I can imagine we have quite a few people here and those listening this morning that are:
· Successful Hunters
· Those who know how to Catch Fish
· Avid Shoppers
· People who are Married
· Children who still Live at Home
Each one of you, in your own way and with differing levels of success, have learned how to navigate the communication gaps between yourself and those from whom you want something. When it comes to communicating with people you care about or those important in your life, there are four possible truths. Either:
1. You have learned how to get what you want
2. You have learned how to live with less than you want
3. You are frustrated and on the verge of giving up
4. You are searching for a better way
There is a “Best Approach” for every adventure of life. Hunters know this, at least successful hunters do. The most successful pursuit for one animal may not be the best for another. Couples who are married have either learned how to get what they want and need from their spouse; learned to live with less than they want; are frustrated and will at some point wonder why they married that person to begin with; or else they are actively searching for a better way.
Believe me when I tell you, there is a better way – there is best approach for every situation. Just because the one you are most familiar with is not working, does not mean you can’t learn a better way and win the day.
Now I am not talking about learning how to manipulate others for some small measure of fleeting personal gain. We are Believers in Christ and members of His Body, the Church of the Living God. We have bigger and more important things to do than to manipulate others for our own personal advantage. We are called to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world …
Nonetheless, people who learn the principles of communication and understand their dynamics can and sometimes do use these truths for their own personal gain. Shame on you if you are lazy, selfish, greedy or feel you are entitled to always have things your way. Grow up … you are worth far more than you can ever get on your own. You are the child of a King and that noble blood demands you serve as an example and a benefit to others.
Throughout this year we are going to learn proven principles that will help us find and employ the best pursuits for reaching and influencing our families for Christ. We are going to learn how to build bridges which will afford us the opportunity to accurately communicate without creating additional problems.
We will build a bank of information we can access to keep us on track throughout the year and put steps in place to help us reach our goals. Could you imagine going hunting or fishing or raising children or reaching the lost or transforming a family member’s life without a little preparation?
If you were going hunting, you would at least want to make sure you had the right ammunition or the best bait before heading out. Not to mention that just knowing when to be still or quiet can be critical to your success.
Well enough about that, you get the point – We need to be prepared. This year we are going to take the long-term, solid approach to preparing ourselves to influence our families for Christ. Pastor James said:
“The farmer exercises long patience for the precious fruit.” (James 5:7)
And by the way, we are not going to learn how to get people to do what we want them to do but rather a way to help people find, understand and embrace what God wants them to do. What God requires of them may be a far cry from what we first imagine. The very best thing we can do for our family members is to connect them to Christ and God’s will for their lives.
And, I am only going to share proven principles from the scriptures that have already worked for me. It will be important to your success that you follow along step by step. If you miss a step, catch up online …
Like we discussed Wednesday night concerning our influence on others:
· We will begin with the end in mind
· We will learn to accept small changes as a sign of success
· We will not expect from others what we are unwilling to give of ourselves
Let’s take the first step in learning the best approach by turning to:
Acts 17 NLT
16 ¶ While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was deeply troubled by all the idols he saw everywhere in the city.
17 He went to the synagogue to reason with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and he spoke daily in the public square to all who happened to be there.
Notice how Paul met people where they were. He had a connection with people on their turf, in their comfort zone – he went where they were.
18 He also had a debate with some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers. When he told them about Jesus and his resurrection, they said, “What’s this babbler trying to say with these strange ideas he’s picked up?” Others said, “He seems to be preaching about some foreign gods.”
Our approach to sharing spiritual truths can seem threatening and even alarming to others who have not yet experienced these things for themselves. (My testimony of being unprepared to share the truth in a non threatening, understandable way and the years of problems it caused.) Not everyone is hearing what you think you’re saying. (Communication gaps …)
19 Then they took him to the high council of the city. “Come and tell us about this new teaching,” they said.
20 “You are saying some rather strange things, and we want to know what it’s all about.”
This was the perfect opportunity … someone asked a sincere question … don’t blow it here … this is what we are waiting for – a chance to tell others when they want to listen … we must be prepared.
“Always be ready to give an answer to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” (1 Peter 3:15)
21 (It should be explained that all the Athenians as well as the foreigners in Athens seemed to spend all their time discussing the latest ideas.)
22 ¶ So Paul, standing before the council, addressed them as follows: “Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way,
Paul was paying attention to the lives and desires and hopes and suspicions of those he wanted to influence for Christ. He evidently invested some amount of time getting to know these people and contemplating how to best reach them in a way they would best understand. Paul approached the truth from their perspective.
23 for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about.
Paul found common ground. We too must look for some common ground.
24 “He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples,
25 and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need.
26 From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries.
27 “His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us.
28 For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’
29 And since this is true, we shouldn’t think of God as an idol designed by craftsmen from gold or silver or stone.
30 “God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now he commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to him.
Paul gave them their next simple step. And then he gave them something much bigger than them and left them wanting to hear more.
31 For he has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man he has appointed, and he proved to everyone who this is by raising him from the dead.”
32 ¶ When they heard Paul speak about the resurrection of the dead, some laughed in contempt, but others said, “We want to hear more about this later.”
33 That ended Paul’s discussion with them,
Paul knew when to quit … when to be quiet … when his listeners had heard enough for the day. Some want more and some can’t take more right now. (This is how Jesus treated His disciples ~ John 16:12; 1 Corinthians 3:2)
34 but some joined him and became believers. Among them were Dionysius, a member of the council, a woman named Damaris, and others with them.
What can we take away from this Bible example that will help us better communicate with our families in 2014?
Our Truth for Today
Find the common ground and value it as a fertile field.
Now, let’s cover our families in prayer and ask God to help us better understand them and their needs from His perspective.