This post is adapted from Pastor Ryan Smith’s messages at the C3 Oxford Falls 10am and 6pm services on Sunday 11 March. Watch the messages here.
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
John 15:13 (NIV)
The opportunities God puts before us to reach out to others are often hidden. When you are the recipient of an act of generosity you are able to appreciate the power of reaching out. Ryan gave an example of how only yesterday a member of the public offered to start his car because the battery was flat.
We all have a deep cry in our hearts to reach out to God.
We need to ‘reach out’ in life. This may look different in various seasons.
God is always reaching out to us.
Areas we can Reach Out
1. Let go of the past so we can reach out to the future
Phil 3:13-14: “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
It is hard to let go of the past when it’s continually looping around our mind. God wants us to let go of the past: the hurts, the unforgiveness, the offence. When we’re holding onto the past our hands aren’t open to receive the future.
2. Reach out to the people God has put in your path
Acts 3:1-10 (NIV) – this is when Peter and John are headed to the Gate Beautiful and they healed the man who was lame. Jesus had passed this man many times but He knew he would be Peter and John’s opportunity to heal.
Ryan went on to share a few examples of when people had been put in his path and he was able to demonstrate Christ’s love. One time the takeaway food delivery man’s car had broken down and was blocking other cars from getting into an apartment block car park. Ryan went out and prayed over the car’s engine (the car started) and the man was so taken back that Ryan prayed over him while all the other drivers were waiting and watching.
Another example was when Ryan and Michelle had just moved into their new house. Many tradesmen were doing various jobs in the house when Michelle put up a “L O V E” sign. One burly man walked in, saw the sign, and started to weep. Billy McCudden, Michelle’s father, shared Christ with the man and he gave his heart to the Lord.
All because they seized the opportunity to share Christ’s love with those people that God had put in their path.
How does Christ Reach Out?
1. Moments of Doubt
Matthew 14:25 – 31 (NIV) – this is the scene when the disciples see Jesus walking on water. Peter steps out of the boat, walks on the water, then begins to doubt as he sees the size of the waves and promptly begins to sink before Jesus reached out to grab him.
We all need to know Jesus, the man. The man who lived and experienced everything we do. We can build a relationship with such a man.
Ryan shared a little about his year of doubt in 2015. In this season, Jesus used Ryan’s doubts to burn away some dead layers that were inhibiting his growth. God wanted Ryan to understand what he believed but God’s love for him never waivered and He was always there when he fell.
2. Moments of Sickness
Luke 5:12-13 (NIV) – Jesus heals a man with leprosy.
God’s love isn’t defined by our circumstances. Our circumstances exist so we can reach out to God and He can reach out to deliver us.
A sign that we have moved away from God is when we begin to anticipate judgement and punishment. God loves us and His love never involves punishment.
Ryan expressed his admiration for King David and particularly the Psalms he wrote. The Psalms help us to process the issues of the heart. As we love God, He reaches out and re-engineers our heart. In so doing He changes the image we have of ourselves.
3. In the Final Moments
Luke 23:39-43 (NIV) – Jesus and the two criminals on the Cross. He reaches out to the one who acknowledges who He is.
Jesus will reach out to us even when we think it is all over.
Jesus’ ultimate stretch of reaching out to us was when he gave His life on the Cross.
Demonstrating God’s love has such a powerful impact. Think about the people that God may have put in your life to reach out to demonstrate His love. Then reach out to them.