Witness to Friend and Stranger 10-11-15
?WITNESS TO FRIEND AND STRANGER? 10-11-15 Psalm 124; Acts 8:26-39
I have been quoting from Psalm 124 all week long- ?If the Lord had not been on our side?let Israel say, ?If the Lord had not been on our side, the flood waters would have engulfed us, the torrent would have swept over us. ? It is not that floods do not come. Floods come. You can try to face them in your own strength or you can face them with the strength of God. Problems come in life- sadness, sickness, financial crisis, rejection, and finally death. I do not believe in being a Stoic about it. I believe in hope and I believe in God- who is our refuge and strength. We have a great hope- we have a great refuge and strength. So this Psalm does not just say, ?God helps us in the floods.? It says, ?If the Lord had not been on our side- let Israel say- if the Lord had not been on our side.? We are to not just believe it- we are to claim it and then say it! Now, that sounds boastful. ???? If I were to say, ?God is on Clemson?s side, or Georgia Tech?s side, or Carolina?s side- that might be boastful.? I remember in the Civil War people on both sides were saying that ?the Lord is on my side.? There is a great verse in Joshua where he runs into an angel of God. Joshua asked him if he was on his side or the enemies side? Neither- he said, but on the Lord?s side. Perhaps we could say, ?I need to be on God?s side.? This is not a matter of competition or war- it is a matter of the people of God believing God is for them. For the people of God to say, ?the Lord is on our side- and if He were not I would be in trouble.? That is not too much to say. In fact, it is important to say it!!! The Lord is on our side. But who is the ?our?? The ?our? is not a university, or an ideal. The ?our? is anyone- literally anyone ? whosoever will believe. It doesn?t matter how you look, where you live, what you do, who your family was. The Our is not limited to who we know- it is limited to who God knows. God knows everyone exists. Maybe a lot of people know about God but not everyone knows God- having a relationship with Him. God is on the side of His people- those who trust in Him- love Him- care for Him. To trust in God is to find strength in Him. To know God is to know He will be there for you in the valleys and the hard times. If you do not know that God is reliable and trustworthy- how can you find peace, strength, hope, and help in Him??? I believe we can face the floods of life much better if we know the great power of our rescuer- our Savior. ?We can say, ?If the Lord hadn?t been on our side I would have been engulfed? to anyone and everyone. ? ???? WE ARE CALLED TO CARE FOR AND WITNESS TO OUR FRIENDS- I think about how Andrew witnessed to Peter. Lois and Eunice taught Timothy the scriptures from birth. Jesus first said that they should witness to the people in Jerusalem and Judea- their physical neighbors before going to the ends of the earth. ?????? I think it is important to offer people help if they are friends or family or neighbors. 1 Timothy 5:8 says, ?If anyone does not help a family member when they are in need, they are worse than an unbeliever.? One of my favorite stories is of the baby that woke his parents up coughing. I have been so proud of our flood relief folk. So many of you have just plugged in- our young people and newer members were the ones who did it.?? But every generation helped- youth went out and delivered a truck load to another distribution center yesterday; many long-time members made donations, and the men came and hauled off trash and put up a tent in the rain yesterday. But we helped our neighbors. Some of you did as individuals, some of you as a group. We made many deliveries to Seven Oaks Park as some homes below the dam were flooded. Probably our two easiest and favorite places to go were St. Andrews Middle and Seven Oaks Park but we also made deliveries beyond even to Hopkins and Clarendon County. WE ARE CALLED TO CARE FOR AND WITNESS TO STRANGERS ???? Philip was a deacon. His original task was to care for the needy, the widows and the sick. But he also ended up going to Samaria to share his faith as a leader in the church. He saw a total stranger. Someone who was obviously a wealthy political leader. Someone who looked differently- from Africa. Someone who spoke a different language and probably spoke the language Philip could understand (probably Greek) with a severe accent. Yet Philip went up to this total stranger- because he was looking for an opportunity to help. Philip wanted everyone to know the good news of the hope of Christ. He didn?t care if he was not like him. Never does Jesus say the good news is only for a few. Whosoever will is invited to come. So Philip invited this stranger- very different from him- into the joy of the Lord. The witness of Christ is important for all people- stranger and friend. ???? ?When there is a flood, and you have a way to help someone- say you have a lifeline- and you are about to throw it- you don?t ask- how close do you live to me? You don?t ask ?How old are you?? or, ?Are you a republican or a democrat?? Or ?Are you going to be nice to me, and say ?Thank you?? No, anyone is worthy of help and anyone should be offered help. The same with offering people faith. ???? So today, some of the best witness we will make is to a stranger. The love of Christ is meant to overflow and not be contained.