Summary: Principles for becoming a better witness for Jesus Christ.
Sowing Hope in a Hopeless World (Part 1)
“In my travels over the decades, I have found that people are the same the world over. However, in recent years I find that there is an increasing problem that I would sum up in the word “hopeless.” It may be because we get the news of troubles, problems, disasters, wars, etc. instantaneously in comparison to years ago when it might have taken weeks, months, or even years to hear of an event. But there’s something else even more insidious. People in the most affluent societies are feeling this sense of despair and hopelessness. Someone has said that Americans have more wealth, more two-car families, more private homes, and write more books on how to be happy than any other country. If we lived in Bangladesh or in the slums of Calcutta, the thought of suffering in the midst of abundance would sound ridiculous. And yet in America, where the standard of living is one of the highest in the world, the very presence of a life of comparative ease causes a spiritual sickness.” (Billy Graham, God’s Passion For You, 2004)
Our world is hurting for hope. Hope is needed by the down and outer as well as the up and comer. Our country is at war with terrorism on foreign soil, but we are also at war on our own soil with the forces of evil and over the fate of men’s souls.
In thinking of our theme for this year as a church, our one unifying vision and purpose, I was impressed with this one refrain which kept reverberating in my mind. We need to be sowing hope in a hopeless world. Our theme for 2005.
The soul-winner in Scripture has been likened to a farmer (Matt. 13:1-9, 18-23).
Principles We Learn From the Farmer
I. If we wait until everything is perfect to share the Gospel we may never sow the seed. (Ecc. 11:4)
A. Conditions are rarely “just right” to sow the seed.
1. We may be in a hurry.
2. We may be busy.
3. We may lack privacy.
4. There may be too many distractions.
5. We may be nervous.
B. We need to trust God and leave the timing to Him.
1. We cannot control every situation.
2. We may have only a small window of opportunity.
a. You may meet someone in personal crisis.
b. You may meet someone under conviction.
c. It may be a chance meeting (may never see again).
II. We need to perform different tasks at different times to reap a harvest (Is. 28:24)
Does the farmer plow all year? No. The time comes when he must plant. Friendship evangelism is fine, if you eventually bring that person to the point of decision.
A. Some of our evangelism will be handing out Gospel tracts.
B. Some of our evangelism will be building relationships.
C. Some of our evangelism will be organized soul-winning visitation.
D. Some of our evangelism will be inviting friends and neighbors to church.
III. Our hearts must be ready before we can sow and expect a harvest (Jer. 4:3).
A. We must have a pure heart. (1 John 1:9) A clear conscience is the soul-winner’s best friend.
B. Our attention must be on God’s agenda. (Col. 3:2) If we are not thinking about it we won’t do it.
C. We must be others-focused in order to carry out God’s agenda. (Matt. 14:14) If we don’t see people as being needy we won’t bother.
D. We must be committed to God’s plan in order to be a soul-winner. (Matt. 4:19)
Our ushers have a gift for you. You will each receive a pack of sunflower seeds. Let this be your reminder of your responsibility to sow the seed of the Gospel. Before you now is the choice, “What will you do with these seeds?” Will you throw them on the counter this afternoon planning to do something with them when you have the time? Will you throw them in a drawer and forget about them? Will you plant them and see them grow? It doesn’t matter to me what you do with them. But I do want them to be a reminder to you that you hold in your possession as well the seed of the Gospel. You can plan to sow it if you find the time. You can tuck it away and forget about it. Or you can plant it liberally at every opportunity and see it produce and bear fruit. It’s up to you.