Lifestyle evangelism

Introduction:

Let’s start with a music video. Play the Fruit of the Spirit VBS song video.

Chip Ingram: A Christian family is a witness:

I once heard a message by Chip Ingram where he talked about how the Christian family is a witness. He talked about a neighbor who was going through a divorce. She was in the process of moving and Chip was in his front yard passing the ball around with his children. The woman came over to him and said, “I’m done with men. I’ve been married three times [I think it was 3], but if I were to get married again I want a man who is a dad like you.”[1] This had nothing to do with a normal attractiveness to him, but that he was a dad to his children. Being a Christian is a witness. Actually, being a Christian is a witness for or against Christianity. Allowing your patterns of behavior to be shaped by Christ makes you a witness. Either you are a witness in great kindness and behavior. Or, you are a witness because of the opposite. Sometimes we are a witness because Jesus has changed us so much. Paul Dyksorn once talked about how after he became a Christian he actually liked people. He didn’t like people before that. Jesus changes us and this is a witness.

We are lifestyle witnesses.

What Is Your Biggest Sin?

Three preachers were on a non-productive fishing trip when they began to discuss various topics to pass the time. One preacher said he thought it would be nice if they confessed their biggest sins to each other and then prayed for each other. They all agreed, and the first preacher said that his biggest sin was that he liked to sit at the beach now and then and watch pretty women stroll by.

The second preacher confessed that his biggest sin was that he went to the horse racing track every so often and put a small bet on a horse.

Turning to the third preacher, they asked, “Brother, what is your biggest sin?”

With a grin, he said, “My biggest sin is gossiping.”

Submitted by Van Morris, Mount Washington, Kentucky

[Bring up a house plant with an apply in it or hanging from it.] What is wrong with this picture? Apples don’t grow on house plants, do they? No.

Likewise, Jesus produces fruit.

Jesus said in Matthew 7:16

You will know them by their fruits. 2Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?[2]

We are known by the fruit that we produce. The Holy Spirit produces fruit.

My theme today is: The Church Has Left the Building Part III: Lifestyle Evangelism, Reflecting Christ in your life.

  1. Christians have different fruit.
    1. The fruits of the world are in Galatians 5:19-21: The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God[3]
    2. We are not going to talk about these today, but know that there is a major contrast between Jesus’ people and the world. That list includes who we are without Christ. People with these characteristics do not go to Heaven. They can’t this fruit is against God. This means we must be different.
    3. The fruit of the Spirit is in Galatians 5:22-23: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.[4]
    4. We are going to talk about these.
    5. Living this way makes us a witness.
    6. We talked about serving others, we talked about our relationships, but just think about our lifestyle. The patterns of our lives give off certain fruits. The fruit shows if we are an apple tree or a pear tree.
    7. The idea of “putting on” certain fruits is used more often in the New Testament: Col 3:12.
    8. Notice it says the “fruit” of the Spirit. This is singular. The Holy Spirit produces one fruit and it consists of these nouns: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The fruit is singular otherwise it would say “are” as in “Fruits are,” we can’t say, “fruits ‘is.’ No, it is one fruit that the Holy Spirit gives us.
    9. Many have written that it could say, “The fruit of the Spirit is love.” This love is defined by joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Let’s break them down with “mental or God-ward qualities, interpersonal or other-ward qualities and general or self-ward qualities.
    10. Mental or God-ward qualities (v. 22)
      1. “Love” (Gr. agape, self-sacrificing affection for others)
      2. “Joy” (Gr. chara, deep-seated gladness regardless of circumstances)
  • “Peace” (Gr. eirene, inner quietness and repose regardless of circumstances)
  1. Interpersonal or other-ward qualities (v. 22)
    1. “Patience” (Gr. makrothymia, forbearance even under provocation)
    2. “Kindness” (Gr. chrestotes, benevolence and graciousness)
  • “Goodness” (Gr. agathosyne, constructive action reaching out to others)
  1. General or self-ward qualities (vv. 22-23)
    1. “Faithfulness” (Gr. pistis, reliability, trustworthiness)
    2. “Gentleness” (Gr. praytes, acquiescence to authority and consideration of others)
  • “Self-control” (Gr. enkrateia, ability to master oneself)
  1. Let’s take a moment to apply.
    1. We all mess up. We will all be lacking in the Holy Spirit’s work one day. We will be lacking in one of the aspects of the fruit of the Spirit someday. Simply own up to it and apologize. Simply tell someone that you were unloving in a comment. Acknowledge to yourself that you are lacking joy. Acknowledge and ask God to help you with peace.
    2. We all lack on at least a few aspects of the Fruit of the Spirit. It could be patience, it could be self-control, it could be goodness, it could be faithfulness or you name it.
    3. Imagine the witness if Christians were more gentle.
    4. Imagine the witness of Christians were known as those having self-control. Imagine if people thought of us as not those that are flying of the handle and ready to blow. Imagine if people knew Christians had power under control. Imagine the witness if Christians had more control in eating alone. Think about self-control.
    5. Remember the Lays potato chip commercial that used to say, “You can’t eat just one!” We need self-control with our eating and I don’t know if that is as bad of a witness as a lack of self-control with our temper or with our sexual appetites. But we need self-control. Trust me, I can lose my temper as quickly as you can, I can eat as many dips of ice cream as you can. I am working on this, I am praying about this.
    6. Imagine the witness if Christians were known as kind.
    7. Imagine if Christians were known as faithful. We need to be faithful to God and to others. Imagine if we were known as faithful to our family.
    8. Humor Inspired
      1. A preacher, who shall we say was “humor inspired”, attended a conference to help encourage and better equip pastors for their ministry. Among the speakers were many well-known and dynamic speakers.
      2. One such speaker, boldly approached the pulpit, gathered the entire crowd’s attention, and said, “the best years of my life were spent in the arms of a woman that wosn’t my wife!” The crowd was shocked! He followed up by saying, “And that woman was my mother!” The crowd burst into laughter and delivered the rest of his speech, which went quite well.
  • The next week, the pastor decided he’d give this humor thing a try, and used that joke in his sermon. As he approached the pulpit that sunny Sunday morning, he tried to rehearse this joke in his head. It suddenly seemed a bit foggy to him.
  1. Getting to the microphone, he said loudly, “The greatest years of my life were spend in the arms of another woman that was not my wife!” The congregation inhaled half the air in the room! After standing there for almost 10 seconds in stunned silence, trying to recall the second half of the joke, the pastor finally blurred out, “…and I can’t remember who she was!”
  1. I am listening to a series of podcasts called “Presidential.” I am listening on my phone. They are made by the Washington Post. Turns out Warren Harding had an affair, actually many of them. Many, many years after his death many love letters were found. The family released them, I think to the Library of Congress, as long as they weren’t public for something like fifty years. I don’t know whether or not he was a Christian, but imagine if Christians were known as faithful.
  2. What a witness is a Christian dad who is faithful to his wife and his children.
  3. What a witness is a Christian mom who is faithful. I was listening to someone who wrote a book which included information about the founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger. I am not going to diminish that they may have done a few good things, not that that offsets that many babies murdered. But she was not faithful, she ran off on her husband many, many times. He was faithful.
  4. What a witness Christians can be when the fruit of the Spirit reigns in our life.
  5. Imagine the witness.
  6. People will ask us why we are different.
  7. Maybe you already get this. Maybe you are different and people have asked.
  8. But we can always grow.
  9. Funny think about fruit, though, it only takes one bad fruit to ruin others. One Christian who cheats on his wife does more damage than 10 faithful Christians.
  10. Okay, so, don’t diminish the witness that your lifestyle can be.
  11. You are a witness when you strive to love like Jesus.

Close:

On a recent visit to two California vineyards, author Margaret Feinberg discovered that vintners must adopt a long-term approach to their work. According to Feinberg:

The first year a vintner plants shoots of vines rather than seeds because these yield the strongest vines. At the end of the first growing season, he cuts them back. A second year passes. He cuts them back again. Only after the third year does he see his first viable clusters of grapes. Serious vintners leave those clusters on the vines. For most vintners, it’s not until year four that they bring in their first harvest.

For those growing grapes for winemaking, they’ll bottle their harvest, but won’t taste the fruit of their labors until year seven or eight. Most vineyards in Napa Valley won’t reach a breakeven point for their investment until year fifteen, eighteen or beyond.

Applying these insights to her spiritual life, Feinberg writes,

Sometimes I look at my own life and wonder, Why am I not more fruitful? And why does pruning have to hurt so much? Why does cultivating a healthy crop take so long? Yet those questions circle around the here and now. God’s perspective is much different. Like a good vineyard owner, he knows how to bring about fruitfulness better than I ever will. And he is patient with me, more patient than I am with myself … [Also], as we fulfill our callings … we must recognize that like the vintner’s, our fruitfulness will not come overnight. The first harvest of our labors may not come for three or five years.[5]

We are in process God is working on us as long as we let Him.

You are a witness in living like Jesus.

Do you know Christ?

Luke 9:23

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

[1] heard on Living on the Edge, Moody Radio. My summary.

2 Lit They do not gather

[2] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Mt 7:16.

[3] The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), Ga 5:19–21.

[4] The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), Ga 5:22–23.

[5] Margaret Feinberg, “Napa Valley on Leadership,” Q Shorts, http://www.Qideas.org

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