Staying Hot for God When It’s Hot

By James Merritt

I am still just shocked it is summertime! Has almost half a year come and gone? Yes it has, but the suddenness of it all reminds us we need to capture every day, week and, yes, season for God, grace and the gospel. I realize, as all pastors do, when we look out at smaller crowds that no one spells v-a-c-a-t-i-o-n better than church attenders. However, sin doesn’t take a vacation; God doesn’t take a vacation and neither should evangelism and ministry.

Recently, I met with our staff from our various campuses and reminded them of that very fact. Indeed, there are certain things we can do as a church and as individual Christians to keep the evangelistic fires burning. Obviously, it is a great time to focus in on the next generation as children and teenagers are not in school and have more free time than any other time during the year-except for Christmas holidays and spring break.

This is a time when kids’ and student camps, Vacation bible schools, and various “one off” activities both during days and nights can be utilized to reach many that normally can not or will not participate during the school year. Summer can be a time when creative preaching series can be used to compel people both to come and to invite their friends.

It is a great time for a backyard cookout to invite your next-door neighbors for a meal and relationship building. Even the 4th of July can be a time that can be leveraged for God and country with a focus on the God in whom we trust.

Of course, there are the opportunities of sharing the gospel whether at home, in the mountains on a trip or at the beach. This is the time of the year when Teresa and I generally lead a group on a trip either to Israel or some other biblical site. As I type this I just returned from a trip to Greece.

While on the isle of Patmos, I preached on Heaven from Revelation to our group. Both our guide and our Greek host I noticed stayed with the group to hear the message. After it was over and we were walking back to our bus, the owner of the travel company who does our trips, a member of our church who usually accompanies me pulled me aside and said “Pastor I can’t believe what I witnessed. I have known this guide for 29 years and she never stays and listen to anyone, but she did for you.”

I pulled her aside and thanked her. She said, “I generally don’t listen because most of the time a scripture may or may not be read and usually only a very short devotional. But you preached a sermon, and I was just pulled in like I haven’t been in a long time.” I was able to give her some gospel material and share with her.

My Greek host told the owner of the business that same day he would like to speak with me. I met with him, and he told me that he listened to me as I preached in Ephesus on salvation by faith through grace. He had never heard what I said the way it was put before. I shared the gospel with him and gave him some material to read later.

It is just taking the opportunities that God opens to let the Spirit do his work. So don’t passively sit and watch the sun set on another summer. Seize the summer for the gospel of Jesus and the glory of God, for the summer sun will set before you know it!

Published May 30, 2018

James Merritt

Pastor of Cross Pointe Church in Duluth, Georgia.