will bless both you and them, as your hearts become filled with gratitude that compels you to offer up thanksgiving to Him, for Him, and for everything He IS and does. Remember...
In Matthew 6:33, Jesus gives us the starting place where it all must begin, "But seek ye first the Kingdom of God (the Kingdom that IS God), and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." And in Matthew 22:35-40 are the very keys we've got to pursue and possess for winning the lost, from Jesus Himself, "Thou shalt love The Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."  So, let's begin to love by looking through God's Eyes, by reaching out the way God does, and by... winning the lost, God's Way!
As you hold on to this thought, Part II "Winning the Lost...We Can Only Give From What We've Got", we look forward to giving you the final thoughts, Part III "Winning the Lost...Count the Cost in Truth in Love", coming very soon. Thank you for reading and sharing.




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