Gateway Christians are Low Hanging Fruit

Low hanging fruit is easily accessible to all; to the “least of these”, the spiritually unaware and those who are unable due to life circumstances to aspire to seek and know God on their own. In order to help you understand meaning of the phrase “low hanging fruit,” just picture an image of a tree with fruit. The “low hanging” fruit is the fruit that is lowest on the tree – meaning that the fruit is easily reached by a person who is looking to grab some of the fruit. When the phrase “low hanging fruit” is used, the fruit is equivalent to rewards, and the “low hanging” means that those rewards are relatively easy to acquire when compared to the “fruit” that is higher up on the tree. So, the phrase “low hanging fruit” is used to mean the rewards that are easily acquired, for which you don’t have to work too hard to get but you still get just as much benefit from as the things that you would have had to work harder for – like the fruits that are higher up on the tree, for which you would have had to climb up higher to retrieve. The simplest definition is that “low hanging fruit” means something that is easy to access. This is exactly who Christ called us to be. Jesus, Himself became low hanging fruit for us. He emptied himself and became a slave unto man. He served us. He created easy access to the Father through His great sacrifice. This Sunday I encourage you to join us as we once again explore what it means to be a gateway Christian that sweet rewarding fruit that leads others to the great reward of knowing Jesus. I hope to see you all there!

 

Love you all,

Pastor Michael

Comments

2017-02-19 MW

 

Songs:

This Is Amazing Grace

Your Love Never Fails

Great Are You Lord

(Psalm 121)

O Come to the Altar

There - Like Sons

 

Prayer - Father ,we recognize our great need for you. I pray you will bring us the needy, troubled, depressed, anguished, anxious, fearful. Those fighting demons and don’t know how to be set free. We know where you spirit is there’s liberty. We know that tho Satan is prince of this world, you are Lord of the universe.

We pray you allow us to be messy with you. Show us how to love in a messy way, getting our hands and feet dirty. Getting our lives mixed up in the lives of others. Walking and being the image of Christ, exuding your love.

Lord I know that your the kingdom is going to advance. Even, as you said, if we don’t praise you, the rocks will cry out. If we don’t respond to the things you’re saying, you’ll find someone else. Lord, we don’t want to miss out. Show us how we can be inconvenienced for you.

Let it be that when we say, “Lord”, we are saying, “Master, your servant is listening. Speak. Let your will be done.” 

O Jesus, let us be the light. Let us be the salt that, where there’s decay, and people are being consumed by decay and they feel their lives are rotting away, we can be that salt, that agent of preservative that points them to you.

Lord, we love you. We pray that in our remaining time, we’d continue to worship and yield to you that you’d continue to embed your kingdom in us and it would advance in us.

 

10:39 Good morning to everyone. Some housekeeping things:

 

1. We are in need of more deacons. IN the next few weeks we’ll be going through the nomination process. IF you can think of someone you’d nominate, please ask them. That’s an important part of how we serve and care for the church body.

 

2. Olivia and Wendy Oakley - Olivia is going to B’ham tomorrow to have some tests done. Let’s pray for that doctor’s visit. And that the Lord would intervene and it would be a good report. For peace and for God’s will to be done.

Praying: Heather: Father, you’re a good God. Our confidence is in you. You’re the one w put our trust in. We ask you give the doctors wisdom and give Olivia and Wendy peace. Comfort and envelope them with your peace. You want us to trust you with things small and great and we do.

Londa: I pray that O would have a peace that only you could give. That the doctors would have wisdom and would be able to tell exactly what the issues are and that they would be easily resolved. Simple and short-term. And that she would receive complete healing through this.

Michael: Father, as these have assembled with Olivia, we see this as a symbol of your love. We do pray for a good report. Something that shows you at work in this situation. We commit this doctor visit to you and commit her to your great care in Jesus Name.

 

10:44 - Once again, we want to welcome everyone here today.

The focus of this church is a ministry of 4reconciliation. Reconciling man to God, man to man, and man to himself. We’ve had several weeks of man to self.

Reconciling man to God and man to man go hand in hand. The cross is that unique horizontal and vertical bridge. Jesus is the gateway reconciling us to God and to each other. And he calls us to take up our own cross to become the gateway that leads people to X.

Last week, we looked at some ways we can be gateway Christians. We continue that this week with, “Gateway Christians are low-hanging fruit.” This means they’re easily accessible to all. The least of these. The spiritually unaware. Those who, because of life circumstances, aspire to seek God on their own.

As Gateway Christians, we come along people who seek to know God but have no idea how. They have no hope but only darkness. The farthest thing from their mind is having a relationship w/ God. As well, they don’t think of any way to walk in reconciliation w/ others. Problems in their home, among their associates, in society. Isolation. Pain. Division.

As Gateway Christians (GC’s), we’re called to go to those painful, questionable places. TO meet them in those questionable areas and give them easy access to the Father, knowing that can help create reconciliation from one person to another.

Many times when someone is hurt, lost, angry at the world and others, if you ask, “How’s your home life?” Often it’s strained. And when they get reconciled to God, their home life improves too.

 

GC’s ask some questions. First, “Whose image is on us?”

 

Luke 20:19-26 - 

 19 The scribes and the chief priests sought to lay hands on him at that very hour, for they perceived that he had told this parable against them, but they feared the people.

 20 ¶ So they watched him and sent spies, who pretended to be sincere, that they might catch him in something he said, so as to deliver him up to the authority and jurisdiction of the governor.

 21 So they asked him, ‘‘Teacher, we know that you speak and teach rightly, and show no partiality, but truly teach the way of God.

 22 Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar, or not?’’

 23 But he perceived their craftiness, and said to them,

 24 ‘‘Show me a denarius. Whose likeness and inscription does it have?’’They said, ‘‘Caesar’s.’’

 25 He said to them, ‘‘Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’’

 26 And they were not able in the presence of the people to catch him in what he said, but marveling at his answer they became silent.

 

2 Cor 1:20-22

 20 For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.

 21 And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us,

 22 and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

 

We see here that God’s given us his spirit. Put his seal on our hearts. If someone were to look at you, and you’re a child of God, professed Jesus Christ as your L&S, and you’re sealed w/ the Holy Spirit, then whose image is on you? God’s image is on you.

We see that we don’t belong to the world. We don’t focus on the cares and things of the world.

We see great battles going on in the world. And we see the signs of the times. It’s good to be aware of what’s going on and how GOd’s impressing us in how to walk. Our country is reeling with division wrt politics.

As we talked about last week—please hear me, it’s easy to be offended in this—sometimes we feel it’s our obligation, duty, necessity to try to legislate morality. To legislate God’s laws and morals and ethics.

I want to challenge you w/ something. Many times, instead of bringing reconciliation, we bring division, pitting one camp against another.

We see that the heart of politics is about division, “Us against them.” But the heart of God is about reconciliation. 

When we see the things going on in the world, we have to step back and ask ourselves, “God, being your image bearer and seeing the tide of this world, of our country… and seeing that we’re more and more fortifying ourselves in “Us against them”, and often getting divided. Racially. Politically. Gender.

We see ourselves inadvertently allowing politics, laws, legislation to be our God instead of God being our God.

A GC understands that winning souls and reconciling people exceeds political partisanship.

Jesus had political diversity in his “tribe” of disciples. Simon the Zealot - anti-government. Matthew - government employee.

Jesus is calling Jews and Gentiles to be reconciled. There are social/political opposites. God’s called them to be united in one as they become followers of X. To be in community w/ one another.

Two important keys: The first question isn’t what a person’s political beliefs are, as much as how much they identify their politics w/ what they hold as the essentials of their faith.

When you take your faith, saying, because this political party stands this way on an issue that I think aligns with my faith, I align with that party. We allow that to become an essential part of our faith.

But if we ask ourselves, ‘What party would X be in? Who would he stand with?’ He’d cause a big stink. The reality is that J would find followers from every one of these groups. They’ll realize, “This group isn’t as important as following God and reconciling man to God.”

Second, if we feel more kindred with people who share our political view rather than those who share our faith, it is likely that we’re rendering to Caesar what belongs to God.

We have to go beyond the group lines. We have to be looking for “how can I connect w/ my fellow brother in X?” How can we continue to show that as we walk as brothers in X, looking to honor him and to reconcile as one brothers and sisters in X? As we walk in obedience w/ God, truth will prevail.

So we have to ask ourselves, “Whose image is upon me? I need to render myself to God, and not to Caesar.”

 

A second plank about being a GC, if you’re a GC, you’ll be seen as a controversial Christian. As a heretic. One that lacks spiritual insight.

A heretic isn’t a false teacher, but one who goes against the religious teaching of the day. Sacrilegious means to be …. Jesus saw the importance of reconciling man to God and transcended the law. So he was considered sacrilegious.

 

Luke 7:36-40 -  

36 ¶ One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table.

 37 And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment,

 38 and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment.

 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, ‘‘If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.’’

 40 And Jesus answering said to him, ‘‘Simon, I have something to say to you.’’And he answered, ‘‘Say it, Teacher.’’

 

As the story continues, we hear Jesus teach that since she was forgiven much, she loves much. 

 

Don’t lose that Simon was a leper. There’s a conclusion you come to that Simon wouldn’t be allowed to invite people to his house if he were still a leper. So Jesus must’ve healed Simon and that’s how he was able to invite people into his house.

Simon must’ve forgotten his days as a leper, when he wasn’t allowed in town and had to shout out, “Unclean!”. He must’ve forgotten how unclean he’d been. And now that he’s clean and religious and this woman comes, he says, “This Jesus lacks spiritual insight.”

For us as GC’s, we’ll be seen to lack sp insight and seen as heretics.

 

Luke 19:1-7

 19:1* ¶ He entered Jericho and was passing through.

 2* And there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich.

 3* And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small of stature.

 4* So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way.

 5* And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, ‘‘Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.’’

 6 So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully.

 7 And when they saw it, they all grumbled, ‘‘He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.’’

 

I want to modernize this story a bit before we go on. Even though he was small in stature, probably made fun of. He had a chip on his shoulder. A *chief* tax collector. Ordering people around. Flaunting his power.

Bernie Madoff swindled $65B from thousands of people. They lost their livelihoods, everything. He’s a thief. Has government officials in his pocket. Though he’s crooked, he’s not in jail. then one day, he hears of this man Jesus. He drives downtown in his limo. And it’s like a thanksgiving day parade.

The reason he wanted to get to Jesus is that, tho he’s getting what he wants, he still has hatred and bitterness. Maybe Jesus can help me reconcile this struggle and pain i have inside of me.

The crowd says, “Tehre’s no way we’ll let this guy in to see Jesus.” So he gets out of the limo in in $10K suit. He climbs a tree. And the people mock him. THey’re relentless and resentful of him.

So Bernie’s in the tree, and the unthinkable happens: Jesus sees Bernie and calls him to come down from the tree and to take Jesus to his penthouse for lunch.

Are you serious? Now we know what Jesus is about. We *thought* he was for the people, but he’s hanging with a crooked billionaire.

 

In v8, when Jesus said this to Zach, we see Zach’s response:

 8 And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, ‘‘Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.’’

 9* And Jesus said to him, ‘‘Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham.

 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.’’

 

Many of us, if we saw someone like Bernie, we’d say, “Jesus is for US, not for the likes of HIM.” But as Jesus calls Bernie down, and Bernie encounters the kindness of Jesus, his heart breaks. Deeply. Even though Jesus knew all he had done, Jesus calls him.”

As he experienced this kindness, repentance came. Not only was Bernie reconciled within himself and to God. But all those hurt,defrauded, swindled, were not only restored, but 4x as much.

And he says, “I’ll give half of my belongings to the Lord”

So while the people want to send him to jail and stay in their destitute state, Jesus was willing to go where most of us wouldn’t want to go..

Bernie was restored and the people were cared for.

A GC doesn’t criticize, but walks in incomprehensible love. They understand that repentance is the fruit of kindness, not criticism.

By eating with Z, Jesus offers a relationship. Non-judgmental. In response, he stops doing what’s wrong and starts caring for others.

Jesus said, “I do not condemn” but he did not add, “Now continue living in your life of sin.” 

Neither did he say, “Leave your life of sin and then I won’t condemn you.” That’s religion. Works.

As believers, we say, “I love you and extend friendship to you.” And through that kindness, that brings them to the point of repentance.

GC’s understand that people will only love His Law and Ethics when they sense God is for them, not against them.

 

Matt 5:15-16 (MESSAGE)

 15* If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand.

 16 Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand--shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.

 

By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up to God, this generous Father in heaven.

 

Closing with this short video:

 

11:23 Can we all stand please?

As we look through history, we see men and women who understand what it means to be a GC. We think of people like Mother Theresa. People who’ve done extravagant things w/ their life.

I have a friend, Bob Caldwell. He disappeared for 10 days. I’ve taught that we need to love the poor, but I didn’t know what that meant. I lived on the streets in cardboard box for 10 days.

You find these unique people who look into the crowd and see…

I’m bragging on my wife here… When we lived in Botswana, we saw that in S Africa, the whites looked down on the blacks. They had black Botswanans working for them. And the Botswanans disdained white people.

Then my wife, whose white, began to build relationships with them. My wife cared for a woman who’d gotten sick. And these black Bots women saw someone who was different. Willing to serve them when their whole job was to serve others. And all those women surrendered their life to the Lord. And my wife had the opportunity to disciple all of them.

This was the first time they were able to trust and love a white person.

I pray for us. That yu will find yourself in different circumstances. Whether it’s financially Encounter someone who’d say, “I never thought I’d find someone in your position that I could truly love and share life with.” And then they see that you’re an image bearer who loves Jesus.

If God’s stirring your heart in any way. If you don’t know Jesus and want to be reconciled come forward. If you sense that God’s calling you to be part of Sside, come forward. Whatever God’s stirring in your heart to do, please respond.

 

Singing “Come to the Altar”