Welcome to ReCreate Ministry. Our mission is making and growing authentic followers of Christ. In 2010, something magical happened. After years of waiting, praying, and pleading, the Rangers made it to the World Series, where they played the San Francisco Giants. I’ve been a Rangers fan my whole life, and we used to joke that as soon as Spring Training starts, the Rangers are usually mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. This year, however, was different. The Rangers had an amazing season, and made their way through the playoffs, even beating the Yankees on their way to the World Series. For the first time in a long time, Rangers fans had a reason to believe. Sadly, we lost the series that year to the Giants, but it was still an amazing time to be a Rangers fan.
Here’s my question. How often is it that we put requirements on our belief? This week, we are beginning a new series called Next Steps, and we’re starting out by talking about belief. Now, I started with that story because it seems like a lot of us have this see it to believe it mentality. John 20:24 – 29 (NIV) says “Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord!’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.’ A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’ Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’” I think the last words Jesus says in this passage are interesting. He is not scolding Thomas here, but He is pointing out that there are those who have not or will not see Him in their lifetime, and yet believe. This is an important message for us.
Our main passage this week comes from the book of Acts. Acts 16:25 – 34 (NIV) says “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose. The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, ‘Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!’ The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved.’ They replied, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and your household.’ Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized. The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God – he and his whole family.” My first point is this:
In the same way that it took the Rangers making it to the World Series for the first time, it took an earthquake for this prison guard to believe in Jesus. God doesn’t always send an earthquake, though. Some of us grew up going to church every week, and believing in Jesus happened naturally. For others, it takes something tragic or traumatic happening for us to believe. Paul had a mission, and that mission was to make Jesus famous. C.S. Lewis said “Don’t shine so others can see you. Shine so that, through you, others can see Him.” Our only purpose on this earth is to make Jesus known to those who may not know Him. Think about the people in your life. If you were to ask them, how many of them do you think would say that you represent Jesus? The best way for the people in your life to learn about Jesus is not for you to tell them about the Bible. Lives aren’t changed by stories alone. They’re changed by examples. Do you love people the way Jesus called you to? Do you give willingly to others, or are you selfish with your time, talents, and resources? Do you go out of your way to take care of people? Would other people say that you show love the way Jesus showed love? That brings me to my second point.
I don’t know about you, but I would be willing to bet that the jailer was not high on Paul and Silas’ list of people to share the gospel with. They were imprisoned on the first stop in their journey after being falsely charged. It would have been very easy for them to let their circumstances beat them down. Instead, they chose to worship! They sang praises to God to the point that the foundation was shaken and the prison doors were opened. When the jailer saw this, he was ready to take his own life. While most people would have let him in order to gain their freedom, Paul and Silas not only stopped him from hurting himself, but also shared the gospel with him. He may not have been high on their priority list, but they shared the message of salvation with him anyway.
John 5:24 (NIV) says “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” Notice the word “whoever”. That’s a very inclusive word. It doesn’t say you can only gain eternal life if you are born in a certain part of the world, or come from a certain background. It doesn’t say that you have to look a certain way, make a certain amount of money, or even live a certain lifestyle to gain salvation. It simply says believe. It’s a lot easier to think that we only have to share the gospel with people who are in our circles. We don’t want to have to put in too much work or go out of our comfort zones. We don’t want to make friends with THOSE people. What would our friends think if we started treating everyone we came into contact with the way we treat our best friends? J.R.R. Tolkien said “Living by faith includes the call to something greater than cowardly self-preservation.” It would be much easier to stay in our comfort zones. Putting yourself out there means letting yourself be vulnerable and open to getting hurt, but Jesus didn’t call us to live in our comfort zones. In fact, he gave us very clear commands on this matter. Matthew 28:19 – 20 (NIV) says “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching to obey everything I have commanded you.” That actually brings me to my last point.
Paul and Silas did not have to share their faith with the jailer. They could have let him take his life, taken their freedom, and gone on with their mission, but they didn’t. They stopped him from harming himself, and they shared the good news of the gospel with them, because THAT was their mission. They weren’t just trying to share the gospel with a certain group of people, but with everyone they came in contact with. That’s what the Great Commission is. It’s our calling to go and share the good news of salvation with the world. John 20:21 (NIV) says “Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’” We have been called to go and share what Jesus has done in our lives. We all have a story. The question is how can your story make a difference in someone else’s life.
When I first started writing, it was more about me and the things that I had been through. I honestly had no intention of sharing any of it. It was meant to help me heal from the things that had happened to me in my life. It wasn’t until, after my friend’s suggestion to share it, that I began to realize how powerful a story really was. I never knew that sharing my story could make an impact on someone else. Your story can have that same impact on someone, and the great thing is that you never know just how big of an impact it can have until you allow yourself to be used by God.
Thank You for being willing to offer us salvation, even though we don’t deserve it. Father, I pray for anyone reading this who hasn’t yet received Your salvation. May You stir their hearts, and give them a longing to know You more. Most of all, Lord, we thank You for Jesus, and it’s in His name we pray.
If you would like to know what it means to be a believer in Jesus, please reach out to us. We would love to help you take that first step. Our next message will be about what it means to belong to a community of believers, and why that is an important step in your walk with Christ. Have a blessed week!!!!!