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Saturday, November 30

Winning The Lost ... Count The Cost In Truth In Love!

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)."

Christ Jesus explained Love to His Disciple known as "doubting Thomas" in John 14:5-6 saying, “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." The more our personal relationship with Christ Jesus grows, so does our becoming one with The Godhead, and 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!
In order for us to successfully love people, we must first love ourselves. If we don't love ourselves in the way God Loves us, looking through His Eyes, all we will be able to do is perpetuate a false show of love, which is not love at all... it's manipulation. It is really an attempt at receiving from people, or from the arm of the flesh, what can only be received from God Himself.
Can you see why our own personal and intimate relationship with Christ Jesus and the Gospel He preached is key to our being able to win the lost God's Way? Misrepresentation of Father God 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.
We live in a generation where multitudes of people have either made bad life choices or are from dysfunctional backgrounds, and they are desperately looking for God's Love. "Then saith He unto His disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth labourers into His harvest (Matthew 9:37-38)."
I don't mean these people are just looking for someone to love them "on occasion". God knows better than anyone, we already have way too much of that going on in the churches today. Because human love is being expressed much more than God's love, so many people leave Sunday services each week hurt and lonely rather than encouraged and truly appreciated. "Whoso boasteth himself of a false gift is like clouds and wind without rain (Proverb 25:14)." Remember, the only love that will bring wholeness to a life is God's Love, and the only place that we can get God's love is from God Himself!
We have lots of good sermons being preached and lots of miracles taking place around the country, especially in Sunday services, but, frankly, there is not enough of God's Love being given away. As important as good preaching and sermons and miracles may be, they fall short of what Jesus calls each and every one of us to do in order to be seen as successful disciples in the eyes of God. We must be vessels for the distribution of God's Love to others, if we are going to be His disciples!
Jesus said, "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another (John 13:34-35)." He could not have made it any clearer than that!
But just how do we "love"? Listen to the way Paul teaches us to love, "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not Charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not Charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not Charity, it profits me nothing. Charity suffers long, and is kind; Charity envies not; Charity vaunts (boasts) not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeks not her own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil; Rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the Truth; Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Charity never fails: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is Perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face-to-face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, Charity, these three; but the greatest of these is Charity (1 Corinthians 13:1-13)."
What people are desperately craving is to have someone who, truly knowing and showing the Love of Jesus Christ, will come up and rescue them from the chains in which they are bound. And, believe me, there are people everywhere praying for those who are Christ-like to emerge and prove to them that they are really loved by God! Paul said, "For the earnest expectation of the creature waits for the manifestation of the sons of God (Romans 8:19)."
What we do not need today are more evangelistic outreach programs being performed by people who do not know God personally. What we do need more Christ-likeness. "Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering (Colossians 3:12)." For those who claim to be Christians to start being Christ-like is all it would take.
Jesus gave us another key to winning the lost God's way when He said, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me (John 12:32)." This not only applied to the time of His crucifixion, it also applies to us now, maybe even more.
You ask, "Keith, what do you mean?" Well, in order to make Jesus visible in the sight of other people, to those who are lost, the members of the Body of Christ must lift Him up in their own life and lifestyle, first. I like the phrase "magnify The Lord" because when we magnify Jesus, it means we make HIM big in the eyes of those who see Him small. We, individually, must magnify The Lord in the eyes of everyone with whom we come into contact.
When folks look 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. For example, "Philip said unto Him (Jesus), Lord, show us The Father, and it suffices us. Jesus said unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known Me, Philip? he that hath seen Me hath seen The Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us The Father? Believest thou not that I am in The Father, and The Father in Me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of Myself: but The Father that dwells in Me, He doeth the works (John 14:8-10)." It is our individual responsibility, being a believer in Christ Jesus, to take God's Love and the godly examples that our leaders in Christ have imparted to us, and practice them as an individual lifestyle, with Christ and in oneness with God.
Having said that, I must make this very important point on behalf of faithful leaders of churches everywhere. Contrary to popular belief, it is not the leadership's job to go out, by themselves, and win the lost. It is the leadership's job to be teachers and examples to the Body of Christ as they go out and win the lost. Sadly, this is not practiced in most established churches today. Sadly, the enemy appears to have been successful in convincing the congregations everywhere that, somehow, putting financial tithes and offerings into the offering plate during morning and/or evening services meets a responsibility they have that then removes their accountability to The Gospel when it comes to telling others about Christ Jesus. For any and every one who is in the Body of Christ, no matter what congregation you may be a member of, Jesus commands us to, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in The Name of The Father, and of The Son, and of The Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen (Matthew 28:19-20)." How can we go into all the world and teach all nations? If the job is left up to only a few faithful leaders in our churches, we can't! Each and every one of us has the responsibility to do the work, and not any one of us is exempt.
Take a listen to what Apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Ephesus concerning the leaders over believers in The Church. (Please read this very slowly.) "And He (Jesus)  gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the Body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of The Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the Truth in love, may grown up into Him in all things, which is The Head, even Christ: From Whom the whole Body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplies, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, makes increase of The Body unto the edifying of itself in love (Ephesians 4:11-16)."
You see, if we are going to be effective at winning the lost in these last days, we must do everything necessary to make sure that our partnership with God is strong! I once heard a very wise man say, "The best thing we can do to help the poor in this country is to not be one of them." That same thing applies where leading the lost in spiritual things is concerned.
We want to encourage you right now, pick up the phone and call someone to speak about life, real Life in Christ, letting that person know just how much they mean to The Lord and to His Church and to you. Make it your goal to befriend someone who is outside of the circle of friends you already have. Make it your goal to share with them the wonderful things that God has done in your life and how the results He brings, and has brought so many times, has blessed you in your life with Him. Watch how that also results in blessing the newly-befriended one... and you!
We encourage you to meet with the Person of The Holy Spirit in the pages of God's written Word, asking Him to help you develop an increase in your desire for befriending others. Ask Him to help you develop more of a w-a-n-t to let go of fleshly desires and worldly things so you can apply more of your attention and daily drive toward the increase of God's Love that fills your heart and life so that, as a result of your increased Oneness IN God, IN Jesus Christ, and IN Him (The Person of The Holy Spirit), you will have more of God's Love to pour out to others. Remember Revelation 12:11, "And they overcame him (the devil) by the Blood of The Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death."
To become truly effective at winning the lost in these last days, we get to take and use these last opportunities, each day, to write down and share our testimony of doing everything we possibly can to strengthen our partnership with God, the most important partnership and relationship of all. Now, go win the lost God's Way, with God's Love! You never know when the current opportunity in front of you is the last opportunity you will have to introduce a person to Jesus Christ and The Heavenly Father. "The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that wins souls is wise (Proverb 11:30)." We've got to reach out God's Way, to love the Way God does... winning the lost, God's Way! And, no matter what...
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!


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