Do you ever find yourself just doing the same thing over and over because it is what is familiar? Familiarity is comfortable; change is often not. It's why we choose the same few restaurants (and order the same things at them over and over). As our church prepares for our ChangeMakers campaign, I hope to challenge the church to “Embrace Change.” Let's face it, our city is changing, and we have to opportunity to embrace it and open doors to have an opportunity to impact our community with the Gospel. If we don’t, God will still do His work, but we will likely miss out on the opportunity to be a part of it.
In 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 the Apostle Paul proclaims “19 For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.”
Paul makes it clear that titles, religious traditions, power, influence, etc. are far less important than people getting saved. We do all that we do for the sake of the Gospel, that we, like Paul, may win more people to Christ. Would you pray this week that God will open your heart to embrace the change that has come and is continuing to come to our community? Will you pray that God will show us ways that we can change to be more effective at reaching our community with the Gospel? Thank God that He is bringing thousands of people to our doorstep and that we are privileged with the opportunity to show them His unconditional love unconditionally.
The Bible is God’s Word, His message of truth, blessing and love. When you study the Bible, you cannot help but notice that there are different kinds of books. For example, there are letters with great theological truths. There are gospels that tell us about the life and ministry of Jesus. The Old Testament contains books of law, wisdom, and prophecy.
The book of Acts, found in the New Testament, tells us how believers in the early church became Change Makers through the power of God’s Spirit in their world. If you have not read the book of Acts in a while, I encourage you to do so in the next few days. It will encourage you, strengthen you and challenge you!
Acts 20 is one of my favorite chapters. At first glance, you notice some key names. Paul is mentioned along with his companions Sopater, Aristarchus, Secundus, Gaius, Timothy, Tychicus and Trophimus. Acts 20 also tells us about important places such as Philippi, Troas and Miletus. Paul and the others shared the gospel and saw the work of the Holy Spirit in these locations. Acts 20 even tells us about a long night of preaching and praying that ended in a death and a miracle! Read verses 7 – 12 and you will see the power of God working mightily through Paul.
In addition to all the adventure, Acts 20 gives us a look into one of the most tender events in the Bible. In verse 17, Paul calls for the elders and prepares to bid them a final farewell. These were men that Paul had led to Christ, discipled and deepened their faith. They were special companions in the work of the gospel. As he prepares for his voyage to Jerusalem, Acts 20 recounts Paul’s last words to these friends. It is hard to imagine the emotions Paul was feeling. There were tears, surely both of joy and sadness. I suspect that they took a trip or two down memory lane, recounting God’s faithfulness to all of them.
God had used Paul to activate change in the lives of these men. They had become brothers, fellow laborers and friends. I love the fact that Paul stands before these men with a clean heart and clear conscience. Verse 35 says, “In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak, and remember the works or the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Paul reminds these men that change occurred because he had worked hard to give hope to that city. He reminded them that he didn’t come to “get” from them; he came to “give” to them.
This is our opportunity to be Change Makers. Just as God worked in and through the ministry of Paul in Ephesus, the same can be true of us in Alpharetta. Ephesus was an important city. It was a major area of transportation. Because it was a trade center, people from all over the world came to Ephesus. It was a place of great wealth and prosperity. And it was city full of people that needed the hope of the gospel. Lostness surrounded and encompassed that city. But Paul had been a Change Maker. And now he was calling on these leaders to imitate him. They were charged to be Change Makers by giving of themselves.
How can you and I activate change here in Alpharetta? Consider these three ways.
1. Invest in people right here in Alpharetta. Perhaps they are city leaders, restaurant owners, business leaders, teachers or even your neighbors. Regardless of what they do, invest time to build relationships with them and introduce them to our Lord Jesus.
2. "Seek the welfare of our city”. That phrase comes from Jeremiah 29:7 and it is God's admonition to His people living in Babylon. They had been exiled from Jerusalem, their home. And now they were living in a foreign land. God told them directly, while you are there, “seek the welfare of the city.” In fact, God tells them to pray for the city. You can be a Change Maker in Alpharetta by seeking the welfare of our city and by praying for our city.
3. Lastly, you can be a Change Maker by giving. Give of yourselves for God’s work. I encourage you to give sacrificially, generously and joyfully. Our heart is to reach Alpharetta with the gospel. By giving yourself, your time, your talents and your treasures, you can help us activate change.
Be a Change Maker! Activate change today!
Many may not know this, but every Sunday morning our church is covered in prayer. We have a team of people that meet and pray before the services. In addition to this, we have a team of people that surround the campus in prayer. One of the most encouraging things for me to see pass Pastor Ed Schrader as he is walking through the gym, through the sanctuary, through the halls, and around the building praying over every square inch of our campus every Sunday morning. It reminds of James words in James 5:16 - “The prayer of a righteous person has great power and it is working.”
The reality is that God works through prayer. I love what EM Bounds says “Much Prayer, Much power. Little Prayer, Little Power. No Prayer, No Power.” As we are continuing our “Change Makers” campaign, we are asking God to work in our city in mighty ways. We are asking him to bless our church, our community and our effort to reach those in need of the Gospel. The most effective way this will happen is through our church seeking the heart of God by joining in prayer together asking Him to bless our efforts, resources, and time as we seek to reach our community in more effective ways.
Would you join us in praying? Pray for wisdom for our leadership and pray that we would have opportunities and avenues to share the Gospel through the result of our Change Makers campaign.