Introduction to Sings of Life

Dave Jones February 16, 2008 John 13:35

 

We will be embarking on an eleven week study of the Signs of Life.  This study is based on the book of the same title by David Jeremiah.  It is written in a forty day devotional format.  It is not necessary for members of your class to have a copy of the book.  However, those wishing to have a copy and follow along can get a copy in the resource center.

The opening story of the study guide refers to a man who dropped off his suit at the “One-Hour” dry cleaners only to be told that it would take several days to get his suit back.  The man questioned the clerk about the big “One-Hour Dry Cleaning” sign in front of the store.  The clerk replied, “That’s just the name of the store.”  Imagine the man’s confusion.   As Christians we wear “signs” of our faith.

INPUT: What are the signs that a person is a true follower of Christ?

- John 13:35

     By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

- Galatians 5:22-23

    But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 
   gentleness, self-control.  Against such there is no law.

As Christians we bear the name of Christ.  But it should not only be about His name.  We are also called to imitate Him.  The way we talk and act should tell others that we are Christians.

1 Cor. 11:1 Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.

Eph. 5:1-2  Therefore be imitators of God as dear  children.  And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.

The purpose of this study is to examine five categories of divine life that should be evident in every Christian.  “Signs of Life” they are called:  Dusty Shoes (a relevant life), Worn-Out Knees (a yielded, peaceful and submissive life), Rolled-Up Sleeves (an authentic, servants life), Open Hands (a generous life based on God’s Harvest Law), and Outstretched Arms (a compassionate, community-based life).

We will briefly overview each of the five categories.  We will dive deeper into each topic in consecutive weeks.

This week, each sign will be looked at from two perspectives; 1) In the Life of Christ and 2) In the Life of Chistians.

I.   Dusty Shoes – Living a Relevant Life

  1. In the Life of Christ

Read Acts 10:36-38

36You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. 37You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached— 38how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.

What was Jesus doing?  How did He live His life? He didn’t just sit around in an ivory tower waiting for people to come to Him.  What does Matthew 4:23 say?

 23Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.

Notice He went about all of Galilee.  He got out into the world. 

In Bible times people wore sandals and had dusty feet.  There was no way to leave your house without getting your feet dirty.  This is why one of the ways a person could show hospitality was to provide a servant to wash the feet of guests as they entered the house. 

Read Luke 4:18-19.  What does Jesus say He was to do?

Luke 4:18-19

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,

Because He has anointed Me

To preach the gospel to the poor;

He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,

To proclaim liberty to the captives

And recovery of sight to the blind,

To set at liberty those who are oppressed;

To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”

He did not do these things while sitting around the house.  He hit the road and got His sandals dusty.  So should we.

You will not have dusty shoes if you do leave your house.  It is hard to have a relevant life while staying home.  Now, some may say; “I get out.  I’m not a homebody.  I go to work every day.  I eat out, shop at the mall, go to church, etc.”  We are not just talking about the physical home.  We are talking about going out into the world.  Getting out and being involved.

  1. In the Lives of Christians

John 17:18 states we have been sent into the world to proclaim the same message as Christ.

John 17:18 - As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.

In Matthew 5, Jesus summarized what we are to be when we go into the world.

  1. Salt - Matthew 5:13
     “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.

INPUT: What does salt do?

  1. Salt preserves

The people Jesus spoke to would have known exactly what He was talking about.  Salt was widely used as a preservative.  Fish could be kept edible for many days using salt.  Believers should have a preserving effect on the cultures of the world.  They should retard the spoilage promoted by the influence of evil.

  1. Salt flavors

Job 6:6a Can flavorless food be eaten without salt?

Salt has a distinctive influence when it is applied to food.  It enhances the flavor.  When it is in your food, you know it is there.  What happens when it loses its saltiness?  It is useless.

INPUT: In what ways can we be like salt to our world?

            John MacArthur states:

“Salt is both a preservative and a flavor enhancer. No doubt its use as a preservative is what Jesus had mostly in view here. Pure salt cannot lose its flavor or effectiveness, but the salt that is common in the Dead Sea area is contaminated with gypsum and other minerals and may have a flat taste or be ineffective as a preservative. Such mineral salts were useful for little more than keeping footpaths free of vegetation. “

MacArthur, John Jr: The MacArthur Study Bible. electronic ed. Nashville : Word Pub., 1997, c1997, S. Mt 5:13

Think about it, when salt is contaminated it loses its effectiveness.  It has no taste and cannot preserve.  It is useless. The same can be true of us as believers when we are conformed to the world instead of being transformed. (Rom 12:2)  We have to work hard to maintain our value as salt.

INPUT: What are some ways we can maintain our “Salt” value?

  • Reading God’s Word
  • Pastor Viars challenged us at the beginning of the year to get in the habit of reading the Bible.  He even suggested a daily reading plan.  How are you doing?
  • Praying
  • Accountability
  • Pointman
  • Ladies Bible study
  • Small Groups
  • Establishing godly friendships
  • 1 Cor 15:33
  • Proverbs 13:20
  • Others?

One other thing salt does:

  1. Salt makes you thirsty,

Are we living in a way that causes others to thirst for God?  Are people watching and wondering why we live differently?  When was the last time someone asked why you were different? (not weird)

Not only did Jesus call us to be salt, He also said we were to be:

  1. Light  - Matthew 5:14-15

14“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.

Verse 16 gives us the purpose of our light:

16Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

Ephesians 5:8 says:   For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light

Philippians 2:15 states:  that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world

What does Light do?

  1. Illuminates
    I Corinthians 4:5
    Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God.
     
  2. Guides
    Psalm 119:105
    Your word is a lamp to my feet
     And a light to my path.
     
  3. Saves
    John 8:12
    Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.

We are to be light in a dark world to the glory of God.  Are you looking for places to let your light shine?  Do not put your light under a basket and render it useless.

Our second sign of life is:

II. Worn-Out Knees – Living a Yielded Life

Living a life of prayer.  Let’s look at prayer…

  1. In the Life of Christ.

INPUT: Name some examples in the Bible where Jesus prayed.

Matt 14:23 And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there.

Matt 26:36 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.”

Matt 26:39 He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.

Mark 1:35 Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.

Luke 6:12-13 12 Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in  prayer to God. 13 And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself;  and from them He chose  twelve whom He also named apostles:

Luke 9:18 And it happened, as He was alone praying, that His disciples joined Him, and He asked them, saying, “Who do the crowds say that I am?”

Luke 9:29 As He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening.

INPUT: What are some insights to prayer that we see in these verses?

  • Jesus rose early to pray
  • He prayed at night
  • Solitary place
  • No interruptions
  • Prayed for God’s will
  • Prayed before calling disciples
  • Others?

We see that prayer was important in the life of Christ, now let’s look at prayer…

  1. In the Lives of Christians

Luke 18:1

            Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart,

1 John 5:14-15

Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

God commands us to pray.  Look back at the verses describing the way Jesus prayed.  How should that impact the way we ought to pray?

In this hustle and bustle world we live in, we have learned to get more done by multi-tasking.  We have even allowed this to spill over into our prayer lives.  We have learned to pray while driving, jogging, walking, and exercising.  These are fine, to a point.  But when is the last time we took time to find a quiet place and pray like Jesus?

III. Rolled Up Sleeves – Living an Authentic Life

INPUT: What does an authentic life look like?

  1. In the Life of Christ

 There was no pretense about Jesus Christ.  He lived with His sleeves rolled up, as a servant, doing the work of the kingdom.  Let’s look at Matthew 20:25-28

25 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. 26Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. 27And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave— 28just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

“Jesus made it plain that He did not come to lord it over people but to be a servant.  The ultimate expression of His service, of course, was His giving of His life to be a ‘ransom for many.’  While we can’t duplicate that act, we can follow the second greatest example of service He left us – humbling Himself to wash the feet of His disciples (John 13:1-5).  When we perform similar acts of humility and service, we are showing signs of the life of Christ.”                  David Jeremiah, “Signs of Life Study Guide,” (San Diego: Turning Point, 2007), 13-14

In the Life of Christians

John 13 gives the example of Jesus washing the disciple’s feet.  You can read beginning from verse one or you can just provide the background.  The key verses we want to emphasize in the text are 12 – 17.

John 13:1-17

 1Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.
2And supper being ended,[a]the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him, 3Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, 4rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. 5After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. 6Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, “Lord, are You washing my feet?”
7Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.”
8Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!”
Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”
9Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!”
10Jesus said to him, “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” 11For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, “You are not all clean.”
12So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. 14If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. 16Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. 17If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

Jesus gave us the example that we are to serve others.  How can we claim to be a servant of God and not be willing to serve others?

INPUT: What are some reasons we give for not serving?

                Are any of those valid reasons?  NO!

Roll up your sleeves and get busy serving God, and others today!

IV. Open Hands – Living a Generous Life

  1. In the Life of Christ


INPUT: How was Jesus generous?

Jesus gave the most anyone could ever give.  He gave Himself for our salvation.

Galatians 1:3-4 sums this up very well.

3Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father

  1. In the Life of Christians

Read Luke 6:27-38

27“But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. 29 To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. 30 Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. 31 And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.
32 “But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. 35 But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. 36 Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. 37 “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

INPUT: What does this passage say about generosity?

            - We are to give to those who hate us

            - Treat others the way we want to be treated

            - Give without expecting anything back

            - Give as God has given to us

INPUT: Can you give an example of how someone was generous with you, other than giving     money?

- Time

            - Serving

            - Talents

V. Outstretched Arms – Living a Compassionate Life

  1. In the Life of Christ

When Jesus said I feel your pain, He meant it.

Matthew 14:14

14And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick.

INPUT: What are some ways that Jesus showed compassion?

Jesus felt compassion and then took action.  Look at other examples of Jesus’ compassion:

The hungry - Matthew 15:32

Those with physical afflictions – Matthew 10:34; Mark 1:40-41

Those possessed by demons – Mark 5:19

The woman who had lost her son – Luke 7:11-15

The multitudes in general – Matthew 9:36; Mark 6:34

One of the lessons about signs of life to draw from Jesus is that human suffering provokes compassion in those who are spiritually alive.  We need to be like Christ and let that compassion move us to action.

  1. In the Life of Christians

    We need to live out Matthew 25:35-40

35for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

The problem is too often we live this passage more like the way one author has satirically portrayed it:

“I was hungry, and you formed a humanities club and discussed my hunger.  I was imprisoned, and you crept off quietly to your chapel in the cellar and prayed for my release.  I was naked, and in your mind you debated the morality of my appearance.  I was sick and you knelt and thanked God for your health.  I was homeless, and you preached to me the spiritual shelter of the love of God.  I was lonely, and you left me alone to pray for me.  You seem so holy, so close to God, but I am still very hungry and lonely and cold.”

                                                             Charles Allen, You Are Never Alone (Old Tappen: Revell, 1978), 143-144

The point is this; what are we doing to demonstrate our compassion for others?

So there you have it, the five signs of life.

Are you effectively demonstrating, living out, the signs of Life?

My hope is that during the next ten weeks each one of us grows in our relationship with the Lord and in the way we live our lives.  I pray that we grow in our demonstration of the signs of spiritual life, so that others that do not yet know Him see Him through us.  We have to give an answer for the hope that is within us!!

Dave Jones

Dave works for human resources at Purdue University.  Dave and his wife, Becky, joined Faith in 1986.  He co-teaches the Ambassadors ABF as well as several FCI classes.