Reaching Others: Sermon Notes

John 21: 1 – 11

 Introduction:  At the beginning of His ministry Jesus found Andrew and his brother, Simon Peter, fishing on the Sea of Galilee, along with James & John.

Mark 1:17:

“And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”

In Luke 5: 1-11, Luke records an incident where these same disciples had fished all night and had caught nothing.  Jesus asked them to put their nets down for a catch, and they caught so many fish that their nets began to break.

Luke 5: 10:

“. . . .Jesus said to Simon, “Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men.”

Now, again, at the close of Jesus’ earthly ministry we again find the same group of disciples fishing on the Sea of Galilee.

John 21: 1-11

1 After these things Jesus manifested Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and He manifested Himself in this way. 2 Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. 3 Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will also come with you.” They went out and got into the boat; and that night they caught nothing. 

4 But when the day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 So Jesus said to them, “Children, you do not have any fish, do you?” They answered Him, “No.”6 And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat and you will find a catch.” So they cast, and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great number of fish.7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put his outer garment on (for he was stripped for work), and threw himself into the sea. 8 But the other disciples came in the little boat, for they were not far from the land, but about one hundred yards away, dragging the net full of fish. 

9 So when they got out on the land, they saw a charcoal fire already laid and fish placed on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish which you have now caught.”      11 Simon Peter went up and drew the net to land, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not torn.

This incident presents us with some questions as to why John included this incident in his account.

Were the disciples giving up on Jesus and going back to their former vocations?

Were they in need of money?

Was John just filling space as to their activities while they waited for Jesus to show up?

Or is there a deeper, more spiritual, and significant meaning to this account?

John often writes on two levels.

I believe John was symbolically demonstrating what the disciples would be doing from now on.  Just what Jesus had

called them out to do in the beginning of His ministry.

Mark 1:17:

“And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”

Luke 5: 10:

“. . . .Jesus said to Simon, “Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men.”

It is the same thing that all of Jesus’ followers are called to do. We are called out to “Reach Others For Jesus”.

T/S:  This morning, I want to look at three aspects of reaching others for Jesus.

The Impetus for Reaching Others for Jesus

An impetus is a force which helps something along, a stimulus.

There are three factors that should stimulate us to reach others for Jesus.

The Motivation Inside of Us.

Peter, James, and John went fishing because they were fishermen!  It was what they did; it was what they were.  Therefore, there was a natural motivation for them to fish.  As Christians, there should be a natural motivation to catch souls for Jesus!

The Master’s Inquiry to Us.

5 So Jesus said to them, “Children, you do not have any fish, do you?” They answered Him, “No.”

One day Jesus will ask each one of us that question.

The Magnificent Invitation for Us.

10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish which you have now caught.” 

What a glorious prospect that our Savior invites us to bring with us to heaven those precious souls we have caught for Him with His help.  We can’t bring them if we haven’t caught them. 

The Ingredients of Reaching Others for Jesus

There are at least six ingredients that determine whether or not a person will be successful at catching souls for Jesus.

1) There must be a willingness to try.

3a  Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will also come with you.”

2) There must be a perseverance to endure

3b They went out and got into the boat; and that night they caught nothing.

That night they caught nothing.  They fished all night & caught nothing, but they refused to quit

3) There must be a constant search for those who are lost.

It doesn’t do any good to seine an empty pond, or to fish in an empty bucket.  You must first locate the fish

4) There must be a continual casting of the net.

There are five kinds of nets that we can cast to catch souls for Jesus.

1) The net of personal relationships.

Most people are won to Christ through a personal relationship with the witness.

2) The net of personal ministry.

This involves meeting social, emotional, physical, & spiritual needs.

3) The net of personal experience.

Your personal testimony is the best witness you have:

  • My life before Christ;
  • How I came to know Christ;
  • My life since Christ saved me.

4) The net of God’s personal provision.

Tell others what Jesus did for us.

5) The net of God’s personal promise

John 3:16:

16“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

Rom. 10:9-10; 13:

9that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

13for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

5) There must be a willingness to listen and obey.

Three, maybe four of the disciples were professional fishermen, yet they were willing to listen to someone they thought was a stranger.

We must be willing to listen to Jesus & follow His leadership as we seek to win others to Him.

6) There must be a total trust and dependence on God.

Isn’t it interesting that even though the disciples were professional fishermen, the only time we see them catch any fish in the New Testament is when Jesus helped them!

We cannot catch souls for Jesus without His help.  We do not have the ability or the power to win people to Christ without His help.

The Importance of Reaching Others for Jesus

In verse 11 we find three indications that catching souls for Jesus is important.

11 Simon Peter went up and drew the net to land, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not torn.

The first indication is the number of fish that were caught.

John was old when he wrote his gospel, but he still remembers the exact number caught. Numbers are important because every number represents a soul.

Early expositors said that 153 represents the number of known nations in the world at that time.

People from all nations will be gathered into God’s kingdom.

The early Christian, Jerome, said there were 153 different kinds of fish in the sea.

God’s kingdom will have people from every ethnic group.

In Matthew 28: 19, Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of every nation (ethnos) . . .”

There were no trash fish in the net!

The second indication is the size of the fish that were caught.

Large – (Gk – megalon) – They were all keepers.  To Jesus every soul is a keeper!

The third indication is the strength of the net that caught the fish.

Not one escaped, none got away!  When the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ encompasses a person’s life, their soul is secure with God.

John 10: 27-30:

27“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. 29“My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30“I and the Father are one.”

To Jesus, every soul is worth safe-guarding.

Conclusion:  Is God more concerned with catching fish or catching men?

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Working with Others

After WW II, a group of German students volunteered to rebuild an English cathedral that was severely damaged by German bombs.  In the cathedral was a large statue of Jesus whose arms were outstretched.  Beneath the statue was the inscription: “Come Unto Me.”  The students had difficulty trying to restore the hands which had been completely destroyed.  After much discussion, they decided to let the hands remain missing and changed the inscription to: “Christ Has No hands But Ours.”

This is the basic truth that Paul emphasizes in Romans 12.  The work of Jesus Christ in the world is in the hands of those who are His followers.  In a very real sense, He has no hands but our hands; no feet but our feet; and no mouth but our mouth.

Jesus commissioned His earthly ministry to His followers.

Matthew 28: 19-20:

19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

The word disciple means to be a learner or a follower of someone.  Those who are the hands, feet, and mouth of Jesus in this world are those who are His followers.

The first eleven chapters of Romans describe those who have been freed from the bondage of sin and have become Christ-followers.  If we, as Christ-followers, are to be His hands, feet, and mouth, then we are going to have to become more like Him.  We are going to have to learn to work together in a Christ-like way.

Romans 12: 1-21

1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. 

3 For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. 4 For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; 7 if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; 8 or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. 

9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; 11 not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer,13 contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. 

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.         15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. 17 Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing youwill heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

In our text, we discover the marvelous truth, that, although Christ sends His followers out with a common commission to serve Him, He equips them for that responsibility with a variety of spiritual gifts.

As we give our lives to Christ in self-sacrifice, He gives each of His followers distinct and unique gifts that enable us to serve Him and be used by Him as His hands, feet, and mouth.

Offering yourself to God as a living sacrifice is not some mystical experience.  It is a practical reality.  It is not something you do in your mind; it is something you do with your life!

We cannot really be a living sacrifice unless we are active, obedient, and faithful in His service as Christ-followers.  Being a living sacrifice also means that we must die to ourselves and rid ourselves of our pride and self-centeredness as we work with others for the cause of Jesus Christ.

Today I want to discuss how to become more like Christ.

Practice the Same Attitude as Christ (v. 3)

Paul begins with a reference to grace.  Grace is God’s unmerited or undeserved favor.  In other words, it means God gave us something good that we did not deserve.

Ephesians 2: 8 – 9:  8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift- 9 not from works, so that no one can boast.

Not only are we saved by grace, but we are to live our lives by grace.  In verse 3, Paul was referring to the fact that he was an apostle and prophet by the grace of God.  He did nothing to deserve it!

Therefore, whatever spiritual gift that God gives you to use in your service to Him, it should not become to you a source of pride because you didn’t earn it, deserve it, and you didn’t gain it on your own!  It was given to you by God’s grace.

A young preacher was given the opportunity to preach in a rather large church.  He entered the pulpit filled with pride, but after a rather poor sermon, he came down with his pride all gone.  An older godly lady told him, “If you had gone into the pulpit the way you came down, you would have come down the way you went in.”

Suggestions for the Use of Spiritual Gifts

  • Use your spiritual gifts humbly.
  • Don’t depreciate yourselves or your gifts in false humility.
  • Don’t claim impressive gifts that God has not given you.
  • Don’t let jealousy, resentment, or shame to keep you from using your gifts.
  • Don’t let anything keep you from using your spiritual gift.

If we are going to become more like Christ, we should never overestimate or underestimate our spiritual gifts, but we should use them for God’s glory and not for our glory.

Allow God to Be in Control (vv. 4-6a)

In order for the Christian to become more like Christ as he works with others, he needs to reach the point in his life where he is willing to allow God to call all the shots in everything.

Many Christians want to have certain spiritual gifts, because those gifts are somehow deemed more important or it makes them appear more spiritual than someone else.  However, spiritual gifts are not given to people based on their personal preference, but according to God’s divine wisdom.

1 Corinthians 12: 4-11:  4 Now there are different gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are different ministries, but the same Lord. 6 And there are different activities, but the same God activates each gift in each person. 7 A demonstration of the Spirit is given to each person to produce what is beneficial: 8 to one is given a message of wisdom through the Spirit, to another, a message of knowledge by the same Spirit, 9 to another, faith by the same Spirit, to another, gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another, the performing of miracles, to another, prophecy, to another, distinguishing between spirits, to another, different kinds of languages, to another, interpretation of languages. 11 But one and the same Spirit is active in all these, distributing to each person as He wills.

If we are going to become more like Christ, then we are going to have to allow God to make the important decisions for us, including which spiritual gifts we are to receive. 

Discover and Use Our Spiritual Gifts (vv. 6b-8)

God does not give His children gifts without letting them know what those gifts are so they can use them.

God wants you to know what your spiritual gift is.  So, if you don’t know what spiritual gift that God has given you, then you need to begin to try to discover what your spiritual gift or gifts are so you can begin to use them.

In the near future we will offer a course on discovering your spiritual gifts.

Spiritual Gifts Primarily Fall into 3 Categories.

  • Sign gifts – Found only in 1 Corinthians 12.  Used to authenticate the witness and teachings of the Apostles.
  • Speaking gifts – Prophecy, teaching, exhortation, word of wisdom, word of knowledge etc.
  • Service gifts – Service, administration, helps, faith, giving, leading, mercy, etc.

No gift or ability is of any value if it is not used. 

Live Like Jesus (vv. 9-21)

 As Christ-followers, if we are going to be used by God to win Hattiesburg, Mississippi, the United States, and our world to Christ, then we are going to have to act like Jesus.

Three Areas of Our Life That Should Be Like Jesus

  • Our Private Life – When no one sees what we do.
  • Our Personal Life – When we are around friends and family (includes our spiritual family).
  • Our Public Life – When we are out in the secular world among non-believers.

Charles Sheldon’s book, In His Steps, first published in 1896, is the 39th best-selling book of all time.

The story takes place in the fictional railroad town of Raymond, where Rev. Henry Maxwell, pastor of the First Church of Raymond, issues a challenge to his congregation not to do anything for the next year without asking themselves the question, “What Would Jesus Do?”

What would happen in Hattiesburg, MS, if you and I became more like Jesus?  What would happen if each time we were presented with a decision to make or an opportunity to serve that we asked ourselves, “What would Jesus Do,” and then we did it?

As Christ-followers, we are to become more like Jesus.

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Serving God by Serving Others

Ephesians 4:

1 Therefore, I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God.

2 Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. 3 Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.

4 For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. 5 There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all. 

7 However, he has given each one of us a special gift through the generosity of Christ.

8 That is why the Scriptures say, “When he ascended to the heights, he led a crowd of captives and gave gifts to his people.”

9 Notice that it says “he ascended.” This clearly means that Christ also descended to our lowly world. 10 And the same one who descended is the one who ascended higher than all the heavens, so that he might fill the entire universe with himself.

11 Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.

13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.

14 Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth.

15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.

16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

Introduction:  Ministry is a very misunderstood word.  Usually, when people hear the word ministry they think of people who have been called by God to serve Him in full-time vocational ministry.  Yet the word for minister in the New Testament simply means servant.  The literal translation is: table waiter.

Illustration:  Merv Griffin was one of the first talk show hosts on television.  Once he had a guest on his show who was a body builder.

Merv asked, “Why do you develop those particular muscles?”  The body builder stood up and flexed all of his well-defined muscles and the audience applauded.

Merv continued, “What do you use all those muscles for?”  Again the body builder flexed his biceps and triceps.

Merv persisted, “But what do you use those muscles for?”  The body builder was bewildered.

He didn’t have an answer except to display his well-developed frame.  He didn’t seem to know exactly why he had spent so much time and effort in exercise building up his physical strength.

Christ-followers should do a lot of spiritual exercises to build up their spiritual strength.  These exercises should include: personal Bible study, prayer, reading good Christian books, listening to sermons and Christian music, etc.

But what is the purpose of these spiritual exercises?  Why do we need to be spiritually strong?

Basically we need to be spiritually strong so that we will be equipped to serve God.

For example, in order to serve God we must overcome the temptations to sin that constantly assault us.

We have to fight off the temptations from the world, from the devil, and from our own fleshly desires to commit sin.

We must be clean and pure so God will use us.

2 Timothy 2:21 (NLT)

 21 If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.

But what do we mean when we say we are serving God?  God does not need anything.  He does not need our money.  He does not our praise, and He does not even need our presence.

Serving God means serving people; you cannot serve God without serving other people.

God saved us in order to create a community of believers to serve Him for all eternity.  The only way we can truly serve God is to represent Him to the world by meeting the needs in the lives of other people.

T/S: Today I want to look at four aspects of serving God by serving others.

The Importance of Serving God


Serving God is every Christian’s calling. (v. 1)

1 Therefore, I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God.

Serving God is every Christian’s responsibility. (v. 12)

12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.

Four Reasons Why It is Important for You to Serve God

  1. It is vital to your spiritual growth. (vv. 13-15)
  2. It is vital to the well-being of fellow believers. (vv. 13-15)
  3. It is vital to the health of God’s Church. (vv. 12 & 16)
  4. It is vital to the salvation of the unbeliever. (vv. 12 & 16)

The Instructions for Serving God

We are to serve according to our calling – to represent Christ. (v.1)

We are to serve according to our spiritual gifts. (v. 7)

We are to serve according to the needs of those around us.

Paul gives seven attitudes that should mark our service.

   (vv. 2-3)

1.  Humility

2.  Gentleness

3.  Patience (Long-suffering)

4.  Tolerance

5.  Love – God’s kind of love.

6.  Unity – Preserve or Keep ; means to watch over; to guard.

7.  Peace – Bond is that which binds together.

The Inspiration for Serving God

1.  There are seven unities of the Church that should inspire us to serve. (vv. 4-6)

One Body – the church is the body of Christ both visible and invisible.

One Spirit – He regenerates us, baptizes us, inhabits us, fills us, leads us, and equips and anoints us for service.

One Hope – We are called to be a part of the eternal Kingdom of God.

One Lord – Jesus Christ is Lord

One Faith – One body of belief – The Gospel of Jesus Christ.

One Baptism – The Holy Spirit baptizes every believer into the body of Christ the moment they are saved.  Water baptism is the outward symbol of the inner work of God in our lives.

One God and Father of all –

John 1:12-13

12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. 13 They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.

2.  The example of Jesus should inspire us to serve.  (vv. 8-10)  Jesus fulfilled His ministry of service to us.

3.  The gifts Christ gave to the Church should inspire us.  (vv. 11-12)

The Invitation to Serve God

It is an invitation to worthy living. (v. 1)

It is an invitation to grow in Christ. (v. 15)

15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.

It is an invitation to be part of something great – the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ!

Conclusion:  In 1967, Doug Nichols was serving with Operation Mobilization in India when he contracted tuberculosis.  He had to stay in a sanatorium several months in order to be treated.  He didn’t speak the language, but he tried to give out Christian literature written in their language, but all the doctors, nurses, and patients, politely refused to take any.

During the first few nights, he woke up around 2:00 a.m. coughing.  One morning during his coughing spell, he noticed one of the older, sicker patients trying to get out of bed.  He would sit up on the edge of the bed and try to stand, but in weakness he would fall back in bed.  Doug didn’t understand what he was trying to do.  Finally the man fell back in bed exhausted. Doug heard him crying softly.

The next morning he realized what the man was trying to do was to get up and go to the bathroom.  The smell was terrible.  The other patients yelled at him, and angry nurses treated him roughly, and one nurse even slapped him.  The old man curled up into a tight ball and wept.

That night Doug woke up again and saw the old man trying to get out of bed.  He went over to him and touched him on the shoulder and the man’s eyes widened with fear.  Doug smiled at him and picked his frail body up and carried him to the bathroom.  Doug stood there and held him up while he took care of himself.  When Doug put him back in bed, the man kissed him on his cheek, smiled and said something he could not understand.

The next morning another patient woke Doug up and handed Doug a steaming cup of tea and asked for one of Doug’s tracts.

Soon other patients were asking for tracts, and even the doctors and the nurses were asking for them.  As a result of Doug serving God by serving others, several people put their trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior.

These sermon notes are from a message preached by Dr. Greg Johnston at The Grove Church as part of the “Living in Community with Others” series.



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Strong Families Leave a Legacy

[vimeo 68864531]

In 1829, a British scientist by the name of James Lewis Macie Smithson left a legacy like few others in history. Smithson was childless, so his will stipulated that everything he had would go to his nephew, Henry Hungerford. However, if Hungerford died without heirs, the fortune would go to the United States to establish an institution in Washington, D.C., dedicated to “the increase and diffusion of knowledge.”

Hungerford died six years later in 1835 without leaving any children, and the U.S. government used the money to establish The Smithsonian Institute, arguably one of the wisest expenditures in history. Without ever knowing it, James Smithson left one of the greatest legacies of modern times.

Most of us won’t have the chance to leave a vast sum of money to the U.S. government. For one thing, any vast sums we might earn are going to be taken from us in taxes before we die! But the greatest of legacies aren’t usually monetary; they’re relational. They’re values and character molded into younger lives. I want to talk to you about that today.

I want to talk to you about your legacy. I want to stretch you beyond your own family.

Some of you will leave great legacies through the lives of your children. That’s good. That’s very good. My greatest ambition in life has been to raise children who love God with their whole hearts and make a difference for Him wherever they go.

But I don’t think that’s enough. I want my life—and I want your lives—to count for more than two to three children related to us by blood. I want to encourage you today to think about a legacy to a generation.

When He was 30 years old, Jesus intentionally approached 12 younger men and invited them to follow Him so they could become like Him. And they did.

Jesus Christ, who never raised a child of His own, did more to influence future generations than any other human being, because He purposed to leave a legacy in the generation after His own.

A few years later, the Apostle Paul said to a church full of people on an isthmus in Greece, “Imitate me” (1 Cor. 11:1). Paul was in his 50s when he wrote that. He was reaching down to another generation.

Toward the end of his life, Paul wrote to his younger friend Timothy, “The things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.”  2 Timothy 2:2

This was a true example of one generation influencing another, influencing another, then influencing another.

Regarding the women of Crete, Paul told another younger-generation mentee named Titus,

“Teach the older women to…urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind…” Titus 2:4:

and a whole list of other things that would enable the younger women to leave a legacy to an even younger generation.

This concept of strong family members leaving a legacy to following generations is so important to God that King David actually had one of his court musicians write a song about it 3,000 years ago.

Turn in your Bibles to Psalm 78, and I’ll show it to you.

This is a psalm of Asaph. Asaph and his sons wrote at least 12 of the psalms in the Bible, possibly more. This psalm, which is called a “maskil” or an insight-giving psalm, could be called, “The Psalm of the Next Generation.” Let me read some of it to you.

Psalm 78: 1-7

1  Listen, O my people, to my instruction; Incline your ears to the words of my mouth.

2  I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old,

3  Which we have heard and known, And our fathers have told us.

4  We will not conceal them from their children, But tell to the generation to come the praises of the Lord , And His strength and His wondrous works that He has done.

5  For He established a testimony in Jacob And appointed a law in Israel, Which He commanded our fathers That they should teach them to their children,

6  That the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born, That they may arise and tell them to their children,

7  That they should put their confidence in God And not forget the works of God, But keep His commandments,

Read v. 6 out loud, would you?

It’s a generational commission: Pass a baton. Pass the faith on to the next generation.

This is biblical Christianity: one generation teaching another, modeling for another, loving another. I think it’s one of the great joys in life. These young adults and many others are the future legacy of this church.

I want to talk to you about How to Influence the Next Generation.

If you are going to influence the next generation, you’ve got to…

1. Play your part in your own generation.

Serving in your generation will give you the credibility you need to be listened to by the next generation.

The Bible says in Acts 17:26:

“from one man he [God] made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.”

Did you know that you are living in the exact time and the exact place God wants you to?

He wants to use you here and now. God has a plan for you among your peers.

The Bible says in Acts 13:36:

“When David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep. . .”

Our primary calling is to our own generation. Job No. 1 is to influence your peers.

But that’s not enough. I love what the writer of Psalm 71 says:

“Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation.”  Psalm 71:18

Do you see what he’s saying? “God, don’t let me die before I pass on the faith to the next generation.”

2. Care about the next generation.

I love the next generation. You know how you can tell if you love the next generation? You pay attention to them. You notice the things that interest them, the things they’re thinking about.

If you want to influence the next generation, you must care about the next generation. Once you care about the next generation, then you. . .

3. Teach a few (in the next generation).

Teach a few of them. Most of us won’t be able to take on hundreds like some youth pastors do, but if we care, we’ll find a way to teach a few.

Psalm 145:4 says,

One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts.

Illustration: Charles Simeon was called to pastor Holy Trinity Church in Cambridge, England, in 1782. Back then, each of the pews had a little door on it.

Wealthy members of the church would buy their own pews. Most of the members of the church so strongly disliked Charles Simeon that, on Sunday mornings, they would arrive at church 15 minutes early, lock the door to their pew, and leave.

But the students of Cambridge loved Simeon. They came and stood in the aisles to listen to him. For seven years he packed the aisles with college students before the older generation began to come and sit in their pews.

Simeon started inviting these students to his house every Friday night. They would have tea, and then he would teach them well into the night, answering their questions about God and ministry until midnight.

By the time of his death, approximately one-third of the ministers of England were men who had been influenced by Charles Simeon.

Most of us won’t be able to do that.  But if we are going to influence even some in the next generation, besides serving ours and caring about the next and teaching a few, we need to…

4. Invest in two or three.

Friends, I’m pretty sure this financial crisis we’re in is the biggest financial challenge of our generation. But listen to me:  It will pass.

Ten to twenty years from now, many of us will have more than we ever imagined we would. I’m confident of it. But just as the purpose of our lives is not to be lived for ourselves, the purpose of our money is not to simply take care of our own.

Psalm 49:20 says:

“Human beings who have wealth but lack understanding are like beasts that perish.”

Nobody wants to be like a beast that perishes.

During the last Olympics, the U.S. men’s 400-meter relay team looked like they could win the gold or silver medal. Our first runner had done well, and our second one had done well. But when the exchange came between the third and fourth runner, Darvis Patten and Tyson Gay, do you remember what happened? One of them dropped the baton, and we came home without a medal. The team was disqualified.

The next day, all our hopes rested on the women’s 400 relay team. Do you remember what happened to them?  Same thing.

Dropping batons happens a lot in sports. Let’s not let it happen in our church.

There’s a Chinese proverb that says,

If you want to be happy for an hour — take a nap.

If you want to be happy for a day — go fishing.

If you want to be happy for a month — get married.

If you want to be happy for a year — inherit a fortune.

If you want to be happy for a lifetime — help someone.

That’s true, isn’t it? If you want to be happy, help someone. Leave a legacy. Pass on the baton.

Let me close with a story. You can decide whether it’s true or not. It’s a story about creation.

On the first day, God created the dog and said, “Sit all day by the door of your house and bark at anyone who comes in or walks past. For this, I will give you a life span of 20 years.”

The dog said, “That’s a long time to be barking. How about only 10 years, and I’ll give you back the other 10?” So God agreed.

On the second day, God created the monkey and said, “Entertain people, do tricks and make them laugh. For this, I’ll give you a 20-year life span.”

The monkey said, “Monkey tricks for 20 years? That’s a pretty long time to perform. How about I give you back 10 like the dog,” and God agreed.

On the third day, God created the cow and said, “You must stay the field all day long and suffer under the sun, have calves and give milk to support the farmer’s family. For this, I will give you a life span of 60 years.”

The cow said, “That’s a tough life, and you want me to live for 60 years. How about 20, and I’ll give back the other 40?” And God agreed again.

On the fourth day, God created humans and said, “Eat, sleep, play, marry and enjoy your life. For this, I’ll give you 20 years.”

But the human said, “Only 20 years? Could you possibly give me my 20, the cow’s 40, the monkey’s 10, and the dog’s 10?”

“OK,” said God, “you asked for it.”

So that is why for the first 20 years we eat, sleep, play and enjoy ourselves.

For the next 40, we slave in the sun to support our family. For the next 10, we do monkey tricks to entertain the grandchildren, and for the last 10, we sit on the porch and bark at everyone.

I think we can do better than that, don’t you?  Let’s pass a baton.  Let’s leave a legacy. Let’s influence the next generation by serving ours, caring about theirs, teaching a few, and investing in two or three. Deal? Deal.

Dr. Greg Johnston preached this message at The Grove Church as part of the “Building Strong Families” series.

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Strong Families Have Faith

[vimeo 68428688]

Today, I want to tackle the most important trait of a great family: Strong Families Have Faith.

Look in a dictionary, and you’ll find this definition of faith: A confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of another person.

Faith is a confident belief in the trustworthiness of God, that He is with you, that He is able to hold your weight; that He exists and wants to guide your life.

At some point, everyone struggles with the decision to have faith or not.

“At some point you’ve gotta ask yourself, ‘What do you want your life to be about?’” And when you do, you’re going to find that He’s more than worth it.”

That’s the wonder of faith. Strong families have faith. They believe in God. Study the history of our culture, and one of the most profound truths emerges: Strong families have faith in Christ for all things.

Today I want to give you 15 facts about faith.

What happens when you come to faith in Christ?

Instantaneously –

1. You get forgiven.

You get your mental, emotional, psychological and spiritual slate washed clean.

Acts 10:43:

All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.

Do you know what forgiveness is? It means getting a clean slate on the outside and a sense of peace on the inside. People with faith have forgiveness.

2. You get a new life.

 2 Corinthians 5:17:

. . . if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

People of faith get a brand-new life. They get to walk away from all the junk they’ve stored up and live a whole new life freed from its weight.

3. You get a new way of seeing.

There’s a famous story in the NT where Jesus heals a blind man.

The blind man says in John 9:25:

“You all can think whatever you want, but… “One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”

In the OT, a foreign general named Naaman was healed of leprosy by the words of a prophet of Israel.

Naaman, says to everyone around him:

2 Kings 5:15:

“Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel”

When a person has faith, they see the world differently. They start to see the world through the lenses of a God who is there, who cares, who has plans and dreams, and who makes promises to His children.

4. You get a new set of values.

When the Holy Spirit comes into a person’s life at their invitation after their expression of faith, they begin to care about things that they never thought about caring about before.

When Jesus was asked how His people should live, He said:

Matthew 22:37-39:

‘“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

So people of faith find themselves loving God and loving people, which is often a new orientation to the direction of their life.

5. You get a new sense of purpose.

Ephesians 2:10:

“. . . we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

In Matthew 4:19, Jesus says;

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”

Look at your list so far, friends. Jesus offers these for free. Where can you get a deal like that? But wait! There’s more!

6. You get a supernatural guide for life.

John 16:13:

“. . . when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth”

The Spirit of truth is the Holy Spirit who enters a person’s life when they express their faith in Christ for the first time.

He is the third person of the Trinity & is fully God – eternal, all-knowing, all-seeing, all-caring, all-wise, and all-willing to guide you in making not just better decisions, but the best decisions you can possibly make.

7. You get set free from sin.

Romans 6:18 boldly says that, for all Christ followers;

You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

Since greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world, you don’t have to sin any longer.

8. You get the potential for better health.

Example:  Dr. Thomas Oxman of Dartmouth Medical School in New Hampshire did a study to discover what role religion might play in the health and recovery of elderly people.

He took 232 patients more than 55 years of age who had open-heart surgery.  Oxman found that those who derive at least some strength and comfort from their religious faith are three times more likely to survive than those who don’t.

9. You get the potential for longer life.

Neil MacQueen cites studies by Duke University, Indiana University, The University of Michigan, The Center for Disease Control, Barna Research Group, and the National Institute for Healthcare Research which conclude that faith will increase the average life expectancy of your children by eight years.

An analysis of 42 studies involving 125,286 patients, published in the June 2000 issue of Health Psychology, found that those with some sort of religious involvement live longer.

Moses said in Deuteronomy 32:46-47:

“Take to heart all the words I have solemnly declared to you this day, so that you may command your children to obey carefully all the words of this law. They are not just idle words for you—they are your life. By them you will live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess”

10. You get to be part of God’s extended family. (with all the benefits)

Galatians 6:10  says that:

“. . . as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”

So God not only draws us into His family, but He tells all our new brothers and sisters to make doing good to us one of their top priorities.

In addition, God says we should:

Galatians 5:13:  “. . . Serve one another”

Romans 12:10:  “Be devoted to one another”

Romans 15:14:  “Instruct one another”

He even says that we should Romans 16:16:

“. . . Greet one another with a holy kiss”

11. You get God’s provision. (if you obey God’s commands)

Proverbs 3:9-10 says:

Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.

This is not a promise to unbelievers; it’s a promise to believers.

12. You get a home in heaven.

John 14:1-3:

“In my Father’s house are many dwelling places. If it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you so that where I am, you may be also”.

It’s the promise He made to all the faithful: a home in heaven.

13. You get release from the fear of death.

Death is the No. 1 fear for most Americans.

Hebrews 2:15 says:

“. . . by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”

If you know Jesus, you don’t have to fear death.

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:55, “Where, O death, is your sting?”

14. You become able to please God.

Hebrews 11:6 says:

“. . . without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

15. You get the promise of never being separated from Him.

Romans 8:38-39:

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

How do you get faith?

1. You make a calculated decision to believe.

 Joshua 24:15:

“. . . choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve. . . “

John 1:12:

To all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.

2. You verbalize your faith.

Romans 10:9:

“. . . if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

3. You live by faith.

2 Corinthians 5:7:  We live by faith, not by sight.

Colossians 2:6-7:

 Just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

You live with Christ as the center of your life, the most important person in your life.

  • His agenda becomes your agenda.
  • His hopes become your hopes.
  • His plans and purpose and values become yours.

All this enables you to become a better person every day.

How do you pass on your faith to your children?

1. You talk about it with them.

Deuteronomy 6:7:

Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

2. You serve at church with them.

The most recent research says that children whose parents talk with them about their faith and serve at church—either with them or in a place where the children can see that Dad and Mom are serving—are twice as likely to have faith themselves when they grow up.

Abraham had faith and passed it on to Isaac. Isaac had faith and passed it on to Jacob. Jacob had faith and passed it on to Joseph.

If the Lord tarries, wouldn’t you like to see faith in your family four generations from now? Strong families have faith and pass on faith.

I want to give all of you a chance to express or affirm your faith, or experience faith for the first time. I’m going to ask you to repeat three sentences.

Here’s the first one: Today, I am expressing faith in Christ.

Here’s the second:  I admit that He is the Lord and I am not.

Here’s the third: I admit that I am a sinner in need of a Savior and invite Jesus to be mine.

Many of you have prayed similar prayers for a long, long time. That’s good. I believe all of us ought to have some sort of faith conversation with God at the beginning of every day.

Some of you prayed those prayers for the first time. If you did, I want to say, “Congratulations!” and “Welcome to the family!”

The Bible says that something very significant has happened to you just now, and all heaven is rejoicing with you.

One final illustration, and then we’ll be done.

How can faith affect your family? Maybe you can pass it on to future generations, like Abraham and his descendants did.

Several years ago, Al Sanders did a study of the descendants of Jonathan Edwards. Edwards was a Christian who lived in New England from 1703 to 1758, before America became its own nation. Edwards lived by faith.

Sanders contrasted what happened to the descendants of Jonathan Edwards to those of Max Jukes, who was a hunter and fisher and had little interest in God, but lived at about the same time.

“Max Juke…married an ungodly girl, and from the union there were:

  • 310 [children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc.] who died as paupers,
  • 150 criminals,
  • seven murderers,
  • 100 drunkards, and
  • more than half of the women [of the family] were prostitutes.

His 540 descendants cost the State one and a quarter million dollars.

“But [this principle of faith and no-faith]… works both ways!

There is a record of a great American man of God, Jonathan Edwards. He lived at the same time as Max Juke, but he married a godly girl.

An investigation was made of 1,394 known descendants of Jonathan Edwards, of which:

  • 13 became college presidents,
  • 65 college professors,
  • three United States senators,
  • 30 judges,
  • 100 lawyers,
  • 60 physicians,
  • 75 army and navy officers,
  • 100 preachers and missionaries,
  • 60 authors of prominence,
  • one vice-president of the United States,
  • 80 public officials in other capacities, and
  • 295 college graduates, among whom were governors of states and ministers to foreign countries.

His descendants did not cost the state a single penny.

I’m not so concerned about the cost. I’m concerned about the faith. You can have this, friends. Strong families have faith and pass it on to their children.

Dr. Greg Johnston preached this message at The Grove Church as part of the “Building Strong Families” series.

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