Jesus Leads Us to Speak

What Are Some Barriers The Prevent You From Sharing The Gospel?

Dan Franklin
Jul 24, 2022    42m
As believers in Jesus, we know that we are to be sharing the Gospel with others, but there may be personal barriers that we need to face to do so. In Second Corinthian Four, Paul teaches us that any barrier we may face is far outweighed by the outcome of speaking up and sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ. Video recorded at Upland, California.

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Dan Franklin: [00:00:18] So we're currently, for this summer, we've been in this series that we're calling Glory and Frailty. As we're going through an extended passage in Second Corinthians, you heard a portion from chapter 4 read, we started back at the end of chapter 2. By the end of the summer, we'll be through chapter 5, and the theme that we've been talking about each week, we've been highlighting something that's a significant message that goes through all of the verses that we'll be going through. That message is that God shows the world His glory through the frailty of His servants. So when God's looking to show the world his greatness and His power and His Majesty and His glory, he doesn't do it through us being impressive and strong and self-sufficient, He does it through us being needy and weak and frail. Does anybody feel like you qualify? Thank God that this is how he does, but it's an important thing, because we live in a culture where we typically think of strength that God's going to show the world how great he is when we're strong and when we're impressive, and that's not the case at all.

Dan Franklin: [00:01:27] And this morning, we're going to be talking about an area of life where most of us feel insufficient and most of us feel inadequate, and that is the subject of speaking up to other people about Jesus. Let's do a little bit of an experiment real quick, and I want to say before I'm going to ask you to participate, I want to say don't just do what you think I want you to do, respond honestly to this for a little bit of quick participation. All right, here's the deal, in a second, I want you to stand up and I want you to stand up if you believe that it is important that we as Christians speak up to our neighbors, our classmates, our friends, and other people about Jesus. Stand up if you believe that that's true. All right, good, if you're a Christian, you should be standing, this is biblical.

Dan Franklin: [00:02:20] Now, here's the deal, I want you to sit down if the thought of actually doing this overwhelms you. All right, there are actually more people standing than I thought, praise God for our evangelists, good job. All right, the rest of you can sit down, that's wonderful, I thought we were going to have, like, five people standing. But this is good, honestly, it's good, if you're at the place that you're feeling like I've seen God work through me, and I'm ready to do this, and I feel like I can do it, that's wonderful. For most of us, this is daunting, it's not hard for us to look up to this idea and say, yeah, I feel weak, I feel frail, I feel inadequate about the idea of speaking up about Jesus. In fact, the question that I want us to have in mind throughout this message, when we'll eventually go through these three verses that we hear read, is just the question, why don't we speak up more?

Dan Franklin: [00:03:17] Now, in that, I want to give a couple of quick clarifications before going on. And the first clarification is this, sometimes we end up in a situation, in fact, frequently all of us will end up in some situation where there's somebody that's close to us, you know, a spouse, a family member, a friend that we see all the time who's not a believer. And we wrestle with, am I supposed to be bringing up the Gospel every time we talk? Am I supposed to try to figure out, that every time I see them, I've got to bring it up anew, otherwise I'm not doing my job? And the answer to that is no, that's not what we're talking about here when we're talking about speaking up. When we get into those situations, we've got to just be led by the Spirit and pray that God will lead us where we're not giving up on people, we're not like, well, I told them once, I'm never going to bring it up again. But we're also not thinking, well, every time we talk, I've got to find a way to shoehorn this into the conversation. No, we need to be led by the Spirit in those situations, you're not compromising and acting cowardly if you're not bringing it up every single time. So that's clarification number one.

Dan Franklin: [00:04:19] Clarification number two is that when we're talking about speaking up, we're not saying that any time we're talking about speaking up, we're talking about the idea that you're starting a conversation with one of those diagnostic questions like, you know, if you were to meet God today, what would he say to him? And then from there, you're going to move into a whole bunch of other questions about why you think that you're good enough to get to heaven. And then eventually you're going to go through every question that they have in the Bible? We're not talking about the idea of speaking up is just this exhaustive idea. In fact, when I'm talking about speaking up, you can think of three things that I think we should have entailed with this. T

Dan Franklin: [00:04:53] The first is this, that you are open with the idea that you are a Christian, you're not, as the old children's song said, you're not hiding it under a bushel, you're out there with it. In fact, a pastor of a church that Karina and I used to be a part of a long time ago, he used to call these faith flags, that you just sort of putting it out there. You're saying that you're a Christian, maybe you're finding ways to mention that you were at church this last weekend. You're finding ways to put it out there, so you're not hiding it, you're out there with the fact that you're a believer in Jesus.

Dan Franklin: [00:05:24] Number two, that you have the capability of just in a very simple way, explaining the Christian message. In fact, in a few weeks, we'll get to chapter 5 in the Second Corinthians, and Paul says something there that just sums it all up. He says, "God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting our sins against us." That is a beautiful summary of what the Gospel is, God wants to reconcile men and women to Himself, but because of our sin. Jesus had to do something about it, but because of Jesus's sacrificial death and His resurrection, God is reconciling the world to Himself through Jesus. So you don't need to go through and say, I need to figure out every answer to every question that might come up, that you just want to say, here's what God is doing in the world, God is reconciling men and women to Himself through the sacrifice and resurrection of His son Jesus Christ, that that's number two, simply explain the Gospel.

Dan Franklin: [00:06:19] And the third is this, that you're communicating to people that they can get in on this. That you are inviting them, that regardless of your background, regardless of how many sins you committed, regardless of your religious upbringing, or the color of your skin, or your age, or anything like that, Jesus did this for all of us, and you're invited to get in on it.

Dan Franklin: [00:06:39] So when we're talking about speaking up, we're saying, hey, we're putting out there that we're believers, we're able to explain the Gospel in a simple way, and we're inviting people to get in on it. And so I, again, want to just come back with the question on the screen to say, why is it that for most of us we would say, I don't do this as much as I should? And what I think is, if you pause and ask yourself this question, you're probably going to get an answer. A lot of you probably have something going through your mind right now that you're like, yeah, I needed to think for about 4.2 seconds, and I knew why I don't do this as much as I should. I want you to keep that in your mind, and what I think is going to happen is that as we go through these verses, you're going to find that almost all of our roadblocks are addressed in what Paul talks about here.

Dan Franklin: [00:07:33] And as a preview, I want to say this, they're not addressed by Paul saying here is the exact technique of talking to people. They're addressed through Paul going back to the Gospel as the wellspring of our lives and what equips us to be able to do what God has called us to do. So what we get in these three verses, Second Corinthians chapter 4 verses 13, 14, and 15. And by the way, if you have a Bible and you're not there, you can get there. If you're using your phone as your Bible, you can get there. What we're going to see is three promises that God makes, three things that God promises to bring about, that equip us and empower us to speak up for Jesus.

Dan Franklin: [00:08:18] The first promise that we're going to see is in verses 13 and 14, and the promise is that God will bring victory to us. In other words, if we're feeling overwhelmed, or if we're feeling afraid, we get to go into the act of speaking up, confident that God promises that in that act He will bring victory to us. Then now let's start in verse 13, Paul writes, "It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” b Since we have that same spirit of c faith, we also believe and therefore speak." So a couple of things, Paul is tying in the idea of, all right, if we believe in Jesus, that leads to us speaking about Jesus. He's making that tie, but you can see that he's making that tie by quoting something. And when you're reading the New Testament and an author says it is written, they're typically about to quote the Old Testament. And that's what Paul does here, he's quoting Psalm 116:10, I'll actually put it up on the screen for us. This is the NIV, both of these are the New International Version here. And you can see what Psalm 116:10 says, it says, "I trusted in the Lord when I said, “I am greatly afflicted”

Dan Franklin: [00:09:30] Now, how many of you are looking at what Paul quoted and that verse and saying, that doesn't seem exactly the same? You're like, all right, it's kind of close. If we highlight keywords, we can see, all right, he says, I believed, tha parallels, trusted, trust. I know sometimes today will say trust and belief are two different things. In the Bible, no, they're not, they're the same thing. So he says, I believed, I trusted, I've spoken, I've said so, so you can see, all right, it's there. A little thing about the Bible, so the Bible, the Old Testament, was written in Hebrew, but there was a Greek translation of the Old Testament. Are there any Bible nerds in here that know what that was called? Yeah, thanks, Gabe, Septuagint. The Septuagint is what it was called when they translated the Old Testament from Hebrew into Greek. Often, when New Testament authors are quoting from the Old Testament, they're quoting from the Septuagint. And so if we were to go, and we were to pull up the Greek from the Septuagint, from this verse, and the Greek of what Paul says, it would be exactly the same. So he's making the connection, all right, the connection is that the psalmist is saying, I believed and therefore I spoke.

Dan Franklin: [00:10:33] Now, here's another thing about when New Testament authors quote The Old Testament. Typically, what they're not meaning for us to do is think only of the words that they're quoting in isolation, they're meaning to import the entire extended passage that they're quoting from. And so what I want to do, I just want to talk for a minute about what Psalm 116 is all about because you can even see it a little bit in the quote from verse 10, "I trusted in the Lord when I said, “I am greatly afflicted”. So it gives us a hint, all right, this is a psalm about suffering and about difficulty. And really what the psalm is all about, is about the author of this psalm talking about all of the difficulty that he faced and God saving him from it.

Dan Franklin: [00:11:19] And just because I love it, and because it's never a bad thing to read more scripture, I just want to read the first six verses of Psalm 116 for us right now. It says, "I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. 2Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. 3The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came over me; I was overcome by distress and sorrow. 4Then I called on the name of the Lord: “Lord, save me!” 5The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. 6The Lord protects the unwary; when I was brought low, he saved me." Do you hear what this psalm is about? I was overcome, I was trouble, I was weak, I was afflicted, I was suffering, I cried out to God, and he saved me. Paul wants that in our minds when he's quoting this, and if you remember where we've been in previous weeks in Second Corinthians chapter 4, Paul has been talking about how he and his fellow apostles are constantly in danger and in trouble and in threat of death. So Paul quotes something that not only says, hey, when you believe something, you talk about it. He says, when you believe something, you talk about it even though you are faced with danger when you do so. It says, I believed, therefore I've spoken.

Dan Franklin: [00:13:01] Now what we do now is we get to move on to verse 14 because Paul is setting up for how this applies to him, and how this applies to us as believers. He's saying, all right, even though we're in trouble, we believe, and therefore we speak. And so verse 14, he says, "Because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself." Paul says we may be in danger, but here's what we believe that allows us to speak. We believe that the same God who raised up Jesus from the dead, will raise us up from the dead one day in the future, he says, apostles and Corinthians, every believer, and present has to himself. Which I love the idea of that, that God does the saving and then we belong to him.

Dan Franklin: [00:13:56] Now here's the idea, so if were following the reason here's the reason. That the reason that we're following is, okay, I speak up about Jesus because of something I believe, and the thing that I believe that empowers me to speak up is that one day God will raise me up from the dead. And for us, we might feel like, all right, I'm not sure that those two connect in a super close way, because when I'm speaking up about the Gospel, I'm not usually thinking about death. But what I want you to know is when Paul was speaking up for the Gospel, he was. Paul has already said that he was in constant danger, he talked in the previous verses that we went through last week about the idea that he's always carrying around in his body the death of Jesus, and he's facing death every day. For Paul, not only insults and estrangement, but imprisonment and death were very real threats when he spoke up about the Gospel. So Paul is saying, here's why I keep speaking up, because even though I may die because of speaking up, I know God will raise me up one day, I know the victory is mine. And when we think about this, this is a really powerful idea that Paul is getting at. He's saying no matter how great the loss that will come from speaking up for Jesus, I know that God will bring the ultimate victory.

Dan Franklin: [00:15:28] Let's come to us now, most of us, if we were honest, we'd probably say, yeah, the things that I'm afraid of when I speak up are not death. Like, it's not that it's impossible that that could happen, it's highly unlikely. And we might even feel a little bit embarrassed, we might feel like, Paul, Paul is here, he's still speaking up when he may die for speaking up. What is it that I'm facing? And what I want you to do is I want you to actually answer that question. What is it that you're facing? We could just be upset with ourselves and say I should speak up more about this. What is the loss that you're facing? Because for most of us, the reason we don't speak up more about Jesus is because there is a fear of some kind of loss. And it might not be the loss of our life, but it still is a loss. It might feel like if I speak up, I may lose my relationship with this friend, and they may decide not to spend time with me anymore. At the very least, it might change the dynamic of our relationship, it might bring conflict instead of harmony into this relationship. So I'm afraid to speak up, not because I think I'm going to lose my life, but because I think I'm going to lose this friendship. Or because I think I'm going to lose face, like, I'm going to lose reputation in front of other people because the people that I'm around don't think Christians are very smart or sophisticated. So if they find out where I stand, I'm afraid I'm going to lose in some way.

Dan Franklin: [00:16:53] Or if we're honest, we might just feel like I'm going to lose a peaceful situation and suddenly introduce awkwardness into it, and we can be embarrassed and be like, all I'm afraid of is awkwardness. But if you're afraid of awkwardness, you're afraid of awkwardness. There are fears that we bring into this, there are losses that we're looking at this and we're saying, I'm afraid to speak up because loss might come. And here's where I want you to follow this, if Paul is saying even death as a result of speaking up will not keep God from winning the ultimate victory for us, do you think God can overcome awkwardness? Do you think that God can still bring victory even if you do lose a friend, or even if you do end up in a situation where it changes the dynamic, even if you miss out on a promotion because suddenly the people that you work with don't think they are very smart because you believe in this archaic idea that there's a God who created us all?

Dan Franklin: [00:17:53] Paul is getting at the heart of something, he's saying we're in this situation and when we speak up, we're like, I don't want to speak up because I may lose. And Paul is saying, do you know what, as believers in Jesus, we don't lose, we win? We win because Jesus won, and no threat keeps us from being able to have final victory in the end, because the same God that raised Jesus up from the dead is going to get you up from your grave one day. And if he can bring victory in that, he can bring victory in anything. It's not really a part of my life anymore since I moved down here, but when we lived in Oregon, playing poker with friends was a big part of my life. Some of you may not like that, you can talk to me afterwards if you feel like I need to be corrected. I'll just say it was very low stakes, in fact, when I when I would host Texas Hold'em games, I would always tell people, we're going to make this so low stakes that if you lose, no wives are going to be mad at any husbands who come here. But yeah, we'll just give them more chips. So we would do this, now there's a fun thing that happens if you're playing Texas Hold'em, there's a fun thing that happens, not very frequently, but when it does happen, it's a lot of fun. And it's sometimes when you're playing this game, you have two cards in your hand and you have five cards out on the table, and sometimes you come to realize that the two cards you have in your hand give you an unbeatable hand for this particular round, there's nothing can beat me, I will win this hand. It doesn't happen very much, but man, when it happens, it's a blast because there is no bet that you're unwilling to call. And every chip that you put in the middle, you know, it's coming back and then some. And so you could be going through this, and maybe somebody else has a good hand, so there are betting also, and you're just trying not to smile too big as you're throwing your chips in the middle. Every time, you know somebody next to you who's outside the game, somebody could look at you and say, hey, when you started this round, you had stacks of chips, but look at you now, you don't have very many left, aren't you sad that you've lost so many chips? And you would say, no, they're all coming back and then some, the others don't know it, but I've already won this hand.

Dan Franklin: [00:20:02] Here's what I want us to get, and this is so powerful what Paul is saying here, what he's saying is that when we speak up for Jesus, we have already won the victory, and any loss that we suffer in the process is coming back and then some. There is nothing that you will ever do in service to Jesus that won't come back 100-fold in the end. The losses are real, we don't have to pretend they're not real, but the losses are very temporary. And when we're paralyzed from speaking up for the Gospel because we're afraid of what we're going to lose, Paul says, I want you to focus in on what you're going to gain, because the same God who got somebody out of the grave, brings victory out of every loss that we feel. Paul says, we speak up for the Gospel because God promises that he'll bring victory to us in the end, no matter what we lose. That is promise number one.

Dan Franklin: [00:21:07] Now, promises number two and three, both show up in verse 15, and I want us to look at those now. So promise number two is that God will not only bring victory to us, but God will bring grace to others. So he starts verse 15 by saying, "All this is for your benefit." You know, and he's speaking to the Corinthians and he's saying, hey, every sacrifice that I make, every sacrifice that the apostles make, those who are going around spreading the message of Jesus, saying, Every sacrifice that we make is for you, you benefit from our losses, All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God." And I want us to focus in on that first part, the grace that is reaching more and more people. When we speak about Jesus, more people get in on grace. Now just to clarify, not everybody. Has anybody ever spoken up about Jesus or shared the Gospel with somebody and had them not respond to Jesus right then and there? Yeah, a few of us, this is what happens. Sadly, not everybody responds to the Gospel. In fact, earlier on in the first passage, we went through in this series, back in chapter 2, verse 15, Paul talked about the idea that we are the aroma of death and the aroma of life. We are spreading the smell of death and spreading the smell of life. He says, to those who are perishing, we are the aroma of death. And any of us who have spoken up with any regularity, we know the sadness of that feeling. When there's somebody that you really care about, and so you're speaking up about the Gospel and they're either just disinterested or they're kind of mocking. And you just have that sadness of the idea that you've been the aroma of death to them, at least at that moment, and they haven't responded to the aroma of life. Some people respond to the Gospel, and it smells like death. But do you know what Paul also says? Some people hear the Gospel, and it smells like life. We can get caught up and we can say, if I talk about Jesus a lot, there's going to be some people that don't respond. And that's true, but do you know what else is true? There's going to be some people who do respond. If you want more people experiencing the grace of God, the more Jesus is spoken about, the more people get grace.

Dan Franklin: [00:23:38] And let's talk about grace for a minute, Grace is the generosity of God poured out on undeserving people, that's what God's grace is. And we experience it, the ultimate way that we experience this is in salvation, that we're saved by God's grace through Jesus' death for us. But I want you to know, grace is much wider than just that. We all, in different ways, whether we recognized it or not, have experienced grace several times already today. Let me just take a quick survey, did anybody this morning enjoy a hot shower? Some people are like, now I got to raise my hand, so the people around me...If you experienced a hot shower this morning, that is God's grace. Most people throughout human history didn't have access to anything like that, that is God's generosity and kindness to you. You don't have to raise your hands for all this, but I like the participation, but I'm going to do a couple more. If you have a friend in your life who you care about and who cares about you, that is God's grace to you. That is God generously giving you somebody in your life that you didn't earn that friendship, God gave it to you as a gift. If you had a good meal this morning or you're looking forward to a good meal after the service today, that's God's grace, that has God's generosity to you. If you have a family who cares about you, if you have any level of stability and health in your life, all of this is God's grace. Every day we are experiencing the profound generosity of God, and that culminates in the fact that we were sinners who were lost and condemned, and God reached out with his generosity and rescued us and reconciled us to Himself through Jesus. We are recipients of God's grace. Does anybody want more people in on that? Don't you want your neighbors and your friends to say, we've experienced grace? We want that grace to reach more and more people.

Dan Franklin: [00:25:43] And here's the deal in my experience, both personally and just through talking to people, the number one reason why we don't speak up about Jesus more was sort of addressed in the first point, it's because we're afraid of something. We're afraid of their response, we're afraid of rejection, we're afraid we're not going to know what to say, but it's some kind of fear. But I think a second reason why we just don't speak up as much, is we just don't think anything is going to happen. You just think, well, I can talk about Jesus, but what's really going to change? I mean, I guess I'll be obedient, and it'll be good to be obedient, but nothing's really going to happen. Paul says we are the aroma of death to those who are perishing, but we are the aroma of life to those who are being saved. So just think for a minute about your circle, and maybe right now you're thinking about your extended family, maybe you're thinking about your friends at school, maybe you're thinking about your coworkers, but think of sort of the sphere. And here's the deal, you can look at that and you could say, if I'm speaking about the Gospel or I'm putting myself out there as a Christian amongst those people, there's going to be a lot of them who just aren't interested, and you may be right. Are you really, at this point, willing to say that there is Nobody in that Circle, that God is working on their heart and they're going to be ready to respond to the Gospel? Or that there's nobody in that circle that you're going to be part not of the harvest, but of sowing the seed that one day somebody else is going to harvest.

Dan Franklin: [00:27:11] Some of you are probably familiar with the great story in the Gospel of John, John chapter 4 when Jesus speaks to the Samaritan woman at the well and has this powerful encounter with her, it's an unexpected encounter because he's a man and she's a woman, and there were kind of social standards about that. And he was a Jew and she was a Samaritan, and they didn't really talk with each other. And he was a holy man, he was Jesus, and she was an immoral woman. So there were all these barriers, and he reaches out to her in a very unexpected way, nobody thought he was going to do this. And by the end of the story, there's a whole bunch of Samaritans that are responding to who Jesus is. And Jesus makes a statement to apostles during this time, he says, "You are reaping where others have sown." He says right now the harvest is coming in of all these Samaritans, you are reaping where others have sown. And what that means is that there were years and maybe decades and maybe even centuries of faithful people proclaiming the truth about God, and they didn't get in on the harvest. They were sowing seeds that eventually came to harvest. We are in a microwave, high-speed, internet culture, we all want the harvest. And the question for all of us is, are we going to be willing to be part of sowing?

Dan Franklin: [00:28:33] And I'm not a prophet on this, but I'm just going to say, I think at this stage of our existence in the United States and in particular in Southern California, I just I believe very firmly we are in a season of sowing. We are in a season where we've lost sort of the groundwork that would prepare us to get ready to respond to the Gospel more immediately. We've got to be willing to sow. We've got to be willing to be part of the process to say, alright these seeds are being sown right now, and who knows if months or years or decades later this person is going to be ready to respond to the Gospel. God is spreading his grace to people, and when we speak up, more people get in on God's grace. That's the second promise that he gives us. He tells us, you know what, when we speak up, we get the victory, any loss that we have is going to come back our way. And when we speak up, more people get in on God's grace.

Dan Franklin: [00:29:27] And finally, there's a third promise that God gives, and you might have already seen it, it's at the end of the passage. He promises that not only do we get the victory and other people get the grace, but he promises that he gets the glory. So let's read verse 15 again, "All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God." The passage ends with the glory of God. In fact, you can kind of follow a train in verse 15 and its context, so the train goes like this, we speak up about the Gospel, and in response to that, people respond and embrace Jesus and they receive grace. In response to the grace, what do they do? They give thanks, it overflows to thanksgiving, and in response to that thanksgiving, God gets glory. This whole train that started with us speaking up about the Gospel ends in God's glory. And God's glory is a statement that he is of substance, that he is worth paying attention to, that he is worth revolving our lives around it, that he is worthy of all of the attention, of all of the credit, of all of the praise that he should get.

Dan Franklin: [00:30:49] In fact, there's a verse, Paul, who wrote Second Corinthians, also wrote a book called Romans. And in Romans 1, Paul makes a statement about just how central us giving glory to God is, and just how core it is to what gets us off track. So in Romans 1:21, Paul is talking about just the downward spiral of humanity, and here's how he traces it. He says, "For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile, and their foolish hearts were darkened." He says, here's the real problem, the real problem is not just that they got caught in a lot of temptations and sins, the real problem is that they knew that God was out there and they didn't give Him glory and they didn't give them thanks.

Dan Franklin: [00:31:36] Now think about that and look at verse 15 again. What's the result of all this? Gratitude and glory. This is what happens as a result of us speaking up, we get back to what we as human beings are meant to do. And I do need to pause in this, I think that this is important because I can't trace how long it's been, but let's say somewhere in the realm of 40 to 50 years. For the last 40 to 50 years, we as believers, especially in the West, we've had a weird relationship with the idea that God wants the glory. We're not quite sure what to do with this, we're like that makes God seem kind of petty, maybe kind of selfish, or maybe even kind of insecure that God is saying, I need to get the glory, and we're not quite sure how to handle this. And maybe even sometimes we look at it and we're like, well, it's nice that God gets the glory, but what's in it for me? Like, do I benefit in some way from God getting the glory? And I just want to have us pause and recognize how ridiculous things like that sound when you actually pause to think about them. God, the creator of all things, who holds all things together, wants the credit for it. Well, what's in it for me? This doesn't even make sense, even when we're not getting into God's amazing love and grace that He's poured out, it just doesn't make sense. It's almost like we've adopted the impression that we made God for our benefit, and so if He's getting glory, we want to know what's in it for us. God made us; we didn't make him. He doesn't exist for us; we exist for him. And so we've got to take a pause and just recognize the pure narcissism of our culture that even seeps into us, that we would look at something like God's glory and be like, I don't know how I feel about this. What does it really matter about how you feel about this? God is God, he deserves all the credit, all the things, all the glory, all the attention. God is supreme, you are not supreme.

Dan Franklin: [00:33:44] I do want to tell you, though, that when we look at this idea of God getting the glory, we might start to get scared that that means that we miss out on something. We start to think, well, if God is getting all the glory, if my life is meant to be all about him, then that means my life isn't all about me, and that kind of feels like a loss. And what I want to say is, yeah, in some sense, you're right, it's a loss to your pride, which is good because our pride should be crushed, our pride is an enemy of us. But what I want to say is in a much greater way, I think we get clues just in normal life, we get clues that we were made not to gaze into a mirror and be satisfied. There are times in our lives, and sometimes they have nothing to do directly with us looking to be religious, but there are times in our lives where we just get a picture of what it's like to be absolutely enraptured in something and that we've totally forgotten about ourselves. For some of you might be, if there's a great book that you're reading or a great movie that you're watching and you're just enjoying it so much and you're so into it. Or for others, it might involve maybe when you're doing some sort of work, and you're involved in some sort of project with other people, and you're seeing the benefits and what's happening and you're just all swept up in it. For a lot of us, it has something to do with being outdoors and experiencing God's creation.

Dan Franklin: [00:35:09] A bunch of years ago we had the privilege of going to Maui, and I got to go to Haleakala, which is a dormant volcano. And you get to go up there, and you get to watch the sunrise and you're looking down at clouds as it happened. I'll never forget it; it was so amazing. And the sun is coming up, and the pure beauty of God's creation is coming around, some of you experience this at the ocean or just looking up at stars and you're just blown away. I was blown away by looking at everything that I was seeing. What percentage of the time that I was in Haleakala do you think I spent thinking about myself? I was not up there being like, wow, I'm really something, I didn't even remember that I existed at that moment. I was just taking in the beauty and the wonder and the majesty of God. What I want you to know is, that's what we were made for, self-forgetfulness is not loss, it's actually liberating and beautiful. You were made not to gaze into a mirror and be satisfied, you were made to gaze through a window to the glory and majesty of God and totally forget about yourself. And all the while that that is happening, experience the pure joy of the God of the universe, who you deserve nothing from, pouring out his love and his friendship and his goodness and his forgiveness to you as you gaze at the greatness of who He is. God's glory is not only appropriate, but it is not a threat to us. You were made to lose track of yourself in something much greater than yourself. And when we live for the glory of God, we're being human in the greatest way that we can be human. If we speak up about the Gospel, we get the victory, others get the grace, and God gets the glory.

Dan Franklin: [00:37:04] Let's just come back to this question again. Why don't we speak up more? We have reasons, we know we have reasons, and those reasons feel overwhelming. But one of the powerful things about this passage is that in three short verses, Paul addresses them, and he addresses them in a deep way. He doesn't say, don't be afraid, because I'm going to give you the five things that you should say. He doesn't say, don't be overwhelmed, because I'm going to try to show you the question and the technique to get you all around this. If you've gone through questions and training on good ways to evangelize, that's fine. But what I'm saying is Paul goes deeper and Paul says, do you know what, are you looking at the idea of speaking up and you're saying, I'm afraid. I'm afraid that I'm going to be rejected, I'm afraid that I'm going to lose face, I'm afraid that I'm going to lose friendships and reputation, I'm afraid of all this. Then Paul says, okay, I understand that you're afraid, God raises a dead, he will bring victory over any loss that you suffer.

Dan Franklin: [00:38:00] Are we looking at it and saying, I don't know that anything's going to happen? It feels like a lot of work on my part and nothing's going to happen. Then Paul says, okay, if you feel that way, just remember when you speak up, more people get grace because the aroma of life goes out to those who have been prepared for it. And if we're looking at the situation saying, you know what, it's not that I even don't want to speak up, I'm just kind of too busy making my life all about myself. And Paul says I invite you to lose track of yourself in the glory of God and to make your life about something that will lead you to self-forgetfulness and to stand in wonder of who God is instead of trying to be satisfied by gazing into a mirror. And so I think the last question that's appropriate for all of us to ask today is, where and with whom, is God calling you to speak up?

Dan Franklin: [00:38:52] Some of you are going to be gifted as evangelists and you're going to be all over the place. Some of you we're going to send out as missionaries, and you're going to be on the front line of all of this. But for all of us, we have a sphere, and we probably know what it is, we probably could name a bunch of the people that were like, I know God has put me in that person's proximity so that I can speak up. I don't know what's going to happen, I don't know if they're going to respond now or later or never, I don't know, but I know that God has put me around them, and he's put me around them to be a light to them. Where and with whom is God calling you to speak up? And my encouragement to you is to speak up with confidence, not in your own self-sufficiency, but speak up in your own frailty with confidence that the God who raises the dead is going to bring good from that.

Dan Franklin: [00:39:40] And what I want to do is I'm going to close this in prayer in a moment, but first I just want you all to bow your heads. And before I close this in prayer, I just want us to take a silent minute, and for you to pray for those people that God has put on your heart, that you know that he's put you in their proximity to be a light for the Gospel.

Dan Franklin: [00:40:21] Father, we just confess, that so many of us are daunted by this. We're daunted by speaking up for you, and we're afraid of what's going to happen, and we feel overwhelmed. Father, I pray that you calm our hearts with peace, not because we've learned the right breathing technique, but because we know that there's no loss that you don't overcome with your victory. That there's no heart, that you can't break through and reach with your grace, and that there's no foolish and halfhearted attempt on our part that can't result in your great glory. Father, we pray that your grace does spread to more and more people and that we will experience that grace. I pray for this last week, that you sowed seeds through VBS, and Father while we got to see some of that harvest, we pray that in time you bring a beautiful harvest and that you keep us from growing weary of sowing the seeds that one day will come to fruition, give us the courage, give us the words, give us the trust in you. And father, we pray most of all that you receive all the credit, all the glory, all the praise, and all the gratitude that you convince us that when we lose ourselves in worship to you, we're not losing anything, but we're doing what you made us to do. I pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.

Dan Franklin: [00:41:48] And I want to invite you just to stand as I read a word of benediction over us to send us out for today for our day. This is First Thessalonians chapter 5 verses 23 and 24, and I just want to read it as a prayer over us, "May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it." Amen? Amen. God bless you the rest of this Sunday.

Recorded in Upland, California.
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Life Bible Fellowship Church
2426 N Euclid Ave
Upland, California 91786
(909) 981-4848