Pastor Dan Borgelt
“Sharing Our Faith”
NOTE: If you listen to audio only, be sure to scroll down for closing music video at bottom of this page.
“Let me ask you as we get started in our time together this morning,
When was the last time that you had a meaningful, faith-based conversation with someone who didn’t exactly share your convictions about faith?
When was the last time that you had it a meaningful faith-based conversation… you know, a conversation about real things, and real life; about faith and religion, and those types of things, with someone who wasn’t exactly on the same page as you?
You know, if you’re like me, the very thought of having such a conversation just absolutely makes you incredibly nervous.
The thought of having a conversation like that makes your heart race perhaps, or your palms begin to sweat a little bit, maybe even your voice begins to crack — the idea of… having a faith based conversation with someone who has a different belief system than you?
The reason, of course, that we start to feel that way, is because we tend to imagine the worst case scenario. We imagine, “Surely if we talk to someone about our faith we’re going to just be completely rejected by them… they’re going to “unfriend us”, if you will.
They’re going to mock us; they’re going to outwit us, and they will leave the conversation perhaps even more convinced as to why they don’t believe in our faith, because of our conversation with them.
But this video reminds us that God is that work… that he is at work working in people’s lives drawing them to himself. And that there are people out there from all different ages, from all different backgrounds, and all different situations in life, whose lives are broken, and who are ready to have someone come alongside them, and talk to them about matters of faith.
And I want to ask you this morning… I know that when it comes to the topic of sharing our faith, and when it comes to the topic of evangelism, as some of you want to label it… when it comes to this whole topic we tend to imagine the worst case scenario.
But I want to ask you this morning,
Does the best case scenario, outweigh the worst case scenario?
Here we are in the book of Acts, and we’ve been looking through the book of Acts, and seeing people repeatedly sharing their faith, having faith based conversations with people who don’t already believe in what it is that they believe in.
And my guess is that many of those people were really excited, enthusiastic about the opportunity, and there was probably also many of them who were extremely nervous and cautious about that opportunity as well.
Some of them had incredible success in their efforts. Others of them had incredible failures in their efforts, and we’re going to look at that and see that together in our Scripture this morning.
I want to talk to you about three basic points when it comes to the topic of sharing our faith. The first one is that,
1. God calls all of us to a ministry. The second is that,
2. Sometimes that ministry that God calls us to seems like a failure. And then finally,
3. Sometimes that ministry that God calls us to seems like a success.
So God calls all of us to a ministry; sometimes it seems like a failure; and sometimes it seems like a success.
And maybe you’re here this morning, and you’re sort of new to the whole idea of church. You’re here this morning you don’t even claim necessarily to have a relationship with Jesus Christ yourself, let alone tell other people about Him.
But I want you know that we’re glad that you’re here. And perhaps you’re here because someone has had their life story changed by Jesus Christ… and they want to present that same opportunity to you by inviting you to come to where they go to church.
All right let’s look at our passage of Scripture this morning.
If you’re new with us, we are going through the book of Acts, which is the fifth book in the New Testament. We are now in Acts chapter thirteen. We would love to have you grab a Bible that’s offered to you there in the pews, or your own from home, and open it up to Acts chapter thirteen. If not we will have the Scripture on the screen behind me.
Here’s what the Scripture tells us. First let’s look at this whole idea that,
1. God calls all of us to a specific ministry.
In verses one through three, here’s what the Scripture says. This is the part that Charlie read earlier to our children.
1 Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers:
Now as Charlie said there were a couple of Antiochs. When we think of the early Church, we tend to think of the city of Jerusalem as sort of being the hub of the early Church.
Jerusalem, in general, is located in the Southeast corner of the Mediterranean sea. Antioch is north, up the Eastern side of the Mediterranean Sea, on the Northeast corner of the Mediterranean sea.
And this is where this group of people were… they were prophets and teachers, the Bible says. Here were their names:
Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the Tetrarch) and Saul.
Now, most of those names probably don’t sound very familiar to you, and that’s okay. For time sake we’re going to leave them in the unfamiliar world.
But there is a name that might sound familiar to some of you who have been hanging around with us through our Acts series, and that is the name Saul. Saul was someone who used to persecute the Church. His whole goal was to make sure that the followers of Christ were put out… and had an end.
But, the Scripture told us a back in Acts chapters eight and nine, that Saul had this miraculous conversion experience. He is now a follower of Christ himself. And slowly, quickly I guess, really becoming a leader–THE leader, a significant leader, in_the_early_Church.
So, this is the group of people who are gathered together… take note of their context,
2-3 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.
God calls all of us to a specific ministry.
I want to put you at ease, because the nature and the type of ministry in which Saul and Barnabas are called to here in this passage, is incredibly extreme and miraculous.
So I want to let you know from the very beginning, I don’t mean to say that all of us are called to a ministry in the same manner, or to the same type of ministry that Saul and Barnabas are called to.
But nonetheless, I want to argue, that we are all called to a specific ministry.
And I want you to notice the context in which they are called to this ministry.
The Scripture says that Saul and Barnabas were not hanging out by themselves, doing ordinary things, if you will, but these men were gathered together with other brothers in Christ, and
they were Worshiping and fasting.
And this is when God gives them this specific ministry for their lives.
And I think this is an important component for us to understand, because I believe this is when God tends to speak to most people in their lives. So it’s when they’re doing some form of a spiritual discipline, that they begin to receive what God wants them to do with their lives.
It’s the reason why it’s important that we create an atmosphere here on Sunday morning when we’re Worshiping through song — that God can speak to you.
Or when we’re opening up the Scripture, that God might speak to you through it, because this is the type of gathering where God might call someone, and place upon their heart, a specific type of ministry for their lives.
It doesn’t have to be a Worship setting… it could be a Sunday School class; it could be a Small Group; it could be just an informal gathering of Brothers and Sisters in Christ… or it may have absolutely nothing to do with any spiritual discipline at all.
God owns all of our circumstances, He could speak to us at any time. He could speak to us and place a call or ministry upon our life, doing the most mundane thing.
You might go out one day for a jog. And there you are jogging around you look up and you see a billboard… and the billboard informs you about the number of people in your community who struggle from hunger, and aren’t well fed, and God uses that billboard to speak to you, and place that ministry upon your heart.
Or perhaps he doesn’t.
And the only thing that billboard causes you to do is to think about how hungry you are. So when you get home from your jog, you get your car, you drive off to the Chinese buffet. And while you’re at the Chinese buffet, sitting there stuffing yourself, all of the sudden God reminds you that there are millions of orphans in China, and you should do something about it… right?
Or maybe He doesn’t.
Maybe you eat your Chinese buffet with absolutely no conviction at all, you get in your car and you’re driving home, you turn on the radio. And it’s not until you turn on the radio and you hit the ‘Seek’ button that the local R&B Hip Hop station comes on… your liking the rap song, but somehow in the midst of the rap song. God speaks to you and says, “You know what? There’s a lot of people in inner city Dayton who need your help. “
God can speak through all of those circumstances.
But what I’m trying to say, is that I don’t think we should ignore the reality that he called Saul and Barnabas in the midst of a spiritual discipline of worshiping God and fasting, because statistically, my observation is that, that seems to be when God places a ministry upon our hearts.
And I’m worried that there are churches filled with people all across America who would hear a message like this and think to themselves, “I’m not really sure what God wants me to do for his kingdom. I’m not really sure what he’s calling me to do. What is my ministry?”
And one of the main reasons they haven’t discovered that is because they don’t have enough times or opportunities when they’re alone with God… or have spiritual disciplines in their lives where God might speak His heart for them.
Well, the Scripture tells us that this is the call, this is the ministry that he gives Saul and Barnabas. And I want you to realize that,
“How He calls us,” might be similar… but it also might be different.
I mean, do you see in the Scripture how he called them…
the Holy Spirit said, “(quote)
I’m the kind of person who might say to someone, “I really feel like God was leading me to do this…” or, “I feel like you know God had placed this on my heart.” I might say, “I feel like God was telling me…”
But it’s all understood that I’m not really quoting him. I’m not one hundred percent sure… I just have a really strong inclination.
But here Luke comes along and he tells us that this group of people are spoken to so clearly–perhaps audibly, perhaps not I don’t know. But so clearly to by God, that they were able to say . “The Holy Spirit said… and now, there he is… “in quotes”.
And some of you might be able to relate. But I suspect that most of you are more able to relate to me… we don’t really tend to have God speak to us, in that way.
He might place upon your heart, a call for ministry in another fashion. It doesn’t necessarily have to be this MIRACULOUS, is what I’m trying to say to you. He places a burden on your heart. And perhaps you ignore it and then he places it on your heart again, and you ignore it again, and then he places it again; that’s probably…
If God gives you a burden, if you have a burden on your heart a repeated amount of times, it’s probably a good indication, it’s not from the devil… it’s probably from God.
So he can call us to our specific type of ministry in many different ways and circumstances, but I also want you to see that the type of ministry he calls us to, might be similar, or it also might be different.
Listen to the type of ministry he calls them to: they are not being called to just stick around their hometown, and begin to become the pastor of one of the local churches… they are being sent off to a cross cultural experience, where they are sharing Jesus Christ with people they don’t know, in a region that they are not familiar with.
And this is the type of experience and call, that some people in our church have. We have some people at Kirkmont, who spend a good portion of their lives overseas, somewhere else, doing that type of ministry.
But again, God doesn’t call all of us in the same way that he called Saul and Barnabas here. He might give us a a different burden — for some of us he might place on our heart a burden for missions, but we’re not the one who’s necessarily supposed to go, we’re the ones who are supposed to make sure that our church is generous, and supporting, and encouraging, and praying for missionaries, and sending others off.
That might be the burden that he gives you.
Other people might have a a global, social justice burden that God puts on their heart.
Maybe, you’re the kind of person who says, “You know what… there are millions of people who don’t have access to clean drinking water… that should not be. I want to do something about it.”
You might be the kind of person who says, “You know what? There are millions of people who are sold into slavery every year. That shouldn’t be. I want to do something about it.”
Or maybe you are more of a local person and you want to sign up for our Work Days with the Gospel Mission Project and go to downtown Dayton and and help some inner city people who could really use your love, and care, and support.
Or maybe God has given you a real heart and a passion for the Pro-Life movement, and you want to sign up for the Miami Valley Women’s Center and support them.
Whatever ministry he might have given you, He can give it to you. It doesn’t necessarily have to be as extreme, if you will, as what he gave Saul and Barnabas, or be cross-cultural at all.
In fact, I want to argue that really what God tends to invite most of us to do is to really not do anything else different… but instead by placing a ministry on our hearts, what he’s actually inviting us to do is to continue to live out our ordinary lives, but to begin to live them with extra-ordinary purposes.
To begin to do the things that we are already doing, but to now do them with Kingdom Purposes… to do that which comes natural to us but with supernatural purposes.
So for many people the ministry that he calls us to, unlike Saul and Barnabas, it won’t require a change in your schedule in any way at all. It will just require you to do what you’re already doing, with a new intention… for the Kingdom of God.
And I have often discovered that what God tends to place on our heart… while many of those causes, and issues I mentioned are significant and important… God tends not to put causes and issues and programs on people’s hearts… he tends to put people on our hearts.
And so many of you may never identify with some great ministry or some great cause that you sign up for. But instead, in your ordinary, mundane life, God will put people in your path, who he burdens you with: the person whom you buy a coffee from every day… He may all of the sudden say, “Alright… it’s time that you be a light in this person’s life.
You see what I’m saying… that it’s not all like Paul. It’s not all like Barnabas. It’s often doing that which is ordinary for extra-ordinary reasons… it’s not often programs, its more usually people.
And that person that God places upon your heart, may be extremely open and SO grateful for the fact that you took the risk of sharing your faith in Jesus Christ with them… or… they might be incredibly belligerent of the fact that you tried to share your faith with them.
And that brings us to our second and third points… that
2. Sometimes, the ministry that God gives us seems like a failure; and
3. Sometimes the ministry that God gives us seems like a success.
Let’s go on in the Scripture, on Acts 13, verse four the Scripture tells us
Now on to Cyprus. The Scripture is about to tell us that from Antioch, Saul and Barnabas went down to the port city Seleucia. And then they sailed across the Mediterranean, not that far across it, to Cyprus… Cyprus was an island on the Eastern side of the Mediterranean. And there they start to minister in a couple of different cities. Here’s what the Scripture says,
4-11 The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus. When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues. John was with them as their helper.
They traveled through the whole island until they came to Paphos. There they met a Jewish sorcerer and false prophet named Bar-Jesus, who was an attendant of the proconsul, Sergius Paulus. The proconsul, an intelligent man, sent for Barnabas and Saul because he wanted to hear the word of God. But Elymas the sorcerer (for that is what his name means) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul from the faith. Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas (this is Bar-Jesus, just a different name for him) and said, “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord? Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind for a time, not even able to see the light of the sun.”
Immediately mist and darkness came over him, and he groped about, seeking someone to lead him by the hand.
Now let’s pause there. So the Scripture tells us they come across a man named…. what was his parents thinking? … Bar Jesus.
Now. I got on my phone and I started searching for all the bars in the Dayton area. I found a Bar Louie, a Tank’s Bar, a Timothy’s Bar, but no “Bar Jesus”
Bar Jesus actually it means “son of Jesus”… in Aramaic it’s Jesus, but in the Hebrew it’s Joshua, or Yeshua. And so the Son of Yeshua is this guy’s name.
And the Scripture tells us that when Saul and Barnabas arrive, this man, not only does he not receive their message, not only is he not converted or persuaded by their talks about Jesus, but in addition to his rejection of them, he is working to make sure that others around him don’t receive their message of Jesus Christ. Particularly… this proconsul.
So here we find that Saul and Barnabas encounter this man… and I think that this is a common theme in the book of Acts that,
…sometimes our ministry efforts, that God calls us to, seem like a failure.
And the reason why I use the word “seem” like a failure is because sometimes that which seems like a failure is really a success. And sometimes that which seems like a success is really a failure.
But the truth is,
…that many times, when it seems like it’s a failure, it’s a failure.
(Laughter)… and when it seems like it’s a success, it’s a success.
So here we find they encountered this man Bar Jesus, and if their goal was to turn him and convert him by all practical means we could say this was a failure–they faced some resistance at this point.
This is a common theme in Acts. We cannot read Acts, and see all of the advancement of the Gospel, all of the ministry successes, without also seeing that almost every time there’s a ministry success, it’s accompanied with the ministry failure.
It’s so important for us to realize that… because I’m concerned there are many people, when you talk to them about evangelism, or sharing their faith, or participating in a ministry, they will tell you about some experience they had — they tried that at one time. And here’s why they don’t do it anymore… because it’s failed.
Well here’s the thing.
Failure happens in the Bible.
This your coach, kicking you in the butt saying, “Get back on the field, you can do better next time.”
Failures happen… this happens. And so many people get discouraged–they don’t anticipate it. And so when it happens they think, “Well this must not be what God’s called me to… I must be doing it wrong somehow.”
But the reality is,
…sometimes you might do everything right, but sometimes our ministry, that God calls us to, is still_a_failure.
It’s crucial for us to grasp because often times, I’ve discovered, that the failure come before the success.
Some of you know the story of the first time I was ever called to lead a Bible study. I was in high school. And I didn’t grow up in the church, I had no real Sunday School knowledge. And I was just trying to attend a Bible study, but someone elected me to be the Bible study leader.
So that week I started reading this book by a Max Lucado, and it was “In The Grip of Grace”… a wonderful book, and he has this section in there that God really spoke to me… and I really felt like he was telling me to share this with this group of students.
I was excited… I was nervous, but I was more excited because I felt like God was behind me and he was supporting me, and I had this great thing to share. And I got into the room. And I completely tanked… It was a miserable experience for me, and I’m sure for everyone else in the room as well.
I know because we had like twenty-five students the first week, and like twelve the next.
But that morning I went back to my locker and I sat there and I cried, in my public high school, at my locker, thinking, “God, this is the first time that you’ve asked me to step out in faith and do something like this and this is what happens?”
And the thing is that, since then, and even in my ministry today, things go back and forth.
There are some Sundays where I leave church I feel like a real success… and other Sundays I leave church I feel like a real failure. Some Sundays I leave committee meetings, or session meetings feeling like a real success… and others I leave feeling like a real failure.
Sometimes I get emails from people that make me feel like a real success… and other times I get emails from people that make me feel like a real failure (Laughter).
You get the idea.
And here’s the thing… we have to be prepared for that reality. God will give you a ministry, but that doesn’t mean that it will always be accompanied with success — at times you will also experience failure.
And I think the reason why He does that is to make sure our hearts are on the right place.
Because if I talk to someone about my faith in Jesus Christ and they reject me… are they any worse off than they were before? No.
But I feel worse. I’m now wounded. And what prevents me from going back? …my care for them? …or my care for myself? It’s my care for myself — that’s what keeps us from having these hard conversations… it’s because, if we’re honest before God, we really care more about ourselves than them.
And I think one of the reasons why he allows us to fail before we experience success is because we have to get to a place in our heart where we care about the other person, more than ourselves.
Isn’t that the Gospel?
… that when we care about them more than ourselves we can have that conversation, even in the face of rejection, because we’re there for them, we’re not_there_for_ourselves.
There’s this Facebook quote, I threw up on our Facebook page here at Kirkmont the other day… and I’ll throw it up on the screen for you… this speaks to this whole topic that we’re discussing… it says,
To be brave enough to start a conversation that matters… it takes bravery, because sometimes those conversations fail — but they matter, because sometimes they succeed.
Let’s look at the very last verse in our Scripture together this morning.
12 When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord.
Isn’t it nice that the Scripture section here ends with that as well… not just this Bar Jesus guy.
Sometimes ministry seems like a success, and in this case, indeed it was.
And this ought to motivate us… for the Gospel of Luke chapter fifteen verses eight through ten tell us this.
The Parable of the Lost Coin
This is Luke, the same guy who was writing in the book of Acts, now quoting Jesus when Jesus said,
Luke 15:8-10 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Church, at the beginning I asked you…
Does the best case scenario, outweigh the worst case scenario?
And I think this Scripture is a vivid reminder that,
Are you willing to be mocked —the worst case scenario… for the best case scenario… which is,
the angels in heaven rejoicing over a sinner who has repented.
Indeed… the success is worth the failure.
And may we, this morning, leave this place… may we go into the world, with the love for others — the same love that drove Jesus Christ to the Cross for us, and for them…
And with the power of the Holy Spirit — the same power which raised him from the dead, that we might be used by God to change people’s stories.
I want to invite our Praise Team to come forward as we prepare to sing our closing song together this morning … this is a song, “Your praise will ever be on my lips”. This is a song they introduced to us just a few minutes ago during our offering. And now we have the opportunity singing together as a congregation.
Will you stand and join us as we close together.
Link to Kirkmont Presbyterian Church Website
Listen to recent sermons