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Witness

Steven Conway
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  • December 29, 2018
    6:30 PM

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This message was presented at the G. Y.C. to be used in Texas for other resources like this visit us online and she Y.C. what. Are your heads together with me. Father we are grateful for the privilege of your presence and for the power of your word. And we ask that you would be with us as we spend time together considering the eternal things it is our prayer that we would leave different than we entered in Jesus name Amen. Bring you greetings from the Cherry Hill 7 they have in this church in Garden City Michigan and the Detroit Northwest 7th Day Adventist Church in Detroit Michigan grateful that our congregations have allowed us to come here and to spend time together with you and share. In the book of Acts. Chapter one. Beginning with Verse 6. The Bible says when they therefore were come together they asked of him saying Lord wilt thou at this time re store again the kingdom to Israel. Will. At this time restore again the kingdom to Israel verse 7 and he said under them it is not for you to know the Times or the seasons which the father have put in his own power but he shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you and you shall be witnesses and to me both in Jerusalem and in all Judeo and in some area and under the other most part of the earth or as the theme is to the ends of the other. The 1st thing that jumps into my mind is found in verse 6 The Bible tells us that when they were come together they asked him in the original language they did not merely ask one time but they persistently pressed Jesus so they asked over and over and over again it's like one of my children when I've told them that I'm going to do something for them they will never let me forget it they press over and over and over again but it is not this pressing so much as it is what the disciples asked that is at the very least puzzling to me Lord will the hour at this time we store again the Kingdom of Israel if you are familiar with Jesus's teachings on the Kingdom which all of us should be to some degree Jesus had much to say about the kingdom but actually he said very little about the restoration of the kingdom to Israel in his parables you will read about the kingdom being removed or taken away from Israel and given to another nation bringing forth fruits and soul my question is Where does the disciples question come from our beloved I believe that it came from the theological interpretations of the fair receivers Now the reason why this is troubling to me is because the crucified and resurrected and glorified Savior was standing right there in front of the disciples they had spent the last 40 days with their master. And the love of Jesus was not enough what did I say. I heard 3 people here on the front row Jesus was not enough what did I say. Please imagine with me that the man that you have seen raise the dead and feed 5000 on one occasion and 4000 on another occasion and that's not even counting the women and children a man that you have seen call him stormy seas a man that you have seen cast demons out of countless individuals and then imagine with me that you see this same man hanging on a cross your hopes in him as the Messiah are dashed destroyed oh and then you see him after he has risen imagine that you are inside of a house for fear of what the Jews are going to do to you and this same Jesus walks through the war comes into the Mits approaches Thomas and says touch me touching and then imagine that you went Jesus spend 40 days together and at the end of this the only thing on your lips is a twisted theological interpretation when will you restore the kingdom to Israel. Not Jesus how many more people are going to be resurrected not Jesus what Graham things do you have in store for us but when will you restore the kingdom to Israel it makes me wonder tonight for how many of us is Jesus not enough how many of us need a new car how many of us need another degree how many of us need a better relationship how many of us need to make more money how many of us need something else other than Jesus the disciples. As this ridiculous question but Jesus in his manifold wisdom does not directly address the question. It is not for you to know the Times or the seasons which the father have put in his own power but he shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you and he shall be witness and witnesses and to me both in Jerusalem and all today and in some area and on to the uttermost part of the Earth this is a wonderful promise and we heard a little bit about it today. Your theme takes the in a verse 8 and 6 to focus our minds on that but I want to take your minds away from the INS of the earth and I want to take your minds to the beginning Jesus tells them to go to Jerusalem he tells them to go where now I don't know if you are awake this evening but if you are like me and I am one of the disciples unlike. Jesus you want us to go away after all it was in Jerusalem that Jesus had been. In the 11th chapter of John's Gospel the Bible tells us how Jesus's Apostles felt about Jerusalem when Jesus said Let us go into Judea because he wanted to resurrect last rest and say well yeah come on let's go so we can die like him this was not a place that anyone of Jesus's followers would have it going and yet it is the very 1st place that Jesus commanded that is the cyborgs must go I would submit to you this evening that Jesus was borrowing from a principle or an idea that is in scripture. Of D.N.A. from one of the disciples I don't want to go to Jerusalem because they've crucified Jesus not only have they crucified Jesus but they've already heard Jesus preaching they've seen Jesus perform miracles humanly speaking one would conclude it would be a waste of time to go and take the Gospel message to those who are apparently already heard or if there were classes of people who were deserving to receive the gospel I believe that those in Jerusalem were probably be considered amongst the most undeserving. And yet Jesus said before you reach the ends of the earth you must 1st go to Jerusalem what is this principle that we suggested turning with me to Michael Chapter 6 it was our scripture reading this evening Micah Chapter 6 people have composed beautiful music beautiful songs about these verses but tonight we will try to extract something that helps us understand Jesus commands in the 1st chapter of Acts here you now what the Lord says arise contend the hour before the mountains and let the hills hear your voice whenever God has a problem with his people and they are not listening God calls nature to witness against his people in verse to hear ye all mountains the Lord's controversy and you strong foundations of the earth for the Lord has a controversy with his people and he will plead with Israel. Oh my people what have I done unto you and where and have I wearied you testify against me for I brought you up out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the House of servants and I sent before you Moses Aaron and Miriam all my people remember now what Bay The king of Moab consulted and what they will I'm the son of your answered him from city I'm on to Gil gal that ye may know the righteousness of the Lord now here's where it gets interesting verse 6 Israel personified is responding to God's accusations and I want you to notice the tenor of their response where with Shall I come before the Lord and bound myself before the Haidar Shall I come before him with bird offerings with Calvary of a year old will the Lord be pleased with 10 thousands of rams or with 10 thousands of rivers of oil sell I give my 1st born for my transgression of the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul so God says I've got a controversy with my people and Israel's response is What do you want from us what do you want. Do you want thousands of burnt offerings do you want thousands of lands 10 thousands of rivers of oil holes things are all in reference to the sacrificial or the ceremonial services do you want us to just keep going through a round of religious practices is that what you want GA more churches. More grand events like this one more seminars more explanations on how we are to do this and how we are to do that is that what you desire and then Israel goes a step further and suggests that God is unfair in what he desires. Beyond the religious rituals do you want me to give the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul are you asking me for that which is uncharacteristic of you to request illogical of you to request. Got What is it that you want from me I imagine that there are some of you who are listening to this right now who have asked yourselves the very same question God I go to church every week gotta try to study my Bible or try to spend time with you but it seems like things are just not clicking What else do you want from me I have sacrifice and I've given up music and I've given up the party and seen the not tried to get away from the old life but what else is it that you desire listen to God's response verse 8 what does it say you probably can quote it he has he had showed the old man what is. And what does the now the interesting thing is if you're like me I'm looking at that and I'm saying to myself OK God has shown them what it is that is good and what he requires of them so they already know they already what they already know all but if you are like me I didn't know here is the punch line if you will Israel have been shown what God required of them based on his shriek made of Israel let me say that again. Israel have been showed or shown what God required of them based on his treatment of Israel listen to this verse 4 for I brought you up out of the land of Egypt and I read Dean Jew out of the house of slavery and I said before you Moses Aaron and Miriam God is saying I have liberated you I have what. I have liberated you and I also gave you guidance and leadership I gave you what. I liberated you I provided guidance and leadership for you verse 5 remember now what Bale a king of Moab consulted and what Bale I'm the son of your answered him now this and let me you guys remember this this is from the Book of Numbers right did Israel know what bail M M Belak were doing on the mountain. Did Israel know that an attempt was being made to curse the entire nation come yes or no. Listen to me friends God was saying our protest did you from dangerous that you did not even know existed I protected and I preserved you I caused blessings to come from your enemies and you don't even know it. And so this minute of it is the foundation for why God say is I have shown you what is good and I have shown you what I require of you listen to what he says in the in portion of verse 8 to do justly to love mercy and to walk humbly with Haidar to do justly that is to do what is right to do what is right and to love mercy. And then to walk in humility we should love mercy Israel was being encouraged to love mercy because God had been merciful to them Israel was being encouraged to do what was right because God had done right by Israel Israel was being encouraged to walk in humility because the blessings that they enjoy were not because they had been faithful to God but because God had been faithful to them and so God says this beloved I want you to treat others the way that I have treated you did you get that or did you miss I want you to treat others the way I have treated you but what if they're undeserving Well guess what you are undeserving to this principle difference I believe is what Jesus what Jesus concentrates in the 1st chapter of Acts it's the reason why Jesus told the disciples that they must 1st go to Jerusalem it was the most hazardous mission that they could undertake to the most undeserving of people on the face of planet Earth and yet Jesus says you must start there now let me ask you did the disciples stick close the Jesus aside when he was going through his passion you know I had a friend when I was young about 15 or 16 and I remember my brother and I we got into a fight we got jumped and. It was 3 of us walking down the street and this brother was raptured away instantly when the fight broke out and 2 hours later he reappeared and I'm like man what happened oh Man Ray and I thought I was wanted too. Bible says that one of Jesus' followers ran so fast that the brother ran up out of his clothes and I know some of you are fast in here tonight but you went that fast is rather ran up out of his clothes the disciples My point is this the disciples were undeserving of the mercies of God because they had forsaken Jesus at the time when he needed them most and yet he had extended mercy to them and now Jesus saying is I want you to go and extend mercy to the undeserving just desire of extended mercy to you let me ask you a question tonight who do you think is undeserving of the Gospel let me ask it another way who are you least inclined to share the gospel with. I want to think about that somebody alluded to it earlier today and one of the presentations I like the fact that Jerusalem was a city Jerusalem was a work and I know as all good 7th Day Adventists we're trying to make our way to the hills and get away from the cities so we can prepare to be. Translated to heaven without seeing death but I just want to put this in your ear tonight there was work to be done in the cities and I know some of us talk about being afraid of going to the cities and here in a manner I know some of us talk about being afraid of going into the cities because oh all the crime and all the violence I heard that about Detroit but they pack out for feel what 80000 people all a town they pack out tigers not Tiger Stadium but Comerica Park all the folks going down to see the baseball game and they pack out the hockey arenas and people tin to go to the cities for what they want to go to the cities for. And I'm not just talking about worldly folks I'm talking us to will come to the city for G Y C But we won't go to Labor amongst those who are needy in the cities and yet what we're reading tonight from God's Word is God says have I extended mercy to you yes then I expect you to extend mercy even to those that you may deem to be undeserving. Well or are I'm afraid of what's going to happen if I go into the cities let me tell you I used the. For many years like many of you or some of you anyway go door to door canvassing and I lay a programs big book and all that stuff and you know what they would tell us we would go door to door and you know you don't know the people I would tell them it is so I don't think anything they would tell us there are certain communities that you want to look for and I'll say a man to allow young families with young families with kids these are the communities that we want to target. And when we conduct our evangelistic Crusades listen to me beloved who are we expecting to get if you're honest with yourselves you want nicely dressed professionals who have well mannered families who have good jobs to join your church are one of the men we want people who are as close to us as they possibly can be to come and join our churches and we are uncomfortable when people don't look like us we are uncomfortable when we smell of them. We aren't comfortable when they're coming means that our church is going to have to X. spin them or this budget in order to bless and care for them you mean we spent all this money on evangelism and now we don't have to keep spending. I thought we were trying to get good luck and yet Jesus say is you didn't deserve my mercy or my grace and so I am imploring you to extend my mercy and my grain to others just as I have extended it to you in fact beloved let me say this the love and mercy of God or a change of us it ought to change us at our very core so that we are willing to go 1st to the people and the places that are most undeserving or that we deem as most undeserving the people and places that we are most uncomfortable going till if you only want people who look like you and who are in the same social economic bracket as you are what gospel are you talking about what message are you taking. If I read my Bible correctly Jesus went to the sick disease and the outcasts of society earth. The most undeserving why because they were the most unlikely to accept his message and be transformed by it. But you and I want folks who are ready make Christians let me tell you we had a precious sister we had outside service at the Cherry Hill Church precious sister she was drove up and down the street 5 times she ended up coming in she said she wanted to bring our whole family we said Sure come on in a so she she came with her family precious family beautiful family 5 children. 2 of her children were autistic and this made our church uncomfortable now we here we are praying to the lower bring souls then we bring sun and we are all but here's what he forced us to do and I praise God for my science at Cherry Hill we decided to get together and pray and say God has sent us these precious souls and we need to be equipped so that we can minister to them and so we had a whole big thing and have folks from the autism alliance come in and tell us how we could better equip our church here's the thing we learned our Sabbath school was set up for our children and our grandchildren but it wasn't set up for autistic children now as I'm listening to this presentation that these folks from the autism Alliance are sharing it begins to settle in on my mind hey it's not just our Sabbath school program our entire church service is set up for our own comfort and just like an autistic child could come into a Sabbath school room and be completely out of place and we don't even understand why it means that we must invest and take the time to get to know that child so that we can minister to them in a relevant way like wise it's not just with autistic children but it's with everybody beloved before you go to the ends of the earth 1st start in the most undesirable place $997.00 I was supposed to go to Korea to teach English the plans fell through I was reading somewhere in the spirit of prophecy and this powerful quotation came in it said it is said that those who seek to be missionaries in a foreign land must 1st learn to become missionaries in their own homes in their own homes Lord have mercy in easy and home is because folks know you. No matter how high you walk in A G Y C They're like I'm a give it a week see if you ain't back to doing the same old foolishness you were doing before you went and it's uncomfortable when people want to test the validity of our experiences. Now we just want people to accept that we've changed and we're new but the people in our homes are like let's see how long it's going to last this time because they've been on that rodeo before oh my heart was touched Let's see if you can continue to be patient less if you're going to continue to walk with humility and the love and here it is Jesus wants us to begin he wants us to what he wants us to begin in the most difficult places I was in Tennessee and. A. Passer by the name of George shark came in visit me I was a boy is the law book had me and he came and sat me down he says Steve listen I think that God has placed his hand on you for pastoral ministry Have you ever considered that I'm like No not really and this silver haired wise man laid a burden on me for over an hour and beloved I came face to face with this reality that I had surrendered to the Lord Jesus but I had told him 2 things. As the Lord I don't want to be a pastor I'll do anything when I am about to be no pastor lot I'll go anywhere. Jungles has a but don't send me back to Cleveland that's why I was born and raised in Cleveland Ohio and I'm like no no no no not a lot literally a lot you can send me anywhere except for home and lot I'll do anything except for Pastor. And at the end of that conversation and I've been walking with the Lord for about 5 or 6 years at this point at the end of that conversation I realize that I had never truly surrendered to God Now let me rephrase that I realize that my surrender was not thorough I had indeed surrender but it was not thorough because I was withholding things there were places I did not or a place excuse me singular a place I did not want to go and there was a task that I had no interest in fulfilling the lover we read actually have to one verse 8 and we think he shall receive power and that's where we focus but you gotta understand folks the disciples were not thinking about the power they were thinking about where Jesus was telling them to go Jerusalem they would have preferred to go to the ends of the year but not Jerusalem but that's precisely where Jesus sent them why because there would be no greater evidence that their hearts had been transformed by the love of God then for those men to go to Jerusalem and labor intensely and passionately for the same people who had not only crucified Jesus listen to me but love it but who had seen their cowardice the same people who had witnessed as they abandoned their Master Jesus said I want you to start right there I want to ask you something this evening have you been changed by the mercy and grace that God has extended to you Have you truly been transformed. I'm going to suggest tonight that perhaps you have been but like me and Tennessee you need a more thorough transformation last year I was reading a book because I wanted to become a better father specifically for my daughters wonderful book or strong father strong daughters and as I was reading this book I came across a story about a father and his daughter Christian family raising their children all to love and serve God and then their oldest daughter decides to go into the parents room and steal some precious things and money from the parents and takes off not a word to the parents about where she's going why she's taken off in fact the mother and father hired a private investigator to find out where their daughter was they lived in Michigan and their daughter was tracked down all the way out in California the father jumped on an airplane and he caught a flight out to California his daughter was working in a convenience store and so for about an hour and a half the father comes and he just looks at his daughter. Doesn't say anything just looks at our young singer in months. The daughter. Turns around you know how you can tell when somebody's been staring at you for a long time to cars around to see her father and when a break come she comes out to speak with her dad. Instead of receiving a warm embrace. Her father. Tells him that it's your fault. That all their. Faults are left home. Now what home you grew up in but the home our grew up in and you don't do that. You might lose some people need some dental work something like that. Bassett him. Refused to talk to him any more the father hopped on a plane and went back home by himself heartbroken. 6 months later the father. Comes back maybe she's had a change of heart he goes to the convenience store he doesn't see is daughter he ask around she doesn't work here anymore. The father begins to search around the homeless shelters of the city seeking to find. His girl. He finds her up under a bridge. Her clothes are dirty she is. Emaciated. He suspects that she's on drugs maybe even prostituting herself to get the drugs. He burst into tears and he runs to his girl but they're still this coldness he takes her to a store buys or some clothes ask her what's going on she refuses to share anything. He discovers that she's been staying with a man who is twice her age. He pleads with his daughter please come home. No. The father returns goes home. All this time The Father has a ritual. He is writing letters to his daughter on a weekly basis. And he's putting the letters away and listen to me beloved he's putting the letters away hoping that when she comes home if she comes home. He'll give the letters to her. Not only is he writing letters but unbeknownst even to his wife he's taking a small sum of money and setting it aside in a special account for his daughter. One day the father is at work. And his phone is just ringing ringing in the ring it isn't a meeting any steps now then hello. There's no sound on the other end of the line. Hello sweetheart is that you. Is that you. Be here is his daughter sobs on the other end of the line where are you tell me where you are and I will come and get you right now she said I'm in a bus station in Grand Rapids the father hung up the phone he jumped in his vehicle told everybody he would be back tomorrow he drove to that bus station picked up his a little girl and brought her home. I've got to confess to you tonight. When I read that story. I put myself in that follows Place. And I say I don't know if I could love my daughter like that after she has shredded me like that. One reality settled the you know my mom actually 2 the 1st reality was this. Stephen you don't really know what love is yet. Because you're in love even for your precious children has not been tested like that yet. The 2nd reality that settled in all my mind is this even why would you be unwilling to love your own children that way. And that's how I've loved you. That's how I'm loved you. That's what you've done to me. That's how you've exasperated my love that's how you resisted and refused my love but Stephen I've been writing love letters to you. I've been storing away the blessings for you when you come back. And Stephen I don't just want you to come back. But I want you to go and get others to. Go because someone else was exasperated your patience and your love like you have exasperated ma. Go get. As this special music. Is. Shared with you I want you to think about the love of God. And whether you need a more thorough experience with that love. I'm going to ask you to do something after. This special music issue. I was. You. Hold me. Hold my own the likes. O.. Meet. You. In my. Car worst. Broad day goes. By so. All who you were is my. And you. Want to know big to meet your whole. Wall. I want to ask you to do the 1st thing I want to ask you is this. If you like me can acknowledge that you need a deeper revelation of God's love because there are places that you don't want to go when people that you are comfortable ministering to but you understand that if God has loved me that it means that I was to love others and I'm going to extend the same mercy and grace that's been extended to me that's appeal number one if you feel that you need a deeper revelation of God's love. My 2nd appeal is this. If there are people in your body. That you have not found the grace. To be able to forgive. You and it is stunting your spiritual growth. It is keeping you from experiencing. Fullness of joy it's keeping you from experiencing the rest and peace. And you want to say Lord. Transform me by your grace and your love. So that I am able to extend that grace and love to these particular people in my life 2 simple things while you're heads with me close your eyes I'm not going to ask you to come forward tonight. I want you to simply talk with God. Oh. Lord help me. Help. There are people I don't love like you do. There are places that are unwilling to go. The ends of the earth sounds better to me than going to these places. And yet just like Jesus's command of the disciples before I can reach the end of the earth I must 1st reach the end of myself so Lord help me. God help me. I'll give you a minute just talk to the Lord. Loving father tonight we just want to say thank you. Thank you for liberating us. Thank you for giving us guidance thank you for protecting us when we didn't know we needed to be protected. Just like you said to ancient Israel tonight you have also shown us. Already what is good. And what you require of us. It is a righteousness that reflects your righteousness. A righteousness that extends a love and grace and mercy even to the undeserving. Father if we don't have this resonating in our hearts what we say with our lips does not matter. The soundness of on the message is compromised if this is not residing in our hearts. Or Tonight we want to be transformed. By you. And what you have done and are doing for us. Wrap your loving arms around each and every one of your precious children tonight. May your Grace richly and freely bestowed upon. And us the uppermost in our thoughts on this night we pray. In Jesus' name amen. This message was recorded at the to the end in Houston Texas. Supporting Ministry of the 7th Day Adventist Church seeks to inspire young people to be bible base price center and so when Christians to download or purchase other resources like this visit us online at G. Why see what happened or.

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