< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: When we really "get" Heaven, we change!

Thursday, May 01, 2014

When we really "get" Heaven, we change!

More from my lesson based on Steve Berger's book; Between Heaven and Earth.

Once we grasp all that heaven is and all that a heavenly focus gives us, we change. Our lives, our attitudes and our priorities. We know where we are going and long for it, but we realize we have a purpose for remaining on earth. We see the needs of people. We want to help them know the Savior through our testimony, our lives and our service. It’s not just preachers and evangelists. It’s every believer. God’s mission for all of us is winning the lost, discipling the found and sending forth the willing. And there’s a shortage of labor. Matthew 9:37-38 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

The harvest is people who need Christ. And there are multiple opportunities for the gospel to go out and for people to be saved. Jesus doesn’t force us to work; we serve Him willingly and gladly. Jesus looked at the crowds and saw weary, broken and scattered people. He had compassion for them. And we must be like Him. Is there someone right in front of you that you know isn’t saved? The harvest is great.

John 4:35-36 Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. 36 Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together.

Jesus was clearly telling us not to wait until someday in the future. We can make a difference and nothing we do for the harvest is trivial. Everything we do for it has eternal reward. But it’s called labor for a reason. There will be discomfort sometimes. And it’s not a part-time job. It’s a perpetual assignment. There is no moment when we are not “on call!” Preaching the gospel is the priority. People are waiting and there aren’t enough workers. 20% of the people do 80% of the work in all areas. But it needs to be 100%. No more saying “me first” “let other people do it” “I’m too busy” “I’ve got other things to do first”. That’s selfishness.

We also let fear stop us. We see a need, we feel the stirrings of wanting to do something about it, but immediately the doubts about our ability come in. But 2 Timothy 1:7 says For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

There are things we can do right now that will move us past these blocks.

  1. Renew – look inside ourselves in prayer, through God’s revealing Word and with the help of the Holy Spirit make sure our hearts really do long for heaven.
  2. Repent – turn from the behavior that takes our focus off the harvest. Cry out to God and let Him bring change.
  3. Receive Forgiveness – God’s forgiveness must be actively received. We must deliberately accept it.
  4. Pray – seek God’s will for our lives and let Him show us both where to act and how to do it.
  5. Obey – don’t let distractions, attitudes or excuses get in the way of serving.
Next it’s important to know we can’t do anything without God’s strength and His strength comes to us through the Holy Spirit. And we need to know God’s Word so we are ready to share it when opportunities arise.

Do you know that according to the Gallup Polls only ½ of U.S. adults know the title of even one Gospel? People have Bibles. They just never open them! Only 16% of adult Americans say they read the Bible everyday. People feel that they know from Sunday school and church everything it has to say.

I was in that religion class once and a student made it clear she thought King Saul and Saul who became Paul were the same person!  28% of adults don’t know who Moses was! The Bible is our opportunity to know God, His ways and His will. Scripture leads us to a personal encounter with Jesus. Jesus is the Word! We have to know the Bible so we are prepared to help people know Jesus.

If you remember the parable of the sower and the seeds, you’ll remember that only 25% or 1 in 4, of the soils produced fruit. The people, represented by the soils in the parable, all heard the same message and had the same word available to them, but only 25% actually did anything lasting with the truth they heard. We need to be among those who commit to read and study God’s Word and let it produce fruit in our lives.

You’ll also remember from this parable that Satan actively works to steal the word from us. He knows that if we receive and keep God’s Word in our hearts, we will bear fruit and he can’t stand that idea!

If God’s Word isn’t deeply implanted in us, when difficulty comes we won’t persevere. We’ll miss the chance to be an example to others who are hurting and need encouragement from someone who has been there and made it through victoriously.

And in the parable you’ll see that the word gets choked out. Jesus said, “They will hear the words, but the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other good things will choke the word.” There is serious opposition against those of us who want to read and study God’s Word. We face Satanic and worldly pressure to put our attention on anything, but God’s Word.



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