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Rev. Dr. William A. LewisRev. Dr. William A. Lewis, November 5, 2017

It was a powerful trip to Germany with Bill. We were in the first protestant church, Martin Luther’s! We went and prayed for the reformation spirit that emphasized the Five Solas: 1) the Bible’s foundation, 2) saved by God’s Grace, not by our works, 3) approach God through faith in what He has done for us, not because of what we do for Him, 4) embrace Jesus as the source of our lives, 5) living to bring God’s glory. We prayed that these essential truths would rest upon us afresh in a new application for our secularized society.
We went to speak at an incredible community that centered on worship, missions and prayer. In fact, we lodged on prayer mountain. We spoke with recovering addicts. But these people were unique because they were filled with the Holy Spirit, which had moved the addiction out and brought a new power and purpose to their lives. They were filled with the presence of God and no longer focused on whatever it was that drove them to their addictions. They looked to their mission field, where they were going to bring the gospel of Jesus…Poland, China, India, Israel, Philippines, Texas.
It was moving to hear the stories of three Albanian Muslim sisters who were listening to Joyce Meyers and one gave her heart to Christ. The other sister heard about Jesus and was healed of a deaf ear. Another said, “Jesus, if you are real, heal the women who has been in a coma for the last two years in the hospital where serve as a nurse.” The woman came out of her coma. Some stories like this were miraculous; others were just average Christians recognizing the void in their life, wanting a more real experience of God. So, they invited Jesus into their lives and were filled with the Holy Spirit. They now live with and for Jesus, seeing incredible miracles as they go forth into their days with God.
The city we stayed in had integrated 75,000 refugees into their town. When I inquired about “the refugee crisis,” they responded with “the refugee opportunity.” They explained: “We have been sending missionaries to the Middle East to introduce Muslims to Jesus. But now God has brought them to us!” So, when the refugee camps were set up, they brought food, clothing, friendship and the gospel. (By the way, 16,000 Muslims give their lives to Jesus every day.)
I had dinner with a Christian biology professor from the University of Austria who works to educate the refugees so they can assimilate into society. She said their stories are horrific and sad. The problem is that in the world they come from, Islam and society are one and the same. So, they assume Western society represents Christianity, which is not the case. Therefore, only through building relationships are they able to explain Christianity to the refugees who are actually receptive to a God of love.
These people focus on sharing Christ with others with little concern for their safety or comfort. I wondered why we don’t live with abandon for the Lord who has saved us from sin’s devastation? Pondering this, I thought of the cultural difference. Germans live in a socialist environment and are not as distracted by the materialism that defines our American society. In Mark 4:19, the world becomes unfruitful because it gets choked by worries, deceitfulness of riches, and desires for other things.
Speaking of silver and gold, one of the words the Lord gave me in Germany was the story in Acts 3 when Peter and John were going to church to pray and they encountered a beggar. The told him, “Silver and gold, we do not have but what we do have we give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ, get up and walk.” They took him by the hand and helped him up. That’s faith in action: words and relationship.
On the plane home, I watched the movie, “The Shack.” It was moving to see how God represents Himself to us in ways we can receive, which means you and I can be the avenue through which God represents Himself to someone else. For example, Bill gave a message about our identity in Christ and invited anyone who had no father figure or a bad father figure, and needed to have this part of their life restored to stand up. Many men stood and then Bill told me to give these men a hug from the Heavenly Father. Many of them embraced me, burying their faces into my neck or going cheek-to-cheek. Some were sobbing; others were holding me tight. Wow, I got to stand in for the Father and care for His children.
One of the powerful moments in the Acts 3 passage is when the people were shocked to see the beggar healed. Peter asked, “Why does this surprise you?” When Jesus Christ is involved, the power of God is available and to be expected.
When Bill and I were in the sanctuary of Martin Luther, we had an expectancy, asking God to anoint and empower us. Others merely wandered around, looking at the church as a memorial to the past.
This brings us to our ministry: You are exciting Christians to be with! You have stories about how you care for others, extend yourselves, serve the church (many of you, behind-the-scenes), and support our efforts to bring others into a relationship with Jesus.
The new building is going up. Our goal is to cultivate the next generation of Christians, to “go make disciples,” and nurture our faith. When I was in Jordan, a Christian pastor told my traveling partner who didn’t think we should be building, that we should be building and expanding the ministry of Jesus Christ. Here is a man who told us he expects to be killed for his faith by the Muslims in his country. Yet he understood the essential call to expand the reach of Jesus Christ through our ministry.
This is what Pastor Ivan is doing in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Surrounded by poverty and voodoo, he is establishing the Kingdom of God through a Christian school.
This is what’s taking place in Kenya with Paul and Debbie Scott-Robinson. They are building a Christian school to expand the knowledge of Jesus Christ, though surrounded by witch doctors who cast spells on people that kill them.
We have a pastor in our midst, Pastor Lim, who spent two and a half years in a hard labor camp in North Korea. He was given a life sentence, but the grace of God released him, so he could go back home where he serves as the senior pastor of the Light Presbyterian Church in Toronto, one of the largest congregations in Canada. A while ago, I received an email about the human rights abuses occurring in North Korean work camps. It so moved me that I kept it in my Bible as a reminder to pray for those in camps. Now I get to meet an answer to my prayers!
As we contemplate the examples of sold out Christians, we examine our commitment to the church ministry. All of us are asked by the Lord to devote a portion of our finances to His cause…not to mention the focus of our lives. For the mature believer, it is the tithe.
One man explained, “When I give nothing, I cast a vote to close the church. When I give less than last year, I am questioning the ministry that is taking place. When I give with a sour attitude, it is a statement of dissatisfaction with the Lord’s love for me.”
There was a restaurant owner who used to always pay for any homeless person who sought a meal in his establishment. One day, a friend noticed when the cash register opened that among the bills was a six-inch nail. He asked, “What is that?” The restaurant owner explained, “I keep the nail with my money to remind me of the price Christ paid for my salvation and what I owe Him in return.”
In 2 Samuel 24:24, David wanted to respond to God’s goodness and build an altar on someone else’s property. The owner said to the king, you can have the property for free. But David responded, “I will not bring a sacrifice to the Lord my God that costs me nothing.” David, reflecting on the undeserved mercy of God, seemed to think it was cheap and insignificant to offer God nothing in return for His great gift. So he made sure his offering cost him something. For us, we give not just a token from the leftovers, but a built-in sacrifice from our budget to the Lord—like a tithe.
An elderly woman passed out in church and so the EMTs were called. As they strapped her into the stretcher, she came to and whispered to one of them. Everyone realized she was conveying her final words. She instructed him, “My offering is in my purse.” We see what was of highest importance to her: honoring her Lord.
We always think in terms of “my money,” but it’s “His money” which He gives us to use on His behalf. A man argued with the pastor, “I built my business, my house and bought all my stuff, how is this the Lord’s?” The pastor replied, “Ask me that question in 100 years.”
What is important to God is that His heart is behind how we live and give. We give because we want others to meet Him, be healed by Him, expand His love in this world, and see His power released. It is when we align our personal lives with God’s life that we experience the power that surprises the world.
We are never to compare ourselves to other Christians. God knows the gifts and abilities we have or don’t have. It is actually freeing to know I don’t have to be like Billy Graham or some other great Christian. However, we are called to consider our response to the Lord, which includes our commitment to spreading His word and touching other lives on His behalf.
A minister had to address the church deficit and was nervous about asking the members to make an extra contribution. Already stressed out, he found out the regular organist was sick and a substitute organist was helping with the service. The pastor told the substitute, “Here’s the order of service. I have to make a special plea to the congregation, so you’ll have to think of something to play after I make the announcement.” The pastor ended his sermon, mentioned the deficit, and asked if anyone could help out to please stand up. At that moment, the substitute organist began to play the “Star Spangled Banner.” And that is how the substitute organist became the regular organist!
The Lord wants you to stand up for His agenda to bring as many people as possible into a relationship with Him. Let’s make that our life’s priority.
“These are not idle words for you – they are life” (Deuteronomy 32:47).

About Rev. Dr. William A. Lewis: Rev. Dr. William Lewis has been the Senior Pastor of Community Presbyterian Church in Celebration since 2009. Whether at a traditional service, praise service, or the more casual Thursday night service, you’ll find that Pastor William’s preaching brings the Word of God to life D.Min. McCormick Theological Seminary Th.M. Princeton Theological Seminary M.Div. Fuller Theological Seminary B.A. University Colorado
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